Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  December 22, 2008

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball
Records: Lakers 21-5 (1st in the West) Grizzlies 9-17 (10th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112 (3rd in league) Grizzlies 103.5 (24th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102.3 (4th in league) Grizzlies 108.8 (20th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Grizzlies Kyle Lowry, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Darrell Arthur, Darko.

UPDATE: Jordan Farmar’s Knee: According to the Lakers team doctor and a second opinion, Jordan Farmar needs to have surgery on his knee, which likely would have him out a couple months. He is considering his options, which really are: 1) Get the surgery; 2) Let it heal naturally and piss off the Lakers near the end of his rookie deal; 3) give up basketball. So, I’m thinking he goes under the knife soon.

The Lakers may be looking around for a replacement in the short term, but the options are guys like Dee Brown and Troy Hudson (who only played great against the Lakers). Nothing thrilling. So we hope Jordan gets well soon.

The Grizzlies Coming In: I think everyone who watched O.J. Mayo the second half of the season at USC last year knew he had the game to play in the NBA, the question was did he have the head. So far, you bet he does. This is what David Thorpe had to say about him recently:

Composure is one of Mayo’s biggest strengths. And most of the time, composure in a player results from genuine confidence. Genuine confidence, as opposed to the type of confidence that is merely a shell covering insecurities, is born of hard work and successful practices and games.

Mayo and Gay make a good perimeter tandem and both are scoring 20 a game with True Shooting Percentages above 53%. Both can get to the hole then pass or finish.

One thing I’ve wondered in the little bits I’ve seen of Memphis — why is Darko starting over Gasol? Their shooting and rebounding numbers are similar (in terms of percentages) but Gasol just seems better able to fit in the flow of the offense. And, like his brother, he is used to the big stage.

One other question I’m curious about, why is Conley behind Kyle Lowry? Again the shooting and assist numbers are comparable, but Kyle turns it over more. There may be a good reason, we may see it tonight, but I’m curious.

Keys To The Game: Once again, the Lakers have an advantage inside. Arthur cannot stop Pau, and if Bynum shows up he should destroy Darko. But, will the Lakers get them the ball and will Bynum show up with some fire tonight? Good questions.

For a team that everyone says wants to get out and run, the Grizzlies don’t. They are 21st in the league in pace, the Lakers can and should control the tempo here. But watch out for those athletic wings in transition.

What they are is a team with wings who can penetrate, do it off the pick and roll, and that sets up their offense. Tonight would be as good a time as any for the Lakers to start defending that well.

Where you can watch: 5 p.m.,, KCAL 9 here in Los Angeles and League Pass and the usual spots nationally.

Kurt

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148 responses to Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. Should be fun to see the Brothers Gasol
    get to play against each other a little bit. Marc is no slouch, and a very physical player. Also should be fun to see Kobe play against Mayo. Its weird to think that 12 years ago, Kobe was the young gun trying to show his stuff off against the likes of MJ. Now, he is the vet who all the young guns like to try to prove themselves against. Really full-circle.

    Anywho, go Lakers!

  2. Thanks, Kurt. With your day, you could’ve easily blown it off.

    “…can penetrate, do it off the pick and roll,..”

    Don’t need to say anything about that one.

    And didn’t Kobe make some public statements praising Mayo last year when he was still in college? Mayo might be “up” for this one.

  3. Any word on Farmar’s injury?

  4. Agree with Kurt’s comment on the previous thread – last year in the Finals, and in the poorly played games so far this season (which includes some victories) the biggest culprit has been the offense, not the defense.
    And that is relatively easy to fix, if the players (including Kobe) will be disciplined.

  5. #4, Yea the Lakers certainly havent been consistent on offense as their spacing can get a bit out of wack, and sometimes they just dont move the ball enough, but we all know the offense will come around. I still say defense is the bigger problem. Now Kurt made a comment that the Lakers have just been scoring based on talent, I couldnt agree more, but we still have found a way to be the highest scoring team in the league..its hard to say that offense is the “bigger” problem. Everything should start with defense, thats what the Lakers emphasis should be on.

  6. This should be a perfect game for Bynum to assert himself, as he has been virtually non-existent in the last two.

    The Lakers need to get back on track tonight, before playing New Orleans and Boston. Hopefully they come out with some fire early and get their confidence back up.

  7. What’s up with Bynum? I dare say his slump is partially responsible for the Laker’s present slump.

  8. 3

    According to Lakers.com, Jordan saw 2 of the Laker doctors and they both recommended surgery. Jordan is mulling his options….

  9. Are there any FA guards available if Farmar is out for an extended period? (Other than Smush of course…)

  10. OJ Mayo = Future Laker

  11. Bring back Smush!

  12. Joel, look at the list the Suns brought in today, nothing that is going to make you say “Wow!”

    http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2008/12/21/699054/suns-hold-open-tryouts-for

  13. Mar…Mar…Marbury?

  14. did Dee Brown play for Lakers a couple seasons ago?

  15. Fortunately, Phil Jackson can’t stand Marbury. So, that’s one thing he and I have in common. That and no soul patch.

  16. Actually Kurt it did make me say “Wow” As in, “Wow, Farmar better come back soon…”

  17. Can M*rb*ry’s name be deemed profanity from now on?

  18. i sure hope they play some defense tonight. defense was key to our early great start at the beginning of the season. it was our weakness in the finals last year and it will be key to our success this year. the offense is there, sputtering at the moment but if they don’t start getting into that defensive mindset, we’ll be struggling on both ends for a while.

  19. I’m going out on a limb and saying Luke Walton can’t guard Rudy Gay…

  20. rebounds so far…memphis 13, lakers 4. sure hope bynum gets a little more active with the rebounds. really the team as a whole.

  21. I think Luke was fine on Gay, as of now. Gay just made two sensational jumpers over him that really can’t be guarded.

