Game Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

Kurt —  November 16, 2007

Records: Lakers 4-3; Pistons 6-2
Offensive ratings: Lakers 108.1 (11th); Pistons 111.3 (4th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.2 (18th); Pistons 103.4 (12th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Vladamir Radmanovic, Kwame Brown (this is a big of a guess, but Phil Jackson said yesterday he did not want Odom at the four tonight)
Pistons: Ronald Murray, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Jason Maxiell, Rasheed Wallace

Lakers Notes:Ronny Turiaf turned an ankle yesterday in practice, which means he’ll be watching from the sidelines. We’ll see how much the bum ankle impacts his cheering.

With a couple injuries to the Pistons, this is another night the Lakers bench could be key. That is, if Luke Walton can shake out of this funk. He has slumped the last three games since exiting the starting lineup (shooting just 24% and with 10 turnovers). He also had a tough defensive game last time out trying to cover Bonzi Wells. (I’ll add, even with Turiaf out I wouldn’t start him tonight just because I don’t want to reward the way he played lately. Make him earn his way back in. Plus the matchups don’t work well for Walton to start tonight.)

I’m looking forward to a little bit of Andrew Bynum on Sheed, just to see what the stronger body and length can do.

The Pistons Coming In: Both Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess are game-time decisions tonight due to injuries.

The Pistons have a couple of the better NBA team blogs out there. Natalie and Need 4 Sheed is a lot of fun, but this time around I decided to pose some Pistons questions to Matt from Detroit Bad Boys (and Fanhouse).

I know a lot of pundits thought the Pistons stood pat this off-season and
didn’t address their needs, but you don’t feel that way. What did the
Pistons do and why will it pay off when it matters next Spring?

Ironically, the two biggest developments are things that Lakers fans probably won’t see tonight: the addition of Rodney Stuckey off the bench and the decision to move Antonio McDyess to the starting lineup. Stuckey, as you probably heard, broke his left hand in the preseason finale and is about a week or so away from returning. On Tuesday, McDyess aggravated a shoulder injury and could sit out his second game in a row tonight.

But when he’s healthy, Stuckey gives Detroit a solid option in the backcourt who can get into the paint and draw the foul. He has other talents, but that’s the one skill-set the Pistons have been lacking the most in recent years, and it’s something he proved he could do with ease throughout most of the preseason. Plus, he’ll bump Flip Murray down on the depth chart. Murray has his moments, but no one can argue that he’s more of an asset as the fourth guard as opposed to the third.

As for McDyess joining the starting lineup, it not only makes sense in terms of getting your best players on the floor early but also opens the door for some of Detroit’s young big men to actually be used. Jason Maxiell, who you’ll soon discover is one of the league’s hidden gems, brings a ton of energy and physical play to the court, but he was the third big man off the bench last year behind McDyess and Dale Davis. This year, he’s the first to get the call. Amir Johnson is kind of in Maxiell’s position last year in terms of getting inconsistent minutes early in the year, but that’s better than before when he couldn’t even dress for most games.

Amir Johnson is the fans favorite (or so it seems) but not so much with
the coaching staff. What have the Pistons got in him?

First, he’s the answer to a trivia question: he was the last high school kid drafted (56th overall in 2005) before David Stern changed the rules. But more importantly, he’s an incredible athlete. He’s grown two inches since draft day without losing a shred of his athleticism or speed, making him one of the most agile and fast 6-11 players in the league.

Of course, he’s still on the thin side and gets pushed around in the post, but he’s like a pogo stick in terms of getting up and going after rebounds and blocking shots, needing very little time to regroup before getting back in the air. And as talented as Rasheed Wallace and McDyess still are, they’re now known more for their jump-shooting ability whereas Johnson lives above the rim.

Unfortunately, he’s still playing catch-up considering he missed seven of eight games in the preseason with a sprained ankle that turned into a lingering sore Achilles early in the regular season. But he’s looked better and better in each game he plays, so hopefully he’ll keep getting his number called, even if it’s for only 5-10 minutes a night.

