Preview & Chat: The Phoenix Suns

Kurt —  November 20, 2008

Records: Lakers 8-1 Suns 8-4
Offensive ratings: Lakers 108.9 Suns 108.7
Defensive ratings: Lakers 94.8 Suns 105.7
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Suns : Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Matt Barnes, Amare Stoudemire, Shaq Daddy

Note to the mainstream media covering the game tonight: The vast majority of Lakers fans have moved on from the Shaq/Kobe feud. Stop trying to fan the flames, a fire needs fuel and nobody here cares enough anymore to provide it. Please join us in 2008.

Lakers notes: We’ve talked a little in the comments about the lack of explosiveness from Andrew Bynum the last few games, plays that used to be thundering dunks are soft-little lay-ups. Part of the reason appears to be health — after practice yesterday Bynum had his knee wrapped in ice and limped toward the team huddle, according to Mike Breshnahan at the LA Times (and he’s good). Normally I’d say this would be a good night to try to cut Bynum’s minutes so he can rest that knee, but he needs to play minutes matched up on Shaq (Mbenga or Mihm may get a little run too, even if it is just to foul Shaq).

A valid question is, do the Lakers keep Radmanovic in the starting lineup, and if so for how long? I’m not on the “make the change” bandwagon yet, as the team is 8-1 and Radman is not getting key minutes late so the rotations are working well. Plus his defense has been better than expected. But it’s a question worth asking.

The Suns Coming In: It’s early, but the 8-4 Suns are tied for the second best record in the West.

He may not be getting the media headlines, but any discussion of the Suns this season has to start with Amare Stoudemire, who is putting up MVP like numbers at the four. He leads the team with 23 points per game and is doing so with a crazy-good 66.9% True Shooting Percentage. The Suns are +17.5 per 48 minutes when he is on the floor. He’s been big on the glass, getting blocks and steals, just being the force he was pre-injury. And it’s not a huge leap to figure out why — what other four in the league can hang with him athletically. Gasol is a great player, but this is a brutal defensive task for him.

Shaq has come into the season in shape and playing some of his best basketball in years. He is averaging 15 and 8, with a 61% TS% (Shaq, for all the things that would occasionally drive us nuts as Lakers fans, always shot a high percentage). The fact is, he is not the 2000 Shaq, but for a night (or a half) he can be pretty close. And even the 2008 Shaq is a force on the block.

The guy suffering, at least in terms of numbers, is Steve Nash. I’ll let the blog Bright Side of the Sun explain from a recent post:

We haven’t seen Nash distribute the rock on the fastbreak like we are accustomed to seeing. We haven’t seen as many jaw-dropping passes and marveled at his vision as much as we used to. In fact, he’s had only one game this year of 10+ assists.

Let’s start by looking at Nash’s numbers before the Shaq trade (November 2007 – January 2008):

17. 3 points per game, 11.8 assists per game, 3.5 turnovers per game

Then, Nash’s numbers after the trade (February 2008 – April 2008):

15.7 points per game, 10.3 assists per game, 3.6 turnovers per game

Sure, there was a small decline in scoring and 1 less assist averaged per game but there is no significant evidence that Shaq affected those numbers. More than likely, it was due to fatigue and playing the third highest minutes total of his career….

Nash’s numbers to date for the 2008-2009 season thus far:

13.7 points per game, 7.5 assists per game, 3.27 turnovers per game

These stats lead me to conclude that new coach Terry Porter and the new style of play, not Shaquille O’Neal, has had the biggest influence on the decline of Nash’s stats thus far. This isn’t necessarily unexpected, but I didn’t think it would be as noticeable as early in the season.

This also got me thinking of how much I miss the old Nash. Sure, our team is built to make a long run in the playoffs. We have more depth, a better defense, and more scorers. But, selfishly, how much more fun was it to watch Nash create instead of dumping it into the post to Shaq?

By the way, the same site has a great post about the all time NBA tandems.

Keys To The Game: First thing to remember, these are not the run-and-gun Suns, they are actually in the middle of the league in terms of tempo (5 possessions per game behind the Lakers pace so far). They can still get out and run, Nash is still Nash in the open court, but that is not the team MO any more.

The Suns offense starts (particularly early in games) by getting the ball to Shaq on the block. That puts pressure on Bynum, but Shaq is a vet and the Lakers cannot give him one defensive look all game. Trap him sometimes, play him straight man others, bring help when he puts the ball on the floor another time, double him with a small trying to swat at the ball. Variety, the spice of life.

