It’s the Offense, Stupid

Kurt —  February 15, 2007

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s been hard to watch the Laker defense of late, for example the Knicks’ guards seemed to get into the paint at will and the defensive rotations have been horrible. And, in the last 10 games, the Lakers have given up an average of 12.5 offensive rebounds a game, just to compound their problems.

I thought the recent Laker slump (4-10 in their last 14) was due to the defense. But that’s one of the reasons I also like statistics — they can point out where your perceptions are off.

In the last 10 games, the Lakers defensive rating has been 108.2 (points per 100 opponent possessions). That’s actually one point per 100 better than they have been all season. Add to that the fact the Lakers played some weak offensive teams of late and I think what this means really is that the defense is playing about how it has all season. (Which is not good, that 108.2 would still have the Lakers 17th in the league for the season, rather than the current 22nd. Those kinds of numbers do not suggest a first-round playoff win.)

However, the bigger problem of late is the offense — the Lakers have an offensive rating of 106.4 (points per 100 possessions) in the past 10 games. That is 3.3 points per 100 off their full-season pace. Or, look at it this way — for the season the Lakers are the 7th best offensive team in the NBA, but in the 10 gamest they would be 22nd.

And it comes down to the central offensive ingredient — shooting. The Lakers are shooting 48% (eFG%) in the last 10 games, well below the 51.2% they are shooting for the season. Kobe’s shooting percentage in the last 10 games is just a hair above his season average, but everyone around him — Odom, Smush, Bynum, Mo Evans, Cook — are way off their averages.

The Laker defense has been bad all season, but for much of the year the offense was bailing them out. Not lately. I doubt there is just one cause, it’s more a combination of missing Luke Walton, Lamar’s knee being weak and that sapping his confidence, the lack of fast breaks and some easy baskets, and just some guys in slumps.

Whatever the reasons, they need to snap out of it.

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As for the Cavs tonight, here are a few notes and things to look for:

In the last 10 games, the Lakers are averaging 2 fewer possessions per game than they had been. As has been noted before by Rob on this blog, the Lakers have done better at higher tempos. Time to push the ball up the court.

Superstitious things that worry me: With All Starts dropping like flies, I’d like Kobe to get through this game healthy.

The Lakers catch a couple of breaks. First, this is the second game of a back to back for the Cavs, who lost by one point in Utah last night. Also, Zydrunas Ilgauskas will miss the game due to “personal reasons,” according to Mike Bresnahan at the LA Times. He didn’t play last night. That may free up Bynum to be more of a help defender.

The Lakers did a solid job last time not letting LeBron get to the basket too easily and forced him to be more of a mid-range shooter. Tonight they also need to do that to Anderson Varejao, who only shoots well close to the basket.

As for Aleksandar Pavlovic, well, he’s colder from the right side of the floor midrange. Better yet, just don’t let him shoot, the Lakers sagged off him a lot last game and paid for it.

Also, one of our regular readers here at FB&G will be stuck tonight, not able to use his season seats and not near a computer or television. If someone is going to the game tonight and can give him some calls with updates, send me an email and I’ll try to get you connected. Thanks.

And let’s hope those reports do not in any way involve what happened at the end of the last meeting between these two.

Kurt

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16 responses to It’s the Offense, Stupid

  1. Well, I think most people would agree that the offense of this team is what usually wins or loses its games. The Smushcalade and co. are pretty consistent with their defense (consistently bad is still consistent)…whenever they hit a good percentage of their 25 3’s a game or whatever ridiculous number they tend to win. Lakers are 23-7 when they make .354+ of their 3’s a game (which is about their average). Running the offense and making shots leads to no easy fast break points for the other team..which leads to harder shots and hopefully fast break opportunities for LA. I think they take way too many 3’s a game but if that’s the team they have then they gotta roll with it and hope the shots fall..

    Here’s the website that has a bunch of ridiculous stats that are really good to analyze..they show alot of the W/L records depending on if the Lakers hit a certain percentage or get certain stats..
    http://www.hoopsstats.com/basketball/fantasy/nba/los-angeles-lakers/team/profile/07/13/1

  2. Thanks for that link, I’ve been to that site but kept meaning to go bak and take a closer look.

    The thing that jumped out at me: The Laker offense is 10 points more efficient at home than on the road. That is huge.

  3. The Lakers recent landslide all started when Odom came back. I dont know why but it did. He can’t seem to make those easy lay-ups or put backs and looks to the refs for every little call. It is taking him a long time to get comfortable in the offense again. In the beginning of the season it came easy to him, now, he’s lost.

    Smush’s Defense is not the issue. Yes it is a problem but like Goo says it has been consistent and we have learned win dispite it.

    Except for our guard defense, our defense is very good when the refs aren’t calling weird calls on us. Offense under 4:00 in the 4th qtr is where everyone needs to wake up. It seems like when the triangle breaks down everyone freezes and doesn’t know what to do, where other teams can run a more playground style offense and get baskets when the offense fails. They can do this because they have a point guard who can create and break down can defenses (we don’t except Kobe, who at this point has 3 guys on him). If the Laker players can snap out of the triangle mind state when it breaks down and immediately start playing more Instinctively, we will probably pick up a lot more points where there would normally be a turn over.

    One last thing when the hell are Luke and Kwmane gonna Man Up and play some ball?

    D

  4. A great game from Kobe tonight could put him past Garnett in PER, not that I care about such things. I must say I am impressed with D-Wades phenomenol PER.

