Fast Break Thoughts

Kurt —  December 17, 2008

Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers
I think you can get some of the most honest answers from players when the adrenaline is up and they don’t have their media filters on. Such was the case last night when Lamar Odom was on the 570 Radio being interviewed within 20 seconds of the end of the game.

Spero Dedes asked about the first half play.

“We’re lazy on defense,” a statement Odom went on to qualify saying it was just sometimes and they keep winning. But Mychal Thompson didn’t let it go and asked him why that is.

“We’re overconfident on offense.”

Again he went on to qualify that statement, but I think this kind of sums up the Lakers right now. They know they have the talent to win, they know it’s December, and the focus is not where it needs to get to. Which is okay, so long as it does get there.

Maybe the upcoming road trip will see them snap out of that.

• As for the first half last night, I think we sometimes forget just what an adjustment it is to play a Mike D’Antoni team. It goes against all conventional wisdom to jack up a three early in the shot clock, but it is an integral part of what the Knicks do. Much of what they do on offense is just radically different than everyone else.

That is hard to adjust to in the NBA regular season, with few practices and just film sessions as prep a lot of days. That is not enough to really be ready for something so different. It’s also one of the reasons D’Antoni’s teams struggle in the playoffs — see it a few games in a row and you are well adjusted.

• About that road trip — what is brutal is the team on the back end. Lots of hype for the Miami game Friday (It’s Got To Be The Shoes!) but then a much better Orlando team awaits on Saturday. Monday it’s Memphis, but then the next night it’s CP3 and the Hornets. Those are tough teams to beat when you are tired.

The Lakers could play well on this trip and go 2-2.

• Jim Alexander in the Press Enterprise saw things this way:

But maybe this is our problem in evaluating the Lakers: we fail to incorporate boredom into the equation. Not ours, theirs. Can we stipulate, please, that the Lakers are vastly superior to most of the people they’ve been playing lately? And may I submit that maybe they haven’t always looked dominant because they haven’t always felt challenged?”

• It’s fun to watch Nate Robinson play.

• Marbury. I know on a few other boards people have suggested getting him for the Lakers. This guy paid for courtside seats just to remind the team paying him millions what a disruption he can be if they don’t buy him out. And you want to add him to a 21-3 team?

• Great article by Kevin Pelton on all the coach firings. The bottom line, it may have been smart for the 76ers to fire Cheeks because supposed playoff teams that make changes improve quickly under a new coach. But in the case of the Kings, it doesn’t really matter short term, because if you don’t have the right talent no coach can make a difference.

Kurt

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125 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. Kurt,

    Not only that , but he had a great time interviewing and saying how he has the greatest job in the world, and he’s just going to get his money. Wow.

  2. D’Antoni has the Knicks playing his style well. I was surprised at how good Duhon looked in the system. i haven’t watched the Knicks more then a few times this year, and he looks okay. He getting some decent assists numbers. Hitting 3′s. (Yes, I’m looking at you Steve Nash. If Chris Duhon looks good in this system then you should give back at least one of your MVP’s….Let me stop.)

    Mannyp13,

    Nate can score on anyone. Fish had a problem covering quick PG’s going back to our 3-peat days. Nothing’s changed.

  3. Today’s daily dime over at ESPN has a similar take on the “boredom” issue from Adande. It also has a good little write up on the Knicks from Eric Neel (a guy that I always read).

    As for the road trip, I’m interested in how we’re going to perform. When you think about it, there are little motivating factors for each of the games…D-Wade and the improved Heat, the Gasol bros. reunion, Bynum vs. Howard, and a big game against another top western team in the Hornets. I know the back to back and the travel is gonna be tough, but this team could really show some things by winning these games (regardless of score or perceived performance).

  4. If I were in Marbury’s shoes, I probably would have done the same thing. He’s getting paid 20 million dollars to do NOTHING. Admittedly his tone during the interview was a bit smug, but I would be smug too if I was getting paid 20MM to do NOTHING. By all reports, he was trying hard during training camp, at least trying to earn a couple of his 20 mil instead of NOTHING, then D’Antoni threw him under the bus, saying he wasn’t going to get playing time because he “isn’t in our plans.” Next thing you know, the Knicks make a couple trades, and D’Antoni offers Steph some charity minutes due to lack of players, not out of any form of respect. Steph refuses (a better man would’ve accepted to show he’s a good guy, but you can’t fault someone for wanting to stick it to the guy who threw him under the bus), and then his whole team chucks him under the bus AGAIN, saying Steph should’ve played and “stood with his teammates,” when the entire season Steph’s teammates didn’t care at all whether Marbury got playing time or not.

    And thus, he’s getting 20 mil to do NOTHING.

    On a lighter note, a couple of notes from last night’s game:

    1.) Josh Powell!!!! He had some great minutes with Pau out with strep. 5 points, 4 boards, 2 assists in 16 minutes of action. Not to mention no turnovers, some pretty locked-in defense, and a beautiful spin-move in the third, I am comfortable whenever Pau, Bynum, or Odom goes out with an injury (or strep).

    2.) Luke Walton, showing some low-post game. Absolutely love him taking advantage of the Knicks small line-up. I wish we could combine Walton and VladRad into a single guy, Lukimir Waltonovic, with Walton’s passing and low-post game with VladRad’s shooting touch. Plus they’re both playing solid D, which is a huge plus. 11 Mil a year (VladRad makes 6, Walton makes 4.5) for Lukimir Waltonovic. I’d pay it.

    Excellent, gritty game, huge character builder.

  5. Which is worse: (1) The Knicks asking Marbury to come prepared to play, play him most of pre-season, sitting him and publicly demonizing him, or (2) “Starbury” acting out at what he sees as disrespect?

    The Knicks need to buyout Marbury’s contract. A contract buyout is common-place in the league. When a coach does a poor job, it is common that a team will buyout his contract (usually for multiple years and millions of dollars). No one makes a big deal about coach buyouts; if anything, the coaches get our collective sympathy and best wishes.

    Marbury’s a bit weird, sure. He might even be a jerk. But he’s got an ego like you or me. Making thousands or millions doesn’t change a person’s sense of respect. The Knicks disrespected Marbury, period. The Knicks have the onus in this situation, and they keep failing, miserably.

  6. “The Knicks disrespected Marbury, period.”

    It may not have been the smartest move on the part of the Knicks, but Marbury has no one but himself to blame for what has happened to him. He has earned that disrespect with his actions in the past, as well as what he has done this season.

  7. Great job beating the Knicks yesterday by 2 – they are very worthy and tough opponents.

    In other news:

    Gary (Chicago): We always get Stein’s and Hollingers’s rankings….who are your top 5 teams in the league right now?

    SportsNation David Thorpe: Top of my head, 7 game series:
    Celtics
    Cavs
    Lakers

  8. Hey a fun game to watch. Somehow I expected the Lakers to pull it out even after Robinson’s 3 to go ahead 112 – 111.

    For the first time this season – including the preseason- PJ went with a line up devoid of a point guard. For a good 3 – 4 minute stretch starting the second qtr he went with a Kobe/Ariza/Sujacic/Powell/Rad line up.

    This line up was -2 but Farmar’s stint of -4 points in 2 minutes to end the 1st must have been too much even for the Zen Master to bear.

    I welcome this as the Triangle is the only offense that can function without a traditional point guard. A Sasha/Kobe/Ariza/LO/Powell line up would be fun to watch indeed. (By the way, I think Powell is one of the keys in a LA/Boston final, should they meet)

    This is Farmar’s third year. If he is going to be a top 25 percentile starting PG in the NBA, it would be obvious by now.

    The Lakers worst position (measured by PER differential) is at PG. They are 26th in the league http://www.82games.com/0809/BYPOSIT.HTM

    Fisher is about flat while Farmar is at -7. Another way to look at is that the Lakers PG’s ex-Farmar would be about 17th in the league.

    I do not see Farmar as our “Rondo” of the future.

    Hence, although I think I must be crazy, I’m torn by the possibility of Marbury. Terrible attitude and disruptive. But more disruptive than Rodman? My last real memory of him was watching him live in Greece when he single handedly beat Spain and gave the USA the bronze.

    Good outside J, strong to the hoop, good defender, much better passer than you think ( 7.8 career assists)

    If he is controlled by Kobe/PJ and motivated…. hmmm…. and just why did he pick the Laker game of all games to surface anyway?

  9. 5. But here is the way those commonplace buyouts work: Player/Coach agrees to 10% less to get all the cash now and his freedom. Marbury is not doing that, no discount for the buyout. So, what is the Knicks real motivation. You have to give to get, and Marbury will not give.

