All Is Right With The World

Kurt —  November 13, 2008

We can nit-pick this team if we want (and we my a little bit), but we Lakers fans need to step back for a second and enjoy this moment. We need to savor watching this team play, the passing, the breaks, the dunks and the beauty of well-played basketball. Don’t just think about the next game with Detroit or ahead to Boston or anyone else. We should live in the moment, because this is a very good moment.

The Lakers are 7-0 and just beat the second best team in the Western Conference (in my opinion, even if it hasn’t translated that way in standings yet) on the road on the second night of a back-to-back with travel in between. Did it get a little sloppy in the fourth quarter? Yes. But last year’s Lakers team lost that game and probably gave back the lead by the end of the first half.

Another big game tomorrow, but fellow fans, we need to savor what is happening now.

• About that fourth quarter….

Here’s what I take away: Lurking under the surface of this new defense and disciplined offense the Lakers have been showing lives the beast that is the worst parts of last season. It comes out when they get tired. The defense falls apart, the Hornets (who were very good and to their credit showed a lot of desire and passion in the fourth) made a big push, Kobe reverted to “save the world” mode and suddenly this looks like an old Lakers movie where we didn’t like the ending. They survived it, this time.

The team, and the coaching staff, has to recognize this demon is still lurking and work hard to keep it in the shadows.

• Today is a good day to tune into AM 570 KLAC, the Lakers flagship. They are going without commercials in an effort to raise money for the Paralyzed Veterans of America. That is a very worthy cause.

• Reed was in the comments noting the lack of Drew with the game on the line:

Very frustrated by the lack of Bynum to close games (tonight and the weird late big subs last night). He was so obviously what we needed. Drew anchors our defense – Paul shredded us inside with him out. And look at the +/-. Does Phil feel pressure to close with Odom?

I think this was in part due to Bynum looking more tired and slower than any other Laker in the fourth. He had become a liability. But it does seem to be an interesting trend.

• There are things this team really needs to work on, like the chest bump:

(Thanks to the wonderful Heather and a few others for sending that in.)

• Good point about last night from the always smart Ryan at Hornets 24/7:

I may have found out Phil Jackson’s mystical power. Somehow, opponents of the Lakers are only shooting 67% from the free throw line this season. Tonight? Hornets well below their average at 65%, Lakers well above it with 82%. Could the pace of Lakers games impact this maybe? I don’t know. Just figured I’d bring it up.

• The other thing about the Hornets — they missed a lot of good-look threes last night. Not sure we can count on that in the future.

• That Dwight Howard guy is pretty good. Did you see the stat line from last night — 30 points, 19 boards and 10 blocks. Didn’t see the game, but damn.

• I am one of the people with the new Google/T-Mobile G1 phone, and because I can here is a brief review after having it for a couple weeks: It’s a lot of fun. Love the way it works and feels. Enjoying a lot of the apps. (The football tracker ones are getting some use, I think the ones that scan a barcode than shop for that item online and at other store sill get a lot of use with the holidays coming up.) I think you need to have a Google-centric life (I use gmail, even for the account on this site, as well as Google calendar); I’m not sure how well it works if you are using another email provider. I love the combo of the touch screen and the slide-out keyboard, I’m a slow texter but this has helped me pick up the pace. My only compliant so far is the browser seems to crash or not load pages a lot.

Basically, I recommend it. And with it being an open-source phone, people are building new apps for it all the time.

(If you’re about to ask “why didn’t you just get an iPhone?” I’ll tell you it’s because of AT&T. Used to have them, got terrible service in my home and had a lot of drops elsewhere. I wanted an iPhone but not enough to go through that again. And the G1 has met my needs in a lot of areas.)

Kurt

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50 responses to All Is Right With The World

  1. On the humor scale, I rank that Vujacic chest bump video only slightly behind LeBron James breaking out the old “Kid ‘n Play” dance moves in that insurance commercial.

