Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

Kurt —  April 4, 2007

Why Worry? There seems to be some chatter out in Laker land about who would be the best first-round matchup for the Lakers, San Antonio or Phoenix? (Or, Dallas, although that is an outside chance.)

It doesn’t matter, right now the Lakers can’t beat any of them in a seven game series.

They need to clean up their own house first, and that has to start on the defensive end. All you need to know is the Nuggets shot 51.2% eFG% and had an offensive rating of 107 (points per 100 possessions). That is simply bad defense by the stats, but you didn’t need the stats to see what was going on. Iverson broke Smush and everyone else down off the dribble, there were slow rotations. There were flashes of good defense, but nothing consistent.

Play like that again tonight, lose tonight. Play like that in the playoffs, whomever the opponent, and be golfing soon.

Why not Odom? Commenter kwame a. asked this question last night:

Why don’t we post Odom up and run the offense through him? I don’t understand why we don’t utilize this weapon?

It’s a great question, Odom is a beast in the post then if you put a stronger guy on him to slow him he can drag the guy out to the perimeter and blow past him. As a whole, the Lakers have done a poor job of late of trying to exploit mismatches — the win against Sacramento being the exception (they pounded the ball inside on the small and weak defensive front line of the Kings). Exploiting mismatches (and adjustments game to game) is what playoff basketball is all about.

Ya gotta have Hart. With Livingston and Cassell down, you’d think the Clippers would be hurting at the point. But veteran Jason Hart, scooped up off waivers, has turned in solid performances for the Clips.

Hart is shooting a solid 47.4%, but knows his role here is not to score so he has averaged just 8.3 points per game in the last 10. He’s also pitching in about four assists and two steals a game. His +/- has been 0 so far — not great (like Cassell) but not hurting the team either. Which for a guy picked up off the scrap heap forced to play 30 minutes a night, is pretty good.

The other guy who now has the ball in his hands more is Correy Maggette, and he has responded by shooting 49.5% (eFG%) and getting to the line nine times a game in the last 10 games. The result is 19.3 points and 5 assists per game in that span.

And the result of all that is the Clippers are 7-3 in those 10 games. And they are building momentum toward the playoffs.

Read Clipper Blog. I can’t put it more simply than that, Kevin would get my vote for best NBA team blog.

Kurt

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27 responses to Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

  1. If they are in the middle of a playoff race, why would they play the inconsistent rookie point guard in Farmar. Why isnt the veteran Shammond getting more minutes.

  2. I was out of town last night, so I didn’t get a chance to catch the game. But as soon as I saw that Kwame Brown didn’t play in the second half, I knew the Lakers were in trouble. It might sound crazy, but the Lakers cannot win without Kwame. If he doesn’t play, they are in big trouble!

  3. WHAT…..

    THE…..

    FREAK!?!?

    You want to talk about one of the most frustrating halves since, I don’t know, 1998?

  4. Trying to find some positive things to say … the white shoes with the forum blue uniforms always reminds me of the ’80s and Showtime — always a nice throwback. If only they could throw their play back to that era as well!

    Any coordinated uniform changes remind me of the ’90s Bulls and their black shoes/socks in the playoffs, though. That was the first time I actually became aware of these kinds of things.

    Well, let’s see if the Lakers can continue this 3rd quarter push …

  5. Jones,

    It’s not that they can’t win without Kwame so much as they can’t win without another big man. They have only 1 other true big man in Bynum. Turiaf is not tall enough to guard the big centers out there, and Cook is soft. Brand and Kaman had 24 boards between the two of them and 10 of them were offensive rebounds. THAT is ugly.

    We have about 6 SF’s on the roster, most of which are mediocre. And we have about 6 Gaurds, most of which are also garbage. We don’t even use Mckie, Shammond doesn’t get much burn, and Sasha is pathetic.

    The management of this team has been poor at best. No plans for replacing Mihm during his absence. The PG’s are still below average, and the SF spot is completely over crowded.

    Kupchak and Jim Buss are playing it safe. Basically riding the Kobe train into the ground. When do we get management that knows what they are doing?

  6. the lakers wouldn’t know an oppurtunity if it smashed them in the collective forehead.

    christ.

    that was depressing. you know you’re in trouble when you’re hoping smush gets back in because no one can hit a freaking shot when it matters.

  7. Huge Kobe fan here BUT he helped lose us that game. Forcing it when he was cold and well covered in the fourth. The refs were giving him no love and he should have realized it.

    We couldnt hit a shot until we were down by four. only bring us within one instead of a tie or a lead.

    and also lets give it up for phil for the lineup he put in at the start of the 2nd. how could anything good have come from it? after the 11-0 run by the clips to put us down 17 or 19 we won the rest of the game. i hate to think like that but if that run never happened we could have won.

    annoying game.

