Live Blog: Lakers vs. Wizards

Kurt —  January 22, 2009

Kurt

Posts

49 responses to Live Blog: Lakers vs. Wizards

  1. PeanutButterSpread January 22, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Grizzlies fire their coach today.
    What’s up with that? How did anyone expect Marc to win with a bunch of rookies?

    Second, Wizards shouldn’t have fired Eddie Jordan, it wasn’t his fault half his players are always injured.

    Too many coaches are being fired. I don’t like that. Look at Jerry Sloan, he’s never won a championship, always so close, if it were any other team, you know they’d already fire him.

  2. I have to say, I’m a bit worried about Kobe’s finger. If anyone can adjust, it’s him. But his jumpshot needs to be at 100% in the playoffs; the Celts showed they’re capable of taking away his driving lanes (provided the refs let them play physical, like last year).

    It worries me. Any medical experts out there? How much time would Kobe miss to get his finger back into shape? I don’t think it would mess team chemistry up too much, I would rather see him take time off now than not be 100% later.

  3. On another note, Sasha has really come into form since Jordan’s injury. I really do believe that increased PT is making a difference. I love what Farmar does for us, but on both ends of the floor, Sasha gives us more (even if his shot is off, his D is strong). I want Sasha’s PT to stay up, even if it comes at Farmar’s expense. He can win some games for us when he’s on, like in Game 3 of the Finals last years.

    Bynum’s rounding into form like no one expected; his offensive aggression now is better than pre-injury, and I am loving this new version. If Bynum, Sasha, and Odom play at this level (and Pau and Kobe stay at theirs), I think any weakness at SF can be mitigated.

  4. Hardwood Paroxysm had a funny line about Sasha:

    “Vujacic needs to stop with the one-man full-court press.”

    I like it when he does it at times, but sometimes he’s just asking for a foul. You see it coming every time. He gets at least one a game, but I like the effort.

  5. Sasha can’t adjust (or doesn’t) to how the game is being called. He is a very pesky physical defender. Sometimes the refs let teams play like this, but sometimes they don’t but Sasha doesn’t adjust so he picks up quick fouls.

  6. the other Stephen January 23, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    i saw your interview over at truehoop, hahaha! nice! by the way, the site seems to be working for google chrome now.

  7. Snoopy, re #3 –

    I’m not a doctor, but I do play one on TV… ;)

    That disclaimer aside, I’m fairly certain that this latest finger injury should heal on its own within a few weeks. There was no structural damage (as far as I know), which means that it’s just pain and inflammation that he has to deal with.

  8. Personally, I like that Sasha doesn’t adjust to the refs; I’d like to think he’s getting more/enough respect around the league that to some extent, he forces the refs to adjust their foul-calls to his peskier defense. In essence, I’d like to think of the situation with Sasha as a scaled-down version of the Jazz — he’ll get called for fouls, but there are definitely a good number they let slide due to the high frequency at which Sasha seems to invade personal space. This in turn allows him to continue to play his pesky D…

  9. 2

    I think it was stated either last night or during the Clippers game that Kobe would need about 6 weeks off to recover, according to Gary Vitti. Don’t think the Lakers have that luxury.

  10. I have to admit, I like Sasha’s “one man full court press.” I agree his playing time needs to stay up there when Jordan comes back. I love his intensity and the effort he brings every night. Some players need to realize they are not going to be super stars in this league and they may not even be liked, so they might as well play as hard as they can when they get the chance. Sasha’s not out there to make friends, and every player should have at least a few fouls a game to let thier opponent know they are there. That’s my thought at least, so keep it up Sasha!

  11. Also, with regard to Bynum, it seems as if he’s rounding back into pre-injury form from an aggression standpoint (though I’m not entirely convinced he’s all the way back in terms of his explosiveness), but he is light years ahead in terms of his offensive skillset.

    When he broke out last year, it was almost entirely due to lob passes, put backs, and the occasional drop-step layup/dunk. But what he is doing now is really impressive, as he has put together an arsenal of low and mid-post moves, including counters, and his footwork is greatly improved as well. And let’s not forget the nice little “jumper” that he is hitting from the elbow with some consistency.

