Lakers Preseason Game 2: Welcome To Fresno

Kurt —  October 9, 2008

Just a few things to look for as many of us bounce back and forth between the Dodgers and the Lakers tonight.

• Will we get to see Gasol and Bynum on the court at the same time? I hope so. We need to at some point.

• Lamar Odom. One preseason game is less than meaningless, but what we are looking for are patterns in the preseason. And the problem with Odom’s struggles the other night in a pseudo-point guard role is that there already is a pattern. Reed reminded us of that in the comments:

I am bewildered as to why the coaching staff is trying again with the failed “initiator” experiment. What positives does he bring to that role? How does that fit with his strengths? On offense, Odom has been at his best when using his speed to attack 4’s off the dribble, get out in transition, and cut to the basket when Kobe, Pau get too much attention. In this role, he averaged 16 points on 59% shooting after the all-star break last year. Before the break, when he was more perimeter oriented, he averaged 13 on 48% shooting. His length, speed, and efficiency were key reasons we blitzed through the west last year.

Odom brings very particular strengths and weaknesses to the table, meaning he can be either very, very effective, or completely forgotten. I just don’t see how using him in a PG/initiator role does anything other than lead to the latter.

Check out the discussion that follows in the comments — it shows there are no easy answers. You can find plenty of examples of just how good Odom can be, but all of those come at the four. That’s a crowded spot unless Odom wants to come off the bench. Some commenters here, and Kevin Ding at the OC Register, suggest the Odom-at-the-point experiment was doomed to fail, but Phil knows this and thinks it is the best way to get LO to accept a role off the bench. And his strengths in the post and pushing the pace could be well suited off the bench, even if Odom is not a classic light it up off the bench scorer. But getting him to embrace that lesser role in a contract year could be a challenge.

Tonight, we’ll see if a more focused Odom can show us more in the initiator role, or if it just fuels more discussion of what the next step is for him.

• Can Lowe keep the ball down and in that sandbox they call a ballpark in Philly?

• Defense, I want to see better defense. (You can apply this to the Lakers or Dodgers.)

• Lakers season previews are going up everywhere, including at SI.com.

• If you haven’t seen and read it yet, Sports Guy Bill Simmon’s piece on Elgin Baylor the player is a must. You can’t forget he helped change the game and was maybe the best three ever to lace it up.

Kurt

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61 responses to Lakers Preseason Game 2: Welcome To Fresno

  1. Agree on the last point, not a huge Simmons fan but the piece on Baylor was one of his best. I never knew half the stuff in there, especially not the 39-18-5 season or whatever it was. The Bassbowl part was a nice touch.

  2. Welcome to the Nickel-Nickel-Nine, The ‘No.

    Is this game on NBA TV as well? I hate my cable provider.

    I wonder what this season holds for my guy Lamar. In a strange way, I’d rather see him succeed somewhere else than be miscast/put in positions where he can’t be successful with us. Surely know that I want him to be an effective player for us, but I can’t be sure if he’ll ever be that as a bench player or (as Reed and KD and others have pointed out) as a perimeter oriented SF/Ballhandler. I’m unsure of how he’ll adapt to any role that doesn’t fit him perfectly. He’s a strange guy in that way. All that talent, but he still needs so much coaching and guidance to play to his potential. He’s shown he’s willing to take that guidance, but there are so many factors this season that make me wonder if it will work. Only time will tell, I guess.

  3. Two biggest things I’m waching for tonight will be more interest in defending the paint from Bynum and hopefully, regardless of his role, just a better all around effort from Odom. We’ll see how things go.

    Double props for the Simmons piece on Baylor.

  4. Starting Lamar argument’s going to be moot if you can’t start Bynum and Pau.

    I hope we see how that works out.

  5. Anyone know if the game is on league pass or online somewhere for us non-locals?

  6. I think this game is just on KCAL locally. NBA TV doesn’t have it, and I’m not sure if league pass works for preseason.

  7. Channelsurfing.net has the audio for this game, but wishing for more than audio. I might just have to break down and get league pass.

