Preview & Chat: The Miami Heat

Kurt —  January 11, 2009

Records: Lakers 29-6 (1st in the West) Heat 19-16 (6th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.8 (2nd in league) Heat 105.6 (in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.0 (4th in league) Heat 105.6 (11th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Heat Mario Chalmers, D-Wade, Shawn Marion, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony

Lakers notes: One man’s injury is another man’s opportunity. The question is what you do with it.

Vladimir Radmanovic is not taking advantage of his. Here is what I think is the defining moment of Radman’s recent play: Less than one minute left in the Pacers game, Los Angeles had a three-point lead but Indiana had the ball. Defensive priority is simple — don’t give up a three. But when Travis Diener drove baseline on the right side of the floor, Vladimir Radmanovic on the left wing sagged down off hot-shooting Mike Dunleavy to the free throw line. Dunleavy got a wide-open look at a three, buried the shot and tied the game.

What Radmanovic is supposed to bring is shooting, but that has been spotty. In the last 10 games he is scoring 4.8 points per game, shooting 43%, and a pedestrian 33% from three. Luke Walton is missed, which is saying something.

The guy who is taking advantage of his minutes is Josh Powell. He is coming off the bench and providing solid minutes — rebounds when they are needed, shooting 50% in the last 10 games and added10 points against the Pacers. This is a quality role player, a professional, and rather than sulk because he was buried on a deep team he bided his time and has stepped up when asked. That matters.

Powell gets more time tonight, no Odom again.

The Heat Coming In: First things first — I like what I’ve seen out of Erik Spoelstra. This is a talented but small roster, and he has the team playing to its strengths. There are a lot of teams that are smaller than the Lakers, but the Heat have been the only team whose coach had the guts to front the Lakers bigs and try to force turnovers. Other games I’ve seen smart, gutsy calls from him. The Heat may have found something here.

In the last 10 games has been Wade, 31 points per contest and getting to the line 10 times a game. The book on him has never changed — force him to be a jump shooter, especially from deep, he is shooting just 17.9% from three in his last 10 — but keeping him from getting into the paint is next to impossible. He has one of the best first steps — and maybe the best last step — in the league.

Marion continues to play well, and the Heat have a find in Mario Chalmers. The one other guy to keep an eye on is Daequan Cook coming off the bench, he is second on the team in scoring in the last 10 games and last meeting with the Lakers he was +14 and was a force off the bench. The Lakers need to keep an eye on him.

Last time they met: The Heat slowed the game down, fronted the Lakers bigs (which caused huge problems because of poor ball rotation and led to 21 Laker turnovers) and that Wade guy dropped 35 as the Lakers lost 89-87. The Lakers also shot 52.6% from the free throw line in that game, which didn’t help.

Keys To The Game: Basketball and life is so much about correcting your mistakes. Lincoln trusted McClellan to do that during the Civil War and it cost the country tens of thousands of lives and years of war. Hopefully, that’s not the example the Lakers follow.

First, the Lakers must get the bigs involved — nobody is taller than 6-9 on the Heat front line. In the post Pau and Drew can dominate. If and when the Heat front the Lakers bigs in the post, the weak-side post must flash to the free throw line and create a high-low game that can expose the Heat (with Pau and the ball at the free throw line he can lob to Drew, attack the rim or just bury the jumper).

They cannot turn the ball over. The Heat are third in the league in forcing turnovers, they are aggressive and jump passing lanes. They are long, too. As the Pacers did to the Lakers, you can make them pay for that with ball and player movement on offense, but in the end you can’t cough it up.

Hit your free throws. While you’re at it, try not to foul too much, either.

Phil Jackson has hinted the Lakers may go with some zone tonight, an effort to pack it in a little and make sure Wade doesn’t beat them with lay-ups. That would be interesting.

Where you can watch: 6:30 start with Fox Sports and League Pass nationally.



137 responses to Preview & Chat: The Miami Heat

  1. I will be at the game tonight, working for Check back in the comments and I’ll put up some of pregame stuff from Phil and anything else of interest during the game.

  2. Great preview yet again. I honestly think Wade, Kobe and Lebron are 3 unique scorers from the same mold. Each one is built for his talents: speed, finesse, and power (respectively)… I think this is why I easily tire of the comparisons and the question of who’s better.

    Mario Chalmers on the other hand has really impressed me… Coming up from out of no-where and playing quality minutes for the heat.

