Game Preview & Chat: The Chicago Bulls

Kurt —  November 18, 2007

Records: Lakers 5-3; Bulls 2-6
Offensive ratings: Lakers 109.2 (11); Bulls 94.9 (29)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.9 (18); Bulls 103.3 (11)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Brian Cook, Kwame Brown
Bulls: Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas (a guess), Andres Nocioni, Ben Wallace

Lakers Notes: Take the season +/- numbers so far this year (and average per 48 minutes, as 82games.com does) and who comes out as the team leaders? Walton, Bynum, Radmanovic and Farmar — that would be our bench squad. That’s just a little statistical backup for what our eyes have been telling us — it is that bench that has won the Lakers a lot of games this season.

That was the case against the Pistons, when Phil wisely rode the hot hands (Farmar and Bynum) rather than just following the substitution pattern. The fourth quarter against the Pistons Friday night was the best 12 minutes of basketball the Lakers played this year — pressing on defense to force the tempo, making good passes in the offense, attacking the defense at its weakest points and hitting the shots.

Turiaf is not expected to play tonight because of the ankle — this early in the season better to give him too much rest rather than rush him back. No need for this to linger throughout the season.

The Bulls Coming In: I was watching the Clippers/Bulls game last night when I made note of a nice move by Deng, attacking from the wing, getting into the lane and hitting a pretty little running hook. The problem was he aggravated an already sore back with that play and he will not be in the lineup tonight — something that will hamper and already struggling Bulls offense. That said, the Bulls looked more aggressive getting to the hoop last night than I had seen early on.

I also watched a chunk of the Bulls/Suns game Thursday night, but I’m not sure how much we can take away from that. The Bulls got sucked into the Suns game (as so many teams do) and that’s a hard way to win. They pulled to a tie at about the end of the third quarter, then midway through the fourth decided to go small and run with the Suns. Game over.

The Bulls slow start has generated a lot of talk — I’d suggest reading through the backlog at Blog-a-Bull. The defense isn’t what it was last year (when they led the lead in defensive efficiency) and the offense has been stagnant and filled with bad shots. Maybe the best one-post breakdown came from another long-time Bulls fan, Kelly Dwyer, in an email to Henry at True Hoop. He made some good points about Deng, but we’ll skip those for tonight’s purposes. Here are a few other highlights, but read the whole post:

(On Hinrich and his attitude and play): When his shoulders are slumped, his shooting form resembles a crescent moon, and his facial expressions resemble those of your typical Pitchfork-reader; then a 2-of-11 night is the usual result. Throw in the abject lack of free throws (even at his best) and poor percentage finishing in the paint (even at his best), and you have a mini-Ben Wallace running point.

(On the coaching) It’s not Scott Skiles’ fault that Hinrich is shooting so poorly, Deng isn’t showcasing his usual fundamentally-sound streak, Gordon is streaky, or that Wallace sprained his ankle. The Bulls coach knows the games, draws up some gorgeous plays out of timeouts, and generally does a fine job with his team. So why is he constantly trying to make life harder on himself? We’re a quick-fix society, I grok, but there’s no reason to make lineup changes for the sake of lineup changes like he does … every damn December. Throwing Nocioni out at power forward against an up-tempo team like the Suns sounds about right; until you realize that Nocioni’s strengths (drawing power forwards out to the three-point line to either defend a shot they don’t want to defend, or blow by the slower big men) work against just about any other team BESIDES the Phoenix Suns. Shawn Marion doesn’t mind sticking to that three-point line,

(Overall thoughts) This is still a damn good basketball team. Should they make the playoffs, I like Chicago’s chances with any Eastern team outside of the Nets (whom I loathe, to be candid, but match up well against the Bulls). Some of the best defensive games of Hinrich’s career have come against Ray Allen, the same goes for Luol Deng when it comes to Paul Pierce, and Chicago’s record against the Western giants last year is pretty solid.

The Bulls stink offensively, but its turnovers, rebounding issues, and inability to get to the free throw line is right in line with what went down last year, when the team finished 20th in offensive efficiency. If and when the team starts to hit shots, they’ll improve, and hopefully ascend to the ranks of the mediocre. That, and the defense (first overall last season), should vault this team back into the race. It’s that start, and the missed chances at home against mediocre teams, that worries.

That said, this is your date, and it’s still only half past eight. No coaching change or lineup reshuffle or Important Trade Worth These Capital Letters is either in the offing or probable or likely to help.

