Preview and Chat: The Washington Wizards

Kurt —  March 30, 2008

Records: Lakers 49-24 (3 seed); Wizards 38-34 (5 seed)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.9 (4th); Wizards 109.6 (12th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.9 (5th); Wizards 110.2 (19th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf
Wizards: Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Antawan Jamison, Brendan Haywood

I’m outta here: I’m going on vacation again, and not just because the Lakers’ play the last couple of games has made me ill. I’ll be gone all of this week, living the high life in the Shelter Island area of San Deigo.

Some familiar names from this site will be keeping things going — with some interesting ideas for posts. Things are not going to slow down around here at all.

Lakers notes: I’ve praised him before for this — one of the things Phil Jackson does well is put players in a position to succeed by playing to their strengths. He doesn’t ask Sasha to run the pick and roll, he makes him a spot up shooter because that’s what he does well. He asked Kwame to just rebound and be a big body because those were the only two things he could sort of do. It is kind of like directing Keanu Reeves in a movie — ask him to do Shakespeare and he flops, but contain him in a simple character and he’s fine.

However, all the injuries have forced Phil to ask too much of players, forced them to be asked to do things they do not do well. And the results have been ugly. Phil can’t limit Walton’s minutes when Luke is struggling because he needs the healthy body on the floor. I think we’re all a little tired of the “wait for Gasol and Bynum to come back” line of thinking — the last couple of games the team played like they were waiting — but there is a lot of truth to it. When healthy, this is a deep and versatile roster. (By the way, good news about the Bynum injury in the Times today, and Gasol is expected back next week).

Kwame a. had some thoughts about the short term that I’m passing along.

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…..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.

And, by the way, if you haven’t seen this, it is quite sad.

The Wizards Coming In: No Gilbert Arenas, no problem. The Wizards are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference lately, having won 8 of their last 10. That includes big wins in the first two games of this West Coast road trip, in Seattle and Sacramento. In both games the Wizards spotted the home team big leads (in the teens) then came roaring back in the second half.

Another former Laker, this one the very popular Caron Butler, comes to Staples tonight. He is averaging 17.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game in the last 10, although he is shooting just 44.8% (eFG%) lately.

The guy really stepping up is Jamison — 23 and 10 in the last 10 games, shooting 51.7% (eFG%).

Keys To The Game: The Lakers need to get the damn ball inside tonight. Right now the Lakers are a perimeter team, and that doesn’t work in the triangle (or really in general), and you end up shooting a stupid amount (45) three pointers. The Wiz are not a great defensive team, the Lakers should run their offense and get good looks out of it. It can’t be the Kobe show.

The Lakers should be able to do that because the Wizards prefer small ball and will go with a small lineups for extended periods. The Lakers need to be ready for that and get back for transition defense. The other way to slow the Wizards — don’t turn the ball over and get the ball inside instead of shooting threes.

The Wizards are a team that lives on penetration and kicks — Arenas or no Arenas they get into the lane. The Lakers bigs need to defend the rim tonight, and do that without fouling. The Wizards as a team average 24 free throws a game (in the last 10) with Jamison and Butler leading the way. Mbenga (and maybe even Mihm) should get a few minutes tonight but the key will be to keep Ronny and Odom out of foul trouble.

The Wizards like to shoot the three on those kick-outs, 20 a game in the last 10. In particular, both Stevenson and off-the-bench Roger Mason can hit the shot (42% and 48%, respectively, in the last 10) so you can’t sag off them.

Where you can watch: The game is at 6:30 pm on both Fox Sports here in LA and on League Pass.



96 responses to Preview and Chat: The Washington Wizards

  1. Which Lakers are going to show up? The Lakers that shredded the Jazz zone defense, getting paints in the point at will or the one that chucked up 45 3’s against the Grizzlies’ zone.

    I have two indicators to the Lakers success, 10 and 12. 10 is Lamar Odom’s FTM + Offensive Rebounds. He had 3 against the Grizzlies. 12 is Kobe’s FTM + Assists. He had 7 against Memphis. When both hit their numbers the team usually wins.

    For the Wizards, they tend to play well when DeShawn Stevenson is hitting his 3’s . I’d put Sasha on him early and often rather than see whether the hobbled Fisher or challenged Farmar contains him.