    Suns Note:
    So far we can see how Marion and Diaw are doing away from the SSOL offense…and I have not been impressed at all. Diaw looks lost as a Bobcat and Marion doesn’t look like the all-star he kept asking people to see him as in Phoenix…

  3. I agree that we need to execute our flash of the weakside big and play high/low with Pau and Bynum. I also think another way to beat the fronting of our bigs is to initiate our offense from the weakside. If we put Pau in the hub of the triangle and have Bynum post on the weakside, we can push the fronting big out a little bit higher and lob over the top to Bynum. This also allows us to run the double down screen for the opposite side wing (who I would make sure is Kobe) where the big in the hub of the triangle and the opposite side guard set a down screen for the wing so he can curl to the lane or come to the FT line area for an open jumper. This motion would also allow for high low offense, but it would be between the flashing guard and the big who was originally posting against the fronting big. We have plenty of options against the fronting defense, but we need to be disciplined, smart, and patient to take advantage of our chances.

  4. Will the Eagles hold on and have Kobe start the game with a smile?

    Can anyone figure out why you never see a pick (a front pick) on the fronting defender. This would allow the offensive player to slide over to an open lane for a dunk or cause the defense to go into scramble mode. I’ve never seen this and instead teams continue to try to throw over the fronting defense.

  5. 2 – to be fair, Chalmers hardly came from nowhere (the clutch three at the buzzer in the NCAA Championship), and I believe he had some perceived condition that caused him to fall in the draft. He was definitely a lottery talent though.

    Also, I agree that Marion looks lost outside of a SSOL offense in which he can use his rebounding and shooting skills better, but Diaw has played pretty good since coming to Charlotte.

  6. The thing with Rad is I think we all know that he knows better. He’s been coached by two great coaches, Nate McMillan and Phil, one of the best of all time. He’s certainly been taught how to play D, when to switch, when not to, when to sag off, when not to, etc.

    The problem to me is lack of intensity and focus (thus Space Cadet). While Phil is also know to be able to motivate his players through coaching, his “mind games”, and through the press, it doesn’t seem to work with Rad.

    We know he can do much better than he has the last few games because we saw it at the beginning of the year when he was playing surprising better D than we we’ve come to expect. But the focus and intensity hasn’t been there since those first few games. And if Phil can’t bring it out of him after working on him for three years, I just don’t know if he’ll ever turn that corner.

    Ultimately, he just doesn’t seem to have the heart of a competitor.

  7. Diaw’s had some pretty good game since playing for the Bobcats… I think it’s Bell who’s the one who’s been struggling.

    On a little sidenote: It’s a little refreshing to see the Celts finally get a win… emphasis on “a little” though. Think they’ll start talking trash again? =\

  8. Miami is definitely undersized up front, but the few times I’ve seen Joel Anthony, his defense has really surprised me. I saw him once against Dwight Howard and he really frustrated him — forcing him to catch the ball further away, changing shots, etc. So I’m not sure Drew can easily dominate down low, even if not fronted.

  9. Reed,
    Joel Anthony reminds me some of what Malik Rose used to be for the Spurs. He’s undersized, sure, but he also is willing to work and use his lower center of gravity to move bigger players away from the basket and then fight them for every inch. Guys like that are just tough to deal with even when you’re taller and stronger.

  10. i remember the last game against miami, we made way too many turnovers when we were trying to do lobs, or over the defender who was fronting. tonight would be a good chance to see if we worked on those timing plays and run them properly tonight.

  11. This game better be all about Pau and Drew getting busy.

    Not Daquan Cook getting wide open 3’s, norUdonis Haslem having 2nd chance points.

    Ditto on what Kurt said. Make Wade a jump shooter. We should be able to do a better job at keeping him at bay, because their Anthony isn’t a threat, so I’d like to see some discipline this game. Miami isn’t going to back door all game like Indy.

  12. Somewhat OT,but while looking up +/- 5-somes,I found something sort of interesting. This late into the season most Western Playoff teams have either 1 or no units that have have as many as 100 minutes together. Whereas the Lakers have 5 differ 5-man units that have over 100 minutes.
    The stability and cohesion playing discrete units has certainly helped the team get off to a great start.

  13. Kurt,

    If you check the numbers for the last game against the Pacers, you’ll find that VladRad had the highest +/- on the team. Just before his “sagging off” on Dunleavy, he made a critical steal that led to a breakaway score. Earlier in the game, he made his threes. This Dunleavy “error” came in a role Vlad was unaccustomed to play with a makeshift arrangement of players–due to Ariza fouling out.

