Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

Kurt —  January 25, 2008

Records: Lakers 27-13 (6 seed); Mavs 28-13 (3 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.1 (7th); Mavs 114.2 (2nd)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (7th); Mavs 107.7 (15th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown
Mavs: Devin Harris, Eddie Jones, Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzki, Eric Dampier

Lakers Notes: Kobe is starting in the All Star game, not a surprise but a deserved honor none-the-less.

Luke Walton has not stepped up in the wake of Trevor Ariza going down, but more and more it is clear that his ankle injury is not letting him. Walton looks a step slow (and he was not a blazer to start with) and his shot just seems flat (although his is 5 of 10 from three in the last 10). Also, while we have cried out for more Ronny minutes with Drew down, his big toe is holding him back.

As for more reading, I suggest the great interview the Brothers K did at the LA Times blog with assistant coach Jim Clemons, who was a back-up guard on the Lakers 72 NBA championship team (with Wilt and West and a host of other greats). Not just great stories, but he ties it into how being on that team made him into a better coach today.

Or, check out this great Deadspin rant on the difference between bloggers and journalists.

The Mavs Coming In: The Mavs have been inconsistent through their first 41, but that’s what happens when you have a team with a great offense but average defense (last year the Mavs were 5th in defensive rating, this year it is 15th). Offense can leave you for a game or three. According to KD and those that have seen them more recently, the Mavs have been playing better D of late, then again they let what’s left of the Wizards shoot 52% (eFG%) and put up an easy 102 on Monday.

The Mavs are still 8-2 in their last 10 and have a very balanced attack. That Dirk guy is very good — shooting 50.5% (eFG%) for the season, 39.5% from three in his last 10 and still gets to the line 6 or 7 times a game (even shooting all those fadeaways). Devin Harris is a speed burner who can shoot inside or out (but shoots best straight on, the Lakers should try to push him to the wings). Josh Howard loves the wings but you need to defend him everywhere. Jason Terry off the bench, much like Dirk (and Kobe) can hit from any and everywhere.

Despite what many still think about the Mavs, this is not a run-and-gun team any more (they are 25th in the league in pace and average 7 fewer possessions per game than the Lakers). One thing you see very little of is the Mavs going small — Avery Johnson said he doesn’t like playing Devin Harris and Jason Terry at the same time, particularly against the Lakers, because they are at a disadvantage on defense (trying to match up with Kobe).

Jerry Stackhouse is a game-time decision after tweaking his hammy against the Bobcats two nights ago.

Keys To The Game: We’re becoming fans around here of the Lakers small-ball lineup (Farmar, Fisher, Kobe, Odom and Turiaf) but I (and 81 Witness) have concerns about using that lineup against a good shot blocker. Well, tonight I’d like to see a fair amount of that group because the Mavs do not have a guy who intimidates in the middle (Dampier gets blocks but not because of his quick rotations and tremendous leaping ability).

Look for the Mavs to go big trying to guard Kobe — Josh Howard will get the first shot but Devin George and Eddie Jones may get time off the bench. After all the times he has torched them, the Mavs may well be preoccupied with stopping Kobe — if so, and the other Lakers step up like they did against Denver the Lakers can score plenty. If it becomes the third quarter against the Spurs, the Lakers will get outscored.

The Lakers can’t get discouraged on defense — the Mavs are going to get theirs. They just need to try to make the Mavs inefficient and not have long periods of offensive futility. Like the entire third quarter, for example.

What also would help is if Eddie Jones does a few more of these.

Where you can watch: Game time is 5:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into KCAL (9). Nationally, I hear League Pass is nice.

Kurt

Posts

76 responses to Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

  1. Lamar Odom is back! January 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Lakers by 6 tonight.

  2. Tonight is a big night for LO, he is going to get the Dirk assignment. If he has a big night, it should be Lakers by at least 6.

  3. Lamar Odom is back! January 25, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks, Kurt. Let me correct my first comment:

    Lakers by at least 6 tonight……..because of me.

  4. It may not be conducive to a win or to overall team chemistry, but I LOVE watching Kobe torch the Mavs and seeing the bewildered looks on Cuban’s face, so I’m guiltily hoping for that (and a Laker win obviously).

  5. That eddie jones clip is the funniest thing I’ve sen all day.

  6. This will be an interesting game tonight to see how well the team can play against their final real challenge. Yes after this we have 2 home games and then a 9 game road trip, but there isn’t all that much competition on our road trip. Lets be honest, with a win tonight we go on a 12 game win streak!

  7. I heard league pass is nice, but you can check the game out here:

    http://channelsurfing.net/

    I think the Lakers will have better success with the small line-up against Dallas. Dampier doesn’t take his immunizations against fouls like Duncan does.

    Another interesting dillema for PJ is to consider starting Turiaf tonight. Why? With Turiaf on the floor, Dallas needs to watch his mid-range game. This will allow Kobe, Fish, and LO to drive to the basket without much difficulty.

    Honestly, Kwame only has two parts to his O-game. High screen and getting left unguarded by the hoop.

