That Vaunted Lakers Defense

Kurt —  December 4, 2008

I don’t think anybody watching the last couple of games thinks the Lakers are playing as good of defense as they did to start the season. The numbers back that up (the Lakers have fallen to second in the league in defensive efficiency). The question is: How serious an issue are we really talking about here?

There has been concern after some games that the Lakers didn’t adjust their defense for a particular opponent, but Darius does a good job explaining that is not the goal of the new defense.

Understanding that we are 15-2, and what we’re doing *is* working, there is something to be said for making the opposition adjust to what we’re doing. As Kurt posted with his Strong Side Zone post and his reference to what Pelton wrote on in his post on our defense, we are playing a very aggressive defense conceptually. That means that we are dictating to the opposing offense what we want them to do. So, while it might make sense to play a particular player straight up or in a different manner than what our defensive game plan is currently showing (like the suggestions made in defending Andre Miller), we must understand that we are playing a consistent strategy to win every game against any opponent by dictating to them what we want them to do. So far, with a 15-2 record, I would say we’ve been mostly successful. Sure, there have been some lapses and some spotty execution sprinkled throughout the games, but overall I think the Lakers are playing well.

Execution has been an issue. Those mental lapses come from a comfortable feeling that can come from knowing you can win every night, and easily, and the result can be slow rotations or closeouts (for example). Most teams pay a price for that in losses, but they don’t have the Lakers offense to bail them out with high scoring wins.

To my mind, there are going to be nights like that, the job of the coaching staff is not to let it become a trend. Bottom line, with a 15-2 team in December, I’m not sure there are serious problems, just a few things to watch.

to That Vaunted Lakers Defense

  1. Some “problems” are more desirable than others, obviously. If a 15-2 record and second-best defensive rating are the worst things we can discuss, there really isn’t much to complain about.

    I was a newspaper writer for 10 years so I know the game: stories need to be written each day, and some day’s you’re grasping at straws to fill space. I don’t fault the Times or others for doing their jobs.

    That said, some of the so-called controversies or issues that have been drummed up this year have been amusing. A 21-year-old center on an All-Star laden team feels he isn’t getting enough touches; Odom may not like playing off the bench; Fisher’s shooting isn’t great; the Lakers won’t win 72 games; etc.

    You think fans in Oklahoma City or Washington would have any sympathy for these “concerns”? No way — they’d rightfully say, “The Lakers are 15-2 so quit complaining.”

    This season we’re blessed to watch a very good, hopefully great team play night in and night out. Hopefully we won’t lose sight of that and fail to appreciate it while worrying about the trivial things.


  2. Hahaha- in response to your last post in the last thread, I’m not trying to force past traumas on people. I am enjoying the basketball we’re watching. Though again- not as much as last year (whick I’ll never consider a failure despite how it ended. Last year will probably be one of my happiest bball memories for a long time).

    But my concern isn’t that this team isn’t playing like it should in the finals. I understand that execution develops over the year. But I think the general mindset is something we can look at.

    The Celtics won last year. They earned the right to flip the switch because they met their goals. The Lakers didn’t. They were embarassed. The response I’d like to see is pride and maybe even anger. The desire to disprove every misconception that arose out of that series to themselves and the world. If they still have a game or a stretch where they aren’t as crisp, okay. But the last 2 games are a microcosm of this not happening. They get beat because of poor defense and rebounding but they didn’t come back and completely beat Philly down just to reassert their dominance to everyone. They just kind of assume that they’re dominant. That won’t work.

    Never being willing to let up that position of dominance is what gives a team the mental edge to take on any opponenet. And I don’t see it (against Eastern teams. They do still seem to have it in the West).

    Yeah, I hope I’m wrong, but until everything plays itself out, the only thing that’s goign to convince me otherwise is an uptick in that raw attitude.


  3. J.D. Hastings,
    I was reading a story on the number of ‘poor’ games the Celtics played last year and it was quite a few – some they lost and some they won.

