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.

Kurt

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55 responses to The Lakers Defense and Other Thoughts

  1. I think pace is a concept that’s lost on most media. They’d rather just fall into the more simplistic explanations, especially if those fall into preconcieved notions about said team. Basically, when most media people think our defense is lacking anyway, it’s easier to just say “The Lakers are giving up too many points per game” and then write the simple story rather than delve into things deeper and really analyze the numbers.

  2. Kurt – I generally used to agree with you that style points don’t really matter in wins, but the stat experts are always saying that we should be more focused on point differential than win loss record for predicting future wins. I never read much into 1 or 2 games, but I would be a lot more comfortable if we could beat two middle of the pack eastern conference teams by more than a combined 5 points at staples. I almost wish they had lost the games to jolt the guys into playing the kind of dominant D that had them first in the league (efficiency wise, and ppg) the first few games. As always I bow to Phil’s knowledge, but I am running out of fingernails over here.

  3. I think Darius hit it right on the head. Stats are only as good (and honest) as the person who interprets them. And, frankly, some of these media guys are more interested in getting people to react to their stories than in keeping the public well-informed.

    That’s why exactly why this site is such a gem: Well informed commentary from the moderators and insightful discussion from the participants.

    Anyway, what keeps me up at night as a Laker fan is not “defense” (although it contributes to an occassional nightmare) – its actually two other things:

    1- our missing third option at PG
    2 – Lamar’s healing time

    As far as Lamar, I sure hope the Laker med-staff takes an overtly cautious approach to getting him back in the rotation. Frankly, I would be happy to have him sit out until the all-star break if that means that he will be back 100% and not 90% or less. Also, this means more PT for Powell – and that will prove valuable as we head into playoff season.

    In terms of our PG spot, I have no idea what we can do there. Fish needs some rest and Farmar needs some competitioin. Sun could have been a God-send here, but the kid still needs quite a bit of work. Also, it does not look like the Lakers are going to trade onyone (thank God) so I’m not sure what viable options are out there.

    KURT – What do you think?

  4. Not Charlie Rosen January 12, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I hear the french fries are exceptional (no joke, when real chefs do them, they’re lightyears from those things in cardboard you get at fast food restaraunts). Also, check the seafood: apparently they have a buyer who shops in San Fran in the wee hours of the morning, then a charter flies the day’s selections to Vegas ready for that night’s specials; nothing frozen, nothing that’s been out of the water for more than 12 hours. Keller also tends to hand-pick his waiters, so just asking them what’s best that day will result in something extraordinary.

  5. I agree with Ian. It bugs me to have to wait until the end of a game against a Miami or Indiana rather than getting a sizable win that’s basically secured early in the fourth. The Lakers have the depth to do that against most opponents, yet they seldom pull it off.

    Yes, a W is a W and it’s a long season. But sometimes when you let a bad or mediocre team linger too closely for too long, it bites the better team when its suddenly under pressure to put that lesser team away in the fourth quarter. Hence the Lakers have had road losses to the Pacers, Heat and Kings.

    The Lakers would go a long, long way to addressing this lingering issue if they could simply stop making flat-out awful rotations that leave 3-point shooters unguarded.

    Cook, Granger, Quinn and Murphy all had wide-open looks repeatedly during this weekend’s games, and at some point in time some open shooter is going to hang a big L on the Lakers.

    Losing big leads — or games — due to wide open looks just doesn’t fly, and that’s the biggest area I’d like to see improved in the second half of the season.

  6. My question is based on our absolute goal. Will the Lakers rhythm and pace of the game be something WE can dictate when the playoffs come around? We all hear about the pace slowing down come playoff time, opponents start tuning into what the other schemes are concocting and such. So can the Lakers do that and push the pace?

    Or will defensive juggernauts throw wrenches in our offense to the effect where we struggle to get our offense going and look totally helpless in the Finals?

