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.

to Fast Break

  1. during that horrendous start, they got pretty good shots…they just didn’t go in. the turnover count wasn’t too crazy during that span.

    i don’t know. chalk it up to an off night and playing a team that didn’t want to go home with zero road wins, perhaps?

    the defense looked good. that’s what kept it from being a blowout. really drives home how horrible you can play at the other end and still have a shot at a win.

    i’m glad odom’s 11 rebounds and 5 assists weren’t enough to satiate phil this time. he’s got to start treating kobe and odom like a two-superstar tandem. he should have no fear of odom’s game resembling kobe’s game if he starts focusing on trying to free lamar up a bit to get him more shots.

    that should be the main focus, finally finding a way to integrate kobe and lamar together, because it sure looks like we’re going to be sub-.500 for awhile now.


  2. Hey,
    I greatly enjoy your website. Being born and raised in LA all my life, I now find myself out here in the East with the usual Lakers haters.

    Anyways, what do you think about the chances of the Lakers landing Chris Bosh when/if he becomes a free agent down the road? He’s very disgruntled with the mess in Toronto and leaving Toronto even though he would conceivably offered a max contract might be possible. He would be a great piece for the Lakers with his inside scoring, good mid-range game, as well as his intensity (something that the rest of the Lakers seem to be lacking).



  3. I’ll admit that previously I had said that Sasha should do some time in the D league before the season started, but he seems to be improving. I was miffed that Phil put Smush back in for OT when Sasha had done a better job of keeping JKidd in front of him as well as knocking down a big shot. Sasha plays the whole fourth quarter and Smush plays none, and then Smush gets the call for OT?


  4. I was surprised at Smush coming back in as well. On previous teams I would have said “this is a learning situation for Smush,” but this Laker team just can’t take any games for granted. We need those wins.

    Thanks, Dave. As for Chris Bosh, I bet he wants out of the Great White North. There would be a long list of teams seeking his services, but he is under contract this season and next, then there is qualifiying offer the season after that (according to Hoopshype). So we would have to wait a few years or get him in a trade somehow.


  5. We had great looks in the first but the whole squad seemed to be suffering from alligator arms. How many shots carommed off the front of the rim? Sasha earned the right to start in OT, but I think Phils pulling him in favor of Smush had more to do with Phil thinking Sasha was winded than anything else.

    As for Bosh, I don’t see the Raps letting him go. At least not right away. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his career follow the same trajectory as Vince Carter’s. They’ll sign Bosh to the MAX, then sign a few pieces to complement him (Rose, Alvin Williams, and Zo’s buyout will be coming off of the books around then) and make a run at the playoffs for about 3 seasons before Bosh is traded and the team is dismantled. Again.


  6. glad to see Luke come back, I really like his basketball IQ.
    i bet you’ll see that he had a nice positive influence while he was on the floor. his passing and getting other guys involved, rebounds, hustle plays, and the occasional buket were solid contributions.
    maybe if Luke stays healthy he could develop into a team leader, underrstanding the triangle, and being a “heady” player, we sure do need some high IQ out there now. it sure seems like a bunch of lost guys out there, and this is with Kwame out, and we all know he needs the most IQ improvement. so a healthy Luke could make a difference, let’s hope so.


  7. If were going to start talking about free agency…

    The reality of the Lakers master plan is that the 2007 free agency class is almost talentless with the exception of (drumroll please) … Rashard Lewis. That’s it. After stating over the weekend that he will opt out of his contract after next season he’s the only all-star available and the only player capable of putting up 30 points. Unless you believe Nowitzki will also opt out and leave the Mavericks. But that seems as unlikely now as the possiblity of Yao or Stoudemire leaving their respective teams did before the start of this season.

    Also, I’m curios how many Lakers fans are ready to trade Odom. Odom for Stojakovic. There I said it.


  8. Sure. Rubbing in defeat would be that much sweeter in person.


  9. Foul situation: By 82 games, Lakers forcing bad passes, but giving up many loose ball fouls. Is that good defense, or just gambling?


  10. The style of defense the Lakers have chosen to go with this season, a more agressive style (as opposed to the more classicly fundamental style of San Antonio) creates turnovers and fouls. They go hand-in-hand for these Lakers (San Antonio is second in defense but 23rd in creating turnovers.)