  8. Guys, I found a linK. COpy and paste into your browser.

    http://ziucchiradio.altervista.org/watch.php?id=329

  9. Your starting five: Fish, Kobe, Ariza, Odom and Gasol. Bynum on the bench again, Odom in his more comfortable four.

    The defense, particularly transition D, not impressive early.

  10. @8 thaaaaaank you!

  11. Thanks for the link. Pau has a niiiice jumper.

  12. SPOILER

    Same old Lakers, no defense. Stu pointed t out, they don’t communicate off of screens. Jordan and Son of George Karl look lost. Ariza and Odom also played poorly. Kobe and Pau and Bynum have played exceptionally well.

  13. JWL with the Mariano Rivera job on that link.

  14. Sun Yue sighting.

  15. damn. gone just as i post.

  16. I preface everything with “this is the pre-season”, but we look sloppy in everything we’re doing. Granted some of this is strange lineup combo’s, but we have poor communication on rotations, bad post entry passes, too much dribbling on the perimeter (by guys that should know better), and a lot of settling for the first open shot.

  17. Duuuuuuuuuude. I’m ranking players in a public Yahoo Fantasy league.

    Yahoo has Danny Granger ranked 11th in the entire league. Wow. I don’t even know what to say to that. Kind of freaks me out.

  18. Am I allowed to be upset at that first half?

  19. @18, Yes, you should be. I feel like throttling my computer screen practically. The lack of defense is frustrating.

  20. Derek Fisher is our #1 option for the preseason.

  21. wow. this is awful

    they must have slept at a motel last night.

  22. Man, I know this is preseason but the Lakers look like they didn’t learn anything from the series with the celtics.

  23. Ooh.. nice Ariza.

  24. Yea…that was sweet! Need something to cheer us up after that Dodger loss.

  25. It’s a pity the main players on the team aren’t using this a legitimate chance to learn/experiment how to function well together on both ends of the floor.

  26. jwl, do you know of a website where I could stream games (free) during the regular season? I just moved out to Rochester, NY (med school), and would love to be able to stream some games.

  27. @26, u mean watch streaming games?

  28. ariza woke up on defense. way to carry the team.

  29. Ariza is a nice bright spot right now, as is Jordan.

  30. Wow, that 3rd quarter with the Bynum-Gasol-Odom-Kobe experiment was just disgusting. The worst lineup of the game. Disappointing. Everyone wanted to stand in the same place on offense.

    Ariza is Gerald Wallace in the making.

  31. I’m happy for the Clips, but the Lakers look like a freaking high school team!

  32. Yea, like the link you posted earlier, except for the regular season as well.

  33. @26, besides channelsurfing.net, you might want to try myp2p.eu. THat’s where today’s link came from, but there are times you might need other software to view it like sopcast or tvants.

  34. I’ve been so excited for this season to start. I mean the countdown has been on for me for a while now. But, after these first couple of games, is it okay if I don’t want the season to start anymore?

    Some positives: Ariza is as active as ever and is showing that he is going to be a strong contributor on defense and is continuing to grow on offense. I like that he’s willing to shoot the jumper (confidence and a lack of hesitation are real positives, if you ask me), but I’d like him to make a couple more, if you know what I mean. Another positive is Farmar. He’s continuing his growth from last season. He took over the game when we went on our run and attacked the basket the way I’d like to see him rather than always settling for the jumper (although he did some of that as well).

    As for what Reed said, yes, I too was dissapointed in the Bynum/Gasol/Odom front court. Especially on offense. Our guys didn’t seem to move in unison the way I’d like them too and didn’t compliment eachother in any way. But with the overall slopiness (ball handling, passing, etc), I’m still not convinced it can’t work, as I don’t think we got a good view of any semblance of what’s possible, at least on offense. On defense, I did see some things that were encouraging. For example, when the Clips ran the PG/C pick and roll, Pau did a good job of rotating to the diving Center and successfuly challenged shots and kept Kaman from getting to the basket. I also liked that both Pau and Bynum seemed somewhat comfortable moving to the perimeter to defend, giving ground and using their length to discourage jumpshots and getting their arms in passing lanes. But that was about it for the positives.

    Overall, an awful showing, though. We need work. Some guys are showing their worth, but there is not any sense of teamwork, especially not the kind that I would hope to see when we’re a supposed championship team. I’m not worried…yet, but I am concerned that in 2 games we’ve lost both, and haven’t seen too many positives to speak of.

