Archives For November 2007

Anatomy of a Turnover

Kurt —  November 12, 2007

The Lakers had 18 turnovers against the Timberwolves Friday night, emblematic of the way 17.7% of the team’s possessions end in a turnover (20th in the league). How did they happen? Often because the Lakers made a bad decision in transition, sometimes because the extra pass in the lane went array. Here is a breakdown of each one:

1) 1st quarter, 9:12, 6-6.
Fisher brings the ball up after a Jefferson make and at half court tries to thread a pass through to Turiaf who sprinted down and is in the paint, except that Jefferson hustled back and makes the steal, then takes it back up himself (but misses the shot because Chris Mihm never made it down court). Bad decision by Fisher.

2) 1st quarter, 8:15, 11-8 Minnesota. Fisher pushes the ball up quickly after a Gomes make (he was hot early). Things open up a little so he decides to drive the lane straight away, but when Jefferson collapses Fisher tries to make the fancy back pass to Turiaf that fails. The first two are on Fish.

3) 1st Quarter 7:54, 13-8 Minnesota.
Fisher gets the ball in bounds after a make, looks up and tries the three-quarter court pass to a hustling Ronny, but it is over his head and out of bounds. Fisher is not Kevin Love (and has the first three).

4) 1st Quarter, 5:03, 20-15 Minnesota. Kobe grabs the rebound on a miss and pushes it up himself on the left wing. Both Bynum and Turiaf are out high and look like they will set an early pick near the top of the key, but both see each other so both vacate the space just as Kobe looks for the screen. That leaves Kobe driving into the teeth of the defense and Theo Ratliff was there to force Kobe to try a wild pass to Bynum. Which failed. (But Turiaf didn’t give up, knocked the ball away from Marco Jaric, makes a pass to Kobe who passes to Bynum for the dunk.)

5) 1st Quarter, 1:10, 27-26 Lakers. Farmar pushes the ball up and makes a skip pass to Kobe, who starts to drive and when the defense collapses kicks out to Walton, who head fakes the charging defender and drives the land then kicks it out to the top of the key to Kobe, who drives the lane and gets stuffed by Jefferson. Kobe wanted the foul, and maybe it was, but good play by Jefferson as well.

6) 1st Quarter, :30, 30-28 Lakers. Jaric misses a three, Walton grabs the rebound and quickly hits Farmar out at half court on the left sideline, who has Jaric running with him and Turiaf filling the middle of the lane with Jefferson two strides behind him. Farmar has the right idea trying to wrap a pass around Jaric to the cutting Turiaf, but Jaric’s length knocks it away.

7) 2nd Quarter, 10:20 33-30 Minnesota. The Lakers settle in and run a nice offensive set that ends with Radmanovic getting a decent look three from the top of the arc — it misses but Walton gets great position under the basket and grabs the rebound, bringing it out on the left wing. Radmanovic runs to set a downscreen for Bynum in the paint near the basket but his defender is a full step behind, so Walton shoots him a pass — one Radman doesn’t expect. When he does see it he actually recoils from the ball. Bynum is right there too but didn’t react fast enough, and the ball sails through the court and out of bounds.

8) 2nd Quarter, 9:05, 36-33 Minnesota. The Lakers run the offense and get the ball into the paint to cutting Bynum, who tries a jump hook over the veteran Theo Ratlif that misses, but he stays with it and taps the rebound out to Luke Walton near the free throw line. He tries to feed the ball back inside quickly to Bynum, who is doing is best to seal off Ratlif but fails as the defender comes around him to make the steal. Not a great choice by Walton.

9) 2nd Quarter, 6:47, 37-36 Lakers. The Lakers are on the break after Bynum blocks a shot, with Odom bringing the ball up the right wing. Defenders start to slide to him just after half court so he skips it over to Walton on the left side, who tries the quick bounce pass back to Odom going to the hoop but it gets knocked away (and becomes an easy bucket for the T-Wolves at the other end). This was just a one off night for Walton all around.

10) 2nd Quarter, 4:49, 44-40 Lakers. The Lakers are off and running after a Turiaf steal, Fish drives the lane and draws the defenders then makes a bounce pass to Bynum, but Ratlif rotates quickly, then Bynum chooses to do the right thing and throws it back out top to set up the offense. (At least this error isn’t in transition.) With 14 on the clock Kobe gets the ball on the wing beyond the three-point arc, draws in his defender with a headfake then drives around him into the lane. Ratlif rotates, Bynum makes the cut to the hole but Kobe’s wrap-around pass to Bynum just harmlessly bounces out of bounds.