But when the game is tight the Suns halfcourt offense looks pretty familiar — Steve Nash running the pick and roll. With Amare setting the pick it is very hard to defend. The Lakers will need to play some of their best P&R defense of the season (I’m looking at you, Gasol). Also, you have to close out on their three point shooters — Bell, Nash, Diaw can all drain it.

I think this game will be won in the paint — the Suns get 35% of their shots right at the rim but hold other teams to 27% of their shots in close. The Lakers have been getting 39% of their shots in close. Can they do that with Shaq and Amare in the paint? If so, they get the win, but if the Suns dominate the paint and turns the Lakers into a perimeter team, it could be a long night.

Where you can watch:National broadcast on TNT, so expect to miss the first 5 minutes of the game when the first half of the double header runs long. Again. 570 radio locally.



136 responses to Preview & Chat: The Phoenix Suns

  1. Off topic comment, but did anyone else catch part of the Pistons/Cavs game last night? KD called this out too — the Pistons came back in the second half not because they took good shots, but because they hit the shots regardless of quality. Sort of like, actually a lot like, against the Lakers. The Pistons just may be a team that can do that now and again. But I don’t think you can win in the playoffs that way.

  2. 1. Agreed. Should be an interesting game tonite between the Celts and the Pistons.

    Keys to our game: Push the pace. This sounds weird, but I think for the minutes that Shaq is on the floor, we should try to exploit that and push the pace, attack quickly and involve Shaq in lots and lots of pick of and rolls. When Shaq is not on the floor, we should impose our will on the Suns by pounding the ball inside, either with Pau or Drew (or maybe even posting LO).

  3. The Amare Pau match up should be a fun one to watch. I don’t think Gasol can guard Amare from the perimeter, so Amare should be able to take him off the dribble. But I also do not think that Amare can guard Pau in the paint so Pau might see a lot of double teams, so hopefully players are moving without the ball.

  4. David St. Hubbins November 20, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Since you brought it up in the post…

    Why is it that there seems to be a rule set in stone that TV networks can’t leave the end of the first game of a double header for the start of the second game? I can understand if the first game is close, but I can’t count the number of times when one team is blowing out the other and I’m just praying that no more fouls are called so the game will end in time to see the start of the Lakers’ game. If Indiana is beating Chicago by 30 points who, outside of Indiana, doesn’t want to see the second game instead? I’ve always hated this, especially since the Lakers are often the second game.

    As for tonight, I’m interested to see the new look Suns. They’ve been good so far this year, but with the age of their roster, it will be more important to see where they are after 82 games. Grant Hill in particular looked totally gassed in the playoffs and I expect Shaq and Nash will be too unless Porter does some serious monitoring of their minutes during the year. Luckily for them, the West seems weaker than last year so maybe they’ll be able to hold a little more in reserve.

  5. This is a little premature, but I’ll probably forget next week.

    Among the things I am thankful for this year:
    Dallas trading Devin Harris for Jason Kidd. We don’t need another bruiser PG playing like Harris in this conference.

  6. David St. Hubbins November 20, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    I’ve never thought of Devin Harris as a bruiser, but I’m still thankful for a trade that further weakened a past its time Dallas team.

    Another thing I want to see tonight is whether or not Amare has improved his defense. For a guy who has all of the tools to be a good defender, he was flat out awful last year. Granted he played out of position at center until Shaq came, but he seemed clueless in how to play within the Suns scheme. He blocked some shots coming from the weak side, but as a one on one defender he was a disaster. Can anyone who has watched the Suns this year comment on Amare’s D?

  7. Maybe Bruiser was the wrong word for his style of play. But Harris is currently 7th in the league in PER and has really torn it up when he’s been on the floor.

    I’m similarly thankful that Rose isn’t in our conference.

  8. Shaq on any given night is back to 2006 levels. The Suns with or without Shaq play as much 2 – 3 zone as any team in the league. Ostensibly to protect Nash, it also protects Amare. While Amare’s help defense has improved, his man defense has not.

    Currently Amare is the best offensive player in the league, with the possible exception of Wade. What makes him so deadly this year is his (surprisingly) excellent passing skills.

