Preview and Chat: The Charlotte Bobcats

Kurt —  February 11, 2008

Records: Lakers 33-17 (5 seed); Bobcats 18-33 (13 seed, 3 games out of the 8 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.9 (4th); Bobcats 104.8 (22nd)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.7 (9th); Bobcats 110.5 (26th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Bobcats: Raymond Felton, Jason Richardson, Jered Dudley, Emeka Okafor, Nazr Mohammed (but they change this five often depending on matchups)

Mbenga sticking around: The Lakers have signed Dj Mbenga for the rest of the season. (Hat tip to Gatinho, who got it in just a couple minutes before Michael). I said just a couple days ago the Lakers should go this way — not sure what if anything we’ll get out of Mihm the rest of the season — so this makes me happy. Now, maybe we should debate starting DJ and bringing Pau off the bench…..

Lakers Notes: The Lakers are now 5-2 through seven games of the “Grammys Road Trip.” (Doesn’t this road swing need a name, like the “rodeo trip” the Spurs take or the “circus trip” of the Bulls?) And the Lakers offense since Pau came to time has been consistently amazing (even with him scoring just 12 yesterday he opened up all sorts of lanes). The offense is still covering up for a defense that continues to concern me (even though I know Bynum and Ariza will help that a lot when they get back next month). Yesterday the suddenly-improved Heat shot 50% (eFG%) for the game.

As has been the case after the last few games, lots of comments about Lamar Odom and how he fits in as the third or fourth option. To my eye, he seems so much more relaxed in that role and that makes him very valuable to a contending Lakers team. This season and next season.

That leads to a thought about Odom’s taking threes — I think there are two kinds for him. When he has to either create his own three or takes a fast catch-and-shoot three, that is where his misses pile up. But about once a game or so, he is trailing a break (or some other play), where he gets left wide-open at the three. When he has a full second to set his feet, look at the basket and take an uncontested shot, he hits a fair amount. (This is where I wish I had access to something like Synergy, where I could watch a bunch of his threes this season and confirm my thinking.) I’m fine with the second kind of three, and with Gasol and Kobe (and eventually Bynum) drawing doubles down deep, he may get more of these looks.

Suggested Reading: If you didn’t read the story in the LA Times by Chuck Cullpepper about Pau Gasol growing up, it’s well worth the time. Apparently, growing up the son of a doctor in a little town outside Barcelona doesn’t suck.

Also, if you didn’t see the Hoopsworld story Chris H. linked to on DJ Mbenga, check that out as well. His life and the challenges in his home country make great reading.

The Bobcats Coming In: They have lost six in a row but they are nearly a .500 team at home (14-15). They are also on the second game of a back-to-back, having been thumped by Detroit yesterday on the road.

The Lakers catch a break as the brightest young star on the Bobcats — Gerald Wallace — is out with a strained right foot.

But there are still athletes a plenty on this roster. The overpaid but still dang good Jason Richardson will carry most of the scoring load — and he is shooting 42.3% from three this season, so you have to challenge him everywhere. They run him off more picks than UCLA ran Afflalo off of last season, the Lakers need to talk on defense.

Emeka Okafor is shooting 53% for the season and the Lakers have to stay with him. Raymond Felton will push the pace and so will Boykins off the bench. Matt Carroll can light it up for a night and did against the Lakers last season. Jeff McInnis plays smart.

And despite the record you can say this about the Bobcats — they play hard. This is not a team that coasts, they get after it with defenders jumping the passing lanes and effort from key guys.

I watched the Grammy’s last night: Man I wish I could get that 90 minutes back. (Even TiVoed and the worst parts fast-forwarded through, it still sucks.) I liked Amy Winehouse, as I usually do. Enjoyed the Cirque “Love” thing, but I’ve seen that show and it’s the best Cirque around. Loved that a jazz guy in Herbie Hancock won best album. But as a whole that show is the worst thing in Staples. And I’m including those boiled hot dogs in that statement.

Keys To The Game: This game worries me, just as the Atlanta game did. In a best of seven the Lakers might not drop one to the Bobcats, but in one game, on the road, in the second game of a back-to-back, combined with how the Lakers have played defense of late and some real scorers for the Bobcats, and there is cause for concern.

It would help the Lakers to do what Detroit did yesterday — jump out to a big early lead and demoralize the Bobcats. This is a team that had 8 first quarter turnovers and shot 4 of 18 to start the game last night.

Ball movement within the half court will mean great looks for the Lakers tonight — right now the Bobcats defensive rotations are slow, particularly on people at the three point line and jump shooters. (In the last five games, teams are shooting nearly 50% from three against the Bobcats because of this.) This could be a big night for Fisher, Radman and Sasha.

Where you can watch: Game time is 4 pm (Pacific) but again the Los Angeles KCAL broadcast doesn’t start until 5:30. Again. Just a couple more games of that on this road trip with this annoying delay.

Kurt

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122 responses to Preview and Chat: The Charlotte Bobcats

  1. Herbie Hancock : Kanye West and Amy Winehouse

    as

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar : Stephon Marbury and Smush Parker

  2. I expect a great game for POW! on this one.

  3. hey, I really enjoy reading your blog :)

    Andrew, Australia

  4. The Lakers might keep Mbenga after all.

    “After further review, the Lakers are leaning toward keeping DJ Mbenga in case Chris Mihm isn’t ready to play after the All-Star break, a team source said. … The Lakers would have to sign Mbenga for the rest of the season after the expiration of his second 10-day contract, probably for the prorated amount of the league minimum of $427,163.”

