Preview & Chat: The Phoenix Suns

Kurt —  March 1, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers vs Phoenix Suns in Los Angeles
Records: Lakers 48-11 (1st in West) Suns 33-25 (9th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114 (1st in league) Suns 112 (4th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.3 (6th in league) Suns 109.9 (21st in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Suns Steve Nash, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Shaq

Second Verse Not The Same As the First: I don’t think this Sunday contest is going to look like the Thursday night blowout win the Lakers had.

The main reason is, I expect Steve Nash will play (although he is officially a game time decision). Thursday, without Nash, nobody was making good entry passes to Shaq in the post, and that really limits his game (especially at this point in his career). That changed against the soft front line of Toronto, and I expect that with Nash back he knows he needs to get the Big Whatever-He-Is-This-Week involved early. The Gasol/Shaq matchup is an interesting one in that neither can handle the other on the defensive end if things are going well, so help defense will be important.

Second, the Suns running game Thursday night was helter skelter, with Nash it will have focus. Nash, with his great vision (years of soccer I think helped this) and one-handed quick passes was built to run this system. He gets to the person who hustles to the right spot, and the result when teammates are rewarded for hustle is that they do it.

The other thing that always amazed me about Nash was his ability to keep his dribble going. He never seems to give it up until it is the time for the right pass. He sort of reminds me in ways of Wayne Gretzky, who used to do things that would seem counter intuitive with and without the puck, until the play fully developed and suddenly you realized he was five seconds ahead of everyone else in his mind and was already in the right spot to make the play/pass.

Finally, and I think this has a lot to do with all the close road games the Lakers have had lately — teams don’t roll over at home. Get up by 15 or so early at Staples Center and teams suddenly begin to wonder if it’s just going to be one of those nights, their eyes glaze over and the sudden step back in effort makes the blowout a self-fulfilling prophesy. But not at a team’s home court. There, they don’t want to be embarrassed. They will fight back. Throw in the national television game and I can promise that the Suns will not roll over.

The year Kobe and Nash entered the league: The 1996 draft had a lot of quality, and a lot of it dropped down the board. Allen Iverson was #1 overall, Marcus Camby went second, with Shareef Abdur-Rahim third. But keep going down and you find Marbury fourth and Ray Allen fifth.

Kobe fell all the way to 13, drafted by Charlotte and instantly traded to the Lakers. Right after Kobe was Peja Stojakovic. He was followed by Steve Nash to Phoenix at 15. A guy the Lakers may have to deal with later, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, was taken 20th The Lakers used their first-round pick at 24 to pick up Derek Fisher.

Nash went on to be the lowest-drafted player ever to win the MVP.

Keys To The Game: Here’s the numbers: Since Gentry took over as the Suns coach their offensive efficiency from 108.9 to 120.8 points per 100 possessions (much better than the league-leading Lakers). The problem is their defense went from giving up 107.9 per 100 to 112.9. As was noted before the last game, the Suns have stopped playing much defense and just want to outscore you. That’s a tough thing to do against a Lakers team that can score with anyone, and that’s what happened Thursday.

We’ve talked in the past about giving Chris Paul the “Steve Nash Treatment” so I suppose we have to give it to Nash if he plays. The bottom line is that while Nash can shoot, you’d rather have him doing that then passing and getting his teammates involved. When everyone is involved and running, that is when the Suns can outscore you.

The Lakers had success running on the tepid Suns transition defense, they need to do that, but not get sucked into the pace — if nothing is there, pull out and run the offense.

When the Suns go small, punish them with Odom and Gasol and Powell. The Lakers are a bigger and my experience on the playground is that the bigger team often wins. Control the boards, crash the offensive glass. Also pressure Dragic and he will turn the ball over, we’ve seen that.

The Suns are overmatched against the Lakers. This is a game the Lakers should win, but it will not be a piece of cake like the Thursday effort.

Where you can watch: 12:30 start on ABC.

Kurt

Posts

202 responses to Preview & Chat: The Phoenix Suns

  1. This will be a great experiment to see if our bench’s struggles are purely mental. We have a great control in the game last Thursday, where the bench played exceedingly well and really dominated Phoenix’s second line. If they have another great game, we’ll know that they’re generally playing the wrong type of basketball, and will greatly benefit from playing a much faster pace than they normally do. If they have another terrible game, we’ll know that most of their issues probably stem from lack of confidence on the road, as well as youthful dependence on one’s home crowd.

  2. It will be interesting to see how the Lakers keep Shaq out of the paint. Pau doesn’t have enough bulk to do it. The key is the pressure on the ball by the perimeter guys to make entry passes more difficult and a second interior defender helping with the ssz. If Barnes and/or Hill get hot with the corner 3s, we could face some difficulty. But on the other hand, with Nash, bad Phoenix D becomes even worse. I would love to see a lot of PNR with Kobe and Pau in a close game. Otherwise, we should keep Odom moving in triangle to get him lay ups and dunks.

    I don’t think we’ll have fatigue problem today like we did in Denver. We can’t shoot worse than 29%, can we?

  3. I don’t think we should talk about the Lakers’ youth on the 2nd unit. They all – except Powell – have been to a finals and are no longer virgins.

    The comments in earlier threads, that the 2nd unit needs a dominant big man to work around in the half-court game seems right on. We need someone who will take control and that is why I would support Bynum, not Lamar, being the guy on the 2nd unit. What I really hope is that Powell might become that person for now – I know, just wishful thinking.

  4. I thought Mbenga was reasonably effective against Shaq the other night, and I hope we’ll see some quality minutes from him today.

    I like the second unit a lot more when they are running and pressing, and Farmar plays a big role in both. But lately when they’ve had to run out of a halfcourt set it’s been abysmal — no more luxury of having two of Odom/Gasol/Bynum on the floor at all times. At this point I’m hoping for a Powell renaissance in that role as well.

  5. the one good thing about our loss last Friday night is that the team will have some extra motivation today. look for a pretty intense and focused effort.
    I concur, Mbenga! might be a good match up against Shaq, only because he has the bulk, and with the martial arts background, can use his strength to keep Shaq from camping out under the hoop.

  6. Is it just me or is this post lacking a title?

    Not meaning to nitpick, just curious as to if there might be something wrong with my browser or something.

  7. I was gone for the last game…but now back again…
    if i only had a wheelchair…

  8. Phoenix is definitely going to come out more focused, but we will as well after Friday’s debacle.

    And on another note, Detroit is showing life against Boston. 77-70 lead going into the fourth. Shows how much of a mistake it was to bench Hamilton.

  9. I think it was more a result of the absence of Iverson that it was the starting of Hamilton the past two games.

    Their ball movement just seems much more fluid without A.I. in the lineup.