  2. While the “Kobe Saves the World” movie scares the bejesus out of us at times, boy, watching him stick a dagger in a guy like James Posey never gets old. I am relishing the start as much as I can, but I, as we all do, hate the Pistons. Hard not to look ahead, especially with the Answer now in Motown.

    Personally, I think Utah is second best in the West, too. Just my $.02. Great post, as always.

  3. Adam, you can certainly make a good case for Utah, I see NO as better suited for playoff basketball. But ask me again in April.

  4. Man did the Lakers look awesome for 3 quarters last night. A lot of the 4th quarter collapse can be chalked up to fatigue/2nd night of a back to back, but I also think we went into “protect the lead mode” (I believe Stu touched on this) which I hope doesn’t become a bad habit. Bottom line it was a road game and we found a way to pull it out.

    I’ll be at the game on Friday and I’m really excited to see if the Lakers can finish off this tough stretch strong. An undefeated week w/ match-ups against Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Detroit is incredibly impressive.

    Random note: Love the attitude a lot of our players are picking up. Bynum shoving Posey really fired up everyone. I didn’t really think it was a dirty play on Posey’s part (just wrong place, wrong time kind of deal) but I like that our players aren’t going to put up w/ those type of plays. Also I can’t say enough about Pau’s no found aggression. Great to see.

  5. Kurt,

    That isn’t supposed to be a chest bump. They did exactly what they meant to. It’s the new “chest bump.”

    Personally , I think the G1 is better than the iPhone because of better typing and texting. The touchpad keyboard for the iPhone is too small. That’s a deal breaker for me.

    Pistons will be playing the Lakers in a 2nd game of a back to back. I expect a Laker win.

    I agree that NOH will prove better than Utah.

  6. 5. Maybe the shoulder bump is the chest bump for a new generation, but the one between Ariza and Sahsa does need work.

  7. Kurt, totally agree with you on your issue with AT&T. I’m considering the new Blackberry Storm.

    Anyone else see Byron Scott’s quote about one day coming back to coach the Lakers? “I’m going to be honest. Yeah, I thought about it a lot,” Scott said. “That’s home for me. That’s an organization that will be embedded in my heart for the rest of my life.”

    Pretty interesting, but i think it’s Brian Shaw’s job to lose once the Phil era is done.

  8. I just rewatched it.

    Yeah. Sasha needs to work on it. Just another example of him needing to act like he’s 6’7″. Haha. He spun around down like Sage Rosenfels.

  9. The four minutes or so of the fourth quarter that Bynum played in last night sawy the lead go from 14 to 10; his absence is not the reason that the lead went down. Taking him out was a reasonable decision.

    At this point, it is arguable whether or not Bynum belongs in the “these five players are the best combination the Lakers have” group, which is (IMO) why PJ took him out at the end. I don’t think that will be the case in a couple of months, but at the moment it is.

  10. Kurt,

    Re: iPhone – you can get an unlocked, jailbroken iPhone that can use the TMobile SIM card (and hence, enjoy the best of both worlds — an iPhone with the superior reception of TMobile service).

    I actually am a developer for iPhone, G1 and BBerry Storm apps and I can tell you in my professional opinion, the iPhone is a superior product. But…I’ll get off my soapbox before this becomes a threadjack…

    Cheers…And when you get your iPhone, check out our app that we made for ESPN called Cameraman.

  11. About NO missing their open shots…Does anyone remember that one of the effects of tough defense is that players start to hurry their shots or that they haven’t been able to get into any rhythm and therefore miss open shots because of this? This is an often overlooked aspect of a good defensive team – Boston 2008 anyone?

  12. Props to Ariza, too. We’ve been missing his perimeter D.

  13. I think Phil Jackson said it after one of the first regular season games: “Our free throw defense was terrific tonight.”

    Maybe it’s really the two 7-footers leaning in.