  22. Who’s that screaming in the background? Grizzlies’ coach?

  23. Encouraging to see Bynum out of foul trouble and that we were able to get our bigs going, just need to rebound better.

  24. So much for Bynum being out of foul trouble….

  25. Magic, I’m not sure where you got those stats, because the Grizzlies only have 9 rebounds so far.

  26. sorry my bad…at the time, it was 9 rebounds for grizzly and 4 for lakers. still…we should be rebounding better.

  27. LOL…3 fouls for Bynum…god help us…

  28. I said this last game as well, I hate how bynum doesnt seem to even care when he picks up quick fouls and gets pulled out of the game.

    Maybe he is pissed off at Phil about something and he deals with it by shutting down. Just a thought.

  29. what kind of a pass was that from lamar?

  30. so nba broadband at the last second does a black out on me, I guess it’s justintv for me, but I think, maybe since I’m in TN, maybe it is televised…lo and behold, fox sports memphis griz is on TV!
    so I get to listen to the homer Griz announcers, but they’re not that bad, heard worse.

    I like seeing Mihm got some burn, but I think I’d rather see Powell get his instead.
    maybe bynum will have a good second half.

  31. This is looking like the Lakers of 2005-7: no defense and all Kobe on offense.

  32. ugh…We make every bad team look good and Odom kills me.

  33. we are playing the Grizzlies for crying out loud!!!!!!!!!

  34. We’re shooting 56% against the Grizzlies and we’re down by 8 at half.
    Not great.

  35. Too many offensive boards and turnovers…if it keeps up, we will lose this game.

  36. this is unbvelievable! we got dunked on 10 times already.Whats that defensive scheme called again?Breakdown D?

  37. It’s good while Kobe’s still hitting his shots.. I hope he’s reserving his drives to the basket for the latter part of the game..

  38. Brace yourselves laker fans..the best is yet to come..

  39. Kobe:Trying to keep us into the game.
    Rest of the team:trying to keep Memphis ahead.

  40. If the lakers lose this game, I will shave my head bald.

  41. need a razor?

  42. Is this the same Bynum who said he wanted to be an all-star this season before the year started? Wow, I think he has a case of Kamanitis..and for those who don’t know what that is…it’s the way you play once you get that phat contract..(horrible)!…smh

  43. i’ll shave my bald butt

  44. I already have one out waiting on my bed

  45. Drew looks and acts like he really doesnt care.

  46. Lets pray to god Bynum doesnt pick up anymore fouls…

  47. If the Lakers cut down on the dumb TOs they can score at will against this Grizzlies team.

  48. Great start to the 2nd half. Let’s keep the intensity up on both ends of the floor…

  49. John Ireland saying this is the most disgusted the coaching staff has been this season…uh, we’ve felt that way the last 15 games!

  50. That’s more like it. When was the last time Bynum had a block? He needs to go back to averaging three a game.

  51. I just got home from work at halftime, and I don’t know what you guys are talking about, Bynum looks great ;-)

  52. Looks like feeding Bynum is a point of emphasis in the second half.

  53. I will say this, Bynum looks so afraid of picking up a foul that he is tentative on pick and rolls and getting in the way of smalls. He just doesn’t know how to use his size.

  54. Watching the game, I have no idea how this team is 21-anything at this point.

  55. Here we go with the crappy defense….

  56. Man, I know good PG defenders are hard to find but this problem is like an open sore for the Lakers. Lowry has been leaving Fisher in the dust all game long. It’s compromising the entire defense.

  57. I am crying

  58. Wow, were those two bricks by Lamar?

  59. Odom..(the cancer) is killing us right now…

  60. That move by lamar was one of the ugliest offensive moves I have ever seen.

  61. Odom, Odom, Odom…

  62. wow…odom can’t finish anything. hope he makes at least one of his freethrows.

  63. Looks like someone has recieved instructions to attack the basket.. I like the idea.

  64. they are just trading baskets. play some defense! if they keep this up, they may lose 3 in a row and this is to the grizzlies.

  65. Kyle Lowry might earn himself a lucrative extension off this one game…

  66. Wonder if Sasha at PG would solve our defensive problems?

  67. How’s Mayo looking against Kobe?

  68. Things are not looking good for the 25th when you struggle to compete with an inexperienced grizzly team… Why is Luke starting again?

  69. This is just like Orlando, we just cant seem to get over the hump…

  70. So, what excuse should we use if/when the lakers lose tonight? I think the “It’s still December” excuse has been used way too many times already….

  71. If they play like this on Thursday it will be Game 6 all over again…

  72. Stop! Kobe time!

  73. nice shot by Mayo

  74. Lamar can’t BUY a foul at this point. Huge shot by Kobe!!!!!!!!!

  75. thank gawd for pau and kobe.

  76. KOBE TIME!

  77. Why does kobe need to hit a 3 with 30 seconds left to get the lead against MEMPHIS!! I think some of these guys need to get back into playing their roles. Otherwise this season is going to end just like last year, in the best case scenario.

  78. Wow, what a dumb shot by Gay. Fisher really needed to hit both FTs though.

  79. Eude, it’s the 27th game of the season. Meaning there are 52—FIFTY TWO—more games before the playoffs even begin.

    Clearly the team needs to improve but there’s no reason to be that dramatic this early in a marathon season.

  80. I swear, I thought this was a site for Lakers fans. People who want to see the team win.

    I’m done with anything even close to baiting, I’m killing it. If you’re going to be critical, make a point. From now on, all “Lamar Sucks” or whatever is gone until we get some sort of smart discussion going on again.

  81. Going forward, this team needs to get back to dictating tempo. They’ve fallen into the trap of playing the other team’s game, especially against the Knicks, Magic, and Griz tonight. We need to be more methodical and work inside-out. Kobe can’t bail the team out every night and be expected to be the closer in the playoffs. His legs haven’t gotten much rest the past couple of months.

  82. 80.