    8. I get what Marbury could do, if Phil and Kobe kept him in line. But, you roll the dice with the chemistry of a 21-3 team to bring in a gigantic ego? I just can’t make that move, especially since some vet PGs are free agents in the next year or two and could be brought in (probably at a discount) to run the offense.

  10. My problem with Marbury is that he doesn’t (at least not anytime in the last few years not sure about the beginning of his career) buy into any offensive system. The triangle (assuming the Lakers actually run it) is about ball and player movement and I don’t think Marbury fits into it very well. I think he would be worst than Fisher is with taking too many PUJITs, though he probably would make a higher percentage.

    Zephid. I like the idea of Lukimir Waltonovic.

  11. Marbury –
    What is this discussion coming to?

    When FSN overlays their game coverage with an interview with some sideline celeb I just hit the MUTE button on my remote. I leave it on MUTE until well beyond the audio interview. That way I may miss some of the game calling, but I don’t have to listen to drivel while I am trying to watch the game.

    How many of you other bloggers feel this way?

  12. wondahbap – you are right. Fish always had issues with quick PG’s. However, in the past we had a guy by the name of Tyron Lue who was also fast and, while not a great defender, he defended enough to pester quick PGs and reduce their impact on the game. Farmar, while also very quick, does not seem to have the ability to “pester” anyone, rather, he seems to have the ability to encourage these PGs to have career games against the Lakers.

    To be fair, the blame is not entirely on the PGs (and Farmar). Our bigs need to do a better job of assisting the PGs on D., particularly when screens are set against the Lakers. This in particular applies to young Drew who, in my opinion, appears to be more concerned about getting his block shot stats up than in playing some hard and smart D.

    For example, I saw several highlights last night where Nate blew right by Andrew while his back was turned as he was guarding Lee. Lee is significantly smaller than Andrew and Drew should be able to use his size and weight to hold Lee back while still keeping his eye on the ball. His conditioning also needs improvement, which means that he is slow to get back to his spot defensively again leaving his man open to create screens for the PG.

    Having said that, Farmar’s competitive seems to get the bet of him if the PG he is guarding scores over him. When this happens, I see him getting p*ssed and on the next possession he has a tendency to take the shot rather than pass to the open man. That may work fine for players like Kobe or for Famer when he was “top dawg” at Taft High school, but this is the NBA and he is no Kobe Bryant and very far from being tops in the PG pecking order.

    Anyway, I am slowly starting to form the opinion that we should go back to 1-on-1 coverage AND move Drew back to the Bench Mob (bringing Lamar back up to starting), at least when we face teams that lack a big center. I think this will allow Kobe to get more touches early on (which seems to help his game), will open up the middle for dribble penetration by Kobe and Fish, and – lets be frank here – it may be worth trying since our current defensive scheme seems to be easily exploited even by the bottom feeding teams in the league. Also, I think a second unit comprised of Drew, Ariza, Powell, Farmar and Sasha/Vlad is still pretty good.

    Then again, I am lawyer and NBA fan, and not an NBA coach or player, so what do I know?

  13. If I have one request, it is let’s not use Tyron Lue as an example of good defense. He had one good series, that’s it. He was and is a worse defender than Fisher and Farmar.

  14. Nice to see Odom really step up last night. Like MannyP13 above, I also wouldn’t mind trying a lineup w/ Lamar starting in place of Andrew. The problem I have is Pau is playing so great at PF I’m not sure I’d want to shift him back to center.

  15. mannyp13,

    At this point, I think the Lakers play better with just Gasol on the floor, than with Gasol and Bynum on the floor.

    Is there a reasonable expectation that that will change? If so, will it change by the end of the season, and is the best way to reach that point by playing them together, or by playing Bynum by himself, and letting him reach a comfort level there, first?

  16. #11 The mute is my friend too…

    I watched it on the NBA channel last night.. and for the life of me I cannot understand half of what Payton and Webb are saying…Ahmad no problem…. anyone else have the same prob?

    on another point, …does Bynum look like he plays in slow motion? like his head is not in the game! or is it just me and my perception that he supposed to be better?

  17. Texas Rob,
    Bynum played one year of high school basketball (subtracting injury time) before he was drafted by the Lakers at 17yrs old.

    How much knowledge is he supposed to have. He has had great schooling since he was drafted, but he is still developing his habits and thinking too much.

    He has a great work ethic and isn’t a vocal showboat. He has very soft hands and a real touch around the basket. He is learning to use his weight to move people around. His defense is not instinctive, but he is working hard on this also.

    At 21 I think we can cut this kid some slack. He isn’t as polished at 21 as either Shaq or D. Howard, but I think his ceiling is around that level.

    I will take what I can get at this time and feel that he will be a real beast at 24, when his next contract will be negotiated.

  18. As a Celtics fan, I’m familiar with the “boredom” excuse . . . from Pistons fans of last year. That didn’t work out so well.

    If you don’t play like the best team during the year, that usually means that you’re not the best team.

    This goes for the Celtics as much as it goes for the Lakers. And Cavs, for that matter. I’m not arguing that the Lake Show can’t make some adjustments and turn it up as the season progresses. It’s just that by the time the playoffs come around, they’ll have already revealed how good they are, with the whole of their 82-game body of work.

  19. 17. While I love Bynum, I do not think that he has the ceiling of a Shaq. I think he is not only one of the best young centers in the league, but one of the best centers period. That said, if we had Biedrins or Bogut on our team I think most Lakers fans would feel the same way about those players that we feel about Bynum, i.e. that he is a top three center in this league and in the next year or two he will dominate the league. In my opinion the reality is that Bynum will be an all-star center in the NBA soon, but he will never be as dominate as Shaq.

  20. TexasRob,
    This year Bynum has options offensively that he didn’t have last year. That applies both to the other players on the team (especially Gasol) and to his personal repertoire. His game isn’t instinctive enough yet for him to be able to make the appropriate choice “automatically”, thus he tends to take longer to act than he did last year. Add in the fact that the opponents are more aware of him, and that the Lakers are playing a new defense. That is a lot to absorb for someone of his experience level. It will get better as the season progresses.

  21. Usually the teams that get bored are the ones coming off a championship. This teams hasn’t won anything! How in the h*** can they be bored?

    I can’t wait to see what they do with this 4 game road swing. All 4 of these can be quality wins, if they get them. Hopefully, it’ll be a good primer for Boston on Christmas Day.

  22. Kurt – As always, your reason wins over my from-the-gut-and-without-thought comments. Lue is no defensive machine (and never will be). Still, adding a quick PG to compete with Farmar for minutes may provide the added spark Farmar seems to have lost – even if he is as bad defensively as Lue.

    Craig W – YES! What the heck is FSN thinking in doing those stupid interviews? I mean, do I really care that Alyssa Milano designs sports clothing for women!!!!???? Now, interview her in a bikini jumping off a trampoline followed by some oil wrestling with Megan Fox and its a different story.

  23. P.S. don’t know about you folks, but I can’t wait for the games this Friday and Saturday! Wade always gets Kobe in hyper-competitive mode and can’t wait to see Drew play against Howard!

  24. I may not love Lue, but thinking about what to do at PG, especially beyond this year, is a legitimate big issue for the Lakers going forward. I wanted Farmar to rip the starting job right out of Fishers hands this year, and that just has not been the case.

  25. In my eyes, even if Farmar stepped up his game this year where he was an obvious starter moving forward (and he hasn’t in my eyes), I’m with Kurt in that PG is a legitamate concern for us moving forward into next season and beyond. Fisher’s deal expires after next season and we need another PG in our pipeline that can step in and play (and possibly even start). It’s one of the reasons why I wished we could have found a way to keep Critt. While he’s young and may not have been the answer, I think he had boatloads of potential in our scheme due to his size and ability to handle the ball.

  26. Please, no Bynum-Shaq comparisons. That’s simply unfair. Bynum may be young, but he’s also had a personal tutor for 3 years in the greatest big man of all time. If he hasn’t developed a single go-to offensive move by now, then comparing him to Shaq simply is an insult. The biggest difference between Shaq/Dwight and Bynum is mentality. When S/D go into the post, they look for the first person to hit; they use their bodies. Bynum doesn’t. He doesn’t have that aggressive mentality.

    Not that I’m slamming Bynum at all. He doesn’t need to be a go-to offensive player in this system. But echoing above comments, I think Bynum needs to realize that a high block rate does not = great defense (the same way Kobe thinks a lot of steals and gambling make good defense).