    One of the reasons Phil has been successful for so many years is that he doesn’t micromanage the team and wear out his welcome over time (see the 80’s Lakers and Pat Riley or Larry Brown or possibly Byron Scott). That means you not only have to be manipulative, but you also have to let your players learn many of their lessons their own way. All this while having a successful team is the true genius of Phil Jackson.

    I know – it pi**es us fans off a lot. Then again we aren’t getting paid $10-12 million a year to do all this. I guess we will just have to relax and keep the faith.


  4. This is completely off topic, and I don’t want to derail this post, but Rodney Rogers was in a terrible accident and is now paralyzed.

    This is very, very sad to me. Rodney was always a player that I liked (I do have an affinity for lefties)…he had a good career in the league. I wish his family nothing but the best in what must be some very difficult times.


  5. The Lakers are playing well, but from the perspective of the outside looking in; I would be interested in having Ariza in the starting line up replacing Borat. Borat makes timely 3’s but he gives away as many if not more points than he contributes. Consistently lacking on the defensive end, a walking turn-over and brain dead. It’s as if the other teams are paying his salary for him to be in the line-up. Ariza can’t shoot, that’s a given; although there are signs of improvement. What he can give the Lakers, is a consistent defensive presence ala Pippen next to Kobe’s Jordan. Ariza can also give the Lakers that needed toughness on the defensive end. Bynum should be embarrassed to get only 3 rebounds in a NBA Game; and it should never be forgotten that he ate a Fried Chicken Dinner 1 hour before tip-off. Phil is right, he’s still a Green-Pea. I pin the future of the Lakers post-season on Bynum’s growth on the Defensive End of the court.


  6. Can someone explain to me why Andrew Bynum has gotten about 1 block in past three games and has only gotten 2 blocks once in past 8 games????

    Please dont tell me its the injury thing. His points and rebounds are up, big time over that span, and judging by that monster dunk yesterday his jumping is improving all the time.

    What is going on?


  7. I guess no one else is concerned about Kobe
    in the defensive side of things, but I am. Recently
    it seems to me he’d rather gamble on getting
    a steal than staying within the defense. I don’t
    mind this when his man has the ball, but when
    he doesn’t and Kobe either tries a blindside steal
    or jumps way out in a passing lane, they get a hoop.


  8. Great post Kurt! You are right, many of us complain about stuff rather than enjoying the moment. Sadly, I think this is because some of us are scared that this Laker team – as good as it is – may not be good enough to beat the Celtics on December 25th. I dont mean this as a disrespect to the Lakers, rather, I think it is a recognition of how well the Celtics are still playing. Additionally, with the memory of the Game 6 massacre still fresh in my mind, all many of us (myself included) care about at this point in the season is beating the Celtics on X-mas day.

    Having said that, however, I think today’s post just changed my fatalistic view of the way the team is playing. The way I see it now, Kurt is right in satying that it is way to early in the season to hit the panic button. Frankly, we should be happy that these early games are bringing to light deficiencies in the Laker defense and lack of options in certain positions so that we have plenty of time to improve and correct them by the time the playoffs start.

    While I wish these things would magically fix themselves so that we can beat the Celtics on December 25th, I need to remind myself that the overall goal is for my beloved Lakers to win a championship – and not just a regular season game.


  9. Mando, remember that numbers don’t tell the whole story. Drew didn’t have a single block vs. the Raptors, yet anyone who saw the game remember him basically shutting down Bosh.

    Perhaps another reason is that our past few opponents – especially Indy – have relied on perimeter shooting, something the Lakers defense wants them to do anyway.


  10. I personally think that we are fine. 15-2 is a good place to be and there is more than enough motivation for the ultimate goal based on how we were embarassed in the finals last year.


  11. I usually don’t wish bad things on teams (except the Raiders), but it is sort of nice that the Thunder is so awful in the year after they left Seattle. Sort of karmic justice.


