Fast Break

Kurt —  November 28, 2005

Thoughts collected during a weekend of gluttony and watching the Nets/Lakers game (and some football):

• At the start of the season, I said I expected the Lakers to struggle the first month, so it’s a little to early to panic at the 5-7 record (likely to be 5-8 with a game at San Antonio next). Things are not that bleak — the Lakers Pythagorean record is 7-5 so far, meaning they are playing better than their record indicates. (The Pythagorean expected wins/loss system is common in baseball and uses points scored and given up as a measure of a teams record. This shows the Lakers are losing a lot of close games they could win.)

• That said, I thought the Laker defense would get better — it has — and the offense would still be solid. It isn’t. The Lakers are 25th in the league in offensive efficiency (101.4 points per 100 possessions, compare that to 107 last season).

Against the Nets, for the second game in a row, Kobe has a slow first half (1 of 8 from the field) and the entire offense sputters to just 28 points. He carries the load in the second half, the team scores more, Kobe gets noticed for his 46, and the Lakers force overtime (although as a team they still shot just 36.7% eFG%, a level that will win very few games).

I’m working on a longer, more detailed post about the Laker offense, but here’s the bottom line: Until the above scenario changes — until someone else can become a consistent scoring threat besides #8 — we are going to see a lot more games like last night. The Lakers are going to hang in games then hope Kobe is enough in the end no matter how many people are guarding him. That’s the recipe for an up and down season.

• Saw two good movies over the weekend: Walk the Line and the new Harry Potter (to maintain any shred of credibility I may have left on a sports blog after that admission, let me note that my wife is a huge fan of the Potter series so she dragged me to the theater — I had no choice). Joaquin Phoenix deserves the Oscar for his portrayal of Cash and that movie made me dig through my old cassette tape collection (remember those) and find my Live at Folsom Prison recording. Just classic stuff, and that coming from a guy who can’t stand “country music.”

• How do you grab 23 offensive rebounds and still shoot below 40% — and lose? Ask the Lakers.

• I thought the plan was to back off the pressure defense out top against the better point leagues, for example, Jason Kidd. How many times did he burn Smush? And those errors seemed to get Smush angry so he tried to prove his manhood and got in Kidd’s face more. How’d that work out for you? That was Smush’s worst game, by far.

• On the other hand Sasha was a +22 last night. His numbers weren’t impressive, but defensively he just tried to limit Kidd rather than get in his face.

• I will give Smush this, I love that he’s named his new SUV the “Smushcalade.” (Actually, the car is Devean George’s.)

• Good to see Luke Walton back, that should help the offensive flow some. I hope.

• Kevin Pelton, want to come down to LA and watch the Fiesta Bowl with me? I’ll buy the beer.