Preview & Chat: The Miami Heat

Kurt —  February 28, 2008

Records: Lakers 40-17 (1 seed); Heat 10-44 (more ping pong balls than any other franchise)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 1133.6 (2nd); Heat 102.8 (28th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.8 (5th); Heat 110.3 (24th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Heat: Jason Williams, Dwayne Wade, Shawn Marion, Udonis Haslem, Mark Blount

Lakers Notes: In a recent Q&A at Clipsnation, I was asked about Kobe and the MVP race and wrote this:

But let me say this — the reason Kobe is getting his teammates involved more this year (and his shots attempts per game are down 7 from two seasons ago) has a lot to do with the talent around him. Last season when the double came to Kobe he had passing options such as Kwame “hands of stone” Brown in the post, Smush “where am I now” Parker at the point and Luke Walton. This season when that same double comes Kobe can pass to Pau Gasol (or earlier Andrew Bynum), Derek Fisher and a rejuvenated shooter in Radmanovic. Basically, now Kobe can pass to players he can trust. Bottom line, Kobe is all about winning, and when he looked at his options last year he often thought “my shot over the double team is the best option” and this year that is not the case. Sure, Kobe’s drive and ego fuel part of that, but he wasn’t totally wrong.

Today, threre is a must read piece at SportshubLA by David Neiman that is a fantastic review of Kobe’s journey to the precipice of the MVP, including a few words for to those newpspaer columnists saying “Kobe should get the MVP because he is finally making his teammates better.”

Earlier in the year, I argued that the entire notion of “making one’s teammates better,” at least as far as it’s commonly meant, is nonsense, the NBA equivalent to giving an NFL quarterback too much of the credit or blame for winning or losing. Yes, Kobe’s teammates are better, but it’s not because he’s suddenly passing them the ball where he wasn’t before. A season ago, he gave them the ball plenty.

They’re better because for the first time, they’re matching his effort.

They’re better because Sasha Vujacic is making open threes where he missed them all last year. They’re better because Jordan Farmar isn’t a rookie, is stronger, and has a much better sense of the pro game. They’re better because Derek Fisher is giving Los Angeles and Kobe trustworthy veteran leadership. They’re better because Lamar Odom is healthy and thriving, now that he’s free of the pressure of being the second scoring option. They’re better because Andrew Bynum is a freak of nature. And they’re better because, in what I refer to as the Immaculate Transaction, they somehow picked up Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for nothing.

Go read the whole thing, it’s a must

The Heat Coming In: The move East has improved Shawn Marion’s game. His true shooting percentage (which counts three pointers and free throws) is 5.2% higher than it was in Phoenix. He’s also is handling a percentage of the offense than he did as a Sun, but with that has come a few more turnovers.

All of that didn’t amount to a win for eight games, until Tuesday night when the Heat beat Sacramento.

Last Time These Two Met: It was the first game for Marion in a Heat uniform and he added some energy to their attack, he had a team best 21 points on 6 of 13 shooting. But the Lakers led by 17 in the second half, tried to give it back and held on for a 104-94 win.

Big note: No Haslem in that game.

Keys To The Game: Haslem will be there tonight and he brings a lot of energy to their front line, something the Odom and the Lakers will have to match. And Lamar, Haslem can hit the 18-footer and is maybe Wade’s favorite target when the defense collapses on the drive — you can’t leave him. Let the other bigs challenge Wade in the paint, you make sure Haslem is covered and doesn’t crash the boards hard.

As we remember from the last time these two met — the new-look Heat want to get out and run. Transition defense will be big, there are some guys who can really finish (Wade, Marion) if you don’t get back in numbers. And that includes Pau (and Ronny) running with Blount, who had 22 and got a number of those by outrunning our bigs last time.

Also in defense, the Lakers need to be ready for a lot of pick-and-roll, Wade and Marion did a lot of damage with that in the first meeting (Marion setting the pick and sliding off to an open spot) and the Lakers need to limit that.

Two areas we should get some good production tonight. First, Blount is not a very good defender, so Gasol (or maybe Odom, if they try Haslem on Pau in spots) should be able to get theirs against him. Second, our second unit. The Lakers have a lot more depth of talent than the Heat, when the second units are out the Lakers should pull away.

You want a prediction? For every insightful thing Charles Barkley says tonight he will annoy me five times.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7:30 pm (Pacific) and we will all be watching on TNT. Well, since it’s on TNT there’s a good chance we’ll miss half the first quarter so we can see just what a brilliant move that Jason Kidd trade was. (Reread that last sentence in a sarcastic voice.)

Kurt

Posts

91 responses to Preview & Chat: The Miami Heat

  1. Is Radman healthy already? Or is that a template typo?

  2. Typo, and fixed. Thanks.

  3. The only real difificult game we have in the next seven is the Dallas game on Sunday. We should be able to increase our nice streak and also create a little breathing room from the rest of the West

  4. Hey Kurt, could you add a Dodger Thoughts style “New Post Up Top” comment at the end of previous posts? I always refresh the bottom of posts to see what the latest comments are, and I miss when new posts show up.

  5. 4. Good idea, and I steal a lot of good ideas from Jon. Consider it done. And you didn’t miss much, this has been up for minutes.

  6. Alright….this is the first of a back-to-backer. The Lakers need to jump on this Heat team early and big….give the starters a chance to rest up in the 4th for tomorrows game.

    I look for Sasha to have a big game tonight, as i’m sure he’s gonna get allot of minutes late.

