Preview & Chat: The New Jersey Nets

Kurt —  March 27, 2009
NBA: MAR 06 Nets at Magic

Records: Lakers 57-14 (1st in the West) Nets 30-41 (11th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.6 (1st in league) Nets 108.7 (13th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.4 (6th in league) Nets 111.2 (24th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Nets Trenton Hassell, Keyon Dooling, Vince Carter, Yi Jianlian. Brook Lopez

Lakers Coming In: One quick thought on the sad bench performance in the second quarter last night — it forced Phil Jackson to use a more playoff-like rotation in the fourth quarter. Gasol and Odom stayed out with Farmar, Walton and Sasha at the start. Then almost as fast as DJ came in for Gasol, Kobe returned for Odom. A couple more minutes and the entire group of starters were back on the floor, until the game was very well in hand.

Andrew Bynum could change some of that. Here’s Phil Jackson’s vague answer on how he might use Andrew Bynum when he returns:

“We’ll just have to see how he comes back, not when,” Jackson said. “Does he come back in condition where he can play 25 to 30 minutes? Is he going to be a ‘Starbury’ (Stephon Marbury of the Boston Celtics) where he’s playing 12 or 14 minutes a game, and then increase it that way? So, we’ll see how he fits in. He’s running on the court, and that’s about it. He’s doing some basketball skills. There’s a considerable amount of time before he’s even able to practice with us.”

The Nets Coming In: Devin Harris is expected back tonight, returning from a left shoulder injury. I did not list him as a starter but he may start and certainly will play.

Vince Carter and Devin Harris have had very good seasons for the Nets (particularly Harris), but Brook Lopez has turned out to be a solid rookie center. He shoots 52.5% from the floor, grabs 15.3% of the available rebounds and has an above average PER of 17.6. Here is what ESPN’s David Thorpe is saying about him:

Lopez is still playing at a high level, and is constantly making a bid to prove he was the overall steal of the draft. He’s the rare rookie that is contributing strongly in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and rebounding.

And his blocked shot numbers have also been amazingly consistent: He has averaged 1.6 bpg, 1.8 bpg and 1.7 bpg (twice) in four of the first five months of the season (he blocked 2.3 shots per game in December). Add in the amount of times he’s changed shots or intimidated guys to not take a shot at all, and you can see his impact on defense.

Keys To The Game:Honestly, I have not seen a lot of the Nets lately. But here’s the handful of notes I have:

If you work hard to deny Vince Carter the ball, he can get frustrated. That kind of focus may be harder to do with Harris back in the lineup.

The Lakers must close out on three point shooters — Carter, Dooling, Jarvis Hayes and Bobby Simmons are all shooting better than 40% from three in the last 10 games. Their offenses wants to penetrate then if you collapse kick it out for a corner three. If you let them, they will beat you from out there.

Defensively, the Nets do a lot of ball pressure on the guards. The Lakers need to not turn the ball over and attack that when they can.

The sad play of the bench in the second quarter forced Phil Jackson to play the starters through the Fourth Quarter last night, just to be safe. Tonight that could catch up to the Lakers if the bench falters again. So, the Bench needs not to suck.

Where you can watch: 4:30 start out here in the West. KCAL 9 in LA.

Kurt

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113 responses to Preview & Chat: The New Jersey Nets

  1. Obligatory Bynum-news freakout: Yahoo is interpreting Phil’s remarks (quoted in the preview) as “Bynum definitely out for regular season, maybe early playoffs.”

    If nothing else, for longevity reasons, it does have me a bit worried that they can never seem to diagnose Bynum’s injuries correctly; that he takes longer to rehab then is thought/hoped; and that, even by this year’s conservative standards (it was said the Lakers were being very cautious in their prognosis so that there was no way fans would expect Bynum before they should), the Lakers and/or Bynum are off the mark, again.

  2. “the bench needs not to suck”…Priceless! That’s bulletin board material if I’ve ever seen it.

  3. And then I go read the LA Times piece that was sourced in the Yahoo article and realize no such thing was said. (“Bynum has moved beyond running on a treadmill at the team’s training facility, but he isn’t expected back until close to the start of the playoffs next month.”)

    And then I remember Kurt’s advice, that listening too closely to coaches w/ regard to players’ injuries is part of the hazard of being a fan, and should be taken with a grain of salt.

    So: sorry for ruffling feathers where they hadn’t needed to be ruffled.