  35. 0-1, 3 rbs 1 ast 1 stl 3 TO 0 pts in 16 minutes.

    I think Lamar was having one of those mind body experiences where while it appeared he was there playing in his #7 uniform in reality his spirit and soul were in some far away neverland. An absolute non-factor.

    As for the Bynum-Gasol pairing, I think it showed flashes it could really work (at least without Odom in there). In the 1st quarter the Lakers got into the corner series of the triangle where Kobe had the ball in the right corner and Bynum stepped over from the block to set a high side screen. As Bynum rolled along the baseline his defender switched over to double Kobe, who then found Gasol flashing to the high post. With the rotated defender trying to pick which poison he wanted to defend Gasol passed to a wide open Bynum underneath the rim. Unfortunately, it was a bad pass and ended up in a turnover but the right idea nonetheless. I think we’re going to see alot more high-low action in the future and I think it’s going to be quite successful.

    As for Bynum’s defense he still looked rusty. There were times I felt he either wasn’t giving quite maximum effort or was mistiming his block attempts. Hopefully as the rust wears off his anticipation and timing come back to the level they were at last January pre injury.

    Lastly, Ariza was laying bricks from the outside but man that kid has heart. You’ve got to love his hustle and the havoc he’s creating in the passing lanes.

  36. hey

    Im in med school too, not able to watch the games :/ Nobody’s said anything about Sasha yet. Is he playing or still out with the ankle?

  37. 2. Darius,

    I think that your analysis of Lamar shows great insight. Lamar can be a great 4 for the Lakers with Gasol, as he was last year. Lamar is also capable of playing the 4 with Bynum–but that might take some relearning. Beyond that, Lamar is lost.

    Given that Bynum and Gasol will take time to adjust to each other, that PF backup might well define Lamar’s role this year–but that role diminishes toward the playoffs, and is certainly not what Lamar has in mind.

    If Bynum, Gasol, and Ariza get used to playing together, Lamar will be there as an insurance policy against the injury of the other players by the end of the season.

  38. Lamar is beginning to work himself out of a job with the Lakers. Pretty soon he will look like Walton without the heart or bball IQ. The team had absolutely no flow and I wondered if they even knew how to run the triangle at times. That said, I still think it is Lamar who appears to be poisoning the well. Unless he turns it around the Lakers will be forced to trade him fairly quickly.

    And to think it was me who said to be patient and understanding — what a couple of really stinkoo games will do.

  39. I got to catch a little of the second half and was very disappointed (as were others here) with the performance of the so-called ‘starting lineup’ with Fisher and Bryant in the backcourt, and Odom, Bynum, and Gasol in the frontcourt. It seemed like at times, Bynum or Gasol would get lazy (mostly Bynum) and not run down the court on offense thinking the other guy will cover the low post. I want to see both of them sprinting down the court for that position!

    On the bright side, Ariza looked fantastic and made some great defensive plays that set up easy dunks. He and Farmar are a super-quick, super-athletic, deathly dangerous tandem. I can’t wait to see more of Ariza during the regular season. He showed incredible heart and intensity tonight.

  40. I don’t know whether I am confusing lineups, but when Fish, Kobe, Odom, Pau, Bynum was on the floor…

    It was actually Kobe at the 3 and Odom at 1 right?

    So what I thought I saw was Kobe at the elbow, and Bynum and Pau crowding in while Lamar and Fish hovered around the three pt line.

    That really looked awkward. What good is having three near 7footers when one’s outside (where he’s not even good at?)?

    Anyway, knowing Lamar, he probably has already accepted the bench role and is just going ‘whatever, preaseason.’

  41. It seems that the future starting 5 for the Lakers will be Fisher-Bryant-Ariza-Bynum-Gasol. The real question is whether they will start the season together.

    So far, both Ariza and Bynum are holding up their parts of the deal. Tonite, VladRad put on an exhibition of the shooting touch that Trevor will have high on his December Christmas present list to Santa Claus. VladRad led the team with 14 points. Still, Trevor showed that he has everything else in place already.