  2. good post bill

  3. Kobe uses has a personal training staff instead of the one the Lakers use. Most telling sign in the Gary Vitti…conundrum?

  4. The Laker’s top 2 summer signing priorities:

    1. Tom Thibodeau and

    2. Aaron Nelson

  5. Yeah, this reminds me of what went on with the Yankees early last year. Just a bewildering spate of injuries. We need those Suns trainers.

  6. There is now way Thibodeau makes it through the summer without getting signed as a head coach.

  7. I wish we could get Tom T. But I agree he moves up not West.

  8. Man, so I guess that whole Jim Cleamons back to improve our defense hasn’t worked out the way we wanted it to huh.

  9. Kobe has his own personal training staff? I’m interested in the source of this. Is it just like a personal trainer or an actual staff? If he really does have an actual staff on the side to tend to his injuries then yeah, Gary Vitti, you need to get looked at.

  10. Guys what about Dick Harter from Indy?? That ship be sinking anyways.He was the genius behind the pre-Malice Indiana defense.And if I remember correctly, that was a seriously bad-ass defensive team.Better than the Pistons statistically ,at least.

  11. I think the one thing I really want the Lakers to do this summer other than obviously re-signing Ronny and Sasha, and perhaps figuring out a contract extension with Kobe if that comes up, is to look into the training staff and see what’s going on over there.

    And the most frustrating thing about the Lakers’ defense recently is that they’re capable of playing better defense than that, even in this battered state they’re in (the first two and a half quarters of the Dallas game two weeks ago, and the Utah game a few days after). The defense they played against Utah to start the game was unreal, they just totally forced them out of their element. I feel like they just look at the schedule and see “Bobcats” or “Grizzlies” and come out expecting the other team to lose, rather than thinking they have to work to win. Hopefully these last two losses will be a good reality check for the team.

  12. PS Sorry for the extra post, but Dirk Nowitzki’s injury was gut-wrenching to watch on TV, but he’s supposed to be back in uniform this week. How do our guys not recover that quickly?

  13. Blaming Gary Vitti reminds me of the Simpsons episode where an asteroid collides with Springfield. The town decides to burn down the observatory “so this will never happen again”. I think the real culprit is the 82-game regular season. How many businesses can survive wilfully putting out an inferior product in an attempt to boost their profits? I think there’s a tipping point where the league’s hard-core fans decide they have received one too many F-Us from David Stern and Stu Jackson.

  14. Vitti was the trainer in the 80s and ever since, how did he become the scapegoat? How is it his fault Gasol twisted his ankle? Bynum? Vitti taped Kobe’s finger, is that his fault?

  15. I think it’s the curse of the Big Dadino. Hopefully we won’t go 80 years without hanging another banner.

  16. 14-Well, if Vitti would’ve given Lamar the proper shoes, his foot wouldn’t have gotten in the way of Bynum’s and if Vitti…

  17. I don’t think anyone is saying Gary Vitti caused Bynum, Gasol, Chris Mihm, Trevor Ariza, Derek Fisher, or Kobe’s injuries…but that’s quite a long list, isn’t it? And that’s neglecting previous injuries to Luke, Vlad Rad, and Sasha. But isn’t it the trainer’s job to keep their players in good enough condition to play through the 82 game regular season and have them not be so banged up when the playoffs arrive? Isn’t it a trainer’s job to work on the players’ conditioning so they can prevent little injuries as much as possible (not saying prevent them completely, injuries will happen) or help control minor injuries so they don’t get aggravated? (Fish said he’s been feeling tightness and pain in his foot for three weeks, and finally Wednesday the tendon tore)? Isn’t it a trainer’s job to treat injuries the right way so they don’t become problems at critical times in the finals (Karl Malone…).

    I’m not blindly or ignorantly blaming Vitti, but the way I see it there’s evidence to show that the training staff as a whole perhaps has not been very efficient (not saying they’re godawful or anything, I think what Vitti did with Kobe’s finger was brilliant). But I think having so many key players injured at this point in the season is a little absurd…especially two years in a row. I don’t understand why this argument constantly gets brushed off with “Stop blaming Gary Vitti, it’s not his fault they got injured.” It’s not the same thing as what I’m saying.