    The suns are much better this year than last. Diaw has dropped the weight, Amundsson looks like a keeper. But Barnes has been their most important new addition. When he is playing well, running, passing, and hitting 3’s the Suns can hang with any team in the league.

    Barnes also moves Hill to the bench. In Hill, Diaw, and Lopez (and even without Barbosa), the Sun’s bench matches the Lakers.

    The Lakers should still take this one if, as Kwame a says, they push the pace and don’t let the Suns and Shaq settle into their zone. Is it time for a Vlady sighting? About time. They are going to need him.

    I like what Porter has done to this team. They are the 2nd best team in the West.

  9. Fun matchups all over the court:

    Amare v. Pau
    Shaq v. Drew
    Bell v. Kobe

    Hill v. Ariza
    Diaw v. Odom

  10. What makes Amare so special in my eyes is his ability to finish on the move when driving to the basket. Especially when drawing contact. He has the body control and shot making of a skilled wing player while having the strength and athleticism to absorb the hit or just explode right over you. If I’m Pau tonight, I sag off and let him have his jumper. Pau is long enough to contest that shot, and I’d rather Amare shoot that J then drive on us and draw fouls on Pau and/or the helper in the lane. Let Amare impersonate the 2002 version of Karl Malone.

    Also, when Amare and Shaq are in the game at the same time, and Amare is isolated on the shallow wing (in a position similar to Duncan when he shoots that bank shot) I don’t think we should be extending our defense and playing the strong side zone with Bynum (or Gasol if Odom is on Amare). Shaq, even in the midst of his physical decline, will punish us on the offensive glass (when it’s a small player rotating down to box out) and force us to foul him. I’d prefer not to give needless fouls and put a team like the Suns in the penalty. Especially because their primary offensive initiators (Nash and Amare) are tremendous at the FT line and that can even out the game or even give them an advantage and mess up the flow/pace of the game. If it’s a guard or wing player isloted on the wing, I’m fine with playing our SSZ look because behind that big showing help is another big that is straddling the paint, and that 2nd big can rebound well enough. But if it’s a guard down there trying to hold off Shaq (or Amare if the roles are reversed) then I say play it straight.

    Finally, on RadMan in the starting group, I’m fine with it, but I think he needs to be on a much shorter leash. I feel like Rad is given the same leeway as Fisher and he should not be. Fisher brings more to the table (more defense, stronger mental make up, and better intangibles) and should be given that leeway. Radman should not be given that same rope and should be subbed out faster if he’s not doing the things we need him to do (I mean as soon as 2-3 minutes if he’s in Cadet mode). Bring in Ariza early or even go to Luke. We have SF’s that can play, but not necessarily the PG’s (unless you count Sasha in the group with Farmar and Fish) that can give us minutes for faulty play at a position. Just my 2 cents.

  11. This Little Pinky November 20, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for the Bynum update. In the preseason, he seemed to have improved on finishing with a dunk whenever possible (something Pau has really taken to heart), but lately he has been dropping it in softly, and now I know why. Even his rebounding has suffered, as early on it seemed like he would gobble up any carom that bounced his way, but I haven’t seen as much of that dominant rebounding recently.

  12. I have no problem with Vlad staying in the starting line up. Against Chicago he did some good things even if his shot was off. At least he was active, cutting without the ball a couple of times, taking it inside and he played decent defense. The times where he has to be subbed out fast are when he is not doing anything at all except standing at the 3 pt line and missing shots.

  13. Keeping Vlad with the starters allowed the bulls to guard him with 6 foot Ben Gordon and keep Deng on Kobe. Surely Phil knows that Walton, with his excellent low post game, would have punished the Bulls until the Bulls make the adjustment. If I were Porter, I would guard Vlad with Nash when not playing zone.

  14. 13-I can’t argue that point, except that Phil might place the importance of Vlad’s defense (which at times is really good) over Luke’s passing and post-skills. Like Darius said, I don’t think it would hurt at some point to see what Luke can do with that 1st unit, especially because it might actually play to his limited (but potentially useful) skill-set.

  15. The starting unit has a total +/- of +9 in 122 minutes. The only 5 man unit with Walton in it is +5 in 8 minutes. Not that the latter stat means much. But I think the starters’ stat is significant.