  8. Lakers by at least 6…. because I feel a big bench night.

  9. 81 witness, you are right about Kwame, it’s funny that the opposing teams do feel like they can leave him unguarded under the basket, cause they know he’ll panic when he gets the toss in and either won’t catch it, or bobble it, or miss a rushed attempt at a slam dunk.
    sad but true.

  10. 9 – I used to think Kwame just moved well without the ball until I realized who he had/has big games against:

    Brad Miller and Amare Stoudamire.

    Case closed.

    One thing I don’t understand about Kwame, why doesn’t he just go glass. Duncan is all glass and that is just technique. Nothing special. Any player, at any level, can go glass like Timmy (except the fade away, too much concentration for Kwame).

  11. Lamar Odom is back! January 25, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    I notice Kobe doesn’t really like to drive in very much. Why is that? Is it because players risk injury/getting beat up night-in-night-out (example Wade and his many injuries) by driving in??? Someone please explain this to me.

  12. banga needs to be signed!

  13. where r u guys! come on lets get some convos going!

  14. 12 — That rebound + putback was pretty nice. Not sure why he got so much play in the 1st quarter though–is Turiaf’s foot really bothering him?

  15. Lamar Odom is really frustrating.

  16. Not as frustrating as Kwame. Stone hands!

    Really depressing watching the last couple minutes of the half.

  17. Warren

    Your so right.
    Lamar gets my blood boiling. That pass and turnover right at the basket had me screaming. The guys basketball I.Q (if he has one) has me bewildered.

  18. Yeah, I feel like I saw this game a couple days ago…

  19. New rule: next halftime, the Lakers have to do the exact opposite of whatever they did against the Spurs and Mavs…

  20. The Dude Abides January 25, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I think it’s time for the Congo Sensation! We need someone to defend the rim.

  21. 19- Not happening at least in the 3rd. 10 points for the Mavs in the first 1 minute 30 seconds of the 3rd. What is that? An allstar team of clowns would have played better defense.

    3rd quarter collapses? Hmmnnnnn! Dejavu for me.

  22. Someone please explain to me how our 2nd and 3rd highest paid players are the ones that contribute least to the team?? How do u finally teach a player that if they are going to foul to stop a shot, foul and make sure that the player isn’t going to make an easy layup. Its unbelievable how easy it is to get angry and ruin your entire night just watching Lamar continue to make stupid bonehead moves and Kwame not catch a pass. Simply depressing.

  23. Fun fact: Luke Walton has taken 1 shot in this game. 1-1 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, and 4 fouls. Why does he not shoot more?? Someone please knock some sense into this guy, he plays in the NBA, explain to him that he’s allowed to shoot the ball.

  24. Now I’m really frustrated. The absence of Drew and Trevor is really killing us. More than their offensive inputs, I think we miss their defensive intensity. I just can’t get over teams scoring in binges over a period of less than two minutes. How can you not miss them.

    Our lack of interior defense is making us susceptible to drive and dishes and our perimeter defense is really slow to react on the same.

    If this is what we can expect for the next month and a half, .500 would be a bonus. Let’s just hope that there is still a playoff possibility when drew and trevor returns.

    Meantime, I will hope for a 4th quarter miracles first.

  25. Fourth quarter recovery? Hmmnn! Not gonna jinx it…

    Lakers have performed poorly at the charity stripe…they have hit a good percentage of shots (over .570), but their defense is lacking. The Mavs have taken 18 more shots than the Lakers at 5:45 remaining, although the mavs are only 47%.

  26. Is it just me or do the Mav’s get away with a lot of clear out offensive fouls?? Its just wrong that the ref’s let so much physical play go unanswered.

  27. Why does Vujacic crowd the paint on that last Harris drive and dish?? Just stick your man, Sasha walking towards the paint does absolutely nothing…

  28. The 3rd qtr with Lamar, Walton, Kwame killed the Lakers against this team. They couldn’t score and they couldn’t defend.

    I still say Kwame and Lamar in the game together kill us at both ends of the floor. MBenga and Rony do a much better job at this time. Lamar just does the little things that kill our momentum. They don’t always show in the box score, but they put us at a disadvantage.

  29. why is it that lakers come out so flat in the third quarter? especially against teams that can widen the gap by far if you let them??

    granted it wasn’t as bad as spurs game, but i think that’s the difference in the defense b/w spurs and mavs.

    goodness… how many more years do we have to watch this lamar in laker uniform?

  30. The third quarters in the last several games, including Denver have been beyond awful. We’re getting outscored by around 10+ points per third quarter lately. Why is that?

  31. 8 total points from our starting forwards isnt going to get it done no matter what team were playing. Walton and Odom are just so depressing to watch.

  32. Mbenga had only two buckets, and Kwame didnt even play as bad as we sometimes fear he will, but it is already clear who is superior. Not only is Mbenga playing well, he is already showing signs of understanding where to be, how to play within the offense, and how to work with this team. Thats more than we can usually say for Kwame.

  33. Though they played bad in the third credit their fourth quarter comeback. Famar was exceptional today, Kobe closed the game well…Only if they played a little better in the third. Oh and what the hell is wrong with odom with 4 pts, 2 rebs, 2 ast, and 0-3 3ptat. This is not acceptable, these are the games that we need him to step up, especially with the lack of depth with injuries.

