The Lakers Defense and Other Thoughts

Kurt —  January 12, 2009

Bakersfield News - December 30, 2008

There seems to be some consternation in Lakers land about the team giving up 100 points to a lot of teams. Even Mark Heisler got in on the act today.

This is what happens when you rely on points per game as your measure. Look at it this way: The Lakers average 95.2 possessions per game right now, fourth fastest pace in the league. If the Lakers play an averaged paced game against the worst offensive team in the NBA (right now the Clippers) and that team scored at its average, the Lakers would give up 95 points to the Clips and everyone would scream “how can you do that? terrible defense.” Every team in the NBA right now averages at least one point per possession, and the vast majority averaged well above that.

So, if you play at a fast pace, the other team scores more points because they get more shots. Pretty simple, really. And Phil Jackson gets it.

“This is the time of the season when you just fall in the rhythm of the games. Teams that are low possession, like a variety of teams we’ve played, you end up on a short end and scoring is low. We don’t try to be short possession, we try to have a high frequency, high possession game…

I kind of gave up on the notion that we are going to be a possession team and do that type of stuff early in December. It looks like this team has a rhythm they like to play at and you just have to let them. If you want to be a 90-point a game team, you have to shorten (the number of possessions). You lock the ball down, you play in the half court and your possessions go down.

We have a rhythm to our game and the players like to play at that rhythm, they score at a high frequency. We have to take on the personality of our team and play like that.”

Nobody in their right mind is saying the Lakers are playing perfect defense — to a man after the game they said they thought they could do better. That includes Radmanovic, who said he was bothered by some of his mistakes.

Despite all that, the Lakers are fifth in the NBA in defensive points per possession. In fourth is Houston, in sixth is San Antonio. Pretty good company.

• Kobe’s Beijing-style defense wore Wade down. Wade was 6 of 9 from the floor in the first half but 1 of 10 with Kobe on him in the second half (3 of 3 when Ariza had him).

• By the way, a win without three key rotation players and your two starts shooting a combined 9 for 29 while the other team has one of the five best players on the planet, I’ll take that any day. Style points in wins do not count extra in the standings, right now just give me wins.

• Phil Jackson was asked the key to the upcoming back-to-back in Texas (Houston then San Antonio):

“Win the first one.”

• I can live with the occasional defensive bonehead play from Radmanovic when he is shooting well and helping spread the floor on offense. He did that last night, and he made some good plays on defense too. It was a classically inconsistent performance from VladRad but his scoring was a boost. Particularly as the Heat put bodies in the paint to counter the Lakers size.

• I tried again to give Heroes a chance. But now, I officially give up and throw in the towel. Especially with Lost returning to the air, I just can’t see why I should keep watching it.

• Chi sent me a sneak look at the next Kobe Bryant shoe.

• I know we’ve got a lot of Cal and Bay Area people here — What are the Bears doing right? I have yet to catch a game of theirs, but the record is very impressive. Montgomery and Howland could grow into a real coaching duel, that would be fun.

• Anyone eaten at Bouchon in Vegas? Recommendations? I’m going in a few days.

• Kobe is one happy Eagles fan right now.