Preview & Chat: The Chicago Bulls

Kurt —  March 21, 2009

Heat-Bulls
Records: Lakers 54-13 (1st in the West) Bulls 32-37 (8th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.8 (1st in league) Bulls 107.3 (18th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (6th in league) Bulls 108.4 (17th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Bulls Derrick Rose, Ben Gordom, John Salmons, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah

Watching the Tournament: I am a rather sad 89th in the FB&G NCAA Tournament pool after a rough second day, and my Midwest bracket is a disaster. Congrats to irielakerfan10 (March Moustache Madness) who leads after the first round of play.

I like to watch games and think about guys at the next level, specifically guys on my team. It’s far too early to say who the Lakers will take with a pick at the bottom of the first rounds, private workouts have not started and there will be a lot of movement on the draft board. But, you can get an idea of the guys available at the end of the first round.

DraftExpress (the best of the draft sites, for my money) has the Lakers taking Tyler Hansbrough, which is not an idea I love. I’m not sure how well his game will transfer to the next level, I’d rather take on a good athlete but a bit of a project. Still, there are some interesting names at picks 25-30: Jerome Jordan (Tulsa), Darren Collison (UCLA), Chase Budinger (Arizona), Hansbrough (UNC) and Damion James (Texas). Just a couple guys to watch.

The Lakers coming in: Two quick thoughts on Phil Jackson’s update on Andrew Bynum’s return at some point next month, at which time he needs to play his way into shape.

One, if I wanted to take the pressure off a kid working out to get back, which watching his team struggle without him, I’d say exactly what Jackson did. You don’t want Bynum to rush back too fast, and you want your team to focus on the now and not be looking for the Cavalry to come charging over the hill. PJ did both those things.

Second is something Eric Pincus once told me that is dead true around the league: Coaches are the worst place to get injury updates. They are out of that loop. They have so much on their plate, dealing with game plans and practices and travel, that they have no time to fantasize about players they don’t have on the active roster (except Larry Brown, apparently). Coaches get their injury status updates second or third hand, often, and they are simply not very reliable sources on these things.

The Bulls Coming In: Another game in the “with this roster they should have a better record” series. Because to me, the Bulls still have a lot of talent — Rose will lead the way, but guys like Thomas and Deng and Hinrich can be very good, athletic pieces of a puzzle The Bulls just haven’t figured out how to put it all together yet.

The Bulls also seem to have made out well in their trade with the Kings at the deadline. Here is Matt from By the Horns talking about Salmons and Brad Miller (both of whom had some good games against the Lakers when they were in SacTown) after the Bulls beat OKC:

Like John Salmons, who followed up his 38-point effort against the Celtics with 20 points on 8-for-15 from the field (which gives him 82 points in his last three games). I have to tell you, Salmons is better than I thought he was. Since he arrived from Sacramento, he’s averaging more points on fewer shot attempts (and 50 percent shooting), he’s rebounding a little better and his PER has jumped from 16.1 to 18.5.

Speaking of former Kings who are better than I thought, how about Brad Miller? Last night he chipped in 14 points, 6 boards and a team-high 5 assists off the bench. And yeah, his numbers are up since his relocation to Chicago, but with Brad it’s more about those little intangibles. Like the way he manages to come up with key offensive rebounds (he had four of them last night). Or how he manages to get to the hoop. How does he do that? Seriously, Brad Miller couldn’t outrun a park bench, but somehow he gets his shambling bulk to the front of the rim. I guess you could call that veteran savvy.

The Bulls have a lot of pieces, but I just don’t se the overarching plan of what kind of team they are trying to be. With all the athleticism on this team, they should not be middle of the pack in both offense and defense in the league. They should be excelling at something.

Keys To The Game: The Bulls are 17-12 against the West this season. Just putting it out there to say this is no gimmee.

There is nobody on the Bulls that can stop Gasol and his host of moves, no matter how tired he is right now. The Bulls have struggled to defend the four and the five all season, The Lakers need to establish Gasol early, as always. The second unit needs to use him. I feel like I write variations of that sentence every game, but it’s in hopes of actually seeing it some day.

The Lakers need to control the paint on both ends. On defense, they need to not let Rose just get to the rim, because he can both finish and set up those athletic wings from there. Force him to be a jump shooter, he is average to cold if you can force him out of the middle of the floor and get him shooting from the wings (he will kill you from the free throw line with jumpers, if you let him. With Noah in the lineup, the Lakers can afford to help off him, but when Brad Miller enters the game it is more problematic, he is the type of big with a midrange game that really hurts the Lakers defensive rotations.

The Bulls are one of the worst defensive rebounding teams in the league, Gasol and Odom should get a lot of second-chance points tonight.

Where you can watch: 5:30 start time for those of us in LA, with KCAL 9 doing the broadcast, or WGN if you want to the Bulls announcers.

Kurt

Posts

178 responses to Preview & Chat: The Chicago Bulls

  1. First Comment!
    Goin to the game tonight at the United Center…rockin the purple kb24 jersey.

    can’t wait.

  2. I think the Lake show should take Taj Gibson.

  3. Odds on how many second half shots Gasol gets? I’m at 4 right now. With 12-14 in the first half.

    But seriously I am hoping they continue to work that angle this game the entire game. Pau is by far our most effecient scorer.

    And I like that point about PJ speaking about Bynum. Savvy coach he is.

  4. lolsaangkeleesr March 21, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I thought the Lakers 2009 pick was traded to Memphis for Gasol…

    or was that 2008?

  5. 4. they have a pick this year. I don’t think they have a pick next year though. I think it was a 2008 and 2010 pick in the Gasol trade.

  6. I’m going to the game tonight too!

    Something to recognize too…the Bulls have been playing VERY WELL at home of late. They’ve won 7 in a row, including wins over the Celtics, Magic, Hornets, Rockets and Nuggets. The Lakers will definitely need to earn this one tonight.

  7. the lakers need to draft a player for another team n trade him away. No space or money for rookies on this roster.

