I’ll Take 7-1

Kurt —  November 16, 2008

I don’t think this can be stressed enough — starting 7-1 means there is little going wrong with the Lakers. That is a 72-10 pace if you can keep it up for a season, so let’s not overreact to one game.

Along those overreaction lines, the simplistic media meme out of the Lakers first loss of the season was “they are still not tough enough.” But I don’t see how you get to that conclusion, unless you went in looking for that answer. The Brothers K at the LA Times Lakers blog summed up the toughness thing well:

…but the Lakers were hurt equally, perhaps more, by (Detroit’s) small, nearly postless lineup that relied on penetration on the perimeter and excellent ball and player movement to take advantage of defensive breakdowns. LA dominated the battle for second chance points (16-9) and points in the paint (52-30). They had 16 offensive rebounds, besting their season average.

To me, the apparent lack of toughness was a symptom of a poor night of defense. The Lakers did not keep the helpline where they wanted it, they were not aggressive with their traps.

That was one the things seen by one of this site’s best known posters, Kwame a., when he was at the game Friday:

1. The Pistons spread us out well. They ran the high screen and roll with AI and either Sheed or Kwame. What I was impressed with is how they got the ball into the middle of our defense. This was the first game a team consistently compromised our defense in that way.

2. The Pistons made lots of shots, I was amazed at some of the ones Tayshaun and AI hit over our defenders. They did get a fair share of open looks off penetration, but they made shots too, credit to them.

3. Darius touched on this after a different game, but it was really evident last night- the ball dies too much in the halfcourt with the starting unit. Not only Kobe, but with Pau as well. We need to move the ball more in the halfcourt. A big part of the problem was simply not making shots.

4. I was a little disappointed in Drew Bynum’s lack of discipline and focus on defense. He floated over to a position where he was slowly attempting to double prince on the strong side. This let Kwame gain deep position and get easy hoops on ball reversals. This was partly Bynum’s fault, but the team as a whole did not rotate well. Of course, rotations look slower when the other team is making its shots, and spreading out our D.

Darius added to that:

I noticed Drew not being in good position on the baseline as well. Our traps simply were not there against the Pistons. Part of that was that the initial defender was not doing a good job of shading the offensive player and directing him to the trap, but the second part of that was the strong side big not closing down the baseline effectively and shutting down the penetrator. I remember one play in particular where Prince went baseline and Bynum didn’t step up effectively, letting Prince get all the way to the basket and do that reverse two handed jam on the other side of the basket. Needless to say, our defense was not sharp against the relentless dribble attack of the Pistons. Sure, Detroit hit a lot of shots (and I know that can lead to more frantic close outs and the want to crowd the ball handler more; both of which lead to easier penetration) but we still need to play with more discipline and energy on defense. Last night it just wasn’t there.

But, it was one loss in eight games. The Lakers have a few days off to absorb that loss before they try to start a new streak against Chicago. Kwame a. said the same thing after the Detroit game.

The Lakers will be alright. This will be good tape to show them to keep them from getting to hight on themselves.