  18. I think questioning the Lakers training staff is fair to an extent. Injuries do happen but it always feels like guys take longer to come back from injury than every other team in the league. It’s gotten to the point where when a Laker gets injured I know to tack on at least an extra week or two to the suggested recovery time.
    And you’ve definitely got to say that Phoenix’s staff is far and away the best in the league. They’ve salvaged Nash’s back, Hill’s ankles and Shaq’s entire body. Meanwhile the Lakers have spent the last two years trying to salvage Chris Mihm’s career.

  19. You can’t blame the 82 game regular season for anything, since all teams go through it equally. If the Suns and Spurs only had 72 games, we could make an argument there. It’s equal (long, sure, but equal) and fair.

    On Vitti, yeah he’s been there since the early 80’s and he’s a good trainer. I wouldn’t blame the injuries on him, but rehab time is certainly a question. Guys who stick around a long time can get comfortable, maybe even lazy, with their habits and functions. I remember the walking wounded in the 88-89 Finals series against the Pistons and thinking, “wow, this training staff sucks”. Blown hammies all over town. They didn’t change anything then, and shouldn’t now, but Dr. Buss and Mitchy Mitch should have a “state of the training staff”-type conversation and make sure things are being handled on a base level. I’d like to hear more about the “Kobe has a personal training staff” angle, that’s an interesting assertion.

    Bottom line is, we’re one of the youngest teams in the league still and our dreams of being a contender (albeit unexpectedly according to most outsiders) is being dashed into pieces because of injury. With losses like Charlotte and Memphis in Staples, insult has officially been added to that injury and I am hoping those days are soon behind us all. Gary Vitti is a great trainer and should be given the opportunity to resign in the off-season if it’s determined he isn’t performing up to par. If Kobe has his own staff, with the pounding he takes on a daily basis without missing much action, there’s your new Los Angeles Lakers Team Trainers. Until then, let’s cross some fingers on Washington and hope we don’t slide away from leading the Pacific. Looking forward to the game…

  20. Didn’t Isaiah Rider get a championship ring with the Lakers back in 2001 even though he was not on the playoff roster?

    If I remember right, Phil Jackson chose former sharpshooter Mike Penberthy over Rider.

  21. 20, I also wondered recently if players who aren’t on the active roster in the Playoffs/Finals get rings, but I’m assuming they do since they are part of the team.

  22. Kurt, in no way are we blaming the injuries on Gary Vitti. What we’re questioning is the methods of treatment. I’m in the same boat as Lakersfan88. I read a piece on Shaq and how his injuries were taken care of by the Suns training staff that employed some innovative training methods while Miami was still using the same old methods to diagnose. Look and behold, a Shaq who is playing with more hop.

    So, it’s more accurate to say we are questioning the training staff’s methods and its efficiency. I don’t want Gary Vitti to resign because he is one of the best. However, maybe re-inventing his treatments and methods will be a good idea. It’s a cause for concern when it appears our injuries take much longer to heal.

    Of course, there’s also the possibility that all these injuries are just Phil Jackson’s plan to get the rest of the league to not take us as seriously. Who knows, maybe Bynum and Gasol were healed up long ago and are just resting up for the playoffs? But that’s just my Laker conspiracy theorist coming into play here.

  23. Haha, you guys are crazy. First you blame Smush, then Cook, then Kwame, then Odom, then Luke, then Phil, and now Gary Vitti? Who’s next, Jeanie Buss?

  24. Davidson playing like the Lakers against the Grizzlies. Nothing inside. But then again, their tallest player is like 6’2″

  25. OT-Dodgers: As expected, Joe Torre was not dumb enough to name Juan Pierre as his starting left fielder. Ethier will start in LF, Pierre to the bench. The whole “tough decision” theme coming from Joe throughout the spring was just a nod to Pierre’s veteran status and ridiculous contract.

  26. The Dude Abides March 30, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Guess I got logged out. The Dodgers post above was mine.

  27. where can one watch the games online? i remember someone posting a link to a site that showed laker games before. what was it?

  28. There are better healers than others, and that can’t be helped. Shaq has always been sorta better when he put his mind to things, as seen in his first year in Miami. It could be the staff in PHX, but I’d say that’s only half the equation.

    But surely there is something frustrating about injuries that seem to hit every single player on the roster. In the past three years, not one of our starters has been inury free. Other than Farmar and Mbenga, i’m not even sure if we have bench members that have been injury free.