    Prediction:
    Lakers 117
    Heat 102

  7. Totally agree about TNT’s coverage and seemingly complete disregard for getting to their second game on time. I know in years past they used to wait for the first game to end, as in there was some grace period where they were allowed to delay the tip-off. While I don’t necessarily like that either (players standing around after warm-ups), there has to be some way to do it so we don’t miss the first five minutes of the game, ESPECIALLY when the first one is a blowout or dud in general, coughEasternConferencegamecough…
    Maybe a picture-in-picture? Maybe less of the in-studio banter between games? I know the massive commercial break isn’t going anywhere, but missing the beginning of the game dampens a lot of the hype or excitement about the match-up. Personally, I think it should be done on a game to game basis, like if it’s a blowout, just switch over, if it’s close and competitive, obviously stay. And what’s so terrible about picture-in-picture. it works for CBS during March Madness (unless you have a tiny TV). Whoever is in charge should view the situation like a fan would, wanting to watch the game that is more compelling. Of course, I’m biased since the Lakers are usually in that second game, but sometimes watching the end of a Bulls-Pacers garbage time game is just torture when I know the second game has tipped off. Of course tonight’s situation is the reverse, where the first game should be a bigger matchup and also more competitive. We’ll see, but I’m already planning on just listening to Spero and MT on 570 KLAC until TNT finishes stroking themselves.

  8. Lakerade – I agree that the game by game basis sounds good, but I know that if the Lakers were in that first slot, and it was a blowout (either way), and they changed to game 2, I’d be pretty pissed. Also, I’m sure there are all kinds of business implications here I’m not at all aware of.

    They could, I think, do as ESPN does and just start the second game on another channel (Turner has plenty to choose from), and then switch to TNT when the first game is over. Or does that make too much sense?

  9. Back to the discussion regarding preferred playoff matches from yesterday:

    I fear the Spurs 2-3 times more than any other western team and am desperate for them to end up on the other end of the bracket. I really, really want 2 other teams to take cracks at upsetting them before having to possibly face them — especially in our first year making a run as a contender. Not only because they are the reigning champs and so good in the playoffs, but because I think they are a matchup nightmare for us on several fronts.

    I think we are most vulnerable to teams with strong interior defense and dominant, penetrating point guards. A large reason for our progression from weak playoff team to top tier contender was the addition of big men who could score at an absurdly efficient rate. I think that Pau and Bynum’s ability to consistently score on 60%+ shooting opens up the entire offense for Kobe and the shooters. With our bigs scoring that efficiently, it is just really, really hard to hold us below 100 points (no matter the pace). It puts tremendous pressure on defenses to collapse, allowing the triangle spacing to create endless open shots for our perimeter players. When Bynum gets back, if he and Pau can combine for 35-40 points on 60% shooting, then it will be almost impossible to beat us, given Kobe’s brilliance and our other strengths.

    However, I fear that Duncan and Kurt Thomas are so skilled on defense, that they can slow down our bigs and force them to score at much more pedestrian rates (45-50%). Or, they might just limit their scoring opportunities, forcing us to play more of a perimeter game. Either way, if our big men are slowed down, it will have a really detrimental trickle down effect on our shooters and role players. Duncan is probably the best interior defender in the league and Thomas is not far behind. Add in Bowen/Udoka on Kobe and their general strong team defense, and I think they can really frustrate us. Then, they have the type of offensive weapon we are most vulnerable to — a penetrating, speedy point guard. Combine that with Ginobili (the 3rd best wing player behind Kobe and Lebron and a true closer) and Duncan on the block, and they can really exploit any weaknesses in our defense. I think we can beat them, but it would take a lot of things working together that we’ve never necessarily seen before (given the newness of Pau and Bynum’s injury).

    I do not fear Utah. I do not think a team can beat us that is weak on their interior defense (for the reasons stated above), and Okur/Boozer just will not be able to contain Bynum/Gasol. They also have nobody that can even begin to slow down Kobe. Deron would be a tough matchup, but it’s just not enough when they are so exposed against our bigs and Kobe.

    I’m split on Phoenix. I think we’re better than them, but it would be crushing to lose to them once again. And Nash scares me to death. Still, it would be very satisfying to take them out.

    My ideal bracket puts San Antonio and Phoenix on the other side (hopefully with us as the 1 and them as 2/3 or some other combination). Utah, New Orleans, and Dallas are all dangerous, but I’d be fairly confident against any of them if Bynum were healthy.

  10. Also, if I remember correctly from this season, I think they — mercifully — have gotten rid of the in-studio banter between games if the second has already tipped off. At least I hope so. That’s it.

  11. Bob Costas… rolling over in his grave…

    – 5 -

  12. This is a very special opportunity for the Lakers. Can you imagine what Riles would say if he were here as the Laker coach?

  13. Hahaha, phineas, that second channel idea makes WAY too much sense! How pissed would all the TBS viewers be if they couldn’t watch yet another Friends or Sex in the City re-run?

    As for the scenario with the Lakers in a first game blowout, I agree that I’d be bummed to miss Coby Karl PT, but I’d trade that for all the times we were in the 2nd game…

    The second channel idea seems so logical… I’m writing TNT about it… keep y’all posted.

  14. 8/13 – if I remember correctly, they actually did this last year during the 1st round of the playoffs. I remember them starting a game on TBS and then moving it to TNT after the game finished. Now if only I got TBSHD (aren’t they doing playoff baseball on it now? Maybe that’ll be enough to get Cox to pony up for the rights to the channel), KCALHD, and FSNHD (more than the ‘sometimes when you’re lucky’ they do now on MojoHD) I’d be able to live out all my basketball glory in HD! Sigh….maybe next year…

  15. 14- I have COX and they offer TBSHD in my area. It comes standard if you have the HD package.