    Amen.

  83. My bad, just a little frustrated. Its a marathon, but every now and then it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and miss the big picture.

  84. Thank you, Kurt. I’ve been coming here for 3 years plus, and it’s ridiculous that there is more negativity here now than in the years of one and done in the playoffs.

    The team is 22-5 and all everyone wants to do is complain. It’s no wonder people call us Laker fans spoiled.

  85. Overall the defense looked better in the second half (Memphis made some tough shots). Fisher’s lack of speed is a problem on the defensive end though. That is one thing that is not going to be easy to fix. Might be time to give Sasha an extended look at the point (20 minutes or so) but I’m not sure who would take his minutes as the backup 2-guard.

  86. Matt. You mean the Lakers didn’t already lose the finals already this year. I mean they are playing bad right now so they might as well quit this year and try again next year. Maybe they should just let Mbenga and Sun play every game and prepare for the lottery . Blake Griffin and James Harden look like they might be pretty good.

  87. Much better defense in the second half. They just need to show more consistency like that. Odom did have more points this game, but still needs some improvement. I didnt say he sucks Kurt haha.

  88. Joel, Odom is +18 the best of the night…

  89. We didn’t complain the previous years because there were no expectations. If this team doesn’t win the championship…wouldn’t you think it would be a failure???

  90. I agree that Odom made some questionable decisions and forced a few things, but I liked the aggressive play and the emotion he showed out there. I’d much rather see a few mistakes than a passive Odom.

    The Memphis announcers made a big deal about Fish playing big minutes, and I think that is a major issue going forward. Hopefully we find a way (different rotations? a new signing?) to strenghthen that backup PG slot if Jordan is going to be out for a while.

  91. Odom almost cost us the game and we shouldnt say anything? Our defense was all around bad again except from some plays..Kobe 4th Q heroics saved the day again.anyone recognising a pattern hier? How are we different from last year? It is really not too early in the season , something needs to change.At times in the 4th when we played 1on1 D we did much better than trapping and rotating.

  92. Last I checked, Kobe was a Laker, so him saving the team is just the same as anyone else stepping up.

    That didn’t quite happen in the finals last year, so that’s something I worry about, but as a fan, I actually like watching Kobe having to do everything… as much as I worry about that being detrimental to team growth.

    This year is special in that every Laker fan probably has mixed feelings about everything we do – expectations, realizations, jinxes, etc.

    But as said before, as a fan, I think I have every right to complain about what looks like lack of effort & concentration. I’m not asking for trades, not asking Farmar to become the next Stockton or whatever… Just want them to play smart.

  93. ”Last I checked, Kobe was a Laker, so him saving the team is just the same as anyone else stepping up.”
    No problem with that but not every game and certainly not against Grizzlie like teams.

  94. Odom could practice finishing at the rim. This has been a problem for a few seasons now. It was just much more evident in this game.

    For me it’s not so much about being negative as it is about being disappointed knowing that they can play a lot better. I think 25-5 is great and I understand that a win is a win, but if they barely manage to squeak in a win against bad teams for more than half of those games then I rather have them lose those games and learn from them. In some ways I think they play better as underdogs. If they continue to play like they have for the last dozen games I don’t believe they’ll be able to beat the tougher better teams. I know it’s just December, but they need to start focusing and picking up better habits now. Play consistently so that it gets into their system that they have to play defense at all times, that it’s ingrained and not a turn on turn off switch.

    I think this is part of their problem, all the talk about their talent and depth spoils them and gets in their heads. It’s kind of an LA thing, being spoiled and entitled (kind of like us fans). They haven’t won anything yet and as talented as they are, they still have much more work to do. It’s really comes down to effort, playing with heart, and having the mental toughness to understand that they need to play good defense all game long and not rely on their offense and talent to finish.

  95. things like timing plays, execution on D and rotations, etc…that’s what has to be worked on now, in December.
    I think it’s near impossible to maintain a passion, intensity for a full 82 plus the playoffs.
    kind of reminds me of a friend who explained to me that the months leading up to the second gulf war, one of the main enemies was boredom, keeping the troops “up for the fight” while months dragged by.

    maybe this is part of the thinking of our coaching staff, work on execution now, and build the intensity when we hit the stretch drive.
    of course, Kobe will bring it for 82 and the playoffs, but I’m a bit concerned about Drew.

  96. Since Jordan is out how about Joe Crawford from the DL? Any thoughts on that? Has a great name too. can help us with the bald ref. maybe..

  97. Could Jackson have made a mistake not starting Vlad anymore? For some reason the team defense was really great at the beginning of the season with Vlad starting.

  98. Our defense was good at the start of the season because we came out with a new defensive strategy out of the gate and no one was ready for it. That said, Vlad was playing much better defense than last year. My only quibble with Walton is that he passes up open looks far too often to make that extra pass (read: the open three) when Vlad could nail it. Vlad is an awful ballhandler though, so it’s a trade-off both ways.

    IMO, we should be open to unloading at least one of them over the course of the season. I agree with Kurt that this is a championship lineup, but we currently have three SFs, and getting rid of either Vlad’s or Luke’s contract will help us in the long run, especially because we have to sign Ariza at the end of the season. Do note that this is important because if we go all the way, the value of all our role players jumps way up after the season (read: Posey due to being on the Miami/Boston championship squads) and Ariza might get an oversized contract that we need to match.

  99. 89. No, I don’t think anything but a championship is a failure, it is possible to play well and not win. I don’t think last season was a failure and just because expectations are higher should the all or nothing mentality come in.

    Seriously, championship or nothing is a crappy way to go through life and a season. Enjoy the ride. And if you can’t find enjoyment in 22-5, even with the struggles, I pity you.

  100. I think the best option another guard for the Lakers is Coby Karl. (I know he’s not being paid by the Lakers right now, but I’m pretty sure he’ll take their call.) And it wouldn’t be the worst thing if Sun Yue got some burn.

