Bakersfield Thoughts

Kurt —  October 19, 2007

Lots of thoughts out of last night’s Lakers win in Bakersfield, both from myself and many of you in the comments. So here’s a mix of thoughts from last night. (If you want to read more about the Kobe/Buss/Jackson saga, Mark Heisler from the LA Times actually emailed a blogger with his thoughts, and they are interesting.)

• The first nine minutes showed just how much this team misses Odom. Debate whether he or Kobe should facilitate (as you all did), without a second legit scoring threat, the Sonics essentially dared anyone else but Kobe to beat them (amongst the other starters of Kwame, Turiaf, Radman and Fisher). There were a couple of nice interior passing plays that led to scores, but also some slop and some shots well outside the offense. Odom would balance things better by being a quality second option. Travis Y. had similar thoughts:

So the key to the season is getting Odom to score and have a more balanced offense so the Lakers don’t have to depend on Kobe’s offensive sprees anymore. Thus allowing Kobe more energy and focus on defense. Please stay healthy Lamar!

The Lakers also miss Odom on the boards. With 6:30 left in the first quarter Chris Wilcox got an offensive rebound and tip in because he had little trouble getting position on Radmanovic. Odom is a lot stronger on thee glass than Vladrad.

• The Lakers look more comfortable with the faster pace.

• The Ronny Turiaf love brigade was out in full force among Lakers fans. From Carter Blanchard:

Let me join the Ronny love brigade. So thrilling to watch someone who is clearly having such a good time, and busting his butt. His fade in the first quarter looked niiice. I feel like he should be a cult favorite of every fan of the NBA.

Count me in. Ronny Turiaf runs the floor, hustles on the boards, cuts to the glass on offense, passes well in traffic, works on defense and just generally gives the team energy. He showed an impressive 10-foot baseline fadaway. He played good post defense and drew a nice charge on Wilcox in the first quarter.

But in a regular season game he would have negated much of that with two fouls in the first four minutes — one of which was a foul you’d expect to get (Watson driving into him on a fast break) but the other was a silly foul near the basket after he got beat for position. With 8 minutes to go in the first quarter he would have been on the bench for the rest of it, missing a time he made a lot of nice plays. I think he needs to start, but if he keeps fouling at this pace he’ll be coming off the bench again.

• A thought from kwame a.:

Ronny really should start at the 4. Maybe mostly because I liked the way the 2nd unit ran with Luke out there. Bynum was way more active, and that’s a great sign.

The last couple of games, we have seen the Lakers bench outplaying the bench of their opponents — this is something that could carry over to the season. Granted, Seattle is not a deep team, but the Lakers have a nice second unit (Farmar, Evans, Walton, Radmanovic and Bynum) that can outplay a lot of other second units in the league. This is something the Lakers can establish.

• Kevin Durant is smooth, I was thinking George Gervin smooth in flashes. And he’s fearless about shooting, to the point you have to question his shot selection. He has not totally figured out how to create his own shot at this level, and that is leading to a lot of contested shots. But you can see a lot of talent, a whole lot.

• All three Lakers centers had a quality game (although I thought Mihm had some defensive lapses in the third). Competition is a good thing — let them push each other for playing time.

• Jordan Farmar also had his best game of the preseason — 81 Witness called him the player of the game. He shot 4 of 5 from the field, 2 of 2 from three, made some smart passes (seven assists, including a sweet no-look on the break) and played solid defense. He also learned a little from Steve Nash — he’s not driving the lane and leaving his feet, he’s holding his dribble and if nothing develops he goes back out and sets up the offense.

• The Sonics looked ragged, but they still shot 51.7% for the game. The Lakers did forced 18 turnovers, which helped with pace. Not sure we can read much into the team’s defense out of this one.