    I also agree with Bill Bridges. While it is certainly possible Farmar could surprise us with unexpected growth, we need to stop thinking of his “potential” and look at what he’s giving us. An offensive spark (usually), but a bad decision-making one, and a defensive weakness.

    I don’t really think we should look at bringing in another PG, partly because of chemistry and partly because I don’t know if we can get anything of value. But I admit, I’m thinking ahead – how the heck are we going to stay with Rondo or even Mo Williams? The way Rondo’s playing, he might wreak more havoc on us than the big 3.

    Which is why I think Phil should start toying with lineups right now. Sasha is a much better matchup for Rondo. But we can’t use that lineup in the playoffs if we haven’t played with it in the regular season at all.

  27. #21: Clutch,
    Our guys can get bored in the same way that any one that is super talented and better than most everyone at the thing they do can get bored. I don’t think anyone is implying that the Lakers won’t get up physically and mentally for the top tier teams in the game. I mean, while we haven’t played the toughest schedule, when we have faced teams that were considered really good (or up and coming teams) we’ve won, save for the Pistons game. When we played Houston, we won. When we played the Hornets, we won. When we played the Blazers in the first game of the year, we won. When we played Denver and Dallas, we won. And in some of those games by wide margins. But when you’re playing teams that are obviously less talented than you are, the motivation might not be the same.

    I should add here that last year’s Celtics were in a unique position to try and dominate the entire year. They essetially had a brand new team that was playing together for the first time and their focus each and every night had to be in getting better and playing their best ball. The fact that they were starting from scratch, with no history, but were still considered a championship contender is quite a unique scenario. This years Lakers are not in that same situation. The Lakers are a team that remains virtually unchanged for the past several seasons (with Gasol and Ariza being the obvious additions) and a team that reached the Finals last year with this exact squad. To think that their focus or feeling of self worth would *not* be at a level where they think they are better than most teams would go against logic. They are one of the best teams and should feel that way. Now, as fans do we want them to dominate every game? Yes, of course. But, if sports, like most other things in life is truly results oriented, I still say we’re doing just fine. Really, better than just fine. Great.

  28. 8.

    Farmar mave been in his third year in the L, but he just turned 22 a little over two weeks ago. That is hardly the age when most PGs are fully developed.

    A few examples:

    Steve Nash did not establish himself fully as a starter until he was 26 and didn’t really break-out until he was 27.

    Chauncey Billips didn’t establish himself as a starter until he was 25 and didn’t really break-out until he was 26.

    Devin Harris established himself as a starter at age 23, but is only breaking out now as a 25 year-old (soon to be 26).

    Tony Parker started at 19, but don’t forget the Spurs were shopping him as a 21 year-old.

    For the next level down, just look at guys like Calderon and Duhon (3rd & 4th respectively in apg in the L), who are finally now establishing themselves as starter at ages 27 and 26 respectively.

  29. @ 27 – Very nice post. I agree with most of what you said. The parts I disagree with are probably because there seem to be 2 camps of REAL Lakers fans. One camp says 21-3 is 21-3 and that’s incredible. The other says this 21-3 has a weird, surreal like asterisk on it.

    When you lose in the Finals and get embarrased, I would think you would want to set the L on fire. Apparently, that’s not the case. The current message opponents are getting is: The Lakers don’t play defense, let’s bring our A game and we might get lucky. The reasoning in your 2nd paragraph sounds like, “We’re way more talented than everyone else, we don’t have to start working hard until April”. I truly believe they feel that in their gut.

    That said, no “doom and gloom” from me. Very much looking forward to these next 4 road games.

  30. 28 – That’s definitely a good point, the PG position has the greatest learning curve. However, I think many of us are talking about this year. Even if Farmar turns into an All-Star (doubtful) in 4-5 years, Kobe (and possibly Pau) will be past his prime. We have to maximize our chances to win this year. And Farmar, with all his defensive shortcomings, is not the answer this year.

    Also, Harris became a bonafide star this year, but he was a solid starter for most of the last 2 years, and showed the makings of a great defensive PG even before that. And while Duhon is playing well, I don’t know if he’d be a starter in a different system. But the other PGs named were good examples.

    I’m not suggesting in any way that Farmar is a bad player, just that he’s not what the Lakers need right now. I think in a different system, where Farmar has free reign and poor decisions/turnovers/defense weren’t as crucial, he might already be a starter. But the question we have to ask – is he a triangle PG? The ideal triangle PG, to me, is someone who makes very few mistakes, plays in control, hits the 3 consistently, and plays great individual defense. Farmar can space the floor, but not much else. In a different system, I think he’d be looked at less harshly and his strengths would be magnified, but I’m just not sure if he fits the bill for a Phil PG.

  31. Clutch,
    I agree with the two camps of Lakers fans. I think that for the camp with the * connected to the record, we’d have to have either won every single one of our games so far or turned into the Celtics on defense for them to be happy. I’m not going to go on some long rant right now, but if fans are expecting us to be Boston or play with a clutchy/grabby/pushy physical style, they’ll be waiting a long time.

    Where I disagree is that the reasoning in my second paragraph would lead to thoughts of not working hard until April. What I mean in my 2nd paragraph is that the Lakers are afforded the luxury of knowing eachother’s games and the familiarity that comes from shared group experience over several seasons. I think Boston, because they did not have that, were put in the unique position of having to use their supreme talent and ultimate effort every night for a complete season to grow, in season, in order to win the title. I think the Lakers are in a position where they know eachother well enough as a team (coaches included) that they can afford to build towards a peak. I think Doc’s approach was to try and get them to peak for 100 games. To me, that’s only possible with the right group of guys. Phil did it a few times with a group centered around MJ and Doc did this with a group centered around KG. I don’t think we have the personell with the personalities to do this. I could on about why I think this is the case (one reason being the fact that we’ve got a mix of players that just don’t work that way. Meaning we’ve got very established vets that have already won the title and understand the grind in Kobe and Fish combining with a group of young players that are still figuring out what it means to reach that peak in Farmar, Sasha, Ariza, and Bynum and a group of more laid back personalities, that while competitive are not the types to have their motors revving at max capacity for a full season in Gasol, Odom, and Radman). I would also say that Boston relied so heavily on the drive of KG that the entire team took on that personality and played that way for an entire season. We’ll see if they can do it again this year. I think we’ll have our shot to prove that our way works too.

  32. 30.

    If you were just looking at this year in a vaccum, I think that your concerns would hold more weight. But Farmar was good last year as our change-of-pace guard from a very successful bench-unit (15.4 PER, .552 eFG%, .371 fg%). And frankly no one was complaining about his play earlier this year when he was playing relatively well and our bench was outperforming our starters.

    Really, all we need from the kid (as long as Fish stays healthy and productive) is for him to get out of his slump and play at the level that he has already displayed that he can. It’s certainly possible that he will not manage to do so, but I for one am not overly worried at this point about a kid with his skill-set and work ethic.

  33. The Fisher/Farmar combo is good enough for a title run, considering the rest of the roster, but it does provide less room for error.

    I suspect there will be experiments with Kobe/Sasha as a guard pair.

  34. What players do guard quick PGs well? This has been a problem with the Lakers since 2000 without reprieve and every time I try to think of someone who would be a good solution to it I draw a blank.

    I couldn’t even name a pipe dream trade to get a lock down PG because I don’t know who they are. It seems like all the great defenders in the league are swing men or big men.

  35. We don’t need to have superstars or allstars in all positions. We just need players that make smart decisions, and for some reason our PGs have ben making questionable decisions that magnifies their defensive ineptitude.

    And I’m in the camp that thinks 21-3*. Not because we should be 24-0, but because we should be 18-6 or so if it wasn’t for our home-heavy, bottom-heavy schedule.

  36. home heavy, yes. BOTTOM HEAVY?!? I’m really sick of this notion going around. lets take a look at some of the games we have played thus far…

    Denver: twice both wins. one at home and one on the road. Including a demolishing at home when they were “hot” with billups, oh and that was a back to back for them.

    Houston: win. They went up about 17 on the Lakers and the Lakers went on to win by more than 20.

    Dallas: win on the road. win at home.

    Hornets: win on the road, second night of a back to back

    Phoenix: win on the road. win at home.

    Detroit: loss at home.