    Kurt- I hope your kid and your job are both getting less fussy. And I completely agree with your comment 80. I’m on vacation and get to the Net when I can on my mother-in-law’s computer. This and email are the only sites I make sure I get to, so I really appreciate the work you’re putting in to keep it running.

  101. I agree, last year wasn’t a failure because we didn’t expect them to go to the finals and win it all. But, if you tell me that anything other than a championship this year isn’t a failure, then tell me where you get your stuff cuz i want some. If you’re happy the lakers are NBA’s version of the Atlanta Braves of the 90′s or Buffalo Bills of the 90′s, then so be it.

  102. Nothinglikethefirsttime December 22, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    This is my first time posting on this site, but have been an avid reader for years – as well as loyal Laker fan. I’m currently in Argentina where I spend my holidays visitng my wife’s side of the family. We caught the game tonight on DirecTV NBA League Pass (the Argentinians control DirecTV for all of South America). I agree with many of the comments posted above, but I thought it was worth mentioning that virtually all of my cousins and their friends had the same feelings about the Lakers – and it was surprising to hear this for the first time from them (they are all virtually Laker fans, especially now with Pau).

    They all felt that we will always be great, but never prolific like our teams from the 80′s or even the Shaq era due to one major area of defiency (sp?): mental toughness. They equated their theory to their own soccer teams and while I won’t bore anyone with parallels drawn between soccer and basketball, they do know their NBA and own brand of bball.

    I can’t agree more with them – there is just something missing from this team. You see it now with Boston and Cleveland and it is EXACTLY what makes us jealous, upset and sad about odd wins like tonight and terrible losses like against SAC a few weeks back.

    This is huge problem that no on inside the organization knows how to fix because it’s so deep-rooted, it can’t just be traded away. One friend actuallu went so far as to equate this Laker team with the SAC teams from the late 90′s – that’s scary…and somehow true.

  103. As long as the Lakers play to their full potential come playoff time, I wouldnt say the season will be a failure. Even if they dont win the championship, I just want to see this team at theri best…then we can be satisfied.

  104. A much needed win! Too bad Fish had to go 40+, hopefully he has a little something in his legs for CP3 tomorrow.

  105. #100 – I do not agree with your statement that anything short of a championship is a failure. I think that statement is true for the Celtics going into the Season – but not for the Lakers.

    Although several so-called sports writers had it pegged as so at the start of the season, I wouldnt trust anything these guys write anymore. After all, some even thought the Lakers would sweep the C’s in the final.

    Look, this team is good. No question about it. However, there were a lot of unanswered questions at the beggining of the season that still remain unanswered. First, J Farmar was a shadow of himself in the playoffs. We all wondered whether he would do better this season and it looked like he was a revelation after the first 10 games. Unfortunately, once people around the league started getting their rithym, Farmar’s athetic edge began to fade as he always does and he reverted back to his place in the league: a top 10 to top 20 PG – not a top 5 guy like many somehow made him out to be. Now he is injured and could be out for the rest of the season. How is his injury a failure if its unplanned?

    Another example is young Bynum. Again, young kid with lots of potential but – and here’s the but many of you fail to coniser – only about 1/2 season’s worth of exceptional bball. Considering that never played in college and only played heavy minutes in half a season (and considering he was recovering from injury for 6+ months) Hhw can you or anyone else realistically expect the kid to be a “beast” or a team saviour? Shouldn’t we wait until we have the benefit of watching him play 2 or 3 full seasons before we crown him heir apparent to D Howard? To be clear, I think Bynum is doing great – but that’s because I have adjusted my expectations to accept the fact he has played less than 2 full seasons in the NBA.

    I could go on about Sasha and Lamar, but I won’t. Why? Because players like Kobe and Gasol, and even Lamar on good nights, make the team exciting to watch. Sure, they are not playing their best bbal, but the season is still young and this team is the most exciting to watch in the NBA! Besides, the season is still young and there’s a lot of BBALL to be played, so let’s enjoy it!

    God only knows what is in store for my Lakers the rest of the season and I think this team has the skill and the youth to turn our collective perception of them around.

    Finally, I would not compare the Lakers to the Braves or the Bills. Comparing basketball to baseball and football makes as much sense as, well comparing basketball to baseball and football. Plus, the Lakers are the most popular team in the history of the NBA – PERIOD. Comparing them to these lesser popular teams is a bit insulting. Frankly, even the C’s with their collection of banners are no where near as popular as the Lakers. With so many people rooting for the Lakers how can they ever be considered a “failure”?

  106. Random comment: I watched the game on league pass and the memphis announcers are top notch. About one quarter into the game, I found myself remarking – these guys really enhance the game, are fair, get along, and know what they’re talking about. Rare these days.

    Mayo has “it.” He’s a winner and has the physical tools and work ethic to back it up. Great shooter, passer, defense, court presence. As a rookie, he went toe to toe with Kobe and didn’t shrink. Higher ceiling than Beasley or Durant?

    Darko played solid defense all night, both inside and against the pick and roll on the perimeter. He may yet be salvaged. Lowry scared me much more than Conley – so much speed. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Conley do something at the pro level that made me think he could ever be much more than a fringe starter.

    I think we can get away without a true PG out there with the 2nd unit if both Sasha and Odom are in the lineup as ball handlers – Walton would help too. The problem is defense, but Farmar was near worthless on that end anyway, except for the steals.

    Re Walton, I’d much rather see him with the second unit playing 10 minutes (or less), than with the first. I know Phil wanted to shake things up, but Radmanovic has played well all year and is simply better, especially with the starters. Walton makes a few nice passes a game, but the offense seems to freeze up with his lack of spacing and indecisiveness with the ball. Time to punt on the idea.

    Kobe’s three was nice redemption after the two misses against Miami and Orlando. We needed that.

