Preview & Chat: The Miami Heat

Kurt —  December 19, 2008

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball
Records: Lakers 21-3 (1st in the West) Heat 12-12 (6th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.7 (3rd in league) Heat 106.9 (17th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102 (4th in league) Heat 107.4 (19th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol (fingers crossed), Andrew Bynum
Heat Mario Chalmers, D-Wade, Shawn Marion, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony

Lakers notes: It’s Got To Be The Shoes!

If you remember back to last year, Kobe Bryant killed the Heat in both games, and he did it by penetration. On plays in transition, drives and shots in the paint (or just close by) he was 12 of 16. Those longer twos and threes, 5 of 13.

Which brings us back to Kobe this year, who seems to have relied a lot more on jumpers and with that is the reason his eFG% dropped from 50.3% last year to 48.5% this year. His true shooting percentage (which includes him getting to the free throw line) is down to 55.3%, from 57.6% last year. That’s the lowest it’s been in four years. (Full disclosure, 82games.com said Kobe shot 75% jumpers last year and 76% this year, so maybe this is all perception.)

I don’t think this is a case of Kobe having lost a step or having heavy legs after playing in the Olympics (his minutes were not so heavy there as to be more strain then he would have put himself through at the gym). Rather, with two seven footers starting, two guys who live closer to the hoop, the paint is more crowded and the driving lanes are just not there. So, he relies more on the jumper.

The Lakers need to work the offense into spots to where Kobe can get back into a triple threat position. Also, they need to post him up more, they did early but seem to have gotten away from it.

Or, maybe the shoes will make all the difference. Its Got To Be The Shoes!

The Heat Coming In: Wade has been at the heart of the Heat’s turnaround this season, but in the last three games he has looked human — shooting just 33.9%, is 0-8 from three and is scoring 17.7 per game (he leads the league at 28 per game). You can’t count on this slump to continue, but the Lakers may be able to keep him cold if the defense is focused.

Wade is the heart of everything the Heat do on offense, he has to penetrate and draw defenders for anything to happen. Marion can play that role as well. They have shooters around them — Haslem can hit the 15-footer, Chalmers and Quinn (and Cook, who is expected back tonight) can bomb from three. But none of those can create their own shot.

I’m looking forward to getting a look at Michael Beasley. His numbers are basically average (-2.2 in +/-, 14.9 PER, 46.4% eFG%) but I haven’t seen enough to make a judgment. David Thorpe at ESPN.com says Beasley is improving, especially on defense, but he is still playing like a rookie at times.

Keys To The Game: Everyone will be focused on Wade and Kobe, but this game should be won by the Lakers inside.

Once again the Lakers have a big size advantage in the paint — the front line of the Heat is 6-7, 6-8, 6-9. The Lakers should pound it inside to Bynum and Gasol, get points close to the rim, and dominate the glass. Now, they should have done this against the Knicks, too, but they didn’t. The one difference here is pace — the Heat average 8 fewer possessions a game than the Knicks. They run a half-court perimeter offense, which can be good when you have a Wade-like guy, but it should not spread the Lakers out like the Knicks could do.

Also, this is another game where the Lakers depth should wear out Miami, but not if they play like they have lately, Farmar is letting the offense get into too much one-on-one and I can tell you it is frustrating Odom, among others. Maybe we’ll seen them fall into some more triangle tonight.

Turnovers will be a key — the Heat average 3.3 fewer turnovers than their opponent per game (the largest differential in the NBA). The Lakers have been careless at times with the ball, and if they do that tonight they will pay a steep price.

Where you can watch: 5 p.m., KCAL 9 here if you love you some John Ireland, or ESPN if you love you some Stuart Scott game breaks.

Kurt

Posts

85 responses to Preview & Chat: The Miami Heat

  1. I don’t think Kobe is shooting more jumpshots this year. His eFG and TS are down because his three point shooting, which was anywhere between 34% and 38% the last 5-6 years is down to a pretty bad 29.5% so far this year. There’s no real plausible explanation for it (others have shot fine after the Olympics, even Kidd was hitting them at a career high rate and Kobe’s dealt with the pinky situation for quite awhile now) other than a shooting slump. To his credit, he’s really cut back on the long range bombs while he hasn’t been hitting them.

  2. I know the players have heard all of the recent negative comments. I think this will be a game where the team bounces back nicely. Plus, I love how fired up Kobe gets when he plays D-Wade. Should be a fun game to watch, but I don’t expect a blow out.

  3. I don’t think its been as negative as many seem to think. The team can improve, and the players, coaches, fans, experts, etc. have said as much.

