Savor It

Kurt —  November 3, 2007

After a summer of rants and frustration and bitterness, that game against the Suns was cathartic. Sure, it was just one game, but today we should just bask in it and think of the possibilities, we’ll save the analysis for a day. So here are some of the thoughts from the comments and emails I got. Enjoy.

Fisher is really balling too. I love the swagger he seems to have. A few times Kobe wanted the ball and Fisher was directing him to go elsewhere on the court. Nice to see him taking charge,

—Chise

And Kurt, isn’t it wonderful to not see Nash vs. Smush? I swear, it’s like a weight has been lifted whose enormity I never really grasped.
—Rob L.

Who are these guys dressing purple and where are the real Lakers buried that I’m going to throw some more ground on them.
—Xavier

Kobe in the third quarter, ahhh. Reminds of a game a couple years ago where they shredded Dallas on the road. He was picking apart the defense with pinpoint passes, keeping everyone involved…it was a display of beauty. Truly championship-era Jordanesque play.

This was the first time since then I’ve seen him do that.
—A-Hole Carolla

That was so enjoyable to watch, I have nothing else to add.
—kwame a.

This gives guys confidence and speaking of confidence, what about Radmanovic? He was on fire tonight. Bynum played well, Fisher was out of his mind, and Kwame was solid as well. Really nice overall game for the Lakers. Real nice to see.
—Chise

That was pretty spectacular in all ways. Some moments that still stand out: Luke’s through the legs pass; Ronny’s dunk off Kobe’s bullet pass; all of Vlad’s 3’s; Bynum’s post moves on Amare; pretty much everything Fisher did all night. Ya it’s just one game, but it was a damn fun one.

—carter blanchard

Key to the game, I think, was defense at the PG position. They chased Nash around and when he drove into the paint, I’m glad to see so many gold jerseys collapsing on him. Let’s hope they can keep playing this style of defense.

—hertagnism

Laker porn from buzzer to buzzer.
—Dmo

Let’s just sum it up with the combined stats from two players:C Kwame + Bynum 47min 21pts 22rebs 4asst
—The Dude Abides

I’ll keep saying it. If the Lakers stay healthy they will be much better than anyone expects them to be. They would have been a 50 win team last year if Luke, Kwame, Lamar, Vlad Rad, and Mihm didn’t miss 25+ games. Patience baby!

—JONESONTHENBA

Kurt

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46 responses to Savor It

  1. It still feels good the following morning. The D on Nash was pretty key, but I would argue that making Amare look foolish was just as important. Who knew we would ever be praising our defense in the post and at the point. Barbosa still scorched us, but I didn’t even notice it happening we looked so good everywhere else.

    If I had to boil it down to what I was most impressed with, it would have to our ball movement. We looked like “the best passing team in the NBA” again, and without Lamar.

  2. I just hope they don’t relax.
    Phoenix came from a back-to-back game and travelling so I guess this is why they got them beatten that way.
    Although I couldn’t see the game (damn Canal+, who only shows 1 game per night and mostly from Grizz, Raptors or Blazers) i’m going to do some “bad things” and download it from the net. Hope to have my own conclusions of the game soon.
    I’ll get to see finaly a laker game on Sunday, against the Jazz. For me, thats my season opener.
    I envy you soo much for being able to see all the basketball games you want…

  3. Ha. Anyone see how pissed D’Antoni is. He made some sour-grapes comments that are weird after just Game 2. Maybe he thinks his team needs a little motivation. Did anyone else watching the game last nite think that Grant Hill didn’t look right standing behind the three-point line spotting up, I think there are better ways to use him than that.

  4. I know this is just one game and I know we will lose some tough ones this year, but…

    These young guys do have talent. We are going to see some inconsistencies and I expect some bloggers to ‘pull their hair out’ from time to time, but this is a pretty good – if unknown – team that is beginning to see how to work together and beginning to relax in the triangle offense.

    I think Kobe’s involvement with USA basketball is the absolute best thing that could have happened for the Lakers this year. He really tried out various parts of his game that he had not been emphasizing – because he could – and I think we will see some of this come out this year as the ‘boys’ learn to play together. If he spends 50% of the game on defense and hitting open teammates and the other 50% scoring, this team is going to be impossible to defend.

    Young guys — try to bring it every night, on defense and within the offensive system. That is the secret to a big jump in performance. You don’t have to personally get a lot better to make the team better.

