Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  March 28, 2008

Records: Lakers 49-23 (3 seed); Grizzlies 12-33 (drafting third, most likely, plus the 27th pick from LA)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.1 (3rd); Grizzlies 106.3 (22nd)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.7 (6th); Grizzlies 113.2 (28th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick, Darko Milicic

Lakers notes: After a sub-par effort two nights ago I expect a little more out of the Lakers tonight. The Lakers without Gasol are an inconsistent bunch, but with the season winding down two bad games in a row, two games with a lack of effort, would be very frustrating.

If you haven’t seen it, Pau Gasol talked with the paper in Memphis and said, basically, everything is better in LA except for the barbeque restaurants. (Via True Hoop.)

Gasol is expected to run again tomorrow, but the smart money is on him coming back next Wednesday.

Javaris Crittenton will be back tonight and should get some burn, which will be good to see. I liked what we saw of him, although he may always have been better suited to an offense other than the triangle. He’s averaging 16 minutes a game but his poor shooting (41% eFG% since the trade) limits his scoring. That said he has had a 17 and 22 point game in Memphis. The jumper is what he needs to spend the off-season working on.

Kwame Brown will be back in town as well, but he has been a DNP-coaches decision the last four games. I wonder what the market will be for him as a free agent this summer? Certainly not $9 mil a year, but who will take a $2 mil a year flier on him? I just think someone will because size and bulk are hard to find, but if I did it (not for the Lakers, but in general) it would be a one-year deal with a team-option for one more.

The Grizzlies Coming In: The big news today for Memphis is off the court — their local minority ownership has had to give back some of their shares to majority owner Michael Heisley. Check the comments out over at Three Shades of Blue, they are turning red over this.

Then there is the rumor that ownership would dump first-year coach Marc Ivaroni for Larry Brown if he wants the job. I don’t really like that move — not because I dislike Brown, the guy can coach and has improved teams everywhere he has been (he even got the Clippers to the playoffs). He stresses defense, which is good. But to me he is the wrong coach for a rebuilding process — you need a coach willing to make mistakes with youth and Brown is a guy who wants to give veterans heavy minutes. His rigid control many not allow the young core of the Griz to meld into a cohesive unit over a couple of years. I don’t think it’s a terrible move, but not one that I would make.

On the court, the Griz are 3-7 in their last 10, but a couple guys are starting to heat it up. Mike Miller (who should play a bigger role this summer in Beijing) is scoring 17 a game and is shooting 57.8% (eFG%) in his last 10, plus 40% from three. Warrick is shooting 53.5% and is scoring 16 a game.

Rudy Gay is leading the scoring in the last 10 games, but he’s taking a lot of shots to get his 18 a game, shooting just 45% and getting to the line 3.5 times per game. If he wants to shoot the three-ball, let him — 19.6% in the last 10.

In a sign of just how bad their inside play is, Miller is the leading rebounder for the team the last 10 games from the guard position, averaging 7.7 per game.

Keys To The Game: There is a fantastic position-by-position breakdown of tonight over at the Grizzlies Blog Three Shades of Blue.

After one of the Lakers worst performances of the year, in comes one of those young and athletic teams that tends to give the Lakers problems (the Lakers won by 1 last meeting). I tend to talk Xs and Os more than the amorphous “effort” here, but tonight priority number one needs to be focus and effort. If the Lakers come out with another Bobcats-game effort, they will lose this one going away. Run the damn offense and D-up.

The Lakers need to focus that defense on Warrick, Miller and Gay, they are the biggest offensive threats. Make Conley a shooter. If Darko beats you with an offensive explosion, so be it. But force the big three to pass and contest their shots. And don’t sag off Miller beyond the arc — Kobe cannot gamble off of him for the risky plays he seems to be in love with again.

We already know Mike Miller can get under Kobe’s skin — he needs to keep his head about him tonight.

Even without Gasol and Bynum, the Lakers should be able to dominate inside tonight. Odom and Turiaf need to post up, the offense needs to run through them inside out. Also, this is a good team to penetrate the lane against as they have nobody who defends the rim well. If the Lakers win big in the points in the paint — and get some offensive boards — they should win going away.

Where you can watch: The game is at 7:30 pm on both Fox Sports here in LA and on League Pass.