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakerep11feb11,1,7859643.story

  5. Wow, great piece on Mbenga. When I was in law school, I helped out on a political asylum case for someone from the Democratic Rep. of Congo, very sad scene. I’m very happy that DJ got out and even more thrilled that he still feels like giving back his heart and soul to his country. NBA fans need to hear more stories like these, so the next time some idiot fan makes a stupid comment about a player, they see that player in a more holistic manner. I mean, how can you bad-mouth this guy?

    From a bball standpoint, I do appreciate DJ’s willingness to be an enforcer, something Phil stated the team needs. I wish the best for DJ and even more for the DRC.

  6. “Finally…I AM somebody!”
    (Steve Martin, “The Jerk” when he saw his name in the phonebook for the very first time)
    I feel like that…made it to the first page.

  7. Right now the worst defensive player on the team is Jordan Farmar. He can’t seem to keep anybody in front of him (remember how Barrea schooled him in Dallas?). His rotations are slow and too often leaves 3 point shooters without making any impact on the strong side. He’s supposed to be quick and explosive. We are not seeing any of this athletic ability on the defensive side. He needs to step it up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Phil goes w/ Sasha at the 1 at some point (if Luke continues his one-game mini renaissance and starts getting more PT at the 3, because you know how much PJ loves Luke).

  8. And it is so…

    Lakers sign Mbenga for the remainder of the year…

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/080211mbengasigned.html

  9. Mbenga has been signed for the rest of the season.
    http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/080211mbengasigned.html

  10. Wait, Farmar is not that terrible at D. Sometimes guys have big games and it doesn’t matter how well you defend.

    Also, #6 you seem to forget the first 2 months of the season when it was J Farmar who was making steals left and right…like 3 a game.

  11. Keep in mind it is the second night of a back to back for the Bobcats too.

  12. 6- Bill, I agree with you about Farmar, I’ve been harping on this the whole road trip. I think his biggest problem is physical strength. The guards that have been giving him the most problems are just physically superior, both strength wise and athletically. He made a big jump from last season to this one physically, he is gonna have to continue to do that. I like him in there still, I think he’ll snap out of it

    Kurt-Since Tribe Called Quest made “left my wallet in el segundo” and the Lakers practice there, how bout the trip be dubbed ” the award tour” (another fine Tribe cut)

  13. ditto on Mbenga profile. It’d be nice if the Lakers and the Mavs as organizations could help him accomplish more somehow.

  14. 6. Chris, remember what happened to Steve Martin’s character once his name was put in the phone book. “He hates these cans….”

    10. I did mention that in the Bobcats part, but it’s worth remembering.

    Bill/kwame a.: Great points. Jordan just looks the season and the minutes are wearing him down some. It does that to all players, but he seems to be showing it more than most. A few days off for the All Star game will help, I hope. (And, knowing his work ethic, next year Farmar will come back stronger and more ready for this.)

  15. I disagree on Farmar’s biggest weakness. He does get lost in screens, but the Lakers D fails to 1) call them (screen right/left); 2) switch to his defender; and 3) call the switch back to their player. Remember, these are 2nd unit guys and 1st unit guys who are tired.

    Farmar in respect fails because he is unsure if he switches or covers his man. He is often seen somewhere between the two.

    The part that disappoints me about his play is his rebounding. In college he relied on his athleticism and quickness to outrebound. Not the same in the NBA is it? He needs to body up and box out. Saw several plays where he jumped, but failed to body up and lost the rebound to bigger defenders. And this was from guess what, a pick and switch.

    Vlad is also guilty on this one. I think PJ got upset and cut Vlad’s minutes yesterday.

  16. Kurt,

    There is no doubt that Lamar is more comfortable-and his stats are better–since Gasol has arrived–but that is not necessarily good for the Lakers.

    Lamar is still Lamar–maybe even more so.

    During this road trip alone, Lamar has been involved in more bonehead plays then the rest of the Laker team combined. Why does his name always pop up? It was his pass that almost brought Miami back. It was his defensive and offensive plays that led to a loss in Detroit. Etc. Etc. He is constantly skewered on this blog even on games when his stats look good. The critics can’t always be wrong.

    The idea that Lamar has the discipline to take “good” three point shots–and that his percentage on these “magical” attempts puts him up to the level our real three point shooters is just wishful thinking.

    Like Pau Gasol, he should be posted up inside to set up the shooters on offense. He does not belong behind the three point line–where he loves to hang out.

    I believe that the Lakers are committted to Lamar playing a role. I would hope that it is a much more focused and specific role considering the wonderful and diverse tools that Phil now has in the front court.

    Right now, I’d like to see Ronny get more minutes. In the future, I’d like to see Lamar’s multiple roles give him about 26 minutes.

    Lamar needs to learn how to be a champion. Maybe Pau can teach him?

  17. Who else could play the 2 other than Kobe and Sasha…can Ariza slide over? Luke? Maybe even LO?

  18. and just a heads up, raptorsnation.net as always plays the games live, but not sure if you’ll get Stu/Joel or whatever garbagey announcers they have in Charlotte. If it doesn’t work there’ll be some other options closer to gametime

  19. Lamar makes some problematic choices on offense somtimes (so does Kobe), but his rebounding has been outstanding. With Pau, his scoring is not that important, but his rebounding has been a key in all of the Laker wins on this trip. It’s a dirty job that he is willing to do down there, and he should get credit for it. Plus, the fact he doesn’t squak about his shots and is willing to play within the offense is a point in his favor as well.

