Game Preview & Chat: The Houston Rockets

Kurt —  November 14, 2007

Records: Lakers 3-3; Rockets 6-2
Offensive ratings: Lakers 109.1 (8th); Rockets 107.2 (14th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 107.4 (19th); Rockets 101.6 (5th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf, Chris Mihm (I guess, I have no idea what Phil will do at the five)
Rockets: Rafer Alston, Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier, Chuck Hayes, Yao Ming

Lakers Notes: The Lakers two big weaknesses this season — turnovers and perimeter defense — bit them in a big way against the Spurs Tuesday night. The Spurs may be the best team in the league at exploiting a weakness (their balanced roster can do that a number of ways) and it showed.

As I said in the comments last night, this was the first game I didn’t get to watch. So I’m posting a couple of your comments from last night that seem to describe the happenings:

The problem is the defense collapses way too quickly. Even before Parker or Ginobli got to the free throw line, the Lakers double teamed leaving a wingman wide open for the 3. When will they learn not to double-team and rely on their center or weakside help. Kobe and Turiaf looked for the block in the paint and got burned on the perimeter. I posted several days ago, about Kobe’s “opportunistic defense.” Looks great, but doesn’t win. See Bowen’s 3 pt FGM vs. FGA.
—81 Witness

Kurt, you talked about tempo in your preview. I think another reason for so many turnovers was the Lakers rush to get the ball up the court and get a shot off. They will have to learn that there isn’t always a quick shot, and that defense leads to running (its pretty hard to run taking the ball out of the net all game). Lastly, why the hell do we send our pg’s under the screen when that ensures Tony Parker a wide-open 16-foot shot that has become a lay-up to him.
—Kwame a.

I could post a bunch more — there has been great stuff in the comments so far this season, a great discussion — but It’s time to not dwell on last night and move on to the not-so-simple issues ahead tonight.

The Rockets Coming In: The Rockets lost last night as well, having a lead midway through the third quarter and watching it disappear as Gasol and Darko beat the Rockets bigs and scored 46 points between them. Key Rockets off the bench — Bonzi Well, Mike James and Luis Scola — also all had the worst +/- numbers on the team.

As you would expect, the Rockets have been getting great offensive production out of their dynamic duo of Ming and McGrady. Ming is shooting 55.6% from the floor, scoring 25.2 points per 40 minutes, grabbing 15% of the rebounds while on the floor and has a PER of 27.45. McGrady has been carrying more of the offensive load (33.2% of the possessions when on the floor) and still is shooting 50.1% (eFG%) from the floor and 35.1% from three, with a PER of 28.29. (For comparison, Kobe leads the Lakers with a PER of 27.2).

But after those two the Rockets have not done much on offense. Rafter Alston is shooting 35.8% from the floor, Bonzi Wells 39%, Mike James 42.1% (all eFG%). Eventually that will catch up with them.

Fortunately for the Rockets (and unlike the Lakers), they can count on good defense to keep them in games every night. Teams are only shooting 45.7% against them (second best in the league) and the Rockets are one of the best rebounding teams in the league, so there aren’t many second chances.

Last Time These Two Met: The Rockets won 95-93 on the opening night of the season, but the Rockets dominated that game until the Lakers almost stole it with a late run (and they would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for that meddling Shane Battier and his late three).

That was the first game of the year and for the Lakers it was the Kobe show, with him taking 43% of the shots while he was on the floor. This was the “Chicken or Egg” problem game for the Lakers, nobody else was hitting so Kobe took it all on himself.

The Lakers depth, which has served them well this season didn’t do much in that game — all the Lakers starters were positive in the +/- that game, but the Rockets bench was better. Of course, Lamar Odom was not in the lineup for the Lakers for that game.

Also note, McGrady and Ming accounted for 55 of the Rockets 95 points that night. Mike James was the only other Rocket to shoot 50% that night.

Keys To The Game: Both teams are coming in on the second game of a back-to-back, and both are pretty deep, so no big advantage or disadvantage here.

Just like last night, the Rockets are a team that likes the game slowed down (89.6 possessions per game, 7 fewer than the Lakers) so if the Lakers can up the tempo it would be to their advantage — IF they don’t turn the ball over in transition so much. That’s a big IF.

The key for the Lakers is to hold on to the ball, then on defense make someone other than the Rockets big two beat you. Of course, while Wells and James may not be shooting well, if they get the wide-open looks from three San Antonio did they will hit them.

Tonight’s Game: Where ESPN’s Sideline Reporters Talk Nothing But Kobe Trade BS Happens: This is a game the Lakers can win — if they execute on defense and don’t turn the ball over. The Lakers have three big bodies to throw at Yao, and as for McGrady a combo of Odom and Kobe can limit how efficient he is. The key is for the perimeter rotations to be there tonight.