Kurt

Posts

98 responses to Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. Keys to the game:

    1. control the rebounds. do not give up ton of off. rebounds.
    2. don’t settle for the 3. post up lamar, kobe, or heck even luke. Do not settle for a quick 3.
    3. Play some defense. Show some tenacity. (especially you, Kobe)
    4. Come out strong. Don’t think the Grizzlies are going to let you run them over. Then it will be just as ugly as Wednesday night. Dominate from the get-go and don’t make them think they have a shot at winning.

  2. “He’s going to help them win an NBA championship,” Griz owner Michael Heisley said (of Pau Gasol). “I always felt he played hard. We never had a problem. He’s a quality player. I was extremely pleased that I was able to find a team that fit Pau’s talents.”

    Can you imagine the tumult in Lakerland if Jerry Buss were ever quoted saying something like this in reference to a trade with another Western Conference team?

    The fact that Memphis’s owner is cool with a deal that could bring a title to Staples Center says all you need say about why Memphis has no shot. It’s sort of sad they don’t matter, since FedEx is arguably the second-best NBA arena (Conseco is the best) and Beale Street is a fun atmosphere. I’d like to see the NBA do well in that market.

  3. I’ll be at the game tonight, hoping to start a “Thank you Kwame” chant. Should be a nice bounce back game after that horrible loss Wednesday. Hoping my Kobe For MVP 2008 shirt arrives today!

  4. What’s wrong with Gay’s 45% shooting? Kobe’s at 46%. They’re both 2/3s.

  5. I don’t think Kobe’s been shooting great the last 10 games, eFG% should be at 50% or higher (for the season Kobe is at 50.3%). But Kobe does a lot more for his team, Kobe gets to the line for 8.7 free throws per game, which is 5 more than Gay. And in the last 10 Kobe has 5.4 assists per game to Gay’s 1.7. And Kobe grabs about 1 more rebound per game.

  6. I don’t think our matchups look particularly favorable in this one. Fish vs. Conley could go to Conley if Fisher stays cold, Kobe could give Miller too much room to shoot or have trouble with screens, and VladRad is not going to be able to stay with leap-out-of-the-gym-Gay. LO can best Warrick but Hakim is no slouch, and Ronny should be fine against Darko. That’s not exactly an overwhelming advantage.

    If memphis deploys the zone, the lakers will have to do better finding the weakness either through penetration or good cuts. And our guys need to be able to hit the kick-out 3.

  7. I don’t know if this has been posted… Bynum workout video on lakers.com
    http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/080328bynumrehab.html

    He looks good. Can’t see any different muscle tone from the left leg to the right. And doing squats. Doesn’t look like over 100 lbs but still, squats.

  8. Also originally from TrueHoop:

    Lakers Rhapsody
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7_AlZFpsXQ

    Too good not to merit it’s own post…

  9. RE: Larry Brown and the Grizz…Yeah, why not sign Darko for some pretty good cash only to hire the coach that buried him and ruined his confidence. Way to go Memphis!!!

    RE: Tonight…I just want a win. I’ll take an ugly one or a nice pretty with a bow on top one. I’ll miss tonights action, but I’ll check for updates here. Have fun everyone.

  10. Damn you Lakers, this shouldn’t be a match up that I’m in the least bit worried about, and yet I am!

  11. @7. thanks for that video link. Really encouraging to see him putting some good weight on his legs. Based on the size of the weights, it was probably more than 100 pounds easy.

  12. The Lakers need to come out furious to show the agression they refused to show last game. Get a big lead early and the Grizzlies should pack it in like the Sonics last week. But I don’t know if they will. They had every reason to have learned their lesson about early energy SUNDAY, but they still came out like crap Monday and Wednesday, so why should we expect any different tonight?

    This team better get their act together. It looks like they were reading their own press and forgot that they’re a hair’s breadth away from sitting in the 6th spot.

  13. After some of the bashing Kwame took from the fans it would be nice to see some support out there for him. Get those “thank you Kwame” chants going early. Of course he would probably bobble it, mishandle it, miss the layup…wait, that’s more bashing isn’t it? Anyway, he probably won’t play but he worked hard for the most part as a Laker and people should appreciate that. I don’t want to be a town like Salt Lake who now hates Fisher because he had to do what was best for his family. That said, I can’t believe the Heisley comment. Sounds like he’d make a great freelance scout, but team owner? Naw. Thanks for Pau though, dude, we owe you one.

  14. Im interested to see who guards who tonight. Rudy Gay is a tough matchup for either Vlad or Luke (wish we had Trevor tonight) and Mike Miller is the exact type of player Kobe’s gambling defense is exploited by. If these are the matchups I hope that Kobe, Luke and Vlad can play intelligent team defense, meaning not putting the rest of the team in compromising positions.