    Tonight, I hope that we really try to pound the Heat and feed Bynum. Another game where he has to defend a face-up jump-shooter.

    Because Wade is bound to get into the lane, I want to see the team rotate well. We usually get the first rotation right, it is the second rotation that has been our problem.

  4. This is the 1st in a 4 game road trip with Orlando tomorrow in a back to back followed by Memphis and New Orleans. The Lakers need to get back to winning big enough to rest the starters in Q4 or the Magic may waer them down tomorrow. But the team seems on cruise control adn I don’t know if they can turn it back on again so fast. They play these 4 in only 5 nights then home against the Celtics on Christams day with only 2 days off in the next week. 5 games in 7 days with 3 of the opponents being very tough will tell us a lot about the teams mental state right now. Maybe they have been saving their focus, but if you watch the Celtics yo know the best teams bring it every night to some degree.

  5. I’m really kind of tired of the insinuation that the Celtics are playing that much better or bring that much more intensity. Here’s a rundown about half their games this season:

    Blown out in Indiana, trailing to the team in Oklahoma City and then beating them by only 13, trailing to a Redd-less Bucks and then beating them by only 12, barely winning against Toronto and Atlanta on their home floor before getting beat by the Nuggets, letting the Knicks score 101 in only a 9 point loss, needing a comeback win against the Warrors on their homecourt while letting them drop 111 and winning by only 8, barely beating Charlotte and Milwaukee (again, without their best player) by 5 and needing overtime to win in Indiana.

    Not to mention Paul Pierce has shot under 40% for most of the season (imagine if this were Kobe) and Garnett is having his least effective season in more than 10 years. Are the Celtics playing better right now? Probably. Are they some invincible force that dominates every opponent every night? Absolutely not.

  6. Kobe had difficulties during the first part of the Olypmics too with his 3 point shot but got hot in the later games to bring his overall percentage closer to career. Granted the arc is a bit closer in international play.

    Still makes you wonder if there are other factors like a small nagging injury, form, etc.

    Kobe’s good at adjusting, you see that in games after he’s banged up. The game where he gets hurt, his shot goes. But give him a day or two to work on it in practice and the game after, the shot is there.

    Also he recently starting adding more arc to his shot again, that might help the three pointer too.

  7. Simon – the Celts’ point differential is barely below the Lakers’ (10.04 to 10.33), but the Celts strength of schedule is greater (.496 to .478) and we have played more games on the road thus far; all this while getting used to playing without James Posey, our 6th man of the year last year. Suffice to say, we’re only gonna get better. Like I’ve said before, lots of questions are going to be answered on Christmas.

    I’m gonna leave with two parting thoughts from Luke Walton’s blog on nba.com:
    “We want to be where they’re at.”
    “We know Boston and Cleveland are playing better than us right now. We know that our defense has to get a lot better and a lot more consistent if we’re going to have an opportunity to reach the Finals and win it.”

    Good luck tonight, anything less than a double digit pasting of the Heat must be considered a loss.

  8. Celts,
    Actually, any win is considered a win.

    I love Celtics fans.

  9. If this were my blog I would not be allowing most of these celtic fan posts. They just have a bad vibe. Who needs it.

  10. And Boston beat Utah who was without Carlos Boozer and New Orleans who was without Tyson Chandler.

  11. I don’t think Marion is going to be able to penetrate and draw defenders, given that he doesn’t have ball handling skills.

  12. 11. Not as much, he’s better at finding the gaps around Wade’s game, but he does do it some for them.

    As for Celts Nation, he’s a troll, not the first we’ve had around here (I think we all sort of miss John R.). I have deleted some stuff of his, but things like the one above make good points. He just does it in a grating way.

    And for the record, here’s what the Christmas Day game means: 1/82. Nothing more. In the end, it has no bearing on June, if either team makes it there.

  13. I defintley miss John R. I would love it when Kobe would shoot 15+ free throws. I knew I could come on and see the differential laid out in stark terms by John R. He kinda had that annoying little brother thing going, you know, where he bugs, but you kinda don’t wana him to leave you alone. Celts fan in general is kinda like the annoying uncle, you know the one you really don’t mind not seeing and everytime he sees you he tells you about this one time when he did something great.

  14. Here’s the Celtics problem, laid out well in the LA Times online Q&A:

    The Celtics have no depth.

    They are burning through their starters at a higher rate than last season, which is not something Celtics Coach Doc Rivers wants to do. Kevin Garnett (32 years old), Ray Allen (33) and Paul Pierce (31) are all averaging more minutes per game than last season, which is fine if they’re in their mid-20s but not in the final years of their careers.