    Sure, Kareem and Rambis deserve a lot of credit for this rapid improvements, but props to Drew too. He’s the one who has to listen to and absorb the tutoring, and then work hard at it so that he can do it instinctively when the lights go on.

  12. I am impressed with AB’s improvement. However, I would like to see him continue his aggressive play of late against teams with an inside presence.

    Props to him for the last couple of games, but the Cavs, Clips, and Wiz have no one inside.

  13. Bynum’s success on the offensive end is translating to a greater success on the defensive end as well. I would like to see him work on passing out of the double team, though. He tends to turn it over more than he should in those circumstances.

  14. It’s true Bynum has been going off on teams with no inside presence, but let’s not forget, he was giving Tim Duncan the business last week. TD is definitely an inside presence.

  15. …but on the flipside, he didn’t rebound well against SA, Orlando or Cleveland, and that’s what we need most from him.

  16. 11) Bynum came into the season with some great pieces of offensive skill, but hadn’t really figured out how to put them together. He is gradually getting there.

  17. 11, Brian – Agreed, that’s what I love most about Bynum right now. He’s truly showing an offensive repertoire, with flashes of the greats in the early 90s (not at that level, but still). My problem with big men today (mainly Howard and Bynum) is they rely too much on athleticism and very little on polished skill. You’re right on with how Bynum scored last year, off lobs and bunnies. Now, Bynum’s showing truly refined offensive moves, and creating his own shot.

    Think about how scary this team will be if we have 2 big men who create their OWN offense in the low post. Added to the best player in the game for the last half decade. When was the last time a team had that kind of lineup – a great 2-guard, and a 4 and 5 that could both create? I can’t think of any. (I don’t think Manu had come into form with the Twin Tower Spurs). And then a crazy Bench Mob, with a 6th man who’s really a top-level starter. Stacked.

    15, wondahbap – I’m just guessing, but I’d like to hope that if Bynum gets more offensive touches (and creates), he’ll bring more energy to the boards and defensive ends. A player like Chandler, for example – his energy hinges on his lobs and touches. I’m hoping the same holds true with Bynum. Rebounding is more a mindset and desire than anything else.

  18. I saw one of the Lakers being interviewed after the 42 point game (Pau,LO?) and he said they had turned Drew loose.I took it to mean Phil had been holding Drew back for cautions sake and had said OK go for it.

  19. Obviously Bynum’s ability to score and his showing of more polish has been impressive. But, to me, what’s been most impressive is his improvement in reading what the defender is giving him, taking advantage of that, and doing it quickly. In his post game interview after the Clips he said that he’s going quicker; that he’s not waiting for the double team. Many times, a big wants to hold the ball, read-read-read, and then go. Right now, he’s going much faster and doing so after he’s fighting harder for post position. Sure, doing this against top flight defender would be nice, but it’s nice when any player does it against top flight defenders. On a lot of levels, we’ve been spoiled by Kobe’s ability to exploit any defender, world class guys included. I’m happy that Bynum is doing it against anyone right now…it’s the confidence that comes from these successes that will make him believe that he’ll do it against the best. Everyone starts somewhere. Our guy is starting. (I swear I just replayed a scene from the Matrix in my head where Morpheus tells Trinity that Neo is “beginning to believe”.)

  20. PeanutButterSpread January 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    On another note, I hate that Basketbawlful keeps ragging on Kobe. Their bloggers make good points on some things but denying that Kobe is clutch or that saying that Kobe is evil’s reincarnate, is just purely hating.

  21. Darius,

    Good points. Well put.

    Early in the year, he was taking too long to make decisions., and it affected the offense. He’s comfy now.

    The Twin towers we were hoping for finally seems to be realizing.

  22. Also, for anyone interested to know more about the Wizards’ leader in +/- last night, you can read about Mr. Pecherov here:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Too-much-Rod-Benson-Slippers-and-a-showcase?urn=nba,133379

  23. jxhan,
    You are right about Sasha making the refs adjust to him. Not only Utah, but Boston do this on a team basis. Also, that is how Bruce Bowen established his bonafides and he has enjoyed a very long career for a defensive presence who can shoot the 3 (Sasha incarnate).