  8. Kurt, for sure the Bulls are no gimme. In fact, I’d venture there are no gimmes left on the schedule. The Lakers are playing like they are out on their feet at this point in the season. Not a critique, just an observation. An observation that the season is too long for sustained quality play by anybody, really.

  9. 1 – Argh I’m jealous, I almost had tickets to this game. I am still determined to see Kobe live before he retires, though.

    GREAT article on Lamar carried over from the last thread in case some people didn’t see it, credit to Simon for sharing originally:
    http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1153359/1/index.htm

    7 – That’s probably true, but I always like surprising rookies. Mitch’s track record has shown he’s excellent at finding late 1st round or 2nd round gems. I’m a fan of Collison personally, and while I don’t like Budinger overall I think he might actually work in our system (in a reduced role). I would love if we could pick up another sharpshooter at the 2-3, this year has shown that when Sasha slumps (as he has throughout his entire career except for last year), we don’t have much spacing outside of Fish.

    I will note that in the limited minutes I’ve seen of him, Budinger reminds me a bit of Morrison. But maybe if he begins his career in a reduced role (and minus the injury) he can develop into a Kapono-lite? Maybe I’m reaching.

  10. Also, I’ve been skeptical of Hansborough from the start. But he might not be a bad pick if we temper our expectations. He’s a hustle player with a strong mentality who will do the dirty work. I can see him picking up the triangle well.

    Maybe it’s just me, but personally I am a firm, firm believer in those with great work ethics. Since I’ve heard how hard Hansborough works off the court to improve, my impression of him has risen. I believe players like that will find a home in the NBA.

    It’s an odd comparison, but at best he could turn into a less athletic version of Udonis Haslem. An undersized PF who works hard, knows the game, and does the little blue collar stuff (disclaimer: I don’t watch a lot of college hoops so if that comparison seems way off…that’s probably why)

  11. work ethic*

  12. Yusuf – That thinking will have your organization looking like the current Suns.

  13. #5 is correct. I could be mistaken, but I don’t believe you’re allowed to trade future 1st round picks in consecutive years. Hence why we have a pick this year, but not in the last draft and not in 2010.

    #7 has a point in that it’s hard to see any rookie playing a significant role on next year’s squad. However, we should heed the cautionary tale of Phoenix: after dealing or selling off five first-round picks in five years, the Suns are now left with an aging team and no young talent with which to re-load.

    Maybe we should follow the Spurs’ model, and draft a foreign talent that’s a few years away from coming over to the US?

  14. Snoopy2006. I actually see Hansborough as a more skilled Mark madsen. I don’t maybe I am down playing him a little there.

  15. *I wouldn’t mind any of the players on Kurt’s list of late round prospects. A shooter would be nice, but maybe Ammo can contribute in that role next season. Free agency will also play a role in who we target.

    *As for tonights game, if we help off Noah, we better be ready to rebound on our defensive glass ’cause he is one of the better per minute rebounders in the league.

    *Tonight will also be a test for our bench guards. The Bulls have a very good backcourt rotation in Rose/Gordon/Heinrich and Farmar/Sasha are going to find themselves matched up with starting caliber players. Here’s hoping they hold their own.

    *I’m also wondering if we see any cross matching tonight with Ariza on Rose, Fish on Gordon, and Kobe on Salmons. I also wonder in Del Negro puts Salmons on Kobe as John has done a decent job on Kobe over the years and Gordon is too small to combat Kobe in the post or contest his jumper on the wing.

  16. Villanova is killing UCLA. The best player on the floor has been the ENTIRE Villanova team. lol. UCLA is a bit young though.

  17. This should be a very close game tonight. If the Lakers smart and hold the Bulls under a 100, they should win.

  18. 14 – lol you read my mind. I guess I dropped it somewhere along the line, but my final line in that post was going to be, “At the very least, we’ve found a replacement for Mark Madsen. Assuming Hansborough can dance.”

    It’s definitely very possible, but I was just looking at Hansborough glass half-full and trying to see the possibilities.

  19. You guys are right abt the suns thing but where do u see a rookie fitting in? With the luxury tax a 3 year contract that is guaranteed doesn’t look too good. Especially if it’s a player that doesn’t crack the rotation. We complain about sasha, farmar and luke alot but do u see any late first rounders that can replace them in the second unit?

    Personally I don’t watch enough NCAA to know which players can help the lakers other then the few big names. If I had to draft a player with a late pick I’d go after an athletic swingman (6’6)who can hit an open shot. Do you kno any players that might fall to us that fit that mold?

  20. I will be interested to see how Fish/Farmar/Sasha handles Rose. We’ve been getting torched by opposing point guards for a handful of games now, and Rose has looked pretty explosive when I’ve watched him so far.

  21. Off topic, but great quote from Bobby Jackson in the Daily Dime:

    “If the economy doesn’t turn in two years, there’s definitely going to be a lockout, because everybody is taking a hit in this recession. The owners are definitely going to want to make some cutbacks and the players aren’t going to want to make the cutbacks. But I think we have to put our differences aside and say what’s best. And that’s playing this game and giving fans what they want and not being selfish.”

    I think it’s been said so often that it’s become cliched, but many of these players – who without the game of basketball would be holding down minimum wage jobs – are earning millions upon millions of dollars. For others, the recession means being out of a job and possibly a home – for NBA athletes, it means less than 20 cars in their garage. I have absolutely no sympathy for them whatsoever, if it comes to a lockout.

    Mainly, my biggest fear is that a full-year lockout will rob Kobe and this team of a solid title chance when Kobe doesn’t have many years left. That said, this talk is a bit premature, and I don’t honestly think (or maybe I’m hoping) it will come to a standoff.

  22. The Dude Abides March 21, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    I think the Lakers should pull a deception on the other top teams in the league and not work out Collison at all. Take long looks at guys like Budinger, Hansbrough, etc. Hopefully CLE takes a big, as they already have West, Gibson, and Mo Williams. Spurs already have George Hill. Maybe the Celtics can do what they always did in the 80s and take some random white dude who can shoot. Then the Lakers can surprise everyone and take Collison, who has blazing speed, excellent range on his jumper, and shoots FTs at a 90% clip. Farmar finishes better at the rim, but if Collison learns how to shoot a little runner a la Tony Parker and Isiah Thomas, look out.