11) 3rd Quarter, 7:15, 66-54 Lakers.
Not coincidentally, it takes the Lakers almost five minutes into the second half to commit a turnover, and they go on a big run. The streak ends when Kobe gets an outlet from Mihm and brings it up the right side, decides to use a crossover to shake Buckner and just loses control and it goes out of bounds.

12) 3rd Quarter, 5:45, 70-56 Lakers. Bynum outlets to Fisher who pushes it up the middle of the court and at the free throw line tries an off-the-dribble “Steve Nash special” to Turiaf running the baseline, but it hits Turiaf on the foot and goes four rows deep. Alexi Lalas sees this and offers Turiaf a three-year, $10 million deal.

13) 3rd Quarter, 2:54, 76-65 Lakers.
Early in the clock Kobe ends up with the ball at the top of the key, while down low Bynum flashes through the lane with pretty good position, so Kobe tries to reward him with a lob pass but it was too high and poorly timed.

14) 3rd Quarter, 2:02, 78-67 Lakers. Odom has the ball on the right wing extended and passes out to Kobe at the top of the arc, who quickly passes to Luke on the left wing. While the play shifts cross court the defenders go with it but Odom floats on the back side then cuts to the basket for a back-door ally-oop from Walton, but Odom can’t quite catch it, and it falls to Jefferson.

15) 4th Quarter, 9:52, 87-73 Lakers.
Kobe comes off a high screen from Bynum on the wing and passes to Farmar who is cutting baseline, but Farmar dribbles it on the end line for a turnover.

16) 4th Quarter, 5:47, 92-84 Lakers. With 15 on the shot clock Kobe gets the ball out at the top of the key with Gerald Green on him and decides to go at the youngster, spinning around him into the lane and drawing the help defender, who comes off Mihm. So, Kobe tries a close-quarters bounce pass to Mihm but it’s at his feet and skips out of bounds.

17) 4th Quarter, 3:33, 96-89 Lakers. With 17 on the clock Odom has the ball at the top of the key while Walton fights for position deep in the lane against Buckner, and while he gets the pass from Odom he also picks up the offensive foul.

18) 4th Quarter, 2:50, 96-89 Lakers.
Fisher comes off a high screen from Mihm where both defenders try to trap Fish but he gets around them long enough to see Walton free along the baseline cutting under the basket and he hits him with a great pass. Since Mihm’s man went with Fish, Mihm rolled to the basket and Walton sees him and throws it to Mihm for what should be an easy dunk but Mihm had borrowed Kwame’s hands for the night and fumbled it out of bounds.

Rust? What Rust?

Kurt —  November 10, 2007

There were things during last night’s game that, if they continue, will be a big problem in Texas next week (*cough, turnovers, cough*) but last night was about what Lamar Odom brought to the table. He had 18 points on 70% shooting, had 10 rebounds and was a team best +22. He had a one game PER of 25.17, All-Star level. He also looked more comfortable at the three spot and did a good job of grabbing rebounds and pushing the pace with the dribble. Kwame a. also had a good observation:

Lamar is leaner, and quicker. It looked good, he was moving like he did in his Clipper days.

The timing of his return works well too because he now gets a few days off to rest before the Spurs on Tuesday. The Lakers are going to need another big game out of him that night.

The latest from Roland Lazenby is up at Sportshub LA.

Records: Lakers 2-2; Minnesota 0-3
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.8; T-Wolves 105
Defensive ratings: Lakers 108.6; T-Wolves 114.5
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf, Chris Mihm
Minnesota: Sebastian Telfair, Rashad McCants, Ryan Gomes, Greg Buckner, Al Jefferson

Lakers Notes: Lamar Odom returns tonight and will start, moving Luke Walton to a second unit that can really move the ball around (Walton, Jordan Farmar and Andrew Bynum are all good passers). It’s great to have Odom back at his natural three spot, I have high hopes for what this will mean. But not tonight. Expect some limited minutes and some rust from Odom, and it may throw a kink or two in the offense at points tonight. Still his presence is welcome and needed.