  7. 3 – I hate waiting to the waning seconds of a game before we win as much as anyone, but if you look at our box score, you’ll find only 3 players who didn’t play that could have: DJ Mbenga, Chris Mihm, and Sun Yue. Would any of those three increase our lead in this or our other recent games?? Nope. So we effectively have Little depth currently. We’re still better than the other teams and pulling out W’s.

    One thing that I’m not upset about with all of these close games is that it fosters the valuable belief in our players that we will win every game no matter what our opponent does.

  8. * I agree with Kurt and Darius in regards to the issue of pace. It’s not just that the mainstream media purely relies on traditional stats, it’s the way they use those traditional stats to propogate the storyline that “the Lakers don’t play D”, which supports their “Lakers are soft”. It is so simplistic of an analysis that it offends my intelligence. Why is it so hard to see that playing at a faster pace yields more points? To me it comes down to a generational gap. Most of the older writers for mainstream media outlets just dont want to learn about new stats. maybe they should check out the sidebar link here on FBG.

    *Kurt-I gotta disagree with you about Jaime from Top Chef. She just rubs me the wrong way, I’m rootin for the Sasha Vujacic of Top Chef-Fabio (the guy you that is annoyingly likeable)

    *I hope McNabb gets a ring. He has taken a lotta crap over the years for a guy that is going to his 5th confrence championship game in 8 years.

  9. I agree that pace is a concept that is little understood by the mainstream sports media, but you can’t fault them for pointing out the obvious: that we’re not handling the lesser teams as easily as we should be handling them. It’s not like we’ve been beating these teams 120-105 – we’re beating them on the last possession of the game. Pace doesn’t explain that away.

    But still, I’m not even all that concerned at this point. These are the dog days of the season – just grinding through them and getting Ws is what is most important right now. I’d much rather go through a slump and just barely beat bad teams then go through a slump like Boston just hit.

  10. Travis Y,
    You are falling into the media hype that teams that aren’t defensive in nature can’t win. The greatest teams over the NBA’s history have always been teams that played good offense and also could play defense. The may be occasional wins by strictly defensive clubs, but they never endured over time.

    Teams that just hold the ball can reduce our pace, but that is where tight defense on our part and our ‘ball hawking’ will cause them problems.

    I do think we have defensive issues, but we are 3 short on a 9 man rotation and are still winning. Yes, we do give up leads and that makes us all pull our hair, but it is during those times early in the 4th qtr that we miss our injured guys the most – either because they aren’t there to play or because the people who are playing have had to play too many minutes by the beginning of the 4th qtr.

  11. P.S. Don’t quote me the Detroit Pistons because I. Thomas was an absolutely great floor general and a scorer on par with Allen Iverson.

  12. Perception is reality sometimes, and unfortunately, too many people believe what they hear, and can’t filter the truth from perceptions.

  13. (Moved from previous post, Kurt must have posted while I was writing it)

    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.

  14. This may sound arrogant and premature, but I have little concern over how we’ll perform in the playoffs. We have talent and we have coaching. Does that guarantee a win? Of course not. But it does insure that, barring major injuries, that we’ll have prepared players that can beat any team in this league. And from my vantage point, that’s all you can ask for. I’m not the NY Yankees fan that has a “Title or Bust” sign hanging next to my FatHead poster in my game room. We have a legitamate chance to win, we have the players that are good enough to do it, and we have the coaching staff that will prepare the team in a manner that will lead to success. There are no guarantees in life, but I’ll be watching. I’ll also be analyzing and pointing out what I think we can do to win, but that’s for another day. The fact is: we’re winning games at an 83% clip when 73% is pretty damn excellent. I don’t care if we win 65 games by a total of 65 points because it’s that wins total that impresses me most. Is margin of victory impressive? Sure, and I’d love to have double digit leads every game and rest our starters for the last twelve minutes of every game. But last time I checked, this is a pretty tough league that also sends professionals (who are giving their best effort, btw…it’s not like we’re Memphis) to play us. We could be doing worse and we’re not. We could have lost 10-12 games by now. But we haven’t. I’m happy about that. To me that shows we actually are good, not that we’re getting lucky. AND even if we were getting lucky, I wouldn’t mind having some luck go our way, either. It takes a little bit of that to win too.