Are the Pistons players and fans quietly seething over all the Boston hype right now?

Honestly, I think it’s the opposite: it’s kind of nice to be under the radar. This team isn’t measured by regular-season wins and losses, so avoiding all of the hype from November to April will take a bit of pressure off the team. The Pistons have been division champs in five out of the past six years — the one year they weren’t was 2004, which, I’m sure you remember, ended kind of nicely for them. Given what we’ve seen from Cleveland and Chicago, I don’t doubt they’ll win the Central again this year, but I think the Pistons are fine letting Boston worry about locking up that No. 1 seed. In the meantime, Detroit will use the regular season to develop their bench so they’ll be even better in the playoffs.

What are the Pistons doing right to get off to this good start?

It’s all about balance. Five different players have led the team in scoring in the first seven games, and then three players tied for the team lead in the last game. You really never know who’s going to step up in any given night. If someone gets hot, the rest of the team will keep feeding him the ball. I won’t go so far as to say there aren’t any egos on this team, but everyone is working toward the same goal every night and trusts the guy standing next to him.

Factoid That Would Interest Only Peter King: Boston may be getting all the hype, but I think Detroit beats them in a seven game playoff series. In those chess matches it becomes about exploiting weaknesses, and despite how good the Big Three are in Boston I think there are plenty of places to attack that team (at PG and off the bench). And Detroit, with its balance, can do that well — can you imagine what Billups would do to Rondo in a seven-game series? But we are a long way off from that right now. And what the heck do I know, I thought the Bulls would win the East.

Keys To The Game: Look for a high scoring game — these are two good offenses and two pretty average (and that’s being kind to the Lakers right now) defenses. The Pistons do not create a lot of turnovers (24th in the league at that) so this could be one game where the Lakers don’t turn it over much. If they do, it could be big trouble again.

On defense, the Lakers can’t leave Hamilton alone beyond the arc, they need to stick with him and try to force him into the midrange — he’s still a good shooter from there but not as deadly as everywhere else. Rasheed Wallace is the other guy you have to force into the midrange — his shooting percentage drops off considerably if he’s 15 feet or more out (but he can hit from three, but better that then next to the basket). It’s got to be Kwame using his body, but he’s going to need help because Sheed is too athletic for him.

The key in this game will be the team that plays better defense. If the Lakers can get good rotations and can clog up the lane when guys penetrate, they can force the Piston players to take the midrange shot they are less comfortable with. The Pistons have not done a great job this year defending opposing twos and fours (PERS of 17.3 and 16.8, respectively). That means this could be a big game for Kobe and Odom.

Tonight’s Game: Where too much talk about 2004 Happens: Maybe the biggest key to this game is whether or not Billups plays — without him the Pistons offense isn’t as fluid. Still, I expect this one to be close and high scoring, but I think this Laker team could find a way to win one at home. And if they could get a couple technicals on the fiery Sheed, all the better.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into Fox Sports West, nationally you get ESPN, and online check out the ESPN.com gamecast.

Kurt

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65 responses to Game Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

  1. correction, channel 9 does away games, this one is one FSNwest, and ESPN

  2. Thanks Chris, I forgot to change that in my little template. Change made.

  3. And did anyone else catch some of the Mavs/Spurs last night? I still think the Big Three are a bit of a rock-paper-scissors game — the Mavs can beat the Spurs but not the Suns, the Spurs can beat the Suns but not the Mavs, and the Suns can beat the Mavs but not the Spurs. The playoffs become about seeding as much as anything.

  4. Are the rumors true that LA & Detroit had a deal in place but Kobe exercised his no trade clause? The deal states that Detroit would have sent Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Amir Johnson and a 1st round pick to LA for Kobe.

    Link found here:
    http://www.realgm.com/src_wiretap_archives/49207/20071115/lakers_and_pistons_agreed_to_kobe_trade/

  5. 4. According to Lakers sources there was talk but nothing ever came of it.

    “While it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction, a source close to the Lakers says it’s not true. While the Pistons and Lakers did talk a few weeks ago, nothing significant materialized.