Mo Evans is not expected to play, and Kwame is not likely either. Kwame is a particular loss tonight against a team where they could have used him along the front line, he is the strongest Laker post defender. His loss puts a lot of pressure on Mihm tonight, who was rusty but passable in his start the other night. Bynum is going to have to step up as well.

One other not that Bill Dwyre brought up in his Luke Walton profile today I forgot to mention — the play at the end of the first half of the New Orleans game, a sign to me that this Lakers team may have a little something special going on. If you remember, Kobe sank two free throws with nine seconds left to tie the game at 55. The Hornets come down and Chris Paul got into the lane, posts up and then hits a little fadeaway to make it 57-55 with just under two seconds left. Usual NBA protocol here is for someone to give the ball to Kobe or Fisher to try the three-quarter court heave. But as the ball goes through the net Turiaf turns and starts running up court, Walton grabs the ball to make the inbounds pass, sees the hustling Turiaf and does his best Kevin Love imitation and throws it long, hitting Turiaf in stride. Truiaf beats his guy for a lay-up and a 57-57 game at half. Maybe it didn’t matter in end this time, but this is the kind of little thing that wins games.

The Timberwolves Coming In: They knew it was going to be like this — a total rebuild is ugly for a couple years. But at least Minnesota finally decided to go with the total rebuild rather than the horrible “build around KG on the fly” thing they had been doing with no success with the past couple of years.

This year’s team isn’t as bad as some predicted. They have a rock-solid center in Al Jefferson, an old-school beast on the block. If he plays 40 minutes you can expect 21 and 14. But Randy Foye — who I expect to have a break out year — is out indefinitely. Sebastian Telfair is getting his shot, we’ll see over the course of the year what he really can be — nearly 30% of his possessions end in an assist, but he is shooting just 31% on the year. We’re also learning about the athletic but out of control Gerald Green. Ryan Gomes is a player I like, although in an ideal world he is a guy coming off the bench for some scoring spark. And note to Ronny Turiaf and Odom — Buckner has a nice range and is shooting 59.4% (eFG%) and 37% form three this season, Don’t ignore him.

The T-Wolves have caught teams off guard early — they have had first-quarter double-digit leads in all three games. This is a team that has hung in games until about halfway through the fourth quarters, when other teams have found a gear the Wolves have yet to locate. This season is going to be a lot of that for them.

Note That Would Interest Only Peter King: Best break down of what Ronny Turiaf means to the league I have seen is up at Free Darko (great work Carter).

Keys To The Game: Last year the Lakers didn’t seemed focused for games like this, but good teams beat the teams they should and this is one the Lakers should win.

T-Wolves coach said Marco Jaric is going to start on Kobe, so that should mean a big night for #24. Look for Corey Brewer and Gerald Green — both athletic guys but a little young for this task — to get their chances as well. This is a game Kobe should be able to get his when he wants it, and last season he dropped 40 and 50 on Minny.

Last year at Staples I had great seats for Al Jefferson pushing Andrew Bynum around the paint like he was Chuck Nevit. I’m curious to see what the more fit Bynum can do, but bottom line is the Lakers deep front line is going to have to work to not let Jefferson control the paint.

This is also a game where the Lakers depth should prove a big advantage — Walton, Farmar, Radmanovic and Bynum will find this is not Houston or Utah in terms of second units. They can take over this game and give the Lakers a big lead. And part of the reason for the late fades by Minnesota is that the starters don’t get a lot of rest if things get out of control.

Tonight’s Game: Where Odom Happens: Odom being back is the story, but I’m not sure he’ll be the key at the end. Look for the T-Wolves to hang in their for a while — maybe into the third quarter. This is a team that will hustle. But look for the Lakers bench to start a third quarter run, Kobe to torch whoever tries to cover him and the Lakers to pull away comfortably late.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific). No national broadcast (ESPN gives you the Cavs and Kings) and in LA it is Fox Sports. Because of the late starts, I haven’t “watched” a game online yet, but whose system is better this year, ESPN or

Stung By Hornets

Kurt —  November 7, 2007

There were a couple of key things I took away from the loss to the Hornets Tuesday night:

1) It’s all about the defense with this Laker team. We knew that — it was my mantra this summer — but sometimes a little reminder helps. After four games (a very small sample) the Lakers defensive rating is just about what it was last year, something that needs to improve. They have had good defensive games (Phoenix) and now a bad one. As was said many times in the comments, a number of Lakers helped off Peja (and West) then never recovered, and perimeter rotations were non-existent. The Lakers were so focused on stopping Paul (even Phil in his post-game comments focused on him breaking down the defense) that it gave the rest of the Hornets great looks, which they hit. The Lakers may consider the “Steve Nash system” (make Paul the shooter not the distributor) next game against NO.