  23. 22. The Dude Abides – This is literally all that I am going to say on the potential draft stuff, but I hope that Jonny Flynn leaves ‘Cuse this year (which is too soon) and slips to the end of the first round where we can get him. I think he’s going to be a hell of a point despite his lack of size.

  24. 9. Great article about Lamar. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Like I’ve been saying over the years, we need to start thinking on a replacement for Fish… And I like the all Lakers-UCLA connection thing… We should take Darren Collison if he is still available. At least he can do what Farmar does not! (note: he plays defense)

    If he’s not available, then take the UNC kid… He seems to have the heart to play the game ;)

  26. My worry tonight is that Kobe is matched up on Salmons. Kobe doesn’t respect him, and will dare him to shoot jumpers and drive to the hole. Lately Salmons has been hot and could get da Bulls out to an early lead.

  27. Re: draft

    I think Lakers will draft some foreign player – just to lower the next year salaries. We have nine guaranteed contracts for $74M. Plus Ariza or Odom (or both). Plus Powell or Mbenga. I don’t think we could find a player at #28-#30 who would be worth $830k. With the incoming salary squeeze in the NBA we should be able to find established player for similar salary.

  28. Does anyone think the Lakers-Spurs rivalry will one day be a thing of NBA lore, maybe 2nd only to Lakers-Celtics?

    I ask this because I’m rewatching a Lakers-Spurs game from earlier this year, and the thought crossed my mind.

    These 2 teams have featured the 3 best post-MJ players: Shaq, Duncan, Kobe. They’ve shared 7 titles, 6 (and counting) in 1 decade. They’ve met over and over again, and each battle has been fierce.

    It’s possible that one day – maybe 10, 20 years down the line – Lakers-Spurs might be the 2nd most talked about rivalry. Especially if these teams resurface again with new star players and new championship-caliber teams. Even if they meet in the WCF and not the biggest stage.

    If so, it’ll be awesome to have lived through the creation of a storied rivalry (as I never saw the 80s NBA).

  29. Snoopy,

    The biggest stage Lakers and Spurs can meet IS the WCF, they are in the same conference so it can not get bigger!

    I think next decade will be the rivalry of Lakers and Blazers (and there is plenty of bad blood in history between the two teams to spice things up). If Oden and Bynum ever reach their projected potential (big if) it will be the best big men rivalry, outside of Dwight Howard who resides in the East

  30. Any KCAL link for the game?

  31. Why do the Bulls still have the best player introductions in the league…still gives me chills

  32. 29 – lol that’s what I said: “Even if they meet in the WCF and not the biggest stage.” I don’t think a rivalry should be discarded just because it can’t meet on the Finals stage. That’s all I meant.

    Yeah the next decade will take on another rivalry. My money is on a Cavs-Heat rivalry in the East if the Heat can get their act together, because Lebron and Wade at their pinnacles, with contending teams, is just terrifying. Both of them elevate their teams so much that it will only take solid role players to keep each in contention (and maybe a borderline All-Star).

  33. The biggest question on my mind: if the game is close, will Vinny try to play some of his patented sideline defense? Will Phil retaliate?

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Video-Coach-Vinny-Del-Negro-plays-defense-on-?urn=nba,128768

  34. They’re not even trying to run the triangle…

  35. i dont particulary mind rose and thomas jumpers all game

  36. 35,

    Thomas, yes. Rose, no. You should have seen his 2nd half performance against OKC. He didn’t miss that shot.

  37. RE 2009,
    The Lakers only have 9 players signed for 09-assuming keep Yue. They need to carry 14.
    Even re-signing Lamar,Trevor and Powell leaves 2 roster spots to fill.
    I doubt the team will bring back both Shannon Brown and Didier Ilunga-Mbenga.

    A 28-30 First only gets @ $100,000 more than a vet min would get. The rookie can be stashed in the D-League,while the vet would be sitting on the bench getting no minutes. So he’d either be unhappy,or a player who has nothing to offer. Since there’s no real financial dif,you’re much better off going w/the draft pick.
    It’s hard to imagine who’d be willing to tradea future First for that late a First in a draft that’s not seen as deep. The Lakers could sell the pick,which would help the Buss’,but doesn’t do much for the team.

  38. Looks like Phil’s strategy to get Farmar back into gear is to play him with the starters. I like it, it’s a smart move – much better than benching him. This way he’s forced to run the offense, or else answer to Kobe, Lamar, Pau, and Ariza. The Zen Master at work again.

  39. Gasol been gettin fouled alot

  40. i dont hold much hope for this game unless kobe gets hot

  41. The Bulls aren’t going to shoot 65% for the game, it will tighten back up. My concern is more how the Lakers will play once we get to the fourth, which has been the big letdown quarter of late.

  42. The WGN announcers just said that the 2nd unit executes the triangle more than our starters. I like that they’re not homers, but there’s a lot to be said for being informed.

  43. Stacey King is clueless about the Lakers. According to him the second unit executes the offense better than the starters.

  44. Who is the bulls commentator talking about the second group executing the triangle better than the starters? He obviously didn’t do his homework or hasn’t watched a lakers game this season.

  45. We look completely out of sync. Did the team plane get in late last night?

    Gasol missing Walton on the pass, Farmar nearly missing Powell on a simple, un-pressured post entry pass. We look the complete opposite of sharp.

    Kobe in quicker than normal?

  46. Here is what I’m not liking about this second unit, beautifully illustrated on that last play. Pau’s pass out of the post is almost lost, but Walton saves it. Jordan throws a simple bounce pass to Josh who juggles it before regaining control… and then travels. Even what should be simple looks difficult (i.e. Jordan handing the ball over after he got the steal earlier)…

  47. I think Phil is planning to play Pau all 48 minutes tonight…

  48. I don’t think Farmar has made 2 good plays in a row this year…

  49. Can you say no defense for the Lakers. I have to agree with Stu, everything is to easy for the Bulls

  50. bulls shoot 71.4% ( 20/28)

  51. This is a hideous game. I’ve rarely seen us look this out of sorts. No attempt to run the offense. Lots of selfish shots. Lazy transition defense.

