Q&A Session: Rey Moralde – The Lakers’ NBA Final Preview

June 2008, the Los Angeles Lakers suffered a tough loss in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics. It’s been two years now since that horrid setback happened. And the Lakers have just won their 15th Championship last year. Now, their roster is a lot more different now from 2008. Seeing the departures of Trevor Ariza and Ronny Turiaf. They added the likes of Ron Artest, Shannon Brown and Josh Powell. Not only there roster has changed, their plays form 2008 and 2010 have a lot of differences. The Lakers have utilized their Big Men more. And Kobe Bryant is now a complete player. And when I say ‘complete’, it means he’s now passing and assisting while shooting a great percentage on the floor.

They’re rematch is now set with the Boston Celtics on Thursday (9:00PM EST, 6:00PM PST). The Celtics, who have found they’re winning-swagger back, fought through championship-caliber teams. And we even didn’t expect them to be in the NBA Finals back then. It was more like Magic or Cavaliers winning the East. But hey, there’s a saying “Expect the unexpected”.

In this Q&A session, I bring in my good friend, Rey Moralde, the lead writer of  TheNoLookPass.com and the host of the Chronicles of Crotty Podcast. He’s an LA guy. So obviously, he loves the City of the Angelic. You can follow him on Twitter too. Here’s his Twitter handle, @TheNoLookPass.

The Q’s are in orange while Mr. Moralde’s answers are in Laker purple.

Let’s get started.

Now that it’s all said and done, LA is set to meet Boston in the NBA Finals. How does it feel, Rey?

I waited two years for this. It’s probably dumb for me to say this but the title last year didn’t feel as special. I wanted it to be won at the expense of Boston. Orlando was a much better match-up for the Lakers last year because they’re not as physical as the Celtics. So, yeah, I’m glad it’s back on this time around. This is, after all, the most storied rivalry in NBA history

After a 1 year absence, the Celtics are back in the NBA Finals. And every baller knows that the Lakers know them pretty well. As a Laker fan, what aspect should the Lakers improve in to avoid a similarity of the 2008 NBA Finals?

Don’t be afraid to face the Celtics defense. The Celtics defense tends to bully every opponent and the Lakers have done a better job of withstanding them in the regular season games after that embarrassing 2008 series loss. L.A. should be physical back. The frontcourt is key to their success. Pau Gasol doesn’t want to get any more LAME nicknames like “Gasoft”, right? Right.

Are you afraid that the Lakers’ bench might go through an icy-slump? And does Andrew Bynum’s inconsistency affect the Lakers’ play?

Well, the bench has had its ups and downs. Hopefully, they’ll play a little bit of defense and hit some big shots (remember Sasha Vujacic had 20 points in Game 3 of the 2008 NBA Finals). Bynum’s health is real key to the Lakers winning. He is a big body and is most capable of being physical against the Boston bigs. He didn’t do a good job on rotating on defense in the Phoenix series and that’s mostly because of his bad knee. Hopefully, he can bear it for one last series.

Who is the Lakers’ X-Factor? And why?

Easy. Lamar Odom. You don’t know what you’re going to get from Lamar Odom. One game, he’ll have an outstanding 17 and 15 game. The next, he’ll suddenly give you only 4 and 4. He HAS to perform big against the Celtics in order for the Lakers to have a chance. Remember that he got huge criticism (along with Gasol) when he didn’t play well overall in the 2008 NBA Finals.

Rajon Rondo, who is arguably the best Celtic of 2010, is now playing like a Superstar. Does he scare you?

I don’t know anyone that is not frightened by this guy’s ability. And the Laker point guard defense is well-documented. Rondo’s going to run circles all over Derek Fisher, Shannon Brown, and Jordan Farmar. I assume Kobe Bryant is going to get a shot at him as well as Ron Artest. Obviously, the Lakers are well-served to let him be a scorer the same way Lakers tried to do with Steve Nash but everyone should be wary of what Rondo’s playmaking skills can do.

The Lakers, who are in their 3rd-straight appearance in the NBA Finals, are seeking a repeat. Is there some kind of pressure for your guys?

All of the guys on the roster have won a ring except for Artest. With that said, I’m sure Kobe wants to cement his legacy by beating the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Not only that but he’s seeking his 5th ring. I think it’s more of what Kobe can add to his already hall-of-fame career. And the Lakers have wanted Boston for a while now. I don’t really think there’s any pressure, per se.

Can I ask what your final verdict for the NBA Finals or would you like to keep it a secret?