  12. Prayers for Rogers and his family, that truly is a tragic story.

    I’m seeing 2 main philosophical camps –
    1) championship habits and mentality are formed in the regular season, but guys playing hard night in and night out
    2) it’s an 82-game season and it’s not possible to play hard every single possession every night, the important thing is to gel after the All-Star Break and hit our effort and momentum then

    There’s something to be said for both camps. You can look at the Celtics, who fought hard the majority of the time, but they were fueled by the insanity of KG and the fact that their veterans were starving for titles. On the other side of the spectrum, you have the Spurs, who coast on talent during the early part of the regular season and turn it on in the end.

    We’re a young team, so it’s important to develop strong fundamentals in the regular season. That said, we have to be realistic. We can’t play hard every game of an 82 game season.

    The important thing is not letting a lazy mentality sink in over a number of games, and even more importantly, not letting our talent allow us to coast on a regular basis. But a night off here and there is to be expected. And it might keep us from burning out over the long run.


  13. MannyP13,

    I am really looking forward to the Celtics game on Christmas as well, but if the Lakers lose, does that mean that they will not win the championship? Stupid question, I know. But I don’t think we can place too much emphasis on one single game even if it’s against Boston.


  14. Bynum has one of the strangest quotes I’ve never seen:

    โ€œI might’ve gotten some [rebounds] in the last six minutes. You never know. You never know until the fat lady sings. He (Jackson) sings for me a lot.โ€

    For what it’s worth, I’d rather have LO in the game to get a crucial board than Bynum.


  15. should be “I’ve *ever seen”


  16. any thoughts as to why Bynum is not in at the end of games? is he not consistent at the defensive end? the offensive end?


  17. Wanted to add these thoughts from KD at Ball Don’t Lie:

    And give the Lakers way, way, way more credit for continuing to take teams completely out of what they want to do. Unless the 76ers really don’t want to go to Elton Brand, which in that case I’m kind of bummed by both sides, then.

    Let’s assume they do, and Brand ended up missing six of seven shots, and a day later I can’t even recall a single one he took. The Lakers’ D just forces you into impatient, goofball shots, and when you have an impatient, goofball team like the Sixers, things tend to fall into place.


  18. rubens – most coaches prefer the outside shots over inside ones in the end game, mostly because the paint is just too risky at the end (hence when we speak of clutch, they’re mostly wings). Odom has more range than Bynum and is better at the break, and same goes for Pau.

    and as for the original post about having us dictate the opposing offense… wow, never thought of it like that. having a blatant hole and then using the 82 game season to figure out how to effectively shut it could be an awesome strategy (no sarcasm).


  19. The Lakers frontline is frequently brilliant defensively. Frankly, I don’t know how much of this is strategy and how much of it is having two legitimate shot blockers in the paint. Any defensive scheme would look OK with Bynum and Gasol in there. We seem to give up a lot of points to opposing backcourts, but that’s happened for years. I don’t care how well we do against Philly and Toronto. We’re not going to see them in the playoffs. I’m itching to see how we match up against Boston. We need to defend Rondo and Pierce and Allen. I see those 3 giving us fits, although Bynum should take away the paint from Rondo and Pierce.


  20. for the first time in the 2 years since i found Kurts blog, i am having trouble reading these comments. the nitpicking, complaining, and malasie in these comments are staggering. i get enough negativity from everyone else throughout the day when sports are the subject, and this place was a bit of a haven from that. not anymore.

    the lakers will not play a perfect game. get over it.
    stop wishing that kobe led more like kg, or wishing ariza or odom will become pippen, or that bynum isnt going to play like ewing.

    enjoy this team and thank yourselves that you can watch a great team play.

    to clarify, any post that says something like – i am happy we are 15 and 2 but – just stop. if you finish that sentence you should be forced to be a sonics fan.


  21. i am happy we are 15 and 2 but – why does my DirecTV bill increase almost every month?