    The Lakers need to defend the pick and roll. They need to listen to subliminal cds while they sleep about how to defend the pick and roll. Every other team can do it, why not the Lakers?

  30. Not every team knows how to defend the pick an roll. I’d say the only team that actually can defend it is San Antonio, and maybe the Celtics a little bit. The Lakers need to start playing like it’s their last game. They need to play with intensity and will. They seem to have given up every since they claimed the #1 spot. It’s time for them to get serious and remember that they are not guaranteed anything.

  31. Pick and roll, just like the triangle, is something that really cannot be defended against all the time when run properly. If you could, Sloan wouldn’t be where he is now. He probably used that for the bast two decades, and it still results in making his 1 and 4s looking like Hall of Famers.

    It would be really frustrating to lose yet again.

  32. source:

    The article brings up some good points on how long we can expect Kobe to physically keep up such a high level of play.

  33. Even though they aren’t blowing them out, I like their mentality to start. Attack the basket.

  34. I love the assist numbers but something I noticed, how many points does Kobe score that are assisted. I only see points come about from his influence, whether indirect or as a result of a good pass, but not the other way.

  35. Can anyone else tell me if Kobe has always been doing the hand-in-the-eyes move, or did he pick that up from Battier? I’m not sure if I just never noticed it.

    As I type this, Stevenson hits his fourth three in a row. They’re doubling Haywood and leaving DeShawn open at the arc, or not sticking with him in transition. A 17-point lead down to 9. Sad, really.

  36. #32.. most defenders don’t try to block shots, especially guarding jump shooters. I would say most defenders go for the obstruction of view rather than blocking the shot, so “hand-in-between-the-eyes” isn’t so uncommon.

    And Stevenson just dropped another 3 as I’m typing THIS to you.

  37. DJ Mbenga! No weak links on the court anymore if he can keep this up.

  38. By the way, re: the comments about Kobe having a trainer: I was always under the impression those were trainers as in work-out, work on your game trainers, not medical guys. A David Thorpe, not a Gary Vitti. And it is very common for NBA guys to have physical trainers on the side (all pro sports, really).

  39. And, by the way, watching the game on gamecast in a hotel is not nearly as much fun as watching it live.

  40. If Gilbert comes back at even 75% of his previous effectiveness, the Cavs better be damn scared of the Wizards in the playoffs.

  41. Wow, can we not defend the 3?

    As per the Kobe trainer, in the SI article that 32 linked, Kobe was talking about dieticians, chiropractors, etc. so maybe he does have medical guys on the side.

  42. The Dude Abides March 30, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    If the Lakers were going to run the clock all the way, why not put Sasha in for Ronny on that final possession in regulation? He’s been hot all night. We did get a wide-open shot from Fish, but he’s been cold most of the second half.

  43. The big 50.

    Luke Walton! The hustle plays, the smart plays, the son of Bill came through! I have to attribute most of the credit to Luke and to Fisher for some clutch shots in overtime to bring the team close when they were down.

    Savor the first 50 win season since 04.

  44. From what it looks like in the box score, it seems another night of little defense and two teams trying to outscore each other. Is that what happened?

  45. That is exactly what happened. Lakers just don’t believe in defense. For them it’s “offense that wins championships”.

  46. Man, Kobe really didn’t have it tonight. He was leaving Stevenson open all night to help out. At least he stayed home late in the game, but if he didn’t cheat so much we probably would have won the game in regulation. Also, I wonder why Phil didn’t put in Sasha to cool down Young, since Fish really wasn’t able to guard the taller player tonight?

  47. The Dude Abides March 30, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    I never thought I’d say this, but without Luke’s stellar play throughout the second half and overtime, the Lakers don’t win this game. LUUUUUUUKE!

  48. Yeah, thats exactly what happened Kurt. Lakers had little intensity on the defensive end after the first half. They got outscored 39-28 in the third quarter i think. Thats why we need our bigs back ASAP. This version of the team is a “trying to outscore you” team, not a team-like effort on defense. Plus, we couldnt defend the 3 today. I always question why coaches dont foul when up by 3 in the end of the game. I think ur increasing ur chances of winning if u do that. But u never know what happens in a game though(off rebound, miss free throws). But i just like the idea of limiting the other beams options and in the process, burning their time to come back.