    LA Times piece:http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-lakers-fyi27-2009mar27,0,4857670.story

  4. The substitution adjustment by Phil is perfectly fine by me. Having the bench out there floundering all by themselves is not a recipe for success. Especially considering they are 2nd and 3rd string for a reason. Having them play along side at least two starters keeps the continuity going in a much more fluid way throughout the game. Frankly, I’m alright with that, especially in the playoffs. If the Lakers keep winning and the hybrid first/second units continue to play well, it will boost the confidence of those second team players. My vote: keep the substitution pattern from the second half.

  5. For those interested in the stats debate, great post by Tom at SacTown (aren’t they all):

    http://www.sactownroyalty.com/2009/3/27/812560/why-communication-remains

  6. I’m ruminating on that last sentence, and after much consideration, I think it should more properly be worded: “the bench needs to not suck” instead. Either way, it’s humorous (and true).

  7. I think all stats should be done away with. Including team scores. Scoring the games just gets in the way of what’s really important: That everybody has a good time playing the game.

    If people REALLY need a winner, we can have a series of celebrity judges give them scores, but I would really hope people were above that sort of thing.

  8. Kobe and Vince hate eachother. Vince really thought he was the heir to MJ, and I remember MJ once saying he like Kobe more because of Kobe’s defense (this was way back in the early part of the decade). Also, after Kobe dropped 81, Vince was the most notable person to downplay it and say that what Kobe did was bad for kids who watch basketball. Uh, Vince, taking off-balance contested jump-shots your enitre career and never being a defensive factor is much worse for kids. Also, admittedly quitting can’t be too good of an example either. I hope Kobe drops 40 on him tonight.

  9. Lakers win or San Antonio loss clinches the West for us tonight, I believe.

    Lakers, even with Harris in the lineup, should win this game fairly easily. Hopefully they come out focused/prepared to take the Western Conference top seed.

  10. 6- wouldn’t that be splitting the infiniive? Is that really a road we want to start down?

  11. Picking apart my unedited grammar in these posts could fill hundreds of comments alone.

  12. Since I now have that line, “the bench needs to not suck” stuck in my head, I’ll make it my mantra for the day. If I repeat it enough, maybe it will come true.

  13. 11- Wait until the stats revolution turns its head to blogging. Then we’ll have all these issues at our fingertips. Grammar Errors per Word can be cross referenced to see if it increases as more words are used. Does words/sentence increase or decrease this issue?

    Getting more complicated we’ll be able to determine the optimal density for number of distinct logical concepts (DLCs) per paragraph. “Plaschke’s .0075 DLCs per paragraph is pathetic, but Author X’s 9.8 is completely unreadable!”

    This could potentially save newspapers, but probably not.

  14. The shorter bench rotation we’re seeing recently is a good thing. Less is more at this time, a la relying mainly on Michael Cooper and Mychal Thompson to augment the starters back in the day.

    One factor that was highly touted at the start of the season was the Lakers’ depth, which was so solid you had Odom as a sixth man and a guy like Luke Walton – who’s started most of his career – buried on the bench awaiting garbage time just to see the floor. Nice problem to have if you can afford it.

    Now they’re not so deep, having dealt Radmonovich and Mihm, plus losing Bynum to injury. Ariza and Odom are now running with the first unit, and without their abilities contributing to the Bench Mob, it’s clearly impacted the play of Sasha and Farmar.

    Role players are there to play roles, not be the focal point of the offense. When you have de facto starters like Odom or Walton or Ariza on the second unit, you can get by with leaving Kobe and Pau on the bench for long periods.

    But expecting a lineup of Farmar, Vujacic, Mbenga, Powell and Walton to create offense now is a bit of a stretch – they lack a consistent threat, which leads to Farmar forcing things or Sasha rushing bad shots.

    But strategically mixing in Farmar’s minutes at times when Kobe or Pau are on the floor, or letting Odom get some run alongside a guy like Powell — that lets the bench guys focus on the areas at which they excel, rather than letting them function as a stand-alone second unit. They’ll thrive in the integrated role, I believe.

    Running five guys off of the bench together mades sense in November, with so much talent and so many games still to be played. But this is the time of year when the stars must carry the load.

    It’s also why the return of Bynum could have such a huge impact. If he can be healthy enough to drop 8 to 10 points a game while anchoring the second unit as it’s first or second offensive threat, that should seriously bolster the Lakers’ chances at a title. Simply having him as a viable scoring threat the defense must counter will be huge.