Also, Rob L. said in an email to me (along with the stats from last night) that he thinks tonight could be one of those “Kobe takes over” games. Personally I hope not, this is a tough team to do that against (Battier on Kobe with Yao and Mutumbo behind him). This is a game the Lakers team can win.

Where you can watch: Game time is 6 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into KCAL (9), nationally you get the joy that is ESPN. What is the under/over on the number of times a reporter discusses the “Kobe trade” situation?

Kurt

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76 responses to Game Preview & Chat: The Houston Rockets

  1. On the other hand, maybe we will get less Kobe trade talk tonight — and i’d like to thank Starbury for that. Now that’s a fun situation there in NY.

  2. The good news: they can’t get any worse than last night. Some of the ugliest, sloppiest basketball I have ever seen. This is a about as much of a must win as you can have this early in the season, you don’t want to go to Detroit having just lost two games in a row and the loss of confidence that goes with that.

  3. I’m pretty sure the Detroit game is at Staples.

  4. We DID shut down Duncan last night. That’s something. Probably had something to do with the way we completely forgot there was apart of the floor other than the paint to defend.

  5. The Pistons game is at Staples, Detroit is on a West Coast swing (at Golden State tonight).

    By the way, some people seemed down on Evans last night, but he was a team best +7. I think he’s a solid back up for Kobe off the bench.

  6. This up and down stuff will go on all year. Even without injuries, the Lakers will be lucky to win 45 games. The West is just too talented. The Lakers need to try and get Jermaine ONeal or some other star without having to give up Odom

  7. Saying that Evans was +7 means nothing in and of itself. The + – stat is getting over hyped and way too much pub in the bloggersphere these days. It is marginally useful and always has to be placed in context. Evans happened to be out there during a strech when the LakeShow wasn’t getting hammered, doesn’t mean he played well, and, in fact, he did just the opposite.

    Second, if P.J. starts Mihm tonight that is inexcusable. The Lakers haven’t had a decent big man since The Daddy and so now we think when a big actually makes a shot or grabs a board they are god’s gift to the paint. People, open your eyes, Kwame and Mihm are terrible. Yet I routinely read about how they are pretty good, doing fine, etc. Am I watching a different game? Perhaps I am missing something, but as nice as a guy as Chris is, he sucks. And Kwame reminds me of a juvenile deliquent. Bynum is killing those two in Eff. rating, which is a meaningful stat (but has its limits as well).

    Thrid, what’s going on with Walton? He has always been a great distributor and facilitator now all the sudden he is taking 10 dribbles and throwing up crap for shots, not even attempting to run the offense. And when he plays poorly on offense he becomes worthless b/c he can’t play defense to save his life.

    Finally, I think some of the offensive problems last night were due to Odom still finding his place. I think the Lakers will work out the kinks over the next few weeks and have a strong December.

  8. Mike in the Mountain West November 14, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    The all-star ballot is out and as usual Kobe and Lamar are on it. Surprisingly so is Luke. The big snub however is Bynum is missing from the center list. If Brad Miller, Eric Dampier, and Andris Beidrins are good enough to make it on the ballot Andrew is sure as hell good enough.

  9. write in andrew bynum for the C position!
    seriously, I do like the way he attacks the hoop, he’s always looking for a slam dunk, and when he grabs an offensive board, again he’s thinking right away, get to the rim and slam it.
    I like his new attitude.

    and Farmar is looking more and more impressive each game.
    look to our 3 young’uns, Rniie, ‘drew, and Farmar to gain minutes as the season progresses, justifiably.

  10. 7. I have a good understanding of the limitations of +/-, I’m not new to the game, but you made my point for me: “Evans happened to be out there during a strech when the LakeShow wasn’t getting hammered.” Um, isn’t that the point? While there are other variables playing in on this, the fact of the mater is the Lakers were better when he was on the court than off. Like I said, I didn’t see this game, and I don’t think Evans is playing as well as he has in previous years, but this guy is a solid bench role player and has been for years. He can contribute, at both ends. He is no Sasha, no Cook.

    Now, the “what’s up with Walton?” question is one that is really bothering me. Once he went to the bench in particular it really seems to have shaken him. He’s going to have to adjust to that role, and get his shot back.

  11. 8- Bobby Smith- good point about Walton. What the hell was he trying to do yesterday, he went one-on-one on several occasions, not his game

  12. Mike in the Mountain West November 14, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    Although it’s still early Sasha has been clearly outplaying Evans. Plus, Sasha is a better defender than Evans. I think we really could have used Sasha last night to put a little pressure on Parker.