Factoid That Would Interest Only Peter King: I could have my blogger’s license revoked for admitting this, but I kind of like the “Where Amazing Happens” commercials.

Keys To The Game: This is the chance for the Lakers to win a game with their defense, the Bulls as a team are shooting just 42.1% (eFG%) this season and tonight will be without their most dynamic offensive player. Hinrich is streaky, and the Lakers want to keep him bombing away from three — he is shooting just 19.2% from deep this year (but if he gets hot that plan changes, historically he can shoot from distance). Gordon can get hot too, and he needs to be focused on to prevent that from happening.

Ben Wallace’s bum ankle has meant the Bulls are not as formidable in the paint and on the boards — they are middle of the pack (18th) in defensive rebounding, so Bynum should be able to get to the offensive boards and get a couple easy put backs.

Tonight’s Game: Where good timing Happens: One of the underrated things about an NBA season is luck, specifically the luck of when you catch a team. There is going to be a string of a couple weeks this season where Minnesota is going to be able to beat just about anyone, and if they are on your schedule during that time you pick up the “how did we lose to those guys?” loss. Conversely, sometimes you need to catch good teams at a vulnerable time — like the Suns on a back-to-back, or the Pistons when they are without two starters.

Or the Bulls when they are without their best player and on the second game of a back-to-back. This is about the best time to catch one of the more talented young teams in the league. They are going to turn it around at some point, but tonight is a game the Lakers could and should win.

Where you can watch: Game time is 6:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into Fox Sports, nationally you’ll need the League Pass. Of course, you can always watch the ads, er, gamecast on ESPN.com

Kurt

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71 responses to Game Preview & Chat: The Chicago Bulls

  1. Let’s hope the Bulls don’t have a lot of pent up anger to “share” with the Lakers.

    That seems like a big possible game changing factor to me.

  2. Off topic rumor
    =========
    Artest, Bibby Headed to South Beach?
    Source: New York Daily News

    Miami’s slow start has revived talk that the Heat will make a strong move for Mike Bibby, once the Kings’ point guard returns from a hand injury. The Heat has been targeting Bibby since last summer, and Smush Parker’s uninspiring play hasn’t exactly given the Heat much confidence that the ex-Fordham star is the answer. The Heat has the expiring contract(s) the Kings are looking for, in either Ricky Davis or ex-King Jason Williams, or maybe both, if Ron Artest becomes part of the deal, as has been rumored.

  3. Ben Wallace was a force last night for the Bulls, especially tipping out missed shots for 2nd chance opportunities. The Lakers need to rebound the ball to win tonight.

  4. 1. That’s what were all going to be looking at. Chicago’s come off a solid win against the Clips, and they look revived. Lamar is going to be big for us tonight.

    I’m looking for Bynum to have a big game tonight.

  5. Mike in the Mountain West November 18, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Kurt,

    I know I’ve mentioned a couple of times but you might think about putting the link to listen to the game online in your “Where you can watch” section. Just a thought.

  6. better be careful about being overconfident tonight.
    these bulls want to show these lakers that they are better off as they are without KB.
    on the other hand, isn’t this a great opportunity for the rest of our team to show #24 that he’s better off with this squad, that this is by far his best chance to make a run for the title.
    this team has impressed all eyar, I hope they continue to improve through the rest of the season, and while they might go a round or 2 in the playoffs, let’s hope they are actually building for a championship run next year.

  7. Watching the Celtics at Orlando on NBA TV…at a 1st Quarter commercial break, they showed another Greatest Moment in NBA History–the last few seconds of Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Final, Lakers vs BallSACs, Robert Horry’s game-winner. Heh heh heh….that sequence never gets old.

  8. 6- Craziest thing about that sequence, Our two best players both had good looks and missed, Kobe made a great move and missed a running layup and Shaq missed to ‘chipy’ put-back. Ball bounces out and 10 seconds later, the crowd screams “horry, horry”. Random question, do people think Horry is a hall-of-famer?

  9. Mike in the Mountain West November 18, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    No I don’t Horry is a hall of a fame caliber player. Just because you get more than your fair share of mentions in the “Top 100 plays in basketball” type of shows doesn’t mean you belong in the hall of fame.