  5. It’s funny how the media blame it on the back-to-back on Phoenix’s part. It’s the beginning of the season, players don’t wear out that bad. Shots just weren’t going in for the Suns. Nash went through the same strategy the Lakers have used for the longest. D’Antoni still hasn’t figured it out.

  6. This was a fun game to watch, especially since it was the Suns (I might dislike them more than I disliked the Kings at the beginning of this decade). Offensively the Lakers werer running on all cylinders. But I think the most impressive thing was the effort on the defensive end. Yes they made mistakes (Kwame for some reason wouldn’t step out on pick and rolls) but the effort was amazing. I think Kobe said it well at the end of the game (paraphrase) “shots come and go, but the defensive effort is what the team needs”. If the Lakers put that kind of effort on the defensive end every game they will be better than most people think.

  7. 81 points was awesome, but Kobe playing a complete floor game like he did last night is what basketball should be all about.

    .

  8. Sorry for the double post but I had one thing to add. Following the thread on bad ESPN announcers: I don’t live in LA anymore so I have to watch the game on ESPN, and they are really bad. That and at the beginning of the game they beat the whole Kobe drame to death until I had to put the TV mute and watch the game in silence. Every 5 seconds they would mention something about Kobe being traded then they would cut to Bucher, I almost had to turn the game off.

  9. I was watching the game on KCAL and then watched the replay on ESPN360 and I don’t find it surprising that the ESPN team talks up Phoenix like that. They’re talking up the Suns because I’m guessing they’re going to be on broadcast for a few more times. Can’t come out and straight out say “Lakers just whooped the Suns” and expect people to come watch the Suns again. Alas, probably just another conspiracy coming out of my head.

    That game was enjoyable. I hope they keep that intensity up with the game against Utah, a team that I put higher than Phoenix because of the longevity of their system.

  10. Kobe’s defensive effort on the floor was phenomenal in this game. Of course, he could give it because he didn’t have to work as hard on the offensive side.

  11. One small aspect of Bynum’s game that really impresses me is the way he keeps the ball up high on putbacks. No pump fakes. No hesitation. He just grabs the ball and dunks it. Phoenix didn’t have anyone nearly as big as him and he really took advantage of that. Bynum is one of an increasingly rare breed: an NBA center who actually plays like a center. With more teams going small, that could be a serious advantage for the Lakers.

    We saw Vlad’s shot going down in the preseason, but last night was something of a statement game for him. He needed to re-earn the trust of his teammates, and I think he did that. He will get plenty of open looks playing with Kobe (double-teams), Walton (eyes all over the court) and Fisher (the triangle master). He is also tall and mobile enough to be on the court in several lineups.

    We have all said it a million times, but health is going to determine how far this team goes. I honestly don’t think Jackson will shore up the rotation unless he has to. There is no reason to stop playing 10 players, so long as 10 players are game ready. If the second unit can come in and give the first unit long blows, the Lakers will be a team that nobody wants to play. In ideal circumstances, the Spurs and Mavs and Suns will still be able to beat us whenever they want to. But games are rarely played in “ideal circumstances”. Having to contend with a starting lineup that is not overworked and a second unit that ups the tempo of the game will require an energy expenditure that even the best teams are not going to have every night. And, with the grueling NBA schedule, attrition alone could help stack our win tally.

  12. The Suns just can’t defend the paint. Our bigs as well as the Sonics’ bigs the night before were all over the glass and controlling the paint on offense. On many other nights, the Suns’ 3 point shooting will neutralize other teams ability to control the paint. But last night against the Lakers, with no shots falling (Raja, 1-8? ha, ha), and with Bynum, Ronny, and Kwame controlling the paint and our jumpers falling, the Suns really didn’t have a chance. A sight for sore eyes, for sure.

  13. What? No Sasha love? Alright well he wasn’t the prime time player of last night, but he hit his shots and played within himself. I was happy to see that.

    I am amazed at how good Bynum’s hands are. That high pass from Crittenton was something, as well as his smooth Kareem style hook later on. OOOOH BABAY!

    In my head, when they were showing Jackson and D’Antoni barking at each other, I was hearing Phil say “Get a ring!”