  20. i don’t understand what lamar has to do to get credit. is he the new cook/smush/kwame? i feel like the guy has to play a perfect game to even get props, and then we’ll still point out what he could have done better. the guy is a good player. for all his faults, he does plenty of things well and tries to do whatever the coaches ask of him. kurt has had multiple posts about odom and we have all agreed that he is what he is. we used to get mad that he wasn’s a real 2nd option, and now that he doesn’t have to be AND he is contributing and playing well we still criticize him. is it the money? is it the unfulfilled expectations from years past? i wish i knew, but most of all i wish everyone would now realize that lamar can play his game. we don’t need him to score, and he is a very strong rebounder for us right now. he is helping us win. when will *that* be enough?

    sorry, rant over…

  21. The broadcast delay is killing me!!
    It handicaps my commercial surfing….i refuse to channel surf now during commercials because the Lakers score will always pop up. I could be watching the damn Food Network and the score will still somehow end up popping on the screen at the bottom.

    KCAL needs to do something about this.

  22. Lakers Bringing Fear To The NBA February 11, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I seriously think they should finish the trip 7-2. Bobcat’s best player is out(Gerald Wallace) so they should win this easily unless they play to the level of their competition like they did to Miami last night. I know Miami had some fire into them yesterday since Marion played but they should have blown out the Heat. They did in the third and early fourth quarter until the LAKERS played to the level of Miami and let them get back in the game. If they dont do this, they should win this game by at least 20. Though i would not be surprised if this game turns out to be a close one since the Charlotte has actually played LA tough the last couple of years. ANd i disagree with Farmar. THough i agree he gets lost from time to time.

  23. 20-I agree. I’ve been hard on Lamar all year, but I love the way he has played since Pau has come aboard. He’s doing what we need him to, and if he can continue he will be a big part of our success.

  24. like Goo mentioned, raptorsnation.net had games daily for people and i really hope that not too many people find out about this, because i’m sure the owner/operator of that site will likely be fined or charged.
    about farmar, i hope we can get him a little going on the offensive end. don’t let him just be a stand-still shooter, but run some pick-n-roll plays for him and get his confidence going, perhaps?
    anyways, dangerous game tonight folks. let’s hope we come out strong and make the cats want to go home early.

  25. My comment about Farmar clearly states “right now”. As another commenter posted, Farmar hit the rookie wall last year – and hard. I really hope his energy isn’t waning again. And yes, at the beginning of the year his energy on D helped to spark the fast-pace, transition game. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that our pace has slowed way down in the last 10 – 12 games…

  26. Lamar is in a much better place since the Pau trade. However, that does not change the way his head works. He is not pressing and that creates fewer mistakes – that’s good. I fear three things about Lamar…
    1) His hanging out on the 3pt line on offense.
    2) His not hanging out on the 3pt line on defense.
    3) His handling of the ball in traffic and under pressure.

    Discipline from the top down will help out on the first two – I hope – but I am not sure the 3rd point is curable. It is why I have real issues with Lamar being in the game near the end of quarters (Orlando was an example of the best and worst of Lamar).

  27. The Grammys are the worst thing at Staples? I think an argument could be made for the “we want tacos” chants! =D

  28. McHale was a great post player, yada, yada,yada. The only thing about McHale that I care to remember is when Magic schooled him with a fake to the left before taking two steps into the lane and launching his baby sky hook over McHale (and Parish’s) out-stretched hands to win game 4 of the 87 finals!

  29. 20 – Couldn’t agree more. I still think Lamar is a big part of this team, the way he’s been rebounding and also his ability to start the break off of defensive rebounds. His shooting as increased a lot recently as well, I don’t think I’ve seen him shoot this well since the beginning of last season before his injury (look at the first couple games kobe was out).

    Oh yeah, am i the only one that sits and watches the game and suddenly feels like yelling ‘POW’ everytime Pau dunks the ball?

  30. EastCoastLakersFan February 11, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Quit complaining about the delayed replay! You bastards on the left coast don’t know how good you’ve got it!
    For east-coast fans, this road trip is great. Normally Laker’s games start at 10:30pm, so having them start at a reasonable time is a real treat. The torture of Tivoing a game and trying (usually unsuccessfully) avoiding sports news/blogs/etc for the next day until you get a chance to watch it is almost unbearable!

  31. EastCoastLakersFan,
    I got to admit, we on the Pacific side are pretty spoiled. We get to see all the games, without any league pass.

  32. 30. Here’s what I find hard to adjust to on East Coat, having to wait until 1 pm for Sunday football, noon on Saturday. Love football with breakfast. Thinking that through, maybe I should move to Hawaii….

  33. Hey Kurt, I meant to bring this idea up alot earlier, but how about a separate thread/post for people who are watching the game live? So less worries about spoilers?

  34. I’m still giddy about Gasol, that individual game results don’t worry me yet. For all I care, they could lose all the remaining games in this trip as long as Kobe, Gasol and others stay healthy & Bynum continues recovery well.

    If there was tentative belief that they were legit contenders, the trade really seems to have made everyone in the locker truly believe that they are championship material and it shows.

    Confidence, or as Lamar (I think) put it, ‘expecting to win every game’ really matters.