    We’ve had games where we’re down by more, but usually we’re still running some semblance of a team offense.

    Not trying to speculate on trades or anything, just pointing out that Hinrich would fit very well in our system. Defense, spacing, and high IQ, could pick up the triangle quickly.

  52. If you watch the bench closely, Ammo is usually the first one off the bench, and he even got up to cheer Kobe drawing the foul when no one else did. I like this kid.

  53. ive always been a big hinrich fan, i would love him at the lakers, our biggest problem aside from poor effort defensivly is that no one can penetrate even kobe

  54. Like I said, they’re not going to shoot 65% all game… They’re going to shoot 70% apparently. Seriously though, got to pick it up on defense (clearly) and try to actually run the offense. It’s been one pass and done for the most part, and that’s not going to trim the lead.

  55. 48

    I completely agree on Hinrich. Plus he has size and can play (and defend) both backcourt positions. He’s more of a triangle PG than a tradition one.

    When was the last time the Lakers created a really good shot? Everything seems to be a 3 or a contested fadeaway by Kobe.

  56. Bulls have been getting into the paint too easily. This has been the case lately with guards penetrating whenever they want and not paying for it when they get there. I was willing to forgive that against Golden State to a degree because that’s just what they do, but seeing it happen with the Sixers and now the Bulls has been disappointing…

  57. odom’s ability at missing layups always makes me go crazy

  58. all this gambling wont work all game but its helping at the mo

  59. Guys, feel free to covet Kirk, I do. I agree he’d be a good fit. But I’ll draw the line (and have deleted) proposed trade scenarios.

    Got home late and that was not the score I expected to see.

  60. These WGN announcers are fun to listen to. Not homerish at all.

  61. Salmons for MVP?

  62. Well, looks like the Lakers will have to show a little grit in order to win this one. Bulls were just insulted by the idea of missing, to be sure, but they were getting wayyyyyy too many open looks.

  63. Not only have Salmons and Rose been running riot, but Gordon has also missed a few open ones as well.

    The way this team has been playing at home, the Lakers needed an improved effort to have any chance of winning. It hasn’t happened. Too much dribble penetration being allowed, not enough transition or closeout defense, and too many contested jumpers on offense.

  64. Lets see what the second half has in store for us…

  65. Kobe’s a good shooter, but contested jumpshots are not the highest percentage shot, and will not get us back into this game.

    This Bulls team was the premier perimeter defensive team a few years back, and they’ve certainly gotten up for the Lakers, showing flashes of that defense. But a lot of our difficulties are just from bad timing and lazy passes.

  66. With or without Bulls running screens, we are letting guys into the lane again and again and help is often late.

    I’d like to see more out of our bigs. Pau has been working the post but not hitting his usual stride. Lamar hasn’t done much at all. The Bulls defense isn’t respecting Trevor (and is often mismatched against him) so I wouldn’t mind seeing him with more touches.

  67. Kirk Hinrich career averages:

    FG%: 42%; 3pt%: 38%; Rebounds: 3.5 rpg; Steals: 1.3 per game; Assists: 6.2; points: 13.9 ppg

    Height: 6’3″; Weight: 190

    Contract: $ 10,000,000

    [edited for trade talk]

  68. Top shooting guards: Kobe, Wade, Roy, Ginobili, Joe Johnson. Maybe Kevin Martin. After that, is John Salmons arguably the best 2 in the league? He’s inconsistent and not particularly efficient, but this season he seems to be playing unbelievably well, at his best looking like a Kobe-lite. Extra-lite, but still.

  69. Sad that the transition game has gotten us back in this, and not our triangle.

  70. Michael Redd, T-Mac and Vince Carter should be in the top 10 SGs of the league

  71. Salmons is really in a giant huddle of guys after those 5 or 6 shooting guards, so even if he is the best of them there is a good 5 or 6 more equal or better than he is. Ray Allen, Jason Richardson, Ben Gordon, etc.

  72. 67

    I’d still rank Carter, Allen, and maybe Hamilton over him, but he is a very talented player. He can do it all: penetrate, pull up, shoot the 3, defend, handle, and pass. A bit of a ballhog at times but when he’s this efficient you can live with that.

  73. the difference in this half so far is massive

  74. Plus he is, in my opinion, more of a 3 than a 2.

  75. Matt – thanks for knocking some sense back into me, I can’t believe I forgot Allen.

    It’s the way Salmons plays, though, that reminds me of Kobe. Similar styles of play, similar high-difficulty shots, similar penchant for isos.

  76. I don’t know if the Lakers will have to choose between him and Odom, but the Lakers have to lock up Ariza ASAP. When he’s hitting that jumper he’s a nightmare to deal with.

  77. This is painful to watch.

  78. i like Ariza I really do, but nobody in the league does what Lamar Odom does. A top 5 rebounder that can lead the fast break and even play above average defense. It’s much harder to find a Odom type player than Ariza. Hopefully they can keep both

  79. The offense has been resuscitated, but the defense is as bad as ever…

  80. missing free throws aint helping

  81. why is it that whenever Farmar comes in the game, they start playin horrible?

  82. Why does Kobe feel the need to jack up contested jumpers when better shots are available?

  83. I don’t like the way Kobe is playing on either end… then again if these jumpshots start falling I’ll enjoy the show.

  84. Cuz he’s tryin to be like Mike…what else?

  85. Now Stacey King calls Farmar ‘a very good defender’. Oh dear.

  86. 73 – I really hope it doesn’t come to that, but I still think Odom is indispensable. I want him re-signed first, and I do think he’ll be willing to take a pay cut.

    Rose’s explosion/athleticism sums up most of his game. He just blew by Kobe when Kobe was in lockdown mode.

