On Tap: The Philadelphia 76ers

 —  March 27, 2005

The ever-popular Chuck Atkins has given us the quote of the day, from the LA Times:

“We haven’t spent a whole lot of time on defense at any practices this season,” Atkins said. “We have just played it by ear. And now, we’re struggling for it.”

Wow, we would never have guessed. In the last 10 games the Lakers have given up 115.8 points per 100 possessions — almost 10 points a game worse than their season average. And their season average has them 28th in the league.

When the Lakers and Sixers met a couple of weeks ago that porous Laker defense let Alan Iverson run wild in the first quarter, although Kobe kept the team close. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise — ESPN Insider John Hollinger wrote a great story this week about how those two have the league’s two highest usage rates (they use the highest percentage of their team’s possessions, consider it a ball hog stat). The good news for Laker fans is Iverson is even worse than Kobe. Expect more of the same tonight.

In that last game, when Kobe’s legs got tired and his jumpshot faltered, no one else stepped up on offense, the defense continued to be nonexistent and the 76ers won handily. That could happen again. I don’t know if Frank Hamblen’s calling out of the team after the last game will spark the Lakers or not.

Lamar is officially a game time decision but I’d be surprised if he played.

What I’m looking for tonight is if any player management/rotation changes are made. There should be, now even the Lakers management seems to have figured out they are out of the playoffs. Two players I’d like to see more of did well in the last game between these two — Sahsa was +12 and Luke was +11. Let’s see what happens if they play key minutes earlier in the game.