    Granted, they’ve won, like, 57 games in a row, but the Celtics would be wise to solidify their bench before the trade deadline. James Posey was a big contributor for them last season, but he’s now logging 27.7 minutes a game for New Orleans. He might turn out to be the one that got away.

  15. But PerkIsAbeast! and Rondo’s a hybrid of Tiny Archibald and Oscar Robertson!

    Sorry…

  16. @ Post – Kobe isn’t taking more jumpers this year than the previous 2-3 seasons. He is, however, taking WAY too many jumpers. I would kill to get PJ to put him back in the post a little more, especially when only Bynum or Gasol is on the floor. It seems he’s doing it a little bit more for the start of the season, but not nearly enough.

    @12 – Kurt, you’ve said that a lot about if they lose these regular season games to Boston it means nothing. A lot of us disagree and apparently Magic disagrees as well with his quotes in todays Daily Dime. Sometimes that may be true, for instance the 2006 Heat run – lost to most of the great teams in reg season) but in this case the psychological repercussions of going 0-2, 1-1, or 2-0 will be extremely important.

    And who is this Celts Nation character? You need worry about keeping LBJ from having an explosion on you come May.

  17. I hate to agree, but the X-Mas showdown means only one thing: 1 game of an 82 game season.

    It is true that nothing would please me more than beating the Celtics, but the truth is that if a loss helps the team come closer and highlights some areas of improvement, then I’ll take a loss in December any day.

    As far as the C-Troll’s comments that anything short of a Miami “blow out” should be considered a loss, that’s just plain wrong. Miami is a small team – which always give problems to the Lakers – so I expect a competitive ball game the whole way. Plus, we are playing them at home, Gasol may not play and Odom is feeling ill. Not trying to come up with excused, just stating facts.

    To finish, C-Troll is right on one thing: The Cavs and C’s appear to be playing better b-ball right now. Where he is wrong, however, is to assume that this automatically means that the trend will continue unchanged. I would be more concerend about Pierce’s continuing minor knee injuries turning into a major problem or about beating Lebron in a 7 game series now that the Cavs have a better defensive and offensive team. Frankly, the road to the finals may be easier for the Lakers (or another western confernece team) than for Boston, so I would place less concern over winning two regular season games and focus more on how to get to the finals first.

  18. 17. Gasol is expected to play tonight.

    16. I will get more satisfaction from a win or feel more upset after a loss on Christamas day. That’s what rivalries are about. But I don’t buy the theory that what happens in the regular season is a mental hurdle to overcome in the post season. Just very different situations, for example, the Finals will not have the Lakers playing the Celtics in the fifth game in seven days.

  19. Has Pierce shed any alligator tears for this current knee injury, or does he save those histrionics for the Finals only?

  20. I’ve seen a decent amount of Beasley so far this year. It’s weird to use the word ‘raw’ with a player who has some unbelievably polished moves in his offensive repertoire. But what I mean is he has a long way to go, and I think he’ll get there. Rookie coach ES is doing a good job of forcing Beasley to play D and not giving him everything. I think Beas is a natural SF, not a PF. One thing I am struck by is his lack of lateral quickness on defense. For a guy that size, with that body, he should be much quicker. His defensive will has been greater as of late, though. I think he’ll get there.

    Generally, his offensive game reeks of super-college-talent who’s having a bit of trouble adjusting to the NBA. Meaning you’ll see him try some ridiculous acrobatic shots that worked college, but are a lot harder to get off in the NBA. He’s backed off those in the last few weeks, though, and his shot selection is overall improving. Playing with the 2nd unit undoubtedly helps.

    The other rookie I’m keeping my eye on is Chalmers. He’s been the best Heat rookie so far. An absolute ball hawk, a good shooter, and he’s helped by the fact that his offensive decision-making process is “get the ball to Dwyane and get out of the way.” I’m not going to call him a future All-Star, but definitely a solid starter on a great team in the future.

    Also, Udonis Haslem is one of my favorite players in the NBA. Plays with so much heart, defends his teammates, just a great, old-school type of player. Love that guy.

  21. finally! at last! I get to see a game on a TV! (we got my mom a 42 HD flat screen and the HD package, so I’m gonna tivo it and watch it a few times) the nba broadband is better than nothing, but it freezes a lot, and they do these weird black outs.
    anyway, on to the game, the best comment I saw up there was that we need to see the bench come together and bring it tonight, cause we need to have our starters sitting for the 4th quarter tonight. 5 games in 7 days, this is a good time to go deep in the bench, if we can pull that off.
    I have really liked what Josh Powell has been bringing, he’s a beast on the boards, nice mid range jumper, a bit dicey on the FT’s, but overall, he makes a good #4, or even a #3 from the bench. if Pau is not ready tonight, I’m sure we’ll be seeing Powell, and I’m sure he’ll be ready.
    also after the news this week with the Farmar stories, I bet he’ll be focused and play a tight game.
    I’d like to see Trevor, Luke, Vlad, Powell, and Sasha have big games tonight.