    I’m not saying we have had HARD schedule but I wouldn’t call it EASY or BOTTOM HEAVY. right there are 9 games that they have already had where they went 8-1 against teams that are deemed some of the better ones in the league. You cant be 18-6 when you’re 21-3. I mean they one the games right? so it doesn’t make any sense to me.

    further more they have played 18 different teams already and have come out a sparkling 21-3. how many more different combinations of teams could be THAT much harder?

    by the way when the cavs were on their streak they did not play one .500 team (besides the hawks) and they have had 13 home games and the celtics have 15 thus far sammmmmmme as the Lakers.

    in conclusion back off the Lakers just a bit. they are 21-3 for a reason it doesn’t happen by accident in this league. you guys are taking the fun out of this season being overly negative

    and regarding farmar, no sweat he is just this years whipping boy. following smush, cook, odom and now I guess its his turn.

  37. “oh and that was a back to back for them. ”

    for the lakers not the nuggets

  38. @35 – And there’s a lot of bottom-heavy so far this season.

    @31 – Darius, you’re dead on about our youth and laid back “personalities”, with each name in his correct category. It’s the laid back group that concerns me.

  39. There’s a difference between playing acceptable defense and simply ushering opposing PGs to the hoop. Yes, most of the league does struggle to guard quick PGs. Most of the league also doesn’t win championships. If we want to compare ourselves to everyone, and not just the best, then we’re great. We were great last year, too. There’s nothing wrong with expecting a certain level of play from our players.

    I agree that it would be nearly impossible to find a strong defensive PG at this point. Improvement has to come from within, which is why we keep placing expectations on Farmar. Of course, effective PG defense will come from the entire team, so better communication and execution of the strong-side trap is what I’d like to see more of.

    With all this said, this is still December and we are bored Lakers fans waiting for the postseason. Discussion and debate are more fun than simply saying “Good game. When’s the next one?”

    I often think about the Mavericks, who plowed through a 67 win season, saying the entire time that the only wins that mattered were in the playoffs, and then were bounced from the 1st round. I’m OK with mistakes and slumps here and there, as long as our players grow smarter and gel around mid February and beyond.

  40. Let’s Go Hawks December 17, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I am so sick of Rondo’s wraparound-fake.

  41. Speaking of the Celtics game going on right now, what a game. I have sneaky feeling that Joe Johnson is going to make a play right now to either force OT or win the game outright. I know that Joe is not an uberstar like Kobe or Lebron, but he’s damn good.

  42. Stupid Joe Johnson.

  43. Clutch,
    That laid back group (at least Pau and LO) don’t concern me because they are extremely competitive. Those two guys, in combination with Kobe, were the backbone to our run to the Finals. And while (too) many fans want to pin blame on those same two guys for our loss in the Finals. I will never do that. The Lakers lost to the better team and lost as a team. I refuse to scapegoat any player for our loss. This year, I think will be different based off the growth of our players and the experience gained from our run last season. Of course, I could be wrong, but I think we’re building towards being the best team come playoff time.

  44. Joe Johnson is really good but you could see in his face before that last FT that he was considering the possibility that he would miss it. I think that is what separates damn good and truly special players.

  45. And there is yet another win. The only thing that will stop the Celts from hitting the 72 win mark will be Doc resting our starters when we sew up home court advantage through the playoffs.

    8 days to go.

  46. “8 days to go.”

    I don’t have the heart to tell this little guy at daddy’s computer that Santa isn’t real.

  47. Darius,

    I like the loyalty, but those 2 drew first blood. Scapegoat implies they don’t deserve the blame. They do. Not all of it, but their share.

    Playoff performance:
    Gasol was 0-12 in the playoffs before coming to the Lakers. He started his disappearing act once he had to play a real big in the WCF. Completely disappeared in the Finals.

    Odom was big in the 1st four games in 06 versus Phoenix. Outside of that nothing or inconsistent his other 2 years in the playoffs. Invisible in the Finals.

    You could be wrong, I could be wrong. Who knows? I can only look at history. I’m putting my fan faith in a better coaching job, Kobe, Bynum, Ariza, and Farmar come playoff time. Everything else is bonus.

  48. The Lakers are doing pretty damn good. If you, in October, were to ask any basketball fan to take a 21-3 start, 100% would say yes.

    Wins and losses are what count at the end of the season. We have a great amount of improvement left in during this season. The Lakers are 1 game out of best record in the NBA. If we play up to our possibilities, no one will be talking about December come June.

    If I were a Celtics fan, I would be much more worried about LeBron and the Refs than the Lakers. Stopping him in a seven game series involves an injury at this point. And those guys in the black and white shirts love him for some reason.

  49. Clutch, Pau was asked to play center, not his natural position in all those playoff games. First, blaming him for what happened in Memphis is silly, those teams would never have made the playoffs without him. But you can’t think Pau is going to bang with Perkins, that is not his game. He did okay, but he was asked to play out of position.

  50. Wow, anyone catch Farmar’s comments in the LA Times. Whenever a guy says he’s not disgruntled and willing to sacrfice with as many qualifiers as Jordan added, well, it just means he is disgruntled and worried more about his individual role/glory, than the teams success. Dude says he doesn’t know his role, buddy, its the same as last year. Dude says he is playing the teams defensive scheme, uh, no, your’re not Jordan. It would’ve been nice to see him come out and say, I’ve been having a rough go of it, I’ma improve. Instead he lays the first salvo in what appears to be festering ego issues on our bench. Stay tuned.

  51. Clutch,
    Again, I would say that the Lakers win and lose as a team. And while Pau’s scoring was down in the Finals, he shot 53% from the field and averaged 10 rebounds a game. Odom, whose scoring was also down, shot almost 52% from the field and averaged 9 rebounds a game. So you can claim that they disappeared all you want, but I would say that as a team the Lakers did not do a good enough job of cracking the code to Boston’s defense and getting these guys more involved where they could do more damage.

    People can say that the stats I just put out don’t tell the whole story or in some way distort the truth because they remember weenie shots, historic comebacks by the Celtics, and an embarrassing game 6 loss. What I remember is one of the best defenses I’ve seen since the NBA adopted the zone rules and instituted the no contact on the perimeter rules. As a team, we did not do a good enough job of figuring out ways to consistently beat their defense. If you really want to look for the drop off in efficiency it came from Kobe. I’m not here to blame Kobe because like I said, we lost as a team. But I’m tired of people latching on the Pau is soft and Odom’s a choker bandwagon when that stuff is just some oversimplified media driven (and Celtic fan reinforced) reasoning that doesn’t fly with me. Do I wish the outcome was different? Of course. Was I upset when we didn’t play well? You bet. But I refuse to say that any single player deserves any blame for a *team* defeat. You can talk about fair share and whatnot, but that is still scapegoating, simple and plain.

  52. Seriously..just more dumb talking points

    Lakers/Pau got through Utah and San Antonio, not exactly the softest teams with non-existent big men, and with videos like this I really have no clue how you can say Pau disappeared in the finals:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzVqqs3zqno

    A couple of shots the other way in game 2 and game 5 and all ESPN would be talking is the burgeoning Laker dynasty

  53. Jordan Farmar has already shown a ton of resiliency in the first three years of his career (the d-league situation, bouncing back in the playoffs after being abused by D-will last year, etc…), and I fully expect he bounces back again after this media/fans getting on him recently.

    The guy is young, he has his flaws, but he works as hard as anyone on the team and I suspect he is still very much in PJs plans.

  54. k:

    Nothing against our first seven games or so when we actually played defense.

    And I said 18-6, not 16-8 or anything; we squeaked by Washington and the Knicks, Dallas was without one of its best players, Phoenix was quite shorthanded.

    We also played the Clips twice, Sacramento twice, Knicks once, Toronto once, Milwaukee once…

    A win is a win and I’d definitely take 21-3 over 18-6, and have nothing against us winning contests.

    But as a fan who has seen way too much of ‘turn it on when it counts’ mentality, and as somebody who only likes Kobe for his competitiveness, this lack of fire as a team is upsetting.

    Of course seeing Wade, Dwight, and CP3 will probably get us back to early season form…

  55. Marbury, to say the least, is a head case. I saw a YouTube of him on a local (NY) talk show this past summer and he was waaay out there.

    Also, IMO, he should have taken a buyout of more than $1M IF ONLY to play with another team this year and establish his value for next year. I doubt anyone will offer, say 3 yrs and $21M to Starbury in June after sitting on his ass all year.

    But what do I know?

  56. @ 49 – I’m not blaming him for not winning those series. They lost to better teams, Spurs twice and Dallas once, I believe. I’m saying he couldn’t get 1 win in 12 games. That’s ridiculous if you’re supposed to be a great player. Plus, last years overall performance shows that was relevant. OTOH, your point about being out of position is fair. That’s why I think Bynum being there will hide his weaknesses, somewhat.