  35. DY: I’m a law student now. What kind of law do you practice?

    Kurt: Is this site getting a ton more hits, because it seems like there are waaaay more comments in the previews then there ever were before? Obviously everyones jumping back on the Laker gravy train because of Gasol now.

    Everyone in L.A: I’m so sick of KCAL’s tape delay. I pay for League pass, so I shouldn’t have to wait for KCAL to show the games when it’s most advantageous for them.

  36. SPOILER –

    Think Pau’s happy in his new colors? Just a monster start for the Spaniard.

  37. 35 Nate: Hits are way up. Recent days are up slightly more than double one year ago (using unique visitors, not just refresh hits), but part of that growth is the general growth of the NBA blogsphere and people finding this site. Still, hits are up about 57% recently over late October, for example. Gasol had brought a lot of fans on to the bandwagon.

    The five biggest hits days in the history of this site (in order): Gasol’s first game; Gasol trade; Kobe summer rant, day 1; Kobe summer rant, day 2; Bynum injured.

  38. spoiler

    i like the ring to… “okafor… oh for four.”

  39. 37 –

    Just for some info as a relatively new (and infrequent commentor) –

    I don’t remember where I first saw the site linked, but I visited maybe a year, year and a half ago. But it was during the offseason turmoil that the site became a really great resource for what I in particular was looking for, and I would bet that’s true for a lot of folks.

    It’s not just visitation, it’s the joys of commentating! The NBA blogosphere… Where participation happens. :)

  40. (20) You’re missing the point. Expectations are rising–his “game” needs to be the “game” of a champion.

    Right now, Lamar is playing a very important role with the Lakers at the 4 as a starter–but the team is deep and his role must soon change. As Pau migrates to the 4, Lamar is battling for playing time at the 3–where he has not done well. VladRad shoots a legitimate 3, Arisa plays legitimate defense, and Luke has been there before. Are they all supposed to sit on the bench?

    As we begin to consider the Lakers as champions, standards must rise. It is necessary to know that Lamar will win that championship game for us–as Kobe and Derek have already done.

    Are you confident that Lamar can make both of those two foul shots with the game on the line? Do you think he will make that 3 with 4 tenths of a second left?

    And. . . .

    If he misses, will you say that it is OK to get knocked out of the first round of the playoffs?

    I didn’t think so.

  41. Spoiler:

    Kobe got his double digit scoring in the most efficient manner possible. If he could keep it up for 4 quarters, he’d have a 40 pt. game on 12-12 shooting. Hah.

  42. jellosjigglin’ February 11, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    oh, how i love raptorsnation.net

    i like the idea of a separate thread for those watching/listening live, maybe even a chat? then the comments wouldn’t be permanent

  43. Agree with 41.

  44. anywhere else to watch live online? (other than raptorsnation). What about listening (radio) online-570 doesn’t play the game on their site?

  45. channelsurfing.net

    Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll find the West Logo with Lakers at Cats.

    Excellent Laker D so far.

  46. SPOILER

    Okafor is just a beast on defense. Turiaf needs to continue his outside shots.

  47. SPOILER (though not really)

    Okafor is a very good defender.

  48. 45 – Hahah, hivemind.

  49. SPOILER

    Wait, I’m confused – so if a shot-clock violation is called incorrectly, it doesn’t matter that the defending team would have gotten the rebound? I feel like the Bobcats got a huge assist there from the refs on that one.

  50. SPOILER

    Great foul. 90 feet from the bucket. Not to mention you’re in the penalty too.

  51. SPOILER.
    49 – Gotta love Lamar Odom and his timely plays. Hahaha! Dunk by Vlad Rad. Good stuff.

  52. SPOILER

    Surprisingly the Bobcats’ announcers are pretty good. They’re not total homers and make good observations for the opposing team. Gotta thanks raptorsnation.net for giving me access to that!

  53. jellosjigglin’ February 11, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    81 witness… you mean by LO? give him a break, he was doing the right thing in pressing and got called for a ticky tack foul. seems like the press has reaped benefits other than that time

  54. is it just me or am I the only one having trouble with a choppy raptorsnation feed?

  55. SPOILER

    Not the best of ideas by LO. There is a difference between pressing and being aggressive though. Reminds me of Smush and all of his crappy fouls from 30 feet out. Just like the old machine too.

    Again, good defense except the fouling down the stretch.

  56. – SPOILER —

    Ah [edited], Ronny turned an ankle at the end of half.

    He was walking on it. Man, this team and ankles the past 3 years. Dammit.

  57. SPOILER

    Suddenly picking up Mbenga for the rest of the season is looking extremely important.

  58. wow, i really do not understand all this criticism of lamar. he’s playing his butt off and hustling and finally putting a string of good games together and we, as fans, all we do is nit-pick his one or two mistake in each game?
    please.. kobe jacks up bad shots every game, so does fisher, luke makes bad TOs, pau can’t secure def. glass sometimes, etc, etc.
    let’s give some credit where it’s due, folks.

  59. – SPOILER —

    Can’t let these guys hang around. Double-digit lead down to 6. Gotta up the D. Stop Felton! Light at the end of the tunnel here…

    Pau is having a great game offensively. already 6 assists by end of 3rd quarter, not bad.

    Turiaf back in game, ankle must not be that bad at this point. Let’s hope it stays that way in the morning.

  60. SPOILER

    AWSEOME Turiaf slam!