  14. Here is a good article on Don Nelson…
    http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=5892

    Now Don hasn’t won any championships and Phil has, but it would be good to examine Monta Ellis’, statement that…”He watched them before he got here to know their personal game and strengths and weaknesses. So he just allowed them to play to their strengths and stay away from their weaknesses.”

    I don’t entirely agree with taking this philosophy to an extreme because players wouldn’t show overall improvement if they ignore their weaknesses, but it is worthwhile to admit that players like to play to the things they do well – we all do. Invest time in the system (i.e. practice free throws), but also allow the men freedom to exercise their strengths.

    I think Phil recognizes this in how he patterns his substitutions, but I also think he gets too ingained as to what is needed at which postion. So what if Farmar is too short, let him drive and kick because he is good at it.

  15. Ha, Laker porn. Best comment ever.

    Sign me up for that, please.

  16. Lakers as a whole played a fantastic game and you’re still all about kobe??
    Bynum was fantastic .I hope Jackson will use him more because he deserves more minutes.
    Fisher isn’t going to shoot with this efficiency but he is a real leader there.
    Radman and Sasha can shoot and Luke certainly can pass the ball :)

    Kobe was nearly shooting lakers out of the game at the third quarter but somehow he changed his mind and started to play teamball.

  17. 5 Keys to Victory answered:

    1) As Kurt mentioned, defend the pick and roll. The Lakers did a good (not great) job against the Rockets for most of the game. They need to escalate this to great in order to beat the Suns.

    The Lakers did a great job. It was beautiful to see someone not named Smush contribute on the pick n’ roll defense and leave Kwame or Ronny in front of Nash.

    However, the Lakers did leave a couple of players wide open after fighting through picks. Grade: A-

    2) Make the Suns play 1 on 1. When the Lakers D challenged the Suns to take advantages of mismatches in the playoffs, they won that game. By creating mismatches, it may challenge some of the Suns to jack up more 3s. Their misses will lead to fast breaks for the Lakers.

    The Lakers must have read this message loud and clear. They did not let Nash play the role of facilitator and the Suns attempted some “ill-advised shots.” Grade: A+

    3) Lakers offense needs to limit their 3 pt attempts. 3s lead to long rebounds and the Suns will crush the Lakers in the transition game.

    My personal goal was to be under 10 attempts from the game, while the Lakers shot 13. However, they had great court spacing and at least 10 were very open looks.

    More importantly, after misses and turnovers, the Lakers hustled back on transition D and only let the Suns set up the fast break on 2-3 occasions. Grade: A

    4) Control the glass. How much do the Lakers miss their leading rebounder? Marion and Stoudemire are good rebounders and the Lakers will need to work the boards to win. Hopefully, wear and tear from last night will help the Lakes.

    54-34 rebounds. Yes, you read that correctly.
    Grade: A+

    5) More than 3 players must demonstrate confidence. Only Turiaf, Fisher, and Kobe showed confidence against Houston. Who will step up? Luke, Kwame, Farmar, Vlad, Bynum? Somebody needs to show the Suns that they are a legit threat on offense. This will make the game easier for #24.

    Kobe played 28 minutes. The bench outscored the starters. Grade: A+

    Notes: The Suns looked tired and just off. The Lakers D cannot take all the credit. They must not relax going into Utah against another good defense and potent offense.

  18. A few of you guys mentioned some of the other things I’ve been thinking, first of which the Suns look off, particularly on defense. We did a good job exploiting that, but they may improve in that area as the season moves on. Also, I might not start him yet but Bynum is playing more consistently than Kwame. And did you notic Marion got hot in the second quarter as soon as Cook started covering him?

  19. Did you guys see this postgame comment by Mike D’Antoni about Phil using his mandatory timeout right after Phoenix had called one:

    “Yeah, I was pretty upset,” D’Antoni said. “I thought he disrespected our players. But he likes to play the mind games and that’s fine. He might want to try to do it in playoff time when we bust them every year.”

    Kind of rediculous, considering that one of the times that Phoenix “busted” the Lakers, the Suns were one overtime away from elimination. That dude is a little too fiesty for his own good and it comes out in his coaching. Good luck getting “30 minutes a night” out of Grant “I pulled a hamstring brushing my teeth” Hill. And it is only a matter of time before he wears his aging point gaurd down to a nub of his former self. The Suns are built to dominate the regular season and until he actually gets to an NBA final, he shouldn’t brag about “busting” anyone in the first round.