  22. I guess if you want to go all polly anna about it. If it is all about the execution and implementing the same strategy every game, then these losses help. Everyone is still getting their reps. For guys like Radman and Odom to an extent where you don’t want them thinking too much and just reacting, then these reps will help.

    As the team gets more comfortable with what’s needed, they can go more decisively to their rotations and closeouts because they don’t have to think. The situation is more familiar each time due to keeping the same scheme. Instead of a fluid man to man where you have to think and react to a different situation, that’s when communication breaks down,

    So optimistically this defense will only get better. As each player gets more familiar, they will react more instinctively and even if the energy is not always there, by having the instinct at least they’re closer to the right position.


  23. Joe M.,

    Been preaching that since last year. Yes, Kobe can provide help defense, and often does to get that spectacular steal/block.

    He plays outside of the defensive scheme. PJ wants him within arm distance of his opponent, yet he rarely is.

    A noticeable difference in the starting 5 is Vlad Rad’s defense. He hasn’t done anything special, but he buys into the scheme. Wings: Stay within arms distance and in front of your man. Don’t give up the easy, open 3.


  24. Kurt,
    That quote from KD is the money line that I took from his write up as well.

    Look, everyone can find holes in our team by pointing out all the little things that we aren’t doing perfectly every possession of every game. But, I can guarantee that if we were fans of any other team (even Boston or Cleveland or any other powerhouse) we’d be finding some little flaw that we think is going to be exploited by some other team in a critical game/series.

    The fact of the matter still remains that we’re consistently shutting down the other teams primary option and making teams do things that they normally can’t or don’t want to do. It’s not like we’ve lost one game this year where our strategy has proven completely ineffective and we’ve lost. Against Detroit, I know it could be argued that Iverson’s speed and ability to break us down off the dribble ruined the continuity of our defense. And while that’s partially true, anyone that watched that game also realizes that Detroit was also hitting a ton of contested jumpshots and even caught some truly lucky breaks (like Rasheed’s bank 3 that extended their lead right in the middle of our attempt at a run) that made it so it just wasn’t our night.

    As for our defensive strategy overall, I’m still a major fan. Sure there are holes, but we have the exact type of roster that is capable of playing this type of defense and winning LOTS of games. We have 2 legit 7 footers (and a very good athletic PF off our bench that can trap, rotate, and still rebound) that can cover the paint by defending the rim and rebound. And we have wing players that are big enough and athletic enough and smart enough to shade players on the perimeter, rotate back to shooters on ball reversals, and get into the passing lanes off of traps to create turnovers. Everyone realizes that our avg. scoring margin is still over 12 points a game right? I understand that we could play better in certain parts of the game, but all our so called *flaws* are not fatal and we’re still on pace to win well over 60 games.


  25. It seems that most Lakers fans can’t wait for the season to end so the playoffs can start.
    But this Lakers team is turning out to be a great team that is also a fun team to watch. Instead of rushing to get to Christmas or the end of the season, I’m going to enjoy the ride.


  26. Listening to people who have played the game, I often hear them say jump shooters do better in the 1st half, before they start to get really tired in the 4th qtr. My guess is that Phil doesn’t mind if the other team is beating us with jump shots because the odds favor us winning in the end. Not every game, but enough so that we will have a really good record by the end of the year.


  27. Craig, that would definitely favor Vlad starting ๐Ÿ˜‰ although it won’t matter if he’s playing limited minutes.

    Anyway, this is quite unlike last season when each game felt like a 50-50 at best.