  16. 9-The teams that will give the Lakers problems are those that are capable of keeping us under 100 pts. Teams that will try to outscore us (Denver, Utah, Phoenix, GS, will not beat us, we can’t be outscored.

    Tonite-I hope Walton can play well, and start to find a productive role on the team. Also, it be nice to see Ronny follow up his first good game in awhile with another.

  17. Seems kind of quiet right now for a game night…..

    I agree with the TNT comments. And the commercials…..wow…..more commercials than actual game coverage. Guess i wont be going to bed until 11 tonight.

    Why is it that when the games are on ESPN, we can still get them on KCAL, or Fox Sports West….but when they are on TNT, we cant. It’s bull!!!

  18. 17-TNT has exclusive rights to the game it broadcasts, ESPN allows local stations to retain rights to the game locally. I don’t mind Doug Collins as much as I used to but I feel Reggie Miller is terrible, a guy that hasn’t been away long enough to let go and it shows in his commentary.

  19. Basically, it’s something like you can’t blackout local TV channels (which KCAL is) in these circumstances, where as since TNT has paid for exclusive cable TV rights for these specific games, you aren’t allowed to watch it elsewhere

  20. Here in Vegas, we get Laker and Clipper home games on FSN. If TNT broadcasts a Laker home game, FSN isn’t blacked out.

    As far as the TNT panel is concerned, Charles is just turrible. He’s just this raw, unpolished, buffoonish country bumpkin. Sometimes, Kenny Smith can be insightful; most of the time, his views are kind of pedestrian and lack cogency. And Ernie Johnson isn’t what I’d call a great basketball mind, but I’m glad he takes Charles to task for his mistakes.

  21. Quick sidenote: not sure if any of you here read Hardwood Paroxysm, but it’s a pretty funny NBA-wide blog.

    They’re pretty outspoken in their criticism of Kobe (though they admit his talent), but they’re organizing a “Kobe Bryant Blog Day” on March 11th. Here’s the post (which includes a list of all the blogs that have already signed on to join in): http://tinyurl.com/347phf

    Kurt, maybe you’d want to join in?

  22. 21, Matt M — Well, that should be interesting. Pretty cool of them to do it, though we’ll see how many of the blogs hold to the “say something positive and celebrate Kobe regardless of your general opinion” impetus.

  23. TNT doesn’t make you miss part of the first quarter, that’s ESPN.

    Of course with TNT the game may start 15 to 240 minutes late.

    And, as with KCAL, we might miss game action while some celeb is being interviewed.

  24. 9. Great post, as usual.

    But don’t you think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself, as we don’t as yet have a clue how quickly Bynum will return to his earlier form (physically and mentally) and how well he and Pau will mesh, especially with Bynum having to work his way back from his first serious injury as a pro and with such little time to do so?

  25. 23, Yes they do. TNT can only delay the start of the Lakers (or whatever second game) 15 minutes, a 7:45 start. They are more than capable of running long and have missed parts of the start before.

    21. I may. I have to think of something different for that. We talk a lot of Kobe here so coming up with a new angle is a challenge.

  26. Recently on ESPN, Hollinger compares Kobe to Ginobili by showing how Ginobili’s per 40 (for some reason not 48) stack up against Kobe’s. The notorious Kobe hater doesn’t discuss players’ ability to sustain high levels of play, nor does he discuss how teams choose to play Ginobili. I should disclose that I greatly dislike both Hollinger and Ginobili.

  27. 26. Per 40 minute numbers are pretty common, based on the theory that is about what a top player (ala Kobe) will play in a game, so it closer fits production. Some coaches prefer per 36 numbers (see basketball-reference.com), college coaches often use per 30 or 32.

  28. Jason (26): I agree that Hollinger’s analysis is a little too stat-driven, but I don’t see him as a Kobe hater in general. I just think he has a tad too much faith in his statistics.

    In general, I think statistics are a crapshoot when it comes to comparing superstars. They’re just too far off the curve when it comes to how they do what they do, and teams simply vary too much when it comes to how they defend against and attack those superstars. I also think Ginobili, though he’s not Wally Szczrbzrzczk, is not exactly a defensive stopper, either. One thing I like about Kobe’s game is that he’s gotten back to playing better, more stable defense than he did the last two or three seasons.

  29. 26. Disliking Ginobili aka. Senor Flop is just a natural, objective state of mind. Hollinger as well, except for the fact that his system ranks the Lakers at the top.

  30. By the way, Kurt, regarding your Clippers blog exchange: Although lots of fans didn’t like the Shaq trade, a lot of us who were at least somewhat more pro-Kobe than we were pro-Shaq (and for the record, I was both–I wanted them somehow to remain together) were more irritated at Kupchak for the Caron-Kwame trade. Which I guess is now sort of a Caron-Pau trade, but with two-and-a-half years of poor catching skills to live through.

  31. Personally, I am not a big fan of per-40 numbers. I might be “old school” in the sense that I dont like extrapolated stats that may not account for players played against, [playing v starters or reserves] , defensive focus on the player [naturally more focus on a guy that plays 40 mins than one taht plays 20 mins] and the simple mental and physical fatigue and added challenges arising from playing more minutes.

  32. SA is weaker this year because their supporting players have deteriorated quite a bit this year. Who knows? When Barry signs with them again and the playoff comes, they’ll start hitting some 3s. At this point, I don’t fear Udoka, Horry, Finley, or Bowen spotting for 3s. Their BIG 3, TD, Manu, and Parker are pretty scary though. But our Big 3 isn’t too shabby…plus our bench is getting better and deeper.