    That said, Rose looks more like a passing Steve Francis than anything else. Maybe he’ll somewhat resemble Deron Williams with some seasoning. But a PG with the vision and pass-first ability of Chris Paul is truly once in a lifetime.

  87. 85 – lmao I’m watching this on mute, and now I’m kicking myself for missing that. Farmar will love playing in Chicago from now on.

  88. It won’t happen, but in the 4th I’d like to see more of the offense run through Trevor in the post or some other plays run for Trevor. He’s got smaller guys on him and he seems to be the most consistent guy on the floor for us today. Or is it just me?

  89. Wow, Farmar gets one charging call and he’s a great defender now? I’ll be right back while I go throw up…

  90. If Kobe is going to shade Rose on that play, Gasol needs to step forward on his rotation to take away the drive and to shut down the passing angle. Instead, Pau takes a lateral step and half heartedly contests the layup after Kobe bumped Rose. This is where our helping bigs need to do better. They let the penetrator come to them rather than stepping up and discouraging the shot.

  91. I really want to see more playing time for Sasha. A lot more. ‘Really’ italicized and bolded.

  92. Just 5 more field goal attempts from Kobe and that all but guarantees a loss for the lakers….Lakers never win whenever Kobe takes more than 25 shot attempts…I think they’ve only won 1 or 2 games this year when he’s jacked up 25 or more attempts….

  93. Wow, when was the last time the second unit ate away at another team’s lead?

  94. Hi Second-Unit, welcome back.

    IT’S RAINING IN CHICAGO TODAY.

  95. dont get carried away though, couple of lucky breaks in that sequence

  96. So you put Odom with the bench guys and they go on an 8-0 run and they look good. Coincidence?

  97. Odom seems to shoot 3’s more accurately when he steps into his shot than when he’s stationary. When he’s spotting up, he has a tendency to fade backwards, and that throws his balance off. Plus when he steps into it, he draws more power from his legs.

    Jaybird – you called it (kinda lol). Instead of Ariza, Walton’s in at the 3 and he’s punishing the smaller players in the post.

    That was one of the worst ran fast breaks…ever.

  98. 93

    I just checked his game logs and the Lakers have won 6 such games in February and March alone.

  99. man, we must be one of the worse fast break teams in the league

  100. 96 – I guess it just shows that our 2nd unit is meant to run. Odom provides a ball handler and pushes the tempo. Pau provides the ideal player to run the triangle through. If Odom really is better with the 2nd unit than Pau, then maybe we should stop trying to force them to run the triangle.

    Sasha off the catch and shoot. I just got chills. That felt exactly like last year.

  101. This unit is moving the ball well (no surprise Lamar and Luke are out there).

    Is it too early to say the machine has been repaired?

  102. This is the bench mob from November and December.

  103. Sasha’s shot has looked good in the last two games.

  104. This is the second unit that I remember.

  105. oh man sasha is back, i have to admit i would hate sasha if i played against him, another bad fast break

  106. I hate to say it, but please don’t bring kobe back in…all he’ll do is jack up shots

  107. 96. Kurt – Obviously no coincidence. Odom is the jack of all trades that really greases the wheel for them. That’s why he has to go back to the bench if Bynum gets healthy, no question.

  108. Second unit, welcome back!

  109. This is what the bench did last year…

  110. The bench tearing things up with Kobe and Pau resting – truly a sight for sore eyes=)

  111. what has happened to the bench, i dont believe it- brilliant

  112. Well its about time!! Finally the bench is coming through! What a beautiful thing to see…I hope Sasha keeps up the hot shooting

  113. I think I said it twice before, but I really like these commentators. They might not be that bright, but they really give the Lakers their due.

    Good to see Farmar and Powell discussing and not bickering….I think.

    The best news about Lamar playing so well with the 2nd unit = more rest for Pau.

  114. I really like this unit on the floor if Sasha can make shots.

  115. Sasha, Farmar, Walton going D’antoni on the Bulls! Playing with purpose. Finally! Beautiful. Confidence goes a long way. Hope this carries over.

  116. They are not running the offense much, but it is working. Then, they never really ran the offense much.

    Wait, did I just contradict a Bulls announcer?

  117. A Pau Shot Is Always A Good Shot. PERIOD

  118. lmao after that 24 second violation, Kobe turned to scream at the refs as usual, then realized he couldn’t legitimately complain about anything that, and put his head down and embarrasedly walked away

  119. Not sure why Phil brought Kobe and Gasol back in. Sure, I mean, they want to use the better players to secure a win, but the Second Unit has done nothing but good things since the beginning of the fourth.

    With Kobe and Pau back in, I’m pretty confident that the Lakers would in. However, wouldn’t letting the second unit procure the win be a major confidence boost? We were up by 8, what if Phil just calls a timeout if the Bulls somehow sneak by to within 5, and bring back in Kobe and Pau?

  120. Wow. Farmar got way up on that one.

  121. Farmar with the dunk!

  122. Farmar is makin me grin ear to ear

  123. Stop! Kobe time!

    120

    Farmar, Sasha, and Powell are still in the game. That’s almost the entire second unit.

  124. Wow. Rose ripping the ball down over Pau. The kid has got some strength.

  125. Kobe takes terrible shots, and then finally makes a three – I don’t know what to say…I still don;t like the contested jumpers…

  126. Farmar having this game is no surprise, I don’t think anyone should be too surprised. Talent has never been the question with him. It’s always been about consistency. If he plays a string of 9-10 games like this, then I’ll start to believe.

  127. 126

    If you don’t like contested jumpers, you must hate watching Kobe play.

  128. Whi is Kobe facing up on Hinrich, he could back him down much easier.

  129. LOL – I love these corny LifeAlert commercials – and I can’t wait to get a replica United Center at the next Bulls giveaway.

  130. Aaron – it’s the eternal frustration of being a Kobe fan. I know exactly how you feel. He’s so damn talented it seems like blasphemy to criticize him. But the bottom line is that the 09 version of this team, with our personnel (=Pau) and our system, there are far better shots to take than Kobe’s contested jumpers.