  15. three shades of blue reports luke walton to be a fan favorite…

  16. @15

    Sometimes you want to trouble heaven with bootless cries…

  17. and they said LO has flu-like symptoms…
    ouch.
    off topic, anyone else out there having any DVR problems with Charter HD? FSN HD sometimes all I get is black…sucks…

  18. Wow can anyone stay healthy?

  19. Lakers look flat against a team that is below .500 again…
    Not good. Kobe is playing lights out, but they need the WHOLE team to play well.

  20. What is up with all these injuries? Farmar has a chance for extra playing time now. Hope the team doesn’t get trigger happy from beyond the arc.

  21. I think Kobe’s set some sort of record in fouling on 3 point attempts the last several games. He’s doing it 2-3 times per game…

  22. Ronny looks tired or hurt or something. Playing very sluggish in 2nd quarter.

  23. I agree. He keeps going for those pump fakes. The rest of the team is looking terrible right now. Lamar is playing sick and looks it.

  24. The Lakers lack hustle right now. Of the 10 players on the court, 3 were trailing the play, and all 3 were Lakers.

  25. question-
    can the lakers win with kobe going for 70?

  26. @26,

    Even if Kobe gets 70, they won’t win if they keep playing defense like that.

    Good to see DJ Mbenga getting some burn. He’s one of the few guys playing defense. Maybe a Newble sighting is in order too?

  27. There’s this thing called the paint which I hear is closer to the rim and easier to score from, maybe the Lakers would like to look into it?

  28. Wow, first the Bobcats, and now the Grizzlies. I didn’t think the Lakers could sink lower.

  29. This. is. awful.

    Shades of ’04-’05 right now. Where’s Phil right now? I wish Phil could pull off the whole squad and put the D leaguers out there right now. This. is. pathetic.

  30. Why is it that EVERY time the Lakers see a Zone, they act as if they’d never seen it before. They’re seeing it for extended periods of every game. Unfamiliarity isn’t a valid excuse anymore. Do they not practice against it?

    This is driving me nuts.

  31. STOP SHOOTING THREES!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Chris Mihm cannot rebound. Pathetic. He refuses to jump and hustle.

  33. This is kind of funny/sad to see, but at the same time, I hope these guys realize we cannot afford to lose this game. We really can’t. I don’t understand the lack of urgency right now….there are so few games right now they should be taking this as seriously as a playoff game.

  34. Mihm is f’ing horrible. Absolutely helpless on the defensive end.

  35. If no one is playing defense…….then put in Ira Newble!!! Maybe he can provide a spark!!

    Damn Phil!!

  36. I’m guessing it’s okay to stand still while the other team runs down to the other end 4 on 1. Chris Mihm sighting but to throw him into a situation like this had to end up bad. Where’s Newble? At least he plays defense. If the Lakers don’t shore up the defense and attack the zone, the game is over barring a collapse by the Grizzlies. Even if there’s 7 min left on the clock.

  37. what is the team record for 3′s in a game? We seem close……and where the hell is Lamar?? I hope he’s not too sick……

  38. i am sick to my stomach seeing the current lakers

  39. What the hell is going on?!

  40. If the Lakers get the stop here, they have to take the ball to the hole. Without a doubt!!

  41. I don’t even care if we win this game. This was an embarassment.

  42. Did we really just put the game in the hands of a LAMAR ODOM 3 POINTER!???

    Figures.

  43. A missed 3, yet again.

  44. Stupid Lakers, they deserve to lose.

  45. Is this the team we are vouching for championship.. who cant win against sub par teams.. and shows the kind of defensive energy that a D-league can also beat them… I can see how much they are caring about our home court…

  46. Kobe Bryant does not deserve to win the MVP. No leader would ever allow his team to play a game like this. I don’t care how hard Kobe said, in the third quarter of this game Kobe should’ve got into every single player on this team’s face and demand that they not take another three.

    Oh wait….he chucked up almost 20 himself. I’m just absolutely disgusted right now.

  47. Seriously, what the hell. They find the weakness of the zone, and then after a couple of good possessions they go back to chucking up threes. And Kobe passes it to Lamar at the end for the potential game winner?

    Only 9 more games in the season and looks like the final stretch is going to be an ugly one if the team continues to play like this.

    No need to push the panic button even though it’s starting to flash a bit.

  48. Unbelievable

    PJ you get some of the blame on this one. Do the Lakers not have a good inbound play?