    The recent buzz, suggests the source, is probably nothing more than old news echoing about.”

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=6054

    Detroit always plays great D against the Lakers, though they do not look as good in that department this year as they have in the past. They tend to play a lot of zone against the Lakers and it really disrupts their offense. I think the key to this game will be some inside scoring (Bynum) and good ball movement. It’ll be a tough game. Ronnie wuold be good for this one because he has been pretty consistent with his mid range jumpshot, hes really the only Laker big man that can hit that shot. Vlad being able to hit from the outside will be helpful too, he might be able to open things up in the middle a little bit.

  6. Good point about the zone D, Ryan. The Pistons used a lot of it in Golden State in the second half to slow down the Warriors (it worked) and I bet the Lakers get a healthy dose of it. That does put something on Bynum and Mihm, the soft spot of the zone is in the middle down low. Something to look for.

  7. 4- I think that Phoenix has actually fallen back a little bit. I think its S.A and Dallas, then Phoenix, Utah, Denver, then Lakers, Clips, Hornets, Blazers. Phoenix has some problems right now, namley Amare isn’t functioning well with the team, and they bench isnt near S.A. and Dallas.

    6- Detroit’s zone was effective becuase they put Prince at the top with Murray and Hamilton on the wing. They communicate great, with one player on the ball, one sagging middle and one covering weak side. The most effective way G.S. beat the zone was getting the ball to cutters on the baseline and the middle of the zone. This is where Luke can really excel tonight, also, Evans is player that moves well without the ball. We can’t be spectators on the perimeter tonight

  8. “On defense, the Lakers can’t leave Hamilton alone beyond the arc, they need to stick with him and try to force him into the midrange — he’s still a good shooter from there but not as deadly as everywhere else.”

    Uh, Rip Hamilton is a career .329 from 3. The guy makes a living off of his midrange jumper. The last thing we want to try to do his force him into this shot.

  9. 8. Don’t confuse career numbers and what is going on now. First, Rip has developed a three point shot: 35.7% this year, 34.1% last year (and last year he was above 40% from everywhere but the right corner) and 45.8% the year before that. However, last year he shot “just” 43.5% from 15 feet out to the three point line, and 45.8% from 5 to 15 feet. He’s still a good midrange shooter, but you cannot give him the three like you could in 2004 and dare him.

    Look at last year’s shot charts:

    http://www.nba.com/hotzones/popup.html

  10. A small preview suggestion… perhaps you could link to websites that have stats on the Lakers and the team they’re playing? That way it’s easy to get a quick glance at the opposing team.

  11. Too bad Turiaf won’t be hustling out there tonight. He has become probably my favorite Laker, and am extra bummed since I’ll be at Staples tonight. Regardless, I think Odom is key. Kobe will get his, obviously, but Lamar needs a breakout game, and perhaps seeing the determined defense from Prince will stoke his fire. I’d also like to see a solid dose of minutes, and touches, for Bynum. The only way he will learn to keep putting himself in good positions, is to reward him for it when he does get it.

  12. I’m hoping that Phil’s insistence on keeping Lamar at the 3 will pay off. His thinking is, I’m guessing, that Tayshaun will have to cover Lamar leaving Kobe to deal with either Rip and/or Flip (assuming Chauncey doesn’t play). Otherwise, if they choose to still go with Tay on Kobe, they’ll have a mismatch somewhere else that they can exploit.

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one thinking about getting Sheed T’d up. Let’s get Phil to put Sasha on him.

  13. One reason I’m not overly concerned with Lamar’s last two outings (which were chalk-full of some of his signature brain-farts) is that he’s not sure about his shoulder yet. You can tell by how he has attacked the basket and by the fact Phil inists on him staying at the 3, even with Rony out. In a month, if Odom is still playing like this, I’ll will return with different thoughts, for now, I hope he finds his groove tonight.

  14. Lamar has always had ‘brain farts’. That is his signature weakness and why I don’t feel he is an all-star. I love him to death, but he just seems to lose his way at times during games.

