Forum Blue and Gold and is also my Forum Blue and Gold and is also my Forum Blue and Gold and is also my

A look into what Lakers fans are thinking

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Kurt Helin, who runs the great Lakers’ blog Forum Blue and Gold and is also my podcast friend, took the time to answer a few questions after Thursday night’s Game 1. OMD: How much did the game one result surprise you? Did you really think the Lakers would completely destroy the Magic like they did? Kurt Helin: It surprised me a lot — not just the final total but the domination of the second and third quarters. It seemed to surprise Phil Jackson and Pau Gasol too, based on their comments and reactions after the game. I also think it was due to a combination of factors, some of which likely will change next game and make it a closer contest. Not that you asked, but here is my dime-store psychology of what happened — the Magic were not prepared for the intensity. The intensity of the Finals, the intensity that the Lakers brought. I saw a lot of the same things in the Finals last year, the Lakers had played very well getting there and had exploited mismatches against everybody they saw out West. But in the Finals the Celtics brought a different level of energy to match the stage, particularly on the defensive end, and the Lakers were taken aback by it. This year the Lakers knew what they wanted and needed to do and had that level of intensity for game one, and the Magic seemed surprised by it. OMD: The Lakers seemed to completely abandon the triangle offense? Have you seen them go away from the triangle for that long of an extended stretch before? Have you ever seen so much pick-and-roll from Kobe? Kurt Helin: The Lakers usually reserve the pick-and-roll, particularly with Kobe and Gasol, for the last five minutes of a close game. Because of the versatility of both players offensively, it is very tough to defend. But the Lakers and Phil Jackson are pragmatists — if something is working they will keep doing it until you stop it. Clearly, Orlando didn’t stop it. So the Lakers went away from the triangle, with Jackson saying after the game he thought Kobe was shooting too much, but it was working so they stuck with it. From Orlando’s perspective, while it may be preferable to have Kobe shooting jumpers to dunks, there are certain spots on the floor for him where his jumper might as well be a lay-up — and the elbow is one of them. He got there at will last game, and Howard simply is going to have to come out and defend that pick-and-roll and not let him get to that spot. Because Los Angeles will probe that weakness again early next game. OMD: Was there anything in the game that worried you? Or is your confidence pretty much at an all-time high? Kurt Helin: The first five minutes of Jammer Nelson worried me, but then (likely due to conditioning, the man’s been out four months) he started to slip and SVG was slow to recognize it. I also don’t think Lee and Alston are going to miss open threes like that again consistently, they will not feel as rushed and settle into the pace of the series. Howard will adjust to how the Lakers are defending him. That said, confidence is at an all-time high. The general feeling in Lakersland all season has been that when they put everything together, even if the other team plays well the Lakers will win. Too much talent, too much basketball IQ. And that is now three straight games the Lakers have played at maybe their peak level, which may not sound like much but in the roller coaster world of the Lakers that is a Dimaggio-like streak. There is always the concern that some of the Lakers will come out flat for game two. But as one of the commenters on my blog said, if that happens the new, ultra-intense Kobe may rip said player’s Adam’s apple out with his teeth. I don’t think Kobe is going to allow much slippage. I just expect Orlando will play better. Thanks to Kurt for taking the time.