    With what he’s shown in the limited minutes he’s played so far this season and with the way Evans is playing, I think Vujacic deserves more time to see if he can be valuable.

  13. +/- is overrated. It doesn’t take into account that the players coming in may be facing the other team’s bench.

    The game against SA, especially, had bench-to-bench periods where the lakers made up some of the points lost. i guess that still means they’re more effective than what the other team threw at you, but certainly does not mean that they can start.

  14. 14. Nobody is arguing Evans (or Sasha) should start. But, over the course of a season, if a team does better with a player on the court than off, that says something. +/- biggest flaw is really that it says as much about the player being replaced as said player.

    Maybe I’m letting my bias about Sasha get in the way, but I still feel like Evans is a better candidate to be the consistent backup. But, to be fair, I’ll try to keep an open mind. Maybe I’m not seeing it. (Or maybe neither Evans or Sasha is a really good option.)

  15. Last night I was really disappointed in how long Phil kept Kwame in. I’m sure the Lakers are trying to sort of “dangle the carrot” for Bynum and not give him too much too soon, but it’s time the kid got starter minutes EVERY night. He can catch the damn ball, and that’s a lot more than Kwame can do.

    Still… there isn’t a huge difference between Kwame and Ben Wallace at this point. He does fill a nice role for the Lakers. Defensively he’s actually pretty damn good at that position. Somebody is gonna pay Kwame a tidy sum this offseason. I love how the Laker bigs show almost all the time now. It’s a nice change from years past.

    Last nights game was not as awful as some seem to think in my opinion. The Spurs are a very good team. I thought the effort from the Lakers was very nice.

  16. Kurt,

    I know you know quite a bit about the game, I don’t question that. I just meant on the web in general that stat is getting over played, and your usage of the stat with respect to Evans performance last night clealry demonstrates the flaw of the statistic. You cited it as evidence that maybe he didn’t play as bad as everyone wrote. But it was clear Evans didn’t do anything positive last night and in no way made a contribution to the game.

    Like you, I think Evans can be a good backup, but it isn’t happening so far in the early going–he just isn’t playing well. IMO, he is focusing on offensive production too much. Sasha, by all accounts, worked very hard in training camp and has showed signs of improvement. Perhaps we should give him a go at backing up Kobe. I like to think one of those two guys can step us and give us 8-10 productive minutes/game, i don’t really care who it is.

  17. 7)

    Phil is trying to see if Mihm can get back to his level before his injuries; if he can that will be huge. But that will take time on the court to achieve.

    At the same time, he is putting Bynum into a position to succeed. Take away the pressure of starting; give him time against the other team’s backup. Ease him into playing more minutes and at more critical moments.

  18. 18- Bringing him off the bench is fine. However, some games he should play 30-35 minutes, even if it off the bench.

    17- Sasha has looked better than Mo to this point this season.

  19. Quick observations on Rockets.
    Yao and T-Mac are getting 55-60 pts/game. In the past couple of games the rest of team is barely scoring 30. Bonzi Wells and Shane Battier are ice cold, James is barely warm and Alston has left his 3 pt shot in the Preseason. Scola has a bad habit of slashing down on the arms of his man and can’t stay in the game.
    Outside of Yao,the Rockets have no height. Any athletic Forward-or C-can get plenty of rebounds. Yao on the low post when he decides to score is unstoppable. His passing skills are overrated-he’s a good passer,not a great one.
    Adelman is increasingly finding ways to get T-Mac one-on-one coverage and T-Mac is responding. He has a little more pep in his step. Two sets have been very effective. One is isolating McGrady on baseline and he is driving past defenders and getting lay-ups,fouls and kick-out passes w/ease. Second is posting both Yao and McGrady at the Foul-Line Elbows w/rest of Rockets spread.Ball goes to T-Mac and he turns and shoots if defender backs off,drives open lane if tightly guarded. The killer part of this is Yao’s man is taken out of help defense because if he drops to help Yao can hit that FTesque J. If he slides over to double T-Mac,Yao rolls for an open dunk.
    If McGrady is cold he turns into a PG and Yao is fed constantly. The key to Rockets is how well the other team does when McGrady is on the bench.
    After seeing Adelman’s adjustments,I think McGrady could have ave’d 40 a game if they’d teamed up 4-5 yrs ago.(And I think Kobe could ave 40/game in an Adelman offense today.)
    The biggest problem w/the rest of the team and Adelman is that they were put together for JVG and excel at making 3pt set shots. Unfortunately they are looking uncomfortable when they try to run a motion offense.

  20. Have you all seen that rotoworld report about the apparently Kobe-nixed Pistons-Lakers deal? I’m surprised that they’re still (apparently) trying to deal him. Things seem to have gotten quieter. And the team seems to be better than expected. Maybe not contending, but at least better than previous years. I thought maybe there wouldn’t be tooooo much chatter about Kobe trades on tonight’s game, but now I’m not so sure.