  14. David St. Hubbins November 13, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Great stuff as usual. I thought the game last night was enlightening for my opinion of NO. I know, I know, it was only one game but they seem more vulnerable than I thought they would be. I would put Utah ahead of them now too (I think the Jazz have a better, deeper, more balanced roster. The move of AK47 to the bench has really, really helped out). Even with the addition of Posey, I think the Hornets lack depth. Chris Paul and David West are phenomenal, but I’m not sold on the rest of their squad. Their third scorer is Peja who, while a great shooter, doesn’t contribute much else. He doesn’t pass, rebound or defend particularly well and he can’t get his own shot. On nights like last night when his shot is off or if a defense decides to make it a priority to take away his looks, he is a liability. In the playoffs, they will play Posey more at either the 2 or 3, but their other wing players are Mo Pete and Rasual Butler who are also pretty one dimensional and don’t scare anybody. Their backup point guard is Mike James who looked terrible last night wilting under the Lakers’ pressure D and making bad turnovers when he was in. I know CP3 is going to play almost all of the minutes, but you need a quality backup. I also think that miss Jannero Pargo a lot. As good as Posey is at what he does (hard nosed D, spot up shooting), they didn’t add anything else to their bench. They need someone who can create their own offense off the bench either for when CP3 is out or to give him rest while he’s on the court in the playoffs when he’ll have to play 40+ minutes every night (like Pargo did last year). Also, Chandler, and to a lesser extent, Armstrong do a good job playing defense and rebounding, but any offense they get is a bonus. Again, it just points to the imbalance in their roster that is vulnerable to injury or foul trouble, or Paul or West having an off night. This is not to say that the Hornets aren’t really good and that they won’t be a tough out for anyone in the playoffs, I just think the Lakers and the Jazz have moved head of them now.

  15. The difference between the first three quarters and the last half of the fourth can be summed up in one word for me: transition.

    Heavy legs, poor shot selection and some bad turnovers are a recipe for bad transition defense, which is exactly how NO got back into the game.

    Again and again Paul was able to push the ball up the floor and find a crease to score or create wide open looks for his teammates. All of these fast break or semi break opportunities exposed the Laker defense before they really had a chance to get set. Bynum running out of gas didn’t help matters, which is why he was ultimately taken out.

    The lesson learned from this game in my opinion is that the Lakers need to learn how to exercise control over tempo in the fourth quarter. Don’t turn the ball over and don’t take ill advised shots (hello Kobe) .

    If the Lakers have the lead going into the fourth and force teams to score on them in a half court situation, they are going to be extremely tough to deal with.

  16. hey…it is a W right…they looked tired (as a few of you pointed out) and I can live with that on the back to backs…as long as they stay mentally solid…and dont just give up…which they did NOT do last night…they checked themselves and figured out how to stay a head in the game and that was that.

    they will lose a game…eventually…I am ok with that…I just hope its against a quality team and we dont lose to the Thunder or something like that by playing down to their level.

    iPhone…all the way….I had a Razor for a while on AT&T and had terrible reception at home…I got the iPhone and have full bars most of the time and never dropped a call. Nikao…I will check that Cameraman app out now…

  17. Great post Kurt. My $0.02:

    ACCOLADES: I love it when four players in our team are in double figures. It shows that we are moving the ball around and taking pressure off Kobe. Also, I love the way the guys played when it got close at the end.

    Also, two nights ago Bynum showed just why his addition will make this team very different. i remember a point in th fourth quarter against the Rockets when the they were roaring back and Lamar drew a terrible foul call near the end of their run. I think everyone could see he was clearly frustrated by the terrible call. The Lakers of last year would have had no choice but to leave him in the game where he would have likely fouled out or been so frustrated where he would not have contributed a dime offensively and, thus, freeing up a defender to double on Kobe. Phil brought Bynum in off the bench and voila! The Rockets could not pull it off.