    @51 – Darius, I know my anti-Gasol, LO speak goes against most of Laker nation, but I call it like I see. It’s not about the commentators, I watch games and form a conclusion, like you, I’m sure. And the problem with stats is, while they never lie, they often don’t tell the whole story. In this case, the stats look decent, but no positive IMPACT was made when the pressure was on.

    Also, if it’s a *team* defeat, then different parts of the team are responsible for different deficiencies. You have to honestly identify what those are and where they came from to fix them. You can’t say *team loss*, nothing we could too, and call it a day. Don’t think individual assessments (blame/scapegoating) weren’t identified by the coaching staff, because they already said it was during the offseason.

    About “cracking the code” of the D, that basically goes right to the coach, so of course its not all on the players. It sounds like you want to give all the credit to Boston and no criticism to LA. That’s not reasonable, Boston was/is far from unbeatable. The Hawks & LBJ alone took them 7 games.

    If you’re still here after this huge post, I’d like to hear your feelings on the “drop off in Kobe’s efficiency” you mentioned.

  57. 50 – i couldn’t believe them, either. Not sure what right he has to be visibly disgruntled with getting yanked in the Knicks game, given he was doing nothing offensively and getting torched by nate robinson.

    first Drew mouthing off to the media about his role, next sasha (albeit less of it), and now farmar? “festering ego issues” is right…

  58. CeltsNation,

    When you grow up one day, and have some thoughts and analysis that are your own, and not some lame re-hashed mumbo jumbo from ESPN or espn.com, then you may get responded to one day. Until then, we will ignore you. Plus, we all seriously doubt that you were a real C’s fan before the trades, like most. Please give some thoughtful insight, not just some adolescent trash talking.

  59. Marion to Cleveland?

    Now that’s interesting, but doubt Cleveland will take the risk. They’ve got something good going, and Marion isn’t exactly a chemistry guy.

  60. i’ve been reading this site for a long time now and i have to say that I am also worried about the team in general, a little bit. I’d like to see Kobe take control of the team and establish some team spirit or something like that. I know it sounds a little cheesy, but I really think that a team becomes more responsible on defense when players actually care about not screwing over their teammates instead of caring about playing time. It just seems to me like the team doesn’t really have the connection that I’d expect to see from a team firing on all cylinders. Also, as mentioned before, I’d really like to see bynum start learning how to challenge shots without fouling and to play better position defense.

  61. The Lakers’ defense has slacked of late, yet. But, here is something that people are forgetting. Good Lakers’ defense is based on “energy” rather than a particular “system” or “scheme”. The Celtics, on the other hand, are employing a very, very, good “scheme”. A “scheme” is maybe a bit more consistent in the regular season. I’m not sure which one wins out in the playoffs. But, this is for certain. Energy must be conserved, to have it available come crunch time in the playoffs, and though Jackson won’t admit it, some slacking off is necessary. The regular season is a marathon and all about increasing the NBA’s revenue and not about good basketball. I believe this team will play great “energy” defense against the Celtics and they now have the offensive tools in a lethal 4 and 5 combo to go inside/out and break any zone defense including the current Celtics “scheme”. Go Lakers!

  62. Clutch,
    The way I see it, the Lakers were not a good enough team, with the players they had available, to beat the Celtics. So, while I could say that if Gasol or Odom or Phil or Kobe did “x” we would have won, I don’t think any of that matters at this point. The team lost. So while finding the definciencies of the players and pointing them out as the reasons for losing seems like the reasonable thing to do, I just fall back on the fact that we weren’t good enough. We didn’t have the team experience or level of execution needed to win. One brief example is how we responded to the Celtics defense…we did not do a good job of counteracting what Boston was doing in order to get the looks that would have been effective. Rather than set better screens and move more crisply off the ball in order to create openings, we ran too many isolation sets (from the wing and the post) and did not generate the ball movement that we needed against the aggressive Boston defense. I think we just needed to learn and grow. I think we’ll see that growth in this year’s playoffs.

    As for Kobe, he was not as effective nor as efficient against Boston as he was against the Spurs or Utah. Against the Spurs, he made jumper after jumper, and those same looks (or similar ones) did not fall against Boston. Against Utah, he was able to get to the basket and finish or create easy shots for the team. Boston was much more effective at shutting down Kobe’s driving lanes and limiting his ability to penetrate. Overall, Kobe was not as good in the Finals (just like your points about Odom and Gasol) as he was in earlier rounds of the playoffs. BUT, I’m not going to blame Kobe. As a team we didn’t execute in a manner that led us to victory. There are so many factors that go into that, and honestly, since it was 6 months ago and last season, little of that matters to me at this point.

    I’m looking forward to us playing our best ball come playoff time this season, and doing it with our full compliment of players. That’s why I can acknowledge that we aren’t playing our best ball right now, but still remain confident in the overall strength in the team. It’s why, while I’d like to see us play better, I’m not going to act like the way we’re playing now is the way I think we’ll be playing in 5 months.

  63. Last year Doc Rivers “won” the regular season and they played pretty flat in the first three rounds of the playoffs, before turning it around in the finals.

    Watching the Celts with all the chest pumping and trash talking I can only think that there are four months left in the regular season. Four.

    But they sure have won November and December.

    Kobe, probably because of the Olympics, looks to be setting a steady but not spectacular pace and is being pretty patient with his young teamates.

  64. re: farmar, now that i think about it, maybe he does have a point about his struggles offensively. I remember us having a discussion earlier this season about how the 2nd unit had been pushing the pace now and running less of the triangle, and how being able to play two different offensive styles was a distinct attribute of the lakers. I’m not sure when PJ decided to “rein” them in and make them play more triangle instead of P&R, up-tempo offense, but i have a strong suspicion jordan’s recent offensive struggles (and perhaps that of the 2nd unit as a whole) can be tied to this change in coaching philosophy.

    Anyone know why PJ wants the 2nd unit to be more like the first unit offensively now? Should he let them revert back to the way they were playing at the beginning of the year to get the most offensively out of farmar?

  65. I just think Phil wants Farmar to be more particular with his decision making. If the break is not there, don’t force it. Realize that there are times to push pace and times to slow it down.

    Understand too, that if Farmar really is the future PG of this franchise that he can’t be set in his ways and fall into this very specific role of the change of pace PG. He needs to do a good job at all aspects of running the offense and refine his decision making so that he can play any style with any unit. I understand that he may think that he’s best in an uptempo game where he can push pace and run a bunch of early offense P&R’s. But he needs to understand that the PG of this team needs to be able to run the sets of the offense as well and make the correct decision on when he should be running the sets and when he can freelance a bit.

  66. 63- I think PJ got tired of the quick shots and turnovers which were the real start of our defensive slippage. The second unit was the biggest culprit and I think he has asked them to play more “intelligently”. That said, I do see what you’re saying, they were defintley a change of pace unit earlier in the year. I think once rotations become a little more clear, the bench will again regain its impact.

  67. This is why i LOVE THIS FORUM! We may not all agree on the same points, but the discussion is always thoughtful and insightful thanks to contributors such as Darius, Kwame A, Sean P and, of course, Kurt.

  68. Regardless of whether Farmar is/will be a good NBA player or not, the problem is that the triangle offense just isn’t conducive to the skill-set of a prototypical PG…who was the last traditional PG to be on a championship-winning triangle team? Payton in 03-04 pretty much hated having to run it, and guys like Harper/Fisher/BJ Armstrong were mostly relegated to being spot up shooters and defensive stoppers…it wouldn’t be surprising to see Farmar thrive in another system

  69. 67-I agree. In a D’Antoni system he may be a borderline all-star, but that doesn’t explain his defensive “effort”. Also, I liked Jordan’s in-between game his rookie year (and at UCLA). He had a nice floater, and he has really gone away from that. I’d like him to try to re-incorporate that into his game.

  70. My 2cents on the ongoing debate:

    I think we are unfairly putting too much hope and responsiblity on the shoulders of Bynum and Farmar (I’m guilty of this). Let’s be frank – they are not the second coming of D Howard and CP3, but they have the potential of becoming very good and, perhaps, all-star caliber players sometime in the next five years. We can hope that this will happen while Kobe/Gasol/Lamar are still in their prime, but the unfortunate truth is that it may not happen until they get into their late 20′s. That’s just life, we need to live with it.