  33. One more “by the way”: After LeBron recently put up his 10,000th point, people were noting that he reached this plateau at a younger age than anyone, by over a year younger than Kobe. My wife was surprised that Kobe wasn’t the youngest, and I mentioned that early in his career, Kobe primarily came off the bench (he started just seven games in his first two seasons combined), whereas LeBron has started practically every game since he came to the Cavaliers and has been relied on as the go-to guy throughout. If you go by games played, LeBron is only the ninth fastest to 10,000, reaching that level in just 369 games, still about 100 games faster than Kobe.

    But I also remember Chick calling Kobe a “point a minute” guy (obviously a very fast scoring rate), and I started wondering, what if we considered how fast they reached 10,000 points in total minutes played? So I did a back-of-the-envelope for these two guys.

    LeBron reached 10,000 points in his latest game, and he has played a total of about 15,170 minutes. (I just used minutes per game stats, rather than adding up the minutes for every game.) By comparison, Kobe reached 10,000 points about 3/4 of the way through the 2002-03 season, at a point when he had played about 12,960 minutes. That’s about 2,200 minutes faster–the equivalent of about two-thirds of a season for either of these guys.

    Just to put that in context, Wilt Chamberlain reached 10,000 points near the start of the 1962-63 season–in just his fourth season playing!–and required about 11,240 minutes to do it–about 1,700 minutes faster than the son of Joe Jellybean.

  34. Ack.

    Kobe’s minutes played at that time were about 15,900. That’s what I get for not double checking first. :)

  35. 31. I will say this, it holds fairly true that guys who put up good per-minute numbers in fewer minutes off the bench over the course of the season continue to put up those numbers when given more minutes. Not all, but most. Jermaine O’Neal for one, did. (Michael Sweetney, did not, but apparently he hungered for the wrong things.) By and large, it’s a pretty good way to made a prediction of future success, although there is no perfect way.

  36. ah, hollinger again. can we just accept his hard work, but not his stupid and forced interpretation of his own work?

    the guy does respectable work with numbers, but spends way too little time defending the weighting and interpretation of the numbers, and is VERY defensive about his interpretations that he doesn’t bother adding fine prints to his interpretations.

    i mean, we all know +/- can be screwed up with players facing the bench, and i’m sure hollinger does too, but he doesn’t have such factors calculated in his PER.

    besides, his PER is also based on stretchy things like height and ‘natural rebound position’ if i remember correctly, which means diddly squat if a team decides to mix things up.

    i wish he’d just do away with the PER thing, he’s forcing his interpretation of various stats to other people without accepting /acknowledging the obvious shortcomings.

  37. so I heard that Cassell and PJ Brown have signed with the Celtics, what do you guys think about that?

  38. I’m watching the Dallas/San Antonio game and thinking, if I’m New Jersey, how do you not ask for Bass as part of that deal? I would have really pushed for it.

  39. 38-Amen.Dallas didn’t have to give up Bass or Stack and still got Kidd. Guess that’s how people feel about Pau. Bass is a tough matchup for anyone, strong and quick with an automatic mid-range. Thorn was in a jam, but he shoulda got Bass.

  40. I have to wonder how Avery Johnson and Jason Kidd are going to co-exist. Jason Kidd has never been very happy under authoritarian coaches.

  41. jellosjigglin’ February 28, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I agree Kurt, Bass looked really good tonight. Maybe they thought it would be redundant to have both Bass and Sean Williams, although that’s a good problem to have.

    Watching that DAL/SA game.. neither looked that great. And Dallas’ end game play is to iso Dirk and have him shoot contest fallaway jumpers? How about a pick n roll with Howard and Dirk? Both can pop, both can roll to the basket and finish. What do you think Kurt?

  42. Good to see the Lakers pushing the tempo early, they’ve been a little slower lately and those easy buckets you get in transition make things easier.

  43. 9 – Reed – Good points about SAS, however… while Duncan and Thomas are a difficult matchup for Gasol and Bynum, who do the Spurs have that can contend with Lamar? Horry?

    I agree that the Spurs are the toughest matchup for the Lakers, I still don’t think they can beat them in a 7 games series.

    Cassel and PJ Brown on the Celtics, along with Perkins sort of inexplicably owning Bynum in two games, make me worried the most about them. That’s a good worry to have I guess though!

  44. Also… John Hollinger is pretty useless in my opinion. The rise of the Internets have put stats in the hands of a lot of people that seem to think they mean a hell of a lot more than they actually do.

    Stats mean very little in most sports with the notable exception of baseball.

  45. Is it just me, or is Pau looking a little dapper?

  46. Hey, Miami, welcome to double digits.

  47. who is this Kobe guy? 13 pts on 4/5 shooting and 5 assists? 1 TO but that’s offset by 2 steals…

  48. I only get to watch the nationally televised games out here on the east coast so this game is a real treat even if it’s against the heat. Over the last couple weeks Fisher’s stat lines have been a little troubling but I figured it was fatigue and Phil would take it easy on him. Watching this game however it seems not only is his shot not falling but he’s taking really tough shots not really in the flow of the offense. At the end of the second there when the Heat made a nice little run (with Wade on the bench) fisher had about 4 possessions in a row where he dominated the ball and Kobe didn’t even touch. It’s nit-picking I know, but everything was so smooth that this just really stuck out.

  49. Ah’m sorry. Ah can’t believe mah ears. Did Charles just say Kobe for MVP?

  50. Woo, love those 3rd quarter circus plays. Kinda felt like we were the Harlem Globe Trotters for a second there.

  51. Just how much fun are the Lakers having out there right now?

  52. I totally agree with Reggie Miller that Wade just needs to shut it down. It’s amazing that he can still get to the rim at will – he’s just been getting abused in his years in the NBA and I don’t think he’ll last long.