  10. It’s going to be difficult today – from what I’m seeing during the Boston game, Pau and Lamar are wearing elastic handcuffs.

  11. to be quite frank, our bench need to show up today.

    phx bench is so thin…thats where we should win the game

  12. j. d. hastings March 1, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Let’s just hope Sun found the In-n-Out alright last night.

  13. it seems like boston is going to lose to detroit.

  14. hey kaifa, pardon my ignorance but what do you mean by pau and lamar wearing elastic handcuffs because of what your watching in the boston game

  15. bob, I am with ya…
    what does that mean?

  16. I realize that it makes absolutely no sense now. They showed Pau and Lamar warming up with the trainers and they had these elastic bands attached to their arms and legs for core strenghtening exercises. Looked funny, but I guess you had to be there.

  17. Although it does sound like a good thing to say about a guy not shooting well – “he’s wearing elastic handcuffs today…” ;)

  18. Got it…

  19. Pistons have won: In boston, In Orlando, In La.

    they’re kinda like Indy

  20. The Celts lose! Marbury did not do much, except for turning the ball over

  21. The Dude Abides March 1, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Nash not playing today. Let’s hope the guys bear down and put up another W and stay three games ahead of Boston in the loss column. I’d like to see if DJ can stay with Shaq again. Anyway, from the looks of things, the Suns are definitely not going to roll over today.

  22. Link, please?

  23. We are giving up way too many rebounds to guys that are not even that good in rebounding (Dudley, Barbosa, Hill, Barnes, Amundsom each have an offensive rebound). Shaquille has one as well

  24. Interesting how much he made the guys run before playing phoenix on the road…
    not the game you would want your team fatigued for.

  25. Matt Barnes has made two ridiculous 3s. And Louis Amundson looks like an offensive force out there. Aaaagh! Very frustrating.

    On the positive note, Trevor Ariza has begun filling up the stat sheet (3 assists and a steal in less than 2 minutes)

  26. three terrible defensive plays in a row by sasha…

  27. im already getting really angry

  28. All Lakers players in the negatives for the +/- while the Suns are all positive, not a good begining.

  29. And all of this without Shaq having big numbers so far. We are getting beat by the likes of Barbosa, Barnes and Hill. Where is Kobe?

  30. Whoever said that our bench mob was the best in the league must have gotten something wrong. Some were even suggesting that Lakers bench would make the playoffs in the East. The way our bench has played last few weeks I am surprised Phil has not changed something, anything, so far

  31. The Dude Abides March 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I wonder if it will occur sometime today to Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy that there is a basketball game going on between the Lakers and the Suns, and they are supposed to be announcing it.

  32. im starting to wonder how this myth about us having one of the best benches in the league has come from

  33. Ugh, this is a game where no Bynum really hurts. The Suns can drive at will on the break because there’s no one anchoring the paint. As for our bench, their transition defense is awful.

  34. A line-up of Kobe, Vujacic, Powell, Mbenga and Ariza doesn’t exactly spell good ball movement. Sometimes I’m wondering why Phil Jackson, without the luxury of Lamar on the second unit, doesn’t change the rotation to keep at least two starters on the floor at all times and sub the bench guys in to fit around those two starters.

  35. Get Mbenga out of there! I do not care who plays in his place, but get him out of there. He can not comprehend the basic fundamentals of basketball like passing and setting screens without fouling

  36. why would mbenga follow shaw AROUND a screen taking himself out of the lane? what the hell is that?

  37. The Dude Abides March 1, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Ugly game for DJ so far. Mihm-esque. However, you can say the same about the rest of the team today except for Kobe and Pau.

  38. *i mean shaq

  39. I cannot stand Mark Jackson. Has he even heard of defensive efficiency?

  40. Our guys really look like a bunch of corpses. Yes, Boston lost, but there is not space to relax just yet. I really hope we get some additional big (who is available/eligible?). God forbid, if something happens to Gasol/Odom our dominance is done

  41. really no fun to watch today.
    I agree that sasha is just a waste of space out therre today,

  42. the best big available is joe smith (who we have no chance of getting) and then, well, Chris Mihm.

    Maybe Drew Gooden gets bought out but he is injured.

  43. Phil was right in that mic’d up portion of that last time out. The Lakers are being reactive to every scenario and not dictating anything to the Suns. We are not slowing the ball in transition, we are not denying passing lanes; we’re letting the Suns players move where they want and pass to the players they want. We are only succeeding when they miss or mess up, not by making them make mistakes or forcing misses.

  44. Also, you MUST make Shaq turn baseline and not roll to the middle. If we’re going to double Shaq, it should come from the middle OR Mbenga needs to overplay the middle and then we can bring the double from the baseline. The way we’re doing it now, Shaq is just going away from the double team by sweeping to the middle…that makes the double team pointelss.

  45. How do we give up defensive rebounds to Jared Dudley? This is beyond my comprehension.

    And to make things worse we are slowly entering foul trouble territory (LO and Luke with 3, Pau and Ariza with 2)

  46. I havent watched one minute of the game today….I knew the Lakers would get their butts handed to them, the Suns arent going to get sweeped 4-0 in the season series to the lakers, they need to win this game

  47. I think Sasha was on John Hollinger’s “Fluke Rule” candidates before the start of the year. I am sorry to say it seems he was right.

  48. Matt,

    Hollinger’s “Fluke Rule” only applies to players age 28 or above.

  49. Maybe I did run them too hard in practice yesterday like they spoke about in the interview

  50. You’re right, checked the article. He wasn’t a fluke rule guy, but his shooting percentage jump did put him in the “field goal fluke category.”

  51. One way to slow the Suns down is to turn the ball handler in the open court. Easier said than done, I know, but when Barbosa gets a head of steam he’s going to beat every single player we have up court. This breaks down the integrity of our defense before it even gets set and leads to wide open threes and offensive rebounding chances because no one has found a man due to the fact that they’re in scramble mode.

    We can address all of this by being a little more methodical on offense, but even that won’t help if we let the ball handler sprint up court and we don’t even try to guard him until the 3pt. line. We can easily make a run though. All we need to do is force the Suns to make more than one pass against a set defense. Can we do it?

  52. I agree with many of the comments. However, saying that Andrew Bynum is the answer is plain wrong. Andrew will help a great deal, that is true. BUT…the problems we are all witnessing stem from a lack of concentration on the offensive end and a lack of commitment to defense. With or without Bynum, those things will end up haunting us if not corrected soon.

  53. Games like this make me very sad that I moved to the US and discovered basketball for the 04-05 season. Shaq’s brief flashes of “hey, I’m not old and decrepit yet!” makes me wish I had a chance to see him play when he was younger and really had all that mobility and athleticism that I hear people attribute to him when he was younger. I really wish I had had a chance to see that.