  49. Timeout anyone? Not that we deserved to win this game, atleast let us have a shot. I wonder how many times this is that we havnt gotten a shot off on the last play this year.

  50. Wow…that’s all i can say….oh, btw, I know you guys hate throwing people under the bus…but i gotta say Luke is a f**king idiot!

  51. im pretty much speechless and overall numb after that game….even without gasol and bynum this kind of effort from the lakers is unexcusable. I dont know if theyve burned out or what but this isnt the same team ive watched all year…

  52. Injuries or not, this was just an incredibly lazy effort. The Lakers should have been attacking the basket right from the start and ended up settling for jump shots against zone defense. Even Kobe wasn’t attacking as much as he usually does.

    This team needs to get their swagger back. They just look flat and lost out there (no defense, lazy offense). Pau Gasol and Bynum are important, but it’s no excuse for the poor fundamentals.

  53. Yeah we had a timeout. I think this is the 3rd or 4th time we didn’t get a shot off on the last play. The only other game I remember a similar situation was Cleveland when Luke (ironic) passed up an open shot and gave it back to Kobe when time already ran out.

    Blame on PJ? A little. More blame on the team on the floor and their horrible horrible decision making.

    What can we chalk up this loss to? Kobe going 05-06 Kobe on us? Fisher and LO sick/banged up? The defense that makes the Suns look like the Spurs? The inability to beat a zone? The 50 (more or less) attempts beyond the arc? I think I can go on and on.

  54. Sigh. On the bright side, I think we passed the record for most 3 pointers taken in a game. Between Sasha and Kobe was 31 threes taken.

  55. oh and i coundnt agree more with anonymous on comment 46….Team camaderie aside …luke has become an embarrassment for this team. Which btw has nothing to do with the fact that Kwame is no longer here (he s not the new whipping boy…he just flat out sucks right now any way you slice it)

  56. 40+ 3pt attempts. How are they suppose to win when all they want to do is shoot 3s? Yeah, they better be lucky it falls but it didnt tonight. K, I can handle one loss against a sub .500 team, but 2 in a row makes me very upset and disappointed.
    This team needs a spark and need it fast. Really need Pau back. No defense again. They’ve allowed a team to score 100 for like the 50th time this season. Lack of effort and I think they took both Charlotte and Memphis for granted, thinking both were guaranteed wins…and got burned with two stunning and possibly costly losses.

  57. I think an interesting question should be addressed. With 9 games remaining, what do the rest of you guys think the team will go? We’re sitting at 49 wins 24 losses right now. The next 9 games are:

    Washington (Pau Gasol slight possibility)
    Portland (strong Gasol possibility)
    Dallas
    @ Sacramento (Andrew Bynum/Ariza sighting?)
    @ Portland
    @ Clippers
    New Orleans
    San Antonio
    Sacramento

    What are your takes?

  58. we need kwame brown not gasol

  59. 35–That’s what I was thinking. It couldn’t have hurt…

    Again, too many damn 3′s…Kobe does lead by example…then again…

    We missed Odom’s inside scoring (I feel weird typing that) . We had no one besides Kobe who could take it to the hole.

    Weird game.

  60. Kobe was 9-17 from beyond the arc, rest of the team 6-28. The zoneD the Lakers were up against was so weak, it was begging the 3.

    Wish the Lakers had played better D but the Griz got out on transition so much because we kept launching from long range.

  61. Kobe had only 1 assist the whole game. However, I hope people realize that he could’ve easily had 8 or 9 if his teammates made their shots.

    Man, this was an extremely painful loss.

  62. I have to agree with TCO Luke Walton has not been playing well this season. Even when the Lakers were winning he seemed to be a weak link both on offense and defense. Don’t get me wrong I’m not blaming Luke for the Lakers recent bad streach but his decision making has fallen off and that is usually what he is best at. I still think the Lakers will be fine. They are just so bannged up right now. I mean what are the odds of a team having 3 big men all hurt at the same time? Kobe, Luke, and Fish are playing with pain as well.

  63. Frustrating loss certainly, but let’s try to keep the cussing to a minimum and back up our arguments with facts. I don’t like deleting comments but I have and will just to maintain some standard.

    81 Witness, don’t be too quick to throw Chris Mihm under any bus, asking him to come back in this game and be a big contributor is asking a lot. He needs some practice and end-of-a-blowout time, but Phil is so desperate for bigs he gave Mihm more time than he deserved. The healthy Mihm of a few years ago would be a solid backup NBA center, but due to injuries I wonder if we’ll ever see that Mihm again.