  20. Is the chemistry better with Kobe and the guys without Odom? Turiaf is a more appropriate PF for this team. We still need a point forward. Could we trade Lamar for that piece?

  21. Paul, Lamar will play the SF this year, allowing Turiaf to remain in the starting lineup. I think Lamar will be fine, especially if he can consistently kncock down 15-17 ft. jumpers. Also, our bench lineup will be farmar, evans, luke, vlad, bynum. Not bad, looking forward to lamar coming back and being another player who can create his own shot.

  22. Tomorrow’s game against Utah will be a test for the Lakers. They had some problems against Utah last season, it’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers handle Boozer, Williams, and the new Kirilenko. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict more playing time for Bynum against Utah. I think he can put on quite a show against them.

  23. Very sorry for the double post

    I’d just like to add that overachieving by the Lakers is just what we need if we want to make a trade. Now players like Sasha, Vlad, etc. start to have more trade value.

  24. Great win for the Lakers….everyone looked great for the most part….EXCEPT Kwame.

    KWAME BROWN IS ATROCIOUS…TRULY A WASTE. PLEASE SOMEBODY CONVINCE THIS GUY TO (1) GO ON A DIET AND (2) GET SOME PASSION FOR THE GAME.

    I mean, how do you not even jump at the opening tip? God kwame sucks…

  25. I love it when the bench plays like they did last night. It seems like they can do no wrong, but then I remember what happened last year and I realize this team is young and needs consistency.

    Bynum played all right. Not great. He still needs to work on defense. Did you see how Hill took it against him and he just stepped back but not without fouling him first? He needs to work on the defensive end. Offensively it looks like he’ll do all right. His jump hook is really good (I can’t wait to see him try a real hook shot). But his defense needs work. He needs to learn to defend the paint and to avoid foul trouble, otherwise he won’t get to play much and will not score as much as last night.

    Fisher has been a great addition. I don’t know what else to say about him. Thank God we got him back.

    D’Antoni is a cry-baby. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he is not championship material. It’s barely the 2nd game of the season and he’s complaining? Looks like he didn’t get a good night’s sleep either. It’s not like the Lakers were playing their starters like Denver vs. NY last season. Even if Phil didn’t have to take a mandatory timeout later on, there’s nothing wrong with calling a time out to set up plays for your bench. They need the experience and exposure. I just feel so bad for Nash. D’Antoni doesn’t play enough players from his bench and wears his team down by the time playoffs come around. If they win a championship with this core it would have to be this year or never, because if they take the west they’ll beat whoever the east takes to the finals, even the celtics, and that’s only because this is their first year. They looked great in their first game last night. KG is truly amazing.

  26. 1 thing in our favor for tommorow night, Utah plays tonight against run and gun Golden State.

  27. A hungry Golden State. Albeit on the second game of a travel back to back.

    They might be mad, they might be listless.

  28. Great game last night. Well, its over now, go to work!

    Utah presents a whole different set of issues. During the preseason game Boozer owned Turaif. Will the Lakers make the adjustment? How will Kwame/Bynum play? Mihm started the preseason game and was horrible.

  29. seriously great game and all but i really really dislike Cook this year he does nothing esp on defense. the lead felt so unsafe with him on the floor in the second.

  30. Utah looked so efficient during the preseason it was scary.

    Not as scary as a healthy T-Mac and Yao with a bunch of killer 3 point weapons though.

  31. NEWS
    ====
    Brown is probable for tomorrow’s game against the Jazz.

    After leaving the game in the third quarter Center Kwame Brown sat out practice due to respiratory problems. “He came in at halftime and was in the training room, he had some respiratory problems,” Jackson said. “We sent him into the locker room in the fourth quarter, we got him out of the ballgame in the third, fortunately we didn’t need him down the stretch.”

  32. Kas,

    I agree with you. I always get nervous when Cook’s on the floor. We seems to lose leads an awful lot in these cases.

  33. I think the 3 key changes to success this year will be (1) The addition of Fisher (2) The Second Unit (3) Healthy Radman.

    Smush was just an incredible leak in the laker defense. By the grace of god we not only fixed that hole, we plugged it with cement. Fish provides not only solid defense, but veteran experience and clutch play.