  16. I still think Luke can help us. I think his passing and feel for the game can be effective when mixed in with our starters. Realize too that Walton is not the fast paced racer that fits so well on our 2nd unit. I’ve argued in the past that the 2nd unit could use a player like Luke because he’s one of the only players in our 2nd Five that isn’t a gunner. But LO has that role covered right now. If Radman ends up being as inconsistent (as he has been) in any given game, I don’t see the harm in Luke getting some burn with the Starting 5 and seeing if he can add another dimension (passing, screening, cutting; things he’s good at) to that group.

  17. Even though the Suns aren’t running much right now..I still expect by March to the Suns to at least start running a high tempo unit like the Lakers Bench. Makes more sense to work on the defensive half-court game now and then open things up in the second half..could make them pretty tough to handle in the playoffs too

  18. We’re the only team without a road loss. Let’s hope we can keep this up 🙂

  19. The Suns do not get consistant scoring from their wings. Until they trade for a scoring wing,I just don’t see them as a legit contender.

  20. I would also like to see Walton get a chance with the first unit, just to see what he can do. It’s great that we have a powerful and cohesive second unit, but the 1st team/3rd team dynamic for Walton and Rad is a very unfortunate side effect.

    (To be fair, I give credit to Radmanovic for his improvements on defense . Of course, he blows that away every time he misses a ten-foot chipshot…)

  21. Is anyone catching the Det-Bos game? Like I said in my previous post, Sheed and the rest look terrible against Bos. Is Boston’s defense that good or is Detroit on a bad night? This Detroit team does not look like the one that just beat the Lakers. I know it’s very early in the season but the way Bos is just tearing up Detroit worries me.

    Man, I really hope that the Lakers play with a lot of passion tonight and the starters can give us a lead instead of the bench having to dig them out. If Rad doesn’t hit some 3s, PJ should just pull him out and start trying out a different starting lineup.

    Yes, the Lakers are 8-1 but I think many of you will agree that they weren’t all quality wins. I realize we aren’t going to win all games by 20 pts, but did you see what Portland did to the Bulls? That is what the Lakers should have done to them also but they kept letting them back in the game.

    Come on Lakers, play with some intensity and kick some #%$!!!!!

  22. 20

    …or an uncontested dunk.

  23. 21. Detroit is on the second game of a back-to-back, but I wonder if they (and much of the East) has a mental hurdle to clear with the Celtics. Shots that fell against us and Cleveland last night are not falling tonight. Could be just an off night, but I wonder.

  24. Interesting game tonight for Bynum:

    He had both of his theoretical “break-out” moments against players in tonight’s game:

    Firstly, when Shaq dunked on him while still on Miami and then Drew returned the favor with a baseline spin into a dunk, and then eventually receiving a tech because he bumped Shaq back on defense:

    Secondly, Drew had 28/12 on Dec. 25th last year against the Suns, while Amare had only 19/6:

  25. Any links for tonight’s game?

  26. I just wonder how the backcourt pieces are going to fit for Detroit in a way that will keep them at the top of the East. Hamilton needs to come off multiple screens and stay in perpetual motion to thrive at the offensive end – now he’s lucky to get 1 and has to wait for AI to stop dribbling the air out of the ball before he gets it. Stuckey is the third guard but he doesn’t really complement AI because they both want to get to the rim and need the ball in their hands.

    As I said when they made the trade, I like it more for the long-term implications, because I just don’t think Iverson will be there beyond this season.

  27. Wow Joel, the feed is great – Thanks

  28. No problem.

  29. wtf with fish? gunning already

  30. does anyone feel like fisher is taking a little too many shots? he just had a sequence where he took 3 shots, all misses

  31. Wow our offense looks horrible. No ball movement at all. Kobe going 1-on-1. Starting off the game with chucking a 3. Fish decides to shoot 3 times in a row, that doesn’t work, so he decides to drive into Shaq instead.

    Is it possible to forget an entire (triangle) offense over the course of a few months?

  32. It’s saying something when you can out-chuck Kobe, Radmanovic, Sasha, and Farmar, but Fisher is pulling it off.

  33. Lets hope Fish keeps attacking the basket and taking lots of shots, its looking real good so far. I especially liked when he decided he was gonna attack the rim with Shaq standing right in front of him.

  34. 30, 32 – Agreed. Twice now Fisher’s bad shot selection has led to 3’s by Bell. Phil shouldn’t be afraid to yank him, if only once to send the message that he needs to stop this nonsense. Any extra offense needs to go through Pau in the post.

