Breaking Down The End of Lakers/Bobcats

Kurt —  January 28, 2009

With 4:21 left and the score tied 83-83, I hit pause in the DVR and decided right then and there to do a detailed breakdown of the final minutes of the game. It was bound to be instructive and exciting, right?

Well, it was exciting. But I’m not sure how much we learned and I didn’t do the overtimes. Still, the breakdown is below.

When a game goes to overtime, let alone double overtime, there are a thousand little things that could have gone one way or another and determined a win. Credit to the Bobcats, who out hustled the Lakers and wanted it more all night. Maybe the Lakers looked past the Bobcats, who knows, but they just got ground down into the kind of game the Bobcats wanted to play. The Lakers did not dictate the style of game, and to me that was the biggest mistake

Also (and most importantly), we wish Wallace and Ariza a speedy recovery.

Here’s the breakdown:

4:21, 83-83: Felton at the top of the key gets the ball to Bell at the elbow coming off a down screen, and he turns catches, jumps and turns in one move like he is going to shoot. But on the switch the long arms of Odom are coming at Bell, so he makes a smart pass to the mismatch the switch created — Sasha on Diaw. Diaw drives the lane and misses the running floater because Bynum came off Okafor to challenge the shot, but the now uncovered Okafor corals the rebound over the cylinder and puts it in.

4:02, 85-83 Bobcats: Fish gets the ball to Kobe at the elbow, who passes to Bynum in the middle of the paint. Bynum gave up a little position for possession, seems a little farther out (9 feet) than he wanted to be, so he breaks out the entire arsenal of jab steps and head fakes. He now has so many to show off he gets called for three seconds.

3:50 85-83 Bobcats: The Bobcats go with Diaw isolated on Odom on the left wing. He makes a move left, Odom goes with him but it gets Diaw down near the low block. He then goes with the fake left, shoot right turnaround fade-away. Nobody is blocking that shot and he hits it.

3:33 87-83 Bobcats: Fisher dribbles around at the top of the key while Sasha comes off two picks from the weakside to the strong, and Fish gets him the ball with some space to shoot behind an Odom pick. Sasha hit three of his first four, so he was feeling it, but he lost it at the end and just kept gunning.

3:17, 87-83 Bobcats: Diaw and Felton in the high pick and pop. Odom does a good job showing out on Felton to take away the drive. I don’t know what the Lakers call was here, but it looks like Odom thought they were switching and Fish thought Odom was going back to Diaw. The only thing going back to Diaw was the ball for an open three, which he hits. Time out Lakers.

3:06, 90-83 Bobcats: Gasol gets the ball and is a hard double way, way out on the wing, so he passes back to a wide-open Sasha near the peak of the arc. If you are a shooter, you have to take this, and Sasha is a shooter. Unfortunately, he’s a cold one.

2:53, 90-83 Bobcats: The Bobcats run the first pick and roll but Fish defends it well going under, on the second one the Lakers switch and Gasol and Fisher soft-trap Felton, who makes a jump-pass to Diaw at the top of the key. Diaw does have Sasha closing out on him but he has got to take that shot, instead he passes to Wallace at the three point line. Wallace who is shooting 26.7% from three on the season. The Lakers will let him have that, and he misses

2:33, 90-83 Bobcats: Kobe brings it up and nobody pressures the ball, so he goes straight to get good position down on the right block, then hits and easy fadeaway over the defender.

2:20, 90-85 Bobcats: This is the one where Wallace goes down. The Lakers have stepped up their defensive pressure on the perimeter, Fisher hounds Felton, who throws it to Wallace at the three point line straight away. Kobe goes for the steal and gets a deflection but Wallace regains control and now has a lane to the hoop and he takes it. Bynum comes over late and just turns sideway and gives the elbow in the ribs to Wallace. A deserved flagrant, that was no play on the ball.

I feel bad that Wallace was hurt as much as he was. Bynum deserves the donation to NBA Charities coming his way from the league office. But I’m good with the long-term ramifications here — I want other teams thinking there is a price to pay for coming into the lane. I want us to be physical like this now and again. (Even after this loss and this play some people pulled the toughness card, even though it was unrelated.) Like a pitcher who throws hard on the inside part of the plate, you will hit a few batters but you establish that area as yours. I want the Lakers to do that with the paint, particularly Bynum, and this is part of that.

Back to the game, Raja Bell on the flagrants, and the 86% guy from the line all season misses both. Still Bobcats ball and they milk a little clock before going pick and roll. Felton drives the lane but the ball gets stripped by Fish, however the ball stays with the Bobcats and they reset. In the scramble it is Fish on Diaw and the Bobcats recognize the mismatch and get the ball to Diaw on the block. Fish fouls. And Diaw misses both. For all the times you think of things the Lakers should have done to win this game, remember the Bobcats just needed to make one of those last four from the stripe.

1:50, 90-85 Bobcats: Actually Okafor grabbed the last missed free throw, but Kobe stripped him quickly then brought the ball up himself. This time Bell isn’t letting Kobe get to the block. So Kobe makes the exact same turnaround jump shot, just from the elbow extended to about 18 feet. Net.

1:40, 90-87 Bobcats: Felton tries to run a little time, but eventually under pressure gives to Diaw at 23 feet out. Gasol plays back, letting him have the long-range shot, but Diaw drives, a little right to left drive across the lane followed by the 12-foot fadeaway. Tough shot but he hits it.

1:20, 92-87 Bobcats: Just give the ball to Kobe on the wing, behind the arc and clear out. I mean, what would you do? Kobe goes jab step, jab step, three pointer. Bingo, to quote our Clippers friend.

1:10, 92-90 Bobcats: This time it’s Felton and Okafor on the screen and roll, but there is no driving lane. So Felton finds Diaw wide open at the three point line, Pau is sagging way back Diaw goes up with a good look over the late-charging Gasol. Miss, Lakers rebound.

:51, 92-90 Bobcats: Kobe on the iso on the right again, but this time he drives a little and gets to just inside the free throw line and looks like he is going up with the fade away — but instead it’s a pass to Sasha who slid into the corner for an uncontested three. Good look, but the only thing colder than Sasha at this point is a Russian winter.

Coming out of the box-out battle down low, Gasol and Diaw got tangled and went to the floor. Foul Gasol, Diaw to the line. He makes one of two.

:30, 93-90 Bobcats: Out of the timeout, the Lakers bring it up the length of the court with Kobe, who comes off a soft screen from Odom then tries basically the same thing he did last time, driving into the paint. This time it was Fisher slipping down a little on the arc and while Felton wasn’t as fooled it didn’t matter. Fish drained the three. He’s solid like that. Somebody should write a post about that guy.

:14, 93-93: No timeout from Larry Brown, which I like. Yes there is a game on the line and the Bobcats are in the playoff hunt at the bottom of the East, but this is still a chance for a team to learn. They know what works, let them give it a shot. However, I somehow doubt what Brown had hoped to see was an 18-foot Felton fadeaway. Maybe next time they do better, because Felton misses.

From there it’s OT. Then another. And I didn’t enjoy the second one as much.