  21. If things do not work as planned, its time for Phil to “mix it up” and try a different recipe. My suggestion would be: go young and Fast. Not Golden State or Phoenix fast, but instead, kinda Dallas deliberate-fast.

    Start Farmar-Kobe-Lamar-Ronny-Drew.
    Bench Fish- Evans or Sasha (and the debate continues) -Luke-Vlade-Kwame.

    See if the game is any different if these 2 young guys “change” anything of the ordinary. Do it at the Detroit game and see if the deliberate pace of the Pistons are altered by this or will the turnover situation be any different.

    As soon as Phil feels its not working, substitution en masse! Put in the 2nd unit and retain Kobe. I wanna see the opponent scramble on matchups.

  22. In the first quarter, except when they turned the ball over, the Lakers did a fairly good job of forcing the Rockets into the shots you would want them to take. Then the bench guys have come in and done a great job again. Lakers by 10 as I write this.

  23. Bench gives us a ten point lead. Lets hope the starters can keep it.

  24. Happy with the way the guys are playing thus far…

  25. Lakers bench is a legit unit. They are a very productive bunch. As I write this, Kobe just hit 3 or 4 straight and although that may be a good sign, I hope he doesn’t go into solo attack mode. LO is playing well. Overall team defense is pretty good. Good energy on the floor.

    Please don’t put Brian Cook into the game to ruin it.

    More to come.

  26. Ok 3:00 remaining in the half and we are up by 16. I couldn’t see the game so either the Lakers are playing really well or the Rockets are simply struggling on the back-to-back.

    Is it just me or does anyone else think Houston CANNOT keep this pace up. Yao’s leg and Tmac’s back will soon “feel” the wrath of being in the court too long. If Adelman coached Kobe 4 years ago, Kobe will be under surgery at least 2 more times. He just over-uses his stars…

  27. Most noticeable stat: 4 turnovers ONLY in the 1st half. Assuming they keep this up, this game is signed, sealed and delivered.

    Anyone notice my boy Farmar’s play as of late? 8pts and 2 threes already…

  28. Halftime. Turnovers are at a good 6 at the half. The Lakers are playing really good defense, limiting the Rockets to 36% shooting from the field.

    Kobe needs to get Lamar going. LO only took 6 shots in the half.

    Alot of credit to the 2nd unit. They were holding their own with yao in the game, even increasing the lead to double digits.

    2nd half: Limit the turnovers. Keep the pace of the game as it is. Keep up the energy.

    Lakers seem to be holding their own against some of the top teams in the West (Phoenix, Houston, Utah). Yesterday may have been awful but very good resilience to put that game behind them and come out in Houston and play the way they did.

  29. Fundamental defensive principle: don’t double off the cutter, why do we do this to a 7’6 center, he will see the cutter.

  30. Broken record: Kwame is killing us this half on the offensive end. Give him credit though, he plays D on Yao better than almost everyone in the league.

  31. Kobe switches defensive styles alot. Opportunistic to team and then back again. Kwame Brown really blew it, fumbling some balls and not keeping up with the play.

    Kobe needs to stop doing too much probing. This isn’t a Phoenix type offense.

  32. Argh, why are the only passes to Andrew ten feet over his head and behind him. Phil is aging so rapidly watching the “veterans” (LO, Kwame, Luke) make bone head play after bone head play.

  33. I love D-Fish, but Farmar needs to play 30 minutes a game. He is physically and mentally prepared, and he has earned it. Also, it’ll keep Fish fresher.

  34. 30. Kobe did that on the spectacular block of Yao tonight, and guys remember that working and not the five times it burns them. The Lakers need to go over and over that one in practice.

  35. Last 3 possessions, LO-charge, Vlad-miss jump hook against 6’3 mike james, LO-charge. Not bueno.

  36. this is off tangent but hope tracy is okay. at least it’s not his back this time. tracy is somebody i think that can surpass kobe if he wasn’t so fragile.

    anyway, are the rockets a good matchup for the lakers? this doesn’t look like the team that got blown out by SA.

    Yao is doing much better than TD, though he is not quite his usual efficient self. 5/17 is a pretty dismal night for Yao.

  37. uh, phil is mad at luke. lo and vlad fouled out, and he goes to mo

  38. hrm, thank god HOU can’t shoot. all those offensive boards not leading to anything…

    and bynum pretty much seals the game with the board and FTs. good work…

  39. Ok … cannot actually SEE the game, but can anyone tell me: what the hell is Radmanovic doing on the court???

  40. Glad we escaped with a win, some good signs statistically…
    Still… 19 turnovers?

  41. A win is a win and we’ll take it. 20 games down the road, how ugly it was won won’t matter no more. 4-3 is a lot better than 3-4. That is more or less a good indication that we can go 5-5 in the 1st ten games.