  10. I was gonna mention that the Lakers are extremely timing-lucky this year. Phoenix was caught in a back-to-back but it was a road win for us so, props to the guys. Houston losing Tmac in the 1st, Detroit without Billups and McDyess and now slumping Bulls on a back-to-back without Deng? Extremely Leprechaun-like lucky. Oh and the Celts lose their 1st game tonight 8)

  11. I do believe Horry should be in the HOF. I believe a number of old-time Celtics from the 50s and 60s who didn’t have great stats are in the Hall, and Horry certainly was an important contributor to his teams’ post-season success.

  12. horry should be in the HOF, if only for his championships with three different teams and his longevitiy, and the fact that he actually played a vital role in most of the championships won, the most recent being the hip check against nash.

    as for the luck thing, luck is what makes or breaks a season. minor luck such as catching teams on a back to back, or major luck such as catching teams when one or more of their starters are out due to personal matters, suspension, injury or what not.

    the +/- made me think… would it be feasible, and cheaper, to build a team that has the worst starting 5 but the best 15 and still contend? Come playoffs, i know the value of true superstars skyrocket, but if you had the right kind of a star (like Kobe) and 14 guys who are all legitimate #6 or #7s on other teams…

  13. Hopefully Kwame’s injury isn’t that bad. It hasn’t even been 10 games. Way too early for a major injury.

  14. Why in the world would Phil start cook? Luke is a better matchup with Nocioni. Cook is so bad. He’s actually gotten worse in the last 2 years. Get him off the floor and onto the bench. Get him into street clothes. Get him onto another team for a 2nd rounder. I’ve had it. I can’t take it. Phil, you’re killing us.

    If this injury to Kwame is major we’re gonna see more Cook. Heaven help us all.

  15. I absolutely HATE the play of Brian Cook. Someone explain to me the reason why Kupchak had to give him a contract extension.

  16. I’m really sorry so see Kwame go down. He gets a lot of flak because of he is such an underachiever historically, but Phil has really got him into a role as a larger version of poor man’s Ben Wallace. I was hoping tonight he could make some headway to solidifying that role in his mind.

    We’ll get Turiaf back soon it sounds like. And Bynum will get more minutes now. These are good things. Bynum will need to step it up on defense pretty quickly!

  17. Agree with #15, I’m pretty hard on Kwame for his stone hands and bricklaying, but he sure can play post defense. I hope he gets back sooner rather than later. I fear there could be a Chris Mihm sighting tonight.

  18. #16- Yep. It’s official. A Chris Mihm sighting. Turiaf can’t get better fast enough. Mihm is severely lacking the hands department as well. He also doesn’t really move very well. He’s far too stiff and has very little rhythm to his game.

    This stretch here in the 2nd is where I don’t see why Phil doesn’t have Farmar in. Fisher should be on the pine. Farmar is very much a starter in this league. I’ll say it again: start Fish for the “respect” factor, but give Farmar all the minutes. The team is radically better with Farmar on the floor.

  19. 12 TOs already. Wow. And again most of them from our starters, KB, Fish and Odom contributing 7 of them.

    Actually thought Mihm was holding his own (looking at telecast, that is), Bynum and Farmar again quite efficient.

  20. Mihm has always had a good instinct for being in the right place on offensive rebounds. The problem is, when he’s around the basket, he rarely tries a two-handed catch and tip in, and rarely grabs the rebound with both hands and goes right back up with the ball. It’s always one-handed tip in attempts, and the ball doesn’t go in very often. At least he’s hitting his free throws tonight.

    I think the recent success of the Bulls is almost entirely tied to the increased minutes of Nocioni. That guy is a baller.

  21. #19- Yeah, I don’t mean to be too harsh on Mihm. He’s clearly a good dude and a serviceable backup big in the league, but the Lakers offense is so dependent on bigs to move the ball around (post-backout, hitting cutters, etc) that it helps when they can catch and move “with the game”. It’s not his strong suit.

    Ronny and Bynum just flow much better in the offense IMO (and Ronny is a fab defender). Both those guys can catch the ball. It sounds basic, and I’m not really joking. How many times have we seen great passes from Lamar, Kobe (and now Farmar) be dropped out of bounds by Kwame and Mihm?

    We need Mihm tonight and I’d way rather see him than Cook getting minutes!

  22. Kwame played only 3 mins after scoring 2, getting 2 rebs and 1 ast. I guess there’s no one to defend down low on that Bulls offense.