    How come the Lakers aren’t rumored to sign any of these vets being bought out? A Lindsey Hunter type to guard quick 1s would be useful – I’m still a bit worried about these penetrating guards. Not sure there’s anyone like that on the market though.

  53. I agree with Reggie as well. The best thing Miami could do right now is to rack up as many losses as possible and get that #1 pick while keeping Wade healthy for next year. If they get Bayless or Beasley or Rose they are so much fun to watch in the years to come.

  54. Kobe, wow

    putting on a clinic on the Defensive end

    actually hold that….BOTH ENDS!

    how bout that kobe to luke to lamar dunk?

    THE LAKE SHOW IS BACK!
    GO LAKERS!!

  55. 45, I think he trimmed up the Spanish-Fro a bit

  56. Nooooo, Derek. Please don’t burn out heading towards our final push for the #1 seed. We need your shooting, your heady defense, and most of all, your timely flops.
    I’m kind of worried at how Derek has been playing the last 6-7 games and hope he can come back strong. I know it’s unrealistic to expect him to shoot nearly 48% FG like he did in the first half of the season, but he’s been forcing his way inside to the rim taking bad shots and his 3-pointer seems to be off lately.
    Come on Derek we need you!!!!

  57. That final play to Vujacic for the 3 was a work of art. Everyone got an assist. Sasha just kind of stood there after he shot it and admired it. What a way to finish the game!

  58. I just hope that with this winning streak the way they are playing that the Lakers don’t relax and slack off.

  59. The TNT game announcing is excruciating. If I was sitting in the stands, and three guys in the row behind me talked about free Blackberries for five minutes while play was in progress, I’d turn around and ask them to please be quiet and watch the game. That’s what we got to listen to on the air.

    Love these wire-to-wire beatdowns of inferior squads, by the way.

  60. Me and my roommate both were like “wow” after that Kobe behind the back pass to Walton behind the back pass to Odom dunk. Nice.

  61. 52. Will, nobody out there at this point is better than what we have. You want to try to get Cassel and take minutes away from Farmar? Maglore is only worth it if he comes with a time machine that goes back 5 years. Same with PJ, he is no better than Mbenga. Seriously, this team has won 10 in a row, 13 of the last 14, you don’t go changing the roster now.

  62. Kurt (61): I agree. Play around with different lineups if you must, but keep the roster as it is.

    Glad to see Luke had a serviceable, if unspectacular, game.

  63. Anyone else notice Kobe breaking out the Deke finger wag after blocking Marion’s dunk attempt at the end of the period? Sweeeeet.

  64. 56 – good point. Derek hasn’t been making good decisions on offense lately. When he got the offensive reb., Pau was right there. Why didn’t he pass to him? He didn’t need to force dribbling inside and end up losing the ball. Also, on defense, why was he forcing Banks to go to his strong right side. He blew by him, and there was nobody to help him. He did hit a 3, but once again, it’s the short one from the side, where he is most effective. At this point, PJ going with Famar as much as possible is simply a GOOD THING.

  65. Let’s see. The “great rebounder who toughs out the hard ones” got 2 offensive and 9 defensive rebounds for a total of 11 rebounds (in 40 minutes). The “poor rebounder who only makes the obvious rebounds” got 2 offensive and 9 rebounds—for a total of 11 rebounds in 7 fewer minutes. The “sub” who came off the bench got one offensive and 11 defensive rebounds for 12–in 9 fewer (24) minutes.

    Has the whole world gone completely mad?

  66. What’s up with the Wade shutting it down talk?

    Maybe we forget, but players get payed to play. Crappy team or not – playoffs or not – they get paid to play. It actually made me kinda mad when Marv or whoever said that since they aren’t filling up the arena in Miami he shouldn’t be expected to play. If there’s even one season ticket holder in there Wade owes it to them to play if he’s healthy.

    Maybe I don’t fully understand his injury, but to me it seems more like the 30% he’s missing is due to lack of conditioning (and extra weight) more than post-surgery problems. I mean… he had surgery awhile ago, right?

    I think part of me is strangely OK with watching him struggle a little after a few seasons of him getting a whistle anytime someone comes within 6″ of him. To me, we can learn something about him from Harold Minor. The league can’t create stars; they have to create themselves. He had an amazing run a few years ago, but I’m not sure he can live up to it.

    Anyway… I want to start a petition for Farmar playing 30+ minutes a night. I think PJ is holding him back so he’s hungry and ready to contribute when it counts.

  67. drrayeye,
    It’s one game. Small sample size. It sounds like you’re taking the criticism that Pau’s not a great rebounder a little personally.

  68. some other game highlights:

    that fast-break over-the-head by kobe and behnd-the-back by luke to the streakig LO for the jam and some other great passes made me stand up and say “SHOWTIMES BAAAACK!” (magic must be proud)

    reggie millers comment about kobe and wade switching places (if that happens, miami makes the playoffs. No way kobe allows his teammates to slack off. he’d demand that his intensity be matched. no way they lose 26 of 28) was spot on. That is the value of a true superstar. aside from kobe, only lebron and duncan can have that effect on a team.

    that shove by wade on sasha was totally uncalled for. he should get fined or suspended for that. away from the play and clear intent to harm

    can anyone figure out what marion said to kobe after he blocked his dunk at the end of the 2nd qtr? i mean he got mutumboed, he didnt have any reason to talk trash

    i guess the jawing and some shoving by kobe and wade in the 4th was kobe standing up for sasha. did anyone see the replay of the 4 pt play by wade? Kobe gave a love-tap to wades forehead. I had a laugh on that play!