    They don’t need AB to drop 20 or 30 per night, like he was doing prior to the injury. So long as he can make the opponent contend with an interior presence on both ends, Bynum’s return would be monumental.

    Farmar, Vujacic, Powell, Bynum and Kobe/Odom/Pau is a fierce way to beat up another team’s bench.

    The Lakers can win a title without Bynum at 100 percent. But can they win a title without him at all? Depends on how the Hornets, Cavs and Celtics are playing at the time they cross L.A.’s path.

  15. coffee is for closers March 27, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I actually read the times and was caustiously excited (is that possible?) about the comment from phil that adrew is doing some basketball related drills. If he’s 80% of what he was pre-injury especially on the defensive/rebounding side of things, I don’t see any team I’d fear in a series. Also, with ariza and odom starting now, our bench has been greatly weakened, and the results they’ve been getting aren’t shocking in view of that.

  16. 14 – I stand by my view that the injuries and subsequent rotation changes doesn’t excuses anemic play for most of the season for our 2nd unit players. The bench needs not to suck stands. No grammer police here.

    8 – Ahh, another non-believer in Vince Carter’s lore. Off balance contested jumpers is right. I happily admit 2000 was the best dunk contest performance I’ve ever seen. However, my list of players that require a mandatory heart transplant has VC at the top. He’ll never lead any team to the promised land. I would be so happy to see the assasin have a 50-plus outburst on him tonight.

  17. hopefully the lakers can send help for whoever guards devin harris. harris is good at driving to the hoop and getting contact and fouls. hopefully they can clog the lane and force vince carter to shoot jumpers all day.

  18. I’m taking Phil’s comments with a grain of salt. As the coach and public spokesman for the team, he typically keeps expectations low, both to push the team psychologically and keep media feeding frenzies from starting when what he predicts comes out not as good as expected. Bynum mentioned in that interview at halftime a few weeks ago that he’s good except going left, and that was ~6 weeks after his injury, so it sounds like he’s on track for the 8-12 week downtime they initially predicted.

    He’s a young potential-franchise center, keeping him out an extra week or two while the team is still threatening to have the best record in the league makes perfect sense. His timing (not to mention his conditioning) will probably be off for the first two weeks, but with how stretched-out the playoff schedule is, that’s just the first round, which should be a cake opponent anyway. If he’s just getting his confidence and timing back around the Western semis, watch out. Young, fresh legs in May is not a bad thing to be anchoring your defense.

  19. This game will be interesting to see how our team handles Devin Harris with all the three-point shooters surrounding him. The Lakers had no answer for Will Bynum with 3 shooters on the floor in the 2nd quarter of the last game, but they really took the Pistons out of their game in the 2nd half. If anything, I think the Pistons game last night will help the Lakers tonight, because they’ve already experienced how to defeat a quick point-guard iso-ing against our PG’s with shooters on all sides. Hopefully the success we had in the 2nd half of yesterday’s game will carry over to this game.

    And from the last post, I was dead serious about Cleveland losing to Washington in one of their next two meetings. Keep in mind, Cleveland only won by 4 in December on their home court, and lost by 3 at Washington. As I remember, that December loss also came down to the wire, with some late game Lebron-heroics required to pull out the win for the Cavs. Couple that with the return of Gilbert Arenas, and I expect those two remaining Washington games on Cleveland’s schedule to be their potential downfall.

  20. “So, the Bench needs not to suck.”

    I love it!

  21. -16 I don’t disagree that some (Farmar, Sasha) have not played as well as they should have/could have this season. All things being equal, there’s been a letdown there. Too much sucking, if you will.

    That said, my point was that putting those guys on a floor when they’re not asked to carry a larger load will help them to help the Lakers win games.

    Asking Vujacic or Powell to create offense isn’t a good strategy. But let them lay in the weeds while Kobe picks the D apart to set them up with open looks, and suddenly they’ve become contributers to the scoring column.

    Match-ups matter because people play to their strengths or play down to their shortcomings. The bench’s shortcomings are less magnified when surrounded by better players.

  22. coffee is for closers March 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    16. So you’re saying we should expect the same level of performance with trading out odom and ariza bench minutes for walton and mbenga? riiiiight.