  54. So what is the better draft class: 1984, 1996, 2003, or maybe… 2008?

  55. The bench play is really starting to concern me. Only Ariza is a consistent contributor, and his offense is very hit or miss. Compare that to Boston who is getting help every game from House and Powe, and seem to get something from everyone else that plays.

    The bench folded in the finals last year, and at this rate I see no reason to think anything will be different this year. Hopefully if Bynum come back strong that will change things.

  56. The bench is still young and inconsistent enough that they need a strong veteran to give them direction. They didn’t have this problem before Bynum got injured… a.k.a. back when Odom came off he bench.

  57. Stop! Kobe time!

    Did I really just see the Lakers close out on a shooter not once, not twice, but thrice on one possession?

  58. Look at the difference when the Suns face a set defense. We can force misses and then run it back at them. We need to keep it up though.

  59. Is anybody else anoyed by the music ABC uses? It not that those are all bad songs, but do they even have tracks released after 1990? The only one I liked was “Don’t sweat the technique” on those Fav Five segments.

  60. We are so lucky that a.) we have Kobe.
    and b.) we never have to face Kobe as an opponent!

  61. Kobe being Kobe. No way he’ll ever let Shaq beat him this season.

  62. Yes! Great hustle on both ends! There is that energy I’ve been missing…!

  63. WOW! We are back! Preps to our coaching stuff for sorting things out and “screaming” at people

  64. I think Kobe wants to show Shaq that he can score 40+ anytime he he wants…

    He is so competitive….just like MJ!

  65. We need the rest of the guys to join Kobe at the party. They’re doing their part on defense and on the glass, but they’ve also got to hit a couple of shots to extend this run. Kobe has brought us back, but the other guys have to build on this.

  66. I love Kobe rubbing the ball in richardson’s face before blowing by him

  67. kobe is unbelievable, but why did it take so long so attack shaq from the weakside when he puts it on the floor

  68. Kobe might have fractured a tooth? Has anyone every played so well with so many nagging injuries?

  69. hahah 12-0 run after u took the lead by 5….terrible…

  70. Yeah, the rest of the team really need to join the battle by now… or when Kobe sits, the Suns will grab a 15-point lead. At least.

  71. Time to start running our sets again…

  72. Matt Barnes’ range is ridiculous

  73. The defense rests (again).

  74. maybe kobe can stay in for the beginning of the fourth this game…i dont wanna lose two in a row

  75. why cant we rely on anyone but kobe and gasol

  76. Sasha is in, hopefully the machine has fixed his engine cause it hasnt been working well

  77. Was that Sasha getting a rebound???

  78. why dont we just play morrison instead of sasha, hes a better shooter

  79. Sasha with the open looks and can’t knock it down. *sigh*

  80. #79,
    He also has a porn stash and the Emperor Ming beard. We all know that is an unbeatable combination.

    Okay, maybe not. But how much worse can it get?

  81. I never thought I’d say this, but this is where the Lakers miss the Space Cadet. He would have drilled a lot of these open 3s.

  82. vlade trade not looking so good now, we need someone who can make open threess

  83. The ending of the quarter must have really pissed PJax off. It was a high school level defense on the last play

  84. said it before and I’ll say it again, sasha is a waste of space these days

  85. Lots of game left.

  86. It’s tough to win any game where 90% of our offense is coming from two players. No one has done anything effectively on offense besides Kobe and Gasol. We’re also falling in love with the three point shot and we’re shooting it quite poorly. Unless we start moving the ball and getting some looks within our offense, this game won’t end well for us. Kobe heroics and Gasol’s inside game will only take us so far today, we need some contributions from other players (especially Sasha, Ariza, and Luke as those guys are going to get open looks).

  87. Wow. Life from our bench. Three straight threes.

  88. Someone rejuvenated the bench…? I nominate Powell for getting credit for that. :)

  89. im speechless

  90. sasha vujacic March 1, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    my nickname, the machine, implies consistency.
    that is not true. I am not consistent

  91. I am well aware that we might still win this game, in fact I still believe that we will, but the effort of some of our players is just ridiculous. Kobe Bryant should get into Sasha, Luke and Jordan’s face and let them have it.

    Those guys are getting paid big money to play with their hearts for 15-20 minutes per day. They are not expected to dominate or score in bunches. All they have to do is carry out coaches instructions and play with intensity. They can’t do even that.

    All the talk about how Laker’s future is bright is just hyped up poop. Our best players are Kobe, Pau, Odom and FIsh and those guys are not 20-25. The only bright spots we have are Bynum and Ariza, and even they have not proven themselves. So, instead of salivating as fans about how great Lakers are to be, I think we should start getting concerned about the fact that we do not really have a consistent role player on the team

  92. And of course, they immediately start making 3s…

  93. I’d love to see Farmar become more responsible with handling the ball.

  94. shaq is still a beast

  95. Another FT rebound given up…

  96. Is this team still better without Andrew Bynum???

  97. Ooookay…. you do not let a guy get the rebound from his own freethrow. Not even Shaq. Especially not Shaq.

    And that’s five on Lamar. That’s going to be interesting.

  98. anyone think farmar is a space cadet candidate

  99. What a weak 6th foul.

  100. Ouch. Lamar out on a ticky-tack foul.

  101. Phoenix:

    1) Does not have a real PG in this game
    2) Plays undersized SF at PF spot
    3) Relies on the defense and offense of a 37 year old man
    4) Loves to shoot threes at all times
    5) plays with a bench of Amundson, Dragic and Dudley
    6) has no one that can defend Kobe

    yet somehow they are up against an almighty Lakers. Do not get me wrong, I as much a fan as anyone out there, but if we play like this against a team without Nash and Stoudemire, how in our right mind can we think of Spurs, Celtics and Cavs of this world?

  102. 100 – Yes. I’d like to add the referee who just called that foul on Lamar as another space cadet candidate.

  103. Time for another “oookay”, I feel :)

    Once you get past the age of 20, it takes 48 hours or so to recover from a night with little or no sleep. Personally, I can barely manage my deskjob on the second day after an insomnia attack. These guys came in to Denver at 4am on Friday, they didn’t get a lot of sleep and not good sleep, they had to play that night and they then had to travel back to Phoenix again, had to attend practice, and still haven’t had a chance to relax and sleep in their own beds.

    Sleep deprivation does things to your thinking ability, not to mention coordination and reflexes, and suddenly you foul a lot more than usual, for example. Lamar with six, Kobe with four…

  104. I know Kobe made it, but I really hope he doesn’t take that shot again. OK, he took it again.

  105. kobe is leading our team in points and boards…he has double what anyone else has

  106. When my previous comment makes it past moderation, I’d like to add tat Kobe might be an exception to my sleep-deprivation theory. I’m still not sure No 24 even is fully human… he if anyone is at least part machine.