I just want to see the Lakers win. 🙂

Finally, anything else to say? Shoutouts? Your fellow Laker fans? The Celtics’ fans? Who?

Just enjoy the series. It’s rare for a Finals rematch to happen in the free agency era. Because I bet 10 years from now… heck, even 5 years from now… we’ll all be clamoring for this series again when these teams are no longer together.

PHOTO CREDITS:

1) Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

2) Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

3) Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

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Comments are much appreciated. Please leave them down low.

Follow Mark On Twitter (@InOutNBAMacGelo)

Shoot me an email at cualocsin12@gmail.com

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NBA Playoff Recap 5/25: LA-Phoenix Series Gets More Interesting; All tied at 2

GAME FOUR

1st-seed Los Angeles Lakers vs. 3rd-seed Phoenix Suns

(106-115)

Both teams started off sluggish. Like Game 2, Alvin Gentry’s zone defense was seen early in the game. And as always, the Lakers would try to make it look futile. The Lakers went to the paint mercilessly using their height to their advantage. They were also hoisting jumpers. Ron Artest leads the Lakers with 6 points in the 1st. Kobe Bryant played facilitator, with some 3 assists. The Suns defense was a bit useless, but their offense was perfect. Grant Hill had 6 points, followed by Jason Richardson with 5 points. Channing Frye still continued his icy-slump in the 1st. We’ll talk more about him later. Both teams were locked at 23 apiece after the 1st Quarter.

The 2nd Quarter was like a bonanza for the Suns. Their explosive bench, went out fiery. And when I say bench, I mean the likes of Jared Dudley, Louis Amundson, Leandro Barbosa, Goran Dragic and Channing Frye. Jared Dudley starts the 2nd, with a three at 11:43. Leandro Barbosa comes next, Louis Amundson follows and then Goran Dragic. Finally, the main story is all about Channing Frye. He broke out from his icy-slump. On the other hand, Kobe Bryant fried some of his Kobe Beef on the court. He scored 15 points in the Quarter alone. The Suns dominated the 2nd Quarter with 41 points. Mostly coming from the 5 bench producers mentioned above. The Lakers would trail after 2 Quarters with a 64-55 Suns lead.

As always, Kobe Bryant will deliver anytime for the Lakers. He scored 16 3rd Quarter points. Only 2 players from the Suns’ team had field goals.Namely, Robin Lopez and Amar’e Stoudemire. Robin Lopez made 2 tip shots. And Amar’e pretty much was everywhere. He was shooting on different angles on the court. Steve Nash and Goran Dragic also contributed in the free throw line. The Lakers would make the game alot more interesting after 3.

The Suns’ bench was inevitable for the Lakers, both on defense and on offense. Their defense was quite great, and their production went to another level. They scored a combine 54 points throughout the game. The Suns would later orchestrate an 18-6 run. Behind, Jared Dudley’s and Leandro Barbosa’s back-to-back threes. At the end of the game, the Lakers would lose all hope. The Suns tie the series with a 115-106 victory.

Kobe Bryant garnered some attention with his 38 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists performance. For some reason, he has been dishing out the ball more often now. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom followed Kobe’s performance with 15 points apiece. As mentioned earlier, the Second Five or the Phoenix Suns’ bench combined for a 54-point performance. Amar’e Stoudemire, who had a 42 point, 11 rebound performance during Game 3, finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds. Steve Nash had 15 points and 8 assists.

The series now heads back to the City of the Angelic. Game 5 is set on Thursday. Don’t miss it!

PHOTO CREDITS:

1) Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

2) Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Follow Mark on Twitter:

@InOutNBAMacGelo

NBA Playoff Recap 5/23: Suns avoid 0-3 series — Lakers lose.

GAME THREE

1st-seed Los Angeles Lakers vs. 3rd-seed Phoenix Suns

(109-118)

Both teams started fiery. The Suns looked for Amar’e to score easy points. And he used Andrew Bynum’s fouls to his advantage. STAT finished with 9 points and 3 rebounds in the 1st Quarter alone. Kobe Bryant pretty much did his work, scoring 15 points in the 1st alone. The Lakers and the Suns were playing ball like it was UNO, a back-and-forth battle. Alvin Gentry adjusted the Suns’ defense, making them execute zone defense more often. And it was successful. The Suns end the 1st half with a 15-2 run, with a 54-47 lead.