  15. I think wondahbap summed up to whole idea to this discussion pretty nicely. Nicely put.

  16. Apologies for the double-post, but I agree with Ian at #2–a win is a win, but a greater margin would be nice to see. But is a 130-110 win better or worse than a 100-80 win? If you’re playing the Warriors or Knicks, you’re rarely going to hold them from scoring a lot.

    The Lakers are flexible enough to play fast or slow, which is a strength and a weakness–they play their opponent’s game most of the time, which is not great, but they tend to play better than the opposing team, leading to wins even when changing their style to match the opponent.

    I’d rather see them play like they were at the beginning of the season, imposing their defensive will on their opponent and forcing them to change their game to match the Lakers’. There’s an embarrassment of riches on this roster which allows them to get away with it most nights, but a transcendent performance from a Chris Paul, LeBron, or Wade in the playoffs could lead to am earlier exit than they’d like to see.

  17. Addressing the issue of losing big leads – I am not sure the probelm is always poor defense. (IMHO) It seems to me that we often tend to lose leads through poor offense. We don’t move the ball, we don’t get the ball into our bigs, we can’t buy a three, poor shot selection, etc. That is what has made me pull my hair out at times this season. Our offense sometimes get really stagnant. I think this started to become a problem with our second unit earlier this year – if they weren’t running like a pack of wild dogs – they couldn’t hold a lead.

    I am not saying we don’t need to improve on defense. We do give up some wide open looks that we shouldn’t, but we are not a great ‘shut down’ defensive team (though we can do it in spots). As has been pointed out, we don’t play a grind it out style of game, but we do get our share of stops. The problem is when we are keeping up our fairly fast pace, but not converting on the offensive end, we let teams get back into the game in a hurry.

  18. On another subject – very encouraged by AB’s play of late. He’s starting to get back to what he looked like right before his knee injury last season. I especially like to see how fired up he was after the putback last night on Kobe’s miss to put us ahead. Far too often over the last month he has looked lacksadaisical and a step slow, but over the past few, he’s been confident, smooth, and aggressive. He’s starting to put together some nice post moves, and then going with the counter when his defender starts to key on them. And with him now hitting that FT line “jumper” with regularity? Watch out.

  19. In case you haven’t heard yet:

    Sasha did not make the plane to Houston due to back spasms. I can say he looked fine in the locker room last night after the game and there was no talk of injury, but he had it today.

    Odom, on the other hand, played full speed three-on-three today and may play tomorrow. Basically, because it’s not a structural thing with his knee, it’s a question of how much pain he can handle.

  20. #17- I agree. It’s something I mentioned in one of my infrequent posts…I recall LO referring to inefficient offense leading to an “imbalance” on defense.

  21. Brian,

    Yes. I had a thought on that yesterday. That shot will do wonders for his game. It will keep defenders honest, and we see that with a step he’s able to use some moves to get to the hoop. If they don’t close out, 2 points.

    It’s starting to look like money.

  22. 21-That Bynum shot looks a little Ewing-esque…in a good way. Still, I really want to see him conitnue to place an emphasis on establishing deep post position. With that jumper and consistent deep post position, he will be an elite center.

  23. For people who want our team to establish a pace and then force other teams to fit in…this is not usually a successful tactic. Take GS and see what happens when they play SA. Usually they speed up SA a bit, but they are also enough slower that they are taken out of their game. SA has problems if you get a good lead on them. Really good teams have to be flexible and need enough experience during the season (now) so that when they fail to entirely impose their will on someone in the playoffs, they have fallback skills that allow them to win.