2) The Lakers are still 2-2, having played four teams likely headed to the playoffs in the deep Western Conference. And they have done it without their second-best player. Remember, before the season we said if the Lakers could get through the first 10 games 5-5 that would be a pretty good sign, and right now they are on that pace.

So it’s a loss, there will be more of those this season, and this one doesn’t bother me a ton. No Kwame inside, no Mo Evans off the bench to go with no Lamar. Plus, the Hornets are healthy and improved — last year the problem was they couldn’t shoot (47.9% eFG%, 28th in the league). This year, 54.4% on the season (third best). They are legit.

A few other random news and thoughts:

• I don’t think the Lakers falling to the Hornets is a case of playing down to a team they should easily beat. However, Friday against Minnesota…

• David West may be the most underrated player in the NBA.

• Tyson Chandler didn’t score much or rebound much, but he was a presence and was a game-high +20.

• Great point by several commenters about the Lakers not going at Peja on the offensive end, getting him out of rhythm by making him play defense. This is where we miss Odom.

• If you’re a sports/NBA columnist at this point going to the “Kobe trade” column for the day, you’re just picking the low-hanging fruit. The angles have been beaten into the ground and everyone is sick of it. Try harder.

• The Washington Bullets new offense is pretty simple. (Hat Tip to True Hoop.)

• Dallas/Golden State tomorrow night should be entertaining. But I bet the Mavs crush them.

• Knickerbloggers stat page is up (this is my personal fave). That said, we’ve got to get 15-20 games in before I put too much weight in the numbers.

• Are Hornets very common in New Orleans? The name made more sense in Charlotte (it’s a Civil War reference from North Carolina) but I’m less sold in The Big Easy. Then again, the perfect New Orleans name is currently in the least jazzy big city in the nation.

Records: Lakers 2-1; Hornets 3-0
Offensive ratings: Lakers 107.9; Hornets 108.5
Defensive ratings: Lakers 100.3; Hornets 94.1
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Ronny Turiaf, Kwame Brown
Hornets: Chris Paul, Mo Peterson, Peja Stojakovic, David West, Tyson Chandler

Lakers Notes: Andrew Bynum is off to a hot start — after three games his PER is higher than Kobe’s — and we’ve all been quick to heap well-deserved praise on him for his off-season conditioning work and his more aggressive attitude. But something overlooked is what a good job the Laker guards (plus Walton) are doing getting him the ball in a position where he can succeed. If Andrew has to give up a lot of position to get the possession, he becomes less effective. His length makes him unstoppable near the hoop but at eight feet out he is no KG. But the Lakers have recognized when he has gotten good position deep and rewarded him with the ball. I hope that continues.

The Hornets Coming In: To get some insight on the Hornets and the franchise, I asked Ron of Hornets 24/7 about his team:

It’s only a couple of games into the season, but has what you’ve seen made you think this team can take the next step?

Yeah, so far, so good. I don’t think the Hornets have been properly tested yet, having faced three short-handed opponents, but I’m loving the look of this team. The ball movement has been excellent, and unlike last season, we’re now considered to be a pretty lethal shooting team. The defense is also looking real solid. I’ll be shocked if Tyson Chandler doesn’t make the All-Star team this year. Seriously. He’s not playing around. We’ve also got some good depth. Bobby Jackson, Jannero Pargo and Rasual Butler can all score in bunches off the bench, while young ‘uns Julian Wright and Hilton Armstrong look promising.

How much does a team like the Hornets doing well (or the Saints, for that matter), mean to the city right now?

I think the Hornets doing well is important, but the city doesn’t know it yet. The Saints have deep roots, and their success will never go uncelebrated (is that even a word?). The Hornets will always have to work a little harder and market their product a little smarter if they hope to give New Orleans the same lift. I think they’ll win the city over though. The current squad has what it takes to do that.