    Now, if any other team other than the Celtics had a better record than the Lakers or was off to such a hot start, I dont’ think most Lakers fans would be as critical on this Laker squat. However, because its the C’s, because of the humuliating way we lost the last game of the season, and because the C’s are playing at such an amazing level right now, a “Grenn Panic” has set in among many of us and we are overcompensating by demanding nothing short of the best record in the history of the NBA, the best record in the league, home court advantage in the playoffs, 4 game sweeps at all stages of the playoffs, and a humuliating beat-down of the C’s in the Finals.

    Having said that, I am guilty of the Green Panic. I am one of those fans that is not satisfied, partly because the C’s appear to be playing so much better than my beloved Lakers, and partly because I know that the C’s have 3 all-star caliber players, one emerging point guard playing at all-star level, and some big centers with a “tough” reputation. But, I look at our Laker team and I see two all-star caliber players (Kobe and Gasol), two players with all-star potential (Fish and Odom), one young player playing at near all star caliber (Ariza) and one young center that has a ton of potential (Bynum). On paper, this translates into two very well balanced opponents. However, I am concerned that the PG spot is our weakest and least productive role and, when considering that our strongest competition in the West and East all have good PGs, this is an area of concern worth monitoring.

    I am also concerned that our young Andrew Bynum does not appear to be at optimal conditioning and he does not appear to be the intimidating “beast” many have expected/hoped for. To be clear, I’m not saying he is not good or that I dislike the kid. I love Bynum and I think he will be a good to great center, but he is not going to be a hard-nosed version of D Howard, Shaq, or Mutombo. Rather, I see his style developing more akin to Kareem or even T Duncan – finesse players capable of playing D, but not necessarity “intimidating” opponents. That’s not a knock on Drew, I just think that this is a better comparison of his style of play and I think the Lakers can exploit this to a great advantage.

    With all of this having been said, I don’t think the sky is falling at this point. I think this team has a lot of talent and is fully capable of making a run at the title if they are able to make adjustments that address the team’s deficiencies. Thus, I think the answer lies in adding more defensive schemes to our rotation that take advantage of our lenght and depth, while also addressing our shortcomings. So I will ask why is it that our team cannot play a similar zone defense that seems to work so good for the C’s? I am no basketball guru, but with the exception of a quicker PG, our teams appear very similar and I don’t understand why we can’t try what seems to be working for our competition.

    Anyway, just a thought.

  71. 47, 57

    Pau & LO were widely scapegoated for our loss in the Finals among the media and our fanbase (see LakersBlog), while Kobe was let off the hook- so you’re hardly going against the majority here.

    The bottom line though is that Kobe played just as bad if not worse than they did. Just look at the stats:

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/stats/2007/nba_finals_stats.html

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/stats/2007/index.html

    As, you can see, Kobe’s numbers were down across the board, except for his turnovers which were up significantly. Now add to this to the fact that his man defensively, Ray Allen, got off throughout the series:

    http://www.nba.com/celtics/stats/2007/nba_finals_stats.html

    Last time I checked, Kobe was the MVP last year while LO & Pau didn’t even make the All-Star game. So why are they being expected to outplay our superstar in the Finals?

    Darius is right in that basketball is a team game and that you ultimately win or lose as a team. Having said that, winning championships also requires your best player by far to be your best player by far when it counts.

  72. Sean P,
    I know that I raised Kobe’s stats to begin with, but I still think we need to put any of our players performance in the proper perspective.

    The Lakers played one of, if not the, best defenses of the past decade. When you factor in the rules that are currently in place, and then see how they were still able to limit penetration while still closing down the three point line, they were amazing.

    So, while we can point to individual players, and then conclude that they did not play well, I still say that our offense is supposed to be the ultimate team offense. There is supposed to be auxillary options from any position on the court where the ball is being handled. And I’ll say again, the Lakers did not do a good job, as a team, of moving off the ball and setting good screens that would open those options up. During the Finals (and just typing that, I can’t believe we’re still talking about the Finals) the Celtics denied ball reversals very well and then also denied clean post entry’s. But where was our counter to that? Where were the weakside flashes that serve as pressure releases when the ball reversal to the top side guard is denied? When the ball went into the post, where was the hard cut and the weakside screen set with purpose that opened up the lane for the post player to attack the lane or the curl into the lane by the weakside wing? We did not do a good enough job of dictating to the defense and attacking them to make them make adjustments. Call that coaching mistakes, call it a lack of execution from the players, call it anything you want. I call it the past. It’s over already. I’m looking forward to how we play this season and how we build, as a team towards the playoffs.

  73. Re Farmar: PJ keeps asking him to pressure outside of the 3 point line on defense. Any PG with average speed and the entire offensive floor will blow by him.

    PJ should be relegating Farmar to going underneath screens and giving up the 3 ball or a lighlty contested 20+ jump shot. I watched the Atlanta game and saw them using this with Bibby (another sub-par defender) with great effectiency.

    As for Bynum and Gasol, they need to step up with a quick flash to the high screen: Arms up, weight on back foot.

  74. Two quick thoughts ’cause this thread is getting pretty near its end, I suspect.

    A) Fox’s “Live Wired” segment sucks. I totally agree with everyone who’s said they reach for the mute buttom when some yahoo actor comes on to plug whatever crap they’re trying to sell now. Joel and Stu are so obvious about it, too.

    “So, Jenna, I hear you’ve got a new line of sex toys that you’ll be showcasing at the club on Sunset this Tuesday…” Spare us. We just want to watch basketball.

    B) Marbury is a team cancer. Why is anyone even thinking of attaching his name to the Lakers this year, or any other.

    C) Farmar and Bynum will be fine. They’re 22 and 21 years old. Let them develop a bit.

    And those who question Farmar’s ability to play the triangle should keep in mind that Phil won’t be coach forever, and the Lakers may have a new system in the near future once he hangs it up. You could do a lot worse than building around a roster that has those two guys and The Machine (who needs to find a groove this year) alongside stars like Pau and Kobe.

  75. OK, that was three thoughts… It’s been a long morning.

  76. Actually, this thread is going to last until tomorrow. I was up for three hours in the middle of last night with a sick baby and can’t put a coherent thought together, let alone a post.

  77. @71 & 72 – Darius, your right. I’m sick of posting about it now too. That’s why I didn’t post again after 62. I definitely enjoyed the discussion, though.

    Sean, since you opened the door, I’ll end on this…I hope Kobe is in a position to unleash the dragon this time. If you’re going to lose, lose in a blaze of glory.

  78. Let’s Go Hawks December 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Farmar’s complaints remind me of one of one of Phil Jackson’s flaws: his reticence. Would it kill PJ to specify exactly what he wants, instead of being so arch, enigmatic, and manipulative?

  79. 78) I seriously doubt that Farmar hasn’t been told clearly what his responsibilities are.

  80. 79, If this were an isolated incident, I’d have my doubts as well. But this isn’t the first time a Laker has complained about his role not being clearly defined. Smush Parker said as much when he was on the outs a couple of seasons ago.

  81. I don’t like to bury any of our players. And I hate the idea of a whipping boy, because us Lakers fans love to find one guy and continuously point out where he’s falling short. But two notes from that article on Farmar are just plain strange to me:

    “Now, Farmar said, Jackson wants him to be more precise, to run the triangle offense and throttle down on the fastbreak when it’s not there.”

    AND

    “I’m a guard coming off the bench playing limited minutes so I got to make those minutes count and do what the coaching staff and the organization wants.”

    First of all, what’s so murky or wrong with what the staff is asking of him? Based off that quote, I would think he can still play his game, but he needs to be more judicious about when he should attack and when to run the sets. I should also note that there are several times a game where Farmar is on the strong side and handling the ball and rather than make the easy post entry or pass to the wing, he takes 3-4 extra dribbles and is just probing where the opening is for him to create off the dribble. There is a time for him to create (the open court and in P&R sets) but when those things aren’t being done run the sets.

    And as for the second quote…He’s not playing limited minutes. Sure he played limited minutes against the Knicks, but overall he’s playing 20 minutes a game and last year he played about half the game. (Luke, before he was starting was playing limited minutes). And the fact is, he’d play even more if he played better. I mean, I already think he’s a good player, and I’m positive the coaches think so too. But the staff is trusting him, right now, to be more than just a good player. In a lot of ways, Jordan’s personality and position lend him to a leadership role (in the same way that Fisher is for us now). And with that being the case, we need Farmar to play well now, and in the future. We need him to maximize his skill set while also playing to the strengths of the team that surrounds him. This system is not like the D’Antoni Suns’ system where it’s all in one guys hands and everything is predicated off one guy creating. Jordan needs to mix his strengths with the flow of the game and match it with what his teammates can do as well. It’s asking a lot, but I don’t think the coaches would ask him to do it if they do not think he’s capable.