  34. Almost but not quite.

    That 10 point gift in the first 1 minute 30 seconds of the 3rd really hurt the team. This game is a mirror reflection of the game against the Spurs.

    Nothing wrong with the offense actually. Its just the defense that the team needs to focus on. I think the team starts the 3rd really flat on defense. Transition defense is terrible, half-court defense suspect. Help defense is slow to come. I smell lack of commitment in the team in general.

    MVP performance by Kobe. I pity the guy. There he was burning his ass off again and what does he get in return? 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 32 minutes from the number 2 guy. That’s unfair. I’ve never pointed a finger on Lamar all this years. But tonight? I can’t blame anyone who would bash him.

    So go ahead guys!!!

  35. I doubt MBenga will be as effective against the teams with dominant centers, but how many teams like that are there in the league these days?

    My guess is that if he has another game like tonight’s, he will get another 10day contract and may stay until the end of the season. Wouldn’t that be a surprise if Mitch picked up two more than serviceable additions during the year?

  36. In 33 minutes, Lamar was 2-9 for 4 points, with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a turnover. And BTW, in case you were wondering, he took all three of his patented oh! no! Dumb! 3 pointers and missed them all.

    During the 15 minutes Lamar was not playing, the Lakers staged a rally, with Ronny playing Lamar’s position the right way, and Mbenga playing center as if he’d been doing it all season.

    In his minutes either replacing Lamar (15 minutes) or Kwame, Ronny was 3-5 for 7 points, 2 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and a turnover–and too many little benefits to count.

    Kwame mostly continued to improve in his 23 minutes, with 4-6 shooting, but only 2-6 free throws for 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a turnover.

    Kobe played as good a game as he’s ever played as a Laker. Farmar and Fisher backed him up.

    If you add in all the intangibles, Lamar played worse tonight than the Smusher did last year–and I don’t say that lightly.

    As Craig has pointed out, Lamar and Kwame should not play at the same time–just as Cook and Smush shouldn’t have played at the same time together last year–it’s poison.

    With the uncertainty of Mihm coming back, Mbenga is well on his way to making the Laker team.

    Lamar needs all the help he can get–and we need our injured players back so Phil has more options.

  37. The reason why I would not blame Kwame for this slide is because it is to be expected. That guy just does not have it in him so there’s no point in expecting he does anything for us. His +/- will tell you everything who he is. If any of you has still not accepted that FACT, then you have not been following this team for the last 3 years.

    My biggest heartache happens when the people expected to step up do not. Instead, they do the complete opposite and bury the team further down. Mbenga looked like he was with the team for a whole year, while Odom looked like he was the one with the 10-day contract. At this point, I’d much rather have Odom not play. If at all that puts us in a disadvantage, so be it. At least we get to see the players that matter when we are short-stacked with chips.

    Rather than think we have a gun that does not hit any target, I’d rather have no gun and fight with my fists.

    Out of frustration, I would be selling Lamar Odom to the highest bidder that could give me a middle pick next year plus cap relief. I hear he would be good in Golden State and I hear they have a 9.99m trade exception. I’m sure Mitch and Chris will be able to work something out. Rather than expect this guy to help Kobe, I think he ruins what the Lakers have going. Simply put, he does not fit.

    I’d much rather have stone hands Kwame than Lamar at this point. Let the Lakers play with what’s left of the roster and splash into mini-free agency in 2008. I hear Shawn Marion wants out of Phoenix too.

  38. Did anyone notice that when MBenga shoots his freethrows, he looks at the ball on it’s way up?

    Three years of the nba is enough time for a coach to tell you that you shouldn’t look at the ball on its way up. Is it the language barrier? Has he not had enough individual coaching? Is he just stubborn?

  39. Sorry for the double.

    Warren, I think the Lakers would prefer to trade Lamar for a smaller contract, preferrably a scoring option (can you say Mike Miller?)

    Can’t see anything happening right now though…our frontline is too thin.

  40. poor ronnie, you could see he was in pain all night, he played like a warrior though, but he did lose his cool a bit with that push in the back on dirk.
    the late turnovers, like the length of the court pass to mbenga by farmar resulting in a TO, well, talk about momentum killers. (both farmar and derek nned to learn NOT to try to hit DJ on a fast break, he’s just not the right guy for it at this stage).
    that kwame TO off an O rebound was another killer, all these did was let the Mavs keep their cushion, and if we had not turned it over there, we’d have been within 3 pts, and it would have been a completly different ballgame, the pressure would have been on them, with Mo on our side with 2 mins to go.
    gotta watch some game film, lots of our TO’s were by trying to do too much, slow down, keep control of the ball,we are a good enough team to run the offense, it will come.

    but, no mater how these games turn out, win or lose, I do have faith that this team can do some damage in the playoffs if we can get back to full strength.

  41. Anoni, whoever you are, or simply anoni…

    I think so too. If a team would offer an offer of reasonably-priced PF + expiring contract (think Miami) I would be all for it. Of course there’s DrDay and mine’s favorite deal but if my 1st proposal went through, I think it would be in the Lakers’ best interest that we do it.