    This is just awful. He’s playing like a rookie. Why won’t Phil reign him in?

  35. rein*

  36. I don’t which is more impressive: Gasol’s defense on Amare, or Fisher’s shot selection.

  37. 35 – Right back at you! Yank him just to give him the message that he needs to start running a planned offense.

  38. Great ball movement when recognizing the 2-3 zone.

  39. I love this aggressive version of Pau. Our most efficient offense runs through him, even more than Kobe I’d say, because his post scoring/passing ability opens things up for everyone else, Kobe included.

  40. Ariza!! Yes…take it to the rim. Attack!!!!

  41. Really nice end to the first quarter with a little 8-0 run.
    A couple of nice defensive sequences, including a beautiful double-team to get the ball out of Amare’s hands.
    Sweet moves by both Kobe and Ariza taking it straight to the rack.

  42. Way to go bench. Nice patience!!

  43. I am no expert in the triangle, but i don’t think we’re running it.

    I do think we’re letting Fish too much freedom… player union thing perhaps? Seriously, NOBODY seems to complain about Fisher shooting so much other than us fans.

    Maybe i’m missing out on something really painfully obvious that everyone takes for granted.

  44. That Zone Phoenix started to play was a bad idea. This Lakers unit is the one that will move the ball around and slash to the basket. Odom and Ariza will be able to get good looks attacking the basket in the gaps and Pau can not only score but pass to open cutters.


    watching via net while at work. Hill and Shaq move well for their age… something about rising from the ashes, that phoenix team.

  46. I can’t wait for “The Librarian,” seems so exciting.

  47. Yea Fish!! He was going to take that shot but passed to LO!!!!!!

  48. I’m not saying Vlade should actually be benched, but I think fans should lobby for his benching more often…

  49. Space Cadet has his jumper working tonight…

  50. 47- I hear Bill Engvall, Tyler Perry and The Closer make special guest appearances!

  51. Our offense is still looking a little wonky, but we’re getting it done on the defensive end; the Lakers are looking full of purpose on that end, denying ball entry, running effective traps and recovering well.

    That’s what we all said we wanted, right?

  52. We had some defensive moments, I really liked how we collpased on Amare, Shaq, etc.

    Just that Fisher made another one of those PUJITs. Thankfully it went in and stuff, but argh.

  53. Yes…even though he made it, I think it was a bad decision.

  54. 52 – Yes, they are looking much better defensively as that will help them when the offense isn’t running. However, the current offense is struggling to find some semblance of an organized unit.

  55. Going back to #47.

    I’m no theologian, but I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as a “Judas Chalice” … much less a cursed one. What would a librarian even want a cursed chalice, no matter who once had a drink from it?

  56. Lmao Vlade stripped Shaq by actually turning and trying to run away, and his hand accidentally hit the ball. Classic.

  57. They need the golden challice to crack the hidden code of the Dewey Decimel System to find Dewey’s Secret Gold!

  58. Fisher assisting on the PUJIT!

  59. madman on fire tonight

  60. Then Gasol assists Fisher’s PUJIT!

  61. We are raining 3pt shots now.

  62. Pau with the behind-the-back! The Spanish Magic Johnson has arrived!

  63. (I like assisted PUJIT’s a lot better than dribble PUJITs)

  64. I seriously don’t approve of PUJITs, but dang I like 3 points.

  65. To be honest, I don’t like when they are just putting up 3s. Don’t want it to become their bread and butter and that’s what they depend on. Yes, it’s great when they’re going in…but as we have seen before, when it gets cold they keep chucking them up and the other team gets easy transition points.

  66. Actually, I may need some clarification on the PUJIT. Can it be assisted or by definition does the player dribble into it? It definitely doesn’t imply a 3 pointer, so should we yell “PUJITT” or “PUTIT?” This is important.

  67. I think we need to expand PUJIT to PUJIHC (Half-Court) and PUJWSEIO (When someone else is open)

  68. Odom PUTIT!

  69. Wow, nothing goes wrong here, does it.

  70. 68- Be careful- I screamed PUJHC in a bar the other night and somebody tried to give me the heimlich.