    People always go crazy when you constructively criticize Kobe, but it’s a fact that he often forces some shots when we could have gotten better ones within a team game.

  131. Joel – it’s tough to watch Kobe play sometimes, because I feel he could get much better shots but settles for jumpers, especially when he tries to pull us back into games. He’ll have a stretch when he’ll miss 3-4, and then make one in the face of the defender, like the Philly game.

  132. Gasol has ‘only’ played 35 minutes so far. Hey, at least he’s not in the 40s for once…

  133. Uh oh. Is Vinny’s sideline defense kicking in?

  134. 132

    Kobe’s game is like 80% jumpers now. He makes some, he misses some, but he doesn’t force as many as he used to. I don’t get too bothered about it unless it gets really ridiculous like the Philly game.

  135. 132 – I agree. People always remember the last shot if it goes in and say Kobe is clutch. But the bottom line is that he did go 1-4, didn’t he? If instead we had run the triangle through Pau, we might have gone 3-4 and not needed a clutch shot in that situation.

    I still love you, Mamba

  136. Someof Kobe’s shots are especially frustrating because he has a guy down low that can’t be single teamed (Pau Gasol) and unlike Shaq, Gasol can hit free throws.

  137. Part of me does think Kobe is cruising offensively with some of his shots and will start going to the basket more come playoff time…

  138. this is just the game we needed especially the bench

  139. I think this is the first time in a long while when a all of Farmar, Sasha, Walton, Powell and Mbenga finish with a positive +/-.

    LO leads the team in that category. no surprises there

  140. 136-That is why saying what J.A. Adande said in a chat recently, regarding Kobe’s clutchness, is silly-he gave a long list of clutch shots in the playoffs or in OT to win or tie games, which were certainly great shots, but there were probably a few shots he should not have taken that might have sealed the game earlier.

  141. i know kobe’s shot selection has been bad the last few games but he is having the best shooting percentage season of his carear yet people are saying that he;s shooting more jumpers that ever. Is that kobe’s cos his jumpers got better?

  142. Joel and Snoopy:

    Agreed. I wish Kobe would take it inside more, it’s sad watching him slowly becoming a more perimeter-oriented player, yet tonight he took it to the hoop more than usual. The jacking up of shots it tough too, since Pau catching the ball at the elbow can lead to a bucket 75% of the time it seems. He’s extremely efficient and a great passer.

    The hardest is when Kobe tries to win the game by himself, when like mentioned earlier, we have the players to run a more efficient offense. Yet Kobe will be Kobe, and like the Spurs series last year, when he can get any shot he wants, he’s a beauty to behold.

  143. I really hope Kobe is saving his body for the playoffs by not going to the basket.

    He should be going to the hoop at will

  144. It’s possible that Kobe will be more aggressive in the playoffs, although when Bynum comes back the paint will be awfully clouded.

    Part of me think the Finals last year changed Kobe’s philosophy a bit. For the first time Kobe came up against a defense that wouldn’t let him into the paint and forced him to shoot J’s. He said himself he worked on improving his jumper in the offseason. I think he’s changed his game so that he’s more reliant on the J, so when he has to revert to it against tough defenses he’ll be more ready.

  145. For all the abuse we heaped on Farmar the last few days he looked pretty good tonight. Clutch plays, good D and minimal turnovers. Sasha looked fired up too.

  146. Kobe is picking his spots as far as driving. He’s not Lebron or Wade, he’s got 8 more years of mileage on his legs and does not have the same first step that he used to have. Sure he still has the talent to drive every time down, but will that really be as efficient if he’s not getting a step on the defender and not drawing fouls? He’d rather use his jumper to make the defender take that extra step towards him or to get the defender off balance and then drive to the basket. If you notice, he uses his hesitation dribble more (where he feigns his jumper) to make the defender think the jumper is coming and then drives. He’s just a different player than he was 5 years ago. I don’t expect him to admit this or for anyone to say it until it’s completely obvious that he’s lost a step, but it’s what I see.

  147. When we were down by 8 at the start of the 4th quarter, where did we go for offense? Luke Walton in the post. Loved it. Now for some notes:

    1.) Could Kobe Bryant be a (*gasp*) volume scorer? He led the Lakers with 28 points, but also went 10-25 and 2-6 from three. We’ve seen a number of games like this where Kobe takes 25+ shots, leads the Lakers with 30+ points, but also shoots a subpar percentage. Interesting to look into.

    2.) For all the people who said to bury Farmar on the bench, where are you now? We would have lost this game without him, no question. He played about as solid defense against Derrick Rose as you can ask, and he had 3 huge jumpers in the 4th to bring it back to a tie.

    3.) Shannon Brown logged a mythical one billion, where he played 1 minute, with 0 FGA, 0 3PA, 0 FTA, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 0 turnovers, and 0 fouls.

    4.) Josh Powell still needs dunking practice.

  148. 143 – The “abuse” was for Farmar’s consistency, not his overall talent. At least I hope it was. We all know that he’ll have games like this. Can he do this throughout the entire road trip, and then be a reliable weapon in the playoffs? That’s the issue many of us have with Farmar (and Sasha).

  149. 144 – Part of the reason people don’t say it is 1) the media is slow-reacting, 2) the rabid breed of Laker fans jump on anyone who criticizes Kobe and most of all 3) Kobe is so good in every aspect of the game that it hasn’t decreased his general effectiveness.

    He’s so good at every facet of the game it just isn’t noticeable unless you watch closely. I didn’t realize it until I watched the 2001 Finals and saw just how differently he plays the game now.

    The media’s explanation is that he’s mastered the pulse of the game and picks his spots, the way MJ did. That may be true, but a big reason for that isn’t just maturity, but physical limitations. He can’t explode quite the way he used to, at least not every night over a long season.

  150. 143

    Exactly Darius. Kobe is 31 years old with about 40,000 minutes (regular season and playoffs) on his odometer. I don’t understand why people expect him to be as explosive a driver as he was during the threepeat years.

  151. Sorry should have been 147, not 144

  152. “Could Kobe Bryant be a (*gasp*) volume scorer?”