    Trailing by 1 at the half and scoring ONLY 45 against a slumping Bulls team is NOT what I foresaw. If there was an over-under I would’ve bet on the over on this one and I guess I was one with Kurt in predicting the Bulls to win the East. Heh. What do I know…

    12 TO’s. Really. Against a no post-option Bulls team? Horrible…

  23. I’m in the library writing a legal memo, but I’m following a long on game cast. Looks like Bynum is balling…

  24. 23. balling… over, that is. Turnover by bynum.

    Mihm is officially being showcased, with 5 rebounds in 12 minutes of play, with a good chunk of them offensive.

    Looked like we were playing good defense for a bit, except that we’re also making the other team look good with all them turnovers.

  25. Robert Horry is the best role player, ever.
    He always has a knack for affecting big games and helping his team win. Making big shots at crucual times, tough D or a big rebound at a crucial moment.
    He made significant contributions to help win his 7 championships with 3 different teams.
    He should be in the Hall of Fame.

  26. Wow. Our bench did it again We’re up 63-60, Farmar, Evans, Mihm, Walton come in, and by the end of the quarter its 75-60. The defensive intesnity Farmar plays with is a game changing factor

  27. Warren- Brown sprained his ankle, but the x-rays were negative. Hope he is ok.

  28. after watching this game, i m wondering…

    why is kwame brown still playing and not at the end of the bench?! the combo of Mhim and Bynum is FAR FAR more superior than kwame and whoever.

    are we just trying make ourselves feel better by giving him minute because we are paying him 9mil a year? not to be mean, but i dont mind at all that kwame is hurt… he is always hurt anyway…

  29. we’re very close to having nearly all of our 2nd unit score in double figures. walton and evans need 4 and 3 pts respectively, since Farmar, Mihm and Bynum already got their double digits. and it’s not like we’re lighting up the scoreboard either. incredibly balanced scoring, and the FGAs are unbelievably balanced too.

    uhm, i only see text, and what was the 30fter by farmar? that was quite out of character…

  30. Farmar and Bynum rocked it tonight. Bynum made Wallace look like a rookie.
    How long until Farmar becomes a starter? I like seeing him give the second unit that spark. But he is too good to come off the bench.

  31. 30- Farmar doesn’t need to start. I like how things are working. He and Bynum should continue to come off the bench. It changes the dynamic in the game. fisher and Mihm are better to have in to start the game for the time being.

  32. Watching this game and knowing what we know about the discontent on the Bulls, seeing the pre-game interview with Ben Gordon (VERY chilly) and seeing the body language of Ben Wallace, I can’t help but think the Bulls are in some real trouble. This team should do everything they can to get Gasol. Something is wrong on this team. I remember writing in 2005 that they needed to figure out who the “guy” was gonna be. They should have picked their core from the young group they had and traded the rest for picks and/or role-playing vets. It’s clear they have too many guys worried about minutes, money, contracts and trades. Something’s gotta give and it’s gonna. Skiles’ whole “college ball” thing only works before guys get so indoctrinated into the league that they start to be concerned with it’s more commercial and social trappings, and less about the team concept. Once guys are out of their rookie contracts its a whole new ball-game.

    That Wallace signing was a bad one. He is really overpaid for what he does. Paxson drank the kool-aid on that one. That is an albatross of a contract. Should have kept and paid Chandler. Oops.

    Lakers looked pretty good tonight kids. I’m cautiously optimistic.

  33. For any person finding the need to criticize a GM, let me point you to 2 of Paxson’s gems.

    1. Trading Lamarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas- Aldridge is the low-post threat the bulls are missing offensivley, ready to play right now.

    2. Trading Tyson Chandler, then giving Ben Wallace the money saved from having to resign Chandler-Chanlder is one of the best interior defensive players in the league right now.

    Imagine had he kept those two players

    Aldridge/ Noah
    Deng/Nocioni
    Chandler
    Hinrich/Seflosala
    Gordon/Duhon

  34. re Farmar and Bynum minutes: both of these guys hit the wall last year in February. I like the idea of both of them getting 24-27 minutes for most of the season, then upping it to 30-32 for the final month. Keep them fresh. The first unit is at least keeping most of the games close, and the second unit is really flowing right now.

  35. I know the Bulls weren’t at full strength tonight. Still, the Lakers wiped the floor with them in the 2nd half. Once again, our runs were lead by Jordan Farmar, who is fast becoming the best back-up point gaurd in the game. Not only can he shoot, drive, defend and rack up the assists, but he is an outstanding rebounder for his size (he can track down balls that get beyond the front line, even when he starts on the weak side of the court). Kobe has played 2 mediocre games in a row, and we’ve still pulled solid W’s against playoff teams. I hope he has been paying attention.