  15. Brian Cook is starting? Brian Cook? WTF is Phil thinking?

  16. Brian Cook in the starting 5? Are you (edited) kidding me…

  17. Wow… Phil is really “brokeback” on Brian Cook eh? He is starting! wtf?

  18. The lakers are getting to the line – good sign. Rip Hamilton is out early, perhaps an injury? or is it foul trouble? Afflalo replaces…

  19. Ok I checked the play-by-play, its 2 quick fouls by Rip that made Flip sit him with 7 to go in the 1st.

  20. I almost posted last night that I thought Phil should start Cook, but then I didn’t want to blaspheme. Anyway, I see the reasoning. Vlad isn’t physical enough to guard the starting 4, so Cookie is a step up there (although not much more physical than Vlad, but a better rebounder). Oh, and Mihm isn’t really an option there either.

  21. LOL. As soon as we curse him, he blows up for 8pts in the 1st quarter. 2 threes and 2 fts. I’m biting my lips… LOL. LOL.

  22. Sorry for the double post, but every time we have a game on ESPN, we have to sit through Rick Bucher bleat about a Kobe trade and Jon Barry bleat about trading Bynum for some overrated and overpaid veteran. Argghhh!

  23. Cook is just great on the pick and roll, which has worked, and you just can’t leave the guy open like that, he can shoot the ball. He’s done well, I’m glad to be proved wrong.

    Good to see Afflalo. Really liked that kid.

  24. I love our 1st quarter defense. Kobe on the bench half the game, only 2 pts and the team up at the half = beautiful.

    Do we out-score in the 3rd quarter guys?

  25. The offense has become stagnant to start the third, where’s the cuts and movement?

  26. The Pistons have gone to the zone and the Lakers look confused. Either the guards need to drive and kick, or we need to get Bynum inside because he’s the only one who seems able to score inside.

    The Lakers are shooting terribly. Only Odom is over .500.

  27. Agreed I think they said we were shooting below 30 percent…

    The only way to break the zone is MOVE THE BALL quick and pull up for strong jumper/drives when the zone’s off balance.

  28. Lets just…. not score…. huh? Does that sound good? WTF is going on?

  29. Bynum, Radman start the fourth with Farmar and things start to happen. coincidence?

  30. Where’s the Mo Evans love on this blog now, baby?

  31. I’ll see your Mo Evans love and raise you Jordan Farmar love…he’s going to be a +Billiondy by the end of the game

  32. My boy Jordan Farmar needs to get some league attention folks… every stupid reporter needs to get him off the trade proposals.

    The Lakers are shooting terribly. Perhaps its the Pistons zone defense or its simply an off-night. Thanks to Lamar’s 20-12, we’re right in there and hanging tough. Hope we win this one, a win is still a win.

  33. 3 best things about this win

    1. kobe didn’t have a dominate game and we wone
    2. bynum had a terrible 1st half, came back and played great in the 4th
    3. farmar, a boy no longer, today, a man

  34. Wow. That was a great game. Felt like the playoffs with nothing coming except through effort, even when shooting 28%. Love to see that.

  35. That sequence of plays when the Lakers went from down 74-73, to up 80-74 was based on intense pressure d, and good rotations. Farmar came up with some steals and we took the lead, with the reserves.

    First time I’ve seen Phil utilize a full court zone trap. It got us some turnovers agaisnt a vet club (albeit they didn’t have Billups)

  36. I just hope Phil lets Farmar finish games more often…

  37. WOW! What a game!

    Kobe just shut down Rip Hamilton. All that aggressive defense and even that dive on the ball late in the 4th. Kobe can play defense only because everyone else on the Lakers are playing with so much effort and so much passion. Kobe with another overall game: 19pts, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists. LO with a great double double 25-15.

    Key player has to be Jordan Farmar though. We gotta give the guy props. He kept the team in the game with his defense and that series of steals. He hit those clutch baskets that helped the Lakers pull away. But the major factor is he stirred the defense up and from then on, the team just went on a roll.