  24. It’s just amazing to me how Lakers fans’ attitudes can change in a matter of a week. Before Bynum’s two stellar performances this week, people were doubting if he would ever get back into pre-injury form. Now, hes the best thing since sliced bread. I always knew Drew would come around eventually. We as Lakers fans need to have more patience and faith in our players. People forget that Bynum is only 21 and has a long time to grow into the player we all want him to be.

  25. peanutbutter,

    While i agree with you that coaches get fired too swiftly, I think what Memphis did was justified. They had to feel this team should be better than this. They seem to be regressing, and with this young talent, they can’t afford to not make progress. Especially given the fact that their fan base is tenuous. Losing can linger and create bad habits. Cut your losses and bring in something new. There is too much young talent.

  26. 25 – We judge based on what we see. If someone, based on Bynum’s earlier performance, said “He’s a bust,” then I agree, that’s being too fickle. However if someone said “Bynum needs to play with more energy and intensity and box out,” there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s accurate.

    People waiting around patiently for Kwame Brown to turn into an All-Star are still waiting. Fans have the right to ask for effort out of million-dollar athletes. Useless slamming of players annoys me as well, but asking for simple effort on the boards or on the defensive end is perfectly fine, in my opinion.

    There’s nothing wrong with criticism of players if it’s reasonable, justified with factual support, and does not personally attack the player.

  27. Criticism of young players…

    The problem with most of us is that we expect noticeable progress in young players from game to game + progress in different areas.

    Young players – including Drew – are usually trying to get things going by improving on one area at a time; frequently starting with the offensive side, since that is what people respond to first. That doesn’t make coaches happy, but it is a fact of life in this ESPN world. Drew is not getting better game by game, but he has shown improvement since the start of this season. There is no reason not to expect more as time goes by. Also, since he seems to have arrived at a point where people can see his offense, we may see some improvement in his defense. I wouldn’t expect much on Sunday, but we may notice more after the All-Star break.

  28. CRAP! I missed my first live blog! grrr, I’ll be back next time.

  29. The thing about criticizing players, speaking for myself, is that it’s a progression. It wasn’t necessarily out of the blue. It wasn’t until recently that I voiced my opinion about Andrew’s lack of effort. As a fan there is nothing wrong with commenting on a players lack of effort when it’s obvious especially when you know they are capable of so much more. It’s part of what fans do and it’s a totally ligitimate criticism based on observation.

    You watch Andrew start out the season playing fairly ok compared to last season, but not quite there obviously because of his tentativeness due to the injury. You give him the benefit of doubt that he’ll get better as the season goes on. October, November, December passes and then January, and you watch him regress defensively (rebounds, aggresiveness, blocks, etc). It’s obvious that he’s focusing on his offense and that he has improve in that area. But it’s also obvious in the game the Lakers lost that if Drew brought his defensive game and tried a little harder to get at least double digit rebounds (not just 1 or 3), which he is totally capable of being a tall long center, then you know the outcome of those games would have been different. Though we can’t blame those losses on him alone, you know that the Lakers would had much more of a chance at winning those very close games if he had put a little more effort into it. He’s a difference maker. Without him we could be seeing a repeat of last year’s finals. I don’t see why anyone shouldn’t or wouldn’t comment on that. Sports commentators, coaches, and I’m sure the players themselves know it and talks about it, why can’t we fans?

    Of course if a player starts working on his deficiencies and improves as Andrew did in the last few games, then there’s no complaint. I’m glad and will praise him for it. I don’t expect it to happen overnight, but I do expect Andrew to put in the effort.

    If you play bad, you get into the dog house and you have to work your way out. Then you get rewarded.

    I see nothing wrong with that. It’s only fair. Also, isn’t that what these blog communities are about, to discuss your team and their progression?

  30. Discussing issues isn’t bad or unfair. It is just that fans typically micromanage. Young players are rarely helped by micromanagement. They are trying to fit into a complex and extremely competitive environment…one we fans would find difficult, if not impossible, to deal with.

