First things first: About the worst thing to face on the second game of a back-to-back is the team that plays at the fastest pace in the league. The Suns average five more possessions per game than the Lakers and if it is played at their pace things could get ugly.
Speaking of ugly, did you see the game last night? Hereâ€™s the stat of the night (TNT flashed something similar at one point) â€” Kobeâ€™s true shooting percentage last night: 62.6%; the rest of the Lakers: 47.5% (for some comparison, the league median for players if 53.3%). Talk about being a ball hog all you want, when the rest of the guys donâ€™t hit their shots Kobe has to shoot too much, and with that formula the Lakers canâ€™t win consistently.
Iâ€™m with Chris in the comments below (and everyone else on the planet) in being frustrated with Lamar for that drive to the hoop with 14 seconds left on the game clock. Even a good outcome of that drive is that he gets fouled and hits two free throws, which means it is still a two possession game and the Kings get the ball back with too much time on the clock.
But there were other problems, too. Late in the game and in overtime a bunch of the Lakers had that â€œdeer in the headlightsâ€ look. There was no triangle offense, only guys trying to get the ball to Kobe no matter how covered he is. Yes, Kobe wants the ball, but if they overplay him other guys have to be open, they need to get their shots and make them.
I want to like Kwame Brown, I am really trying to, but his defensive rotations are terrible (man to man itâ€™s pretty good). He seems to have no sense of where he is on the defensive end of the court. Itâ€™s not just the non-rotation on that late three, I had made the note much earlier when Brad Miller pick-and-rolled to a dunk and Kwame didnâ€™t step into the passing lane. There were other incidents as well and not just in this game.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim is a man. I detest Mike Bibby, and wish he played for us.
Check this out: The latest Carnival of the NBA blogs is up â€” at the cleverly named Bucket Brigade (all about Paul Pierce) â€” and worth the read.
About the Suns: You hear plenty about the Suns offense, but the key to them this season is they are playing very good defense â€” they are second in the NBA with a defensive rating of 101.9.
The key is that the Suns are creating more turnovers â€” on 16.1% of opponent possessions, up from 13.8% last season â€” and they are giving up fewer offensive rebounds â€” 27.6% this season, 31.7% last season. They also are slowing teamâ€™s shooting a little, 46.8% (eFG%) this season, 47.7% last season.
The best places to attack them have been the point (Steve Nash still doesnâ€™t play defense) and the four. If the Lakers are to have any chance tonight, Lamar Odom has to have a big game and the Lakers need to get points inside.
And they need to control and slow down the tempo. Get into a track meet (as they did at points with both Golden State and Sacramento recently) and they will get run out of the building.
And Iâ€™m outta here: Iâ€™m going to Vegas for a three-day weekend to visit the in-laws, Iâ€™ll be back late Monday.
This brings my annual caution to you single men (and women) out there: Donâ€™t marry someone with in-laws in Vegas. It turns the best city in the nation for nights of fun, debauchery and creating stories youâ€™ll be laughing and retelling when you 70, and turns it into Bakersfield. I will not get to watch one NFL Championship game in a casino, not get one free Jack and coke while playing blackjack (let alone get near a poker table). Rather, I will listen to in-laws describe the pain from their bunions (and other ailments) in excruciating detail, all the while knowing good times are just around the corner taunting me.