  42. Turnovers indeed at 19. Huge number right there. But I guess this win was payback for the season opener that the Lakers should’ve won.

    The Lakers should have lost this game in the 2nd half with all the mistakes and bad decisions. However, they lucked out because the Rockets aren’t as experienced and saavy as the Spurs. While the Spurs just killed the Lakers when they commited a TO, the Rockets didn’t capitalize enough. And talk about second chance shots, the Rockets just couldn’t make one after having 4 tries in a possession.

    Good points are there though. Lakers held Houston to a 35 FG% and once again, outrebounded the opposition. Jordan Farmar with 9 rebounds?! The 2nd unit played incredibly well and that is one of the Lakers’ major strengths.

    Happy that the team stole a win away from the Rockets. Hope T-Mac will be okay.

    I’m thinking the Lakers aren’t the 7th/8th seed team many people thought they would be now. If injuries don’t derail this team, I’d say they’re 2nd tier with Utah, Denver, and Houston. Anyone else share this sentiment?

  43. here’s tonight’s analysis:

    the lakers strategy is to have kobe create early, looking for team mates… as a result, ronny and farmar hit some key shots, but as the game went on, i’ve noticed a disturbing trend: the throw the ball to kobe and stand and watch is coming back. no more sharp cuts/ good passes… they’re all gone…

    Luke is in a slump right now… it’s clearly he’s not getting the minutes he deserved, but it’s for the greater good. in the past few games his decision w/ the basketball has been pretty bad…

    and what were walton, vlad (whoever was guarding wells thinking???) he can’t shoot if his live depends on it, a very well example by kobe down the wire… he gave wells that shot and look how badly he missed…

    the turnovers need to go… they’re killing us, against a top notch team like spurs we need to stop turning the ball over and guard the three…

    that’s my two cents,

  44. I don’t know where the Lakers will finish, but if they continue to improve and everyone starts to play 48min, they will be a handful for whoever has to play them. If the 2nd unit continues to contribute and improve throughout the season I feel Phil ought to rethink a 7-8 man rotation come playoff time. If our 2nd team can keep up with tired starters, then we could really wear out some playoff teams.

    The key for us is to not take anyone for granted and to play for 48min. Key games to watch is the 3 game swing through the East. If the Lakers don’t relax we could come out of it with a really good record.

  45. Whew!!!!

    Bonzi Wells almost carried Houston over us. Sorry misses at the FT line turned him from hero to goat. Not nice to say, but I’m glad he missed those. Otherwise, it could have been another disaster.

    The second half became a mess if you compared how the guys played in the first. I noticed a sudden change in the execution in the third. There were plenty of miscommunications which led to a considerable increase in turn-overs.

    I’m glad we won, though. Like Warren said. A win is a win and we’ll take it for whatever its worth.

    Kudos to Drew for converting his free throws. Basically sealed the win for us.

  46. It’s funny – I’d put these Lakers up there with NO/Utah/Denver/Houston, but given that Phoenix/Dallas/San Antonio are still the elite, being a 2nd tier team translates to a possible 7 or 8 seed. So far, there’s a lot of parity among the likely playoff teams in the West.

  47. 45. Heh…everyone can’t play 48 minutes, man. I don’t think that’s possible.

    What do you know, McGrady’s injured. Houston looks absolutely formidable when they have everything working, and this could be the year they piece together a solid entire season and come into their own as a team.

    Somehow I still doubt that.

  48. 46. I think most teams, at least those that are contending in the west, are 7~8 deep. Of course #7 and #8 aren’t as great as their top 5, but you can hide one or two of them with the starting unit and not see significant drop in production.

    so LAL being 7~8 deep is only a start… but even before that, i think we still have to find the 2nd and 3rd options most teams seem to have. we have yet to see anyone outside of Kobe to really come through consistently, and until we do, we’re stuck in the first round.

  49. It was an ugly win. The 1st half was a good one but the 2nd half was outright terrible. Can’t say enough of doubling the turnovers in the 2nd half when it counts… Ew!

    In the end, as I said, a win is a win and I’ll take it. 4-3 with confidence is A LOT better than 3-4 and demoralized.

    Remember, LO played and Tmac went out. Yet they could only manage a 3-pt win.