    It is not our comments I find hard to take, but our impatience. Andrew has constantly been improving and is only 21, with relatively little experience, compared with most 21 yr olds. Player improvement usually is 2 steps forward and 1 step back. That is what has happened with Andrew. Then there is his injury.

    He isn’t perfect, but he is progressing, as are the other Lakers on this team.

  31. PeanutButterSpread January 23, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    J.D.,

    I actually really enjoy reading most of what’s posted on Basketbawful because they are actually enlightening/humorous views of the NBA, which is probably why I get so frustrated when they always rag on Kobe, because I think it’s unwarranted, and in a way diminishes all the rest of their great material.

    They point out how a lot of NBA players aren’t warranted the money they’re getting, yet they go on their way to diminish all of Kobe’s hard earned respect and accomplishments.

    It’s okay to be snarky and sarcastic, poking fun at the game you love to watch, but their simple refusal to even acknowledge that Kobe is a clutch player or has a really high bball IQ, is just pure hating, and in a way, is a disrespect to the game of basketball.

    They’re still stuck in that Kobe is selfish ball hog hate and not realizing that in just a few short years, the amazing skills and day in day out dedication Kobe puts into the game, will be gone.

  32. PeanutButterSpread January 23, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    wondahbap,

    Now that I think about it, yeah, the Grizzlies do have a lot of great young talent, their record definitely should be better, but this year, right now, because most of their players are so young, I didn’t really see them making it into the playoffs, which is probably why I thought the firing was unwarranted. But, hopefully now they can get a coach that can mold the players to their strengths and help the team in its rebuilding process.

    I’ll say this though, the Eddie Jordan firing and the Reggie Theus firings were really unfair to the coaches since 1. the wizards were always mired with injuries 2. the kings aren’t playing better with their new coach.

  33. Woah. Ben Wallace just hit a clutch 17 foot jumpshot for Cleveland against the warriors.

    The warriors’ problem? 4 of the 5 guys on offense feel like THEY should be the hero. Nobody is creating for anybody else.

  34. 34, you have to admit the warriors are playing amazing defense on lebron (never thought i’d write that sentence in my life)

    they also have no point guard, 4 players who love iso’ing and biedrins whose post up repertoire consists of passing it back to whoever gave him the ball quickly

  35. cavs down by 1 with about 4 seconds left in the game. lebron hit the jumper to win it. :(

  36. .. and now lebron’s MVP is almost guaranteed, he’s so hyped up it’d be almost impossible for him not to get it this year.

  37. How poor Ronnie got iso’d on Lebron on that last play is beyond me. I’m not sure why Biedrins wasn’t in the game, not sure why Jacko just wasn’t denying Lebron or how they allowed an inbound to the short corner. Bad loss for the Warriors. They had it. Living in Oakland, that sucked.

  38. The play right before when the warriors knocked it out of bounds, Cap. Jack had swiched so when lebron went around the screens to the top of the three point line he could easily get back on him to deny the ball. and it worked perfectly. so when the cavs called the second time for their do over, and came back out with the same look jack switched again and instead lebron faked to the top and went around ronnie for the ball in the short corner. good call by mike brown. it worked. Too bad all the hype for lebron is gonna be even worse since he hit the game winner even though he had like 3 turns in the forth and that was the only gquality shot he actually made in the second half.

  39. Just want to say, and as I told ya….Boston is still the team to beat. They completely shut down a Magic team that was red hot…something that we failed to do both games we played them. Big Baby seems to be a very productive bench player for Boston now, giving them more depth on their bench. Like I said, Boston really did not have weaknesses, rather they just were playing bad. Now, I also think the Lakers are getting better as well as Bynum is becoming more like the Bynum we were expecting and then some and once Kobe finger heals and the bench stays consistent, I think we got a chance against Boston. What do you guys think?

  40. And Daniel, its not that we didnt have faith in Bynum, we were just frustrated because he didnt seem to be playing very hard, the guy was gettijng 3 rebounds a game. His improvment in that department is a combination of two things….the last 2 games have been against poor rebounding teams and an increase of hustle.