    I think this is a good message that the Lakers can hang with the top teams in the league. C’mon, the team was shooting 27% before the 4th and still was in the game? I think I’m going to rewatch the entire game on ESPN360 again just to see the hustle of the entire team.

    PS: A honorable mention to the referee who gave that nice assist to Vlad late in the 4th.

    More to come guys. This Laker team is giving me goosebumps. The halfcourt traps remind me of the Jordan-led Bulls. Scary stuff right there.

  38. No more brian cookie… No defense what so ever, let Vlad take every single one of his minutes. Kobes defense has been sick, he might get defensive player of the year if he plays defense like this every game.

  39. Now that was frakking impressive.

    So I ran some numbers real quick just to see. John Hollinger’s rankings are based on strength of schedule and margin of victory (with a slight boost for road-heavy schedules). I have the Laker opponents so far with a .650 winning percentage, giving them a 17.66 SOS component along with a total point margin of 41 and 3 more road games than home games, which penalizes them 9.5 points, so 31.5 divided by 9, giving a 3.5 margin of victory component. Grand total of 121.158. Before their game with the heat, the Celtics were #1 with a 118.455 ranking, but a 2-point victory over the lowly heat is only going to bring that total down. Meaning…

    The Lakers are going to be #1 in the Hollinger Rankings come sunup. Yikes.

  40. Correction, 121.595 instead of 121.158.

  41. Wow. This was the first time I actually yelled out loud at my TV since Kobe’s shot in Game 4… and I watch EVERY lakers game (thank you league pass, the best birthday present ever).

    The thing that got me so excited (I’m sure you have a swearing policy, it’s a quote, and I think the quote is important… please forgive…) was when Bynum made that AMAZING baseline bounce to Kobe… and KB ran back towards AB and said “Great fucking pass” twice. It’s like, in that moment, I maybe forgave Mitch a bit and thought… this could be something really special.

    Full disclosure: I’m both a Lakers fan and a real Kobe fan. On one hand I recognize his well documented shortcomings, on the other hand – I see (in my humble opinion) the most comprehensive offensive skill the game has ever seen (and I watched plenty of MJ – I didn’t say winning – I said comprehensive offensive skill – but this is my opinion and that’s a different discussion). But I recognize that it takes an effort on his part and a solid supporting cast to make something really work. Tonight was the first time that it really hit me – this could work.

    Farmar has shown his confidence again – and Kobe is trusting him (and rightly so).

    Lamar is filling all the gaps amazingly. Andrew is showing what he could do if he was given more minutes. This team is coming together.

    I’m not the type to get crazy irrational excited about things, but tonight for some reason pushed me over the edge to think that this team can be really special.

    I’m excited that Farmar has built the skill and confidence he’s displaying. They NEED that.

    I’m excited that Bynum keeps improving. I honestly think he could be a real force in the league if he had more minutes, but there are complications there, so…

    I’m excited that Kobe is taking the steps to move towards being a winner, as a team, by sacrificing his personal game.

    I’m excited that the team is stepping up. Having Kobe is like having the best anchor in a relay. You don’t rely on them to win the race alone – the first 3 legs do all they can to put the anchor in a winable position and then trust the anchor to finish the job. There’s no one stronger to finish than Kobe. He can’t win a game by himself – that’s up to the “first 3 legs”, but he can finish a close one like no one else can.

    These Lakers are starting to look like they can be special.

    To be honest, I’m just happy something was good enough to make me yell at my TV again.

  42. Twinkletoes Brown got ‘em started with defense, quick hands knocking the ball free–and even a basket. Bigfoot Bynum helped let the Pistons back in.

    Twinkletoes had to come in and restore order–but Bigfoot Bynum helped close ‘em out in the end.

    The guy who beat out Smush Parker sure made a difference in this game. If you kept talking about trading him, have you washed your mouth out with soap yet?

    I can almost feel how Mo Evans felt when he took that rebound and slammed it over Rip Hamilton.

    Did you see that “assist” from the ref when that errant pass hit him, bounced off, and we scored?