  71. You all are Just too funyy!! (only funny because it’s going in – crying when they’re clanking or air ball)

  72. I like this line up: Pau LO, Ariza, Farmar & Kobe

  73. amazing what we are doing considering the fact that 1} kobe is having a game where he is playing kinda selfish and 2) bynum is in foul trouble

  74. Ariza!!! I love that guy!!!!

  75. okay, yeah. terrible PUThIT by Farmar

  76. I have to be honest, while tonight the suns seem to be giving them open three pt looks, I don’t think the lakers have relied on that at all this year. They seem to be taking advantage of what they are given

  77. 73. With all due respect – are we talking about the same Lakers? I am by no expert like many of the great bloggers on this site – but man, I’ve watched a few games and the Lake Show were just chucking up the PUJITs at will.

  78. Loved what I saw tonight. I think Kobe set a bad tone to start this game by chucking up the 3, and early on there was virtually no ball movement, with shots being forced by Kobe and Fish.

    But IMO as soon as we started running the offense through Pau, the ball movement came back and that’s when we were at our best. I love what Pau does out there. We need to run the offense through him as much as we did through Shaq. Shaq dominated in a different way, by drawing doubles, but Pau’s natural passing ability should be the focal point on our offense.

    The only bittersweet thing about this is that you want both Pau and LO to have more minutes, as well as they’re playing. Bynum is necessary because of his bigger presence, Pau is much better at the 4. But Pau and LO have severely outplayed him, they deserve more minutes. Not really a problem, though. Everyone will be fresh, and we have great options to play different styles.

  79. but is it a bad shot if you are completely open?

  80. Did you watch the Bos-Det game? I hate to say it but the Cs were playing good defense – and they had crisp passing and playing offense with a purpose – not just throwing up jump shots. However, it is early in the season and that is the team we want in the finals. We need payback for game 6!!!!!!! PJ will have them peaking at the right time!!!!!

  81. Sasha. “IT’S MY BODY WASH!”

  82. let me modify that last statement, they should work it around and try to get inside looks, but I think we are being a bit hard on a team that has lost one game and is now leading by 13

  83. I think it is a bad shot if it is so early in the shot clock when you have the lead. Run down the clock. Pass the ball around. Work it inside and then take a shot in the paint or pop it back out for the 3. But at least it is not just iso plays and jump shots. However, this is just my opinion. I am not super knowledgeable about the game – I just love to watch the Lakers.

  84. one indicator that didn’t have me worried early when we were down was that we were within a few points after making only 4 out of our first 15. this let me know that the suns just wouldn’t score enough. now with about 3 minutes left in the game, the suns barely have scored 80 points. One thing that is clear through 10 games, the lakers are an improved defensive team since last year

  85. Lakers Timeout. Mike D’Antoni is calling Phil Jackson right now to yell at him.

  86. 76

    Thank you. 9/19 from 3, obviously most of them have been good looks.

  87. 78 – I agree that we shouldn’t be ungrateful, our guys have been nothing short of amazing so far. I think some of the consensus opinion is that right now we’re relying on our extreme talent, and have lost some of the great offensive habits we used to have. In the playoffs against top-tier defensive teams, talent is erased, and execution becomes far more important. So I think a lot of us just want the Lakers to develop good habits early on.

    It kinda depends on your fan philosophy. I believe in jinxes lol, so I’m never one to declare a Finals appearance or anything like that, I’d rather nitpick and in my own odd way, try to make this team better. But definitely we have an amazing start to the season, and we should enjoy it.

  88. And I don’t think it’s the 3’s that bothered people (at least not me). 3’s in the flow of the offense are great, like the later ones tonight. It was Fish just chucking up shots, and seeing no ball movement that we were picking at.

  89. 81. Yes, definite improvement on defense and we gotta love that!!!!

  90. Anyone else suprised by Pau’s Kidd-like 4/9/9?

  91. 84. Exactly! Well worded. I feel the same way. We rely on the extreme talent and know that we can kick it into gear when needed. But that is not a good way to play. You gotta develop good habits now. Sorry about mentioning the finals. A lot can happen in the season and we all know there are great teams in the West to beat before you make it to the playoffs. I was just overzealous in my comments.

  92. I do agree about the 3 pt shooting. I think I just believe that if they weren’t falling, that this team has the discipline to go to something else. If it aint broke don’t fix it I guess. I think that if radman had missed some of those shots and still kept chucking them up maybe that’s one thing, but as stu always says “ride the hot hand”

  93. Three cheers for a nationally televised game!

    And for another Laker win. Ostensibly against one of the better teams in the West. The D played well, especially on the road. Still undefeated on the road at this point is doing fantastic, considering that we have played: Houston, New Orleans, Phoenix, Dallas and Denver. All playoff teams last year. Just have San Antonio and Utah left to beat on the road.

