For The Love Of Three

 —  January 18, 2005

My mind is mush after spending much of the night up with a sick daughter. (Well, to be accurate, my mind is more mushy than normal.) So, today I bring some random thoughts held together by nothing but your imagination.

• Kobe is officially going to be out for at least two more weeks, or six more games, after a re-examination on Monday. My guess (based on nothing) is that he misses the eight remaining games of this Staples home stand (yes, I know one game is technically an away game against the Clippers) but returns for the East Coast road swing that follows.

• That could be a long six to eight games, by the way.

• First Golden State shot 4.1% better (eFG%) than they have for the rest of the season. Then Utah comes in and shoots 51.1%, well above their season average of 47.8%. Both teams also shot above the average the Lakers have given up to opponents this season (47.3%). The bottom line here — the Lakers miss Kobe’s defense more than his offense.

• The Lakers returned to plenty of old, bad habits against Utah — Lots of isolation plays and standing around (watching Lamar instead of Kobe); 27 three point shots despite the fact they weren’t hitting them (not enough of the shots were open looks off kick-outs); the Lakers lost the turnover battle by 5, and the offensive rebound battle by 2; as a result, the Jazz had 11 more shots than the Lakers. The Lakers stayed close thanks to 16 more free throw attempts.

• When Lamar got the ball in the low post, Utah doubled. And that pattern happened a lot, especially late, and the Laker way of dealing with it was predictable — a pass out to the guard for a three. Where were the cutters? There was better success in the first half when he got the ball in a mid-post position, giving him more room on drives (and other options).

• Yes Mihm was in foul trouble early, but where was he in the fourth? How does Rudy keep forgetting him? Did we need Cook in the game so we could take more threes?

• As for Sasha, a solid game on offense, but he still gets lost defensively at times. His man-to-man coverage is not impressive. In Italy the last few years Sasha played in a league that is known for playing a lot of zone, he looks comfortable in that defense but confused in man-to-man. That, at least, is something that can be taught over time. Still, against teams with more athletic guys at the guards, Sasha may see less court time.

• The Lakers ran a lot of zone defense against Utah and the Jazz destroyed it. Raja Bell just shot over the top of it. The Lakers need to change up their defensive schemes more often, different looks on different trips.

• Luke didn’t play again, but this time it is because he was sick. He’s day to day (but then, aren’t we all).

• I said before what matters about the future of the Lakers is not what Shaq says about Kobe but what the current Lakers say — if the word of mouth is good free agents will come. That’s why a Caron Butler quote in the Daily Breeze made me smile.

“Everything I heard about him is the complete opposite,” Butler said. “He’s a good person. I’ve definitely learned so much from him. I want to know what it takes to get there. He’s got three titles. He can be remembered in the same breath with Michael (Jordan) and Magic (Johnson). I just sit back and listen and learn.”