    This season… losses are unacceptable. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  28. on an unrelated note,

    i’m really not too high on the picture widget to start the posts. Like right now mine says picture unavailbale ๐Ÿ™‚

    it seems that it also causes some trouble with older browsers too (the firefox in my office, tends to slow down a bit)


  29. I think what happened is that the Lakers teased us with their start. Through the first 7 games or so, the Lakers were first in points scored and points allowed, which was quite frankly, ridiculously dominant. It’s one thing to be first in both offensive and defensive efficiency but to be first in the raw numbers is something else. They were first in rebounds and rebounding rate, forcing the opposing teams’ best players from Roy to Melo to Baron to Dirk into terrible, terrible nights and winning by about 20 points a game. They were, essentially, playing perfect ball and I appreciated the moment, because no team could ever sustain that kind of dominance. So they could only get worse.

    And they did. Chris Paul went off, the Pistons beat us, teams regularly started scoring 100, etc. and when starts showing a decline instead of an improvement fans complain. And when that decline starts to feature problems we had thought to put behind us, some panic. I think everybody still appreciates the fact we go into every game expecting to win.

    Last season was one of the most enjoyable seasons for me as a Laker fan cause we got better and better as the year went on and every time there was significant decline, it was due to an injury that somehow corrected itself. A decent start among all the Kobe drama, but then Bynum started dominating and we were seeing progression with him and the team each game. Then he went down, it was depressing and almost immediately we picked up Gasol and you could see the team revived and clicking again. Then Gasol went down with injury and in that time the Lakers suffered through possibly the most frustrating two game stretch I can remember (bad losses to the Grizzlies and Bobcats) and then Pau came back and we roared through the western conference and I don’t remember much after that. I assume we won the whole thing.


  30. Yes, we should enjoy the ride but… we should still strive for perfection! I want the Lakers D to become perfect, and since that isn’t possible, Iยดll always see ways to improve it.

    If the players could think that way, we would probably be always improving (even if it wasn’t much). Now, can you do that over a 100 game season? I don’t know… It was hard enough through a 60 game season… But then again, they get paid millions to play, so the least we could ask them is to try and become better as a team.


  31. Isn’t it waaaaaay too early to parse out defensive lapses? We still have games in December, January, February, March and April to get ready for the playoffs. It is a very long season and there will doubtless be many injuries for the Lakers and others (celtics. Houston for sure. Hornets.)

    November and December (and Jan and Feb) are rehearsal. Relax and pray for good luck with injuries.


  32. If losses are unacceptable, we are like the people who see the glass ‘half empty’ and we will never be happy.

    I have been through the Lakers for long enough, 45+ years, that I just want to enjoy what I see on the court. We are not going to see another player like Kobe for a while so I just what to enjoy what is happening in the moment. Losses make me hurt, but I try to throw them off and move on to the next game.

    I also enjoy the sunrise and beautiful days because I am on the downhill side and think it wise to savor all the beauty I can. Life is much happier that way.


  33. Anyone else having issues with the pictures as Mico is?


  34. Good Morning Lakers Fans,

    I am a NBA fan visiting from The Lakers’ D is much improved as they have been absolutely embarrassing teams (my Blazers included) on a near daily basis. However, I was reading the Boston Globe to catch comments on our upcoming game with the Celts tonight and I came across this little article by Dan Shaughnessy stating the window to beat the Celtics has closed. My Blazers and your Lakers have little or no chance.

    “Sure, the Cavaliers are better than they were last season. Sure, the Lakers have Andrew Bynum this time around. But the Celtics are putting the league on notice: You had your chance last spring. No stopping us now.”

    Personally I could see the same statement coming out of the times, replacing Lakers with Boston and the emergence of Rajon Rondo, with the defensive intensity that the Lakers are playing with but I digress.

    I just wanted to throw some fuel on your fire. Boston is an elite team. So are the Lakers. In my mind, both teams are better than last year and are on course for another clash of the Titans. On a neutral court, I would pick the Lakers for one reason: Depth.


  35. The picture still says “loading” on my computer.


  36. The picture is slow loading for me as well, (IE). I’m glad the Lakers are off to a good start. If they lose a couple of games before January, so what? Part of the issue is that the way the Lakers lost the finals still leaves a really bad taste in all our mouths. Honestly, I’d trade 3 losses for a boston blowout not on December 25th, but on Feb 5th in boston. I’m thinking 40pts or so ๐Ÿ™‚


  37. Firefox…. unavailable


  38. I’m having issues with the picture as well, on both my PC (IE) and my Mac (Safari). However, this is the only picture that has been that way.