Chris Paul has become an established star, but how is his game changing and improving entering his third year.

He apparently spent the summer working on his shooting a lot, although we have yet to see the fruits of that. He’s a year smarter and a year stronger. I think he better understands better how to pace himself and save his body for later in the season. So far this season, he’s really benefiting form having a solid supporting cast. A healthy Peja on one wing and a guy like Mo-Pete on the other makes his job so much easier. The defense has to stay home on those shooters and it frees up the lane much more for him. I doubt we’ll see any substantial improvement in any one area from Paul this season, but expect him to be a little bit better at everything.

Note That Would Interest Only Peter King: I’m hard pressed to think of a worse idea than this — Dennis Rodman coaching a WNBA team. (Hat tip to Matt at Detroit Bad Boys.)

Keys To The Game: Two hot teams coming in, which should make an interesting game this early in the season.

Both teams come in playing very well on offense, two of the best shooting teams in the league so far, and that likely will not change, so the team that steps up on the defensive end will get the win. For the Lakers, that will be the tough test of stopping Chris Paul (particularly off the screen-and-roll, which is their mainstay) — he’s averaged 18.7 PPG shooting 65.8% (true shooting percentage), plus 35% of his possessions end in an assist (9.7 per game). This tough task will fall to Farmar and Fish at first, but will test the Laker rotations behind them that have been good so far this season. The front line will get tested because Tyson Chandler has played will early on, grabbing 22.7% of the available rebounds while on the floor (Bynum is at 25% right now).

If the Laker defense can force some turnovers (10% of Paul’s possessions end in one) that can mean some easy baskets at the other end. On the other end, I’m not totally sure what to expect of the Hornets, this will be a big test for them. Then again, Denver should have been a test and the Hornets are 3-0.

One other key tonight — as Mike in the Mountain West pointed out — is the depth of the Lakers. The starters are pretty evenly matched, but if the Laker bench can do what it has done in the past couple of games, this can be another Laker win.

Tonight’s game: Where Scoring Happens: The big question tonight — can Luke Walton keep his streak of consecutive games with passes through a defenders legs alive? As for the game itself, I look for it to be up-tempo and high scoring. So bet the over. And I think the Laker depth gets them a win as they pull away in the third quarter.

Where you can watch the game: Game time is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into Fox Sports Net, nationally you’ll need league pass or log on to the NBA web site, where you can follow the gamecast and, if you register, listen to the radio call. Also, if you’re familiar with torrents at all has the games up for download the next day (thanks to Goo for that tip).

Winning Doesn’t Suck

Kurt —  November 5, 2007

It’s just two games in November, but it is still two games in a row where the Lakers looked like a team that was playing up to its potential. This level of play will not last 79+ more games — there will be bumps in the road — but right now the team is showing what is possible. And that gives Lakers fans hope.

Kobe led the way, with 33 points, a +13 and he shot an incredible 71% (eFG%). But it was Andrew Bynum — against one of the best front lines in the league — who shot 85% and was a +14, while Jordan Farmar was +11 and shot 68.8%.

Those three stood out in the key stretch in the fourth when the Lakers pulled away, so let’s break down those five minutes or so. We pick the game up with 8:46 left, the Jazz pulled within three on a sick Carlos Boozer 12-foot turnaround fade away off the glass (followed by an empty possession for both teams).

Lakers 90-87: Kobe brings the ball up after the outlet pass from Bynum (who had a team high 9 boards), realizes that Harpring is trying to cover him in transition and takes that as an invitation to drive the lane (good recognition and taking advantage of a mismatch). Kobe goes around Harpring, so both Boozer and Millsap jump in to help and the later fouls Kobe in the act. Kobe sinks both free throws.

Lakers 92-87: After a failed play where Millsap wisely passes on the 16-footer, the Jazz kick it back out top to Williams plays pick and roll with AK-47, gets Kobe on the switch then burns #24 with a sweet crossover, drives the lane and hits a little floater over Radman who rotated. Pretty move, pretty shot.

Lakers 92-89: Kobe brings the ball up, nobody comes out on him, so he pulls up and hits the 22-footer. Not the defense Jerry Sloan had planned, I’m guessing.