  41. oh guys, did you notice on the last possesion the game clock started winding down a second or two after the ball had already been inbounded. anyone else catch that?

  42. Joe,
    Against the Magic, Davis had his best game of the season. It is nowhere representative of where he’s at as a player or his nightly contribution. I’m not trying to discount Boston, but I am saying that if Davis needs to play a major role for them to truly contend for the title, they will be in trouble.

    I’ve always thought that the Lakers have a good chance to beat Boston. We have the depth, size, talent, coaching, and (after last season) the experience. Obviously any series against them would come down to many factors working in our favor, but that’s no different than facing any other team. Before we play Boston again next month, I’m sure we’ll have more conversations about the Celtics and us and where we fit into the puzzle of the playoffs and as contenders.

  43. our bench was superb during the wizards game, they were the ones to extend the lead to an absolute blowout by the end of the 1st half.

    anyone catch the clippers vs thunder box score. eric gordon had 41 points on 12 for 19 shooting. he got to the line a lot. i don’t think he gets that much attention as a rookie for the numbers he puts up.

  44. Oh man that was brutal for the warriors. I mean, there were at least 4 shots in the last minute that probably shouldn’t have gone in. Ben Wallace’s shot, then both of Jackson’s- each with lebron on him after jax couldn’t find someone to pass to, – but somehow he hit them both. Then Lebron’s. Though you’re all right that they went to the least effective form of defense they’d played all night. Biedrins was nuts inside on D. If Bynum ever has a 4th quarter like that it’ll get its own box in espn’s daily dime…

  45. Its not that Big Baby has to play a major role though. Im just saying he seems like a guy who can come off the bench and hit short range open jumpers, the guy proved he has a nice shot, and the commentators even mentioned how he had really improved his shooting. Its not really about Davis though, its about Boston’s defense and the way they can just shut teams down, thats always a sign of a championship team. Out scoring teams, which have been most of the Lakers wins are not the sign of a championship team.
    I agree the Lakers can beat Boston, but they still have much improvement that needs to happen. Bynum is gonna be a huge factor, he needs to keep improving and become a threat on both ends of the floor.

  46. It’s not that I don’t think that us fans should be critical of the players. In fact, I’m often critical of them myself. However, much of the criticism I’ve heard directed at Drew (not just on this site, but in the media in general because most commenters on FB&G keep a level head) is not constructive and often exaggerated. Does Bynum have plenty of room to improve? Of course. But he’s a solid player, and will continue to get better. It just irks me when people get so down on a player, but are so fickle that they start singing his praises after two great games against terrible teams (not to diminish those performances).

  47. PeanutButterSpread,

    I feel the need to point out that The Kobe Effect post was written by a guest author who, himself, is running a rather enjoyable blog called “Be The Three.” He asked if he could contribute a couple posts in our “Word of the Day” series and I agreed…as long as they were well-written and had facts/stats to back up his points.

    I cringed somewhat when he sent me The Kobe Effect post, since it would obviously make it appear as if I was taking an opportunity to attack him. That wasn’t the case.

    Now, personally, I believe Kobe’s one of the top clutch players in the league, and has been for some time. However, Zach’s post made some good points and was intended to provoke thought and debate…not hatred and vitriol.

    There seem to be various schools of thought regarding NBA analysis. Zach took more of a by-the-numbers approach. That’s not my usual way; in fact, I typically avoid such Hollinger-esque breakdowns. I typically feel my gut is the best basketball computer I have, and it tells me what yours probably tells you: Kobe’s one of the top two or three players of the last decade that you’d want holding the ball with the game on the line.

    I would also like to point out that, IMHO, my supposed Kobe bashing is exaggerated. In point of fact, it has led to a series of Daily Kobe entries in my Worst of the Night posts that have nothing to do with basketball (usually, he’s tormenting Luke Walton). It is both a subtle jab to the people who believe I have nothing but disdain for Kobe and also a concession that he’s having what may be his most complete season as a pro. And that’s saying something.