  107. Mike in the Mountain West December 22, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    One of the reasons we went so far last year was several of our young players had breakout years, including Farmar, Vujacic, and Bynum. Now everyone of those players is playing worse than he did last year. One of the big questions is whether the improved play was a fluke. One thing that worries me is Vujacic was in a contract year last year and now his Hollinger stats are all back to the previous year’s level. Maybe he’s just in funk. I hope so because if not then that production is going to have to be made up somewhere else.

  108. You can’t say (logically) “championship or failure” until you see how the season plays out.

  109. Reed-I defintley agree with you re: Vlad. I think he has earned the right to start.

    As far as Mayo-he really has a nice all-around game. One thing that stood out to me since he came to SC is that he is just as focused on defense as he is on offense. I think its a no-brainer he has a higher ceiling than Beasley or Durant (who are both offensive minded, have no true NBA position and are thus limited) the question is, does he have a higher ceiling that Derrick Rose?

  110. I, for one, am with Kurt. With luck, I can expect to watch anywhere between 80 to 100 Lakers games this season (I haven’t missed one yet), and I plan to savor each and every one as its own, self-contained little drama. Even making the Finals is such a rarefied accomplishment, I don’t think one should ever adopt a “championship or bust” mentality … you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and robbing yourself of all the small joys that occur along the way. Not to mention, it makes you kind of a drag.

    I think we were all tantalized by the results of the first two weeks, and it’s frustrating that we haven’t seen anything close to that level of dominance since. But while there are dozens of things we ideally want from our players (smart execution, effort and passion, just to name three) but ultimately the most we can ask for as fans is to have a chance to win at the end of the game; they haven’t all gone our way lately, but we’ve been right there almost every time. I’m grateful for that much.

  111. My question to the championship-or-bust crowd is the following: when do you actually enjoy the basketball? By definition, all the basketball is finished if we’ve won the championship. Which means you’re going to enjoy what, a parade? Do you like parades more than basketball?

  112. the other Stephen December 22, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    all i want to see is some showtime and some triangle.

  113. Here’s my issue with Luke in the starting lineup: He was brought in to improve ball movement. That worked for about one game, but does anyone think that is happening now. Kobe was complaining about it with that group again this game. Radman was at least hitting threes and playing better defense than Luke.

    Also, for all the talk about another PG (I could live with Dee Brown getting a 10-day deal), I think Sasha is still the best option. He handles the ball well enough for the triangle and his defense is better than what Farmar was giving us.

    As for Mayo, his range is great and even at USC he could shoot well with a hand in his face, something that serves you well at the next level (if you can’t your Adam Morrison).

    Finally, I got my my answer about why Lowrey starts. I like his speed and use of it much better than Conley, who may be a career backup.

  114. I thought Mimh played rather well. I’d like to see more of him and Powel now that Sasha will play some PG and everyone else will get more minutes.

    I keep seeing suggestions to sign a PG to replace the injured Farmar. I wonder why I don’t see any demand to see Sun play. We already have him signed, and he should learn to play the triangle, plus he’s played in the Olympics. I would think he’d be the best choice. Why isn’t it?

  115. Long time FBG. For Awhile there my comp could not load the whole page. So like a 87-comment thread would read to up to only 15. But its ok now and I should be a regular again…

    Memphis played a game that was pretty good for their standards. I think playing against your conference’s best motivates you – thus the struggles we saw. Several observations I have tho:

    1. Why is Phil compelled to start Bynum?

    2. Play our best 5 and roll with it for 8 minutes – then play the mix and match game.

    By this I mean: Fish-Kobe-Ariza-Odom-Gasol.

    3. Jordan, wtf dude. Now reports say 2 LA docs are recommending surgery. Sasha should be the de facto PG in lieu of JFarm but it would also not prevent us from signing some cheap ones who we could audition. Hey, we have the roster spot don’t we?

  116. 112 – That would be real nice.

    Any – The “championship or bust” discussion above intrigues me. Since the FOR side is catching a bad rap, let me represent them.

    While I’m not actually ship or bust, I am Finals or bust, so I understand. Seriously, this is the LA Lakers with the best player on the planet here, am I supposed to just be happy with them competing every night or just being a contender, especially when they’re this close?

    I think a lot of you are being a little disingenuous about this enjoy the ride stuff. Nobody here would be pushing just enjoy the ride if they didn’t fully believe this was a DEEP playoff team. I would love honest feedback on where the cutoff is. 1st or 2nd round exit, conference finals exit?

  117. Addendum: Due to the Farmar injury, we technically don’t have the bench mob anymore. So why don’t we play with our finishing group?

    Fish – Kobe – Trevor – Lamar – Pau.

    Sasha – Vlade – Drew

    This lineup has more offense for Kobe, Pau and Fish. But that has been the script. One can even make a case for Vlad instead of Ariza but Luke has not lived up to his mini audition back into the starting 5.

  118. I think using a Sasha/Ariza back court with Radman at SF could work for the second unit. EIther Sasha or Ariza could guard the PG and Sasha could bring the ball up the court. I think puting Ariza on the quicker PG might help out the defense. He is tall enough where he could just play off a step and still challenge the shot of most PG in the league. Also he has the lateral quickness to at least some what stay in front of them. Sasha could also do a relatively good job guarding PG’s but he plays too physical on the perimeter. I actually like that, but with the way the NBA is called, he picks up too many quick calls. If he just played a step off, then I think that he could prevent penetration, and still challenge jumpers.

    My problem with Luke starting is that he has absolutely no confidence in his shot (and maybe rightfully so). Any time he catches the ball and he is open, he hesitates too much and will pass up the open shot which his teammates are expecting him to take. then he tries to make another pass which no one is expecting except the defense. At this point I might try starting Ariza or put Radman back in the starting line up. The problem though now is that doing so no with no back up PG, is that putting Radman in the starting line up puts one less shooter coming off the bench. I think at this point Sasha’s and Ariza’s PT need to go up.