  24. Kurt, I used to work at Bouchon in Vegas, so here’s my two cents.

    First, be sure to make reservations ahead of time. This is busy season in Vegas.

    The food is excellent. It’s pricey, although by Vegas gourmet-restaurant standards it’s actually moderate.

    SEAFOOD
    – There’s an oyster bar, with fresh oysters, lobster and crab flown in daily from all over the country. If you have a group, try getting the chilled seafood tower appetizer.
    – If you like caviar, try the Oscetra there. It’s Calfornia farm-raised, very good quality for the price compared to Russian or Iranian caviar.

    APPETIZERS
    – Get the Salmon Rillettes (just trust me on this, you’ll thank me; unless, of course, you don’t like salmon).
    – If you like foie gras, their foie appetizer is really good; it’s served chilled, like a pate.

    ENTREES
    – The Poulet Roti (Roasted Chicken) is phenomenal, the best chicken you’ll ever have in a restaurant. It’s brined, then marinated, then cooked in an oven that controls the humidity as well as the temperature, so that it doesn’t dry out.
    – The Steak Frites (steak with french fries) is really good too; they use a flatiron cut, which is heavily marbled, so you have to like a denser-cut steak to enjoy it.

    SIDE DISHES
    As a previous commenter mentioned, the fries are amazing. So is the macaroni au gratin, which is basically a really fancy mac & cheese.

    The specials are usually outstanding too, especially if you’re there on a Friday or Saturday.

    WINE
    They have a great by-the-glass list. Ask the server or sommelier for recommendations to pair with what you ordered.

    DESSERTS
    Be sure to save room for dessert or a cheese course. (They usually have a great cheese selection.) The Profiteroles-au-Chocolat (Chocolate Profiteroles) are to die for.

    Also, check out Firefly on Paradise Road, a little ways off the strip. It’s my favorite restaurant in Vegas.

    And if you want an extravagant experience, try Craftsteak. Their Kobe-style steaks are phenomenal. Very pricey, burt very worth it. (If you have 4 or more people, get the Kobe Tasting Menu; again, just trust me on this.)

    Okay I guess that was more ten cents, but there you go.

  25. Fun story from when I worked in Vegas. Adonal Foyle was a fan of Bouchon (this was back when he was with the Warriors). He used to come in every time he was in Vegas, sometimes two or three days in a row. One time he brought Baron Davis with him.

    We had a chilled seafood tower appetizer, with crab, lobster, oysters, mussels and clams. It was literally a tower — a huge three-tiered affair, quite impressive when served. It usually served as an appetizer for groups of 4-6 people.

    Anyways, one day Adonal comes in and ordered the seafood tower — for himself. He ate the whole thing as his main meal. Needless to say, we were all impressed.

    Then he ordered a second one, and proceeded to eat it too, all by himself.

  26. Matt, Not Charlie Rosen — Thank you very much! And that’s a great story, Matt. I had no idea that sometimes NBA players went to Vegas……

  27. I’m not as insightful as a lot of the people on here but I’ll try to answer the Cal question (they also don’t teleivse a lot of games even up here so this is partially small sample size). Basically, they finally have a coach who can teach a team how to play offense. In year’s past their offensive execution was non-existant. It was an ongoing joke how often they’d come out of time outs and not even get a shot off. Too many possessions where the team would dribble around without any idea of what they wanted to do.

    They’ve had a string of legit pro prospects lately, including Leon Powe and Ryan Anderson, both of whom are very good offensively (you might have noticed). But it was as if it never dawned on anybody to force the ball into those guys to play to their strengths. Guys would dribble for a while, pass around the 3 point line and throw up a 3 for lack of anything else to do.

    Now the team looks like it knows what it is doing. As defenses are shown them at the beginning of the game they can adapt. They run actual plays.