  82. New Topic: Quarter-Season Awards

    MVP: LBJ
    Coach: Mike Woodson
    6th Man: Jason Terry
    Defense: Boston
    Comeback: Mike Bibby
    Surprise Team: Memphis (they have a bright future)

  83. Kwame a. I agree with your picks. But I think I’d pick Wade for the comeback. yeah, he only had one year with injuries, and he is a former finals MVP, but the guy is tearing it up right now.

  84. Here are mine:

    MVP: LeBron
    COY: Doc Rivers
    DPOY: Dwight Howard
    ROY: Derrick Rose
    6th Man: Nate Robinson
    MI: Paul Millsap
    Surprise Team: Atlanta Hawks (didn’t think they would capitalize as much as they did off of their playoff experience.)

  85. 80. I think this is less a case of the coaches not defining the roles well and more a case of the players not being able or willing to execute what is asked of them. Smush was going to struggle with any role that didn’t ask him to shoot a lot of jump shots without running the offense.

  86. 84. I love Milsap, and he may be a good choice for most improved, but he is a perfect example in my mind of the general flaw in that award — it tends to go to an already good player the coach finally gives minutes to. Milsap has been quality for a year or two, but has been mired on the bench for silly reasons. Now he gets some burn and, shockingly, he has good numbers.

  87. NEWER TOPIC

    what does everybody think about the Lakers moving to AM 710, the ESPN station out here? its strange they have been with AM 570 for like 30 years. I’m really upset about losing Matt “money” Smith’s pre and post game shows and 710 barely gets in reception anywhere!!!

  88. 80) Chibi,
    Using Smush Parker as a measuring stick for “role understanding” is probably not very wise.

  89. have to agree with Darius regarding the coaching staff’s expectations of Farmar.

    The kid has to know that this ‘confused state’ is a sign from the coaching staff that they’re ready to move him up and trust him with the starting unit.

    He’s got to realize that the opportunity is there for him to take it. If he doesn’t, Lakers will probably seek a prototypical triangle guard, or rather, a big guard that PJ prefers…

  90. 87-I think its a revenue-related move to 710. The team defintley has had a long relationship with 570, but with the new LA Live opening up next to Staples, and it including an ESPN studio and ESPN zone, there will be tremendous opportunity for cross-promotions. Add in TIm Lieweke’s reach into all of downtown LA and the Lakers need to keep generating more and more new revenue streams to pay all these great players, and viola, the Lakers will be part of the ESPN family.

  91. I think kwame a. hit the nail on the head. These days, money trumps tradition. Although, I’d be all for Money making the move to 710, he does a great job pre and post, and I’m not sure who 710 has who is as good. More John Ireland?

  92. Kurt-I was thinking Ireland would be trying to line himself up to be associated with the radio broadcast, but would he give up his KCAL 9 sideline gig?

  93. Farmar said at the beggining of the season that last year he had problems with his game because he didn’t listen to what the coaches wanted him to do and would rather keep doing the same things he did in HS and at UCLA. I think the team embraced this in the beggining of the season and that’s why he flourished. However, now that teams have begun to clamp down on the Laker starters and he has been asked to be more precise on the offense and better on defense, the kid is not happy and complaints about his minutes and what he is asked to do by the coaches.

    I want to give Farmar slack, and that’s why I say that we expecting too much, too soon from this kid, but I cant help but me pretty p.O.’d at his comments. No where in the article does he seem to admit that he has made mistakes offensively, or that he needs to improve defensively, or that he “deserves” more playing time. Rather, he blames the coaching staff for changingoffensive and defensive assignments on him.

    Wow. Imagine that. An NBA coach asking a player to adapt defensively in response to what the opponent is doing, use better shot selection, and to play to the strenghts of his teammates and not his own strenghts. How outrageous! (I’m kidding of course)

    Rather than being frustrated over his “role”, Farmar should be frustrated over his recent performances and abscence of defensive effort. I also think what he said in the article sounds more like an excuse for his poor play than an acknowledgment that he needs to do better.

    I think the kid completely missed the point here. The sad thing about this is that if he truly believes he is doing nothing wrong (or doesnt understand what he is diong wrong), then he wont improve.

  94. Not Charlie Rosen December 18, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Had some thoughts on the Farmar comments today, and how that relates to our overall perception of his “poor defense” so far this year.

    At the start of the season, maybe even training camp, there was an article about Farmar (can’t remember the source, LAT maybe?) which said essentially that for his first 2 seasons here, he butted heads with the coaching staff. They’d tell him to do one thing, and he’d observe the situation and think that it was the wrong thing to do. Even Jordan commented on this, and said he was working on being humble and doing what they asked, regardless of whether he thought it was the right decision or not.

    Now, before anyone brings up Smush again, Jordan is actually a smart guy, with a high IQ (both general and basketball). He studied under one of the great basketball geniuses (particularly defensively) of our time for two years at UCLA, and was entrusted by Howland to run the team when he was there. Not to say Phil and his staff aren’t amongst the most brilliant minds in the history of the game…I just wanted to point out that this wasn’t a case of “ignorant player wants to showboat rather than play team ball, but ends up learning life lessons and getting the girl”…more of equally valid but differing philosophies going up against each other.

    I wonder, given these comments from Jordan now, if his “poor” defense isn’t a result of doing almost exactly what’s been asked of him, as his small cog within the defensive scheme, and then other cogs failing to connect just right (Drew or Pau not sliding over to guard the lane, Lamar and Vlade not rotating, etc.), and thus “easy layup as Farmar’s man blows past him.”

    He’s smart enough, athletic enough, and plays with enough energy to be a great defensive player…I think the story today is the same as it was the last two years: the staff is asking him to do things defensively that run directly opposite of his instincts, and because some of the other parts aren’t meshing exactly as they should, he ends up looking like a fool who can’t play defense, and gets even more frustrated that he didn’t just do what his instincts told him to…

    And offensively, I think we just see his frustration leaking out…great point earlier that, if the opposing point guard does “blow by him” and score, it’s nearly a sure thing that the next trip down, Jordan is going to drive the lane himself to try to even things up.

  95. The Lakers are keeping the play-by-play and color radio guys, so I don’t think Ireland would leave television to do radio pre and post. But he may play a larger role in some way. I don’t have a guess as to what he would want or KSPN for that matter.

  96. Didn’t they used to be on KFI-640? (At least hat’s what I I think I remember, with Chick Hearn and Lynn Shackleford.)

  97. I can not wait till Spero makes the move to TV if that’s in the books. he really is an amazing play-by-play guy. I now think even more highly of him after listening to some other radio broadcasts (on nba.com all access) and my god …they are terrible. Last night the hawks play-by-play guy was making statements about the hawks playing 5 on 8, calling the Celtics the Boston whiners, and asking where’s the foul after any hawks made or missed basket. it really makes you appreciate the professionalism Spero has.

    Kurt, Matt “money” Smith said on Lakers line that he would not be making the move to ESPN to cover the Lakers, which really is a shame, he does good work.

  98. I don’t mean to be a nerd…but aside from being a huge laker fan I am also a professional stage actor in Chicago.

    In order for Ireland to do the radio work for ESPN, because it is a national network, he would have to be a member of the union AFTRA (Association for Television and Radio Artsists)

    I looked on the member website, and he isn’t a member, so I really doubt he will be making the switch.

    And back to basketball –> farmar is simply in a slump and will get back some of his tenacity after a good game with good production from him or some big shots.

  99. LOL…they just opened today’s TNT Inside the NBA show with Chris Webber yelling at the Chuckster then throwing both of his shoes at him. Barkley dodged both throws, and I have a feeling that both Kenny and Ernie knew about this beforehand, while Charles was obviously surprised.

  100. 98. Would that apply to a local ESPN affiliate station? They pick up national stuff but also generate local shows as well that do not go national, which is what Ireland does. Would he still have to join?

  101. Lakers are very solid at the SG, PF and C positions. Kobe has SG covered by himself and Sasha could be useful more often than not, Pau, Andrew and LO have completely covered the big 2 positions and Josh Powell is a nice insurance plan. But all of these positions, may be not SG so much, need a good-vision passing point guard to distribute the ball around. I am not really sure Farmar has the mentality to be the pass-first type of point guards, you could say Fish is the same but to a definintely lesser extent. Farmar could be very good in D’Antoni type of system. But I think for the Lakers he is just a bad fit. I am sure we will see quite a lot of Sasha and Kobe in the backcourt with Kobe or LO handling the rock

  102. 101. The Lakers don’t need a traditional PG to run their offense, as was said here before Sasha could do the job. Farmar needs to fit the role, if he can’t the Lakers need to look elsewhere.

