Preview and Chat: The Washington Wizards

Kurt —  February 3, 2007

A word or 164 on Indiana. Is it just me, or did the Lakers last night remind you of last season’s version? The ones that, if Kobe wasn’t on top of his game, couldn’t step up to help out. The ones that had absolutely horrible defensive rotations so their defense only worked when they could create steals. The ones with no good play off the bench. The ones with the passive Lamar Odom. The ones that could not stay in front of a point guard (and cue the defensive rotation comment again).

I’m also going to lay a little of this at Phil’s feet: Why change four out of the five guys on the floor to start the fourth quarter when you’ve been on a 22-8 run with them? Indiana had made some changes, going to their bench as well, but this the chance to put the game out of reach, then rest the starters the last 8 minutes. Instead, the momentum swung and the Lakers never got it back.

Gilbert vs. Kobe. First, let me say this — these two starts are going to get theirs tonight. The team that plays the best around their star will get the win.

That said, slowing Agent 0 would be a big help. Last time these two met Arenas used 37% of his team’s possessions, shot 60.9% (eFG%) and dropped 60 on the Lakers. After which Kobe made the oft-repeated and ironic “he has no conscience” statement.

But it wasn’t just Arenas.
A lot of the Wizards shot well. All-Star Caron Butler used 22 possessions and shot 50% (eFG%) and got to the line a lot, so his true shooting percentage (think points per shot attempt) was a very good 65.5%. DeShawn Stevenson shot 71.3%. Jamison shot well too, but he will not be playing tonight due to a knee injury.

Bottom line: The Lakers are going to have to play a lot better team defense than they did last time these two squared off. Or than they did last night.

As for the Lakers last meeting. Kobe and Vladrad put on a shooting clinic of their own on. Kobe shot 77.1% on his way to 45 points, Radman shot 84,4% on his way to 27. As a team the Lakers shot 58.5%, which will get it done if you play any D.

Injury update. Luke Walton is expected to start playing again on the road trip, possibly in Atlanta. However, Kwame is slower to heal from his sprain, will see a specialist next week and is still a couple weeks away.

Things to look for. While the media attention will be all over the Kobe/Arenas rivalry (and that could lead to some amazing shot making) the game itself is really is all about the Laker defense. The Wizards are second in the NBA in offensive efficiency (113.6 points per 100 possessions, besting the Lakers at 110.5, 6th best). To balance that, the Wizards are 28th in the league in defense. The Wizards play at the fourth fastest pace in the league. What they want to do is turn this into a shootout. The Lakers can’t do that and win, especially on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Lakers need to make their shots, crash the offensive boards to at least slow the Wizards break a little, and then in the half court rotate on defense.

Let’s hope the team bounces back from an embarrassing game last night.

to Preview and Chat: The Washington Wizards

  1. It will be interesting to look at pace factor. I think I’ve discovered a trend in recent Lakers game of playing to the preferred pace of the opponent. This, in and of itself, means nothing. But anyone who’s watched the Lakers these past few weeks can see they are generally letting the other team control the game flow. Even in victory. Hopefully when Luke comes back and Lamar’s gotten in flow again the team can take charge like they did earlier in the season.

    Also, Phil had said he was concerned about the 4 games in 5 days thing. That’s why he wanted to use the bench rotations he did. He was afraid of the guys getting run down. Not an excuse per se, but at least a reasoning.


  2. I suggest everyone head on over to deadspin and watch this great video of Arenas taking on Stevenson in a 3 pt shooting contest for 20k.

    It is kinda funny to see how much of a baby Gil really is, trying to mess up his opponents shots, and genrally acting like a 4 year old.


  3. Yeah, they can forget this game…although of course Jamison is out…if they don’t play any D. They are going to have pick their game up a lot. They’re more than capable of winning; they just need to play a bit of D. Period.


  4. It’s only halftime, and this is already one hot game. The Wiz are the most entertaining Laker match up of the season so far.


  5. Not only entertaining, but we’re midway through the third and the Lakers are playing good defense. Even Smush.

    Hope that didn’t jinx it.


  6. Stevenson should have punched Gilbert for being such an immature ass.


  7. The media makes so much of this supposed rivalry. All Kobe meant, I believe, when he said that Arenas had no conscience, was that Arenas can pretty much get to the hoop whenever he wants and he’s an incredible attacker of the rim. He has an amazing array of shots. Maybe this will quiet the bobbleheads who say this is a personal rivalry. All Laker starters in double figures. We’re not gonna lose many games playing like that. And even without the hoops IQ of Luuuuuuuuuke.


  8. Okay, it probably wouldn’t ever happen, but imagine a Lakers-Wiz Finals. I’m having a hard time thinking of a more fun match up. Maybe Suns-Cavs, if LeBron really turned it on.


  9. Wow – The Lakers played some goddamn defense, FINALLY!

    I know Gil-bert scored 37, but most of those were coming on drives to the basket and foul calls. That 2nd/3rd Quarter was all about team defense.

    But bravo Smush, good work getting all those steals, and boy Kobe had a nice bounce to his step all game. Great to see him hit shots he was missing in Indiana.

    BTW, why in the world has LeBron NOT been suspended for that Brutus “the Barber Beefcake”-style clothesline on D-Wade from THURS night? I’m about to lose my mind on this one!


  10. that was a good defensive game, they played decent d against the spurs too, even Indiana, the defense is improving, what I see as a potential problem is Odom. We aren’t getting him the ball in his “comfort zones” and it seems hes been re-relegated to 3 point bomber, which some nites will work, but in the long run hes gotta be aggressively taking it to the hoop and posting up more often, at least till Luke gets back


  11. How in the WORLD did Smush only get credit for 1 (one) steal last night? ROAD stat geeks, that’s how. That’s pathetic.


  12. My finals dream is still Lakers – Heat before Shaq leaves the game (or even against Wade)…I know I know the rivalry is old and dead and beaten to death but the idea of Kobe beating Shaq for his first post-Shaq ring would be glorious..


  13. I took a running tally of plays that Smush was involved in last night to see if I could get a better feel for how he was affecting the game. Well, last night was an over all good game for Smush. He used his length to bother Arenas and was savvy enough not to leave his feet on jump shots. He was blown by twice in the game, but overall he kept Arenas out of the paint by playing him for the drive but over playing his right hand to force him left. Twice Arenas had to go behind his back to go left, one resulting in a spectacular play the other ending up in a turnover.

    His offensive game was positive. No early in the shot clock forced threes, which in my opinion he should never be able to take. He made his man pay for doubling off him by going to the hoop for a couple easy chippies. He clanked a couple wide-open threes early but they were within the offense. I don’t really consider unsuccessful forays to the basket negatives because it is crucial that he does this to keep the defense honest. Most of the times he was unsuccessful were due to his indecision as he got close tot the basket. He’s just not that great of a finisher.

    He had only one stretch in the third where he affected the momentum of the game. He missed wide open three and then fouled Daniels for an and one, but before that he had stolen the ball from Etan Thomas (sorry fivemantaichi but this was his only steal, he had a few “forced turnovers” but those don’t show up in the box score)

    But the defensive effort against Arenas was crucial to this win. He got a lot of help and with Jamison out the Lakers were able to focus a little more on Agent 9-29.


  14. yea, kwame a, you are right, as usual. Lamar looking for 3’s way too much. He got mad love on the Daily Dime from Marc Stein though. Calling him the x-factor of the Western Conference.