Archives For March 2007

Kareem vs. Bruce Lee: The guys at NBA Fanhouse have been mining Youtube and found a classic.

Dare we say “winning streak? Here are the next five Laker games — Minnesota, Memphis, New Orleans, Golden State, Memphis. All winable, and a chance to get their confidence back heading toward the playoffs.

Last meeting. These two teams got together for a double-overtime game two weeks ago, a game where Minnesota stayed close in the fourth quarter because Mark Blount suddenly thought he was Jason Kapono and went 3-3 from three-point range. Minnesota eventually won in double overtime.

For the most part the Lakers played pretty good defense in that game, even Rickey Davis (who had 33 points) was 10-23 from the floor (but got to the line a lot and was 12-12 there). Garnett also shot under 50%.

It was the Laker offense that sputtered in that game, particularly late — there were the three failed inbounds plays, and the team being baffled by the zone defense. Outside of Kobe the Lakers shot 41.3%.

But this time the Lakers have Odom and Walton back.
Walton is expected back tonight.

Things to look for: I’m guessing we won’t see Kobe throwing his arm out and hitting Jaric in the face again. Jaric will likely get the primary Kobe assignment, as Trenton Hassell is not completely healed from a sprained ankle.

With Jaric trying to overplay Kobe and deny him the ball, other guys should be able to get good matchups and looks, Odom, others need to step up.

Hopefully the Lakers will have better defensive rotations out to the three-point line — it was a weak spot against Portland. They need to get out there even if the guy shooting is some 7-foot center, like Blount.

Look for a big game from Smush on offense — the T-Wolves are worse at defending the point guard spot than the Lakers (Smush had 24 in the last meeting on 64.3% [eFG%] shooting). Of course, they also struggle to defend the two, and I think that guy who plays the two for the Lakers can score pretty well too.

Our Kevin Garnett Offer

Kurt —  March 17, 2007

As I said before, this blog entered a hypothetical bidding war with the Celtics and the Bulls for the rights to KG. This was really a group effort, my original proposal changed dramatically after reading at your comments, seeing your votes and thinking of how to make a proposal work. I put the proposal in the form of an open letter.

To Minnesota General Manager Kevin McHale;

Hello, we’re looking forward to doing a little business with you. Can we call you Kevin? Okay, Mr. McHale it is. Anyway, we know you don’t want to give up the guy who has been the cornerstone of your franchise for the past decade, but since he asked out you want to be a good guy and help him out. We understand. And we want to help you out.

See, we have some experience with trading superstars, we did it just a few years ago. And, let me tell you, no matter what you do, you’re going to get excoriated for it. That said, do it right and you can start a rebuild the team for the future with this move — clear out some cap space and really start to restructure the roster. We want to be fair, so we’ll give you an offer comparable to what we got when we traded our superstar away a few years ago:

Lamar Odom
Kwame Brown
Brian Cook
Vladimir Radmanovic
2008 First round draft pick, unprotected

For

Kevin Garnett
Mike James

Odom gives you a legitimate star you can run the offense through, Vladimir is a great third option who can shoot outside but is better around the basket than we thought when we got him, Brian Cook will give you some scoring punch off the bench, Kwame Brown is a $9 million expiring contract (and Odom’s deal has just two more years), plus we hear the at 2008 draft is going to be great. You get to make Garnett happy and clear out that ugly Mike James contract (VladRad’s contract is ultimately worth the same amount as James’ but spread over one more year and you get a better player). If you want to take Radmanovic and James out of the deal, we can do that.

You’re asking about Andrew Bynum? Sorry, we’ve talked it over and, to be honest, we’re pretty split on the idea of including him in a deal. But, when you look at the NBA champions of the last decade we keep seeing guys like Duncan, Shaq and Ben Wallace in the paint, guys who anchor the middle for their respective teams. We’re not sure how good Bynum will be ultimately — maybe a healthy Brad Daugherty? — but we see him as the anchor beyond the three or four years Kobe and Garnett could have together. So, he’s off the table.