  103. Sun Yue will fit the role *crosses fingers*

  104. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think what our system needs from a PG is that a) he shoots well from outside; b) plays good defense; c) moves the ball around; d) moves without the ball and e) can post up

    Farmar has none of those qualities, he is a decent shooter and average mover without the ball. Plays weak defense, hogs the ball and would not be able to post Nate Robinson inside

  105. with that being said, I really hope we are not the “lucky” team that ends up with Starbury. Hate that guy. Plus, he will be totally lost in the triangle, just like Gary Payton could not really figure it out

  106. How about Brandon Roy? He’s quickly becoming my favorite player in the NBA not in a Lakers uniform. WOW. Droped 52 tonight!

  107. I really would like to see more Sasha, esp. if he can get back to last season’s form and beyond.

    I really hate the Suns, but I love me some Matt Barnes. Wonder why…

  108. I agree with MannyP13. Lamar Odom should start. He plays very well when he starts specially with Pau Gasol. Remember the playoffs last year? Lamar & Pau were probably the best frontcourt tandem in the Western Conference. They were so good offensively and defensively except, of course, in the Finals. Against the Celtics? This is where we’d need Bynum. I think the Lakers best starting line up would be:

    DFish-Kobe-Ariza-Odom-Gasol

    Sub would be:

    Farmar-Sasha-Luke/Radma/Powell-Bynum

    http://lalakersnba.blogspot.com/

  109. Yes, the Lakers have been sand bagging it. That should be pretty apparent to anyone watching the games. Though I’m not honestly concerned…yet. We’ll see how the team looks in February. But saving some legs for the end of the year sounds like a smart move. Especially for Kobe and Fish. My real concern is that Pau might burn out a little with the level he’s playing at. Dude looks pumped to be able to let loose on a good team.

    P.S. – Love the Celtics trolls. If you seriously want to talk about which team has been the class of the regular season thus far…it’s the Cavs.

  110. bostonownsprosports December 19, 2008 at 7:17 am

    good example of where the lakers are at, barely beating the knicks by 2. Better start playing better or you’re not even gonna get a chance to get your @ss handed to you again in the finals…kobe couldn’t hold pierce’s sperm sample

  111. Before this season began, I had the Lakers third place in thje Pacific Devision early on, only gradually pushing to the front late in the season. I expected Bynum and Gasol to only gradually work together well. I expected Trevor to do great defense, but to be unable to deliver at the 3 point line. I could go on, but basically I expected the Lakers to gel slowly, with the usual inconsistencies I’ve come to expect. I would not have predicted anything close to 21-3.

    So . . . . . .We should be celebrating, no?

    I am. Pau Gasol is amazing this year in his natural position. Andrew is a much more complete player–still recovering, bit by bit from his injury. Trevor is a blur on defense who is more and more a threat on offense. VladRad has had a very successful start this year, finally finding his shooting touch. Luke is recovered enough from injury to earn some real PT. Jordan is more energetic, athletic, and consistent on his 3. Sasha is finally recovering from an early season injury. Kobe is more into the team spirit. Lamar has accepted a 6th man role–and on–and on.

    This is a team I enjoy watching and supporting. Oh yes, they still are the Lakers. And yes–they haven’t gelled yet.

    Though we have many analysts who have condemned VladRad, Luke, Fish, and even Kobe, this thread has focused on Jordan and his LA Times interview.

    I’m very much with Darius here. The team is guilty of all of the defensive breakdowns they always have had–’cept they’ve won many of the games they lost last year. Oh, and for 7 games at the beginning of the season, they played like they came from another planet. Let’s enjoy them as they grow–every player on the team.

    Still, Kobe sometimes still tries to unwisely take over; VladRad sometimes can’t shoot or defend; the PG’s can’t defend the high pick and roll; Lamar is Lamar; Luke can’t shoot; Trevor loses control; Gasol is soft; Derek takes too many PUJITS; Mihm should have retired; Sun should have stayed in China; the Lakers can’t hold fourth quarter leads Sasha is totally lost–well, you know the litany.

    Let’s support their humanness as well as the changes that will take place. Let’s be thankful that the injury bug has not hit yet. Let’s let KG remain on his fours shouting expletives with the other Leprechauns sporting Celtic green. If we both make it to the finals again, they may find us to have evolved and gelled. Our w/l is much closer already.

    Let’s love the imperfections: let’s love ALL the ones we’re with!

  112. There seems to be a TON of dissension among the Lakers’ ranks with Sasha and Farmar unhappy about playing time, Bynum wanting to be in at the end of games and the little flare-up involving Ariza. Can’t be good for a team with (admittedly unfound) championship aspirations.

  113. Kurt,

    while I was stuck in traffic on the 210 I was doing a lot of thinking about the Lakers, as I often do, and while I don’t want to start trade speculation or any talk of that kind I wanted your opinion on something. do you think that right now the perfect fit for the Lakers at the 3 would be mike miller? its seems like he is the perfect combination of vlad and luke and would be the exact complement they needed.

  114. Oh man. These Celtics fans come over here with Fisher Price disses, expecting to rile us up?

    If you’re gonna come over here without real ammunition, at least have some fire with your trolling. Darius is right: last season’s long gone. The Cavs look like the best team in a league of three, and the season is far from over. If you’re not tripping as a Celtics fan, maybe you should be.

  115. 113.

    There is no point in getting riled up about Celtics trolls when half of our own fanbase offer harsher criticisms of our players on a daily basis and has spent the past month anointing the Celtics as this year’s champions.

  116. Oops, I meant 114.

  117. Derek, I and others here loved Roy coming out of college, we saw a lot of him out West and I thought he would be very good. But no way he is getting out of Portland any time soon, nor should he want to with the team they are building.

    K, I’m not going to allow a bunch of trade speculation on how we would get him. But yes, Mike Miller is a better version of the prototypical three for the triangle.

  118. Kareem – We would be tripping if we hadn’t already beaten the Cavs this season. Suffice to say we are really looking forward to playing (and beating) them again. Also, we match up great with them – while Lebron obviously has a sizable edge over Pierce, we are better at all other positions than the Cavs.

    5 days to go.

  119. I hope Phil Jackson would eventually go for the Fisher-Kobe-Ariza-Odom-Gasol lineup. Lamar was very effective playing with Pau last year and Ariza would be an upgrade to Radmanovic. Andrew would be more effective coming off the bench.

    Would somebody tell PJ to read the following blog:

    http://lalakersnba.blogspot.com/2008/12/odom-should-return-to-starting-lineup.html

  120. 119.

    Well I agree that that would be our best line-up right now, and Andrew might very well benefit from playing fresh with the second unit where he could be more of a focal point and put in more work vs. 2nd-string bigs.

    I am not sure if I would give up on the Bynum-Gasol tandem so soon. They may not gel at all this year (or ever), but I certainly think that they would have a better chance of doing so by getting more in-game reps than less.

  121. Mamula, 114:

    Farmar does (a), (c), and (d) sufficiently well right now, although (c) and (d) have been lacking a little of late as his problems with (b) appear to have gotten into his head. I don’t agree that (e) is any sort of prerequisite for a triangle PG. Posting up the 1 would require moving both Pau and AB out of the post, which makes no sense whatsoever. We already have 3 strong post-up players in the starting 5 right now. Also, PJ has *never* had a PG that was good at (e) on any of his successful teams. Payton was a great post-up player, and we saw how well he did in the tri.

    Random Celtics Trolls:

    Do me a favor and tell KG to get down on all 4s and bark at a halfway decent player for once, instead of picking on rookies and never-wases. And call me the next time he makes a clutch shot in the 4th, because it will be his first.

  122. It is December 19. Anyone who is getting overly excited about how good their team is needs to calm down, because it doesn’t really matter.

    Likewise, anyone who is getting overly down on how poor their team is needs to calm down because again, it doesn’t really matter.

  123. Laguna,

    I think it’s likely that line up could get some serious playing time. It will just not start games. Andrew might be more effective personally coming off the bench, but the team is better with him starting.

  124. If Ariza was more consistent with his three point shot, I would certainly have him in the starting lineup. As for now, Luke seems to be the best fit only because he is helping the traingle flow as well as possible. And his three point shooting is decent.

  125. Heat Preview Up.

    Rob L., good to see you. And he’s right, it’s who finishes, not who starts, that really matters.