    Isn’t that what he’s always been? Not to the level of AI or Arenas obviously, but he’s had numerous games like that over the course of his career.

  153. Zephid,
    I’ve really liked how we’ve used the versatility of the players and the offense to get good looks from the post. We obviously have Kobe and Pau to work on the block but against the Mavs we posted up Fisher on Barrea, against the W’s we posted Odom on Maggette, and tonight we went to Luke against Salmons and Kirk. We’ve done it all year, but in most late game situations we still do rely on Kobe and Pau. So in these last couple games it’s been good to see us use the talent on the team and utilize other players’ strengths.

  154. 97 – I don’t know if it’s all Odom. Remember that road game in this same building last season (I think late 2007) when the bench scored 73 points? Maybe it’s these Bulls. Granted, some members of the Bench Mob has come and gone since then, but as far as I remember, it was also Farmar, Vujacic and Walton… maybe with Bynum, Evans and Turiaf?

    98 – Very astute observation about Odom’s three-point shooting. Now that I think about it, I completely agree.

    114 – Again, ditto that, Snoopy. Perhaps they’re even a little biased against their own team? Still though, fun to listen to, but not particularly knowledgeable.

    I think the argument could easily be made that this win is a better start to the trip than a full-scale blowout. Hopefully, the confidence instilled in the second unit will carry us through some tough moments later on.

  155. Darius,
    Another note about Kobe. He is not a really big individual, like Lebron. One of the things all the mileage has apparently taught him is that he doesn’t want to end up with the injury history of Dwayne Wade. The way to do that is to avoid being totally reckless all the time in going to the basket – especially if he has sharpened his jumpshooting skills. The fact that he doesn’t have the endurance to continue jumping out of the building for an entire game would also factor into this. If Kobe takes care of his body now he will play more years in the future. I think all that is maturity and an ability to better understand both yourself and the game.

  156. 131) Snoopy (and others),
    “But the bottom line is that the 09 version of this team, with our personnel (=Pau) and our system, there are far better shots to take than Kobe’s contested jumpers.”

    Absolutely, especially considering what an excellent passer Gasol is. And if Kobe would then move without the ball, he would end up with even easier shots.

  157. ^And one of the smallest ways this is exemplified is Kobe on the fastbreak. How often now will Kobe choosen to lay the ball on or gently dunk, barely grazing the rim, instead of one of his 360 tomahawks? He seems to play to conserve energy and minimize injury in all areas of the game. But most likely that will change come playoff time, especially in the later rounds.

  158. *choose. I really need to start proofreading these. I think I said ‘clouding the paint’ earlier

  159. Thoughts on the second unit.

    – This was one of the games where Phil put in a peculiar lineup (Lamar plus second unit, kind of a Bench Mob reunion) during crunch time at the start of the 4th, and it paid off hugely. (This is exactly the kind of lineup that Sunday-morning coaches love to pick on as “inexplicable Phil”.) Great to win the game AND give the second unit something to build on. Sasha and Farmar got a reward of late game run, and Fish got to rest.

    However, WHY did they win it? I don’t have the game tape here so I’m going on memory, but…

    – They did not excel at running the triangle, but were okay. In the half court I mainly remember them going into the post to Walton, running Sasha off of three screen curls into fading jumpers, or PnR around the 3 point line. But at least they were sharing the ball and reversing it.

    – They did not excel in the fast break but were okay. They did score a fair amount off of the break, or secondary breaks off trailing 3s, but there were some ugly ones in there.

    So what happened? In my memory, it was a combination of the team trapping and double teaming Rose off PnR and rotating *really well* (better communication out there); and the Bulls losing their composure and throwing some poor passes and other giveaways. They were probably a little lucky to hit as many 3s as they did and have the Bulls cough it up so much, but even without that, the game would have gone from 8-ish down to 5-ish up instead of 15-ish up.

    I wonder if Phil intentionally changed some of the second unit approach. It is a common Phil device to bring out the double teams in the 4th quarter when opponents can’t adjust quickly enough. But maybe his deal is that the 2nd unit can start doing the traps and double teams if they show they can rotate and recover, and in reward, they can go back to running and freelancing in the first ten seconds of the possession.

    Re: Kobe. Phil says that Kobe is in facilitator mode for so much of the game that he needs to hoist some shots to get the range in case he needs to save the day. But the problem is that it still needs to come within the offense or the whole team stands around. After the shot clock violation, I saw Phil frantically miming something along the lines of “move the ball around!” presumably at Kobe.

  160. Kobe still gives the crowd at least one spectacular play in most games. That is one real reason he is such a crowd favorite – along with the love/hate attitude of most fans.

    I don’t see this changing any time soon. He is too aware of how he impacts games and crowds.

  161. 16 steals tonight. 16 last time these two teams played.

    Glad to see the bench played well. As I said before, I’d like to give Kobe some rest soon. He has had some inefficient nights recently.

  162. i hate to toot my horn…but i am gonna toot my own horn.

    I deserve Laker Fan award for tonight.

    Decked in my purple kb24 and surrounded by red and black throwback JORDAN jerseys and amid swarms of personal insults and popcorn thrown in my direction…despite being down 16 at half…i kept my mvp chants going…my defense chants going and once the lead became a tie…following by a lead in our favor…my trash talking and jersey popping was at an all time high..but i was soooo scared of getting jumped on the crowded bus home, in case anyone was sitting in my section.

    I love the Lakers.

  163. One thing that I noticed about the bench and the offense. They ran much fewer *continuity* sets and much more *plays* out of the offense. The starters usually rely on the natural movements of the offense in order to get the shots that they take. They iso Pau on the post and run the backside screen action or they iso Kobe on the post and dive cut through the lane to clear the side. Etc, etc. However when the 2nd unit was in the game, they ran ball reversal to iso Luke in the post or they ran the high P&R with Farmar or they ran the backside double screen for Sasha to come off and shoot the jumper or curl into the lane (the Luke iso and the double screen for Sasha are set plays that Phil runs a lot out of timeouts). This more open approach to the offense (running *plays* rather than running the motion) seemed to work for Farmar and Sasha as they responded with inspired shot making and good effort on defense.