    It is therefore these scenarios:
    a) okPF + expirings = Lamar Odom
    b) upgrade = Lamar Odom +
    c) pure expirings + mid pick = Lamar Odom

  42. Silver lining time! Ok, we just played two games in two of the toughest arenas in the nba, w/out ariza and that bynum guy. and we played about 35 minutes of very good basketball in both games. better have these kind of games now to help teach the many young guys you have to be focused for all 48 minutes to beat the best teams. And please, nobody point out that its the rather veteran 1st unit coming out and getting killed after halftime, and not the kids. that would completely ruin my attempt to make an optimistic point. or the fact that our two starting forwards are imploding before our very eyes.
    but still, just looking at results of the games post-subluxation: wins against denver and seattle, losses against suns, @spurs, and @mavs. fairly competitive losses though, truth be told. a 9 game road trip is nuts, but as long as they don’t get too worn down they could still do ok. i mean, it’s an _east_ road trip. first’s game’s @detroit, after that it’s mostly eastern mediocrity. i still think we can hope for a couple games above .500 while andrew’s out.

  43. Drrayeye, I find it hard to agree that ‘Farmar and Fisher backed [Kobe] up’…Fish played 18 minutes because of foul trouble, cant really praise or complain there, and Farmar did play well shooting wise. However, he had four turnovers, one which was the too-strong full court pass to DJ at the end, and then the ill advised 1v2 (1v3 maybe?) fast drive on the ensuing possesion. Those two wasted possesions basically shot the Lakers chance of recovering the game.

    Young player mistakes are what they are, and we cant really complain about it, but Farmar really choked there at the end.

    Lamar is in a huge funk right now but I mean c’mon, “I’d much rather have stone hands Kwame than Lamar” ? Thats really pushing it… But the gun analogy was very nice. (response to post 37, Warren)

  44. I think in the next weeks we will find out how the Laker organizatiion feels about potentially facing the Celtics and winning the NBA championship this year–or waiting until next year–or never. We’l find out when/if they put together that high risk high reward deal.

    Here’s my test case..

    The most likely win-win partner for the Lakers IMO is the Memphis Grizzlies, but the Lakers are the ones who need to prove that they are serious.

    Memphis is on a program of cap space enlargement. They’ve almost agreed to buy out Damon Stoudemaire’s salary for about 20% of the $4+ million or so. They have an expiring contract for Stromile Swift of almost $6 million. They want to eliminate the $6+ million contract of Brian Cardinal. Taken together, that would reduce their cap by about $15 million. Trading Miller for Kwame brown would net them another $9 million. Trading Paul Gasol for Lamar would give them another $13 million next year.

    So, a deal with the Lakers, plus their own internal activities would give the Grizz an opportunity to compete for major name free agents with almost $25 million in cap space for next year, plus draft choices, plus more for the year after, if needed.

    I believe that the Lakers would be willing to make a direct swap of Lamar for Pau. I think that they would also add in Kwame Brown for Mike Miller. Both those deals would obligate the Lakers for 4 years of contract, so the decisions would have to be the right ones.

    Here’s a clinker in such a deal. The Grizz would want to give up Brian Cardinal’s almost $6 million dollar salary for multiple years as part of the deal–but maybe that could be negotiated away through various compromises.

    Adding Gasol and Miller plus earlier additions of Fisher and Ariza would go far beyond anything Kobe ever demanded. Both Gasol and Miller would help out immediately!

    If you don’t like this test, keep your eyes open. You’ll soon see what the Laker organization thinks of us winning the championship this year.

    That’s what it’s all about.

  45. I have the solution to all our problems: Let’s trade trade for Joakim Noah. I haven’t seen him play at all, but I’ve heard many good things. And I like him already.

  46. Keep dreaming about Noah. Chicago is trying to get rid of Wallace to free up playing time for Noah. He does everything that Ben does just with more intensity. The Lakers are best off getting expiring contract for Lamar, that way we have over 20 million coming off the books this year with that 12-15 for Lamar plus 9 for Kwame. Next summer would be a good opportunity to sign a 15-20 million a year player.

    There is a problem however. How would Kobe react to trading Lamar for expiring? Thats a clear rebuilding move and I highly doubt that Kobe is staying in LA to rebuild. The Lakers have a chance to make something special happen with Kobe and Bynum if, and only if, they have two more years. Kobe has an opt out in the summer of 2009, but the 2009-2010 season could almost be the Lakers best chance at winning.

  47. What about LO and sasha for Elton Brand. Elton is going to be back by Feb, so he can join the team at the same time Bynum and Ariza come back.

    Why would the clippers do it? Cause Elton can opt out this summer. At least they would get LO back.

  48. Ugh…let’s not make this a trade thread. Anyway, to what I’ve been saying for weeks about preferring Mbenga over Webber–look how active Mbenga is on defense. He is almost always looking to defend the rim, even when he gets switched onto Dirk after a screen. There is no comparison to his defense and Kwame’s, especially now that Kwame’s injuries are even hampering his one-on-one post defense. DJ is a keeper.

  49. Well, at least now everyone can understand Kobe’s tirade over the summer. He said what I have been saying all along to anyone that would listen. Too many players that are not capable or willing to get better, see Lamar, Walton, Kwame, Vujacic.