  50. The fact that Houston lost T-Mac may have rallied the troops, because they started playing better as soon as he left the building. The key to tonight was limiting Yao’s points. He totally dominated the Lakers in the last 4 games, but not tonight. It’s funny, but when Houston went on that run in the third period, I was actually thinking “when is Phil gonna put in the second unit?” And, when he did, the tide was stemmed. Don’t get me wrong, Kobe and Lamar are always gonna be the keys to our success. But there are times in a game when the tempo really favors the bench guys… and that what was one of them.

  51. I don’t care too much about the final margin, the fact that we eked out a win AT Houston (6-2) at the end of a back-to-back after a good ole fashioned arse-whooping has me pleased.

    I join the worriers about Luke losing his mojo on the bench. He had some really bone-headed plays on both ends, something I though we could count on Luke not doing.

    Also, credit where credit’s due, Kwame’s D on Yao was pretty stellar and pretty key.

    Finally, a pretty good article on adjusted +/-: http://82games.com/ilardi1.htm
    Like most stats, it really gets its value over a large enough sample. Still reveals some interesting points on a game-to-game basis (by the way, where do you go to find your game-by-game stats Kurt?).

  52. “Twinkletoes” Brown plays big minutes, Yao doesn’t make his shots, Lakers win.

    Some say Bigfoot Bynum should have gotten those minutes. Well, he did against New Orleans–when Twinkletoes couldn’t play! And . . . .

    Lamar screws up first team chemistry–as usual. Walton doesn’t fit with team 2. Same ol’ same ol’.

    Then why did we win? The Smusher played his 17 minutes for Miami–and they lost to Seattle!

    Yea, but what about that little guy that beat Smush out?

    Jordan Farmar gets 9 (yes, I said 9) rebounds (yes, I said rebounds). Guess he’s too small to be a Laker point guard, huh?

    Maybe we should trade him and start Javaris?

    Oh, where is Javaris?

    Hmmm.

  53. maybe GM mitch isn’t as incompetent as we thought. draft picks farmar and bynum are starting to emerge. they are showing night in and night out that they are legit players, and will be “core” players in the years to come. (reminds you of Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson). give Jordan and Drew another year or two, and the lakers will be contenders again! Although i’d have to agree that these two deserve more minutes, i like their roles of being the “main guys” of the second unit. The starting unit has enough firepower in KB24 and ummmm… KB24. these two youngsters should still lead the second unit, albeit get more minutes than the 18-24mpg they are getting. (i’m sure the miutes and the roles will increase if they continue their fine play) Kwame will be nothing more than a good defensive center. if ever the team re-signs him next season, he should not get more than 3-4mil per, and be drew’s back up in the years to come. Sasha and cook should be dealt for picks/vets to let radman and critt to get more playing time

  54. Lakers lead the leauge in rebounding (based on differential). That’s a good stat. Now I hope today they practice passing, dribbling and defensive rottations. And somebody give Kwame and Lamar a copy of the playbook, they seem to be killing the teams offensive rhythm.

  55. Yes I know the 2nd unit looks very strong. However, we all have to remember that both Andrew and Farmar are just 20yrs old. Both of their bodies are still filling out. All of a sudden we should give them 35-40min/game??? Not only would they be exhausted by playoff time, but their learning curve would probably be lower because of being exhausted every night. Keep in mind this team is developing – let them develop along with it. Yes, there will be heart attacks along the way, but that is the way it is done. Ronny is different because of his international experience and 4yrs of college.

  56. By the time Farmer and Bynum emerge, Kobe will have opted out. He is too impatient to wait 2-3 years to win. I think the Lakers will just ride it out this year and next and then see what Kobe does. Sign and trade is the worst case result. They need him to win a championship in the next 5 years no matter how much these other players emerge. I just hope it works out because Kobe likely wont be in a better position to win in the next 2 years after a trade. He is stuck here and needs to help make this team better.

  57. Craig- Lebron and Tony Parker both played 35+ minutes a game in leading roles for teams that advanced deep in the playoffs at the age of 20, and 21 respectivley. Im not saying they should be playing 35+ every night, but Jordan can defintley handle 30 minutes a game right now, and Bynum should be able to do that in the Spring. Dwight Howard is only 21, he immediatley has played minutes like that. Its a different era now, where players train year round from a young age. Farmar has done that, hes ready, Bynum is on his way, loosen the leash

  58. Ditto everything Kwame A. just said. What the hell is the matter with Kwame Brown? All the physical tools, but just nothing upstairs. Lamar I give a little more slack to because that was only his third game of the year.

    The rebounding is a big thing. And it has been what has impressed me most about Bynum in his action so far this year. He gets almost everything on the defensive boards when he’s in the game. Ten boards per game in 23 minutes is just ridiculous. They gradually have to figure out a way for him to play more minutes, because he is head and shoulders above the rest of their centers. Especially in rebounding, shot blocking, and catching the ball and scoring around the basket. But I think the Lakers are doing the right thing by letting him come a long slowly. What kind of rebounder do you think he’d become if he played another ten mintues per night?