  22. our biggest advantage over pretty much the rest of the league is our depth. not that i would want to see anyone on any team get hurt (such a waste when two teams don’t get to face each other at their best), but LA’s much more equipped than any of the other top teams to handle an injury to a starter.

  23. It would be funny if Celtsnation kept talking trash the entire season and well into the post-season and the Celtics lose to the Cavs. I’d love that.

    Just think about this Celtsnation: Your team has already reached its peak and now you have to pray that they play like this at the end again. That means they either play at their peak for 80 or so games or peak, decline a little, and then go back to their peak. Meanwhile the Lakers are pacing themselves, getting more rest than the old farts in the Celtics, and learning from their mistakes. The Lakers know peak time is after the All-Star break.

    Goodluck, Celtsnation.

  24. Let the trolls be. We’ll focus on ourselves, we have better things to do than sink down to their level.

  25. I second the call for more triangle. When the guys are running it effectively not only do we see some beautiful offense, but it usually translates into elevated defense too.

  26. I’m loving Pau’s effort on defense. He showed fairly strong on the pick and roll and recovered quickly, and he’s really using his length for some great help D. DPOY, not exactly, but D starts with effort and Pau is certainly doing his best. Also, that length is so much more effective at the 4.

  27. The Heat’s PA announcer needs to curb his enthusiasm.

  28. Why does Bynum look so disinterested/listless/unaggressive? Am I the only one who feels this way?

  29. That was good attempt to take a charge by Jordan. He seems to be playing with a lot of focus tonight, good to see.

  30. For that matter, the team as a whole looks sharp, which is good to see at the start of a trip

  31. I like some things i am seeing tonight. I see some effort on defense. Lamar just took a charge and Farmar attempted to take one eralier on. Farmar seems focused, sound decisions so far.

  32. Ugh. Mark Jackson on ESPN.

  33. Through 3 quarters of the Celtics-Bulls game: Bulls are shooting 51.6%, 52.9% from three for an eFG of 58.9% and a offensive efficiency of 121.2. But they play at a slower pace and have a defensive reputation, so everybody overlooks it while saying their defensive intensity never lets up.

    CeltsNation, I’m not quite sure what point you were trying to make there. I admitted that the Celtics are playing better, but I’m just disputing the notion that they’re playing sooo much better. After tonight, they’ll be tied for the most home games in the league so it’s not as if their schedule is super tough either.

    On the Lakers game at the half – too many turnovers, and a lot of them seemingly from miscommunication rather than Heat defense. Clean that up and the Lakers should pull this one out. Nice to see Farmar start to break out of his slump.

  34. bynum was fouled by joel anthony’s forehead.

  35. Ok, i don’t care if they’re fronting Bynum, he should be sealing his man.

  36. #28

    I hear you loud and clear…. Bynum is a body out there. No quickness. Just watching him is painful, watch him as the ball goes up, he stands and watches, no desire to GO GET THE BALL.

  37. Kobe’s getting way too caught up in this individual matchup. Wade is doing a beautiful job of setting up his teammates, Kobe is forcing the issue by himself. That’s the reason the Heat are up right now.

    Play the damn triangle.

  38. The Lakers are having a hard time getting it to their bigs.

  39. Is it me or we are not doing a good job defending the three? its either that or teams are just hot when they play us

  40. Wade dribbled it off his foot and fell over… clearly a foul on the defender.

  41. Can someone please offer Mark Jackson a coaching job?

  42. Halfway down and out. :(

  43. Anyone else here happy that we got our first fun to watch game of the season?

  44. If you listened to Jackson on his broadcasts, would you hire him as a coach? Yea, me neither.

    Man, that one was a tough one to swallow. With all the questions about our D, nobody ever considered the possibility of our offense not pulling through, but that’s what happened. Never seen the Lakers throw so many errant passes.

  45. Tough loss. Kobe had a decent look, though.

    Bynum should be absolutely ashamed of himself. Miami is the smallest team in the league. I can live with mistakes. But he played with no fire, no heart, no life. I didn’t realize he was on the court most of the time.

    Summary of his play: getting repeatedly boxed out by Joel Anthony. Anthony, a guy Marion’s size, undrafted, who boxed Bynum out simply because he played with heart.

    Maybe Pau’s strep spread to Bynum, that’s the only explanation I can see for such a lack of energy.

    Good to see Farmar play well in the first half, although he got a bit out of control again in the second.