    Beyond that, they have great back court talent. And they shoot well. Patrick Christopher is the name guy. He will consistently score around 20 a night, can hit the 3, dunk it and has a nice little midrange bank shot he occasionally employs. Theo Robertson, the 3 is leading the nation in 3 point shooting. I think he was at 60% for a while, and takes a lot of them. But my favorite guy is Jerome Randle, our PG, who is tiny, sees the floor well and can occasionally shoot lights out. He also averages in the high teens and often finds Christopher for the Alley Oop. He had a monster game against Arizona State last week, scoring 26-10 assists I think.

    Inside, the Bears aren’t as strong, but Jamal Boykins is solid, while Jordan wilkes (Jamal’s son) does enough at center. So basically, they can kill a lot of zones by shooting over them, but they have an athletic enough back court to get to the hoop or run the floor when they need also.

    Like a lot of back court driven teams, they go -and give up- runs. They may grab a 12 point lead in a few minutes, then slowly give it away before their next run. I think they thrive off the energy of the type of game they play and follow the momentum, and they have been given the tools they need to maximize their potential on both ends of the court by a great coach.

    I’m excited to see if they can maintain their momentum this season and how they matchup against UC LA. If you do get a chance to watch them, I recommend it as they are an exciting brand of ball. I just wish we still had Anderson and Hardin here…

  28. Sorry for the double post after that novel, but on a laker note, one thing more that I take from PJ’s comments on pace- it’s important for a team to play at the pace they’re accustomed to. Without it they fall out of rhythm. That’s kind of obvious and we hear it all the time (don’t play at their pace, dictate tempo, etc). But it does strike me as important when talking about pace and rates of possession.

    So making a slow team play fast may give up points, but could be better defensively because it makes that team play outside their strengths, just like making the Warriors slow down will make them struggle to find their rhythm. Maybe I’m overthinking this.

  29. Now that Sasha is out how do you folks think Phill will tweak the lineup? Could we see more of a second unit comprised of Kobe, Ariza, Powell, Bynym/Mihn and Radman/Gasol? Could we see more minutes for Sun (poor kid, trial by fire)?

  30. that’s one of the mysteries of NBA life that I think Jackson understands. as a fan, i want to see them play well every game. not just that, play better, every game. can you imagine what that’s like over an 82-game season? sometimes i get frustrated when they’re squandering a 15-point lead and he just sits there, but I think that approach of letting the players work out their problems is one of the reasons he’s successful (and i’m not).

    as for Bouchon, i really like the place, but have only been to the one in Yountville. i’d say the oysters are a definite must, particularly at this time of year. but also get the salt cod fritters. they are really, really delicious. the food isn’t French Laundry-ish at all. It’s really very basic French dishes done really, really well.

  31. Kurt,

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

    “Win the first one.”

    Not only that, but again, it’s on NBA tv. WTF.

  32. wow the raptors bench is lengthening the lead against boston’s starters right now, anyone watching the game?

  33. To win, you have to score more than the opposing team, simple as that.

    And that usually comes down to composure more than ‘offense’ or ‘defense.’ You have to avoid taking gambles on either side when you’re down, like threes and steals, but chip away diligently.

    Normally, teams that have pride/confidence in their defense tend to be more ‘disciplined’ and thus sort of have a forced composure instilled in them, making the adage ‘defense wins championship’ look good.

  34. 32- Guess we better stand by for some (more) trash talk from Celtics fans – they’ve won 2 straight!

  35. I’m actually glad to hear PJ talk about letting the team run looser on offense. Although I firmly agree that defense is very important, I’ve been concerned about the lack of consistent fluidity in the offense. The triangle and offense is supposed to be the strength of this team. But too often, there’s not enough movement and scoring.

    This team is never going to be a 48 minute lockdown D team, it’s just not in their identity. But they can and should be a top 1 or 2 scoring team able to put up points against anyone.

    With that established they can be more like the showtime or threepeat teams where they can hone in and lock down for brief stretches to either pull ahead or close out a game. I can see that kind of mentality fitting much better with this team than trying to be a 48 minute defensive lockdown mode. Force the other team to try and score with you with them fearing that there’ll be stretches where the team will lock down and spurt ahead and knowing that they can’t match the scoring even when the D isn’t in lockdown mode. That will create anxiety and end in bad decisions a lot.