  49. Our defense seems to work off our offense, instead of the other way around – then again it doesn’t work at all most nights. Our guard play is simply horrible on defense. I do think Mbenga should get a few minutes each half in games – perhaps toward the end of the half to rebound and block shots. Give Rony rest and play the bigger centers on a more level field at the close of halfs.

  50. Gotta admire how Coach Jordan gave the ball to the rook in crunch time.

    Kurt, I’m sure you would’ve been pissed when you saw us (yet again) refuse to foul with a 3 pt lead and watch another team tie the game with a 3.

  51. Whoops, meant “teams” instead of “beams”.

  52. do you guys realize that if we lost this game tonight, we would have dropped to 7th seed?

    luke was a key tonight, never quit on anything.

    but it would never have gone to OT if the ball hadn’t taken a bad bouce off Luke’s foot on that luke/kobe double team at the end of regulation, that was a great defensive stop, only to be robbed by the bad bounce of the ball.
    and how mabout mbenga?

  53. 51
    not really…we still have the tie breaker with phoenix for the Pacific Div lead. Won the season series 3-1 so we still would hold the 3 spot.

  54. If we had the same record i meant..sorry for all the mistakes.

  55. yeah, we’d have been in 2nd place behind the suns, which would also put us behind the rockets, and thus 7th seed. (having lost 25)
    luckily we won, so this is a moot point anyway.
    just goes to show you how fast we could drop from 1st to 7th in a matter of 3 games.

  56. Phil just mentioned in the post-game conference that they (the coaches maybe?) discussed fouling when we were up by 3 to make it a free throw shooting contest, but that there was a lil too much time left on the clock.

    So maybe Phil is changing his philosophy with regards to that end-of-game situation, which is understandable after what happened to us against Dallas, and again against Washington tonight.

    Stu said it best – if we can’t protect a 3 pt lead at the end of the ball game, then we don’t deserve to win the game. This particular team isn’t instilling any confidence in their ability to defend at the end of games. So it probably would be wise to foul in those situations where we are up by 3 with seconds to play (To put this into perspective a little bit – if we were a good defensive team we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place)

  57. Lakers lucked out…should’ve lost that game.

  58. @54,

    We’d drop to the 6th seed if we lost this game. Dallas, Denver, and Golden State are all sitting on 45 wins with 28 losses.

    I really hope that the team does not believe that “offense wins championships” or else we’d be the next Phoenix Suns.

    Kobe needs to stop cheating and trying to gamble. When he just didn’t cheat at the end of the game, the Wizards had a hard time freeing up their 3 point shooters as opposed to the majority of the game where Kobe became too help-friendly. The rest of the team became too helpish too. It’s understandable if they’re throwing the ball into a Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett, but Brendan Haywood?!

  59. Staying on your man takes more energy and lesser stats but its the way to go. Bother the shot and let him lose his dribble so that he will be obliged to pass. Stay 2-3ft away from him with your forearms at his hips and your off-hand blocking the potential pass.

    Kobe does the gambles so that it yields to steals and the break but he must realize, of all people, that they very well lead to drop passes and/or swing-out threes.

  60. I’m so glad that our big men our coming back soon. We really, really need them!

  61. ugh, bad sp mistake….are not our

  62. The Dude Abides March 31, 2008 at 1:03 am

    DFish really got lit up by Young in the 4th and in OT (6pts first three quarters, 21 in the 4th and OT). Young also lit up Jordan in the early part of the 4th. Great move by PJ to put the taller Sasha on him for the final 36 seconds. Sasha being in the game also meant another money FT shooter there at the end. I wonder if Sasha will get more PT at the point, due to Fish’s injury and Jordan hitting the wall…

  63. 62-Bill Bridges has been calling for Sasha at the 1 for some time now, Phil finally listened.

  64. If it gets to this point, should the Lakers and Celtics wear throwback jersies in an eventual finals?

  65. It is way, way too early to talk about the Celtics. Our guards have to stop their ‘cheating’ habits. I think Phil should start Sasha in the 2nd half if Fish is getting lit up in the 1st half. Just a message that defense will be rewarded. That’s my reason for giving Mbenga some run at the end of halves.

  66. The Celtics are the odds on favorite to reach the finals but I don’t think the Lakers will see them there. This team has not gelled since our guys are still running basic triangle options instead of the real advanced stuff that keeps teams going “what just happened?”. Plus there’s that defense issue that keeps popping up every game.