    CONCERNS: Frankly my biggest concern is Bunum. Although Andrew is doing very well, his cardio conditioning requires a lot of improvement. Although it is only the start of the season, I am concerned whether he can imprve it by mid-season as everyone expects. I say this because Bynum has been questioned by Phil in the past, including this last training camps where he admitted he was “bored” with practice. Also, I dont think he understands that he can best serve the lakers by not only blocking shots, but becoming a sort of a Denis Rodman-Dwight Howard hybrid. There’s no reason why Bynum should not have pulled 20 boards against a team like the Hornets who lack a big prescence in the middle. Frankly, i don’t think he sees rebounding as a key to his success. In my mind, he is more interested in getting blocks and scoring field goals. The thing is, that he can best serve this team by rebounding – not scoring. The thing is, from a scoring point of view, the more boards he gets the more points he will inevitably get from dunking the rebounded ball.

    Anyway, just one point of view. GO LAKERS!

  18. Kurt, yeah, Utah just has more talent IMHO, but nobody on Utah scares me like CP3. Lots of basketball left to play, and New Orlean’s weak bench won’t be as much of an issue come playoff time. Nonetheless, I don’t think either can hang if we stay healthy.

  19. Am i the only one not a least bit worried about the ‘4th quarter collapse?’ Dude, sure 3 points was too close for comfort but that’s what leads are for. You try to maintain one so you can absorb the other superstar’s unstoppable run. Every franchise player has that streak in them, where they can just take over games. Some get that streak out more reliably than others, like Kobe, LeBron, and in this case, CP3. Nothing really you can do about that other than hoping you contain others.

    As for the Jazz and Hornets, I think both are what we were a year ago – CP/Deron playing the role of Kobe, Boozer/West playing the role of Odom. One’s a superstar that is reliable, the other… well an all-star that is awesome in streaks. So over a 7 game series, they could force game 7 but that’s it. I can see us dispatching them in 6, 5 if we have everyone awake.

  20. I could’ve swore I heard Forum Blue&Gold and Kurt mentioned on AM570 yesterday.
    During the pregame I think.
    Am I mistaken?
    Am I hearing things?

  21. Yes, you hate to see a 4th quarter collapse like that, but it didn’t surprise me. New Orleans is a very good team. The Lakers were not going to hold them to 30 points in both the 1st and 2nd halves. That’s just unrealistic, even with the current best defense in the NBA.

    What bothered me was they let the run get out of hand. 34 in a quarter is unacceptable, no matter the lead that was built. If the Lakers had held it to under 30 that quarter I would have been much happier.

    And of course, compared to last season at this time, I realize how silly that last paragraph is.

  22. First of all-Rob L, great to see you post.

    Second-Annonymous, yes, you heard FBG getting promos on 570, Kurt is blowing up big-time, and they advertise for the blog all Laker game (and lots during the day)

    Third- I know its early, but I think, that along with NO and Utah, Houston will have something to say about the West come playoff time. I like the parts they have, they just need to make them work.

  23. “But last year’s Lakers team lost that game and probably gave back the lead by the end of the first half.”

    I don’t agree with that. I know they gave up leads, occasionally in the first half, but the first I remember actually losing was game 4 in Boston. We gave up a 30 point lead to the Hornets, but that played out similarly to last night, with a large run to start the third. And in the the end the Lakers still came out ahead.

    On the larger point, I still agree. This is clearly a stronger team because its healthy, and I don’t think the run given up last night should be taken too hard unless it becomes a recurring problem. I’m just standing up for last year’s team.

  24. I agree, great to see Rob L.

    20. Yes, 570 is promoing (if that’s a word) this blog, and there may be more stuff down the line.

  25. Kurt that is great…when you move to the spacious house in the Hills remember us little people!!! LOL I get very poor reception for 570 in Sanata Barbara…anyone know of alternatives up this way…I dont often listen to the radio so I really dont know.

  26. Burningjoe- You can check out 570 online at http://www.570klac.com/main.html

  27. 11 Great point, Craig. It’s what we had to suffer through in the Finals – offense is about rhythms, a comfort zone, so even when great defenses don’t always play a shot airtight, the offensive team is already out of rhythm. I would love to see us play that level defensively all year long, just locked in.

