The Good and The Bad

Kurt —  November 15, 2007

Since this is the NBA and not, say, platform diving, there are no style points awarded with wins. Which is good, because while the Lakers were doing something with a high degree of difficulty — a back-to-back in Texas — they got the win that was far from graceful in Houston. And we’ll take it.

We learned some things too, like that the Lakers and Rockers are pretty evenly matched. Two games decided by a total of five points — the Lakers could have won both or lost both with just a couple breaks (whether the late threes fall or not). A split is about right, but you’ll never convince me that the fates don’t decide some NBA games.

What else have we learned?

Good. The Lakers can play team defense — they held the Rockets to a team offensive rating of 98.44 (well below the Laker opponent season average of 106.2). To be fair, the Lakers caught a break with McGrady going out, he was shooting 57.1% eFG% and was the only Rocket for the game over 50%.

The Lakers do play good defense in stretches, although I don’t think they’ve put 48 minutes together yet (see the lapses in San Antonio the other night for the perfect example). As kwame a. and others have pointed out in the comments, there are some bad habits the Lakers have — they are doubling off cutters or doubling early off guys on the perimeter and leaving shooters wide open for threes. But, the effort is there compared to previous years and in stretches the Lakers can do it, they just need to become consistent.

Bad. Luke Walton’s play since being asked to come off the bench. He has shot 4 of 17 in the last three games, made 10 turnovers, looked more lethargic on the boards and last night played horrible defense on Bonzi Wells (Radmanovic helped some with that last one). Phil Jackson was frustrated enough to sub Mo Evans in over Luke late in the fourth quarter last night. I’m not in his head, I don’t know what’s going on there, but he needs to snap out of it.

Good. The second unit. The Lakers starters basically played the Rockets even last night (each starter was -3 to -5 for the night), but it was the bench that stood out and took control of the game in the second quarter (and had a key run to end the third quarter). Bynum was a team-high +10, but he couldn’t out rebound Farmar — they both had 9. The Lakers depth is going to win them a number of games this year and that was one of them.

Bad. Turnovers. It’s really simple — 6 first half turnovers, big Lakers lead at half, 13 second half turnovers and the game is in doubt until the clock runs out. What’s disturbing is the number of turnovers from veterans who are making bad decisions — Kobe, Walton, Odom and Fisher accounted for 13 of the 19 turnovers. (Granted, that group handles the ball a lot, but some of those were pretty terrible choices.) Yes, this should get better as the year goes on, but it needs to be a point of emphasis from the coaches, it will not get better on its own.

Good. Rebounding. The Lakers are the eighth best defensive rebounding team in the league right now, and leading the way is Andrew Bynum, who is grabbing league high 23.8% of the boards when he is on the floor.

Bad. Phil Jackson’s attempts at humor.

Good. Being 4-3 after that gauntlet of a start. Right now the Lakers are actually 9th in the Western Conference and are on pace to win about 46 games, but those numbers (and the offensive and defensive stats) are dragged down some because of the quality of opponents the Lakers have faced. Outside of the Timberwolves, the Lakers opponents have a record of 33-10 this season. Doing well against these teams bodes well for the future.

That’s a good note to end on.

20 responses to The Good and The Bad

  1. By the way, you all had a great conversation going in the comments both about Kwame and that got me thinking about how to spread out the minutes and matchups among the three centers. But, because “the man” is expecting me to work too much lately, I haven’t had time to flesh out my thoughts. That may have to wait until the weekend, but we should continue that discussion.

  2. I’m moving this comment on the previous blog post to here:

    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?

  3. truthabouit,

    That Kobe/Jackson pic is hilarious–it made my afternoon. Nice work.


  4. the intentional miss by Yao was brilliantly pulled off, I have never seen it done so perfectly, and I’ve watched some greats try it, like Magic Johnson. add to this was that the time clock was down to 1.4 seconds, and the 3 point shot would have counted had he made it…I’m sure there was a bit of luck in it all, but Yao really impressed me with his touch at the line, amazing for a big man like that.
    I would like to see the team get andrew more involved, he is showing the passion he lacked last year, now after a strong dunk, he shows some emotion, or after a miss, again, emotion, so he needs to build on this as the game progresses, if he gets involved early, it becomes a hunger he needs to feed, and we’ve seen moments of excellent play this year.
    overall, I’m not unhappy with this start, and maybe that comes with having ZERO expectations at the start, coming off all the trade/media/frenzy that was the pre-season and summer.
    but the good news to me is that this team has done something I didn’t see last year, being consistently in the game, never quitting, fighting hard to the finish, and I think this is largely due to the bench.
    they bring in a hard work ethic when they come in, push the ball, up tempo, tough D, agressive play, that usually gets them back in the game, and the starters know they can’t let it down, so fresh legs, and a new mentality are very apparent to me this year.
    I like what we are seeing.