    And as someone mentioned, Kobe took a lot of threes but he was hitting more than half, so that doesn’t bother me much. It was everyone else missing them while nobody on the Lakers tried to get the ball inside enough that bothered me.

  64. What the? This is way too late for a swoon. If the Lakers are a top echelon team, they need to go something like 8-1 down the stretch to re-gain their swagger.

  65. The Lakers have been RETRO most of the time since Pau Gasol was injured. Rudy T would have been proud. Chucky Atkins, you would have felt so at home here tonight–the upchuck capital of the world.

    Message to Kobe: basketball is a team sport. Even though you made 23 in the first quarter–Memphis was ahead.

    Some of you are already putting Luke under the bus for a bad throw-in at the very end, but it was part of an extremely unlikely scenario that would at best have tied the game. Perhaps some of you forgot that Luke, not a burned out Kobe, was the one that brought the Lakers back, driving to the hoop, making shots, assists, and free throws when they were desperately needed.

    One sure sign of Laker desperation is when Lamar takes his trademark Oh! No! Dumb 3 pointers. He only took two ( and, of course, missed them) tonight. Unfortunately, he took them with the game on the line.

    It really wasn’t Lamar’s fault–he took those shots by default.

    Someone will say that the other Lakers didn’t step up, that Kobe was the Lakers only chance to win tonight. We’ve heard that for the last three years.

    Is that really credible against Memphis?

    Kobe did his best impersonation of Lebron James tonight, with similar results. I may be a minority of one, but neither of them should even be MVP candidates when they play like that. As I said when this RETRO dynamic first appeared, I’d rather lose by 20 with a Laker TEAM, than win by 20 with the Kobester doing his best one man Harlem Globetrotter imitations combined with Savior of the Earth.

    The Lakers didn’t win–and the Lakers didn’t deserve to even be that close.

  66. I think this was the one time where Sasha’s not afraid to shoot mentality and Lamar deciding to TAKE the shot hurt us.

    I do not think Kobe’s shooting hurt us, although he has, lately, been giving up his man to the help guy too quickly and easily. His defensive persistence just isnt there.

    I also have to place some blame on on PJ. The same EXACT play we run everytime and we can not even get the shot off the majority of the time it seems. It is quite frustrating. Honestly, at the worst, tif they run Kobe off of a double pick, one of the guys should be able to pop out for an open shot.

    I tink Memphis exposed the facet of our game that we are struggling with. We can not contain quick guards, and Memphis had three. I really do think they were a bad matchup in that regard. I think a healthy Bynum should remedy this to some extend. Ronny doesnt quit, but we clearly need two bigs that can be a presence as countless times we changed or blocked the first shot, just to give up an easy second.

    Next, we have been having trouble with the high pick and roll, especially when done with athlectic forwards or centers. Again, I think when we get Bynum back [and Ariza or an acclamated Newble] this should get better.

    The only thing I was genuinely disappointed at was the lack of effort, and the lack of hustle. We took the easy shots tonight. Approximately 50 three point shots is simply not going to get it done against a team playing zone. I did not see Kobe and Luke playing in the low post enough in this game. We can all agree that Kobe has good footwork in the post, but I can not remeber aplay run for him in the post once they went into a zone. Furthermore, the amount of second chance points given, and the general amount of points in the paint given also shows these tendencies.

    I hope the Lakers play with more energy and passion on Sunday. I also hope thee study the tape of today’s game and see these things that were so painfully obvious for us.

  67. I was fortunate enough to miss the game, but when I turned my car radio only to hear that they chucked up 45 three pointers to Memphis’ 12, I got the whole story right there.

  68. Luke always plays dumb all season long..

    And PJ even dumber to keep him playing in this late of the season…PJ, please STOPPP playing him!!!!! Here me pleasseee…..

  69. relax all. i don’t think this was that pathetic considering that half our roster is gutted and the guys on the floor are practically disabled too.

    Fisher, kobe, and Lamar are playing with injuries that would have them sit at any other season. Effort is not going to cut it as other teams will bring their best against us, while we’re limping.

    besides, this is oddly evening out those wins we had earlier this season against teams that had their players out with injuries.

    and, like popovich says: there are no upsets as the best team always wins. they were the better team, but thankfully we have plenty of room to get better.

    just not enough time.