    I thought Kobe had one of his best games as a Laker. Rip Hamilton was clearly unhappy about it. I could almost feel that strong emotion toward the end of the fourth quarter.

    Hey Pistons. They say we’re not good enough to make the playoffs in the West this year. What do you think?

  43. I agree about liking that trapping defense, it really picked up the tempo of the game and changed the momentum. I’d like to see more of it by the second unit (you can’t do it against top-flight PGs but most backups and a bunch of starters may struggle with it).

  44. I may have been a bit overzealous in my calculations. Such is the nature of watching a Laker victory. At the least, we may move ahead of the Spurs into the 3 spot. The only reason I’m bringing it up is because people get bent out of shape about it.

    Did anyone notice…was Ronny dancing at all tonight? I didn’t see him get shown except for one short second sitting down. I know he was in street clothes, but I would feel bad about getting that kind of tough victory without being able to celebrate a little bit with Ronny.

  45. Ronny was up but not sure if he was dancing. Ric Bucher needs to stop with all the trade talk. I think everyone is annoyed by all the “Kobe to ???” rumors when all we want to do is watch this team play some ball.

    Kurt, I think the trapping defense will work against most teams second units since our 2nd unit is one of the strongest, if not the strongest 2nd unit in the league.

    Exick, Lakers ranked that high on Hollingers rating was really a boost for me on Thursday. When I looked at the comments and saw all the people disagreeing with the Lakers being ranked that high because of their record, I saw who they were defending (Suns fans, mostly). Lakers really do deserve that spot because they survived great teams and walked out with a 5-3 record.

    Next up are the Bulls, Pacers, Bucks, and then the Celtics. If the Lakers can maintain this intensity, they should have a good chance of coming out that week 3-1. I’m shaking just thinking of the Lakers vs Celtics game. I’ll probably be in Vegas that day but I’ll give up the sights just to watch that one. Lakers and Celtics! Sorry KG, great guy you are but I hope the Lakers give the Celtics their first loss of the season.

  46. One observation. In the fourth, Kobe looked STOKED. Chest bumping the dudes every good possession, cheering from the bench, giving positive “ANDREW!” yells, and such- and he showed how he can have an Antarctic first three quarters and TORCH it up in the fourth. If he keeps this up, and the Lake show gets to 50 wins….he can make a very, very solid case for MVP this year.

    And if Farmar keeps this up, he gets Improved player votes from me. not that they’ll count, but it’s the thought. Him and Bynum are a GREAT second unit team. (Ok, Two observations. Sue me)

  47. It’s fun to get excited and no doubt the Lakers played with some intense passion, but man oh man we have seen this before in similar doses.

    This Laker team was 26-13 last year and had plenty of wins that gave you goosebumps and unwavering optimism. Our problem continues to be consistency. Too many times we turn around and put up a big ol’ stinker to a team that we should beat right after we beat a top tier contender.

    Give this team till the All-Star break to see how much noise they can really make. But they are one hell of a likable bunch, no denying that.

    God, imagine if Marc Gasol and Sun Yue develop into our team next season. Talk about youth!

  48. Independent of whatever injuries befall this year. Jackson must keep Lamar at the SF. This is a big reason why the Lakers are playing well so far. That and the improved play of Farmar and Bynum. That said, we still do not have an answer when playing teams with quick, penetrating PG’s in the half court set. Neither Fish nor Farmar have the chops to deal with this.

  49. Why isnt anyone giving props to Lamar, he brought it tonight.
    25-15,

    I think the UCLA defense Jordan learned is rubbing off on the rest of the lakers.

  50. That was both very ugly and very beautiful.

    It’s a great feeling knowing that they’re 5-3 when a lot of people expected them to be 1-7 at this point.