    Also, give the Heat props on D. Spoelstra is a phenomenal young coach IMO, and will be around for some time.

  46. I don’t like to be mean, but the Lakers need to know the opposing teams weaknesses. The Heat fronted our guys in the post, and yet repeatedly we just went around the other way along the perimeter, instead of clearing out and lobbing over. Getting the ball inside does not amount to stupid lob passes, which I saw at least four of. It is inexcusable that Bynum and Gasol had a combined 5 or 6 low post touches in the whole game. I don’t care how good Kobe is, our strength is our length (yeah it rhymes), and we need to make better use of it. You can’t ignore your two low post threats then expect them to get it going in the second half; It doesn’t work that way.

    Otherwise, it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. A lot of missed free throws, and way too many turnovers, but the defense was better and the bench had more energy. Dwyane Wade played out of his mind and the Heat deserve the win.

  47. When was the last good game from the lakers? I guess not in the last 10.

  48. Too many lob passes, that the Heat were waiting for. And it seemed as though the Laker bigs, i.e., Bynum and Gasol did not make enough effort to go up and get them.

    The overall energy for the first of a five game road trip was woefully low.

    Bynum returning to a team that made it to the finals had me believing that we could go all the way, I hope my feeling is not pyrite!

    That 3pt shot that Wade made at the end of the second quarter along with missed free throws in the fourth=LOSS.

    Defense wins games! Defense wins games!
    Defense and free throws win games!

  49. 21 turnovers and 52% from the line wont cut it. Our D did look improved though, if thats any cosolation…

  50. I’m just disgusted with the Lakers talking and not backing them words up. Luke Walton’s blog, Lamar’s post game comments, etc etc. I don’t understand this, they did great the first 15 games and now they’re acting like they’ve never been there, talking on and on about “committing to defense”, “we’re worse than the Celtics & Cavs” etc etc. What side of the bed did the Lakers wake up on last week? This is not the same team that raced out of the gates.

  51. as far as I’m concerned this game was lost when Lamar missed 2 free throws late in the game…turned out that was the difference, never should have been that close at the end, gotta make friggin FT’s.
    and I agree with the other guys saying that Bynum was dogging it all night. feels like he got his fat contract so now he can “be cool”, shame on him.

  52. Is it just me or is Chris Mihm sort of blocking out main guys out of the huddle during time outs? He always seems to be in front of Phil Jackson when were are drawing up plays. Guys like Kobe and Fish have to listen from the side. That being said, I love the fact that every member listens.

    As for the game, it was definitely not a bad game. I have a feeling Bynum is having some real problems, He seems like he does not want to be on the court. No hardwork or emotion

  53. Overall Bynum’s played well recently. Probably just one of those games. Could have been an off-court reason for his lack of energy, too. I don’t think it’s the sign of a trend.

  54. 51, that’ll happen when your teammates fail to get you the ball when you’re being guarded by a guy who’s giving up 4 inches on you. I’d be pissed; it seems as if the Lakers have no experience at all in lobbing the ball over the top when their bigs are being fronted. All I saw were a lot of horrendous lobs that had no chance of working. Couple that with the fact that he has to bail out everyone on defense, and Bynum has every right to be pissed.

    Bynum had some beautiful post moves against Minnesota and Sacramento, yet the Lakers refuse to get him going in the 1st quarter. I honestly believe that at least 3 out of every 4 possessions in the 1st quarter should go through one of the bigs, if only to let them get a good feel for the ball and get some energy going (which helps both offense and defense).

    Chalk this loss up to lack of execution, turnovers, and missed free throws.

  55. I just can’t digest the fact that Joel Anthony had 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. We are supposed to have best front court in the league!!!

  56. This is a really bad loss….. The way the Lakers are playing right now, I dont think they are gonna beat Orlando, especially with it being a back to back night. A positive sign tonight was Farmar and the way he played. Gasol was decent even though he choked at the end. And Binum is playing like he is 40 years old, he is putting absolutely no effort out there. And then Odom doesnt help either, I say get rid of him. He will have a decent game every now and then, but hes way too inconsistent and does absolutely nothing out there.

  57. A few folks already beat me to it, but here’s what I pin this loss on: free throws, free throws and free throws.

    We are a professional basketball team; almost all of our players have a nice touch from the line; those are points the Lakers left out there to rot on the vine.

    Of course, I thought that last shot was going in. I really did. If it had, I might be making a very different kind of post.

    Oh, and just because it bears repeating after any tough loss: there’s no need to overact and start mentally “getting rid” of our entire roster. Jeez.