  107. 103

    Remind me, what were the scores when the Lakers played Boston and Cleveland this season?

  108. As great as Kobe has been on offense, he is also turning into a poor defender when it comes to closing out on shooters. He just gave Jason Richardson an easy lane to the hole…can’t blame Ariza on that.

  109. Kobe vs. Shaq!

    It’s a showdown to the wire.

    I wish Chick Hearn were alive to see this

  110. #109:

    Dec 25, Boston @ LA, W, 92-83
    Jan 19, Cleveland @ LA, W, 105-88
    Feb 5, @ Boston, W, OT, 110-109
    Feb 8, @ Cleveland, W, 101-91

  111. WTF Fisher?! Seriously wtf?

  112. exactly.

  113. We win this game by 4

  114. Lakers just cant get stops :(

  115. Mark Jackson: “If I’m the Suns I’m slowing the game down”

    Mark Jackson 2 minutes later: “The Suns are playing too slow right now”

  116. Finally, Kobe taking it to Shaq inside. If we had done this from the beginning Shaq would be on the bench with 6 fouls by now. There is still lots of time.

    As for Lakers wins over Celts and Cavs, they were great indeed and I enjoyed them sincerely. I am not criticizing the Lakers or talking down their brilliance. I just hate the fact that our bench mob has no sense of concentration and dedication.

  117. These last two games have been uninspired.

  118. Five fouls on Shaq. Take it inside.

  119. We have no one who can actually stop Shaw right now. Challenge him, yes, stop him, no. So get him a sixth!

  120. If Kobe drives, there is a much better chance of something good happening. (shaq fouls out, kobe free throws, kobe bucket, pau tip in)

  121. Mimsy, I don’t think Brian Shaw is all that unstoppable.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    Anyway, I’d like to see Pau try to take a charge on Shaq. He’s not stopping him, so he might as well try something new.

  122. Time to play some defense!

  123. Crap. Gasol with five fouls. If he goes out, then it’s going to be Kobe the rest of the game.

  124. Hehe. I blame a combination of long nails, wet nail polish, and a small keyboard on this laptop… it makes typing a bit of a challenge :D

    Agreed on Pau too. He has been slowing down Shaq, but the most effective stop and hard foul on him (Shaq that is), came from Sasha… which in a way makes sense. Sasha is feisty and vicious in a way Pau never really comes close to.

  125. Ouch, back breaker.

  126. Matt Barnes is ridiculous tonight

  127. Who else is embarrassed right now?

  128. Matt Barnes is playing like an All-Star. :(

  129. Unless we have a ridiculous Kobe episode, this looks gone.

  130. shocking, bad shot by fisher, stupid mistakes by walton

  131. Welcome to the 2007 flashback with the Pau Gasol remix.

  132. We had such a good advantage in the loss column and then we hand it back these last two games.

  133. 44 seconds, Shaq fouled out, seven point deficit. Meh.

  134. WOW, we got a break with Shaq’s offensive foul

  135. I think it’s just about over now.

  136. oooooo crap… that was a bad call too. Crap.

  137. when we need shaq in the game he fouls out lol

  138. Fellow fans: the media is over-hyping us again. We’re no better than last year and maybe a tad worse. Remember at season’s beginning when we were playing defense? What happened? And I’m tired of the over-reliance on Kobe again. What’s happened to Sasha? How about Farmar? These guys represent the best bench in the NBA? No way! We NEED AB back to even think about going for the title. Lamar as a 6th man is what made us special this year. We’ve lost that edge, I’m afraid.

  139. jaygold,

    Stop thinking that one loss when we played flat means that the world is over. The Celtics lost to the Clippers a few days ago. Doesn’t mean that the world is over for them either.

  140. Bynum loss is hurting us now and this is exactly what i said would happen. We would play great without him for awhile, but it would catch up to us, and it is starting to, we cant stop teams from getting in the paint, and we got no bynum.

  141. Here is a prayer that Kobe produces some insane 30 second performance that will be remembered for years to come (ala T-Mac vs Spurs couple of years ago)

  142. Phoenix is really determined to keep this game alive.

  143. I just noticed that if we lose this game we’ll have 12 losses this season. That is almost half as many as the Suns! That is horrible! unacceptable! Terrible!

    Oh, wait. Is this that “bigger picture” that I keep hearing about?

  144. Ariza has 9 pts, 5 rebs, 4 ast and 4 stls. That is why he has played 29 minutes more than Sasha (11) and Farmar (13) combined!

  145. Meh, all we need is Cleveland losing to Atlanta and we’ll have upset Sunday.

  146. And it’s a warp ladies and gentlemen! Good day/night to everyone!!!

  147. I don’t think we should jump off the cliff yet. We stumbled. It happens. Every team has a bad stretch. To say we NEED Andrew to win doesn’t make sense-we went to the finals last year and took the celtics to 6 games.
    Yes, the bench hasn’t looked good. But, we played with this group minus Trevor last year and came within 2 games of winning.

  148. Ah crap.. lost again =\

    No worries.. we’ve been here before anyway.

  149. Technically we don’t need Andrew to win… he wasn’t in the games I listed in comment 112 above. Having him improves us, but he’s not necessary for a win. He just makes it easier.

  150. No we need Andrew, not having him hurts our defense too much

  151. Just another road loss. Shaq is back…

  152. the refs didn’t help, they essentially took LO out of this game.
    but Sasha and Farmar didn’t help either, they both seem to have their heads in some other place than the game, Farmar takes too many chances, and Sasha has a mental problem now, he’s thinking too much, thus no rhythm to his shots.
    but the least he could do is some lock doen D, but even there, he seems to be phoning it in.
    shame on him, making $5M/yr, and not giving us his all!

  153. The bench will find their groove by the playoffs. With Bynum coming off the pine to anchor the Mob, we’ll be very solid.

    Today’s game was certainly a trap. Most of our players fell into it. It happens– what I like is that PJ allows his players to make their own mistakes, even take a loss, if it means they’ll be more ready for the Playoffs

  154. That was an embarrassing loss. We played D for about 3 minutes in the beginning of the third quarter, and that was it. There was zero rhythm, awful shot selection, and poor basic basketball decisions. The starters except for Kobe gave no effort. Fish did nothing – actually he was worse than nothing, jacked up awful three’s and played lackadaisical defense. Good things happened every time Kobe drove, yet he took contested 26 footers. How did LO foul out? Shaq fouled out, but he committed at least 10 blatant fouls before that, 5 at least no brainers with the off arm.
    The suns played horribly, didn’t hit free throws, turned the ball over repeatedly, and we still lost. They’re a subpar team. That was so frustrating to watch.