  8. The Lakers don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. They are playing pathetic basketball. They are playing themselves right out of it with their uninspired play. No D. No boxing out for rebounds. No sense of urgency from the tipoff. Terrible.

  9. At the game observation: The Lakers didn’t really come out at halftime for layups. Noone really trickled out until about 3 minutes until the 3rd. This is highly unusual.

  10. chris henderson April 5, 2007 at 1:02 am

    john r, the coaching staff kept them in the locker room and chewed them out for lack of effort…according to the announcers.
    we need 9 more turiaf’s.

  11. We are all learning some lessons:

    1. We need Kwame much more than we thought.

    2. Even Kobe needs to be a role player and stay within his role.

    3. The Laker coaches are not willing to ride the Smusher Express wherever it goes–especially if the tracks lead right out of the playoffs–or back to the Brooklyn playgrounds.

    4. It was great to see Farmar, Turiaf, and Evans in the game at the very end, only to realize that the benefits may not be as immediate as we all hope.

    5. That great Laker team we all saw earlier in the season is still there, hidden somewhare. This is not the time to disparage or give up.

  12. When did Maggette become Wade? That was a neat little trick.

    This season is just best summed up as missed oppurtunites. Much like last year where there was indeed a path to the Finals, this year injuries hurt us and when guys needed to step up, they didn’t. And that includes a managment that has dreadfully decided to “stand pat” far too often. I understand a Shaq from Orlando situation is nigh impossible nowadays but you don’t get anywhere without going out of the comfort zone and I’m afraid losing while doing nothing (cept watch the money Kobe brings in) is now the norm.

    What was it like back in 94? The ‘Net sure has made fans’ voices a lot louder but was it doom and gloom back then too?

  13. chris henderson April 5, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Dr is right, many of these loss’s could’ve gone the other way with a few good bounces. the basketball gods remember these things and have a way of balancing things out.
    so, we are getting our bad bounces out of the way now, meaning good things will come in the near future.
    also, with this recent decline, our future opponents will no doubt underestimate us and take our match up for granted, which is exactly what our coaches and team want, all the better to pull off an upset.
    so this is all going as planned.
    consider it if it was the other way, say we hit the playoffs on an unbeaten run and the whole league was talking about how great the Lakers are, no doubt we’d get beaten, believers of our own hype…
    but this way, (assuming we don’t drop out of the playoffs completly) we are poised for a string of upsets.
    good planning guys!

  14. Can’t blame ALL of this on Smush, this team aint built right, the only times they are successful is when Kobe is dominating dominating, or when the entire team is in perfect synch. Neither of those are good recipes, last nite loss was another example of how we can’t rebound, and considering how bad we are on D, we have to board the ones the other team misses.

  15. Kwame A. The team is just not strong enough to win without their main guys. The Lakers have only played 28 games where Kwame, Lamar, Kobe and Luke have been on the floor together (according to ESPN)…29 if you count Kwame’s half game on Tuesday and are 20-9 in those game. I’m a big believer in the theory that injuries have killed this team.

  16. Dovetailing ofj Jones’ comments…

    My rationalizations about this season stemming from the last two games are that the biggest toll the injuries took on the Lakers was never really letting them find any sort of identity or work through the more intricate aspects of playing team defense and building confidence in the Triangle..

    The fact that we still have no sembelance of a set rotation is a huge indicator of that toll, as well

    Kobe being either Sir shoots-a-lot or Sir passes-a-lot and never the twain shall meet was somethig that I thought would be remedied as the season went along and this obviously still an issue.

    Odom seems to have also regressed with his aggressiveness and his willingness to find his moments offensively. His perceived (somewhat understandable) lack of respect from the refs has been detrimental to his on court demeanor and ability to be a leader as a calming and centering force for the younger guys.

    I won’t yet call this season a step back, but stagnation when most expected greater strides is the irksome part of this journey.

    Can we hire an Ankle Strength and Conditioning coach next year?

  17. Gatinho- what we really need to do is invent some sort of FBG ankle brace/support, that we could sell to the Lakers, ensuring that the ankle is firmly supported against any type of fall, we’ll all be set!

  18. Nate- I see what your saying, but a good chunk of those 29 games came at the beginning of the season when we were enjoying that early home-heavy scheudle, and we were playing focused ball while many veteran teams were waiting for the season to get into gear before turning it on. No doubt the injuries have prevented the team from gelling, but whose to say how they would have done the whole year had nobody went down for significant time, we may have still collapsed on the road and faltered against zones.

  19. I think it is really important for Kobe to realize three things:

    1. He can’t take an entire team by himrself. He can play within a team and score 75% of the points, but there is no such thing as a one man offense.