  61. jellosjigglin’ February 11, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    other games to keep an eye on:
    sixers up four against the mavs with 7 minutes left in the 4th

    raptors down four against the spurs with 10 mins left in the 4th

  62. SPOILER

    Ugh, come on. This team just seems to lack a killer instinct.

  63. SPOILER –

    Lamar with the nice finish. Way to redeem, timeout Bobcats.

  64. SPOILER

    Turiaf doesnt let some measly ankle twist stop him!

    Just like the Lakers shouldnt let the measly bobcats beat them. step it up, close it out damn!

  65. 58- I agree. Lamar has earned lots of criticism this season, but his play in the last 5-6 games has been good. I think people feel the need to take sides, but the cool thing is, they (Pau, Kobe, Lamar etc) are all Lakers, and if they are playing good, it can only benefit the team.

  66. jellosjigglin’ February 11, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    alright luke! that should help his confidence. we always hear opposing team’s crowds cheer for kobe, its funny to hear them do the LA “luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuke”

  67. SPOILER

    luke played well in the last 5 mins

  68. SPOILER

    Solid team effort to close this one out

  69. SPOILER

    Paaaaauuu with the MONNNNSSSSTTTEEEEERRRRR Jam!

  70. – SPOILER —

    Luke did make some good plays in the 4th. Lakers taking it home.

    Gasol just threw down a killer oop to close this game out with a win. NASTY!!!

    Should have never been close, but with a back-to-back road scenario, we’ll take it.

    They will have to put the foot on the throat after the All-Star break. Defense has been iffy.

    1 more game to make it 7-2!!! Best part is that we could have been 8-0 at this point. Quite a competitive team we have here.

  71. SPOILER

    Looks like Phil is going to be giving the 4th qtr SF minutes to Walton, at least until Bynum comes back.

    Also, go back and check the comments from the prediction thread, 7-2 was my guess, and its looking more and more like that can become a reality (although minny is tough)

  72. SPOILER

    Good way to finish the game. Worrisome how they let Charlotte back in it, but a solid job on defense (and the Bobcats finally missed a few shots) secured the W.

    After all the gloom and doom, the Lakers are a win at Minny away from going 7-2 on the roadtrip. Not a bad couple weeks of work.

  73. Spoiler:

    Gasol was like, “I’ll take this to go” and BOOM!

  74. SPOILER:

    We look punch drunk after 8 long games on the road. Thank God this ends going into the all star break. The perfect time for rest. I can see us losing next game because our focus is getting home. Hopefully we prepare for that.

    I’m interested to see if we make Al Jefferson look like Shaq in his prime or if our shoddy defense against Mohammad and Blount just came from not expecting them to play strong.

  75. SPOILER

    That alley oop to Gasol was sweet!

    Nice way to finish the game.

  76. – SPOILER —

    74 – i disagree, i think the team will play more relaxed and focused. This is where Phil earns his money. They have an end goal in sight. Win this one, go into the break playing as well as anyone in the league. It will be a tough game, but the whole team should have great focus to close out this road trip.

    It’s all about the journey, right?

    I hope i am right…..haha

  77. KO-PAU!! I told you we’d be 6-3 and it looks like we’ll be 7-2 even.

    Happy… Happy… its so nice to be Happy… Shalalala…

  78. AI of the PHI just handed Dallas another loss – THANK YOU!

  79. 74 – I am a bit concerned about our def. rebounding and interior D. The last 2 games, Pau has failed to secure quite a handful of def. rebounds against the so-called 2nd tier big men. (Blount and Mohammed)
    I see that Pau is a very very skilled offensive player, but he really needs to step it up defensively for us as well as the rest of team until Andrew comes back to keep this good play going with their confidences soaring.
    Overall, I’m psyched that the Lakers are 6-2 and have a chance to finish 7-2.

    rant: Kobe was amazing in 1st half, but didn’t like his shot selection at all in the 4th quarter. lamar was asking for the ball, kobe!!

  80. 79-Pau will be most effective defensivley next to Drew. Until then, we are a little weak in the middle, and that does worry me. We can’t beat top teams without playing better interior d

  81. Not getting KG seems to be a blessing a disguise now. Of course, had we gotten KG for Kwame, I wouldn’t be saying this, but things really played out well.

    Just for fun, for whom do you think the turn of events has been most awesome?

    Kobe – got more than what he probably hoped for. AB maturing would have been enough, but now he has Gasol.

    Gasol – Los Angeles, no longer the main target, winning team…

    Fisher – good place for his daugther, familiar system, leadership role

    Farmar – improved enough not to worry about getting traded and has great players around him

    Mbenga – just enough uncertainty for him to get signed on a great team getting minutes

    P Jackson – the stage is set for that elusive 10th ring.

  82. We tend to criticize Odom, but like kwame a and chocco have mentioned, he’s shown up.

    Seems like he really has benefited from the addition of Pau. I remember once calling him one of the worst finishers in the league… dude hasn’t blown a layup (that I can remember) in the last few games. I like what he’s doing…especially on rebounding. Once Ariza is back to cover up Lamar and Luke’s play on the defensive end, and Bynum is back to cover up our bad point guard defense, we’ll be pretty scary.

  83. 81 — Us, the fans.

    We have an exciting, dynamic, up-tempo team to anticipate and watch and cheer on, and almost every indication shows that we will be in that position well into the post season and for years to come.

    That is a pretty awesome turn of events, if you ask me.