  155. when Powell and DJ are getting serious minutes then we have to reevluate how good our bench really is. that combined with Sasha and Farmer really not play well (esp Sasha). Luckily for us bench play is less important in the playoffs but this must concern the laker staff

  156. huge gap in FT shots.
    suns were a +22 in free throws tonight

  157. oh man its starting to look as if we overpaid sasha in resigning him. i hope we dont make the same mistake for trevor / lamar

  158. Not the way I wanted to start my day (8:46 am, Monday).

  159. Every weekday Dwyer over at Ball Don’t Lie does a “Behind the Boxscore” where he gives some pretty good insight about the games of the previous day. However, in today’s game, the boxscore actually tells most of the story. Take a look right here.

    Kobe and Gasol shot 30-56 from the field and 16-16 from the line. The rest of the team shot 12-38 from the field(including 5-17 from three) and 3-4 from the line. Where is the production from our other players? The fact is, as a *team* we played poorly. Fish, Luke, LO, Sasha, Farmar, Ariza, Powell were (essentially) MIA. When *all* of your role players play poorly, you will lose. You need at least 1-2 other players to do something, and today it didn’t happen. Is it the end of the world? No. Is it a microcosm of our season? Again, no. But it is a recent trend that will need to work itself out soon. Many will point to Bynum’s return as a single act that will turn this around. And while that will help, it’s still the responsibility of the players, as individuals, to step up their games.

    There has been a lot of talk lately about Phil and the bench and questions about why he’s not keeping them on a tighter leash and getting them out of the game when they’re not performing. All I can say to that is that Phil trusts the players to play well. If they don’t play well, he’ll let them play through it until it’s completely obvious that a change needs to be made or until it’s time for the starters to come back in as part of the regular substitution pattern. This may frustrate people, but I think Phil is actually acting in a manner that is indicative of the idea that in the long run (for a player’s confidence) it helps a player more to have a consistent role in every game than it does to pull them out when they’re playing poorly and let them play when they’re doing well.

    Also, RadMan’s trade was brought up earlier and I think that’s a solid point. I do think that Rad was at least another bullet in the chamber that Phil could fire to help our 3point shooting. I also think that while Rad was not playing much before the trade, he was at least a player that had experienced success with us in the past and thus could be put into the game with some expectation and template for performance (as inconsistent as that performance may have been). Morrison and Brown do not have that same history with us and are thus not even trusted to enter a game that is not a blowout or for a very specific reason. Essentially we are not as deep as we once were. Do I think we’re losing because of this? No, and I don’t think anyone else does either. I just thought I’d mention it.

    One last point. I really love Ariza. I think his ability to defend and create running opportunties for the team while also finishing in the lane in both the half court and on the break are a big help to this team. But, I’d like to point out that besides an uptick in his shooting in January, his shooting % has fallen every month this season. And while I think it’s a good thing that he’s improved his jumpshot, he still should not be taking as many as he is. When you’re shooting 33% from three, I don’t think 32% of your shots should be taken from there. Compare that to Luke (34% from three, 22% shots taken from that distance) and Lamar (31% from three, 14% shots taken from that distance). Like I said, I love Ariza, but if he’s going to be a strong defender, but at the same time on offense be a guy that has no inbetween to his game (either a finish at the rim or spotty 3 point shooting) then I’m not sure what his long term future is. I mean, people rag on Walton all the time, but his offensive game is undoubtedly way more diverse than Trevor’s and he finds ways to contribute on offense besides putting the ball in the basket (screens, passing, movement, etc). Basically, I think we need to start seeing a bit more from Trevor on offense or I might not mind seeing us grab another player of his ilk for less money (if Ariza’s tag is too high). This is where I should also point out that Sasha really is struggling….He’s shooting 35% from 3point range this season and he shot 44%(!!!!) from that range last season. That is not just a small drop. Not when 58% of your shots come from that distance. In the end, all I’m saying is that Ariza needs to play to his strengths more and Sasha needs to regain some of what he had last season. We’ll need strong performances from these guys in the playoffs.

  160. This is NBA, not your rec league. Every team has talent and when teams play with pride and passion, that team will most likely win. Today, Suns came out with determination after being humiliated in LA three days ago. When Matt Barnes and Grant Hill play like Scottie Pippen in his prime, and Shaq comes out as an active player, Suns can be very difficult to beat. In addition, our bench has struggled on the road. When only 2/5 of our starters break double figures in scoring, it’s hard for us to win against good teams in NBA. Suns have talent. They may not have Amare and Nash playing right now, but Shaq has ability to make role players like Barbosa, Hill, and Barnes play very effectively. Although Kobe scored 49 points, it took him 38 shots to do it! 38 shots! Unless Kobe was firing on all cylinders like shooting 18 of 24 or something. There’s no way we were going to beat the Suns today. But let’s not get down on our team just yet. I’m sure we could have used Bynum today just to make Shaq expend more energy on D as well as making it tougher for him to get position, but the Lakers are still the team to beat right now. Do I wish that they would win every single game? Yes, but not at the expense of burning themselves out in the regular season. We still have more work to do, especially improving our bench consistency and defensive focus. If we improve these two points before the playoff begins, we should be alright. That’s all we can ask for at this stage of the season any way since there will be no more roster changes.

  161. 163. I have to strongly second Darius’s comments, especially about the team missing Radmanovic.

    Valde is shooting 40% from 3pt range over the last 10 games with the Bobcats and that probably makes up for his widely acknowledged defensive weaknesses(counterpart PER is 18 with the bobcats).

    Over last 10 games Lakers 3pt%=31%, down significantly from 37% for the season.

    I believe that young bench players will be high beta than starters, so coaches need to be able to pick a choose between hot shooters and cold shooters. Trading Radmanovic to save on 2010 luxury taxes takes one extra bit of redundancy out of a stable championship caliber team.