  70. 67- Maybe I’m just trying to spin this into a positive but….maybe these losses, and injuries will temper expectations from the outside, and re-focus the team internally. I really think the most important thing is getting Pau back, that will happen soon. Our whole game is outside-in, we gotta reverse that to inside-out. Also, without Pau, Kobe doesn’t have the luxury of the deadly pick and roll, and effective weapon that opens up space on the court. As far as defense, well that may be the thing that prevents us from winning it all. I can’t find one thing we do well on defense right now, not just one player, the whole team, because its a team thing.

  71. Keep playing like this and we’ll be bounced out of the 1st round again. Terrible defense, terrible shot selection, and Kobe seemingly playing one-on-five (and not caring about getting others involved) means 05-06 again and this is just sad for a team that promised show much promise.
    Way to go, Chris Paul. You just won your first MVP in 3 seasons. Congratulations.

  72. If Ariza and Gasol were healthy, we’d be seeing a lot less off Luke right now. But, like a lot of things, the injuries have forced Phil to ask more of many of the players than they are capable.

  73. One other thing, a lot of our shots are coming from the perimeter, which is triggering the oppositions fast break. With our bigs back we will get closer shots, and limit the oppositions opportunities for fast breaks.

  74. It doesn’t even seem like a lack of passion on the part of the Lakers… it just seems like they are hurt and tired. The last 30 games have been played with a short line up because of trades/injuries and half the players on the court have been hurt (i.e. Kobe and Fish). I think the Lakers will be mentally ready for the playoffs but I am concerned that physically they won’t be able to make it through the grind.

  75. I don’t think luke played that poorly, especially in comparison to the rest of his teammates. He had some nice layups and some good passes. He certainly wasn’t playing at an all-star level or anything, but taking it out on him I think is a little unwarranted.

    The Lakers are horribly out of sink but I felt tonight they brought the effort. They were scrambling for loose balls, contesting shots, and generally taking open shots. I was much less disappointed with the loss tonight than the lost to the bobcats, where it seemed we showed no effort at all.

    Major props to LO for playing tough even though he was sick. Quite an admirable effort from him tonight.

    Everyone on this comment thread is pretty frustrated, but losing is part of a long season. We’ll still be in the playoffs. Hopefully we’ll be able to work ourselves back into the rhythm we had earlier and things will be fine.

    For those calling for us to attack the basket, how do you propose we did that last night? We weren’t getting foul calls, Darko was blocking a lot of shots and changing others, and on the kick-out, our shots weren’t falling. I gotta say the grizzlies played well. Quick guards and Darko anchoring the paint turned out to be a recipe for success. (never thought i’d use Darko and success in the same sentence).

    Anyway, i <3 you all, but without gasol, bynum, ariza, and LO at full strength, i’m not sure i’m gonna get too upset personally.

  76. Ouch. Two in a row to horrible teams at Staples. What was Phil saying about being front runners because of a soft schedule? Doesn’t he usually play mind games that motivate the team instead of relax them? Poor choice of words by PJ this time.

  77. The biggest worry is the state of the point guards. Fisher’s play has been in decline since his early start back to the layup-missing Fisher of the past. Farmar’s season-long defensive struggles and recent offensive swoon has been well documented.

    Now with Fisher’s injury and resulting lack of lift effectively neutralizing his spot up 3 (one of his two contributions to the team – the other being the flop), I think the Lakers are in trouble. With a torn tendon, he should be in a walking boot, instead he is starting for a championship contender? That Farmar is not ready to take over is an indictment of how far he has regressed from his early promising start. His play against Memphis was unsure, unconfident, and completely ineffective.

    The team’s biggest weakness before Fisher’s injury was giving up dribble penetration. Now even if Gasol and Bynum return, the potential for both to get into foul trouble is high.

    Time for Jackson to earn his 10 million. What about playing Sasha at the 1 and Newble as Kobe’s back up? Who wishes the Lakers had kept Jannero Pargo now?

  78. I think it is time to stop the “…wait till xxxx returns” comments. This is not a championship team, as constructed. Our key weakness is at the guard position – both guards. We have point guards who are worthy of a .500 team and our ‘best player in the NBA’ feels it necessary to frequently leave his man to help out – as does Lamar Odom.

    With that combination, we could get to the WCF, only if we got a good draw, but we are not going to the finals. Our returning players may allow us to change how we approach our defense, but we have already established a habit pattern and that will be harder to break.

    I guess I don’t understand not playing Newble in a game like Friday night. If ever we needed some defensive help, that was the game. What was Phil Jackson waiting for?