    That’s hardly a player not taking advantage of his minutes.

    Vladimir has some of the qualities of Lamar Odom, whose mental lapses are well documented and passed around in Youtubes throughout the league. I saw “Lamar” links posted on a Blazers blog.

    We need to support VladRad, not disparage him unfairly. There may be reasons for apparent personal defensive lapses that reflect overall team defense problems.

  14. Pregame notes from Phil Jackson:

    Lamar Odom is in uniform, but would not say if he is going to play. He said that he feels a lot better today, the pain is down considerably.

    To deal with the fronting of the post, he wants to see ball movement to the weakside.

    Lots of talk about pace. A reporter asked about the volume of points the Lakers give up and he said it is a matter of pace, this is the flow this team likes to play at and that in high possession games he is not going to worry about if they give up more than 100. He said this is the pace the players are comfortable at and, basically, that if they were good with it he was good with it.

    Also, some interesting stuff on traveling and MJ that I’ll have tomorrow (if not at FB&G at NBC and I’ll link).

  15. speaking of injuries and opportunities, how about fish and sasha since farmar went down? im on a mobile device, so its difficult for me to multi task, but my sense is that fishers fg% is suffering with extended minutes, and that vujacics numbers are up across the board.

  16. 13. I’ll give you that VladRad has made some good plays, but I’m not the only wondering if the lapses are worth it if he is not shooting lights out. PJ said basically that in the LA Times.

    That said, I hope he comes out tonight and makes a fool of me. A lot of people have done that over the years. Mostly women.

  17. I should add, Phil said that teams like Miami that attack from the top of the key are harder on the Lakers defense, and that Miami does that (and other teams are starting to as an adjustment).

  18. 13)DrRayeye,
    The criticisms of Vlad are valid – and there is nothing wrong with fans discussing his weakpoints.

  19. drrayeye,
    I would just say that comparing Rad to Odom is a slippery slope. If you’re going to say that they share one or two tendencies and then imply that they compare favorably because of that one trait, we could just as easily say that Farmar and Kobe compare favorably because of their penchant for creating off the dribble or their tendency to hit shots at the end of quarters.

    In the end, though, I do agree that we need to support all of our players and encourage them to do well while hoping for their success.

  20. Check here for the stream:

  21. Much better ball rotation and passing into the post this game by the Lakers, at least to start.

  22. Twice now the Lakers set up for the high screen and roll and Pau slipped the pick for a good look.

  23. 2nd and 3rd off. possessions lakers operate the weak side to get the easy deuce.

  24. Lemme guess…Pau is gonna be off tonight…

  25. By the way, it feels like a Big Game at Staples. This time I’m next to ESPN radio and two seats down from Norm Nixon. In the house is Stephen A, Adande, Vessy (sp?), the whole gang.

  26. I like Fish using some savvy to draw fouls on Chalmers. The offense has looked very much in rhythm so far. Good looks for our guys and every shot has been in the flow of the game and off good ball movement within the offense. The defense has looked okay too, so far; good activity, getting deflections, ending a def. possesion with by securing the rebound…everything looks nice so far.

  27. I watched Haslem for 10 minutes in warmups. That is one funky shot he has, amazing he hits anything.

    And Radman is playing well tonight, just to spite me.

  28. Uhm, was that Vlad with the oop?

  29. The Dude Abides January 11, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    The Lakers have good energy tonight, especially Andrew. I haven’t seen him this animated all season. I wonder how much of his “energy” problems were due to mental block regarding his knee.

  30. 28. Yup. Not quite the same hops as Marion, though. Of course, how many guys in the NBA do….

  31. The Dude Abides January 11, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    27-Kurt re funky shots: Don’t you mean Marion?

  32. any other links to the game?

  33. I don’t think there’s a better ‘funky shot’ shooter in the league than Kevin Martin.

  34. If the Lakers trim the turnovers down, they are going to pull away. The offense is really flowing tonight, the ball and player movement is there.

    Apparently no LO tonight even though he is dressed. But if he’s feeling better, it would be nice to have him on the back-to-back this week.

  35. 31. Him too. But Haslem has this sideways flip of his wrist that gets the ball spinning almost like a globe as it goes to the hoop.

