Last night I started to break down a section of the game where the Lakers looked particularly inept (there were several options to choose from) but stopped after about a minute of game time.
I wasn’t really learning anything, and I’m not sure that we didn’t all know what was going on: Luke Walton tried but he cannot contain Brandon Roy, and he got little help behind him; Lamar Odom walked away from the bench and his rebounding responsibilities; you have to close out hard on the Blazers three point shooters, especially when they are hot, and the Lakers chose to continue to protect the paint; the Lakers tried to take Aldridge out of the game early and the other Blazers stepped up (see last comment about Lakers rotations); the Lakers did not establish Gasol on offense inside, and Gasol had an off night; when things stared going bad the offense stopped moving and guys were waiting for Kobe Nova. That’s a long list, but all things that focus and game planning could easily fix.
We’ve said it before this season, there are games like this. And we can write a certain amount of those off as what happens when the owners want to play a full 82 for their pocketbooks (same with the players who get a percentage of the income).
But that time is quickly starting to come to an end. There are 19 games left in the season, and the last 20 are when teams need to start gearing up their intensity and focus for the playoffs. For the last three road games, the Lakers have not done that. It is far too early to panic, but it is now a pattern to watch — just like the bench looking lost — because now is when you start to see championship teams build for postseason runs.
So I’m not freaking out about the worst loss of the year. But the timing got my attention, and some patterns need to start changing. Phil, Kobe, the entire team knows this, and they have five weeks to fix it. That’s a lot of time, but now is when the work begins. Another performance like this on April 4 back in Portland and I’ll be a lot more worried.
Regarding the Ariza foul: First things first, I am glad to hear that Rudy Fernandez is fine. That is what is most important.
I am also happy to hear Ariza is not suspended, although I would not have defended him with the vigor I tried to do Bynum. The reason to me is Bynum came from the side on a late rotation, but within the peripheral vision of Wallace. Ariza came from behind. Yes, he got ball, but he also got the head and arms of an airborn player. If he had been suspended, I could have lived with that. But what makes me happy is again the league is looking at the intent and not the result. Nobody (at least outside of Portland, and mostly not there) thinks Ariza was trying to injure Fernandez. It was a hard foul, but those are part of the game. Suspensions should be saved for those whose have some intent in their actions, and that is not Ariza.
No way the Lakers are a dirty team, as some will start to say today. But I think Matt is right at Hardwood Paroxysms, they can be reckless at times.
Also, Odom likely will get suspended. The league is strict on the leaving the bench rule, and the players have to know that. Odom lost his focus. But we’ve said that a lot for four games.
Thanks to Henry at TrueHoop for the kind words — and he was right, you guys rocked last night. Very reasonable and thought out reactions to what happened with the Fernandez incident, and the game. You guys and gals rock. You make this spot fun for me.
Henry, I think, missed one point. It was a very emotional game — for Blazers fans and the team. They (rightfully) still hate LA and regard us as an evil empire. A blowout win over the Lakers is cathartic for them in the way that the regular season wins this year over Boston were cathartic for us. But right now, while this rivalry with Portland is starting to warm up again for us, this is sort of a one-sided thing. This is not a huge deal, the game against the Spurs Thursday will be a bigger rivalry feel for us. Nothing personal, but rivalries come out of the playoffs, and it’s been a while since LA and Portland had to battle it out in the post season. That time is coming again in the next few years, but right now it is not. Sorry, just isn’t. The Lakers game is circled on the calender everywhere they go, and we fans are sort of just used to it now.
And now, a few other links for your enjoyment.
• Jordan Farmar on the weirdest motivational tactic Phil Jackson used on him.
“Well it was my rookie year when I wasn’t playing much. I ate a hamburger at halftime because I was starving. I wasn’t playing, I wasn’t getting any minutes. So I didn’t think..it had been like ten or twelve games where I didn’t see the court. And he saw me eat the hamburger, he fined me, he got mad at me. It was a close game up in Seattle and he put me in and said I hope you blow it.”
• Brilliant video of Kobe talking strategy — how to get your shot off, how to play defense, and the like. Great stuff. (Note to Time/Brightcove, join the times and make your videos available for embed.)
• Great column about Pau’s value to the Lakers.
• Wow, if I were in the East I would not want to face a D-Wade team in the first round.
• If we set it up somewhere online, would people be up for a no-cash FB&G March Madness pool?