  51. I really love watching this team play. As has been noted many times before, our second unit really is going to win us a bunch of games this year, and this was one of them. That stretch to start the 4th with Farmar/Bynum leading the way was thrilling to watch. I really can’t describe how much I love watching Farmar play, it’s just getting repetitive at this poin, but I think you gotta hand him the game ball for his D in the 4th. Terrific game from Odom obviously (particularly liked the off-the-ref pass). Agree with sfJayp that watching how pumped Kobe was getting was a big bright spot. The jump ball with Rip was a highlight for me personally. Kobe’s passion on the court, even when he can’t buy a bucket, is game-changing.

    Which leads me to how dreadful the Barry/Bucher combo was. You SoCalers don’t know how lucky you have it to have Stu every night. Just ridiculous ridiculous things being said all night. Apparently we should look into trading Fisher (with his sky-high trade value and all) to get Kobe help… WHAT??? And I’m convinced that Bucher is either desperately trying to make a Kobe trade happen by himself just to vindicate himself, or someone from Kobe’s camp is feeding him crap just to mess with him.

    On a final note, while Detroit will always be one of my least favorite teams in the L, there’s no denying they have one of the coolest benches in the league. Enough has been said about Amir, but it’s all true. The man rules. Also based on this one game I momentarily wondered what it would’ve been like if we hadn’t made the trade for Mo (before quickly coming to my senses; as good as Samb could ever become, that will remain a huge steal). You gotta love Afflalo and hope for him to get more much-deserved burn. And that’s not to mention Stuckey, who is awesome and will be a difference maker soon enough.

  52. This was a good win for the Lakers. Its good to see them win a game with hustle and defense.The offense is not always going to be there, so its good to see that when they want to they can be a good defensive team. Their run in the 4th was completely spurred by their great defense, particularly from Kobe and Farmar. They just need the consistency their. Kobe defense on Rip was a thing of beauty, he is easily one of the top three perimeter defenders in the league when he wants to be.

  53. Exick- Rony tried to sit down most of the game, but ESPN caught him standing a cheering a couple times in the 4th, ha, who could resist cheering for the Lakers that quarter. Best end-to-end defensive effort of the season.

  54. Now I like that rotation…Kwame in 1 and 3, with Bynum in 2 and 4. Minutes for everyone and good defense throughout.

    Anybody miss Smush yet???

  55. 42- UPS is the reason our offense goes in the tanker, he has absolutley regressed to the point that he can’t even catch an entry pass, and defensivley, although he played o.k., he tries to steal everything, leaving our backside open for layups and putbacks. He’s getting worse, not better.

  56. 55. Kwame was a particular problem in the third because the Pistons went to the zone and you need to get the ball inside and be a threat to break that down. As soon as the combo of Bynum inside and Farmar’s pressure D out top got in, the game just changed.

  57. I sat right behind the Lakers bench last night. First of all, Ronny Turiaf is the man. He’s pretty much the only player that will respond to fans and idiots in the crowd during the game. The guy is just hilarious. I’ll be glad when he gets back so Brian Cook can take his rightful place at the end of the bench.

    Speaking of Cook. He is terrible. A power forward who is a poor rebounder, shot blocker, and defender. Total opposite of Ronny. Plus he shoots like he has a Kobe Bryant green light. I also feel like he doesn’t know the offense that well. Or at least it looked that way to me last night.

    Rip v. Kobe was fun to watch. If the Lakers can get scoring from others, then Kobe can do more of what he did to Rip last night. Watching those two, I can tell that it has to be very annoying to guard that guy. He runs off of a ton of picks, and pushes, grabs, and slaps his way to open positioning. Kobe pointed out what he was doing to the refs and the refs started calling Rip for offensive fouls. Rip hates getting shown up by Kobe because they were rivals in the PA area during high school.

    Jordan Farmar is the difference maker on this team. When he is in the game he totally changes the way the Lakers play. He’s aggressive on defense and then pushes the ball at every opportunity. He gets everyone on the team pumped up with his exciting play. Also, in only his second year, he’s already directing everyone else on what to do. When Bynum was slow getting back off of a rotation making it so Farmar was guarding one of the Pistons bigs in the post, Farmar got in Bynums ass about it. Bynum got a little offended until Lamar basically came over and told him to shut up. On every free throw situation, Jordan comes over and talks to Phil. You can tell that Phil and the coaching staff are just in love with him.