  36. If the Heat were making their wide-open jumpers they would be in the lead right now.

  37. and let me reiterate…Pau is gonna be totally off tonight….

  38. The starting unit did a good job of getting the ball in the post, the second unit has gotten away from that, the offense is stagnant.

  39. My call, Kobe is going to come in and attack right now. He feels the game getting away a little bit, he’s rested.

  40. The Dude Abides January 11, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Thank you Andrew for finally using the glass on your jump hook.

  41. Camby also has a funky shot.

  42. Vlad never learns.

  43. Vladimir…I don’t understand the lapses. So basic.

  44. Lakers need to execute their offense better or they WILL lose this game. This Heat team has really agressive defense.

  45. bob horry #1

  46. They (Lakers) WILL lose this game…

  47. I disagree with Horry, the Cavs are not just a one man Lebron show.

  48. Anonymous since you’re a psychic or from the future, can you tell me if the paper I am about to submit will be accepted. Also some power ball numbers would be nice.

  49. Yes…
    5 13 18 27 44 mega 3

  50. Much better defense to start the second half. Clogging the lane, forcing jumpers the Lakers are contesting.

    And the Heat had to go to Magloire to start the second half to counter the Bynum length (5 of 5 in the first half).

  51. Not that it matters what they do to him tonight.

  52. anyone has any links apart from the one previously mentioned?

  53. ooh.. bryant.


    bit laggy across the pacific, but may work well there.

  55. KURT – Any word when we can expect Odom back? Sounds like it may be at least another 2 weeks.

  56. Great denial defense by Kobe on Wade.

  57. thanks alot harold…working fine in Jamaica:)

  58. Kurt,

    Is Lamar’s suit more hideous in person?

  59. Kobe continues to play in a manner where you can just tell that he’s very much into the game. He’s playing very good defense on Wade by denying as much as possible, staying in front of him, and contesting all his jumpshots. Obviously, with a great player, you can’t completely hold him down but Kobe is making Wade work for everything.

  60. Tough to stop Wade no matter who you are… ouch.

  61. OMG….fricken space cadet!

  62. That’s harsh, wondahbap. At least it only has 3 colors this time, as opposed to 12.

  63. just when you think the lakers are going to blow this game wide open, they always find a way to screw it up….

  64. how the hell is pau +20 when he’s 2-12 with only 7 pts…wow

  65. 58. I am the last person in the world that should be commenting on fashion.

    By the way, Farmar is in a suit, but just to haze they are making him sit on the floor half the time, not on a chair on the bench.

  66. Pau has 13 rebounds and 3 assists. 6 Off. rebounds too…

  67. That is the third time Ariza has got called for the travel starting his move to the hoop. You’ve got to adjust, my man.

  68. OT: Okay, there have officially been three too many Underworld movies.

    Bynum looks great tonight offensively, but I don’t recall him getting any blocks yet..

  69. please put back the starters!!!!

  70. uh oh….lakers losing the lead…my prediction is getting closer to becoming true…

  71. Emma, he had one in the first half.

  72. Bad coaching by Phil Jackson leaving Kobe on the bench to long in both the 2nd and third quarters, both of which lead to Miami runs. With Odom out as well as Farmar and Walton, ya cant rest Kobe for half the quarter…

  73. My mistake, 2nd and 4th quarters.

  74. Wade is 1-9 in the second half with Kobe on him, 3-3 when Kobe is sitting.

  75. And because of that and the ball denial by Kobe, more Beasley. Which isn’t a bad option for the Heat.

  76. Yea I mean that is the main reason why I think Kobe should have came in a little sooner, no body else on the Lakers can stop Wade.

  77. If lakers pull this off…they did it w/o a bench tonight…unbelievable….

  78. Someone tell Vlad he is not a power forward and belongs no where near the paint. Idiot…

  79. Does it seem like the refs are siding with Wade on calls?

  80. magic – been that way since… dunno, 06?

    Pau another season high in rebounds.

  81. I hope they defend the 3 better than they did that last game. Maybe Phil should sit Vlad just to make sure.

  82. i see the space cadet leaving someone open for a 3 pointer…

  83. do not put Vlad in!!!

  84. lakers seriously dodged a bullet right there….another OPEN jumper missed by the Heat…..