Lakers 94-89: After a foul by Bynum the Jazz get the ball out on the side and work it around inside to Okur in great position in the middle of the paint. But this is what Bynum has done so well this year with his stronger body — he held his ground defensively, and when Okur was forced to the fade-away Bynum’s length bothered the shot. Turiaf rebounds.

The Lakers worked it around, and with just 11 left on the shot clock Kobe tries to drive on AK-47, Williams sags off Farmar to double Kobe, so Kobe kicks it to Farmar, who gives a head fake and Williams whizzes by on the fly-by, but rather than shoot he gets the ball to a cutting Turiaf, who tried a tight-quarters pass to Bynum that he didn’t expect. The result was the ball rolling on the floor, but as he had been all night Farmar was hustling, picked it up and hit the 15-footer.

Lakers 96-89: The Lakers play good defense for the first 18 seconds of the Jazz possession, including rotating well on Williams when he drives to his right, so he kicks it out toe Kiralenko, who gives Kobe a head fake, and the charging Kobe flies by, and he hits a 21-footer. Yes the Jazz scored, but it was a possession that showed what the Lakers had done all night, taking away much of the paint and the lay-ups off back-door cuts— if AK-47 hits 21-footers to beat you, so be it.

Lakers 96-91: The Lakers run the offense and eventually Farmar gets the ball to Turiaf in the low post (about 7 feet out) and he turns and faces up Boozer, who does nothing much, so Turiaf hits the jumper over him. Turiaf is very confident right now.

Lakers 98-91: After a questionable Kobe reaching foul on Giricek, Williams runs off a Boozer screen then rewards the screener with a nice pass at the top of the key. Boozer thinks he has an open path to the basket but Turiaf recovered from his showing out on Williams, got back and took the charge on Boozer in the paint.

At the other end, Kobe mimics Williams by going around a Walton screen then sliding the ball back to Luke, who looks like he is setting up his fade away in the paint, then instead kicks it out to Farmar for a three. The onrushing Williams gets a piece of Farmar’s shot, but like he did all night Farmar didn’t give up on the play and got the loose ball. He kicked it out to Walton, but AK-47 strips him from behind.

AK-47 tries to take the steal coast-to-coast, but Kobe blocks his two-handed dunk in spectacular fashion. (If you haven’t seen this you have to watch it.) The ball caromed to an open Williams, who missed the three and Bynum grabs the board. He outlets to Kobe, who gets the frustration reaching foul from Kiralenko.

The crowd is still buzzing from the block, the Lakers work it around and Bynum gets the ball on the low block. Kobe rubs off Bynum on the baseline and gets the ball, abuses Brewer, goes up for the 12-footer but when Okur rotates Kobe makes a great pass inside to Bynum, who is hacked going up. He hits both free throws.

Lakers 100-91 (5:26 left): The Jazz need a basket so they go to a bread and butter play — get it to Boozer on the low block. Bynum is on him and plays it well, but Boozer faces up then hits the high-arcing 8-foot jumper over him.

Lakers 100-93: After working it around for a bit the Lakers go to the Kobe/Walton two-man game on the left wing, again both defenders go to Kobe (with reason) and he hits Walton with a pass and a wide-open look. But Bynum never stops moving, cuts to the basket and Walton hits him with a perfect pass — bucket and one.

Lakers 103-93: Williams takes things into his own hands, blows past Farmar down the right side, Bynum is late arriving and fouls him. Williams hits one of two, and for half a second I thought Turiaf and Bynum were going to come to blows over who was going to get that rebound.

Lakers 103-94: Fisher dribbles to the wing then passes to Kobe at the three-point line straight away, and Kobe goes right at Brewer. He gets to the free throw elbow and pulls up for the jumper. He hit it, of course.

Lakers 105-94: The Lakers are aggressive and gambling on defense, clearly smelling blood now, but Okur slides out to the three point line and Bynum doesn’t follow, so he gets a clean look — and misses. But AK-47 got position inside and has the put back.

Lakers 105-96: The Lakers work it around but like last possession the ball ends up with Kobe at the top of the key. Again he goes at Brewer and gets past him, but this time he tries to go to the hoop, the Jazz rotate… and it doesn’t matter. Pretty finger roll bucket.

Lakers 107-96: After a few other passes Williams gets the ball on the wing and makes the low-block entry to Boozer. He faces up but sees Okur cutting to the basket — but again (as he is so often) Turiaf hustles and disrupts what should have been a lay-up. The shot rolls out and Turiaf grabs the board.