  58. I never said get rid of the entire roster, but come on…Odom is way overrated, a guy who has tremedous talent, but for some reason just dont get it done. I think it is safe to say that the Lakers have lost their dominance at this point.

  59. Blaming this loss on poor free throw percentage isn’t accurate b/c Miami also missed FTs in the end – Haslem missed 3 in a row and Wade missed one. We’ve gotta pull up our socks big time for tomm night in Orlando…

  60. The Lakers don’t guard the 3 particularly well. It’s part of the defensive system. A weakness Phil and the staff have talked about.

    If the traps are executed effectively the passing lane to the far side can be cut off. But if the rotations come too slow, or from the wrong man, there will be lots of wide open 3’s for the other team. At that point, whoever is closest can run at the shooter and jump, but that’s about it.

    At the start of the season, other teams hadn’t seen the new system. The Lakers dominated. But it is no longer a surprise. So the team is trying to adjust and execute it better. Many commenters here have described situations when bringing the help hurts the Lakers. Or different defensive rotations that could be used. Rest assured, the coaches know this too. But enacting it on the fly during game-time will produce mistakes at this stage.

    Think of it like a player coming in and needing to pick up the triangle offense. We all know there’s a learning curve. Well, this is a brand new defensive scheme (for this team). On paper, this is a good scheme for them. It capitalizes on their length and quickness. Most Lakers fans can recognize the “broken triangle” when the offense goes off the rails. I think we now know what the “broken strong-side” looks like too. However, given time, there is hope they will learn how to execute it at a high level.

    That may never happen this season, but it looks like a good gamble to me.

  61. This game had some truths and lies revealed. The first is we seem to let other teams dictate pace to us more than we impose our tempo on a team. I’m not sure the Lakers know what tempo they want to play at.

    I don’t credit the score to our defense, I saw plenty of open looks for miami that were missed. Especially Haslem who normally hits those top of the key jumpers with regularity.

    We are a nice regular season team, but crunch time exposes our weeknesses. We are constantly scrambling on defense, cannot stop penetration and allow way to many open looks and layups.

    Another disappointment is we appear way to Lackadaisical with the ball on offense, take to many contested jumpers, don’t run a semblance of an offense and miss way to many free throws for a team with so many decent looking free throw shooters. Man we were better when we had Shaq because everyone else knew they had to make them.

    Man, I’m not happy now and we still win the western conference. But we will get destroyed by Boston and Cleveland.

    Nice blow call by the refs on Pau as well, but it hardly mattered because we missed the free throws when we got the call.

  62. #61, this is how I personally perceive it. Had we made all our freethrows and Miami did the same, we would have won. Hell, if we had shot a miserable 70% from the line like Miami did, we still would have won.

    These are my personal observations, I don’t care if you agree or disagree:

    1.) Kobe still has not “matured” beyond the stage where he perceives an opposing superstar as a personal challenge.

    2.) No touches for the bigs inside. As someone has pointed out, Miami fronted our bigs, and we passed around the perimeter doing exactly what they wanted us to do. Possibly due to #1.

    3.) Bynum needs to step up and dominate the paint on both offense and defense. The tone he needs to set is, “If you want to guard me one-on-one, I will score on you. If you want to drive the lane, I will block your shot and hurt you.” My personal pet peeve is when Bynum slumps his shoulders pathetically everytime something happens. Don’t bring up his age. There are plenty of other players who are better and worse than him and don’t react like a sad little puppy.

    4.) Odom… One of the greatest mysteries in the 21st century. Someone call up Sherlock and find out what the hell is wrong with him.

    5.) Most of you may have noticed, as well. Did anyone count how many blatant fouls were uncalled?

    – Wade, who seems to be fully recovered, outplayed Kobe. Bigger personal challenge for Kobe next time we play Miami. Fantastic.
    – Lakers are now the underdogs against Boston and Cleveland.
    – LeBron is the best player on the planet.
    – Pick-and-Roll. Simplest, oldest, most effective play in the game of basketball. Lakers still have problems with it. Blind fans say, “That’s why the season is 82 games, so we can work out our defense.” Right. Because these players haven’t been playing for years in the league, right? Because the P&R hasn’t been the Lakers’ biggest problem in past seasons,r ight?

  63. The Lakers front court was out hustled by Miami’s. There was no reason the Lakers should front line should not have dominated the much shorter Miami’s. Lack of hustle plus some really bad entry passes. Miami did a good job of packing the paint, but the Lakers did not look to get Bynum or Gasol the ball early before Miami set their defense. They will have to play better against Orlando tomorrow night.

    The D looked better tonight. Better rotations, more judicious trapping. Couple reasons for this, Kobe played better D, so did Farmar. He looked pretty good tonight (minus the bad entry passes, but that was everyone).