  85. I think Phil should make them practice some game ending defensive plays, especially around the 3 line.

  86. Vlad, a savior??? Bizarro Lakers!!

  87. F**ken space cadet man! That’s phil’s fault for puting him in the game….

  88. Space Cadet turns his head and leaves a 3-point shooter open. What an unexpected development.

  89. vlad is unbelievable….absolutely unbelievable

  90. Niiii-iiiiccceeee!!!

  91. Outrebounded them by 15 and still almost lost.

    Fun stuff.

  92. the other Stephen January 11, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    vlade doesn’t have so much of a defense problem as a sense of urgency/common sense problem. keep your damn head on a swivel.

  93. Vlad again not guarding his man. I put that one on Phil. He should know better then to put Vlad on a 3 point shooter. We know Vlad doesn’t learn from past mistakes, but Phil should have learned his lesson.

  94. that was definitely a foul.

  95. Vlad’s job is to stick to his man and not even look at anyone but HIS man…unbelievable

  96. The Lakers had no rythum in their offense tonight at all, they were lucky to come out with the win..

  97. Outrebounded them, also had more fouls called against them

    and just won by 3?

    hehe we need some fine tuning

  98. We have the best bench in the NBA:
    Powell -20, Sasha -20, Ariza -8…simply AWESOME!!!

  99. We can say all we want that Phil should have known better. But that is one of the simplest plays out there and Vlad still made a mistake. All he has to do is stick his man in the corner and he gets fooled on a fake cut. All’s well that ends well, though.

  100. Did you read PJ’s lips?

    “Vlade, how’s that happen?”
    Seriously, what was he thinking? What reason do you have to look in any direction but where your man, who only shoots 3’s, is?

  101. Kobe almost never misses free throws down the stretch, he always hits them

  102. A win is a win, and I guess the good to take away from this one is that we won despite having 3 players out with injury and having no bench help whatsoever, with Kobe AND Pau scoring less than 20…

    Fisher had 11 assists
    Pau had 18 Rebounds
    Bynum had 24 pts

    Good statistical stuff actually.

  103. we need to use Bynum a whole lot more….not sure y phil doesnt call more plays for him..its obvious that his poor body language is as a result of him not being involved enough….and the fact of the matter is ..he should be….

    we dodged a bullet in this one..that last play was a foul and that turnover by kobe was terrible but not unexpected…i am the biggest kobe fan and thats probably y i can tell when he is too amped up. i wish he would seek to nurture his team more … rather than going out to get his at the end….

    i hope he doesnt end up doing to Bynum what shaq did to him…..

    this team has unlimited potential we just need to harness all our weapons and make our opponents pay in different ways every night

  104. Bynum played well because the tallest guy guarding him is Haslem….maybe phil will put him in crunch time when he plays like that against yao, howard, chandler, etc….

  105. i think i had mentioned that about bynum earlier. Where’s the Bynum alley-oop? Ran it tons last season, now I see it once every three games.

  106. The Bynum alley-oop has not been as available this year. Partly because of the clogging in the lane, partly because teams have scouted it out, partly because Bynum doesn’t roll as hard, partly because Bynum has bobbled many attempts at it.

  107. [edited]

    As much as I love a Lakers win, Fish clearly fouled on the last three. I know we have all this “you can’t expect a foul on a game winner” BS but WTF. I don’t care if he is a rookie from Ohio or whatever. If he got fouled he got fouled.

    I’m sick of this BS where the game isn’t called straight – the same way all the time, superstar or rookie.

    So go ahead, cut my comment for my joking references ….., but in my eyes the biggest problem the NBA has these days is the problem of credibility. If fans want something manufactured they can go to watch wrestling. I, however, want sports – not manufactured outcomes.

    As happy as I am to see a Lakers win, I’m effing tired of seeing another blown call that potentially decides a game.

  108. RE: alley-oop
    I don’t think Bynum is the same physically as he was before his injury…his vertical isn’t as high as it used to be…

  109. We definitely squeaked that one out. It was an obvious foul by Fish right before the buzzer. Of course, the refs missed an obvious goaltending by Wade with about two minutes left, so it never should have been a three-pt game in the first place.

    What I can’t understand, is why not go offense-defense with Vlad/Ariza down the stretch, or at least in the final minute? Trevor never would have lost his man at the 3-pt line with seven seconds left. I know that Phil doesn’t like offense-defense substitutions during the regular season, but this specific one is so obvious. That’s two straight games in the final 45 seconds where the other team HAD to shoot a three to catch up, and BOTH games Vlad leaves his man at the 3-pt line for no reason at all. I’m beginning to think that in the final minute of the game on the defensive end, it’s not a lack of focus on Vlad’s part, but rather a panic attack.