    On a side note, I think the increased minutes have given the bench some confidence that they’ve been lacking. In the last two games, Farmar has closed out at PG rather than Fish and Sasha has seen minutes with Kobe sliding up to SF. I mean, in the last two games Farmar has played 24 and 25 minutes (compared to a season avg. of 18.8) and Sasha has played 17 and 18 (compared to his avg. of 15). Sasha’s minutes might not seem like a big jump (anecdotally their not) but he has seen more minutes with Kobe and with Lamar and Pau, who are all players that create shots for him (rather than playing with Powell and Mbenga who don’t create shots for anyone). Anyways, just my two cents on the better play from the bench tonight and the last game as well.

  164. Ahh, Darius (164) says concisely what I was grasping to formulate re the second unit running *an* offense better (with plays out of perhaps trianglish formations), but not the continuity part (the sequence of counters that respond to where the defense overplays). Practically speaking, that means fewer plays with multiple players screening for each other and diving to the basket. In games where there are no mismatches in the post, the bench will live and die by their jump shooting, which is not a consistent way to live, and transition game, which was absent due to their poor D.

  165. 163 behzad – Major props to a fellow Illinois-ian, way to represent the Laker fans of this region. The United Center crowd is no joke, even in the team’s current state.

    164 – You’re right, 17/18 doesn’t seem like a huge jump in Sasha’s minutes, but I believe that’s what he was averaging last season (being lazy, I’m going off memory). Sometimes even just a few minutes can change a shooter’s rhythm and feel for the game. And it’s the quality of the minutes. As kwame a. pointed out earlier, Sasha is much more productive when playing with Kobe. So I was overall happy with Sasha’s PT, although I still greedily want even a few more minutes.

  166. I wish that Farmar would do more of that penetration, then elevate and take that 8′ bank shot. With his jumping ability, that is exteremely difficult to defend.

  167. 154, Darius, great point. Remember when VladRad was still here and his lack of post game was killing us. I think I remember the Mavericks put Jason Terry on Vlad, and he couldn’t take advantage because he can barely dribble with his back to the basket.

    I think something that has slipped through the cracks is Luke’s confidence. Like Sasha, he had a break-through year which just so happened to coincide with a contract year, averaging 11.4 ppg in 06-07. along with career highs in almost every relevant stat category. Last year, he had a number of injuries which hurt his effectiveness (especially his defense), and then this year he started off buried on the bench.

    Now, he’s getting the offense run through him when the second unit is in, and he’s being forced to be the guy he was 3 years ago. Frankly, I feel that if he got some more shots, he could get more comfortable with his vast array of post shots (most of which don’t go in as of now, but how can they when you get 1-2 a game?). Now when teams go small, we have an efficient weapon on the 2nd unit to punish teams.

    164, Darius again, I really believe that Farmar is being held back by the triangle. I remember a play in the Golden State game, when Farmar brought the ball up the court, drove to the hole, only to be met by none other than Josh Powell, cutting off his driving lane. I really believe that Jordan can become Tony Parker, perhaps lacking the almost god-like finishing ability over taller players, but Jordan’s combination of speed, a quick first step, and that pull-up bank shot described by exhelodrvr would make Jordan a great facilitator. Add to that the fact that Jordan’s three-point shooting is much better than Parker’s, and I really feel opening up the offense will really allow Farmar to reach his full potential.

  168. As a UCLA fan (sob, I know), it would be a dream come true to have both Farmar and Collison on my NBA team. FWIW I think we should sign Lorenzo Mata-Real as well, but I’m probably biased.

    behzad – Props for representing. And for taking the bus.

  169. I completely agree with Darius and others that Kobe is definitely picking his spots as far as driving into traffic, but also remember: he’s got two fingers on his shooting hand that don’t work! Remember all those times early in the year when Kobe lost the ball in traffic? So does he. And so do the defensive scouts that encourage their teams to swing at the ball/hands every chance they get. I don’t care how many minutes Kobe plays, but I wish he could have left his bad hand back in LA this trip for rehab.

    (We talk about the MVP effectively going to a player with worse teammates; I wish there was an allowance for a guy playing with a badly damaged hand.)

  170. The Dude Abides March 22, 2009 at 2:30 am

    Emma…we don’t want to scare any small children :D
    We want them to grow up to be Laker fans.

  171. Sorry for the double post, but I particularly appreciated the fact that Sasha seemed to get every single loose ball on the floor tonight, particularly in the second half, when the Laker defense picked up. I thought that was key, and it was great to see Sasha contributing without worrying about his shot.

  172. Rumours are that Jerry West is in the mix to be the Clippers GM? Wow, I wouldn’t know how to take that…

  173. Trevor Ariza as a starter:

    13.6ppg, 5.1rpg, 2.6spg (!), 60.0% FG (!!), 47.6% 3PT (!!!)

    It’s only 7 games but those are some impressive numbers, especially since his first start (vs Portland a few months) wasn’t much of a success.

  174. Zephid,
    About Walton, and LO for that matter. Both of them have very predictable shots, neither dunks much, and neither has a quick release. What that means is that they both will get a lot of shots blocked around the rim – especially against athletic bigs. With Walton, I think that has something to do with his shot selection.

  175. I think most of what went right last night has been well covered. What stood out to me with the bench mob was how well they shared the ball (do we credit LO and Luke for this?). I really do think a problem in the past is that players are trying ‘to get theirs’ on offense. However, they are at their best when everyone is contributing; when it doesn’t matter who scores as long a they are getting good looks. They need to remember that they are the bench ‘mob’ and leave their egos at the door.

  176. Will, that only makes sense if Sterling was going to fire the current coach/GM, and there is no way he is willing to eat the rest of that large contract. MD will be back next year, Sterling just yelled at his team a few weeks back and backed MD when he did.

  177. New Jordan Farmar tribute Video post up for a lazy Sunday.