    Amazing to hear Phoenix’s crowd cheering on the Lakers.

  94. 85. Yes…if there is ball movement and a purpose, then 3s are fine. But chucking it up when there are players you can pass to for a dunk or some easy basket is what I don’t like to see.

  95. 86 — Egad. That is an odd line, indeed!

    Was … was Radmanovic the player of the game for us?!

    Impressive win, regardless. Excellent defense (these may not be the Suns of years past, but holding them to 92 points is still notable in my book) and some sweet shooting from the outside, even if there were a few too many PUJITs.

    Let’s all enjoy tonight in our own preferred way!

  96. Gotta love Lamar wired up before the game (it all starts with the defense; eating at home is good but nothing beats roadkill) and his post-game where he emphasized again that the key is always defense.

    Fun game all around. Did anyone else think it weird that the announcers kept emphasizing the domination of the Lakers in the game when the lead wasn’t extraordinary by any means? It’s true that we never lost control and that the score might be misleading, but I think Reggie has a crush on the Lake Show.

  97. I dont think we’ve had the issue of shooting too many 3’s so far this season. We’re shooting less than 17 a game, and if I remember correctly, that number was well above 20 last season.

  98. ‘Enjoy the moment for what it is’, I’ve heard that somewhere around here in a post awile ago.

  99. phineas, yeah that was really annoying, too. It was like a 14 point game with 4 minutes left. Ugh. Granted Phoenix wasn’t giving that “we’re gonna make a run” vibe. But still.

  100. Yes – that was a great win!!! Winning on the road – gotta love that.

    100 – I found that a little odd too. Guess that UCLA connection or something?

  101. Hey, Charles knows what he’s talking about!

  102. “Eating at home is good but nothing beats roadkill.”

    That should be on the new FBAG T-shirts.

  103. 97 – The Houston win was at home

  104. 107 – I stand corrected. Add Houston to the list.

  105. 103 – With the 7 seconds or less Suns, a 14 point game with 4 minutes left would make me nervous

  106. good to see the space cadet get some mojo back..

  107. 110- yeah he spaced out the defense as opposed to himself tonight.

    Anyway, I kinda loved how STAT was swarmed with both Pau and Odom. They put their arms up and it looked quite intimidating. Instant forest.

  108. is anyone out there concerned about Bynum having his knees wrapped in ice after practice the other day? what is the latest report out there?

  109. It is interesting that VladRad, often referred to by bloggers as Space Cadet during the game, was virtually unrecognized despite making 5 consecutive 3 point baskets–until someone belatedly noticed that he had just been named player of the game.

    Vladamir deserves our recognition and appreciation when he validates Phil’s decision to start him at the 3.

  110. anybody else notice that young “Drew has been schooled these last 2 games?
    the reason…2 highly motivated ex-Lakers with something to prove, and ‘Drew not rising to meet that energy. I thought he basically ‘phoned it in’ last night, maybe he’s concerned about looking cool, (I hate that) guys like Trevor don’t care if they look cool or not, they dive for loose balls, hustle, even if they miss it, they never stop trying.
    (I thought Smush was one of those “looking cool is important” guys, and look what that got him)
    both Kwame and Shaq knew that they could come out, ‘focus’ in kwame’s case was the difference maker, and ‘hustle’ was in Shaq’s case, in both cases, I thought Drew was complacent. I hope he sees the excitement on the court and is envious of the team chemistry that’s building, and get’s his (new contract) butt in gear, get’s it motivated, and shows some desire out there.

    sure, he was in foul trouble, but I attribute that to both of our ex-Lakers flaws (when they were Lakers), lack of focus, (doing fundamentals correctly) and lack of hustle, thus being out of position and having to do a silly foul to avoid being posterized.

    who’s the next center we’ll be facing?
    I think all the centers in the league are going to be looking forward to making a name for themselves against young ‘Drew. he better turn this around or he’s going to have a very deep hole to dig himself out of or have a long season.

  111. 113, totally agree. Vladman is nasty when he wants to be and frankly I am glad that Phil has him at the 3. We need that type of shooting long term if we are really going to get over the hump.