    Ronny, jordan and sasha are becoming a depenable high-octane group. cant wait for ariza and bynum to join in and complete the bench mob!

    the triangle they are running right now reminds me of the bulls glory days. so fluid, so unselfish. I love to watch this team right now more than ever! great basketball! the way the triangle should be played!

  69. Honestly, I didn’t know there were basketball fans out there that don’t like TNT broadcasts of the game and/or Charles Barkley and the Inside the NBA Crew. I would take a TNT broadcast any day of the week. And I could watch Inside the NBA (and Chuck especially) all day. It’s one of the best television shows on right now.

    Yes I know Chuck may not have an all-intensive grasp of the English language; and I know he will wait till the final respectable moment to show the Lakers or Kobe any sort of love, but the guy speaks his mind and is hilarious at the same time (kind of hard to get across). He’s undoubtedly a Laker hater, but who isn’t? We’re the Yanks of basketball.

    Sorry, I just had to defend the TNT broadcasts. Thursday night television is great because of it (just my opinion). And if someone wants to talk bad (their opinion -respect granted) about TNT-NBA broadcasts, I implore him/her to name me a better sports-studio show.

    ESPN/ABC’s NBA showings? A joke. Only respectable commentators are Van Gundy (as funny if not funnier than Chuck), Mark Jackson and Hubie – and 2 of those 3 commentate the same games…

    KCAL and FSN? I love Stu Lantz and Joel Myers is servicable. But those half and post game shows aren’t even comparable to TNT’s (sans Magic and David let me laugh at EVERYTHING Chuck says Aldridge). The chemistry and insight top notch (again, just my opinion)

    Yes, maybe Reggie, Marc and the Czar got (very) carried away with the cell phone talk tonight – but I would cut them a little slack cuz we were watching the Heat play on national tv for the 15th time this season (yes Bill Simmons). NBA games on national tv are notorious for the tangents during games, especially blowouts (see Mike Breen).

    I may have gone overboard with this, but I really want to know if there is an alternative to a TNT-NBA game right now that is even on the same playing field. Feel free to mention any sport – college or pro.

    Other thoughts:

    – I definately agree with Reed’s thought on the Spurs. I can’t wait to play them in the WCF. I want to play them in the playoffs. As a Laker fan, I want to earn this title.

    – I’ve been having the same thoughts about Fisher’s recent struggles. Hopefully the slump is an aberration and the production before the slump isn’t.

    – I replayed the “Odom-deflection-of-Miaimi-entry-pass-off-of-Pau’s hand-segued-into-a-Kobe-prayer-pass-transitioned-to-Luke’s-behind-the-back-pass-to-LO-for -a-SLAM” 10 times in a row. Just wow.

    – I think D-Wade really hates (hates) Kobe right now for various reasons. Again just my opinion

  70. 65, that was Reggie Miller (though its not like a ton of other writers have said it too) and the first thing I thought was…alright, it makes sense why this guy never won a title now

  71. (66) Fanerman,

    I’m having fun. The focus on “Pau Gasol as a rebounder” has not been the wisest ever on FB&G. Like Miami–more Heat than light. I guess there are some who would buy a Ferrari and evaluate it as an SUV in the mountains.

    NONE of the Lakers are “great” rebounders. They are all “team” or situation rebounders. I still remember the game where Jordan Farmer had 10 rebounds–more than Bynum. In this game, there were actually 4 rebounders with more than 10 rebounds: Odom, Walton, Gasol, and Turiaff. The Lakers outrebounded Miami 55-40. That was probably the difference in the game.

    When Pau Gasol began to show his remarkable abilities as a teenager in Spain, his coach immediately took steps to assure that he would not be merely a post up center or a defensive center–or any kind of true center. Great decision, no? Pau developed his broad range of skills and often played away from a natural post up presence. We’ve already seen Gasol lead the fast break. In practice, we’ve seen him hit 17 out of 20 three pointers–but not in the game (yet).

    In this game, Gasol not only made 11 rebounds, but he had 4 blocks–even though he’s not typically a Dwight Howard style shot blocker. Pau’s chameleon nature allows him to shift roles.

    This game clearly shows that Pau can “dial up” rebounding and shotblocking skills.

    Against the Heat, he only had 13 points (6-13), and only three assists. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a blogger post that he’s lost his offensive touch and scold him for having almost as many turnovers as assists.

    Wanna try that one?

  72. Odom’s hit double digit rebounds in 9 straight games.

    Before the last 2 games, Pau went 9 straight games with single digit rebounds.

  73. Hey guys,
    Have you noticed lately that everytime Pau comes up top to initiate the pick-n-roll, he slips instead of picking? I understand that the slip screen is effective (especially with Pau)….but everytime? I just think they need to be more balanced with actual pick and rolls so that the slip is that much better. Without the tough pick and roll, the player guarding Pau wont step out quite as far to impede Kobe, thus, sagging more on that slip when they do it which also does nothing to the player actually guarding Kobe.

  74. Great solid game, I agree that Wade must hate his team right now. You know how winning solves everything, well losing just amplifies all the miscalls and misplays. Wade looks out of sync, I said it last time we played the Heat and I’ll say it again they need to push the ball and unleash the Pete Marovich in Jason Williams. Their play just looks disgusting, they have the athletes to run but maybe they’ll incorporate it next year and just try to tank to finish (sorry season ticket holders…err holder that care).

    Final note, did anyone see Ronny stick his tongue out at Odom when they were fighting for a rebound and he got it. That was HILARIOUS, Ronny is definiitely one of my favorite players, what a refreshing personality.

  75. Nice to see Farmar step up. i don’t see any reasons to be concerned about Fisher’s current struggles. Farmar is his back-up and as long as PJ is getting solid play out of him, no worries. It seems that these two players bring complementary games to the table:

    Fisher – Excellent shooter, pesky defender.