  110. Phil would rather have close games instead of blown out games for educational purposes. He could have brought in the starters much earlier or substituted Ariza for Vlad in the final defensive possession.

  111. I’m not worried how we win, so long as we win. It has to be remembered that just as Doc mentions that the Celtics get the best effort form every team every night, so do the Lakers. Every game is a maximum effort. Sometimes they could play better, but they get it done, and we’ve seen them play very well against the good teams.

    So, I’m not concerned if it’s a 3 pt. win against Miami when we out rebounded them. Just that we won.

  112. Oh by the way, I like Josh Powell’s game. He’s playing well and deserves more minutes regardless of injury situation.

    Bynum has a very consistent 12-15 foot shot. That’s going to do wonders for his game.

  113. From some of the the comments, one would never know that Vladimir was interviewed on the radio as player of the game for the Lakers.

    He was +14 for the game (second to Pau Gasol), was 4/7 on three point shots, made two clutch free throws with the game on the line (after snagging a key rebound), 18 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block, and 2 steals. By contrast, Sasha and Josh Powell were both -20–Ariza was -8.

    Like Lamar, Vladimir’s brilliance was balanced against a few bonehead plays (3 turnovers), but his numbers overall were clearly impressive. Vladimir played 31 minutes–Ariza only played 14 minutes and did not have a great game.

  114. nice censoring.


  115. Great, game 7 of the ’88 Finals is on FSN tonight, get to see another Laker win tonight.

  116. 114. Anonymous (and others who email about this), when you use certain words the comment automatically gets held by the system for me to approve, held for moderation. I was off at the post-game interviews, so it took a while. If you are unhappy here, there are certainly no shortage of other Lakers sites where you can post whatever you wish.

  117. By the way, Kobe got 4 stitches from that head banging with Wade.

    The reason no Vlad/Ariza switch is that this was Ariza’s worst game in a while, according to Phil, and he thought Ariza was down while VladRad was confident. To his credit, Vlad admitted he had some defensive lapses post game.

    Kobe is one happy Eagles fan tonight.

  118. I thought Vlad had one of his better games in a while. I may get more into this tomorrow in a post, but I can live with the inconsistent defense (he did make some plays) when he is shooting well.

  119. Vlad did have a very strong game, last second bad defense and all. I’ve said this before, but when he’s playing well on offense he can really be a difference maker because he’s got the purest shot out of all the Lakers. Really, these are the types of offensive games that were imagined when the Lakers signed him. It’s truly a mystery that he can make some of the defensive decisions that he does, but it’s all part of the package. Like Kurt pointed in the post, he hasn’t been shooting as well lately, but tonight his shooting was clearly needed in the win.

  120. To me, the difference tonight was Kobe’s commitment to one-on-one defense against Flash. I don’t think that was talked about nearly enough during the telecast or here in the comments. Kobe, for one of the few times this year, committed almost entirely to defense. It had an negative effect on his offense, but the energy he spent trying to contain Wade was noteworthy. I believe the consequences of his effort were also fairly inevitable. The Lakers bigs were put in less foul trouble, Wade had to spend much more energy getting his shots and wasn’t as fresh to close the game, Wade was denied the ball possession after possession (make someone besides him beat you), and Kobe wasn’t gambling for steals or playing centerfield making himself vulnerable to backdoor cuts. Kudos to Kobe for taking on that responsibility.

  121. Phil called Vlad the reason they won.

  122. I guess in the grand scheme of things, it’s better to harden our Top 9 during the regular season and have them experience close games than it is to have blowouts and opportunity for 12-14 to get some burn.

    Very unlikely that our postseason fate will depend on number 12-14 stepping up (Yue, Mihm, DJ), not even sure if 9-11 will have an impact (Vlad/Walton, Powell).

  123. I think Vlad is a convenient stand in as favorite whipping boy for us fans while LO is injured.

    Seriously, though I wish I was as good at something – anything – as any Laker is at basketball. Indeed, any NBA player -even Darius Miles!

  124. I agree that Vlad had a solid game. I don’t think criticizing his boneheaded defensive plays at the end of games necessarily negates his strong performance, but I do think that it is a legitimate criticism. He’s not given the name Space Cadet for nothing and being a space cadet during the final critical seconds when we need a stop, which he has demonstrated in 2 consecutive games, is something that happens with Vlad. He loses focus and leaves his man open (in both cases, the hot shooting 3 point man of the game).