  84. I agree with 82. The fans are the real winners (besides ownership of course). Every team is built for one thing, business. Without winning, teams go down the drain. Franchises die out, move locations, and trade players left and right. The fans of certain franchises remain the same for years and years. Celtics fans will always wear the green. Lakers fans will rep the purple and gold. The team wins, the fans win, the ownership wins. The more the team wins, the more money the owner makes.

  85. Hey amigos!

    Let’s talk about the scoring burden – Pau and Kobe are sharing 25 buckets (avg) a game. You can expect 15 from AB and we have shooters ranging from Farmar to Fisher to the MACHINE….

    But, it was clear that in order for us to get a quality W in the early season games everyone had to put in 10-15 points. Will the decline in overall numbers kill the confidence of our bench and blunt their ability to perform come playoffs?

    I mean, it feels good to score a season high in your 22 minutes off the bench – so good that you believe you can do it again the next day – what if Farmar can’t remember that feeling come April?

  86. 14) Kurt,
    That’s all I need; just this blog. Just this blog and espn.com is all I need.

  87. 84) Samy,
    It shouldn’t affect the bench as long as they are playing. Pau’s scoring takes points away from the other starters, not the bench players.

    But at some point in the second half Phil will likely “shorten the rotation” so that the players who will be seeing time in the playoffs can stay sharp and get into a good rhythm.

  88. 86. This blog is like pizza in a cup….

  89. If the next four minutes in Oakland hold up (which is never a given), my distant second favorite team could do the Lakers a small favor.

  90. I agree. The regular season is so gruelingly long that teams need to spread out the minutes to stay away from injury, keep the pace open and see players from the bench come out to be decent starters some day.

    Once April approaches, we will see more of the shortened 9-man rotation with an occasional 10th from Phil. Since we do have a logjam of bigs in our frontcourt, expect the main guys to have a bigger role in our new rotation.

    Just crossed my mind though… Suppose its March and Andrew is ready to play. I don’t think Phil will give him his old minutes back right away since that would mean he is still rehabilitating his knee. From his usual 32-35mins, I think Phil will cut them to 24-30 with Gasol sharing time with Drew at the center spot. I think DJ sees a good 5-8 mins depending on foul situation.

    I foresee their minutes distribution as:
    Fisher 24, Farmar 24
    Kobe 40, Sasha 8
    Ariza 12, Luke 8, Lamar 18, Vlade 8
    Lamar 18, Pau 18, Ronny 12
    Pau 18, Drew 24, DJ 6

    Totals:
    Fisher 24 all at PG
    Farmar 24 all at PG
    Kobe 38-40 with Sasha taking what’s left
    Lamar 36 (18 at SF/ 18 at PF)
    Ariza 12 all at SF
    Luke or Vlade 8-16 depending on matchups
    Pau 36 (18 at PF / 18 at C)
    Ronny 12 all at PF
    DJ 0-6 and his minutes could go to Ronny or Vlade

  91. I also have this idea that we could revive the Bench Mob once more by having our current 5 start with Farmar and Drew coming off the bench. It will surely be an epic team.

    Starters:
    Fish-Kobe-Radman-Odom-Gasol (present)
    Farmar-Sasha-Ariza-Turiaf-Bynum (future)

  92. Sloppy game with way too many turnovers. We should’ve finished this game in the 3rd qtr and let the reserves mop up. I think that’s what this team is missing right now. Like Stu was saying before the game, having a lead and stomping on the opponents and crushing hope. THAT IS WHAT JORDAN’S BULLS DID.

    I understand this team is still getting to know each other and its identity so I’m fine with the outcomes (wins… i’m not picky…well actually i am).

    I’m still confused why people are picking on Lamar. I admit he does make an occasional blunder. But you know why he has errors? Because he’s a PLAYMAKER and he takes chances. Kobe makes tons of head scratching plays but you know why he makes em? He believes in himself and feels that as a playmaker he can do it. That’s the mentality I want Odom to have, and he’s finally excelling in this role. His shot looks smooth again and he’s attacking the basket with ferocious dunks and silky layups all the while crashing the boards and getting his teammates shots. Yes, there are breakdowns in the defense, but that can be partially attributed to the coaches. It’s up to them to decide on a scheme of rotations and what not. Players should just be chess pieces so there is some blame to spread around about the defense.

    Finally, Luke looked healthy, he seemed fast… but then again he wasn’t guarding someone like Josh Howard. Hopefully he is at 100% and can be the facilitator we all have learned to love.
    Turiaf’s shot looks superb!! His face up jumpers and his free throws had a nice arch and he now has confidence in it. Looks like someone wants a contract extension :)

  93. Hey Warren…are you in the Philippines? I arrive in the Phils on Wednesday night your time. Are you able to watch NBA games there, and what channel are they on? Thanks

  94. (90) Hi Warren,

    Great analysis. Here’s my blind speculation

    SG Kobe 32 Sasha 12 Odom 4

    SF Kobe 4 Ariza 12 Luke 12 VladRad 12 Odom 8

    PF Gasol 24 Odom 12 Ronny 12

    C Bynum 28 Gasol 12 Ronny 8

    I could imagine the “bench mob” you indicate as a major force.

    All minutes could vary on a situation by situation basis–but nobody is scheduled for more than 36.