    In this game, Bynum showed he could rebound after showing some nifty moves in game 1. In the next game, we need to see evidence that he can rotate and switch on defense while preserving spacing on offense.

    This year, a healthy Mihm may finally get the chance to play the PF and the center in a backup role–but Powell will also be battling for playing time.

    Lamar needs to do some serious thinking.

  42. Yes, Odom’s out. The sad part about it is that his games are not only hurting his personal value in a contract season, but also his trade value in terms of what the Lakers can get for him. Though he is an expiring contract. I know you don’t go big for small, but if we can trade him for a just south of top tier point guard, I’d do it.

  43. Drunken5yearold October 10, 2008 at 7:54 am

    I don’t understand why people want to trade Odom. Look, you need 4 bigs to make it through an NBA season, and 3 when you get to the playoffs. We have those three in Gasol, Bynum, and Odom. We have no depth behind those three guys. Somebody from the group of Mihm, Powell, VladRad, or Giles will step up and soak up some of the garbage time minutes in the front court but I wouldn’t expect that player to be much of a contributor. Trading Odom would leave us incredibly thin up front, especially considering that both Gasol and Bynum missed time due to injuries last year. Then, take into account the Laker’s financial situation. They have a lot of money committed and they’re going to have to pay out even more to keep Farmar, Bynum, and Kobe around. Buss will pay the luxury tax but he’s not going to go crazy. Therefore, Odom’s huge expiring contract is something the Lakers want to hold on to, and either let him walk at the end of the year or re-sign him on the cheap if possible. I just can’t imagine a scenario where it makes sense to trade Odom from both a financial and an on-court point of view.

    There are 96 minutes in the front court to split between Gasol, Odom, and Bynum. That means each would play about 30-32 minutes a game depending on blowouts, etc. That’s plenty. Not to mention that there will be times when one player is out with a minor injury, allowing the other two to get some more normal starter-level minutes played. Handling egos might be a problem, but isn’t that what Phil is good at?

    As to the Ariza-Gasol-Bynum combo, I doubt we’ll see too much of that, unless Ariza can raise his shooting to another level. Opponents will quickly learn to pack the paint against such a lineup. I love Ariza and I think he deserves to start, but I’m not convinced that lineup would work (until I see it happen, of course). I would play Ariza with Odom and try and get them to develop a rapport. Ariza-Odom-Gasol and Ariza-Odom-Bynum should be great lineups, as long as the guards are shooting well. I would love to see the Lakers run out the three guard lineup when Gasol and Bynum are on the floor together, with Kobe moved up to the 3. Or you can let Walton get some time in at SF once he’s fully recovered. Actually, you could probably play the entire season rotating between these three lineups:

    St: 1-Fisher, 2-Kobe, 3-Ariza, 4-Odom, 5-Gasol
    1B: 1-Farmar, 2-Sasha/Kobe, 3-Ariza/Walton, 4-Odom, 5-Bynum
    2B: 1-Fish/Farm, 2-Sasha, 3-Kobe, 4-Gasol, 5-Bynum

    I firmly believe that VladRad should not be in the rotation.

  44. Hi Guys,

    I have been reading the forum for quite some time, but have never really contributed much. So this is sort of my baptizing right here :)

    I know we are not allowed to speculate about what can happen in the future and propose trades. And that is certainly something I do not want to do.

    I also acknowledge that this is only a week into the training camp and preseason and players are rusty and a lot of weird experimentations are taking place. But I think that Lamar’s behavior has been inexcusable lately. I have defended him many times in front of my skeptical friends and thought the idea of bringing him off the bench would work assuming that he would be team-oriented and adjust to the team needs.

    But watching Lamar lately on and off the court, listening to his reaction to the possibility of coming off the bench, I think that LO could create a serious disharmony in the locker room and perhaps even hurt our chances of being as dominant as we think we should be. LO wants to get paid after next year, so some of his statements are understandable.

    However, having watched Lamar Odom struggle incredibly against the Jazz and the Clippers I think it is both in the interest of the team and the player himself that he gets traded. Lakers will not just give up high value for Odom in return for nothing and they need an effective outside shooter/good penetrator and high energy rebonder/inside defender.