    On another note, I just finished reading the Show a couple weeks ago. INCREDIBLE read. I will never again make the mistake of overlooking Jerry West and Elgin Baylor in my greatest 2’s and 3’s discussions.

    As we progress, through last years Finals and now this year, I can’t help but imagine how this Lakers chapter will be written up years from now….all the storylines and subplots are just made for a good book.

  28. Roland Lazenby could do well to write the sequel to The Show – maybe call it The Mitch Years – and go through much of Bynum’s career. Of course that would mean he would have to be around, but we all hope for that anyway.

  29. Kwame is starting tonight for the Pistons. Tomorrow night should be interesting. Any chance he knows the triangle enough to disrupt it? =P

  30. 28- It just occurred to me we were going to get to play against a team featuring a lot of Kwame minutes and became giddy. Do we even have anybody guard him when he’s under the rim? I say tempt the other pistons to pass him the ball. Half those passes will end up out of bounds, another most of the rest will be blown layups off the glass. Its a no lose situation as far as I can tell.

    Bynum v. Kwame should also be great, since they prractices each other so often.

  31. CalLaker,
    “Tomorrow night should be interesting. Any chance he knows the triangle enough to disrupt it?”

    He’s still trying to figure out how many sides it has.

  32. I think as good as this team is playing right now, even the most casual of fan can see the room for improvement. and for me most of it centers around Young Andrew Bynum.

    He makes so many athletic plays and shows his soft hands, but rarely are those playes clean. He fumbles the ball, recovers and still scores, but imagine when those plays become cleaner.

    He still is in such a hurry on offense that he runs him self out of position, hurries his post moves (or worse telegraphs them) and swats at shots rather than going straight up.

    He got pump faked into the air last night! On his feet, he was making Chris Paul look like he’s in a phone booth, he needs to stay down. He will learn how to alter shots or redirect them, and then see how much energy he conserves in the process of playing solid fundamental defense. He was gassed last night, and there was a lot of wasted energy.

    These remaing games are a story to be written, not a foregone conclusion. This ’09 team still has several (albeit smaller) dragons to slay before the can consider themselves worthy and battle tested.

    We can’t forget how maddeningly inconsistent they were in the Finals.

  33. 31 — Zing!

    Speaking of former Lakers … I’m usually more than willing to forgive and forget (or, at minimum, forget) those whose time wearing the Purple and Gold was, shall we say, less-than-distinguished.

    However. If any of you out there miss having Smush Parker to kick around, you may take pleasure in learning that he was just drafted 14th overall in the NBDL draft by some team called the Rio Grande Vipers. (Hat tip to the LA Times Lakers Blog.)

    Schadenfreude is such an ugly, awesome emotion!

  34. Every night before I sleep, I pray for the health of the Lakers. OK, I don’t, but if I were religious I would, because right now it seems that injuries are the only thing that could derail the Lakers Express, destination O’Brien.

    They really only have to fine tune some things, and play one game at a time.

  35. Let’s think of it this way – we’re 7-0 without playing a single game of ‘up-to-our-standards’ ball.

    The kicker is that not only are we up 7-0, we also have a pretty sizable margin of victory.

    This is all with 4th quarter collapses, coming slow out of the gates, not playing defense from time to time, getting lazy and shooting PUJITs and having Kobe hog the ball…

    Imagine now a finals atmosphere, against the hateful celtics, our team focused 100%, playing its heart out for 48 minutes, having corrected little things …

  36. I 7. “There’s no reason why Bynum should not have pulled 20 boards against a team like the Hornets who lack a big prescence in the middle.”

    Chandler & West averaged 21.3 rpg between them last year. They are no walk in the park.

    Bynum has averaged 10.2 rpg in 30.8 mpg over the last 5. He’s working his way back into game shape after coming off of knee surgery and is coming along just fine.

  37. 35 – Be still, my beating heart.