    The saving grace this season was the immense improvement of Bynum and Farmar the addition of Fisher and Ariza.

    Two of the improvements are out Bynum and Ariza the two that added instant offense and more so defensive intensity and willingness.

    Kobe playing an MVP game and no backup except by Farmar a second year player.

    No one will trade with the Lakers at an even price because they are like sharks with blood in the water, they are waiting for the feeding frenzy to begin. A few more games like this and it will. By the time Bynum gets back the Lakers will have lost about 15 games!

    The Lakers are collapsing again just as they did last year, they are too fragile mentally. The only tough players from last year that are playing are Turiaf, Farmar and Kobe.

    Turiaf as much as I love him and the way that he plays, is injury prone. He can only play long enough to get a glimpse of his capabilities, then he is out with one injury or another.

    Farmar is still learning but will be an all-star guard in a few years, tough, willing to learn and improve. Love him you just have to live with his learning curve

    Kobe, well Kobe is Kobe great all-star capable of playing through seasons of NBA nagging injuries because he has a high threshold for pain and he is a WARRIOR!

    I am DISAPPOINTED in the Lakers for Kobe. Everyone felt sorry for Kevin Garnett in Minneapolis, and over the years he had far superior players than Kobe has had with the Lakers.

  50. Young players like Farmar are going to make mistakes and I don’t have any problem with that — they improve daily. The people I have problems with are those who have reached their competence level (the Peter Principle) and still make too many mistakes in critical parts of the game.

    We are unlikely to be able to trade either Kwame or Lamar for players who will help us this year – even quite good players. Therefore, I want Phil to begin preparing Kwame, Lamar, and Walton for a longer term position on the 2nd team. This would put Bynum, Turiaf, and Ariza on the starting unit. Lamar would come in early because I agree that Rony cannot play the usual starters minutes, and Kwame would probably come in late – with Rad filling in the middle time. Mbenga would be able to fit in where needed – I was pleasantly shocked at how well he played Dirk last night.

    Kwame is no real problem because he really expects to be playing on the 2nd team. However, Lamar and Walton HAVE to be conditioned by Phil to accept this change because it must be in place and working well by the time the playoffs start.

  51. I just wanted to comment on DJ. I’ve seem him play this season in plenty of games before the W’s cut him. He is obviously big and a pretty good athlete. He plays hard and tries on defense. These are about it for his positives. On defense, though he tries hard, he still tries for the blocked shot too much. He even tries to block shots that he WILL never block and leaves himself out of position on the defensive glass. This happens more than you would like and in extended minutes this will hurt our defensive rebounding because the backside SF or guard will not have time to rotate and put a body on DJ’s man. On offense he is just a clean up player. His skill set is marginal. His hands are okay and he can finish when right at the basket but that’s about it. I mean the guy is on a 10 day contract. There is a reason that this is his 3rd team in less than 2 seasons. What’s sad is that all this seems reasonable to most because of the recent play of Kwame.

    We just need to ride out the injuries and play the best we can. Let the chips fall where they may. I think when RadMan comes back it will help. What we need is one more body who can play. Plus he’s 6’10”. He’s not a traditional big player…but at least he has some size.

    As far as trades go, the only way we make a deal is if we end up going on a major swoon going into the trading deadline. If we are playing terrible and then on the verge of being out of the playoffs, then I think they do make trades. Though I think getting Miller from Memphis is a pipe dream (it’ll be easier to get Gasol), and as was said earlier, Noah is going to be a Bull (they’ll dangle Ty Thomas first).

  52. Two losses to two title contenders on the road with key players out and suddenly the sky is falling. The Lakers fan base is seemingly filled with Chicken Littles.

    Odom is Odom, stop expecting him to be the “number 2″ guy you think he should be every night. When Bynum comes back (and remember, he is coming back) Odom will be back in a more comfortable role. Walton’s ankle still hurts him, but he has not suddenly become a stupid basketball player, he just doesn’t have the physical skills he’s used to. He is still a valuable role player off the bench, but he’s being asked to do more than that now, and he can’t. Radmanovic can fill some of that role when he gets back, but he’s out too. Kwame is what Kwame is. Nobody is going to trade anything good for him. (And, Memphis keeps saying they will only trade Pau in a deal with a team that also takes on Brian Cardinal’s contract, that doesn’t magically go away.)

    People, this is not last year. We had two bad losses but to two very good teams. They sky is not falling, it’s just a rough patch. The worst thing you can do is panic and shake everything up. That’s how you become the Knicks.

  53. The third quarter woes in the last two games come down to this: the Lakers try to push the pace; however, without Bynum in the middle to draw attention and vacuum in every ball in his air space, the opposing team packs it in on defense, and the Lakers stubbornly try to get to the hoop or shoot challenged jumpers (or open threes, in Lamar’s case), instead ending up with turnovers (simple steals, bad passes, offensive fouls, traveling calls). Those giveaways lead to transition offense for the opposing team, and given enough fast breaks and defensive mismatches, it’s hard not to give up points. All it takes is 4-5 lousy possessions before the other team has a double-digit lead and all the momentum.