    Farmar – Moves well without the ball, finds the open space, lots of steals, shoots the ball well, but needs to learn when and how to switch on the picks. Good to see him get some confidence going last night.

    Come to think about it Florida killed UCLA on the picks with Noah and Horford. It also helps that they are excellent passers though too.

    Fisher will gain confidence in his shot and play and will rise again as the floor general.

  76. 71. Bynum is a great rebounder. He has a 19.6 REB-r (rebounds per 40 minutes), good for 10th in the league. Odom is a good rebounder. Gasol is worse than Odom. I don’t see how the argument about Gasol being just an “okay” rebounder is not a valid one. It’s a weakness in his game, but one that is covered by his teammates quite well (especially when Andrew gets back). He fits extremely well, but that doesn’t make him perfect. And that doesn’t make him immune to criticism, however slight.

    As for his 13 points and 3 assists and however many turnovers, it’s just one game. Which is the same thing I said after you made the “poor rebounder” comment.

  77. Jason Williams and Dwyane Wade have a fundamental problem – they play for Pat Riley. Riley will help young players develop (a la Odom), but he will restrict their development once their talent gets beyond his system, because he demands so much control. Could you imagine Pat ‘loosening’ the reigns as Phil did this year, because of his players age and talent?

    Pat came of age with a veteran club that already knew what they were capable of and, in the end, the tired of his constant demand for control. That also happened in NY. At this point in their redevelopment, it would be best if Pat ‘retired’ to the front office and let someone else run the ballclub. If not, he will destroy Dwayne Wade as a basketball player and Dwayne will also fall apart physically.

  78. I also loved that Kobe love tap on Wade. They have bad blood between them. Though it seems like Wade hates Kobe more. Kobe’s sort of taken the high-ground, that or he’s doing some passive-aggressive thing that gets under Wade’s skin.

  79. Mike in the Mountain West February 29, 2008 at 10:46 am

    75. I wouldn’t describe Fisher as an excellent shooter. Actually, if you look at his career numbers he’s a pretty poor shooter. What he’s been able to do so far this year has been an aberration, and I think now we’re seeing regression to the mean.

    He’s a great leader and knows the triangle very well but Farmar is a far superior shooter and probably a better overall player.

    If it weren’t for the problem of changing horses mid-stream I’d advocate for Farmar taking over the starting job. If it doesn’t happen this year you can be pretty sure he’ll be starting next year.

  80. k_swagger8 (68): That “shove” by Wade was a flop by Sasha. I like Sasha, I like his shot, I like his tenacity–but he flops like a fish on the seashore. I don’t wonder that opponents dislike him. I’m sure the refs aren’t too fond of him, either. They had to call the foul–Wade did push him–but come on, there was no way there was any animus behind that push. You saw that derisive clapping by Wade as they were putting the ball back in play? That was Wade congratulating Sasha on his acting abilities.

    Marion wasn’t jawing at Kobe–he was looking at the refs, and wanting them to T up Kobe for his Dikembe impression (not the block, the finger wag).

    Travis Y (74): Yeah, I caught that. Ronny’s spirit is infectious. This team is really having fun playing basketball. The only thing that concerns me is whether all our young guns will be prepared for how different the timbre of the games is during the playoffs.

    drrayeye (71): This game doesn’t “clearly show” anything. If someone’s predisposed in favor of Pau, it shows that he can dial it up; if they’re predisposed against him, it shows that every dog has his day. To me, it shows there’s random variation in any sample, and there’s still room for improvement in Pau’s game. Given how well he’s contributing to the Lakers, I don’t see that as a problem–just something for him to work on in the offseason.

    pb (64): Fisher is going to be needed in the postseason. Given that, Phil has to play him enough minutes to get him back in gear. We need the Fisher we saw up until about the time Pau came in.

    Laker Glory (73): Yeah, I noticed that. Lakers have a tendency to fall into a rut when the rut works. Of course, as you’ve observed, the rut worked because/when it was a surprise. When it becomes a rut, you know, it doesn’t work so well.

  81. (76) Fanerman,

    You’re still missing the point. Not all Lakers are assigned the task of rebounding equally. They work together as a team. When you look at a stat sheet, you are not necessarily looking at their skill so much as looking at their job.

    That’s why I described them as situation rebounders. To look at those stat numbers and attribute skill to the player based on them is naive.

    If you watch the matchups and look carefully at the flow of the game, you will be able to predict fluctuations in rebounding among players–it’s not entirely based on chance, and it’s not entirely based on skill–it’s always based on team assignments and matchups.

  82. I’m not sure if this has been posted yet, but here’s a link to the sick Kobe-Walton-Lamar pass in the 3rd quarter:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJjUpbTgf2w

    I’ve been watching this for a while now =)

  83. tony starks (69): I also like the TNT broadcasts. I think they have the best chemistry. Jim Hill and Big Game do all right together, but there’s no real energy there. Pretty workmanlike. ESPN’s shows are sterile and overdirected. That being said, Sir Charles is a lot of fun, but he’s so full of crap I’m surprised the dude can still eat. But then, he’s a lot of fun.

    That Lamar-to-Pau-to-Kobe-to-Luke-to-Lamar-to-net break made me so happy I have a DVR with an instant replay button. It reminded me of a Cedric Ceballos no-look pass as he was falling out of bounds on a similar fast break, but that one couldn’t hold a light to this one. Lots of fun.

    I don’t think Dwyane Wade hates Kobe as much as he hates his own situation. I hate his situation, too. It would be a lot more fun to kick the Heat over the curb if they were any good.