  39. For the short term, I’ve killed the picture with this post.


  40. Kurt,
    I have a mac and only get the title with Firefox,
    which may not be up to date. No problem with
    Safari though.


  41. For the record, when I commented on the lackadaiscal defense after the Philly win, I wasn’t being unrealistic, or even overly harsh. I recognize it’s a long season, things are going to happen, it’s hard to bring the A game night in and night out. Blah blah blah. Yadda yadda yadda. I was just making an observation.

    I meant to comment on the lackadaisical offense (at times) that is probably a little more annoying to me. And I know that we have the #1 offense in the league, and the #1 point differential, and that we play a beautiful style of offensive basketball that is an absolute joy to behold when clicking on all cylinders.

    What has gotten me frustrated over the past handful of games is how *sloppy* we have been once we have made our (at this point) inevitable 3rd quarter run to blow the game open. All of the sudden the ball movement stops, and we throw the laziest passes I’ve ever seen, that end up getting stolen and turned into transition points at the other end. Even more than our somewhat lazy defense of late, this sloppy play on offense has been the reason for letting teams back into games. It seems like LO and Farmar are the two biggest culprits here, but Fish has been stepping up as well.

    If they would simply take care of the ball it would be far easier to maintain the leads. Even if we’re missing shots, the tri ordinarily keeps us in excellent spacing for transition D, so we still make the other team work for their points. But giving them turnover-transition points, layup after layup, not only gives them easy baskets, it gives them confidence and momentum, and all of the sudden even the tough shot start falling.


  42. Brian,
    I didn’t mean we fans should shut up. I have been saying for a long time I don’t want Lamar on the floor, making key decisions during really crunch periods. He just makes too many mistakes in either passing or defending when the pressure gets very heavy. I still think he is one off the most unique and talented players in the NBA – I just fear his brain farts when the game is on the line.

    It is just that we seem to be too afraid for a team with the Lakers talent, record, and Kobe.


  43. Is it just me, or has Kobe being putting on really nice moves on his way to the hole? I don’t remember him being THAT skilled before. I guess he really learned something from Chris Paul during the olympics.


  44. emh101 – No, I don’t mean that if they lose on X-Mas day it means they are not ready to win a championship. What I meant to say is that the Laker-obsessed part of me wants the Lakers to beat the Celtics on x-mas day and in February. The rational part of me is telling me that it doesnt matter whether they win or lose those two games (or any other game for that matter) as long as the team learns to adjust to prevent the losses from happening again.

    In the end, I want a parade in Downtown LA next year more than I want to beat the Celtics in two regular season games.


  45. sorry for the delay with the Wiz preview. Technical difficulties.


  46. On the lighter side, ex-Laker Corie Blount caught with 22 lbs of weed. hahahaha.


  47. 48- Guess I’ll be captain obvious and go with the simple…dude’s name is Blount, get it blunt, lame joke. Actually kinda sad, he was a local guy, Monrovia High School alum.


  48. Woo hoo! Go Monrovia High! I, too, was a graduate. Never been caught with drugs though.


  49. emh 101,
    Just because you never been caught doesn’t mean you weren’t packing.


  50. Is our defensive scheme making teams do what we want? I don’t know. Do we want them to make a lot of easy layups b/c we get out of position? Seems like it sometimes.

    I kind of go back and forth on this. On the one hand, I want to see the Lakers get into a tough Celtics-like mindset and just mow over everybody. On the other hand, I don’t know if that’s in their makeup. We don’t have a team full of Kobe. They’re by and large a laid back group. Maybe the Spurs model of pacing ourselves then hitting the gas in the post season works better for us. Or maybe we need to come up with our own model for winning, even if that just means straight up outscore everyone.