    After the game my brother and I ran into his father Damon. He was beaming from ear to ear. I’ve known their family for years. It’s so good to see wonderful things happen to wonderful people. Jordan wants to eventually be an All-Star, and believe me it will happen. He’s as driven to be great as a guy like Kobe Bryant. Don’t doubt #5.

    Lamar Odom is also sensational. He’s a totally different player now that he doesn’t have to match up with guys like Tim Duncan and Rasheed Wallace everynight. I’ve written this before, but Odom is at his best when the Lakers are running and he can get out on the break and do his thing. He had 5 or 6 opportunities like that last night. They gotta find a way to have Farmar, Mo Evans, and Lamar on the floor together, because those guys love to get the rebound and push the ball. Very fun basketball to watch.

    When Kobe sees those Bulls come to town on Sunday and then looks at the team he has when healthy, I’m sure he’ll be happy that he didn’t end up in there.

  58. We sure were lucky too. Remember we were playing San Antonio and Houston on a back-to-back texas rodeo, then a Detroit and Chicago home stand. While there can be credit to hustle, defense and less TOs tonight, we have to recognize that we were quite lucky to have played Houston w/o Tmac and Detroit w/o Billups. Just keeping it realistic…

  59. PayCheck day
    ========
    For undrafted rookie Coby Karl, who is making about $425,000, it was a day to remember. His check initially didn’t arrive on time because it was accidentally sent to his mother’s home in Idaho. That check was canceled and a new one was issued :-)

  60. Phil tells why Cook got the start:

    “Radmanovic last year, [Rasheed] Wallace toasted him and made fun of him and made ‘Borat’ jokes about him when he was out there.”

    For the second unit to play well enough for Kobe to sit for the first 6minutes of the fourth quarterbodes well for this team and Kobe’s (and LO’s) aging legs…

  61. That ball fake from Lamar!!! Geez that was bringing chills down. Then the lob to Sha… I mean Bynum after that Farmar play whooo this is looking to be a very interesting season. Remember the Pistons didn’t have Chauncey and was the reason the trap was working so well but I like this pressure they’re applying. I love the way the Lakers are playing but it seems that they go through major offensive droughts in the 3rd qtr. The same thing happened in the Houston game we built a nice lead going into the 3rd and it evaporated same thing happened Friday. Hopefully this gets addressed at the next team meeting.

    A week ago I talked about the biggest thing that Lakers were missing, which was confidence from the players. Kobe and Fisher have been leading by example and by challenging the team day in and day out. It seems to be working b/c Farmar is playing w/ a confidence that Phil is rewarding w/ playing time and trust. Bynum was getting stuffed left and right the whole game…but he didn’t leave w/ his tail between his legs he kept bringing it!!!! Same thing w/ Lamar, he kept getting stuffed and started taking the issue to heart almost as if the Detroit defense was questioning his manhood. Alright how about I give you a lil ball fake and dunk it on ur face, is that gonna work? Never stopped hustling and gave us some important put backs. (Needs to get his legs back…his 3’s and jump shots are really flat)

    Something special is brewing in the pot and I love the intensity Kobe is bringing on defense. Like Phil has been saying Kobe now appears to be well invested into this team and it’s showing in the W column. GO LAKERRRS!

  62. How do you guys like the pick we traded for MO yesterday? Last year looked like great trade but now?

  63. I meant long-armed Cheikh Samb played yesterday.

  64. I thought someone said Samb wouldn’t never bulk up to ever make it to the nba…

    whoa they were wrong

  65. @ Warren

    We played Houston w/ Tmac in the 1st half and I believe were up by double digits at a point when he got injured. It was only when Bonzi Wells got subbed in that our lead squandered because of the matchup problems he presents.

    @47

    The situation last year differs from this year. Last year the Lakers had a very generous opening schedule. This year they’re playing the top teams in the league right from the start. And you can see there’s a difference in attitude right away. Here’s to the Miami/Smush pairing.