    2. He needs to know when he’s hot. Don’t take low percentage fade-aways when you aren’t shooting well. It hurts the team.

    3. Know when other players are hot. Odom was shooting well last night, but he never looked for him. He continued to take matters into his own hands.

    I can feel his pain out there though. Watching his teammates continue to miss open shots probably gets old. We are only one good PG away from a very good team.

  20. Injuries throw off at teams rhythm. I don’t think their early success had to do with the home heavy schedule as much as it was the Lakers playing well. I mean, they have been terrible both home and on the road down the strech. And before the injuries, they were a .500 team on the road. Know one on this team knows their role anymore, because since early January, there hasn’t been any consistency in the line up.

  21. To paraphrase a similar phrase, the team gets the result it deserves. The Lakers have been inspired at times and hair-pullingly-bad at other times. Yesterday was one of those other time. To the person who wondered when C. Maggette became D. Wade, he was C. Maggette before D. Wade was D. Wade. I was listening on the radio the other day (I can take Spiro a lot more than Joel Myers (sp?)) and he mentioned what shouldn’t be too surprising, that Maggette has been to the line the third most times in (I forget exactly how long) about the last 5 years. When Stu said as they readied for the second half that the Lakers effort at the outset of the second half would set the tone for the rest of the game….and then we turned the ball over and they got an offensive rebound or two and scored, I knew that one was lost. We didn’t deserve to win it. I agree with the comment that Lamar should post up more. Still, I don’t want him to do too much because that would diminish his passing and rebounding abilities. The way he’s playing right now is great….he’s readying into excellent form and I don’t want him to mess with however he’s playing right now. Anyway….I guess we’ll probably have a 7 or 8 seed if we don’t shape up right now.

  22. I took a look at the box scores of the last 20 games we’ve played. There is something glaringly obvious about the Lakers defense you can actually see in the numbers.

    With nearly every team we’ve played against, the PG and SF spot are the leading scorers. [The one exception is an extremely talented big man (Yao, Gasol, etc.) can be the leading scorer at times.] But it is completely obvious that the opposing team’s SF’s are having career nights against us and PG’s are getting to the hoop unopposed.

    Hmm, that tells me that Smush/Farmar are not good defenders, and Luke/Evans are liabilities as well.

    On the other hand, Lamar Odom can literally take the other team’s PF out of the game.

    We have to improve these spots in the offseason. I’m not saying that this season is over. But unless we play perfectly, we are heading for another first round exit.

  23. At least Farmar was being pesky. That’s one of the only bright sides.

  24. Chris Duhon at PG, Gerald Wallace at SF…good pick ups to improve defense.

    *Duhon we would have to trade for…and Wallace is probably going to get resigned by the Bobcats, but we still should attempt to swoop em up.

  25. Don’t give up on Jordan Farmar, guys. Point guard is the hardest positions to learn in the league. He’s athletic, hard-working and tenacious, and he has a defensive mindset. He’s not a good defender YET, but he’ll be a very good defender in a couple years.

    As I’ve said before, there are three things that you need from a point guard in the triangle:
    1. Good decision-making with the ball (he doesn’t have to create offense for his teammates like a traditional point, the system does that; he just has to make good decisions about passing the ball).
    2. Play defense.
    3. Shoot 3′s.

    Farmar can do all of those things, he just needs time to develop. We don’t need a hot young point guard, we need a steady veteran for the next 3-4 years to provide a bridge to the future.

    I agree Chris Duhon would be a defensive upgrade, but he’s a terrible shooter — for his career he’s shooting 36.1% from three and 38.8% overall. Even Smush shoots better than that (35.7% from three, 43.4% overall).

    If we’re going to trade for a point, we should go after Mike Bibby (who we almost had at the deadline) or Chauncey Billups (who would be a PERFECT fit, but we probably couldn’t get).

    Gerald Wallace would be nice, but the way he’s played this year, he’ll probably get a deal for well over the mid-level. We can’t afford him.

  26. Matt, I don’t think anyone on this site has given up on Farmar, rather I’d say he’s the PG of choice. He needs to be more consistent with his threes, and with the decision making, but he hustles on defense. That’s more than you can say for Smush most nights.

  27. Kurt, you’re right, I don’t think that most people on this site have given up on Farmar.

    I guess I was responding to the people who wrote that we need to go get a young point guard like Acie Law or Chris Duhon; to me that sounds like they’re giving up on the young point guard we already have. And comment #22 said that based on box scores he thought that Smush & Farmar weren’t good defenders.

    I agree he needs more consistency in shooting and decision-making. That was exactly my point — we need to get a veteran to give Farmar the 3-4 years he needs to develop into a player capable of leading the team at a championship level.