    Yeah we should chill and enjoy the ride. Don’t get too hung up on 2 games vs you-know-who out of 82. I’d rather be the Giants than the Patriots of last season.


  51. Kurt,
    I’m TIVOing the game until you get the Wiz
    preview up. Otherwise I won’t enjoy it as much.
    I’m addicted.


  52. Saying that I’m not allowed to bemoan flaws because a team is 15-2 is like saying you shouldn’t question the financial markets when the Dow has crested 14000.

    I do enjoy the success, and would like to see it continue. But if a team (or person) doesn’t continue to be critical of themselves during success, they will inevitably start falling back to earth.

    The implication that anyone who isn’t completely gaga over this team is disloyal or doesn’t “deserve” to watch them is silly. I’m happy that the defense is a good idea, but my complaint was never about that but of complacency (I’m not claiming anybody is soft, or that anybody needs to be kg or anything other than what I’ve said) .

    If I’m killing anyone’s buzz, I’m sorry. But the fact that anybody had a buzz that could be killed makes me think they’re being a little irrational to start with.

    It’s a good team. Dissent is still allowed.


  53. Hello Fellow Lakers Fans,

    I too am somewhat dismayed by the new attempt at a swarming defensive scheme. Yeah, Bynum is looking lackadasical lately too. Still it is too early too worry that much, but after last years turnaround, I think we can feel good that the Lakeshow is close to where it needs to be. The depth is there, and they could still win a few games if kobe was injured. The Cavs would prob not win many if that were the case with Bron Bron, who is the main highlight on that team still.

    They will not outBoston Boston,,,let’s get over that. Having Kobe helps against teams with mortal flaws and pedestrian supporting cast, but even he could not shoot nor run thier offense in game 6 if you recall. Lakes are a long way from being mentally tough, let’s jjust acknowlege we have a young team of abaove average players who are finding thier way. I haven’t seen a whole lot of the LAkers taking teams out of what hey like to do.

    ON the positve side:
    Trevor Ariza is mostly damn good. I think he isn’t such a bad shooter, just needs to get more comforatble in the offense and improe his decision making, less 3 point attemepts (from everyone on the team) would help.

    Deep Team, some talented players, youth is on thier side, (however none of them seem hungry.) When they came out of the gate so strong, they were all just parroting ” this is nothing we just want to win a championship.” , but not really convincing me.. YET! They really can improve and possibly develop a brand of defense over the course of this year which might be good enough.

    I really think it is a matter of temperment, and desire. They have good indivduals on the team. My conconers remain:
    1. Perimeter Defense, even the 2001 Champ Lakers had problems with that. But they had Shaq to rebound, and more vets to pull through in close games. Fish is older now, and Kobe isn’t hitting as many late game winiers, and it’s nice that he doesn’t have to as much, now that the plays less minutes.
    2. Tenative- ness (LO! damn.)
    3. Desire to improve and change, they start believing thier own hype after few good games aginst depleted teams.
    4. The local media needs to stop with all the high expectations and praise.
    5. Besides defensive schemes, if the Lakes could learn anything for the C’s it should be to take one game at a time.

    More ramblings and spculation:
    [edited for trade talk]
    I do think Bynum and Farmar will be parts of a bright future for this team someday, and they are in good positions to learn from all that is going on right now.

    Let’s see if they develop perimeter D, Team D, and can stop quick small guards from running coast to coast for layups.

    Despit all my tought love, I think they may be able to beat the C’ on christmas day, possibly only out of revenge. Maybe Phil knows exctly what he is doing, but these kids still need to play all 48 minutes, and play more carefully. These guys can turn it on and off occasionally, but they need to stop thinking that is something that hey can do it often ,and in high stakes situations, thay still play farily despaprately, and many other players in the league have picked up on this.

    What do y’all think?? = Longtime Laker fan and Angelino. – JC