  79. My notes to the game:

    1. Kobe is sensational. But he is not the team.

    2. I love chucking up threes. I must love losing.

    3. We need Kwame! Yes, if it meant he is the only one willing to play D…

    4. We need some Gasol-ine and fast! We are burning way too slowly… does anyone notice that our results depend actually on the 1st quarter rather than the 4th?

    5. Kobe with the pinky, Lamar with the Flu, Gasol, Bynum and Ariza still out, that’s basically our top 6 players with injuries. Am I the only one not cussing them too hard?

    6. The PG situation is getting scary. Jordan is regressing and he is proverbially “hitting the wall”. More Sasha at the one… this time, with a shot-chuck limit.

    7. Memphis got one from us. Crittenton will be big…

    8. Kobe’s MVP might be in jeopardy. Now the haters can say “he cannot even lead them to win against Charlotte and Memphis… the NBA’s perennial doormats.”

  80. the other Stephen March 29, 2008 at 11:09 am

    what the heck. WHAT the HECK. i’d better be seeing the lakers take out their ANGER UPON THEIR FIRST ROUND FOES in a four game series. i expect nothing less.

  81. When you have a player that takes 37 shots and comes out that aggressive,it’s going to take away the rythym for his teammates. Even Pau Gasol said at halftime in a interview that players get cold when a teammate is doing all the shooting.

  82. 80 – I kinda had a dream that involved Kwame, last night’s game, and defense, lol.

    Phil’s always seemed to like playing Walton. I would think that Walton owuld still get decent burn even if Pau and Trevor were healthy.

    Also, they need to work on defensive balance after a shot is taken. Too many times yesterday, partly due to the gigactic amount of 3s, Memphis would push the ball up to find a 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, or 4-2 break. With the penetrating and athletic ability they had, that was just disaster.

  83. I’ve said it before but I still think it holds true: Without Bynum and Gasol this is last year’s Lakers team. That was a team that could beat anybody or lose to anybody, came out flat at odd times and was inconsistent. The PG play has been exposed with nobody behind them protecting the paint, and the other guys asked to step up don’t do it consistently.

    Things will look better with Gasol in the fold. But title ready, um, we’ll have to see. Long time between now and the second round of the playoffs.

  84. After the 1Q I thought Kobe was going to get 65-70. I had the game on but mostly as background noise as I was busy surfing last night. But I watched the last part of 4Q pretty closely and I saw Kobe give up the ball pretty often,even in situations I thought he had an advantage. The Lakers desperately need someone else who can create for their teammates. I thought/think Farmar could do it but as noted he’s playing w/too much uncertainty. I wonder if after GS loss he was blistered by coaching staff and is now thinking too much.
    This late in yr w/players playing more minutes out of position due to injuries it’s understandable the Lakers can’t muster the mental energy needed to overcome physical weakness for bad teams. The last two games have simply shown in exaggerated fashion Laker weaknesses many here have expressed concern about.

    On the Lamar miss,if you could ask NBA coaches if they would like to see while down 2 in closing seconds of a game a wide-open 3pt shot,I’m pretty sure most would say yes. I don’t blame Kobe for making the right pass,nor do I blame Lamar taking a 3 so open he didn’t even have a defender run at him. I do severely question the play’s player positioning. If Kobe is going to get the ball on the left side and drive across lane,I’d want my 2 best 3pt shooters spotting up on right side-esp in the freakin’ corner-where he is in Kobe’s vision. Lamar is I would say at best the Lakers FIFTH best 3pt shooter,yet he was in the one spot where you would expect his man to leave to help cover penetration. Lamar should have been on left where he could crash boards in case of miss and Radmanavich,Sasha,Fisher should have been in corner.

  85. Look, I’ve brought this up before and I remember it wasn’t exactly a popular sentiment around here, but imagine if you’re Dr. Buss and you’re paying 70+ million dollars in salary for a team that is without a doubt a championship contender if everyone was healthy. This key phrase “if everyone was healthy” is something that Dr. Buss, Mitch Kupchak, all us Laker fans, the media, and even some of the players themselves have been repeating over and over again for the past two years. Now if you’re Dr. Buss and your championship caliber team keeps getting derailed by injuries and conditioning issues that prevent them from reaching their potential, wouldn’t you start the wonder if there’s something wrong there, namely with the training staff?