  162. and i even felt like phoenix would get a good whipping from a determined laker team. determined but maybe out of steam? don’t know.

    i second the point stating that though bynum is not a prerequisite to statement victories, or even supposed chip in like this one, HE IS NEEDED (am i refuting myself here?) right now we are tired and this turned out to be a backburning stretch but we still have an awesome winning record so i am not panicking and all. we haven’t lost three straight so i think something is looking up.

    back to bynum yes we need his post presence. even his PRESENCE can be enough in these tight games that WE OUGHT TO WIN. shaq had his way and man is he back. we need his boards (no matter how erratic they are in stats) and his pounding it to the lesser defender and giving our aura of dominance back. that aura means a lot.

    our bench had a better showing and i am praying they are on the upside of a downswing curve that happens even to the best of teams.

    i admire kobe for games like this, tired and all and still, showing for 49. man he still has that flare in him and that’s why he should be attacking more in the absence of drew. i recall again how we stuck in games because of his consistent trooping to the line. THIS GAME CALLED FOR IT. nice work too pau. lamar we need you. this was phoenix and you shine against this team! fisher. nothing need be said. about vlade, i don’t think his absence can be that significant but yes it still hurts in close encounter.

    big picture: we are playing for homecourt all throughout which may actually help a lot because this team can look lost when tired. we are playing for the trophy. no let downs to ill-equipped teams. imagine if amare and nash were here. phoenix is turning it up for that last playoff run.

    Lakers regroup and demolish the next team on sched. What’s that team? GO LAKERS!

  163. Well, we knew we were gonna miss the option of having Vladdy, but I won’t really say that his presence would have made a difference. It ‘could’ have, sure, but we weren’t really sure what we were going to get from him.

    As for PJ letting the bench play… I think it has the added benefit of shutting them up if they pine for more play time so he can have them sit on the pine without them becoming cancerous. They can’t say PJ didn’t give them a shot, at least.

  164. 167/8. The disparity was relatively large:
    – PF: lakers 32 to suns 19
    – FT: lakers 20 to suns 42
    … but to me that means that we really miss Bynum defending/attacking in the paint.

    The points in the paint differential was 64 to 48, which explains why Barnes & Barbosa drew so many FTAs, despite our relatively low FTA/FGA average over the season.

  165. Darius, I think the root of the problem is not the % of shots taken from 3, but the running of the offense before a shot is taken. When Sasha or Ariza get in-rhythm, 3rd or 4th pass shots off of a double team or overplay, their percentage increases dramatically. However, lately Ariza has added the jab step, then pull back three since teams play off him so much. This is terribly off-rhythm and hard for him to hit. He should be cutting and taking advantage of the off-balance D. Sasha has been taking shots off the dribble with one screen and one pass. They’re OK shots, shots he could definitely make – but ones that could be pulled back with time on the shot clock and create a better one. Kobe has a huge tendency to do this too, as well as Fish. And that is really the curse of their shooting abilities. The grey area shots that are semi-contested are hard to pull back from since they’re such great shooters. The Spurs actually do a much better job of this shot selection. They always milk the clock for the best shot even when an OK one is available. We like to play up-tempo, but that should mean only when we’re at an advantage, not taking bad shots or even OK ones. Don’t get me wrong, for the majority of the season we pass and move beautifully before shooting, but there are some nights when we just want to take shortcuts and it’s hard to swallow when the shots aren’t falling.

  166. Don,
    In essence, I think we agree. I too believe that there are good types of 3point shots that all our wing players take and furthermore believe that there are posessions where taking a 3 is inevitable based off ball movement and the execution of our sets. However, I still believe (like you point out with Ariza taking 3’s where he’s holding the ball and jab stepping or when he’s seemingly deciding on driving or passing or shooting) that our players do need to play to their strengths. For guys like Kobe or Fish or even Sasha (our shooters) I am more willing to give some leeway in how these shots come to fruition because they have proven to be more reliable long distance shooters (if not this season, than in seasons past). However, with Ariza (like with Luke and Lamar) I do believe that better shot selection needs to be shown and that is reflective in the % of the time that these shots are made while also considering how often they are taken. There have been many times where we’ve commented about Odom taking bad 3’s or Luke not playing to his strengths, but these are things that I think they’ve corrected for the most part. They’re taking more shots inside, taking a step inside the line and shooting, or moving the ball when a shot that isn’t as good a look for them is presented (though there are situations like at the end of the shot or game clock where it can’t be avoided). My point is, we should be asking the same thing of Ariza and we have not been. We seem to be completely comfortable with him shooting these shots. Believe me, I love seeing him make these shots and I was one calling for him to improve this aspect of his game (which he has). However, it is still not a *strength* of his game and I’d like to see him be more selective and move the ball a little more (or play to his strengths by driving). Or I’d like to see him round out his game more so he can go to other skills in order to help the team when his jumper is not falling (ie a little post up game or a mid-range jumper).

    Like I said earlier, this offense will inevitably lead to 3point shots being taken, however I’d like to see the players that hit them with the most frequency take them the most. And if you’re a player that has an open 3 and it’s not your strength that you’ll do something else to help the team in that instance (pass, drive and shoot, drive and create for someone else, etc).

  167. hey guys, that was certainly a tough loss to an inferior team, but if the hawks can hold on here at least we won’t have lost ground in the race for HCA.

  168. Darius,
    I was working so I didn’t see the game,but it seems to me if a team scores 111 points in regulation and loses,the offense isn’t the problem.

  169. DAMN cavs win

  170. The Lakers defense just didn’t show in this game. Suns were able to score quick points off of made baskets. That should never happen along with Shaq getting his own rebound off his missed free throw, then dunks it. Though Lakers like to force their opponents baseline, the Lakers allow them to drive baseline far too easily.

    As for Ariza shooting the 3, I don’t mind him shooting the 3 as along as its a wide open shot. He along with Odom and Walton get into trouble when they pass up a wide open shot for a pump and a drive. Result is usually a turnover or they end shooting a worse shot.

  171. Stephen,
    Sure, I see that logic. However, when 79 of those points come from 2 players and no other player is in double figures then I think the story changes some. Believe me, our lack of defense was a major factor in the loss. We didn’t defend Shaq well (obvious by his point total), but we also let the Suns get way too many easy baskets, we fouled too much, and we let Barnes get a few too many plays that just fed his overall good feeling and increased his productivity. So there is plenty criticism to go around in all aspects of the game. I was talking about our offense, though, because no one else came to the party and it really did hurt us. Earlier during the game (in the 3rd quarter) Kobe was in classic form what we really needed was another player (besides Pau) to make a shot. And it didn’t happen. So when Kobe missed a couple of shots in a row, and subsequently went back to the bench our guys didn’t do enough to extend the lead, then didn’t do anything to stay even with the Suns, and then didn’t do enough to make a comeback a reality. They did have one nice run of 2 threes from Trevor and another from Sasha, but after that the well went dry. I’m really just looking for better execution more consistency.

  172. Is anyone else as nervous as me? Jordan and Sascha look terrible. I feel that Vlad’s outside shooting, although not consistent, is missed.

  173. All Sasha can do is shoot from the outside, if he isnt shooting well he really doesnt give us anything. I agree with a comment from above. Sasha just seems like he cant ever get into a good rhythm. Too many of his 3’s are contested or are off the dribble it seems. Though he has missed a lot of open shots as well, which tells me he has lost confidence in his shot. We are really gonna need his 3 point shooting to come around when the playoffs hit.