    When you’re trying to dump it off in the paint or throw a lob to Andrew, you end up with buckets; when you try it with Kwame or Mbenga, not so much.

    I foresee wild swings of emotion in Laker Land for the next couple of months. In the last four games, we’ve lost to Phoenix, San Antonio, and Dallas, and beat Denver handily. This is about where the team is this year without Bynum — not at the elite level anymore, but better than last season at winning the games they are supposed to win.

    As long as they can continue to do that, Ronny, Luke, and Kwame can heal up, Vlad, Trevor, and Andrew can return to action, and there will still be time to get into a rhythm before the playoffs.

  54. I’m not going to lie, my bball IQ isn’t sky high.

    Anyway, I was wondering that maybe we could run a few alley-oop plays for Odom, like we did for Bynum. You know, those early lobs, before the defense could react. I mean, Odom has long arms…his hands are pretty good, why not? We need to run a go-to play for Odom…his mid-range jumper is still not polished enough and his 3 point shooting has regressed.

  55. The Dude Abides January 26, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Darius, some of those weaknesses in DJ’s game that you pointed out can be lessened with a decent amount of experience/playing time. I think he’s the type who can learn his own strengths and limitations pretty quickly if he can get a steady 15 minutes per game of playing time. I think he will get that 15 min/game because of the team’s glaring deficiencies when Kwame is on the floor.

  56. As you say Kurt, Kwame is Kwame and LO is LO. We shouldn’t expect more from them than we already have seen. I get it – as a matter of fact I said it.

    The key is how do we go forward with that information. Phil seems insistent on trying to make Lamar our #2 guy and putting up a starting lineup of Lamar, Kwame, and a hurt Walton. I don’t think we have a choice at this time, but to start Sasha at 2, Kobe at 3, and Turiaf at 4; then sub Lamar midway through the 1st qtr for Turiaf. This is just to get us through this injury stretch.

    It is how do we frame the sitting of Lamar and Walton to them and the rest of the team? This is Phil’s challenge. What I don’t see is any movement from Phil whatsoever in anything but the direction he has previously taken. Maybe we start by starting different people in the 2nd half – since we have bombed this part of the game for quite some time. This would be a start and is certainly warranted, based on current performance.

  57. I only hope for marginal improvement for LO. They finally got him the ball in the post last night a few times. Too bad he wasn’t guarded by a midget like the last couple games and instead had the taller Dirk on him. Christ.

    Not much movement on the offensive end by the entire team, even in the first half.

  58. Lazy starts to the 3rd notwithstanding, I’m not really too disappointed with these past 2 games. A lot of really good teams in this league would be happy with a split of this kind of a Texas two-step, and we didn’t play all that poorly.

    As for LO and Kwame, I think we all pretty much know who they are and what they’ll give us, but somebody is going to have to step up and contribute while Drew is out and those players are the 2 guys who have a lot of unrealized potential we can dream about them tapping into. Unfortunately, the past few years have taught us not to hold our breath.

  59. Unrealized potential speaks to two situations:
    1) When young you may be able to work hard and realize that potential
    2) When you are experienced it denotes lost opportunity and ‘what might have been’ statements. Kwame and LO are apparently in this category. There could be change, but the odds are getting pretty long that it will happen and there are other players that need the attention previously spent on these two.

    I am still not one who wants to trade these guys, as they do bring something to the table, but they are NOT 1st string players and they should not be treated as such because of anything so nebulous as potential. They are complementary teammates and should have to fit in where ever the team needs them at the moment.

  60. Not Charlie Rosen January 26, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Thought it was interesting, I was just re-reading Sacred Hoops a week or so ago (Phil’s book about his time with the Bulls, for those who haven’t read it), and one of his 3 or 4 key maxims is:

    (paraphrased, as I can’t find the exact quote)

    The results of the first 5 minutes of the third quarter are the responsibility of the decisions made by the coaching staff at halftime, not the players.

    And then we get this run of bad 3rd quarters…and while the players are missing shots and turning the ball over and missing defensive assignments, it occurs to me that Popovich and Avery made adjustments at halftime and PJ didn’t, or made the wrong ones, which has only made the problems with LO, Walton and Kwame 10 times worse.

  61. 52. I do not think the sky is falling it has fell. In those two games Kobe tried to take on the herculean task of carrying the team on his shoulders and almost succeeded. The problem is Kobe is in the position once again of either having to have a monster game or thinking he has to have a monster game, all of which lead to him shooting more than some would like.

    57. You are correct on point 1 it fits, Farmar, Bynum, Ariza and Turiaf. Point 2 fits Lamar and Kwame.

    53. Even with long arms and good hands to catch a lob you have to be willing to JUMP, Lamar seems to be unwilling to dunk. Have you ever seen him around the rim.

    Overall, the Lakers are still too fragile mentally! To win during a long season regardless of injuries–every team has them–it takes mental toughness to endure an 82 game season.