    The Lakers looked confused on both ends of the floor right now. Fisher is feeding his man base line expecting the help to come but too often it is not there. Or when it is there no one is rotating to cover for the player coming to help which leaves a player free under the basket. Maybe the Lakers should switch up the defensive scheme. I think a semi-zone would work well. Sort of a semi man-to-man and semi zone, where everyone is playing 1 step inside the 3 pt line. Sort of like what Boston does.

  119. Like I said above, I like the idea of Sasha playing PG, because he’s rather tall and handles the ball while giving us space too.

    Wonder if Sasha will get out of his shooting funk with more minutes. I honestly think he could serve as a starting PG in a triangle, especially if our starters are:

    Sasha – Kobe – Trevor – Lamar – Pau.

  120. We have so many players to expiriment with line ups that it is becoming a problem instead of a blessing.Its just about time I think to establish a definitive starting and finishing 5(baring injury) plus a second unit whre everyone knows and understands/executes his role.Most certain is that the second unit MUST have a LEADER. Mental leader that is, not scoring leader per se.

  121. #116 – While I totally understand your position and appreciate your willingness to play devil’s advocate on behalf of the SoB (‘ship or bust) crowd, I will answer your rhetorical question with a firm “yes.” Yes, you should be happy that the Lakers are a contender and that they are competitive every night.

    And I can promise you that I’m not being disingenuous: it’s not always easy, but I am sincerely trying to enjoy each and every game this season on its own merits.

    If I’m being totally honest with myself, I have to concede that there probably is a limit to my ability to remain philosophical … my best guess is that it probably falls somewhere between “hard-fought Conference Finals loss” and “1st round exit” on the continuum.

  122. 107) MITW “so far last year was several of our young players had breakout years, including Farmar, Vujacic, and Bynum”

    Part of the problem with our expectations is that we are calling the 2007-8 seasons those players had “breakout” years. They showed improvement, particularly Farmar and Vujacic, but not what (IMO) should be considered “breakout.” And their performances were primarily off the bench, in relatively limited minutes. So they are still at the point where:1) We don’t have a feel for what level they are capable of sustaining and 2) There are still likely to be ups and downs in their play.

  123. to all those advocating to give sun yue major minutes – did you not see his only game where he had 4 fouls in 4 minutes, most coming when he contested the fastbreak layup that naturally ensued when he coughed the ball up at midcourt? and you want to give him meaningful run when the game is still in balance?

  124. Although I think LO is too incosistent a player for us and I dont like him + the
    Lamar-second-unit-leader-expiriment has failed, I think he is/will be more effective with the starting unit. that being said I’ve noticed that some of our players are still trying to find their role in our system.They seem to have an internal stugle wether to shoot the ball or pass it.It may have to do with confidence and work itself out during the season but once again we need steady lineups to help the team establish a character and built that much needed confidence

  125. I am older than most of you so I can say with authority that you should enjoy every game as if it were going to be your last. Enjoy the moment because it may not come again.

    I couldn’t have watched the 1st half of a Raptors game a couple of years ago if I didn’t have this attitude. If I had turned off the TV in anger I would have missed Kobe’s 81 game.

    We are already seeing Kobe take care of his body in the game so he can prolong his career. That means the end will be in sight in all too short a time. Please, enjoy every game you see from this player – we won’t see his like again in a Laker uniform for a long time.

  126. A lot of fans don’t seem to appreciate that this coaching staff is trying to develop a number of young, inexperienced players with meaningful minutes in meaningful situations while still winning enough games to get a high playoff seeding and contend for a title while not burning out the starters from too many minutes, and at this point this group has played less than 30 real games together.

  127. kurt,

    Conley seems like he’s just a great athlete, not particularly a good basketball player. Not a good thing for a point guard. World class athleticism looks real good in college, especially when you play with oden and daquan cook.

    I hope Mayo is wearing a Lakers uni in 2 years. I really like that kids game. Smooth. Effortless. I have funny feeling he doesn’t care for Rudy Gay’s game too much. Especially when Gay had 3 straight chances TO TIE OR take the lead and missed, and turned it over twice. Those should’ve been Mayo’s shots. He looked peeved, and you can see Kobe talking to him about it. Probably telling him to be the alpha.

  128. 116. To have a cutoff misses the point. I am not going to be pissed at games now because of what might or might not happen in April. Today I am going to watch and try to enjoy a good test against the Hornets. Whatever happens in that game has no influence on what happens if the two met in May.

    Would I be frustrated and angry with a first-round loss? Yes, I will then. But I’m not going to be pissed about it now. That would spoil what has been an enjoyable season. In case you missed it, we are still 22-5. If you find no joy in that, I don’t know what to say, except that must suck.

  129. 116 – Thanks Joel, now we have something. First, I don’t think I explained well enough. By competitive, think Knicks or Mavs. By contender, think the D’Antoni Suns. The current Knicks & Mavs can play with most teams a lot of nights, win or lose. You could even throw the 05-06 Lakers in there. After last season, I’m not going to be happy or carefree with the 05-06 Lakers. Nor would I wish for 4 straight years of 50-plus win reg. seasons & questionable playoff performances.

    I appreciate your honesty and you didn’t really disagree with my point. How much of a difference is ship or bust, finals or bust, and hard-fought conf. finals or bust? Not much, IMO. The main thing is, in the end, it sounds like you deem failure this year as doing worse than last season. My position is most here feel the exact same, but don’t want to hear others bluntly say so this early in the season or at all.