    I thought Kobe’s shot was good there at the end. He got a good look.

  64. the other Stephen December 20, 2008 at 12:23 am

    marion put some voodoo child on that last kobe j. somebody fine that man some money!

  65. a little comment on the bashing of celts nation’s comments: he said anything other than a double-digit blowoutwould be a shame because someone cited earlier that they “only” beat the thunder by 12 (as if a 1-point win and a 12-point win counted as different in the standings).

    onto xmas game: the only ting the lakers have to do is limit rondo’s passing. fortunately, noone can do that lately. and ray allen is on a hot streak, if there is anyone who can shut him down it’s kobe. i expect a really good game, i hope for a celtics W, but I really think the lakers are going to do everything they can, and win it. and not by 1 or 2 points but by about 10. but come june, things might cahnge…
    peace
    merry christmas lakers nation!

  66. As a fan I was upset and happy that the lakers lost this game. I want them to have the best record and home court throughout the playoffs. But we need losses like these to help this young team mature on offense and defense. How is it possible that with 2 7 footers we could not dominate the game when their biggest guy is 6 9″? Bynum and Pau need to demand the ball on the block. Both of them got pushed around all night. When they dont score alot especially Bynum, they dont play good defense. We have to play inside out and bynum and gasol have to be more aggressive on the block. If we cant dominate a game with 2 7 footers on either end of a court, whats the point in playing them together??

  67. Humility and desire to win… Where were they last night? I don’t feel good about this road trip and now I feel a lot worse about the Xmas game….

  68. Wow, in the preview Kurt wrote TO will be a big factor. WAS IT EVER! I’m not a big fan of the “desire” to win will take you anywhere kind of guy. (EG Ariza diving to the floor only had Wade coming up w/ a ridiculous shot.) The team needs to execute or else this might be a 1-3 trip.

    Question, if the lakers go 1-3 but beat the Cs. Good stretch or bad? HMMMMM

  69. I don’t get why anyone would have a problem with Kobe’s game tonight. 50% shooting and 28 points, that’s about as efficient as he gets. He gives it up on a crucial play and LO puts up two soft shots that get rejected. Doesn’t surprise me that he’d rather take the shot.

    Let’s trade LO, Farmar, and Fisher for one above-average point guard. Is John Stockton available?

  70. forget stockton, let’s get Isaiah Thomas. I hear he’s out of a job.

  71. It’s all been said, so I’ll cosign.

    –Better defense last night. Decidedly AVERAGE. That’s better than the last 10 games.

    –No offensive execution whatsoever. Completely out of rhythm. Maybe too many days off?

    –Entire frontcourt got outplayed. Let’s see, that’s Bynum, Gasol, Odom, Walton, and space-cadet (who Phil should’ve never put in that situation)

    –Kobe and Farmar BROUGHT it. Folks don’t be mad at 24. If he wouldn’t have pushed it, the game would’ve been over at halftime. Plus he scored the most points in the paint I’ve seen in a long time. Progress.

    Bottom line, you don’t win road games with 21 TO and 51% FT shooting. You just don’t. Lakers fans this is a wake-up call. Expect more losses until they decide to get serious…

  72. The real problem with the Lakers is that their starting lineup is not their most effective unit. They should get Odom back to the starting lineup and move Gasol to center position just like last year when they were so good everybody picked them to win it all until…well, they bumped into the Celtics steam-engine train…

    You may want to read my full blog at http://tinyurl.com/8gko9j

  73. Wow, a lot of doom and gloom in the comments. This isn’t a team that needs to make a trade, this is a team that needs to make a 9-man, 48-minute effort. Which is tough when LO and Pau are feeling under the weather, supposedly. Josh Powell played, fer cryin out loud.

    Bottom line for me last night: wow, what a great, entertaining game. Yeah, we lost, but watching last night… what more do you want in an NBA game (besides a W)? My brother, who watches maybe 2 regular season games a year, caught the 4th quarter last night, and called me about a dozen times. “Are you not entertained!!!”

  74. Lakers frontcourt gets outplayed, outhustled, out-everything by a smaller frontcourt. Sad but true, when an opposing frontcourt doesn’t wilt because of the length of the Lakers frontcourt. As 50 Cent would say, “You’re poptart sweet heart. Soft in the middle.”

  75. My biggest concern: in close games Lamar Odom is virtually worthless, because he has no go-to move, and no consistent jump-shot. He really hurts us in close games, and he is damn near 30. I’d rather just run Drew out there and hope he can get it together, because we need guys that WANT the ball in the 4th.