  62. Lamar Odom is back! January 26, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    These past two games have gone better than expected, in my opinion. What went wrong was that the Lakers did not play at their first half level the entire 48. We obviously have what it takes to beat these teams. We played them well in both first halfs. What happens during half-time that flips this team 180 degrees? Does it have more to do with coaching? Is Phil not really coaching in the second half to see if the team can learn to adjust on their own? Perhaps this is what’s going on. Good teams always adjust their play in the second half. That’s what has happened these past two games. It’s a learning process. No need to panic, really. We’ve played well these last 4 games without Bynum than we did last season when the whole thing went down.

    Check out what Larry Brown said about Odom on NBA.com:

    “Lamar Odom = Underrated

    Lamar is one of the best players in our league and is possibly as underrated as anybody in the league. He rebounds unbelievably well (9.7 rpg this season), is a tremendous defender and a great ball handler. The way Phil Jackson plays him in their system, he can play any position. Any time he plays at a high level, the Lakers are as good as any team in the league. He and Ilgauskas are two guys who don’t get a lot of credit. When I look at Lamar, Garnett, Kirilenko, they fill up the stat sheet and their value isn’t always scoring the ball. Lamar makes everybody on his team better. I was fortunate to get to coach him on the Olympic team and he has always been someone I admired him from afar, but being around him on a daily basis, you realize that he’s a pretty special player.”

    Has he been watching any Laker games this season?

  63. 62) The problem is that Jackson has almost no room for making adjustments.

    He doesn’t want to play Fisher too much, because he doesn’t want to wear him out. Can’t stay with the quicker guards.
    Farmar, as he showed at the very end of the game last night, is not ready yet for 30-35 minutes a game. Very promising, but still making rookie mistakes.
    Sasha is very inconsistent.
    Turiaf is somewhat foul-prone, on the small side for C, and not durable enough to play big minutes. Doesn’t have a great inside game, although it’s getting better.
    Kwame is extremely limited, and his complete lack of offense makes everything harder for the other four on the court.
    Walton is a niche player, whose limited (relative to the rest of the league) mobility is further hampered by his current injury.
    Odom is very inconsistent, physically and mentally.
    Mbenga is very limited offensively, still learning the teammates and the system.
    Crittenton and Karl are not ready for extended minutes.

    So what adjustments can Phil make right now?

  64. I think there is a reason Larry Brown is no longer coaching in this league. Nice analysis Larry, right on target!! haha

    All I can say is that i’ve been discussing the option of moving Lamar and Walton to the bench since the beginning of the season. Check out my articles at http://www.laballtalk.com and look back over the last few months…

  65. 63. I think maybe putting LO in the Bynum role with Kobe in the pick n’ roll might work some easy offense. Lamar could do more driving down the lane, which seems to be his preferred way to score.

  66. Time for a deal with everybody in play except for Kobe, Bynum, Ariza, Fisher and one of the young guards.

  67. Why is everyone acting so shocked? We know we are a championship-caliber team WITH Bynum and everyone else (Ariza especially) healthy. Did you expect the Lakers to sweep through Phoenix, San Antonio, and Dallas?
    We exhibited what this team is about this year in each game. Kobe distributing and having a well balanced team offensively. In San Antonio AND Dallas Kobe was distributing the ball well and everyone was involved in the first half.

    My take: drastic improvement, just hard to sustain.

    In the second half our defense was porous, which led to a shaky offense. = Kobe needing to take over the game b/c everyone (except Farmar and Turiaf) was struggling to put up points.

    In Bynum we had guarenteed offense and an anchor on defense.

    Odom says he was going to post up but seems hesitant to take shots on the POST. It appears he’s trying to shoot himself out of a slump to prove he’s still got it, much like Marbury in New York. They know they’re capable and have succeeded in the past. So they’re trying to find that fire inside of them and regain their confidence. He knows he’s not a 2nd stringer, he’s just having a hard time finding his groove.

    PJ talks about how Kobe knows the triangle so well he skips some steps so he can get the ball to score. The staff is trying to get Odom to find his spots b/c right now he’s not confident in himself.

    We need to hope he finds his mojo b/c he’s the piece that can get us over the top. So stop all the hate and rather hope he gets his act and plays tough and maybe things will fall through for him.

  68. I’ve got news for you Travis. Lamar has been in a Lakers uniform for how long now?? 3 years?? I think if there was a groove to find he would’ve found it by now. The definition of being an idiot is doing the same thing over and over again that doesn’t work. Perhaps its time to change something. What do we change?? Thats up to the coaching staff because obviously our suggestions aren’t being passed on to them.

    Its quite simple what our job as fans is. Support the team during every game and apply pressure in between games to hope for improvement. Even if its an amazing game, that is not a reason to role over and say, “okay, we’re ready. Lets go up against the Celtics.” We have shown consistency for 24 minutes, the next step is to make it 48 minutes and our short rotation will be fine. Actually, that brings me to another point… has anyone considered the conditioning of these players?? Perhaps Ronny, Jordan and Kobe are the only ones really in shape that are prepared to play 48 minutes a game while Kwame, Luke and Lamar can only handle about 30 with a few breaks throughout the game… just a thought

  69. What was encouraging about the Mavs loss was the fact that they only beat us by 7 and we were in their necks the whole time. No Drew, no Trevor, no Vlade, no Chris. See, Hollinger can put a win factor in all this but it all leads me to conclude that Dallas isn’t too proud of what they did yesterday. IF we had Bynum, we could be the one with the 7-pt win.