  130. I hear a lot of people looking to move Bynum to the bench. I am not sold that this is a good idea. Bynum is still developing and right now he is struggling with confidence and frustration. He is picking up fouls quickly and not getting a lot of minutes which is frustrating him. Also players don’t seem to reward him for running the break and getting good position early. I remember a number times in the Miami game where I could clearly see that he was very frustrated at players for not feeding him the ball early when he ran down the court and got deep position early. Moving him to the second unit now will only might only hurt his confidence even more. If you want to start Odom, having Gasol come of the bench for Bynum after 6-8 minutes might be a better move. This would allow Gasol to be the leader of the second unit, and give them a focal point for the offense when the break is not there. Also I think that Gasol is much more mature and will not be too upset about coming off the bench.

  131. costa,

    I know you’re fairly new here, and i don’t want this to sound like an insult, but every post of yours is over dramatic worrying. it’s boring. Complain, complain, complain every comment. Do you think the Celtics were perfect last year? or the Spurs before that ? or our 3-peat Lakers ? There’s always work to be done. But to call certain things failure 27 games in is ridiculous.

    PJ teams peak late, not early. We’ll take our lumps (22-5 ?) now.

  132. Part of the urgency and nervousness that has been on display this year is the harsh reality that Kobe doesn’t have many years left. For many, they want Kobe to win that last title (or 3) as bad as Kobe himself wants him, because of everythin the city and Kobe have been through. I think Kurt and others are right, enjoy it, especially becuause Kobe isn’t gonna be here forever. But I can understand the sense of urgency to win this year, because the window is there, and because it seems like thats the way the story needs to end.

  133. Gasol to the bench? That’s crazy.

    Some people here must have forgotten that the Lakers have to learn to mesh from scratch. Remember, Bynum and Pau didn’t play together at all last season. We played well with Bynum, then with Pau, never together, so it’s not just a simple transition swapping Lamar and Byum in the starting rotation. they are completely different players.

    We started the season looking great on defense because the look we gave other teams were fresh, they have since figured it out, now it’s time for us to figure it out again. We will. That’s natural. The regular season is a game of adjustments. I know the Celtics look good, and right now they’re the measuring stick, but they have familiarity with each other. We’re finding our way with a different look on the the 1st and 2nd units. Different roles. Just think about the early season turnovers that are quick deadly passes late in the season. It happens every year.

    Everyone wanted to say, “If we had Bynum…” or “When Bynum gets back, it over, no way the Celtics would’ve won…” But then, those same people don’t see that in order for that to be realized, these growing pains have to come.

    Finding our way at 22-5. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but that means something.

  134. Kwame – you nailed it.

  135. 129- Maybe you are missing the point of my comments.I never compared us with the Celtics or the Spurs.Frankly I dont care what other teams do. Stating the obvious is not over dramaticly worrying nor is it just complaining. If you look closely you will see the points I am making. Just saying 22-5 is ok so dont write anything that needs attention or critise the team is not my approach of things.I dont even care about our record thus far.I want to see good bball which I know this team is capable of.
    By the way I didnt perceive your comment as an insult.

  136. Kurt – although i fully agree with what you’re saying regarding enjoying the moment, i don’t agree with your comment that whatever happens tonight will have no influence when we play the hornets in may (playoffs?) although it could just be me misinterpreting your comment. Phil set a goal at the beginning of the season that he wanted to get homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. Even though 22-5 is a fantastic record, it still leaves us behind Boston and the Cavs in achieving that goal.

    By that same token, while tonight’s game against NO is can certainly be viewed only as a test, it could wind up having playoff seeding / homecourt implications if we do face them in may, especially given last year’s super-tight playoff race. Every loss means something now in that we are giving up ground in the future playoff seedings, which could be the source of all the hysteria around here.

  137. The frustration I feel is that after watching the team get to the Finals last season, after seeing the growth of the system and players, and knowing what kind of coaching staff the organization employs, the expectations of this team were that they would play with a certain passion and intelligence. I’m not saying that they should have a 22-5 or better record. I am happy with their record. What frustrates me is that the issues that are cropping up seem to be a result of a poor mentality. This mentality seems the product of people thinking this should be easier then it is. Whining about non-calls, not executing the offense, having to scramble on defense (meaning they get broken down consistently and seeming to have no reliable contingency for this regular occurrence) and all this resembles young teams that haven’t learned how to play in the NBA yet and not an experienced team that has made it to the finals. Certain commentators seem to be projecting onto other commentators the very criticism that I have with the Lakers. I don’t think my issue is that the season grind should be easier then it is or that the Lakers should already be a finished product or that a trade must be made or that games today will provide the results of games in the Spring. My issue is in certain bad habits that I am having a hard time understanding why 4 years into the system for most of these players is still finding us watching a team getting away from that system. Run the triangle, pass the ball, don’t look for Kobe all the time, work the ball inside first, stay in motion, don’t over dribble. We saw this in the first few weeks of the season and now it comes only in spurts.

    Regarding Mayo’s upside, he is a clutch player who does most of what you want from a guard. He can get a good balanced shot off whenever he wants. He plays very good on man D. I haven’t seen Mayo make the sort of rotate from the weak-side to block a shot in the post or stop a fastbreak in the way that Kobe was known to do in his youth. I haven’t watched the Griz as much as some other young teams so I can’t say that he doesn’t have it in him. I would love him on the Lakers but…

    In terms of upside, keep in mind that unlike Mayo, Durant is still working his way into his man’s body. KD is still filling out. Durant has been moved to the 3 and has shown he is much more comfortable there. So, I think he does have a position in the league. Dude is LO’s height, is even longer limbed, is quicker then LO, can make 3PTs as a result of a gorgeous shot and has very good to superior handle. What would you think of LO if he were quicker, a little longer, actually had a number of goto moves, finished with both hands, and regularly made shots from anywhere including a foot behind the 3 line? LO only has strength, bulk and experience over Durant at this point. So, tell me what the upside of such a player is and how would you compare that to the upside of a man already in his man’s body and with more conventional athleticism and build? While on the subject, I think Westbrook has upside that would spread Mayo thin.