  36. Re Brown: Sometimes ankle sprains are worse than breaks, other times not that bad. If it is a high sprain, he could be out for a month. If it is a low sprain, with only 1 ligament torn, could be a week.

    Re Farmar: Anybody have his PER info and +/-? He’s gotta be near the top of the league in +/-. It seems how he plays, guides this Laker bunch.

  37. Seriously, I hope Jordan Farmar gets mentioned at least in the 6th Man of the Year. He’s not as popular as Manu or Barbosa but man, he can get the job done. It’s his play that really makes the difference and hopefully gets some recognition outside of Los Angeles.

    Kobe’s in a dry spell. But not too worried because he played just 32 minutes. And it’s Kobe.

    The bench outscores the starters 73-33. No that’s not a misprint. The bench scored 73 points. Our starters scored 33 pts. What is going on?! This is getting exciting.

  38. 30. Heh, yeah, if you think about it having your best players in the second unit could make them more effective when they’re facing the second unit of the opposing team.

    Kwame’s got a sprained ankle AND knee? Maybe I haven’t been paying close attention, but I don’t think I’ve heard that as a basketball injury before. Sounds more like he was in a car wreck.

    Shocker. Oh well, Chris Mihm filled in and despite not shooting the ball well yet combined with Bynum to be a lethal stat combo. 25 pts, 17 rebs.

    How bout that bench. Clearly Jimmy Buss and Mitch Kupchak have had no clue.

  39. Mike in the Mountain West November 18, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Our bench won that game, plain and simple. Let me throw some stats at you:

    Starters FG% – 34
    Bench FG% – 55

    Starters points – 33
    Bench points – 73

    Starters 3P – 0/6
    Bench 3P – 8/11

    If our starters are going to improve things need to happen.

    1). Fisher needs to shoot less. He came into this season real hot shooting over 50% for the first few games but the reality of his 40% career FG% is catching up with him. He should limit himself to 4 or 5 shots a game and really concentrate on defense.
    2). Odom needs to be more selfish and attack the basket. No more threes!! He’s 31% from three for his career. Not good enough to be chucking up two or three of ‘em a game. He should be averaging 12 – 15 shots a game.
    3.) Turiaf should to take as much time as he needs to come back at full strength.

    Finally, I’m glad Sasha got a few minutes. Although it was garbage time he played hard and got 6 points in 7 minutes. 2 of 2 from the three point line. It looks like he may finally have been able to transfer his dead-eye shooting we always heard about from practice to game time. Evans on the other hand went 2 of 6 and wasn’t much of a factor. Those of us advocating Sasha as Kobe’s back-up got a nice boost to our argument tonight.

  40. I’m not typically a person who looks for negatives, especially after a win like that. But there is something that needs to be addressed. The starters need to find their stroke. Kobe, Odom, and Fish were a combined 11-31 tonight and 0-5 from deep.

    38) “Kwame’s got a sprained ankle AND knee? Maybe I haven’t been paying close attention, but I don’t think I’ve heard that as a basketball injury before. Sounds more like he was in a car wreck.”

    If I had the choice of being in a car wreck and having Ben Wallace fall on my leg the way he fell on Kwame’s, I’d pick the car wreck. If he had fallen on Tayshaun Prince’s knee instead of Kwame Brown’s, we’d be talking about the end of Tay’s career.

  41. Kwame A: #33 – Wow. I totally forgot about the Tyrus for Aldridge. Aldridge looks GREAT. That post really puts the current Bulls situation into context. Nice one.

  42. That’s the beauty of the Laker lineup right now… very deep and very young yet mature.

    Jordan Farmar is the MVP of the season so far…

    Phil has got to reconsider his rotations but I guess winning makes it all ok. We are now 6-3 and I do not see us bowing to Indiana on Tuesday. 7-3 for the 1st 10? Wow.

    Jordan Farmar for President!

  43. It is interesting to hear about Kobe having 2 ‘off games’ in a row. We are again in that territory of mentioning defense, then measuring a player only by their box score.

    Yes, the 2nd unit is taking the pressure off Kobe to be the penultimate scoring machine, but what is he doing with this lack of pressure – since he is not scoring as much. How about expending some of that extra energy on the defensive end? How about saving some of that energy so that we can go farther in the playoffs?