    Kurt, on Bouchon, Matt has some solid suggestions. I eat there at least a couple times a year for the past few years. A few things to add. Really have to second the foie. The specials are good but be careful as they are usually much much more than the regular entrees which aren’t cheap to start with. Just be aware so you don’t get sticker shock.

    Definitely get a few oysters of whatever they’re featuring.

    It can be tough to get reservations, but if you don’t mind eating at off hours or at the bar, you can always slide in. I eat by myself there frequently and will just walk in and grab a seat at the bar. A lot of times it’s a spontaneous deal for me if the group I’m with isn’t into high end dining. I just duck out for a couple of hours. I actually enjoy ordering a series of apps and sides to have a variety of items over just one entree.

    Email me if you want more food suggestions. I love to eat out in Vegas and have a whole host of places from low to high end that are good value and quality.

  36. Hey Ya’all,
    I find the comments regarding what we hear or read coming from pro writers can also be applied to what I see watching most telecasts on League Pass. I was watching the Spurs play OKC a few weeks ago and the contempt the Spurs announcers had for OKC was interesting as they had no rational response to the Thunder making a 4th quarter run and the Spurs needing some serious execution to come up with a home win. When talking about the Thunder they gushed over Durant and said some good things about Westbrook but I think that might have been a product of knowing where they were drafted. They had no idea that Green has become such a good player. They didn’t know anything about Mason’s abilities and you might have thought Watson and Wilcox were development league players. This game was before the recent few wins and I think the Thunder are showing they have something with all the games they could have won in the last few minutes of games but the Spurs announcers were unaware of anything about the Thunder but for their record and their high draft picks. I think many of the beat writers have that same understanding of the teams they cover. The media today pays for opinions and readable arguments for said opinions. Not to threaten breaking any of the site rules, but I think this applies to regular news and political analysis as well. The media is here to polarize opinions. Its how they make money and ultimately it dumbs down analysis.

    Hey, how about Marbury for a third PG;)

  37. We will see how good the Laker defense really is in this tough 4 game stretch. Probably will be the toughest 4 game stretch of the season. Orlando and Cleveland will be especially tough tests for the defense. Can they contain a Magic offense that has great spacing and deadly perimiter shooters? And can they contain Lebron James and a very efficient Cavs offense? I think both Orlando and the Cavs are better than the Lakers right now, Lakers still need improvement.

  38. P. Ami,
    There is a certain, nameless, news organization that has taken the Enquirer form of news gathering to a high art in the last 10 years. Should we be surprised this style is present in sports too?

  39. Wow, the Lakers may have four rotation players out at once. I am glad we have a deep team.

  40. What really bugs me is when announcers accuse fast paced teams of ‘Trying to outscore their opponent’.
    That’s the whole point of the game!

    Is there a way of winning that doesn’t involve outscoring your opponent? No, of course not. So yeah their trying to outscore their opponent. That’s how you win.

  41. P.Ami,
    The Spurs announcers are a pretty arrogant lot-prob comes w/being such a good team for so long.
    Before they went to Fla they were utterly dismissive of the Magic. And they promptly lost to the Magic and subsequently lost to the Magic back in SA. Heh.

  42. the other Stephen January 13, 2009 at 12:03 am

    i’m insightful, just not in any of the areas that are important.

  43. J, My in-laws live in Summerlin as does much of my wife’s side of the family, so we go out for a week or so every year (sometimes more), and my wife and I use that as an excuse to go out for a night to a really nice dinner. We’ve done a few, I’d say Bartolotta at the Wynn was my favorite, but we have had some great meals.

    Thanks for all the suggestions, guys. Looking forward to a night of fries and oysters. That should be an interesting combo.