    In bringing this up, no one is saying Vlad had a terrible game. It’s really more of a discussion that isn’t so much about Vlad, cause we know what his tendencies are, but more a discussion of substitutions and coaching. Why not put someone else on the hot shooters or substitute in better defenders who understand the urgency in the playing good defense in the final SECONDS as oppose to putting in someone who can’t even focus on one final play to guard one player in the final seconds when it is critical.

  125. Hope Bynum takes some lessons from this time in aggressiveness to the next two games. Scoring on Yao and Duncan won’t be as easy as shooting over Haslem or Anthony. The next two games should be interesting though – on the road against solid teams without three of our key bench players. We match up better in Houston (Scola or Landry trying to guard Gasol?) but a fully healthy San Antonio is going to be a doozy.

  126. The Dude Abides January 12, 2009 at 1:16 am

    Watching Game 7 of Lakers-Pistons 1988 Final…strangest ending ever, and nobody ever talks about it. Two seconds left, Lakers up three, and the referees don’t prevent everyone from storming the court prematurely. I swear there were fifty people on the court during the final play. Laimbeer full-court pass to Isiah, who runs into Magic, and no call and hundreds more storm the court while the refs and the players hightail it out of there. I guess the league had it in for the Pistons for all the dirty play 😉

  127. i would like to just point out a fairly obvious observation i guess…

    we start the season with was-then packed SF position, we got multiple options in this position.

    but somehow, even with all these options, this is the position where it seems everybody has a lot of concerns still.

    i wonder why…

  128. 127 – largely because we don’t have a solid starter at that position. Luke can’t shoot, Vlad is a defensive liability (as vividly demonstrated by the last two games), and Ariza is still largely a slasher and can’t space the floor on the offensive end. It’s one of the reasons we were interested in Artest in the summer.

  129. 126) “we got multiple options in this position.”

    Usually that means that no one stands out, which is the case now. All three have notable weaknesses and strengths. If Vlad would keep his head in the game, Ariza would develop a mediocre outside shot, or Walton would get his shot back, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  130. Right now, I’m more worried about PG in the playoffs than SF.

  131. Kurt’s right.

    Except for covering Paul Piercein the Finals, SF wasn’t a problem in last year’s playoffs, and he gave everyone, including Cleveland fits.

    PG has always been, and remains to be a problem. Fish has some good defensive games, but we always get exploited there, and if he’s not knocking down shots, then we’re not getting much else from him, because he’s not the best passer, nor decision maker. There are too many elite PG’s in the West.

  132. I don’t want my last comment to seem like I’m down on Fish.

    I’m grateful to have him on our team.

  133. awesome game by bynum. bynum had some reallyy impressive post moves, shaking and baking. i like when he’s confident

  134. RIck Fox made a point of view that I would expect from a former player. He was saying how Bynum and Vlade are both players that derive their confidence from their offensive performance. When they do not get enough touches within the flow of the offense they tend to slack even more on the defensive end. By getting more involved on offense you start to see Bynum patrolling the paint with more efficiency and starting to become more active in pick and roll defense as well as rebounding.

    Remember once upon a time when we had a big dog named Shaq that said, “If you don’t feed the big dog, the house ain’t going to get guarded.”

    The Lakers need to make an inspired effort to get those two involved. When you get everyone going the whole becomes greater than the parts. Therein lies the key.

  135. Three travelings in one game by Ariza, that’s got to be some sort of record right?

  136. Some fun stats gleaned from the standings as things sit today. The Lakers have:

    * The best record in the league at 30-6. * They have the third-best home record at 20-2, behind Cleveland at 19-0 and Boston at 18-2.
    * They have the best road record at 10-4 (SA at 10-5 and PHX/CLE at 10-6), the best division record at 8-1, the best record against Western Conference teams at 20-2 (CLE is 20-5 against the Least), and the best record against Eastern Conference teams at 10-4.

    None of which should be unexpected, as they’ve got the best record in the league right now, but the breakdown is nice to see they’re taking care of business almost every night, and certainly as good as can be expected. However, my favorite part of this analysis is Boston’s 8-5 record against the West.

  137. new post up (JB, you may want to cut and past it into the new thread)