    Dr Ray, Memphis can easily find a taker for Mike Miller that doesn’t have to be necessarily us. For instance, a team like Orlando (who has still a boatload of expirings) can offer 2-3 players and a pick for another 3-guy they can put at the shooting guard position. Imagine a lineup of Nelson-Miller-Turkoglu-Lewis-D12. That would be a shooting frenzy.

    That said, its not my intention to not have Miller but I think the weight of his contract is too heavy for management and our cap-conscious friends at Lakerland esp if we have to take Brian Cardinal as a Pau Attachment. Use Kwame’s contract as the buffer that takes Cardinal and perhaps even Damon (buying him out).

    The deal you proposed could use some picks that a rebuilding team would definitely appreciate. The Lakers can decide to overpay by sending them some future picks to sweeten the deal.

    In all these, Kurt, with all due respect, lets trade Lamar? He is so frustrating.

    Anoni, Lamar Odom would dislocate his 2 shoulders if he went up for those alley-oops.

  70. I think all this trade speculation is totally off the point. Honestly, I think there is a 0% chance of Lamar being traded before the deadline, and maybe a 5% chance of Kwame being traded. Lamar’s trade value has got to be at an all-time low right now. You don’t think the rest of the league is seeing the same things we are (with the apparent exception of Larry Brown)? At 12 mil a year. No chance. And we can’t afford to trade Kwame anyway unless we get another big back, and i’d be shocked if we get a worthwhile offer.
    And why do we need a trade? Remember, waaaaay back about two weeks ago, when Kurt wrote that enjoy the good times post? And how they were indeed good times? I don’t care if this team goes 0-20 w/out Andrew, cause we’re obviously not going to win squat without him anyway. Why should we make a trade to make the team better without Andrew? So Lamar isn’t a real no. 2 option. But he is a very good no. 3/4 (even fish/farmar are expected to provide more points in reality). If the team was playing well with Andrew, that leaves us nothing to do but suck it up, grind out as many W’s as possible til he’s back. And SA and Dallas are _not_ easy places to grind out wins. Gone are the days of going into opposing arenas and crushing the home team like we did in Phoenix and NO (who whooped SA tonight). I hope you all listened to Kurt and enjoyed them.

  71. The trade speculation ends here, until there is proven talks between the Lakers and someone.

  72. …and another thing…
    anybody know off hand what Miami’s record is?
    the last I heard they had lost something like 14 in a row, their future is shot with the heavy contracts, especially to Shaq….
    so my question is, would you trade what they’ve had the last 3 years? one ring and then you’ve got this season and the dark days ahead?
    or what we’ve had these past 3 years? I know it’s been tough, the Rudy T year especially was a rough one…
    but look at us now.
    talk about a bright future, so bright we gotta wear shades.
    this year, when drew and trevor are back, we are going to be tough, no doubt, and not afraid of any team, and this same unit with one more year experience together…
    we’re talking championship baby.
    and it could last for 3 to 4 years with the age of this team.
    me, I’m happy we kept Kobe and let Shaq go.
    how about you?

  73. I would not trade it, Chris H. Although it has been frustrating these past four seasons this year looks different than the ones before and this team has a lot of promise. The lakers did the right thing in letting Shaq go. The Heat also got lucky with that championship. They were down 0-2 and wouldn’t have won had the Mavs had a better coach. It was fortunate for them, that’s all. I’m enjoying this a lot more than the first 3 championships anyway. It’s nice to see players grow.

  74. This is the time when the Laker organization earns its money.

    I liked the Laker team as it was in the summer, and I really liked the trade for Ariza. The most recent find in Mbenga was timely and “Mbenificial’ to the Lakers.

    The organization has every reason to expect a competitive run at the playoffs with no further moves as the wounded return to play.

    But this is the Lakers.

    Every time they see KG in a Celtic uniform, it must make them sick to their stomachs–especially when they remember two losses in which Andrew Bynum was humiliated.

    The Lakers rarely make midseason moves.

    So, why will I be looking hopefully and expectantly anyway through February?

    I keep dreaming of this game in Boston . . . .

  75. Its not as much as speculation as it is planning. I understand the essence is such, but I would have to qualify the “concept” from the actual proposal.

    Kurt, I understand how a little flame can turn into a wildfire and I abide by it. I can understand “Lamar Odom” being the guy I was months ago in this fine site. I think he will mellow down and will eventually talk hoops. But I also understand where he is coming from.

    Drray, I too search that competence from the front office. Sure Mitch has done a better job as of late and the Trevor deal but I would like to see this organization make a bold move to solidify next year’s bid. Learning from the offseason where there’s less basketball and with the Beijing Olympics coming up, I think the curve could be completed earlier if “they” had the midseason of this year to work with. I too could not stand another probable end up in the wrong team.

  76. Lamar Odom is back! January 27, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Warren, I feel the need to mention that I have talked hoops lately. Yeah sure, I add a few made up things here and there, but I feel ya’ll know when I’m joking. I can’t just keep it straight hoops, you know? Cuz you know, I’m versatile as heck, and so I choose to switch it up every now and then.