    I am sure there are some decent options out there that Lakers can pursue. [edited for trade speculation]

    At least LO should be informed that he is not indespensable and if he does not pick up the work he will not get the chance to make his money next year from Lakers or anyone else. Passing up on Kidd, Artest and perhaps some other options (Richard Jefferson???) must have LO thinking that he is an indispensible part of the team. And that is no longer the case.

  45. 44 – “… I think that LO could create a serious disharmony in the locker room…”

    I think it’s more a case of sports writers without a story to write about the predicted NBA champs. LO has to be the most mild mannered dude I’ve ever seen. He floats around life. I can’t imagine this is him tooting his horn louder than he ever has. It’s just that there is no other story right now (except for the whole ‘how are bynum and gasol going to work together?’). Let’s hope it’s just a case of the preseason news blues and we get back to writing about how great the team is when the season starts. The good news is that I don’t see us losing by double digits to the Clips during the regular season….I hope.

  46. I really have to stick my two cents in here.

    They have been two preseason games and a couple weeks of training camp. To speculate how a player (LO in particular) or a team will do based just on that is a little premature.

    And I am actually quite confused why there is such animosity towards Odom. He is inconsitent, but do people really think we would be better off with Ron Artest or Richard Jefferson or someone else of their caliber? It is always pleasant to peak over the fence and admire someone else’s grass, but speculation and conjecture are not reality.

    We do not see what happens in team meetings or practices. We do not have the full picture of what is happening off the court. Please give the coaches, players and team some time to work it out before we start nailing them to a cross.

  47. I’m definitely not in favor of trading Lamar, just redefining his role. We need to remember that we absolutely blitzed the west after the Gasol trade, both to close the season and during the playoffs. Lamar was a massive part of that, as he and Gasol had perfect synergy and were a speed/length/skill matchup nightmare for every front line we faced (except Boston…). Utah in particular had no chance of matching up with the Gasol/Odom front line. Given that we know this is a lineup that other western rivals really struggle against, I’d be very hesitant to punt on Odom. This is especially true with the likely emergence of Ariza at SF. Who can we get at SF that will give us enough improvement at the position to justify losing Odom at backup PF (and as a matchup problem against certain key teams)? So, I think that even if it means struggling with Odom’s role throughout the year, it’s best to hold onto him as the super sub backup PF, and as a matchup problem in key playoff series. Adding a slightly better SF into the mix doesn’t make any sense.

  48. I don’t think we should be jumping the gun with the complaints yet. It’s game #2 of the preseason. The PRESEASON! They’ve only been trying to work out kinks for a couple of weeks now. This is the time to look bad. Everything will be fine. Phil obviously isn’t going to rush this process, and we shouldn’t rush to judgement. Relax.

    In the first game, I though Andrew held the ball a little too long at times, but I realized that that didn’t matter. It was important to get comfortable in a game again. He did. I didn’t getto see the Clipper game, but Drew will mesh with Gasol, Kobe, and LO. He’ll benefit from it also, even if it’s all alley oops, put backs, and dump offs, and defense. LO concerns are valid, only because of his situation going into this year, and his past “problems.” No way the Clippers win that game in the regular season, never mind by 27. Be patient.

  49. KurkPeterman & emh101,

    Thank you. I just read your posts. Couldn’t agree more. Lamar will be fine once it the real season starts and we’re winning. Game 2 of the Preseason means nothing, except money in Jerry Buss’ pocket.

  50. The offense with Kobe, Bynum, Pau, Odom was very ugly and nothing near a Triangle.

    The defense is what gives me hope though. I actually thought the defense was very strong considering it was the first time the unit has played together.

    I think with a few more games and more minutes together under their belt that Defensive will cover up any shortcomings they have with the offense.

    By the halfway point of the season I believe both offense and defense will be running much more smoothly and our team will be pretty hard to defeat (barring any injuries)

  51. Hate to post 3 times i a row, but I realized my first two seem to contradict themselves.

    I think Lamar’s supposed attitude will or play will improve when the games matter, but if he starts the season too worried about his role, then it is valid for us to worry, because of his situation this season.