The 3rd Quarter starts, Derek Fisher becomes unstoppable. He scores 11 points in the 3rd alone. Ironically, the Suns’ players were just willingly driving down the basket, with Bynum in foul trouble. The other Laker bigs were not playing like they used to, particularly Lamar Odom. Pau Gasol only made 1 block. Kobe still was doing business, Ron Artest was helping out. The Lakers trimmed the lead down to two after three quarters.

Amar’e Stoudemire went on a tear the whole game, scoring 42 points and hauling 11 rebounds. He was too much for the Lakers to handle. He went inside willingly, and he converted he’s oppurtunities. The Suns’ 42 FT’s compared to the Lakers’ 20 FT’s helped the Suns’ causes as well. The Lakers lead the turnover ratio, having 17:7 turnovers against the Suns. The Phoenix Suns might’ve been blessed by the Basketball Gods to win this.

Amar’e Stoudemire, who scored 42 points and had 11 rebounds, lead the Suns in scoring and in rebounding. Meanwhile, Steve Nash, who averaged 14.0 assists/game coming to the game, had 15 assists and 17 points. Kobe Bryant had 36 points. And yes, he played facilitator again with 11 assists. Pau Gasol added 23 points and 9 rebounds. Oops! I almost forgot, Robin Lopez scored 20 points and had a block. Adam Morrison, DND-CD — why’d I even say this? Nevermind!

Lakers lead series 2-1. Planet Orange hosts Game 4 on Tuesday. And they need to win it so badly. Stay tuned for updates, here in HHC.

PHOTO CREDITS:

1) AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Follow Mark on Twitter:

@InOutNBAMacGelo

NBA Playoff Recap 5/19: Lakers seize 2-0 lead over Suns.

GAME TWO

3rd-seed Phoenix Suns vs. 1st-seed Los Angeles Lakers

(112-124)

After losing Game 1 to the Lakers, the Phoenix Suns had their minds set to win Game 2. A win could boost their momentum plus they could head home more light-headed. The Lakers on the other hand are trying to win their 8th-straight playoff win and grab a commanding 2-0 series lead. Let’s see what happened during the course of the game.

The 1st Quarter saw the Suns turn the ball over alot. And when I say alot, I mean 7 times in the 1st Quarter alone. The Lakers were pretty much using it to their advantage. Ron Artest always had open-looks throughout the 1st. Ron Artest scored 10 of his 18 points in the 1st Quarter, which includes a three at the buzzer. Kobe Bryant scored 9 in that Quarter with 6 assists. The Suns looked for Amar’e throughout the 1st; he ended with 8 points.The Lakers won the starting quarter with a 34-22 lead.

The 2nd Quarter featured the Suns’ bench. Their bench was scorching hot. Everyone made it a priority to contribute. The Suns’ Jared Dudley was pretty much the main catalyst for his team’s bench; scoring 15 points, shooting a perfect 5/5 behind-the-arc and snatching 3 steals. Anyways, this bench made an unexpected 11-0 run. The Lakers would then put their starters back. The effect would quickly come in as the Laker starters would stretch the lead to 11 after 2 Quarters.

The Suns’ Jason Richardson scored 12 points in the 3rd alone, finishing with 27 points. Meanwhile Grant Hill scored 14 during the 3rd, despite being cold during the 1st 2 Quarters. Hill would later end up with 23 points. Both of them combine for 26 points of the Phoenix Suns’ 34 3rd Quarter points. After the 3rd Quarter, The Suns see themsleves tied with the Lakers.

Now, the 4th Quarter begins. The Suns put their productive bench in while the Laker starters played much of the 4th’s duration. The Suns lost due to the fact that they’re undersized. Not only that, but also because of their lack of defense. In the end, Kobe Bryant, who played facilitator in the game, scored some key buckets to finish off the Phoenix Suns. The Black Mamba scored 21 points and had a career-playoff-high 13 assists. Pau Gasol ended with 29 points while hauling in 9 rebounds. The Phoenix Suns’ captain Steve Nash finished with 11 points with 15 assists. Amar’e Stoudemire scored 18 points and some 6 rebounds.

Even though the Suns lost, Planet Orange still ain’t giving up. Why? Here’s some fact. At some point of the game, the Lakers lead by 16. Then the Suns showed some life. Tying the game at 90 apiece after 3 Quarters. This is still a long series, we still don’t know what else is gonna happen, but hey, we’ll keep you updated here in HHC. Game 3 is on Sunsday, errr, Sunday.

PHOTO CREDITS:

1) Harry How/Getty Images

2) Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Follow Mark on Twitter:

@InOutNBAMacGelo