    Westbrook’s nose for the ball is incredible when matched with his quickness and strength. Kid explodes, hangs, and then rises even higher, and this on rebounds. I have seen two rebounds in the last two weeks that did to me viscerally what is usually only a response to great finishes. He finishes in traffic, through contact and in the last month has been shooting 45%. Not great but he has shown steady improvement already. I don’t see much in wasted motion or over dribbling from him and he has the knack for finding the open man. I would personally prefer building a team around Durant or Westbrook rather then Mayo but that’s me.

  138. 135.

    The bottom line is that we are 22-5 with a +9.33 point differential and are ranked 3rd in offensive efficiency and 4th in defensive efficiency in the NBA. Such are the tangible measurements of our performance thus far.

    Your stated desire to discard the evidence and instead measure the team’s performance against the ideal that lives in your imagination, while being within your rights, is hardly the basis for a valid argument.

    I, for one, would not care if the opinions you offered were the least bit constructive. The problem is that your constant snippets, in which your offer no numerical analysis or tactical acumen, are overwhelmingly negative in tone.

    You may well be a very enthusiastic fan, but you are effectively adding nothing to the conversation here beyond that of a troll.

  139. Because you are not overly critical in a loss doesn’t mean you don’t have questions, or that you don’t pound your head in frustration on a seemingly dumb play during a game.

    Being critical has very little to do with being an avid Laker fan. My friends say I am the most fanatical Laker fan they know, but I can also sleep after every game – win or lose.

    In truth this is entertainment, after all, and a lot of the beauty is the game itself. Of course, that is also it’s frustration.

  140. Wow talking about defending your kin…
    I never attacked wondahbap so why is everyone so quick to the resque?
    I for one will not resolve to name calling as you did nr.138.If the comment goes through i’d like to end this here.I have no personal likes or dislikes with anyone here. If my opinion is not in conjuction with yours ignore it.

    5) No personal attacks on other commenters.

  141. Sean P & Craig W,

    Well put.

  142. I agree with #138 and #139. I think that some fans are so ravid that they can’t stand the fact that the C’s have less losses and no matter how the team plays, as long as the C’s remain ahead of us then the sky will be falling.

    Conversly, these are the same fans that were prematurely planning for a Laker victory parade when the team was on fire at the start of the season. In fact, I remeber reading a post on another site where people were *seriously* arguing that this team could go undefeated or win close to 80 in the season. Jeez, with unrealistic expectations like that its no wonder some see that the sky is falling.

  143. I personally think Sasha is a better fit at point guard than Farmar. Farmar just doesn’t seem to fit in with the Laker’s offense, which is predicated much more on post play and off-ball movement in the triangle. Farmar doesn’t excel at either, and he isn’t the best shooter (although pretty decent). Sasha is a better shooter (usually), he’s bigger, he’s a better defender, and he’s scrappier.

    But for all the negative people, chew on this for a lil’ bit: Our team is so good, that we have 2-3 quality players at EVERY position. Chris Mihm and DJ Mbenga would probably start for the Miami Heat (with their starting C and PF being 6’9 and 6’8), and we all know that Ariza, VladRad, and Luke could all start for other NBA teams. Really our weakest position, depth-wise is shooting guard, and we happen to have one of the top 5 shooting guards ever at the tail end of his prime on our team. Honestly, imagine being a Clippers fan instead.

    Yea, the team can improve, but that’s part of the joy of watching the game. Imagine reading a story in which the protagonist already knows all the answers and has all the solutions to all problems right from the start. The joy of stories is reading them from the beginning and watching characters evolve and having taken the journey with them.

    Heck, Bynum could start dominating in January, and we’ll all forget about this time when we called him lazy. Odom could get traded and Powell could step in *fingers crossed* and we wouldn’t miss a beat. Luke and Vlad may actually merge into one person and become a complete NBA player. That’s the fun in professional sports: you have no idea what can happen in any given moment.

  144. 140.

    on my post in 138.:

    After re-reading my comments, I feel that I was too harsh in my third paragraph. I think that it would be more fair to say instead:

    “I, for one, would not care if the opinions you offered were more constructive in nature. The problem is that your constant snippets, in which your offer little numerical analysis or tactical acumen, are overwhelmingly negative in tone.”

    As for personal attacks, there were none in my post.

  145. Going way back to #129 – Thanks … I thought your question deserved some thought, and I tried to give it an honest answer. However, I don’t think I explained my position very well because I honestly won’t (necessarily) deem this season a failure if the Lakers fail to return to the Finals. My best guess is that this team will go deep in the playoffs but my real point (a point that so many others here have expressed more eloquently than I) is that we do ourselves a disservice when we speculate about June games in December. Fretting about playoff positioning now takes the fun out of the regular season, and we should all try harder to enjoy the ride.

    The frequently hilarious and always Laker-phobic Basketbawful blog actually had some excellent thoughts today on this very subject:
    http://www.basketbawful.com
    If a dyed-in-the-wool Laker hater can say that, then we as Laker True Believers owe it to ourselves to take a step back and gain some perspective.

    Of course, Basketbawful also harshly critized Kobe for his last-second dunk to end last night’s game, when he could have simply let the clock run out. Anyone here take issue with it? I figure Kobe was frustrated with the two-game losing streak and wanted to put … as the AP wrap-up said … an “explaination point” [sic] on the win. Still, since we’ve been giving KG a hard time around here for his displays of poor sportsmanship I don’t want to necessarily give Kobe a free pass on this one.

  146. I dont get the need to split Laker fans into categories. I dont think there is some defined group of “negative fans”, just people who view the game differently and voice their opinion differently. In the end, all of here at FBG just want the Lakers to win

    It’s the holidays Laker fans, relax, we don’t need to be bicker with eachother, we have Celts Nation for that!

  147. New post up, Hornets preview.

  148. I think Kobe was padding stats, but he is usually a class act, and I don’t think what he did was reprehensible. Maybe a little tacky. That’s it. Not something he nor NBA players in general always do.