  95. 91) I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Bynum coming off the bench after he returns from injury. But, if Phil does make that move, I see it as a temporary thing. I am sure it is in the coaching staff’s plans for not only the future, but the playoffs as well, to likely have Bynum and Gasol as our main players in the front court. Our bench is still solid, I don’t think they really need to be “revived.”

  96. 88. This cup o’ pizza blog ran the old cup o’ pizza blog out of business. People come from all over to read this.

  97. Abiding Dude…

    Yes I live in the Southern part of the Philippines and we get to watch a game a day here thru basketball tv. On Fridays and Saturdays, Star Sports and ESPN airs one game as well and c/s sports channel also airs one game every Saturday and Sunday. All games are LIVE. That’s a total of 7 for BTV, 1 for Star, 1 for ESPN and 2 for c/s.

    What are you here for if you don’t mind? Vacation?

  98. drray, I wonder where you got the idea of Lamar at the 2 thing?

    Well we are in agreement for most of that except that I would most certainly have Kobe in the end game just to be sure and possibly take away Lamar as Craig likes. As I said, as the situations arise, Kobe’s minutes will vary. I would most certainly want to see Sasha play more as that could mean we are already blowing out teams.

  99. Anoni (82): He missed a lay-up after a great move in the lane during the Miami game, I think. I mean, I know he missed the lay-up, I’m just not sure which game it was (but it wasn’t the Atlanta game). Obviously, it didn’t cost us in the long run.

    I agree in the whole, though, that he’s played better since Pau came. Too early to say for certain whether those two things are related, but my gut says yes.

    Last few games, the Lakers have played the middle of the fourth not to lose, rather than to win. The only time they’ve played to win is when they’ve been backed into a corner where they have to play to win. They lost the Atlanta game that way, but they have come on to win the last three.

    Kobe should have sat the first few minutes of the fourth, even if the lead was down. He was tired, and he played like it. But it sounds like he was very reluctant to sit.

  100. jellosjigglin’ February 12, 2008 at 2:26 am

    In relation to the signing of Mbenga, it looks like the Lakers/Mihm has decided to have surgery on his right heel. He will be out another 4-6 weeks

    Here’s the LA Times article:
    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-lakerep12feb12,1,878711.story?ctrack=5&cset=true

  101. 95 & 91 I am more concerned with Bynum’s confidence upon his return, the Lakers are winning games without him, maybe he played so well at the start of this season not because of Kobe but because he felt needed . Hopefully, he will will not be intimidated by the presence of Pau and regain his form without delay.
    Bynum has to return with the belief that HE is the Laker’s starting center coupled with the fact that he can be an all star next year by picking up where he left off.
    Bynum needs to take as long as is needed before he returns the last thing that we need is for him to rush back and play inconsistent basketball because he is not 100% and loose any growth momentum.

  102. Hey Warren (98),

    The way the Lakers play the triangle on offense, if they start both Andrew and Pau, Kobe could play the 3 and Lamar might be a perfect facilitator for all of them as a 2. I could also see Luke in that role from time to time.

    I should have mentioned that this Charlotte game was one of the best “team” games that Lamar has played as a Laker. Forget the stats. He had both (can you believe) offensive and defensive rebounds, fed both Pau and Kobe, took and made a selection of complementary shots at the right time, made a block and a steal–and had the happiest look on his face!

    How many “Oh! No! Dumb” 3 pointers? ZERO!!!

    If Lamar is going to play like that, we’re going to sweep the Celtics.

    Can you imagine how Pau Gasol feels right now? When he left Memphis, they had already lost 35 games. Their usual home crowd might be fewer than 5000 fans–many of whom taunted and abused Gasol if they even showed up–made fun of his Spanish heritage.

    Do you think Pau can even imagine how they will receive him at Staples?

  103. 97-Warren,

    What’s your local cable provider? We have Sky Cable and they did not renew their contract with Solar/Basketball TV. I’m now down to 4 games a week. CRAP!!!

    I assume you are with another provider given your posts during Lakers game shown live in the P.I.

    93 Dude that Abides,

    Welcome to the Philippines!!! Enjoy your stay.

  104. carter blanchard February 12, 2008 at 5:13 am

    I know I’m a little late to the party, but just wanted to say I think Kurt’s spot on about Lamar’s two type of threes. His open looks in rhythm he seems to hit a good percentage. The “Oh! No!” threes drrayeye mentions on the other hand… Also, lump with the group that’s been loving Lamar’s play of late. Shooting a high percentage, getting “all the f-ing rebounds,” creating a little, and not turning it over too much. His one man fast breaks from coast to coast always bring a smile to my face. As overpaid, do-everything swiss army knives go, I think Lamar’s about as good as they come.

  105. Hi Warren, my girlfriend lives in Metro Manila. I visit her twice a year, and we usually travel all over the Phils. This time, I know that we are going to the Dumaguete area and probably either Palawan, Coron, or both. I scuba dive and she likes to snorkel.

    Anyway, regarding Bynum. It is clear to me that his recovery time is longer than I expected, and I believe it is because of the bone bruise. If he had suffered a simple subluxation only, then he would have been running already. Bone bruises can take longer to heal. My kneecap subluxated a few times over the years, and it was always three to four weeks for me. The one time I had a bone bruise on the pad below my big toe, I could not play tennis competitively for ten weeks.

  106. I like how the Lakers went “international” with Radman, Sasha, Ronny and Pau. Next Year, they need to trade for Luc Longley (unretire him) and sign up Sun Yue.