    But hey, if they do make it, throw it back. And make sure that both sides wear short shorts.

  67. Nick Young is rapidly improving. He was hitting some of Kobe’s fallaway jumpers. Pretty impressive. And stevenson’s shots were money.

    Also, you gotta be really impressed by our three point shooting percentage. That was quite a display.

    Otherwise, the game was, “meh.”

    Also, the training staff argument is sort of whatever. People heal differently, no amount of magic therapy changes that. And it’s not like the training stuff just gives the guys a jump rope and says, ‘have at it.’ if you watch that andrew bynum recovery video, he’s doing things i’ve never seen before. not to mention they leased an insanely expensive treadmill for bynum and ariza. I don’t think people are wrong in pointing out that our players do seem to heal slowly, but i mean, a bunch of other players on other teams heal slowly too. how long has wade been hurt? how long was ilgauskus hurt? Baron davis is always injured (at least previous to this year). elton brand and shaun livingston and chris kaman anyone? the injury bug hits everyone in every sport. terrell davis, trent green, and ken griffey jr come to mind. recovery from injury isn’t miracle work. bodies are bodies and they don’t always behave on a specific time table.

  68. ^yeah it was funny to see kobe try to clap back with one of his own fallaways after nick hit one in the 4th…. only to miss.

  69. The Dude Abides March 31, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Yep, credit to Bill Bridges on that one. I watched the FSN replay, and the three-pointer that Young hit in the final minute of regulation to cut the Laker lead to one point was nothing short of disgraceful defense from Fish. Young had been lighting him up, and Fish STILL gave him eight feet of room in order to help Butler’s man. Haywood noticed this, set a pick on Fish, and Butler passed to Young, who hit a wide-open three. Simply no excuse for that play, with a four-pt lead in the final minute.


    I always go back to thinking why so many of our rotation players have gotten injured this season –

    I believe that one of the main reasons is – “SPACING” and also understanding each others “ROLES”. Laker players always seem to crowd in the paint..and hence the incidence of injuries are higher..

    Any thoughts to this?

  71. Thanks Kwame a… In the triangle the most important duties of the point is to stay in front of his man on D and knock down the open shot. I really think that ending defensive sequence when Sasha bothered Young with his height was the first time the whole year that neither Fish nor Farmar was in the game.

    When Fish is hurting (and getting torched) and Farmar’s giving you nothing (literally, 0 points when the shots were going in), you have to go with Sasha at the 1. Replace Pau for Ronny and I think that is your closing 5 for the play offs.

    Going back to my post #1. Kobe had 27 (FTM + assists) and Lamar had 7 ( FTM+offensive rebounds) so the Lakers should have won easily, except they had the wrong guy on Stevenson. Kobe only plays lock down defense against all-stars, he plays off of all of the rest. In the first half, the only time Stevenson wasn’t torching the Lakers was when Sasha was on him.

    I’ll take the win though. Wouldn’t Stevenson make a GREAT triangle point though… dead-eye shooter and tough as nails. They’re going to keep Young and Gilbert is coming back… something has to give.

  72. Oh and one interesting point related the trainer discussion. In Phil’s pregame press conference. When asked whether everybody was basically pulling their weight. He said no. When Jackson was asked which Lakers he wasn’t happy with, he started with his trainer.

    “Gary Vitti is the guy that really bothers me the most because he’s our trainer who can’t get everybody healthy,”

    “Every day he says, ‘I wish I could get this guy ready for you, but. . . . ‘

    “I won’t go through the litany of the rest of it.”

    It was a joke. But with Phil, there’s always more than something behind each joke (like with various Spaceman jokes about Rad – notice how Rad’s defense is 100% steadier now than at the beginning of the year). A message to the training staff?

  73. Pau commented (or was it Vlade) that Vlade was not where he expected him to be when he sprained his ankle. You may have a point, but…

    I think the injuries may be a result of new players coming in during the year (Ariza and Gasol) and learning all the positions they are supposed to be in. In addition, our reserves are playing way, way more minutes than they were planned to. When so many people are getting so many more minutes than they planned for, they get tired. When people get tired their old, bad habits often crop up and their brains are not as sharp in pressure situations. This results, not only in failures on the court, but also leads to people being out of position – a key reason for injury for a system oriented team.