    Finally Kobe can actually get a break with this years second unit lead by FArmar. They played fantastic against Phoenix. This will be a great one – two punch (Kobe & second unit). Kobe will also finally be able to get more rest and concentrate on defense. No more will he have to try to score points to come from behind. Plus I think its fun watching Farmar & Bynum develop into SuperStars.

    There was a reason why Phil, Kobe, And Mitch sought out Radman as soon as he became a free agent. The man can shoot. Last year was just a terribly unlucky year of injuries and mental confusion.

    Kobe is going nowhere. No way will Kobe agree to a “Fair Value ” trade that will land him in the same situation in a dimmer city. In fact after two years he won’t opt out either because not many choice teams will have the cap space to sign him.

    Besides Cook and Sasha, this team has a lot of upside. Don’t give up hope.

  34. I think Kobe’s comments after the game said it all. He wants to be a Laker but more than that he wants to be on a team with teammates who are committed to doing the work not only in the games but in practice but in the games night in and night out. In retrospect many of us have missed Kobe’s real message. Not the one to the Buss’s or the Laker organization but to his teammates, that message being “there is a way to play this game and win, you aren’t doing it in practice and you aren’t doing it in games, I want to win do you?” On Friday night they sure did. Today’s game against the Jazz will tell us a lot about the maturity of the Lakers. Okur and Boozer will not be the same and Marion and Stoudamire. Let hope we see more of the same. I wonder who we could get for Lamar?

  35. 33.
    “Plus I think its fun watching Farmar & Bynum develop into SuperStars”

    I think superstars is to early to be said as they aren’t even starters, what the hell Odom is not a superstar neither (though a very good player worth an All-star place when playing his best)

    the second unit will look even better when Odom is back (Walton joins second unit)

    I haven’t seen the game yet (arrggg) can anyone answer me a couple of things?

    1) how was Crittenton doing both offense and D? and Farmar?
    2) how’s the Turiaf starting experiment working?
    3) what happens to Mihm?

  36. KenV,
    “with teammates who are committed to doing the work not only in the games but in practice but in the games night in and night out”

    Not just teammates, but a front office, too.

  37. Xavier, I’ll give it a shot:

    1) Crittenton has only played about 10 minutes so far, but he’s made a couple nice shots and worked hard on defense. He looked a little lost once or twice on defense, but he’s doing fine. Farmar, on the other hand, has looked good — not as good as Fisher but the two of them make a very deep combo.

    2) Two games in the Turiaf experiment looks good to me. The team defense has looked better, in part because he is helping in the paint and is better suited to cover fours, and on he is running the floor and hitting the shots he gets in the offense. Bigger tests are ahead, starting with Boozer and Utah, but he has played well.

    3) Sitting.

  38. Xavier, I’ll give it a shot:

    1) Crittenton has only played about 10 minutes so far, but he’s made a couple nice shots and worked hard on defense. He looked a little lost once or twice on defense, but he’s doing fine. Farmar, on the other hand, has looked good — not as good as Fisher but the two of them make a very deep combo.

    2) Two games in the Turiaf experiment looks good to me. The team defense has looked better, in part because he is helping in the paint and is better suited to cover fours, and on he is running the floor and hitting the shots he gets in the offense. Bigger tests are ahead, starting with Boozer and Utah, but he has played well.

    3) Sitting mostly. He did play some combo time aganst the Rockets as the four with Kwame and Bynum, and we may see more of that, but he’s still playing his way back into shape and getting his feel back.

  39. I hope Mihm gets his game back. There they can put Kwame’s expiring contract on the trading block and try to get something interesting in return

  40. What a blog. Every time I read the posts and the comments I find things to ponder. Other blogs could take a lesson from Kurt in how to keep things focused and to get the most out of a group of people who care about and work to understand their team. As dreadful as things seemed with this club, a single game has opened the vistas and established a hopeful agenda. The Good Kobe shows up and realizes he has a team to work with. And the observations about Fish? Ain’t life grand. We all, yes, me, too, underestimated the impact he has on this organization.

    Roland Lazenby

  41. Ditto what Roland said. Just an awesome place to come and talk about the Lakers.

  42. Roland, you are far too kind. I just feel fortunate to have this group of readers and commenters.

  43. [edited] i can’t believe we still got cook. phil and mitch should know they have to get rid of him. whatever he’s being paid, he’s getting over paid.

  44. previous post: [edited]
    be honest, kurt.

  45. 44. You are correct and I made the change.

  46. thanks, Kurt!