  44. matt, your description made me full just reading it. yeah, i’m a food lightweight.

    kurt says: Matt, Not Charlie Rosen — Thank you very much! And that’s a great story, Matt. I had no idea that sometimes NBA players went to Vegas……

    Did you mean players who are sometimes in the NBA or NBA Players who are sometimes in Vegas? =P

  45. I believe that the key to Lakers’ dominance is Pau Gasol. If he plays more aggressively, this team is unbeatable.

    Please see my blogpost at:

    http://lalakersnews.blogspot.com/2009/01/pau-gasol-is-key-to-lakers-dominance.html

    for my take on this…

  46. it’s another f-ing tuesday night, so i’m screwed as an nba broadband customer. i’m going to email them and give them a piece of my mind!
    arrgh

  47. The next 4 games will provide an insight as to how mentally tough this team is. With Farmar, Walton, Odom and Sasha injured the whole team will need to contribute to get past some tough oponents.

    I’m not saying that we need to win all 4 (or 2 of 4 or whatever) games to prove that we are tought, but what I am saying is that the attitude the team displays will be key. I’d rather see the team fight and lose than play like crap and win with a lucky shot. The former builds character (important for the playoffs) the latter reinforces bad habits.

  48. Especially in college hoops, the three is the great equalizer, and nobody in the country is shooting it better than Cal right now. You can’t leave Robertson, Randle or Christopher, so that opens up lanes for them to get to the lane off the bounce.

    I was really impressed with Kamp against UW. He didn’t score at all, but held his own with Brockman in the paint and freed up the perimeter players to do the scoring.

    I don’t know that Cal is good enough defensively to make real big noise, but they’re the third-best team in the Pac-10 right now and can beat anybody in the conference on a given night.

  49. P. Ami,

    Yes. There is too much lazy reporting and unfortunately, as I previously commented on another thread, some analysts feel the need to sell the team to their fans or make excuses on why their team is losing. Best (worst) examples are NO and Boston.

    Then, perception becomes reality, and the fans believe what they’re told.

  50. #40, Outscoring the opponent implies all offense and no defense. Thats what the Lakers did to Indiana the other night, not one lick of defense at all yet they still won. Its what the Suns used to do under Mike Ant. In technical terms, yes, you always try to outscore your opponent, but what it implies when it is used is using scoring as the primary tool to beat the opponent. Teams like Boston and Cleveland, and the Spurs arent as focused on “outscoring” their opponent, but rather shutting them down defensievly, that is their number 1 concern.

  51. Kurt,

    I FINALLY ordered an FB & G shirt. Can’t wait to get it…

  52. Rockets preview up

  53. 51. Funny, I just finally got my wife one because she asked for it.

  54. GET breakfast at bouchon. Chicken and waffles is mindblowing, the steak and eggs is pretty damn good too

  55. Craig W.,

    I’m guessing the news organization you are talking about currently employs a talking head that used to read the news on SportsCenter?

    Stephen,

    We’ve had some pretty good teams the last decade and then being one of the two premier organizations in the league over its history, I don’t remember thinking that Chick was clueless about the opposing team. Okay, I remember him calling Horry Worthy during a fastbreak once but I pray my mind works as well at that age as his did. That said, its not even the homerism that bothers me. Okay, the homerism bothers me, but the phenomenon I was speaking to was just the general incompetence of those who are telling the story of a sports event. They honestly do not understand matchups, strategies, the long term goals of a team or the capabilities of the players they are being paid to tell us about. They are selling a shtick, not knowledge. One of the refreshing things coming from the NBA TV games on Tuesday (otherwise known as Lakers night) is that even as the silliness of Webber and GP interacting can entertain, you’ll actually hear one or the other mention some defensive strategy and the other (usually Payton) scrunch up his face and mention quickly how the matchups indicate that the box and 1 isn’t a good idea. You actually see these guys consider the real life strengths and weaknesses of their arguments. Again, the strength of this site is in the actual analysis.