  74. So have training techniques changed, have players gotten less able to play with pain or did Vitti just forget how to be a trainer because he helped Kareem play till he was 40, along with keeping the Showtime Lakers pretty healthy.

  75. Kwame, I really don’t know…but when you hear about the Suns and the Pistons staffs, you often hear how they use non-tradtional techniques to help players heal from injuries/ailments faster than players with other teams.

    In terms of our players, and the frequency of injuries, I happen to think that we’ve just had an extremely poor run of luck mixed in with having players who are *maybe* slightly more prone to injury. Now, should our guys be recovering faster? That is the million dollar question with the finger pointing at Vitti. And I really don’t know if there is a good or fair answer out there right now.

    But, I’d love for some sort of study that documented our guys and their propensity for injury, their average (if there is an *avg*) recovery time to see where our guys land. I’d also love to look into preventative measures that the players could/should be implementing in order to avoid injuries. I look at a guy like Baron Davis, who has had an extensive injury history with his knee and ankle, and he credits yoga and pilates as activities that have helped him stay healthy this year (only Warrior to play in every game) in comparison to years past. Could the players and/or trainer(s) be doing more? I’d love to know, ’cause like every other Laker fan, it’s frustrating to see key guys go down every year with injuries that impact our ability to compete and achieve at the levels we should.

  76. The training staff discussion is an interesting one. Of course injuries like to Kobe’s finger or Bynum’s knee can’t really be prevented. I do think though that some teams are more advanced than others as far as their physical therapy is concerned.

    I recently read an article (via Truehoop I think) about Phoenix’s staff and how they pay specific attention to intermuscular balance, meaning that certain muscle groups have to be in a proper relation to the neighboring ones or the ones they’re working together with. The example was Shaq’s hip problems he had misdiagnosed or mistreated in Miami but quickly corrected in Phoenix after they started to strengthen his lower back and buttocks. But could the Lakers really have a deficit in that departement or are the injuries rather of a different kind that arises of game situations bound to appear when such giants battle each other physically?

    I seem to remember a behind the scenes video of the Lakers training facility where they had a strength guru who attached these rope mechanisms to Vujacic and made him do balance and core strength exercises. Does anyone here remember that too or does anyone have more detailed info on what is done to prevent injuries on the Lakers?

  77. 73. I read in Kareem’s blog once, and saw it also in Ronny & Jordan’s video that they’re doing lots of pilates/yoga type things, focusing on core muscles (abs and back i guess).

    also read that truehoop thing about Shaq, and looks as if in most places, what players get are Any Given Sunday style football treatment, and nothing much more improved than that…

  78. I like PJ ribbing the training staff a bit. Good, classic Phil and well timed heading into the playoffs when it matters. In regards to Shaq’s hip…I don’t know. Intermuscular balance is fine, but everyone knows his hip problem disappeared pretty quickly when he went back to playing for a contender in games that matter. The only muscle he needed fixed was his heart.

  79. 71- Over the summer Nate Jones was repeatedly calling for the Lakers to use the mid-level on Stevenson (he signed for less), he has really gotten better. He’s another guy that came straight from high school, so he is still young, and really finding his niche in the league (defense and shooting, the new Bowen?)

  80. Finally people are starting to realize that this isn’t all just coincidence and bad luck

    via Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo!

  81. 79 – Funny you should mention Stevenson in the same sentence as Bowen; those are the only two players I can think of from my home town – Fresno…

  82. Yeah, I was pushing for the Lakers to sign Stevenson. This is before D-Fish became available. I thought he was a perfect triangle PG with the ability to defend the perimeter and stroke the three. His attitude can sometimes leave something to be desired. He’s shooting terribly from inside of the three this year though. I think that might have to do with being asked to do to much with all the injuries. He’s strictly a catch and shoot guy, and shouldn’t be asked to create his own shot. Last season, all he had to do was spot up and wait for Gil, Caron, or Antawn to pass it to him. Hasn’t really been the case this season. Obviously Fisher was a better fit because of his leadership qualities.

  83. Deshawn Stevenson really impressed me that game he dogged Lebron and made the infamous “He’s overrated. And you can say I said that” quote.