    Kobe is an all around basketball player. If he isn’t so stretched on the scoring end he can pass better (haven’t seen too much of that) and defend better (that seems to be where most of the extra energy is going).

  44. I like having this 2nd unit that dominates the other teams 2nd unit.
    I hope Phil keeps things the same for a while.

  45. Just seeing blowouts is such a relief. Last year, we had so few blowouts, and every win seemed pretty tough. It makes me optimistic that this year’s start isn’t the fool’s gold that last year’s was.

  46. I think that we are seeing a pattern that may well repeat itself with many (but not all) quality opponents. Chicago battled us tooth and nail for the first half, leading by a single point. In the second half, Kobe tried to lead us ahead–but Chicago came back.

    In came the “second unit” playing what can only be described as UCLA basketball–Jordan Farmar style. First, the Lakers stopped the Bulls cold defensively. Then , they reeled off fifteen straight points.

    Game over.

    The Lakers ended up with about the same number of points as they usually get–106.

    Chicago got 78! Think about it–78.

    The Lakers crushed the Chicago offense–and then took full advantage with an up tempo attack.

    It was fun to watch!.

  47. So far this season, Kobe Bryant’s overall play has been the best I’ve seen since Shaq left. He is staying within the offense and has been a beast defensively. Something happened after the first game of the year. He’s been playing brilliantly since, and has been able to as his teammates have been knocking ‘em down.

  48. Craig, I see you on defense… but this Laker team needs more than just closing out games and winning. They have to feel good about everything since the morale is so tragically bruised since Kobe’s summer tirade.

    Like fanerman said, seeing blowouts come as a relief and nothing to be high about. It will settle media as a whole that Kobe’s place is staying put. 2009 will be a different story but what happens in 2009 belongs to 2009. This is 2007 and we have to deal with the issues at hand.

  49. To add onto comment 45,

    Right now we’re 8th in the league in point differential, outscoring opponents by 6.3 PPG. I don’t remember what it was last year when we had a hot start, but we were not dominating games. Some analysts (I think Hollinger) predicted a drop-off because we were squeaking away with wins and possibly playing over our heads. This season, while we may not be contenders, we look like a legitimately good, and improving, team.

  50. defense or not, you can’t have 20+ TOs per game and expect to be a good ballclub. Sure the suns also turned it over 25 times and still won, but that seriously needs to stop. what good is good defense if you let the other team have another go at it?

    maybe it’s because our starting unit has not had time to jell as much as our 2nd unit, but thus far, the 2nd unit really plays like a team while the first unit is very disjointed.

  51. The bench is often outperfroming the starters for a simple reason: Farnar is a better point guard than Fish.

  52. some observations on other comments in the past few games:

    1. farmar and Bynum should still be kept in the scond unit. the starting five can hold their own, and the difference between the team being 5-3 and 1-7 has been the play of the second unit. their minutes should be kept at a steady 24-26 mins. we are all excited about their play, but we don’t want these teens to burn out by february. THIS IS AN 82 GAME SEASON!

    2. having a reliable second unit not only allows the team to stay in games. this will also save LO, Fish and most especially Kobe from contributing “too much too early”. this situation will allow the vets to be fresh come playoff time, and have a legit chance at a 2nd round appearance

    3. Don’t worry about kobe having two off nights. let’s not expect him also to lead the league in scoring. with consistent production from 4-5 laker players night in night out, his thinking of “carrying the offensive load” will be no more. he can now focus (and is focusing) on his amazing defensive skills, “leading” the team, and “carrying the offensive load” only in stretches during games, instead of the full 48 minutes. I sincerely believe the next three to four years will be kobe’s best (and best chance for the MVP title) if he stays with LA and Bynum and Farmar continue to emerge

    4. we can now (and hopefully management does) see who is worth keeping and who should be let go or traded. cook needs to go… NOW! sasha is iffy. kwame should only be re-signed if he agrees to 3mil per.

  53. Kobe can do a lot of things on offense and defense without scoring, but he has gone a combined 11-32 over the past two games. I agree that he is running the offense more effectively and playing inspired defense, but it’s hard to ignore 34% shooting from a player who continues to take a lot of shots. It would be silly to worry about Kobe’s shot at this point in the year, but I think we should acknowledge how far the team has come that they can win, even when Kobe is shooting poorly.

  54. Another good win, I love to see us pulling away in the second half. Too often we’ve seen the Lakers hang around/ let other teams hang around and trade baskets. Champs put away the chumps.