  112. Azzemoto,

    I would assume that is something they do after every game and every practice. They have to take all precautions.

  113. 113 & 114,

    Yes, when Vlad is hitting his shot, NO ONE can beat the Lakers. Their offense is too good, too efficient, to deadly. He just needs to be more consistent. He’s always to the extreme. Either he’s hitting everything, and playing well, or he brings absolutely nothing at all. Missing affects every aspect of his game.

  114. it just occurred to me that maybe part of fish’s misplaced aggression on offense comes from wanting to make nash play defense on him and to keep him honest. this forces nash to be less effective on offense, no? especially when he leaves with back spasms yet again…

  115. For all our ragging on Vlade, he has been playing average to decent defense this year and he really has been getting in the passing lanes – even when his shot hasn’t been going. Maybe we should stop pointing out the misses he has on defense. Even Kobe stinks on defense at points in most games.

  116. 114.

    Drew is not being complacent. His knee is bothering him and it’s making him tentative. Not the same thing at all.

    He still had 10 & 7 on 5-8 in 21 minutes, though.

  117. 119-I would say he’s play above-average to really good defense. I think Vlad is always gonna be a streak shooter on offense, but Phil will keep in him if he continues to be so disruptive on the Strong-Side Zone.

  118. So the concencus opinion here is that a bunch of you want Walton to go from twelth man to the starting line up, because the Lakers are 9-1? Walton can’t shoot, Vlade is in there for one reason to shoot the three ball. I prefer Ariza in there but no need for it if the Lakers are winning. The guy who needs to improve the most is Sasha it was refreshing to see Ariza get pissed off at him the other nite for the same things he pisses me off all the time watching. Over anitmated defense that is in fact very poor hacking d, terrible shot selection and failing to move the ball quickly to the open man. Not to mention his missed threes last year led to more transition buckets then anyone elses missed shots on the team.That was a terrible resigning, as the Lakers have no need for him, but whatever.

  119. It’s like saying that Ewing’s got more rings than me. It’s like saying Kareem is better than me.

  120. ahhhh good win but its back to work tonight.

    lets sweep this week!

  121. 122.

    Sasha shot .437 from 3 last year, good for 8th in the NBA.

    Also, for all that supposed hacking Sasha was doing, he only averaged 1.5 fpg.

    As far as not needing him, who is supposed to be Kobe’s back-up? Fish?

  122. 123.

    Kareem was better than Shaq.

  123. ESPN has announced that NY and GS have agreed on a trade in principle and have already received a permission from the NBA. It’s Jamal Crawford for Al Harrington.

    I do not think it changes too much for the Warriors though. But trades are definitely piling up in the NBA.

  124. 127-It makes them even more “Nellie-e”. They are gonna run out a small, high scoring offense with 4 ball-hanlders on the court


    And they still have the undrafted gem Murrow and Ronny. I think it helps them. For NY, they are not holding back, kinda like when we made moves a couple seasons in advance to position ourselves to get Shaq. They are sending ever signal they can that they want LBJ.

  125. Looks like the Knicks are going all in, reported deal: Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley for Zach Randolph.

  126. I guess if the Warriors had to get something for Harrington they could do worse than Crawford who should fit their style to a T and gives them another ballhandler and outside shooter.

    Looks like the ‘LeBron in 2010 Plan’ is in full effect for the Knicks, especially if they pull off the Randolph trade. As for the Clippers: I’ve always said that the best way to build a winning team is to get both Ricky Davis and Zach Randolph on the same roster. Talk about a can’t-miss deal…

  127. All-time “takes worst shots of anyone at their position” team is defintley being assembled by the Clips.

    SG-Ricky Davis
    PF- Zach Randolph

    Im confident in Dumbleavy’s ability to find ball-hogs at the SF and C position.

  128. Man, the Clippers will be a mess if that trade goes through. Kaman, Camby, and Z-Bo? Who plays what?

    Not to mention Joel’s astute observation about Ricky Buckets and Randolph on the same roster…yikes.

  129. Nuggets Preview up — and a live blog for the game tonight!

  130. Joel, I know this is an overused online trope, but I literally did laugh out loud at your comment. Good stuff.

  131. Why would the Clips want Randolph? Does not make any sense

  132. 134

    You wouldn’t be laughing if you were a Clipper fan… 😉