  107. That’s cool dude. From now on, I knight thee half Filipino already.

    Dumaguete is very near our place already. In fact, we pass by there everytime we go to Cebu. Our place is Dipolog City, just 14km away from Dapitan. Its a pretty historic place and I’m pretty sure your GF knows it well.

    I will be leaving for Cebu also Wednesday evening by boat and be back here at my place by Saturday.

    May I suggest you head to Siargao Island – that’s a very new place and my brother’s father-in-law is the Congressman there.

    Good Luck man.

  108. I sometimes see the Lakers as a D&D/LOTR-like medieval party, being:

    D. Fisher – The Hobbit (small, but a pain in the ass)
    K. Bryant – The Fighter (great offense, great D, well balanced)
    L. Odom – The Thief (you can expect anything from him)
    V. Rad – The Priest (sometimes healing the team with his actions)
    P. Gasol – The Wizard (great offense and disruptive arts, but kinda weak in D)
    R. Turiaf – The Dwarf (strong and compact)
    A. Bynum – The Barbarian (do i need to say more?)
    S. Vujacic – The Archer (what else?)

    and so on…

    I think i have too much imagination… lol

  109. 84/87- I think Phil is not afraid to go 10-11 deep in the playoffs. I remember watching some old Bulls playoff games (from their 92-93 title run) and Phil went deep into his bench against Portland in the middle of a close series. I think that’s why Phil plays so many people during the season.

    Just for that moment when we need someone to step up, won’t it be nice to have the option of Farmar/Sasha/Vlad/Walton/Ariza/Turiaf. Who from those 6 gets no playoff minutes, I think they all can contribute in some form or fashion, that’s why I’m glad they all are getting minutes.

    Of course, our starters will play 36+ mins a game in the playoffs, but there will be times when we need that bench, and all the trust Phil has shown them will help

  110. 104) Kwame,
    The problem is lettingthe players get into a rhythm; it’s hard, especially for shooters, if you only play a few minutes a game.

  111. I see your point Exhelodrvr. Im just saying, who do you think Phil will sit, and who would you sit if you went to an 8 man rotation with a healthy team. I think Sasha and Faramar will continue to get minutes. Ronny will be needed to be the back up big. I guess the issue is at the 3, where Phil will have to decide between Vlad, Ariza and Walton. They all have roles they can serve, its tough, but its a luxury

  112. 108 – Wow….

  113. the other Stephen February 12, 2008 at 11:06 am

    7, 12, 15: yeah, all i’ve been saying is just that he needs to beef up or something. i seen the guy.

  114. 108-

    Wow- I’m a geek, and that was a bit too geekey for me.

    Nice comparisons, though :D Now I’m not going to be able to imagine Sasha without a bow and Arrow.

  115. the other Stephen February 12, 2008 at 11:12 am

    86. This blog is like pizza in a cup….

    Comment by Kurt — February 11, 2008 @ 11:39 pm

    uh yeah, kurt. pizza in a cup seems pretty funky gross. i don’t know what you meant by that, but there’s no reason compare your blog to barf fuel.

  116. 115. All will be explained when you rent the movie “The Jerk.” It was a little running thread in these comments.

  117. 114 – hahahahahaah

    Also.. did you guys know that Pau and Kobe talk in spanish (Kobe is fluent) on the court so the opponent can’t know what they are going to do? I saw it today in a spanish interview with POW!

  118. 117, that is awesome… never new that.

    Im rewatching the first half and Kobe’s shooting % is way up there on jumpshots/free throws and Ronny’s ability to hit the 15 footer is gonna really help us spread the floor and open up space for Bynum in the second unit minutes he shares with him.

  119. Anonymous (118): There’s nothing not to like about Ronny, except perhaps for the fact that we can’t continue to pay him peanuts (or the NBA equivalent thereof) forever. At some point, he’s going to have to be paid a bit more than he is now. :-o

    I would still like to see our perimeter defenders go over the top of the screens inside the arc. They seem to go under the screen too often, leaving the ball-handler with a 20-footer–Jordan and Fish, especially.

  120. 111) Kwame A,

    Assuming that Bynum and Ariza both come back healthy, my idea would be

    Kobe
    Bynum
    Gasol
    Odom
    Fisher
    Farmar
    Ariza
    Sasha
    Vlad or Walton

    I would have Gasol do the backup center minutes, and split the power forward minutes with Odom. Ariza would start at SF, and some combination of Vlad/Walton and Kobe would take the other minutes at SF. Sasha would be the backup SG, Fisher and Farmar at PG.

    I think Ariza is a better perimeter defender than Odom, which is why I would not play Odom at SF. Neither of them is much of an outside shooter (although they will get more open shots when Bynum, Kobe, and Gasol are in the game, so that might improve).

    Either Vlad or Walton need to showw some (good) consistency over the next couple months.

    The above rotation leaves Turiaf out; another possibility would be having Lamar and Ariza split the SF minutes somehow, with Turiaf getting backup minutes at PF and C.

    Of course, if Vlad, Turiaf, and Walton can show that they can come off the bench for a few minutes and be productive, PJ might use everybody.

  121. I really hope that Mihm doesn’t exercise his player option for next year.

  122. pgblooded – I live in Dipolog City and we have Orient Cable here that carries all 4 channels. IDK what happened with ABC5’s pumped and loaded though but that certainly was additional 4 games/wk – House of Hoops on Mondays and Thursdays and Live Games on the Weekends.