    Gotta love being in the West. We’re playing ridiculously well so far… and in the 6 spot, with Houston yet to make a move. In the East, we’d consider home court in the 1st round a given. Ouch.

    Touching on a few points made above: Cook needs to start to keep the 2nd unit in tact. If you move Odom to the 4 and start Walton, both the 1st and 2nd units are significantly affected. Start Cook at the 4, and it’s not as intrusive to the team as a whole.

    Fish should start for similar reasons. If he were anchoring the 2nd unit with Walton, we wouldn’t be talking about how exciting our bench is.

    Bynum tonight.. showing he could be a 15 and 10 guy, given starters minutes. I do worry, as one poster mentioned before, about him and Farmar hitting a mid-season wall again, but until that happens, look out! I didn’t get to watch tonight, did Drew have another of his ‘screw this, I’ll just dunk it over everyone’ moments?

    I still say the Bulls rally this season and make it past the first round of the playoffs. The East is odd right now, with Miami, Chicago, NJ, even Indiana and Atlanta out of the playoff picture. I just dont buy that Charlotte and a couple others can hold on. Yes, I know it’s way too early to talk playoff ladders.

  55. One thing to add to my post above: turnovers will keep us from being elite. 21 against a team playing as badly as Chicago is…. how many did we have against Minnesota? If we want to be taken seriously, we have to bring this way down, quickly.

  56. for cryin out loud, we average more assists than the Nellie Ball Warriors do. Inconceivable!

  57. re 11, 12: IMO Robert Horry is not even close to being a Hall of Fame player, and honestly, it’s hard for me to even fathom the argument that he should be. The rings mean nothing in this regard. He’s never been close to the best at his position in any year he has played. He’s never been anything close to The Man on any championship teams, or even any championship contenders. He’s been a good solid player, and a useful one, and he’s undoubtedly had some great clutch games. (Yeah, I was watching that Sacramento game, too, among others.) Those are great things and worth being proud of. But a lot of players who aren’t and shouldn’t be in the HoF could say as much. The HoF has, or ought to have, higher standards than that. If that’s all it takes to get in, the Hall would be a lot more crowded than it is, and to me that would dilute whatever significance it may have. A HoFer should clearly stand above the great majority of his contemporaries. Horry never has. I’m not hating, I like the guy. But liking somebody doesn’t make him a HoFer. Just MHO.

  58. 56. I do not think that word means what you think it means….

  59. Can someone creative come up with a better moniker than “bench mob” or “bench squad”, both names are lame and played out, our 2nd unit deserves something better.

    The Laker offense that ran so smoothly against the Jazz and Suns will hopefully re-appear when the starting lineup stabalizes and Lamar/Turiaf/Mihm find their spots on the floor. Our 2nd unit seems to move much better, although they don’t give Drew the ball enough, he’s becoming a good passer, we need to use him as the spoke more often

  60. I’d like to see turnovers drop off, but I’m not worried about them. Last year was the same thing in many games, high turnovers yet we still won. I believe in those games last year it was the rebounding differential (or more likely the assist total) that actually determined out wins. That’s what we need to focus on.

  61. 56, 58.
    Oh God, Princess Bride quoting…..Must….resist….temptation……LAND WAR WITH ASIA!!

  62. the Dodgers won the chanpionship that year with that amazing group off the bench, and they were called “the Stunt men”. I thought they had the right about of publicity, good chemistry, etc, and I do believe they seriously made the difference as to why they won the penent that year.
    I’m not suggesting they use the same name, but I do agree, that this second unit needs to continue to ‘gel’, get a rep in the league as a unit who really brings it every night, not to be taken lightly, this second unit could be for this years Lakers what the stunt men were for the Dodgers.

  63. Kwame Out Three Games (at least)
    Source: Los Angeles Times

    The Lakers would have been in a more celebratory mood if Kwame Brown hadn’t been helped off the court in the first quarter after sustaining moderate sprains in his left knee and left ankle. X-rays were negative, and he will miss at least three games.

    Brown will not go on the Lakers’ three-game road trip that begins Tuesday in Indianapolis and concludes with games against Milwaukee and Boston. The ankle in question is the same one on which he had reconstructive surgery in May, although Brown said the knee felt worse than the ankle.

  64. Mike in the Mountain West November 19, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    I agree that we should avoid breaking up the second unit for now, although I would be very surprised if Jackson starts Mihm in Brown’s place instead of Bynum, however, I think if Farmar continues to play this well and Fisher plays closer to his career level, Farmar should eventually get the start. Maybe after the all-star break.