  5. This might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but maybe Phil should consider moving Luke back to starting and brink in Lamar at 6th man if Luke’s spiral persists. Keep Rony at PF and bring Lamar in early to fire up the offense at small forward. Luke would get that boost he seems to get starting and the minutes can remain roughly the same.

  6. 2 things:

    1. PJ’s comments after the spurs game about brokeback mountain were very cheap. I can’t believe someone as smart as PJ would stoop so low. Then he comes on ESPN to try to apologize and says something like “I apologize to all the cowboys, horses, that may have gotten offended”, which was not an apology to the people he offended. What a dick! And he knows exactly what he’s doing. What a homophobe.

    2. I injured my right knee ligament a bit after jumping up and down after that block on Yao. I’ll be out a couple of games, guys. Sorry. (Editors note: Just so there is no confusion, Lamar is not injured. Well, any more than normal.)

  7. This is kind of interesting. According to Hollinger Rankings (which I don’t particularly agree with all of his statistical analysis but…) the Lakers are 4th. It has something to do with point differential, I didn’t look into to at great detail, because well, I don’t care that much.

  8. The Hollinger Power Rankings put a much higher emphasis on schedule strength…that is the single biggest factor in the #4 ranking for the Lakers.

  9. Just took a look at the Hollinger Rankings. Seems that the Lakers ranking is as high as it is because of his strength of schedule rating. It’s (by far) the strongest schedule of any team in the top 15.

  10. The Lakers have the highest strength of schedule rating in the league, at least on my glance.

  11. Turiaf-moderate ankle sprain at practice today. May miss a game or two.

  12. Yao is a great talent, and seems very diligent too. I tend to think of FTs as a measure of hard work players put in during practice. That last play involving the intentional miss was too perfect, catching just about everyone on the court off-guard (i think it was also only possible due to Yao’s height – he can throw the ball in a more effective angle).

    As far as TOs go, and pts off TOs, i think it just means that we’re very sloppy on offense, but quite decent in defense. Other than the Penetrate and kick-out by slashing PGs that really broke our backs against NO and SA, we seem to be doing quite well.

    Or, our good defense is nothing but an illusion that comes with giving up the 3pt line – we dare other teams to beat us with the 3, and those who can’t make us look good, while those who can make a mockery out of us.

  13. 12. Now Walton gets a start tomorrow, if he is focused and has a good game again I may actually be more ticked at him.

  14. McDyess and Billups are day-to-day. I doubt Billups will play, McDyess???. If I remember correctly, Walace plays center on offense. So moving Odom to PF won’t be as bad as it could be.


  15. I read Billups is likely, but we will see. They are a very different team with him than without.

  16. Billups or no Billups, somebody needs to to head off the gaurds tomorrow night. Any chance that Mo Evans can start channeling Michael Cooper by tip-off?

  17. Detroit is one team I always feel “darksided”. Maybe its perception or maybe its how they run those flurry of screens for Rip, or that insane buzzer beaters by Sheed.

    Then again, it could be just the 2004 Finals nightmare.

    Either way, everytime we face this team, I just feel like losing badly. Hope I am proven wrong tomorrow…

  18. Kurt, what about starting Andrew instead of Luke?
    move Kwame over to the 4, and keep LO at the 3. (kwame is probably our best option on Sheed)
    I know PJ has been wanting to bring Andrew off the bench, but we’ve already seen how Luke plays as a starter and off the bench.
    all we’ve seen all year is Andrew coming off the bench and clearly is our best center.
    I also know that Kwame has a mental block when it comes to playing the 4, so on D have him be the 4, and on O, he’s the center, and Andrew plays the 4, as someone said up there anyway, seems like Sheed plays both the 4 and center positions.

  19. While you would think Kwame can play the four, he has always struggled in that role.