    Farmar is amazing. Really, so many NBA players coming off of their rookie years should be taking notes on what to do with your off-season. He’s quicker, stronger, and more explosive than last year. He’s also improved his jump shot tremendously. Hardwork, focus, and determination do pay off in this league. Kwame Brown could learn a thing or two from JFarm.

    On another note, I’m going to my first Lakers game of the year on Friday. Should be a good one!

  59. The Lakers pulled this one out despite their best efforts to give to the Rockets in the second. A lot of their offensive sluggishness in the third quarter had to do with great Rockets defense, but their were a lot of stupid mistakes (dumb fouls, really bad passes). Also why didn’t Phil take Walton/Radmon off Wells when both were pressuring him at 20 ft and letting him get to the basket at will? All they had to do was stand back and bait him into taking the 20 ft shots. If he beats you with his outside shot, good for him. But don’t let him drive to the basket for a lay up or foul; thats what he is good at, take it away from him.

    One more note. Kobe’s block on Yao was absolutely amazing, one of the best play of the year so far. But I was thinking that if that was Shaq (or Howard) that would have been a dunk and 1 with Kobe on his back. As good as Yao is (the best C in the league right now) thats the difference between him and Shaq.

  60. These are real questions I would like answered:

    Why Kwame is not able to hit a 10 foot jumper, make a hook shot, or do anything besides dunk on offense? How does the #1 pick in the draft not develop and basic jump shot and hook shot after this many years in the NBA? How is that possible? Was he always like that? Did he make offensive moves in Washington? Is his offense getting worse? Can Kwame Brown palm a basketball? How is he making this much money if he can’t make a single offensive move? I was an average college b-ball player and I can shoot hook shots and jump shots with ease….it really isn’t that difficult to learn with some time and effort. Isn’t his lack of offensive ability inexcusable?

    I really am curious so anyone that has followed his career please fill me in.

    Thanks.

  61. Farmar is a better body type than Andrew – yes. However, Lebron and Howard were physical freaks of nature and Tony Parker was playing international play-for-pay ball at 15. Andrew is a physically slower growing body and he played very little bball before being drafted by the Lakers.

    Please don’t try to compare Lebron or Howard to the norm because they are 2std deviations to the high side.

  62. Jeremy: Kobe is not going anywhere. It’s been said before, but Kobe won’t be opting out unless there is a team that can pay him close to what the Lakers can pay him. There may be teams that can do it, but they won’t be winning organizations. And even so, the Lakers can still pay him more. Kobe is not going to play for the mid-level or for the vet minimum. The Lakers hold all the chips and they know it. The only reason you’ve been hearing so much non-sense out there about Kobe going different places now or Kobe opting out and leaving in two years is Rob Pelinka. He creates almost all of the P.R. you hear regarding Kobe leaving. Almost none of it is factually true or even possible. But team Kobe felt like if they ruffled enough feathers and stirred the pot enough through the media that the Lakers would be forced to trade him or give him the team he wants. That obviously didn’t happen and is not happening. As well, I think Kobe is starting to realize that as this team grows with him, this might be the best situation for him. This team is just so close to being very good. They are growing together. They just have to stay healthy. The schedule is on their side this year as it will get easier as the year goes on. They are playing very bad in terms of turnovers and still have a winning record. If they stay healthy, they are only going to get better as the year goes on. No one is going to want to play a healthy Lakers squad in the playoffs. Believe me!

  63. In regards to what Craig said Farmar has been preparing to become an NBA players since he was in L.A. I remember going with his family to watch him and one of his friends win the Lakers youth NBA two ball tournament. They got a chance to shoot at halftime at the GW Forum and he absolutely lit all the other kids up. Dude was a Killer when he was ten years old. The guy has thought about basketball basically his entire life, where because of his height, basketball pretty much found Andrew. The upside and potential that Bynum has is just off the chart. At minimum he is a top 5 rebounding and shot blocking guy for the next ten years.

  64. Mike in the Mountain West November 15, 2007 at 11:01 am

    The only reason we won that game was because Houston was unable to capatilize on our turnovers. They only got 12 points of our 21 team turnovers. If the Lakers are going to anything in this league they have got to cut the turnovers. That has to be priority numero uno.

  65. Turnovers will go down as the year goes on. This is the start of the season. It’s better that the Lakers gradually improve than fall apart as the year goes on, like they did last year.