  174. I’m sorry, but did you guys watch the same game that I did? We saw 3 of their guys go off for one of their best games of the season, together (Barnes, Hill, Shaq), while only 2 of our 12 guys were really on their game. And yet we’re crying that the season is lost? That we’ll never beat certain teams in the playoffs? Do you realize we beat this team by 30 just 5 days ago? Yes, there are things we can improve on, but that’s always the case, in both victory and defeat. So when their team plays one of their best games of the season, and we play one of our worst, what’s there to whine about? Basketball is a game of statistics, and everything regresses to the mean eventually. If we play Phoenix 10 times, I’d be willing to bet we’d win 8, but there’s still 2 times when we’ll lose. This was one of those games.

    Our bench is going through a collective slump, similar to what Boston’s has in the past. Eddie House was shooting a terrible percentage to start the season, now he’s shooting like 50% on threes since the new year. Big Baby Davis had one of the worst shooting percentages in the entire league at the start of the season, now he’s doing just fine. Our percentages will bounce back as long as we continue to run the same sets and take the same shots. If statistics tells us anything, it’s that we’re happy to get our shooting slump out of the way now, as we’ll happily progress to the mean when we’re in the playoffs trying to win a title, not in some meaningless regular season game.

    This was a very good learning experience for our bench. Mbenga and Powell made a number of mistakes, but we need them to learn and improve in order to be impact players during the playoffs (if Bynum doesn’t return/doesn’t return to form). The only way to accomplish this is to give them burn and to let them make mistakes. As a teacher, one of the most difficult skills to learn is to allow one’s students to struggle; without the struggle, not only do the students become numb to the joy of solving problems, but the answers are less salient to them because they are less meaningful. Our young guys, Sasha, Jordan, Josh, Trevor, are all going through this, and they’ll learn from the mistakes made along the way.

  175. LO really has to play smarter and stay on the floor. He is really indispensable on defense, especially when we don’t have Drew to erase mistakes inside.

  176. Well, the last time we lost two games in row, we went and crushed Cleveland at home, so I’m not that worried.

    On the subject of our bench, they really can’t run a half-court offense. Not having Odom really hurts them. Not always having Bynum or Gasol on the floor with Odom also hurts. While our bench is going through a cold spell now though, let’s not pass judgment until we get Bynum back and see how it goes.

  177. please guys, I’m begging you: no more whining about the refs– I feel like i’m on celtics blog. of course the suns shot more FTs than we did– shaq was constantly fouled and they had better (more aggressive) penetration.

    I must say that, unlike the Den game, this one makes me nervous– not because we lost to a Phoenix team that played so well (how many times will Barnes shoot like that in his career?), but because our role players continue to miss wide open looks ESPECIALLY ON THE ROAD, thus allowing teams to focus on Kobe down the stretch. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? In this regard, I join the chorus about losing Radman, although I still think it was the right move if it gives the Lakers a chance at resigning LO and Trevor.

  178. Also, does anyone here have any idea why, if the lakers are down by 6 points, kobe behaves as if we’re down by 60 and jacks up one three pointer after another.

    infuriating.

    it’s as if, by virtue of him shooting us back into the game, he has a license to shoot us out of it as well. can’t believe phil puts up with that crap, esp. given how well gasol played in the first half (i.e., when he touched the ball).

  179. This game was all about the Suns making the playoffs–and specifically the play of Shaq O’Neil. Shaq made nearly every shot, more than his usual # of freethrows, and more than his usual number of minutes. When he did miss two free throws, he broke in, stole the rebound, and stuffed it home. His interior helped Matt Barnes to have one of his best games ever–especially his three point baskets. Phoenix made baskets out of two stolen inbounds passes, and forced a number of turnovers that led to breakaways, or passes that beat the Laker transition defense.

    Although there are many critical comments about Sasha on this thread, he was actually +4 on the night–and 2 for 4 from the 3 point line.

    Lamar Odom was the Laker player who apparently has become human again. His lack of point productivity kept the pressure on Kobe, Pau, and the rest of the Laker team–and he fouled out in the 4th when the Lakers still could have won.

    Maybe we’ll get to play the Suns again still this season?

  180. Zephid…

    you hit the nail on the head.

  181. Shoulda ran the hackashaq even though Shaq was making free throws. It might of slowed down some of the other hot players on the suns team.

  182. I think when you get blown out like the suns did a couple days ago, you get extra motivation to get revenge. Today, shaq put the team on his shoulders and steam-rolled their way to a win. I think as the lakers got called for more fouls trying to stop the shaq-machine, they got less aggressive and more apprehensive on defense.

    i’m not too concerned about the lakers, the bench showed some promise during the beginning of the fourth quarter by making a couple three pointers. Hopefully they can regain some confidence in the next couple of games.

  183. Darius,

    Love your insight, but boy do you have a lot of time on your hands! Amazing….

  184. #187. Ha. Today was a Lakers day. I wish my time could have been spent watching and talking about a win, though.

  185. D, I don’t think we will ever see PJ do the hack-a-Shaq ever, he has said he does not like it. Maybe it has something to do with the ethics of pro basketball or something.

  186. drrayeye,
    I agree about Odom. We definitely needed more from him today. When you look at our starters, we only needed one to perform up to their normal standards to help us win and not one could do it. And with LO playing so well lately, it was a real letdown that his performance was so poor. BTW, I know that the 5th and 6th fouls were obviously tough calls, but (like the announcers mentioned) it was his 4th foul that really hurt the team. We were on a run and right when he went out, it stopped. It’s not like our run was built on anything that he was doing per se (though his defense was pretty good during that run) and it could have just been a coincidence, but it did work out that way. What made that foul even worse for me was that it was only committed because of Kobe’s foul on Grant Hill that wasn’t called. Kobe reached around on Hill as Grant dribbled by him and hit him right on the arm causing a little mishandle of the ball and Grant kind of stumbled (Van Gundy even said “That’s a FOUL on Kobe!”). Hill then caromed right into LO and it was a foul that had to be called. But if the ref would have called Kobe’s foul, Odom never would have been subbed out with his 4th foul. Just the way things went today though.

  187. maybe trading Vladmir will be this teams downfall… Noone left that can crank wide open threes with any consistancy in a triangle offense doesnt look good.

  188. Vlads shooting was very consistant just not the rest of his game, he’s probably the best three point shooter in the game next to Peja and Kapono.

  189. We should mine Eastern Europe for another three-point specialist. Ours are failing. With the ex-Soviet satellite states falling faster than Iverson, we could probably pick up one on the cheap. Almost every east European player around shoots the outside ball. Even seven-footers like Nesterovich.