  52. Ditto to all the people baffled by the Odom trade talk. He’s a tremendous asset and a great fit with the offense when used appropriately. I feel like everyone is just suffering from unrealistic expectations right now, and Odom has become the focal point of that. You know the old, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed line” your parents would give you when you screwed up? I think that pretty much sums up the sentiments around here right now.

    43. Drunken5yearold makes great points. There are indeed plenty of minutes to be had in the frontcourt, and I don’t think anyone hear wants them to be soaked up by the likes of Josh Powell and the Space Cadet. We need depth up front, and Odom provides that in spades. Very lucid arguments from an inebriated toddler.

  53. New Post Up, Boston Celtics. But keep the Odom conversation going here.

  54. I thought the Odom-Pau-Bynum frontcourt at the start of the third was good in defense, but lacking in offense. I actually thought that the Pau-Bynum sightin in either the first or second quarter was better. I believe Ariza was in at the time. Pau made a couple of jumpers and Kobe was in the post for a basket, with the assist given to Bynum.

    So far we still haven’t given the lineup much of a chance, but it looks like it would be better for Odom to come off the bench.

  55. A second team of Farmar, Sasha, Walton, Radman, and Odom or Mihm doesn’t sound that bad, does it?

  56. What people seem to be saying is that Odom is an asset to the team. I agree with that. However, unless he gets the chip off of his soldier, and starts playing no matter what role Jackson envisions for him, then he ceases to remain an asset. In that case, trade the chump. Shape up or ship out, Lamar.

  57. The problem with trading Odom is that he already represents the one thing the Lakers really need: a big expiring contract. (I think of it as the other half of the expiring-contracts-for-Gasol trade.)

    The Lakers need money (cap space) to resign Bynum and Ariza; what they don’t need is more players looking for PT. If the Lakers were a bad team, then, sure, package Odom with a couple of other contracts and try to make a big move. But they’re not.

    I’d really like to see Odom make it work with the first team, but I think the real alternatives are his becoming part of (what we hope is) an awesome second team and his sitting on the bench gathering dust for a season. I don’t think it makes sense for the Lakers to trade him.

  58. I think ever since Shaw left the town, we, Laker fans, have become rather pessimistic, trying to expect the worst possible, getting concerned by the least meaningful of problems and most importantly not being the real fans we should be and support the team instead of criticizing things that have not even happened yet.

    What did we expect? Bynum to come back and all the guys return and blow oppositions out in the meaningless preseason games where the likes of Mitchell and Carl (no disrespect) play significant minutes? please

    I am not a big Hollinger fan… He is everything that Kobe-haters love…. That clown even compared KB24 to Vince Carter. However, even in Hollinger’s rankings, which I found interesting and really comprehensively developed, the top 20 of the league’s most efficient players contains 3 Lakers (Kobe, Pau and Bynum). Of course those are projections for the upcoming year, but when a dude like Hollinger thinks that in a 30-team league Lakers have 3 players in top 20, you should know that this squad is for real.

    As for Lamar, I am going to love how he proves all the doubters wrong. I do not expect him to burst into the picture and put up big numbers, but I believe he is capable of doing right things for this team and have full faith in our coaching staff’s ability to make the right calls.

    We have Farmar, Ariza, Bynum and Sascha improving, Kobe adding winner maturity to his superstar skills and status, Pau blossoming in the triangle, D-Fish providing necessary reliability, toughness and leadership, and Lamar Odom being the best X factor any team in the league has right now.

    I am not too high on Walton, RadMan, Mihm and other guys, but I am sure they would be in regular rotation for most other teams in the league and could have even started for some.

    So please, let’s start believing!

  59. I meant ever since Shaq left :)

  60. 44) You realize that Lamar is the one that planted the seeds of bringing the team together last year. In training camp in Hawaii he hired a personal chef to cook for the team just to make sure the team ate together every single day. Remember, this was at a time when things were the most rocky, with Kobe basically dumping on all his teammates. Lamar has been a selfless team leader for some time now, and I don’t expect that to change this season.

  61. I think we need to let the preseason and some regular season games run through, before any player or combination of players can be effectivly evaluated. I would not yet give up on Lamar, I remember what he did last year for the Lakers and I do not think that person is just going to disappear.