    Obviously, the injuries are not Gary Vitti’s fault – he didn’t make Pau sprain his ankle or Andrew land on Lamar’s foot, etc. What I’m questioning is his treatment methods. I’m kind of sick of hearing all this talk about him being the best trainer in basketball when the Lakers have been constantly injured for the past two years, not to mention the misdiagnoses on Karl Malone in 2004 and Chris Mihm three years ago. I was driving home late last night and listening to AM 570, and some dudes from Fox Sports were on joking about how it’s written into Lakers players contracts that they have to be injured if they’re gonna be in the Lakers. That joke hits too close to him to be funny. You look at Phoenix and they manage to keep Shaq, Grant Hill, and Nash all playing well and reasonably healthy despite their age and various medical problems, and most recently Raja Bell got over that ankle he sprained in about a week. Anyway, I can’t be the only person that thinks the training staff could be doing a better job of treating the injuries or improving the player’s conditioning to prevent some of these little injuries, and you’ve really gotta think if you were the one paying all that money for this team, wouldn’t you want a training staff that could take better care of them, or at least tried different methods that were more efficient?

    I mean, one year where so many key players are taken out by injuries can be considered a fluke. But two years in a row and there’s gotta be something more to it than just coincidence, that’s just too ridiculous to be a coincidence.

  86. With the lack of a true inside-outside game, since we did lose Gasol and Bynum, this team is hard-pressed to score in a zone. Turiaf rarely has inside position and even if he does, he draws no double team and forces no one to really collapse on him. Same with Mbenga. As a result, ball movement becomes stagnant and the zone doesn’t have to work. At least Kwame tried to use a post up game. With this lineup, there’s no one who can truly post, sans maybe Lamar (who didn’t get involved offensively).

    Instead of relying on dumping the ball in the post, the Lakers are just swinging the ball, with the occasional skip pass. Without Kobe penetrating into the heart of the zone, no one else takes the initiative to break the zone down, not even Farmar or Fisher. The only one even trying to penetrate last night was Luke Walton.

    The problem isn’t just lack of defense, it’s also lack of an consistent offense inside the arc.

  87. I want Gasol back. I want Bynum back. I want to destroy the league with a healthy roster!!

  88. The Lakers look tired and beat up. You make bad decisions when you are tired.
    Role players are being relied upon to play way too many minutes.
    Look at Ronny. He has no energy. And he missed that gimme dunk.
    I think the long summer of Olympic qualifers is catching up with Kobe.

  89. i don’t think it is fair to throw Luke under the bus.
    last night, when we couldn’t do anything against the zone, Luke was the only one who tried to take it to the middle, and while he was out there, he did help us get back into the game.
    he also always brings hustle, might make a few too many turnovers, but he is trying difficult passes, trying to be creative to get the team going.
    and in case you haven’t notices, he’s been doing a good job matching up against the slower bigs we’ve had to face.
    PJ is finding a place for him, and really, how can any of us blame anything on PJ?
    who are we? we are not worthy to criticize him, seriously, I understand that you can get mad or frustrated, and ready to burn, trade, diown this team, (have you been married? it’s not all roses, some ups and downs, gotta stay with it though).
    have faith in the team and the coaches, you’ll be cheering soon, and these 2 hard to take losses will soon be forgotten.
    do you really worry that Kobe is going to demand a trade again? not with the potential this team has, so…beieve brother…believe.

  90. 10 to 1 lakers lose again tomorrow!

  91. 91-Who would I make that check out to?

  92. Kurt,

    Ain’t throwing Mihm under any busses. But if you’re not healthy enough to play, don’t hurt yourself more. How many times has Mihm done that the past few years?

    No offense, but Mihm needs Lloyds of London to back him up. Besides the tip he controlled, Mihm was less airborne than shaq.

  93. Andrew will go on the next trip, per LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakerep30mar30,1,4971479.story. No guarantee that he will play but he will supposedly go on the trip to Sacto and then the game next Sun. Also per the piece, apparently Pau will not play on Sun.

  94. 45 3′s? I’m still mad

  95. @86

    I also am starting to question Gary Vitti’s methods. It’s getting too ridiculous to be a coincidence that our team is so prone to injury. Especially when I see the guys in Phoenix. How is it that those Suns who have a long history of injury can play so carefree without regard to injury? I’m looking at Shaq because he’s taking the most bang in the center. Someone should really look into the training staff.

    @ 91

    I also can’t believe I’m expecting the Lakers to lose tomorrow. I’d take those odds after seeing their play of recent.

  96. Wiz preview up, let’s head on down the road…

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