  38. Yea, you have to be and live in the present…

    “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” – Albert Einstein

    Just something to ponder.

    GO LAKERS

  39. Kurt, I was considering getting the G1 soley because of the NBA tracker. How is that app working for you?

  40. 31- exhelodrvr ….as long as there is no Birthday Cake on the court the Lakers are all safe from Kwame.

    29 – CalLaker….there is not a lot of secrets left to the Triangle Offense…it has won 9 NBA championships…and I am almost certain that any coach in Basketball in general has studied it becasue of that fact. But it dosent always help to know what your opposition is going to do…especially with all the options that the offense presents.

  41. “Kwame is starting tonight for the Pistons. Tomorrow night should be interesting. Any chance he knows the triangle enough to disrupt it?”

    Only if he’s playing IN it, rather than against it.

  42. Kwame disrupt the offense? Please. He didn’t get it when he was here invoovled in the offense. You think he’s bright enough to stop it from the other end? He’s not good rebounder, he can’t do anything on offense. he’s not even tough. Kwame starting? Is he really? Is Michael Curry that foolish? This will be funny.

  43. I can’t wait for Bynum to bust Kwame’s ass and Kobe to provide some super highlight dunk on him

  44. Do you ever feel sorry for the opponent when they venture inside against the Lakers, only to be met with a forest of torso trunks, arm branches, and finger leaves?

    I can feel the opponents frustration, and it almost reminds me of how I felt when the Lakers would try to attack Boston’s defense last year. Looking back, it’s laudable that the Lakers offense was so powerful that they won two games, almost three against the Boston defense. But in last year’s Finals, we didn’t know at the time, but the Lakers were Peter Petrelli of Heroes and Rogue of the X-Men, and they absorbed the Celtics strength and took it for their own.

    Looking to tonight’s game, I look forward to seeing who is going to match up with Rasheed for most of the game on both sides of the court.

  45. 39. There’s an NBA tracker? Don’t think it’s available yet, if there is one. There is a pro and college football tracker, and those are pretty impressive and fun. There may eventually be hoops ones (both college and pro, I bet) but they are not in the marketplace yet.

  46. What’s with the gloating and hubris? It’s disgraceful.

  47. I’ve noticed in the last couple of Pistons games that they like to go “small” in the 4th, by playing Rasheed at the 5, Prince at the 4, and Stuckey at the 3. (Last night, Afflalo was inserted into the lineup for Stuckey)

  48. I wonder how this team will look in Jan or Feb. That’s when Andrew got going last season. This team is gonna be even scarier!!! The lakers aren’t even clicking on offense yet!
    (evil laugh) muahahahaha!!!!!!!!

  49. In an interview on NBA TV after the New Orleans game, Bynum sopke about having to guard Rasheed on the three point line. He said he would be ready for it. If it works for Detroit and gets Bynum out of the game to match up on defense then other teams will be looking to do the same.

    One way to attack “small ball” is to pound it inside to Bynum and try to make Detroit match up with him, and not the other way around for the Lakers.

    We shall see.

  50. Depending on who Curry starts for Detroit, this may be the game where we see some cross matching from Phil on defense. While Kwame has started recently for the Pistons (a player that Bynum would guard naturally), they have also started Maxiell at PF and had ‘Sheed play Center. If that’s the case, I would think that Phil would use Gasol on Sheed and put Bynum on Maxiell. This would make for a more natural *style* matchup and allow Bynum to play more around the basket where he can defend the paint and rebound.

    On a side note, this will be the second time that we’ve seen Iverson this season, and the last time we didn’t do a great job of containing his penetration. Now, Denver (traditionally) plays at a faster pace than the Pistons and that pace factor enabled Iverson to attack more in early offense situations. Situations that have the ability to really put a strain on our SSZ defense. We’ll see if Detroit gives Iverson these same opportunities or if AI is as effective getting to the baseline and beating the trap on attacks from the wing. It’s something I’ll be looking for.