  76. LO has 5 games of 3 points or less since the end of November.

  77. either the lakers’ level play catches up to their lofty record, or their lofty record catches up to their level of play. things have a way of balancing themselves out, regardless of what the team or its fans think about it.

  78. What a disheartening loss. I can’t help but think the Lakers would be best served by trading either Bynum or Gasol – seems like they bring the same strengths to the table – interior scoring and aren’t great complements. A sweet shooting big man would complement either big perfectly.

    Regardless, I hope our bigs are FAR MORE active tonight against Howard (they’ll need to be) and we pull out the W – it’s not gonna be easy against an amped up Orlando crowd.

  79. Didn’t see much of last night’s game as I was watching “my” Rockets. But I would like to make a few observations.

    Bynum stated early on this yr he wanted to score more and Phil quickly squashed that saying all the team needed from Bynum was rebounding and defense. Wonder if some of the players are thinking I don’t need to give up the ball to Bynum because Phil said we don’t need his scoring.

    Caught one play second half where Bynum was posted on left block and ball went to Powell on rt side where he took the shot. (Prob my imagination,but I thought I saw a look of utter exasperation on Bynum’s face.)

    Little late,but dismissal of Olympic hangover is premature. Yes the young players on that team are off to great starts,but the vets…Boozer,Redd starting over season w/injuries and Kobe looking like he has misplaced his explosiveness suggests that for vets there is a hangover.

    JVG,Hubie and others repeatedly make the point a team’s best player has to buy into whatever offensive or defensive system a coach installs for it to work properly. Kobe has clearly not bought into the new defense and where Kobe goes the team follows.(And until Phil can get Kobe to buy into it,the team defense will get progressively worse as the rest of the team starts ignoring their responsibilities more and more to do their own thing-go for steals,focus on their individual match-up,drift,whatever.)

    But the biggest issue w/the Lakers is they haven’t found their identity yet. Are they a team that just relies on talent? An offensive machine so relentless that they will score no matter what a defense does? A power team that overwhelms you inside? A defensive team that grinds it out? As the season goes on the Lakers will develope their identity and w/that will hopefully come a mental toughness that will make up for shortcomings in other areas. In the meantime the team is winning 4 out of every 5 games,and as Kobe said,if it was so easy why isn’t everybody doing it.

  80. I still think the team (coaches and players) needs to figure out which lineups work best together. At the beginning of the season we had a set rotation and everything was working great. Lately, though, not so much.

    We have a ton of talent, but seemingly things have gone stale with both our starting group and our bench. Phil recently went to Walton to try and shake things up, and while that has been mildly successful, I believe more tweaking is in order for the team to find their stride again. We’ll obviously play our best ball when everyone is playing their best, which means that everyone has to feel good about their role and also must execute what the coaches want from them in game situations.

    Right now, we have not had a good game from more than two or three players in the same game. And while we have enough talent to overcome that and still win games, last season (and earlier this year) we had lots and lots of games where we had 7-8 players playing excellent in the same game. We’ll get there again, but I think on some levels it requires going back to the drawing board and getting everyone back on the same page.

  81. I think there are two players who are key to Laker success.
    Kobe – Stephen is right to say that until Kobe buys into the Laker defensive philosophy we will see no improvement. He is also right to say that Kobe does not yet fully buy into our defensive scheme.
    Lamar – With all the talent Lamar is still a net negative when a game gets tight. He won’t shoot aggressively and he doesn’t really take into account the game situation or the personnel when he goes to pass. Both he an Kobe often try for the fancy pass into traffic and are prone to produce turnovers.

  82. The problem seems to be that we have so much talent, our players believe they can play without a defined system or identity. The offense is a mess right now, only it doesn’t seem like a mess because pure talent allows us to score most of the time. For the people who were defending Kobe, yes he did an excellent job scoring in the paint at the beginning – it’s just that in the 2nd half, while Wade was setting up teammates and they were making their run, Kobe passed up open teammates to jack up a string of shots by himself. He reverted back into that mano-e-mano mode (for a brief period, true, but that was the period when the Heat made their run).

    It frustrates me to no end when I see so little triangle being run. We can play a fast tempo, but against a team like this our advantage would be to slow it down and pound it inside like we did against Phoenix a couple years ago. Our team was more disciplined back then.

    On the whole, though, at least we can say we’re not peaking too early. I think the Game 6 memory makes us so bitter that we want the Lakers to play with as much intensity as we feel sitting on our butts typing away, but unless you have a maniac like KG or MJ on your team, playing with that much intensity for 82 is literally impossible. What a waste it would be, if we peaked now and then choked in the playoffs. I’m frustrated too, but we have to remain patient. As others have said, we’ll get there.