    My guess is, since Fisher is such a stand-up guy and a real leader, he will eventually voluntarily relenquish the starting spot to Farmar once Farmar has proved himself consistently.

    I also have to say I’m a little disappointed in Lamar. I hope he’s just rusty and not in game shape yet, instead of going back to his inconsistent ways. If he does seem to be going back to his incosistent performance mode we should really considering packaging him with Kwame’s expiring contract for a true veteran all-star e.g. Jermaine, Marion, Kidd, etc.

  65. Because Farmar and Bynum are playing so well we should reduce their minutes to keep them fresh for next season. Plus the more we reduce their minutes the better they will play. Why put too much emtional pressure on these guys by demanding that they “provide a spark off the bench.” For crying out loud these are just kids.

    In other words, we should limit Farmar and Bynum to 5 min/game to save them for the last 4 games of the playoffs (or better yet for next season). As a bonus, they will be fresher for those entire 5 minutes, which will only enhance productivity per 48 minutes. Also, imagine if we only put Farmar and Bynum in the game we the other team is resting its good players…that will to wonders for their + – stats. I really see no downside to this strategy.

    To all those that think we should reward people that work hard and perform outstandingly by increasing their minutes, thereby reducing the minutes of those that are not as effective and making our team more effective, you know nothing about the nuances of basketball.

  66. 56, 58, 59, 61

    Since our bench relies on being skilled basketball players rather than great athletes to be effective their nickname should be reflective of this. I vote for roundballers of unusual skill.

  67. 64. R.B.O.U.S.es?

  68. 64) On Lamar, he’s still working his way back into the game. He’s only played 5 games so far without the luxury of the pre-season. That said, I don’t know why anyone would be disappointed in his performance last night. He “only” had 9 points and “only” had 6 boards, but the team wasn’t really in need of his offense. He had a couple steals and a couple blocks and generally played well on defense. Much the same way I’m not disappointed in Kobe for having his 2nd straight game being held under 20 because his scoring wasn’t really needed and he did other things.

    Meanwhile, Jermaine O’Neal is also struggling coming back from an injury. He’s shooting under 40%, is the 4th leading scorer on his team, and just put up 8 and 5 against the Jazz.

  69. 64) 68)

    I agree with Mike on this one. If Lamar had previously been consistent, I would not be concerned at this point. But he appears to be going back into the same pattern (if you can call inconsistency a “pattern”). That would be acceptable from the standpoint of what is needed to complement Kobe offensively, if Bynum, Farmar, Turiaf, and Vlad continue to improve. But from the standpoint of what is needed out of that big a piece of the salary cap, it isn’t enough.

  70. “Our 2nd unit seems to move much better, although they don’t give Drew the ball enough, he’s becoming a good passer, we need to use him as the spoke more often.” – Kwame A.

    Good point KA. Though I love seeing the Lakers play the triangle also uses a 2 man game too. I.E. Passing the ball into a post-up man and the wing (usually a PG/SG) using the poster as a screen who dishes back to the wing for the easy layup. Walton, Evans, and Odom have the strength to run this as well as our centers. The PFs are the only ones who have trouble running this. Even Turiaf. But they spread the floor and reduce the defenders proximity to the paint.

    I agree that Bynum needs to get more touches, but the Lakers cannot look at him every time. Farmar and Bynum have a good thing going. Both Summer Camps, Farmar was the only one who could successfully pass the ball in to Bynum and work the 2 man triangle game with him.

    That combo needs to share time on the floor as they work together well. I agree with the majority of the posters on this board that you cannot let them start. Especially one without the other!

  71. Kobe’s last two games haven’t been spectacular, but also not as bad as people think. If one looks at his ORtg, instead of just his shooting %, it tells a much different story.

    Vs Pistons: 111.68 ORtg using 19.15% of Lakers possessions. 38.89% EFG, 47.03% TS

    Vs Bulls: 91.59 ORtg using 21.14% of Lakers possessions. 37.5% EFG, 47.17 % TS

    I’ll grant you that the Bulls game numbers are merely good, not great. But Kobe had a great game against the Pistons offensively. Yes this is due in part to all those assists, as his EFG and TS were nearly identical in those games.

    Also, a 47% TS is low for Kobe, but it does help show that he’s been more valuable offensively than it might seem at a glance. Shooting 47% is a world away from shooting 36%.