Kobe pushes it up and when nothing is there gives it to Turiaf at the top of the key, but Ronny suddenly decides this is in his range and just goes up with it. It misses, but Bynum and his length outwork Boozer and Okur, Andrew grabs the offensive board and goes back up for two.

After that the Jazz were down 13 and called a time out. There was a late Jazz mini-run, but the game was never really in doubt.

UPDATE: The latest from Roland Lazenby, comparing Phil’s handling of the Kobe trade request and that of Pippen in 1998.

Game Preview & Chat: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  November 4, 2007

Records: Lakers 1-1; Jazz 2-1
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.7; Jazz 112.4
Defensive ratings: Lakers 98.3; Jazz 102.5
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Ronny Turiaf, Kwame Brown is a game time decision due to a respiratory infection (if not him, Bynum)
Jazz: Deron Williams, Ronny Brewer, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur.

Lakers Notes: The Lakers come in off their best performance in a long time, a decimation of the Phoenix Suns. For one game everything looked good — but there are still some things that are of issue.

The Lakers are turning the ball over 16 times per game — better than the preseason but still too much. Brian Cook has been a defensive statue in limited minutes. And while the Lakers have done much better on the pick-and-roll, there are still some lapses (particularly from Kwame, whose mind seemed to drift against the Suns to some ASU co-ed in the front row, or something). If things continue as they are, I wouldn’t be shocked if Bynum (who has played well) steals the starting job, but for now I’d just like to see him get more minutes.

The Jazz Coming In: For the second game in a row, the Lakers catch a team in the second game of a back-to-back. The Jazz ran past Golden State last night 133-110, with their starters playing deep into the game due to a second half Warrior run. Both of the Jazz wins this young season have come at the expense of the Warriors (which in part explains the Jazz’s gaudy offensive numbers so far, Golden State isn’t playing much D).

As you might expect, Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams have been leading the way for the Jazz so far, both averaging 24 points per game (and Boozer is adding 14 boards). Last night the Warriors were quick to double Boozer and other Jazz players stepped up (AK-47 was 6 of 10, Brewer was 8 of 14 with two threes). Also of note, the Jazz got good play off the bench last night from backup PG Jason Hart (who has taken Fisher’s role and will be a good test for Farmar) and Matt Harpring.

In the previous game, the Rockets handed the Jazz a loss behind a big night from Tracy McGrady. The Jazz did a terrible job defending the pick-and-roll in that game, particularly their bigs, who allowed McGrady way too many easy trips to the hoop coming off the screen. If they play like that again, expect a big night from Kobe (although, to be fair, I don’t expect that the Jazz will stay in a defensive funk for a while, Sloan will not let that happen).

I don’t normally link to media blogs, but Ross Siler at the Salt Lake Trib has one of the best, and then there is also Basketball John’s look at the team.

Note That Would Interest Only Peter King: The thing I’m most looking forward to watching tonight is the start of The Amazing Race. But this year I finally have a HD TV, and this show isn’t shot that way. I was really looking forward to seeing the exotic locals in high def.

Keys To The Game: Really great matchups to watch tonight — Fisher vs. Williams, Boozer vs. Turiaf, Brewer trying to cover Kobe. This game likely will be won by the team that controls the paint — which should be fun, with two teams who have big and deep front lines. Also, after the Houston game, the Lakers should run the pick and roll with Kobe a fair amount.

One defensive key will be Walton on AK-47 — he can’t let the Russian play like he did this summer. Also, as it is a back-to-back for the Jazz, the Lakers need to push the pace, wear out the Jazz starters and get into the bench. If the Jazz can keep it a defensive minded, half-court game, they may have the upper hand.

Thoughts/Prediction: After that last game, can you really pick against the Lakers? This should be an interesting one, I don’t have a great feel for it, but I’ll say the Lakers pull away in the fourth and win 97-90.

Where you can watch my prediction go up in flames: Game time is 6:30 p.m. (Pacific). No national broadcast tonight, just Fox Sports Net (in HD) in Los Angeles, plus those with League Pass (which a lot of cable companies are giving a free glimpse of right now, so give it a shot).

Savor It

Kurt —  November 3, 2007

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—carter blanchard

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


Laker porn from buzzer to buzzer.

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

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