    Most people took jabs at him for talking about a player that is clearly above his head, but I thought it was great to see a player not giving the normal “He’s a great player” answers that we hear all the time. On top of that, I read his comments that he realized he needed to find a niche in this league (defense) and worked at it until he could find a way to stick around. Pretty impressive from a player that most labeled a bust a long time ago.

  84. Any reason why an earlier post of mine was deleted? All I did was post a link to an article that is asking the same questions some of us are asking about the training staff, and providing the same kinda evidence that we are to back up their questioning.

    I mean sure you could say Gary Vitti and his staff did a fantastic job in the 80s and took great care of Kareem and the rest of the Showtime Lakers…but that was 20 years ago. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say that just because they took great care of the team 20 years ago, they can’t be doing any worse of a job now, even though the health of the team might SUGGEST otherwise (key word there is suggest, once again this is all speculative…albeit educated speculation).

    We all love this team and we all love watching them play when they are playing well. We’re all eager with the anticipation of watching them play at full health, something which unfortunately won’t come to pass until next season. But we’re never gonna get to see this team at full strength if their health is always gonna be an issue, as it’s been the last two years.

    Anyway, here’s the link I posted earlier again. It’s nothing really informative or anything, it’s just kind of funny while at the same time showing that this injury thing has gotten ridiculous (sort of like Phil’s pre-game comments from yesterday).

  85. I thought it was kind of funny them saying that Shaq just had a flabby arse, and all he needed was to strengthen his butt and he’d be ok.

  86. 83 – i’m wondering all that was just euphemism for ‘work your @$$ off.’

  87. Warren Wee Lim April 1, 2008 at 7:21 am

    I know its a bit off but can you guys see Kobe opting out in the summer of 09?

    I don’t mean that in the wrong way but he MIGHT opt out to give himself security over the last 6 years of his career. At age 30, isn’t he better off signing a 6-yr deal worth 150? With emphasis on the next 4 years so that Lamar’s re-up can be facilitated.

  88. 85. With Kurt out of town all week, we’re just a little behind in moderating the comments that bring up the spam filter words.

  89. Does everyone believe the defense gets better when Pau and (hopefully) Bynum come back? I think it does. With Pau and Lamar and Bynum patrolling the paint, we’ll bother more shots with height and we’ll be able to grab more rebounds to reduce second chance opportunities.

    This does nothing obviously to bolster our perimeter defense. Not sure what to do about that besides coach Kobe and Farmar to be a little more patient and not take as many gambles on steals.

  90. Except for Kobe, and other players willing to play with a little pain (eg. Lamar & Fisher), other Lakers are taking forever to heal. It seems everybody falls way behind schedule, and that just might indicate problems with treatment and rehabilitation methods.

    As for the Washington game, it was a much needed win. The Lakers were exposed once again by their inability to defend athletic players. Why they signed a defensive specialist to dodge splinters on the bench is the real mystery.

    Putting Sasha in at the end of OT was a no brainer. If he was in there at the end of regulation there might not have been an OT.

  91. I saw this post at TrueHoop about the Horents D…

    This part makes me jealous:
    “And here is where my original intent for this post diverged. Peja’s weakness in the post is pretty obvious. Why isn’t he always put into that situation? The answer: against good teams, he is. Watch any disciplined offense – Detroit, San Antonio, Dallas – and you will see them running screens to get their man on Peja in the post.

    But its times like that where the Hornets show the effect of their coaching. Almost every time Peja gets posted, the double comes. It’s nearly automatic. As a result, the ball kicks out and the defensive rotations start, players scrambling to their new man without even looking at each other. There is no hesitation, no worry that their man will be left uncovered, they just move to their new assignment and the defense continues. Even if there is a breakdown, the next play, they do it again. They trust each other, and they trust the system.

    That trust is why the Hornets have a top defense despite all five of their starting players having defensive weaknesses that can be exploited. Paul and Peja can be posted. Chandler doesn’t like to leave the paint or leave his feet to block shots. Morris can be beaten by fleet-footed guards. West will leave the jumper open and can be slow to contest it. These weaknesses, however, instead of being points of contention, are simply recognized by the coaching staff and compensated for. If a player needs help in the post – it will arrive. If someone is lost on a screen, the big steps out to slow them down.”


  93. The Dude Abides April 1, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    LO will be on Rome is Burning on ESPN, coming up in a few minutes.

  94. New post up.