  84. I would say Pau slips some many of those screen rolls because he wants the defender to come with him to put Kobe in a mismatch. he may also see that they rarely do. I say pick that scab until the defense makes him do otherwise.

  85. Pau has done a great job running the screen and roll since he’s come to LA. Him and Kobe and even Derek Fisher has stepped in great to get the open lay ups with either trigger passes or give and gos. Pat Riley was talking about it last night during the TNT telecast making it clear that Miami was trying to cut of the passing lane. In order for these method of defense to succeed against the Lakers, team defense is required to stop the trigger pass from coming in giving Pau an easy layup or dunk.

    Note: Ronny was called for two pathetic fouls that should’ve been counted as blocks. Refs are stat killers.

  86. (80) Brian,

    Rebounding is a team effort on the Lakers based upon assignments. We don’t always know what those assignments are.

    You seem to want to make judgements of rebounding skill making your own subjective assessments of assignments–supposing that all players are tasked equally to rebound the same way in every game.

    When Farmar outrebounds Bynum, you scratch your head. When four players all get the same number of rebounds, you talk about luck, or “every dog has his day.”

    Maybe your attribution of “rebound skill” is too simplistic?

  87. So you know, new Blazers preview post up.

  88. 77. Nobody got tired of Riley in LA or NY. He left both places entirely of his own accord (and in NY’s case, behind their backs).

    Riley hardly restricted the growth of young stars like Magic, Worthy, & Zo in the past. Likewise, i don’t see how you can say he is currently restricting D-Wade with his ‘system’, considering how much lets Wade freelance on offense and defense.

    I’m sure nagging injuries and poor teammates are playing a sizable part, but the bottom line is that D-Wade is just not playing that hard right now. That’s on him, not Riley.

  89. drrayeye (86): You’re missing my point. My point is that if you want to use a holistic view of rebounding, as you do in your most recent post, then you can’t rely on statistics, as you do earlier. And if you rely on statistics, you can’t just look at one game. I don’t think I have a simplistic view of rebounding, but I do think that people see what they want and expect to see. You expect to see Pau as a Swiss Army knife capable of doing anything he wants to on any given night; he just chooses when to rebound more aggressively. Others see limitations in his rebounding. My point is that you can’t examine the results from one game and expect that it “clearly shows” anything.

    My background in probability and statistics, besides being a Laker fan. I’m not trying to pull rank so much as to say that as such, I tend to be pretty conservative in making conclusions from small samples–positive or negative. The stats from last night’s game didn’t show me that Pau rebounds poorly any more than it showed me that he rebounds well. I’m not making any judgments from the statistics–what I’m explicitly doing is not making judgments from them.

    As it happens, I do think Pau could improve his rebounding; I just don’t think that specifically because of the statistics. It’s currently not as strong as his offense. I think his activity in the games since he’s joined the Lakers substantiates that. When I watch him position himself for rebounds, he reminds me of last year’s Bynum: He lets his long arms and athleticism do the work for him. I don’t think it’s unfair to suggest that he could improve on that.

    And in my opinion, a positive statement regarding a player–whether it’s Pau, Kobe, Lamar, or whoever–is every bit as much a judgment, if you want to call it that, as a negative statement. We’re mostly Laker fans here, and I understand that people like to stick up for our players, so we like positive judgments better than negative ones. But there’s room for reasoned disagreement here without calling people’s opinions “simplistic.” Take my comments in the context that I’m overwhelmingly pro-Pau, and I’d be pro-Pau even if we hadn’t just gotten out from under two-and-a-half years of Second Coming of Samaki Walker, Only More So.

  90. (89) Brian,

    I teach statistics, but I don’t find many valid applications. I mostly see it misused in basketball analyses, often because analysts wish to assume independence of variables such as rebounding expressed in various ways. I see it in a Bayesian manner, with loads of poorly defined or undefined conditiional probabilities. I pointed out some instances in which simple “independence” assumptions are challenged by facts on the ground.

    Both from observations and comments, there is little doubt that Pau often shows little focus on rebounding. Should he choose to make rebounding an emphasis and “bulk up,” I expect that he would get more rebounds if that were asked of him. You are still making the assumption that Pau should emphasize rebounding more in his skill set, so you are ready to change his focus. I’m not about to get into that.

    I think that he has been asked to take on a more complex role.

  91. drrayeye (90): I’m not making the assumption that Pau should emphasize rebounding more, so much as it’s my opinion that he should, regardless of what he’s actually being asked to do. Yes, I often disagree with the coaching strategy and tactics. That’s not to say that I know more about basketball than the coaching staff–that’s silly. But we fans do sometimes have an interesting perspective that the staff on the inside either doesn’t have, or pays less attention to, or whatever.

    I also think that the notion that he’s been asked to take on a more complex role could be used to explain any perceived shortcoming whatsoever, and frankly, I’m not terribly impressed by that explanation. One might as well say, “The coaching staff moves in mysterious ways.” It could be true, but it could also be that he’s just not that great a rebounder, and there’s no way short of a conversation with the coaching staff to determine which it is.

    Under those circumstances, my modus operandi is to take things at face value. If I see a situation where if Pau hustles for a defensive board, we stop a second chance bucket, but in fact they score an easy lay-up, and I see that time and again, then I’m going to interpret that as he’s just not that keyed into getting rebounds, and I’d like him to be more keyed in. If you don’t think that’s something he needs to do (let’s say, because Bynum is on his way back and will fill that gap soon enough), I’m OK with agreeing to disagree. But I don’t think speculating about complex plans on the part of the coaching staff is fruitful.

    In any case, I think we’ve just about beaten this horse dead. I promise I won’t have anything more to say about this–at least, not on this thread. :) (I’ll still read anything you have to say, of course.)