  5. Boy, 5 losses in a row. i would have never thought it was possible the way they were playing earlier in the year, injuries or not. Since the win at the Spurs (a month of basketball), the Lakers have won only 4 games. Lamar keeps vanishing at the end of games and our defense just will not force itself onto the opposing guards. the other team just gets in the lane anytime they want to. rebounding the other team’s missed free throws seems to be a lost art as well.

    yet, through all of this, we probably could have won every game this month except the Detroit game. I am not fretting yet. this team still has me believing.

  6. Same probelms. Same results. Another disappointing loss.

  7. My wife told me to shut up and slammed the bedroom door… I will be sleeping on the couch.

  8. I was at the game tonight and though it was pretty entertaining I’m upset that we lost.

    Mr. DLeague himself, Smush Parker, helped us lose again. He made old Eric Snow look like Dwyane Wade at points in the fourth quarter. If he can’t stay in front of snow, he can’t stay in front of anyone.

    Vlad Rad: Don’t shoot three unless they’re in the corners.

    Brian Cook: You’re a spot up shooter and that’s it, don’t put the ball on the floor, and don’t try to shoot fade away’s

    Lamar: Go to the freakin basket and stop bitching after every missed call. He’s so unagressive it’s sickening.

    Andrew Bynum: Work on getting up for games. He plays with almost no energy and no enthusiasm. It’s almost like he really doesn’t like basketball…he’s just out there because he’s tall and talented. Give Bynum Turiaf’s heart and hustle and you have a force to deal with.

    The Lakers really need Kwame and Luke back and they really need a PG. The play Farmar got called for a charge for in the fourth is the perfect example of what he does better than Smush. Farmar made a play (although he got called for a charge), that set up Lamar. A point guards job is to play make. Farmar at least does that. Smush NEVER does that. As well, Farmar will stay in front of his man, and not make guys like Eric Snow look like D-Wade. I personally like both Farmar and Sasha over the Smushcalade.

    Injuries and the inconsistency that comes with not having everyone healthy is really starting to hurt the lakers. They still have time to get it together though. Just need Kwame and Luke back and a new starting PG. It would be nice to get Chris Mihm back too.

  9. How many times must the Smusher look back
    to see that his man has flashed by?
    Yes, ‘n’ after a layup or our “big” makes a foul
    Can he hear all the Laker fans cry?
    Yes, ‘n’ how many losses will it take till he knows
    That the spirit of his teammates has died?
    The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
    The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

  10. A little Robert Zimmerman on a basketball blog works for me…

  11. Scottie Pippen wants to come back…I’m sure phil would love him to come in and be this teams Ron Harper…

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2767861

  12. You think Scottie and Phil could play nice after all of their shenanigans when Pippen was in Portland? I’d hope Scottie would have written that off as “Phil being Phil” by this time, but you never know.

    On another note, the 06-07 Lakers squad is getting close to being the worst defensive Phil Jackson coached NBA team.

  13. Rob L.: You forgot to preface your last statement with: “Thanks to Smush…”

  14. PIPPEN!!!! We need him! He’s the spark we’re looking for. I almost feel as if this is a sign… 5 game losing streak, no Kidd deal happening, no good PG’s to trade for, no good PF’s to trade for… how bout we get a guy who can do both, as well as tell Lamar how to play better. Best of all, he’s an EXPERT in the triangle. If this is isn’t a sign, then I don’t know what is. Pippen even said 1)he is willing to play 10-15 minutes a game at PF 2) hes willing to sign 10 day contract to show he can still play. And wasn’t he an assistant coach for us last season in training camp working with Lamar?

  15. Oops, I was mistaken. Currently this Laker team IS the worst defensive team Phil has ever coached. Their defensive rating (points per 100 possessions) is 109.5 which ranks them 23rd in the league. The 2001 Lakers had a DRtg of 104.9 which ranked them 21st in the league. Of course the ’01 team had the 2nd best offense (108.4) in the NBA, so it didn’t really matter. This year’s Lakers are only the 7th best offense (109.7).

    Smush deserves a chunk of the blame for this year’s defensive woes. But there are other factors. Kobe’s knee ain’t the same and it shows on defense. Now, I’m not saying Kobe can’t defend. I’m just saying he’s not quite in his All-Defensive Team form right now. Bynum has not yet found the right balance in his help defense. And we have three major team additions (Radmanovic, Evans, Farmar) who are trying to integrate into the offense. Two of those three have shown a fair amout of solid D. The other one, not so much.

    But to close out on poor Smush. The Cavs, you might have heard, have a player by the name of LeBron James. He’s pretty good. Agent Zero just called him out for not wanting the ball at the end of games. Sounds like a superstar with a chip on his shoulder. I bet they give the ball to that guy at the end. Nope. Coach Mike launches Eric Snow again and again at Smush. Coach Mike is not an offensive genius. If he can see there’s only one play needed to beat the Lakers, this team needs a change. And it has to come from Smush. He was better defensively last year, and is good at times on the court (like that trap with Kobe that resulted in the turnover). I know he’s grumpy for earning so little as an NBA starting pg, but this is not the way to win yourself a fat contract, man.

  16. well said Rob L – “I know he’s grumpy for earning so little as an NBA starting pg, but this is not the way to win yourself a fat contract, man.” Too bad Smush hasn’t realized this yet.

    I was a HUGE Smush fan last season… I thought he had a great upside. I was even thinking to myself last year, just wait til next year, Smush is gonna kick ass! Well, Smush has let me down. He is not nearly as aggressive as he was last year and thats the main problem he is having. Last year he was dunking on people all the time, this year he hasn’t… what does that tell you? He is not as aggressive and its affecting his defense to the point where he is seriously close to losing his job.

    PJ has admitted to us that Smush had problems with his low salary, and like Rob said… you earn more $ by playing better, not sulking and playing worse. Now I’m not saying lets give up on Smush and get rid of him… I just think we should get somebody else to start and let Smush be a role player.