    Bynum is leading the league in reb/48 min. Even beating out the king of that stat, Reggie Evans…

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/statistics?stat=nbarebound&qual=true&qual=true&sort=totreb&league=nba&split=0&season=2008&seasontype=2&seasontype=2&avg=48&pos=all

  66. Mike,
    Let’s be philosophical…we won one we should have lost and lost one we should have won (Houston). Now we are even and have Detroit left of the really, really hard teams on the start of our schedule. As JONESONTHENBA said, the schedule only gets easier as we go on. Now if only we can improve as a team – a very good probability with our players.

  67. Speaking of turnovers. Fish, for all the skills he brings to the table, is one of the worst passing PG’s in the league. Luke, on the other hand, is a good passer, he shouldn’t be making so many errant passes. That, and, if we are going to play a quicker game, guys have to get in a habit of looking for the ball at all times. Cut to the basket, please! The passers are often anticipating the cut. It makes you look like a fool, when the guy doesn’t cut, and the ball goes out of bounds.

  68. Bobby Smith: Regarding Kwame, yes, his offensive game has deteriorated amazingly. He actually had a nice offensive game coming into the league. If you watch videos of him from Washington it is like an entirely different player. He had a variety of post up moves and solid footwork. He had a mid-range jumper. He could take guys off the dribble. He could dunk with one hand in traffic off the dribble. He could catch the ball. In traffic. On the break. In the post.

    I’m not sure what happened. I know that he broke bones in his hands a few times and didn’t get it treated properly. That was, by his own account, from punching his hand into walls and the like. He had the broken foot that didn’t heal properly, followed by the atrophied leg, followed by the shoulder and ankle injuries. I don’t know if it is simply that injuries have already ruined him (which seems ridiculous at his age and that his injuries were not that serious), that he completely stopped working on his game at all, or he has developed some weird mental issues in regards to basketball–maybe all of the above. But really watch some YouTube clips of his days in Washington and then watch him drop passes and throw the ball off the backboard from 5 feet away and it is the most astounding decline in basketball skill you’ll ever see. I don’t know how a player goes from having a complete offensive package (that is simply limited by youth and inconsistency) to having no basketball skills whatsover.

  69. The 2nd half was tough to watch with so many turnovers. When Fish is trying to lob passes over Yao Ming you know something is wrong. The Lakers couldn’t get their offense going and had to rely on Kobe creating with a stagnant offense.

    I’ll say this again Farmar and Bynum looked great. I like how they bring a spark to that 2nd squad and change the pace of the game.

    Luke is struggling now but he is accepting a new role so let’s just give it a little time. His rhythm and role is totally off coming on in the 2nd unit. Where did his 3 pt shooting go?

    Onto Friday’s game, no Chauncey or Mcdyess sounds to me like we definitely have a chance. Even though Detroit always plays tough against us. I hate the lengthy Prince he is a Laker killer. Let’s see what this Laker team is made of.

  70. Hint to Luke Walton: playing like he’s playing will not get him his starter gig back

  71. Some great observations here, everyone pretty much summed up my points about this game. One thing I’ll comment on is the final play of the game–Yao’s intentionally missed free throw after the imaginary foul on Farmar. D-Fish was actually positioned in the free throw lane to screen out Yao on the rebound, instead of on the wing behind the 3-pt line where Alston was waiting to catch Yao’s pass after the intentional miss. I have no idea why. The Rockets were down by three. Alston’s 3-pointer was a legitimate look at the basket, because not only was Fish positioned to screen out Yao, he totally hesitated after the intentional miss and rebound, and took forever to run out at Alston. Was this a coaching mistake, a brain lock by Fish, or a little of both?

  72. RG73:

    Thanks for your response. If what you say is true, then that explains, to a certain extent, why he is paid so much.

    I remember something about him playing Jordan one on one telling Jordan “if you reach I teach” or some crap like that. Lately I’ve been wondering what he would “teach” given that he LITERALLY can’t catch, pass, shoot, or dribble. If Kwame played Jordan RIGHT NOW I would bet everything I own Jordan could hold him scoreless–I’m not joking either.

    I am going to look for some video of him in Washington. I had these vague memories of him putting up some strong numbers every now and then early in his career. His precipitous decline really is perplexing. When he does his “throw the ball off the backboard from 5 feet away” or miss a pass that is all but handed to him it makes me gag, and I wonder in amazement how he was the top pick in the NBA draft.

    And then I get depressed that he is a millionare many times over despite his nonexistent work ethic. Perhaps the joke is on everyone else b/c he can basically do nothing, stay injured half the time, and jack around in the offseason and be filthy rich….ugh.

    I would love to hear others chime in on why they think Kwame’s offensive game has deteriorated to utter garbage.

  73. Kwame is all about the head. It’s like a pitcher forgets how to throw the ball over the plate. Or better yet it’s like what happened to Charles Barkley’s golf swing.