That’s the offer. If you don’t want to take it, we understand (but we’d still like to talk to you about being the third team in a Jason Kidd deal).

Sincerely,

The Laker Fanbase

65 To Enjoy

Kurt —  March 17, 2007

Kobe had the kind of performance you just need to sit back and watch a few times.

Light at the end of the tunnel. The first quarter last night, when the “these were the guys we are supposed to have out there” starters were in the game, the Laker offense looked like a triangle again. Guys were moving without the ball, Kobe was drawing the double team then dishing (and guys actually hit the shot). There was spacing and passing lanes. As a team the Lakers shot 60% in the first quarter. It gave me some hope — once Luke and Lamar get their legs under them again, the offense could get back to where it was.

That light at the end of the tunnel could be an oncoming train. While the offense looked good for a stretch, the Laker defense looked, well, like the Laker defense. It still sucks. Steve Kerr gets it and said this last night:

“Despite the fact that (Kwame Brown’s) numbers aren’t great and he’s taken a lot of heat this year, he’s a big reason for (the Lakers’) lapse in defense, they miss his body and his inside presence. Because of his absence and that of Chris Mihm, the Lakers have been very porous defensively.”

The third quarter run by the Nuggets started when Bynum subbed in for Kwame with the game tied, the next thing you knew the Lakers were down 11. And it got uglier from there. For the game the Nuggets shot 60.5% (eFG%), 69% in the third quarter, and you’re not going to win games allowing your opponents to shoot like that.

The last meeting with Portland looked like last night. The Lakers fell to the Blazers last month, Portland pulling away with a 16-2 run in the fourth quarter. It was maybe the Lakers sloppiest defensive game of the season. Jarret Jack abused Smush for 30 points on 9 of 12 shooting, Zach Randolph stepped away from the basket and Bynum didn’t follow, so he had 22.

During the key stretch, Portland relied primarily on the pick-and-pop, with Roy and Aldridge a couple times, with Dickau and Randolph another time. The Lakers misplayed it just about every way possible. I think the Lakers can count on seeing a lot more of this tonight.

Another big difference was how much the Trailblazer bench outplayed the Laker bench.

Things to look for: Phil did one smart thing last night, sitting Lamar and Walton when the game got out of reach, resting them for tonight.

I’m curious to see if the offense runs smoothly for longer tonight. That said, play defense like last time these two met and the issue is moot.

Defensively, it means forcing Randolph into the midrange and then — unlike last game — don’t give him time to set and get a perfect look from there. He’s not a great mid-range shooter if you get a hand in his face.

And for the love of God, somebody stay in front of Jack. At least sometimes.

Hard drive crashes suck

I had a preview ready to go for tonight’s matchup, complete with numbers and some analysis that I thought was pretty good, but it now lives in a limbo land (the same with the final on the KG trade ideas, but that will be up later tonight).

Anyway, what the story said is that Iverson is scoring at about the same pace he was at in Philly, but he is shooting a little high percentage. While Carmelo has gotten some bad national press, his numbers seem to be about the same as well. And Camby has been thriving.

For the Lakers, we could see the old starting lineup of Smush, Kobe, Walton, Odom and Kwame back tonight, which would be a welcome sight. Cook is out because, well, only one power forward at a time on the Laker roster.

I hope the days of frustration will start to fade for Laker fans. That said, Smush is still the starting point and that made Goo wax poetic in the comments (and sing this to yourself as a Christmas classic):

You can just shoot
Or you can just drive
Your points will follow suit
I’m telling you why
Smush Parker is coming to town
He’ll lunge for a steal
Or get caught in a screen
Watching him play defense
Makes me lunge for morphine
Smush Parker is coming to town
He watches when you’re shooting
Though he’s 15 feet away
He hacks at every shot you take
So just try a few pump fakes!
O! Just wait till he pouts
Then you can just blow by
Tell your mom to watch the game
Cause you’ll score a career high
Smush Parker is coming to town!