  190. Zephid, besides Odom, who coming off our bench is really all that good? Farmar is overrated and is a bad defender, Sasha hasnt shot the ball well all year, Powell has potential but still has ways to go. Also, Lamar still worries me. You never know with him. To me hes inconsistent. Its not a defnite fact come playoff time that he will be able to continually produce these big numbers. Ariza is another guy, I love his energy and hustle and he can make big plays, but the dude is about sloppy and disorganized as they come. Ok I am being to harsh, according to the numbers we got one of the best benches in the league, but for the reasons i mentioned, it is easy to worry a bit.

  191. Without Odom, the bench lacks a unifying presence to take command for them. That and a run of bad confidence are doing them in. These are role guys who are starting to step out of that role and try to do more things, and the result is not pretty. But don’t expect them to suddenly do all these things they never did and complain about it. Those things were masked with better talents with them in the second unit, and will be again.

  192. The Dude Abides March 2, 2009 at 5:02 am

    Personally, I’m not really worried about how we’ve played the last two games. Our bench was abysmal, but they play better when they’re energized, and these two road games had brutal travel situations. I think if this game had been a night game, we would have pulled it out. The second unit will automatically play better when Andrew comes back and is paired with LO and/or Pau.

    One thing that we’ll undoubtedly try in the playoffs if the Suns miraculously manage the 8th spot will be the Kobe/Pau and Kobe/Drew pick and roll. If we do that on several consecutive possessions, it should not only be successful (Shaq is a notoriously poor PnR defender), but it will also tire him out and hurt his offense.

  193. None of these losses bug me too much. the Lakers haven’t really had a slump all season so one is to be expected and even though they played bad in both games they still were able to have second half leads. that said I think losses sting more because we only have 12 of them so each one is magnified. Sometimes you just have to sit back and think about our 40+ loss season from a few years ago and even remember last year when we had 25 losses and it will temper some of your sadness.

    With that, I think the Lakers have to perfect week coming up, to iron out their problems. They have two home games vs. sub par competition (mem and min) and four practice/rest days before we hit the road for a tough road trip that I’m predicting a 2-1 record for.

    Go Lakers.

  194. Joe, do tell, who has a better bench than us? Which team has that gritty, tough bench that you so desire which brings it every night, dominates every other teams second unit, and goes 5 deep? I think you’re having delusions of grandeur; our bench has not been playing well, but I challenge you to find a bench more talented than ours.

    As I stated before, our players do have weaknesses, but you’re severely overstating them. Did you watch Farmar’s first game back against San Antonio, when he shot 5-7 for 14 points in 17 minutes? How about 5 days ago when he shot 5-10 for 12 points, along with 5 assists and 6 rebounds? And I’m confounded by all the “Jordan plays terrible defense” comments. Since he came back, Jordan has been playing excellent D, funneling all the attacking guards into our Strong Side Zone. You really could not ask more of him defensively these past few weeks. To borrow from Dennis Green, he is who we thought he is: A speedy point guard who can run the team for short stretches and play good defense within the system.

    As for Sasha, yes he’s in a slump, but that was to be expected coming in to this season. Yet, his horrendous February can be balanced out by a torrid December, so his mean shooting percentage is probably somewhere around 34-35%. It’s not good, but it’s not as horrible as we’ve seen of late. However, shooting is a normally distributed random variable, so for every low, we can expect a high. He is simply shooting below his mean recently, and our recent memories dictate to us that he is a terrible shooter.

    And any of you saying that we miss Vlade’s shooting are kidding yourselves. Remember how inconsistent Vlade was? One night he would go 4-4, next night he would go 1-6. Please don’t go desiring only that which is not in your possession. We have one of the best teams in the league, and when healthy, I firmly believe we’re one of the best teams ever. Don’t go negating everything they’ve accomplished by losing hope over a couple of games in an 82 game season.

  195. I’m not worried about that loss at all. Shaq was great, but those games are few and far in between, but even if they were consistent, what are the chances of Matt Barnes and Grant Hill killing us like that again? Plus, no one but Pau and Kobe giving us a lot?

    Joe,

    If the Lakers win it all, how could you enjoy it, when you have done nothing but doubt them all year? It’s impossible.

  196. The Dude Abides March 2, 2009 at 11:50 am

    “After Shaquille O’Neal scored 45 against Toronto on Friday, Raptors star Chris Bosh said O’Neal had benefited from officials ignoring his three-second lane violations. ‘I heard what Chris Bosh said, and that’s strong words coming from the RuPaul of big men,’ O’Neal said.
    /pwned

  197. I’m glad Shaq isn’t going out ala Hakeem or P.Ewing. He is a proud guy and pride can push people to do things you wouldn’t expect. If Phoenix gets in the playoffs they will be interesting. However, I just don’t see them making it unless the Mavs lose Dirk or NO losses CP3.

    As far as the Lakers-I still think Sasha and Jordan don’t play well together. Sasha’s best spell this year was when Jordan was out and he was playing quasi-PG. As for Trevor, he needs to re-establish his minimalistic approach to offense. Latley he has been using his dribble for now apparent purpose and has been far to willing to fire up the 3 ball. I think he must make a concerted effort to attacking the rim, or moving the ball and cutting. This maximizes his abilities.

  198. Kwame,
    I agree with everything you just said. Perfect.

    I think what we’re seeing with the performance of Trevor has a lot to do with Bynum being out. It’s not so much that those two played so well together, but it’s the player groupings that Trevor now finds himself with. Trevor used to play almost all his minutes with Kobe, Odom, and usually Gasol. Now he’s playing less and less with those players and playing more and more with Sasha and Powell. Kobe and Gasol (and Odom somewhat) create shots for players. Sasha and Powell do not. Ariza is at his best when he’s cutting from the weakside and finishing at the rim. Now, more and more frequently no one is drawing the defense away from Trevor (or our other players) that enables them to play in more space or get the types of looks that they excel at. Getting Bynum back will help not only because of his production, but because it will reestablish our player rotations and put our old player groupings together.

  199. ric bucher mentioned on the SVP show (see daily dime on espn) that that joe smith going to cleaveland may not be a done deal.. and that the lakers are making a strong bid for BOTH smith n gooden.. front court depth is always good.. esp w/bynum out and gasol averaging close to 40 mins a game recently.. not sure how much that will change since neither are true centers..

    either could fill the frontcourt void (like PJ brown did for the celts) if bynum doesn’t come back..

  200. 201. I am leaving this up in an old thread because this is a major news source making the report, but Bucher’s track record of knowing what is happening with the Lakers front office is not a good one. Remember how he said Kobe would never play for the Lakers again?