  23. Chris J
    My bad, #16 was for coffee, not you. And for the record, I agree with what you said.

    Zephid,
    Thanks for responding, I wanted to know how you felt about that one. I’ll admit, I didn’t realize the Wiz got one already this year. That said, the scenario how the Cavs barely beat the Wiz is similar to the way the Cavs have won often this year. They’re not always killing teams, they’re coming from behind or grinding out wins a lot, so I can’t give Washington special credit for playing them tough then.

    Also, Gilbert hasn’t played in what, a season and a half? What can he possibly have in the tank? Probably less than Marbury. After 2 years off, he hasn’t really done well and he’s not trying to work his way back from serious injuries. No, I would almost bet cash money Cleveland wins both games.

    That said, I respect your confidence and I’ll definitely post and give you your due if the Wiz get one of those games.

  24. Farmar is still a young player and learning. Sasha had a career year last year and experience says bench players don’t have two career years in a row – else they would be starters.

    Walton facilitates, but his shooting is not the best so he is wasted on the 2nd unit if they are missing shots. Powell is clearly a reasonable role player and needs a star to help open things up for him.

    Ariza is the most consistent role player we have.

    All this says that Phil needs to keep 2 of his stars on the court at all times, even if it means rotating one of the top three out fairly early in the game – to keep some legs from total ‘deadness’.

  25. Seriously, I’d like to see Kobe guard Vince Carter. What do you guys think, will Kobe be guarding V.C. or Ariza? Or perhaps Ariza will be used to guard Harris? I’d like to see well Fisher can stay on Harris in one of many one-on-one take-you-off-the-dribble isolation plays that we will see tonight.

    As we all know, the Lakers have problems with fast point guards, and Devin Harris is FAST. Also worth noting, the Nets’ rookie, Lopez, is playing some amazing ball. Though I think he will give Lamar/Gasol some challenge, veteran savvy-ness (savviness?) will win out.

    I did not catch much of last night’s game, so I’m not sure how well the bench played. I could be like Hollinger and make assumptions off of statistics, but I’d rather not.

    After the OKC game, Phil Jackson praised the bench’s performance, noting individually the contributions of Powell, Walton, and Farmar, but not Sasha. I’d hate to think that Vujacic’s performance last year was a direct result of the contract year phenomenon.

  26. Coffee,
    What I expect is for Farmer, Walton, Sasha, and Vlad (before he got shipped) not to all have worse years than last season. Rotation changes don’t explain that. Odom not being on the bench doesn’t explain that, cause he started all last year. And off subject, I don’t even want Mbenga on this team…

  27. And also, new video angle of LeBron’s infamous “crab dribble,” proving, like King James said after the game, that he did not travel.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jvcfouEiSw

  28. Not Charlie Rosen March 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    The question of “to not suck” vs. “not to suck” is a bit tricky…

    Technically, “not” is a modifying agent, and thus should not split the infinitive form of “to suck”. However, it is not a qualitatively modifying agent–it’s is a pure negative, providing a binary perspective–and thus can be considered a core component of the verb i.e. the positive form of the verb is “___ suck”, while the negative form is “not suck” (and the forms are distinguished–not modified–by the absence or presence of “not”…you can think of it in the old pregnancy citation, that you can’t be a “little bit pregnant”…adjectives and adverbs can be additionally modified by “more” or “less” or other similar quantity-based qualifiers ["to boldly go" can be modified to "to more boldly go"], but something like “not” cannot [you can't be "more not" or "a little less not"]).

    Thus, we can treat “not suck” as a single 2-word participle, and placing it in infinitive form–“to not suck”–does not actually split the infinitive.

    All of which is to say that we need some 2-man combo of Kobe/Odom/Pau on the floor with 3 reserves at all times, especially as we start tightening up for the playoffs. This is one of the things that worked so well earlier in the year: about 6 minutes in, Bynum would sit and Odom would come in, then Pau would sit and Bynum came back in, etc. The reserves got plenty of burn, but it was in a more staggered, overlapping method than the “over the last 2 min of the 1st quarter and 1st minute of the second quarter, all 5 starters will go out and all 5 reserves will come in” that we’ve seen lately (and which corresponds pretty well to the Bench Mob’s sucking).

  29. Not Chrlie Rosen- I was actually wondering if Not was an exception to the rule because it’s something of a logical operator, but don’t have a clue where to look that up. Do dictionary Usage Panel’s accept email submissions?

  30. As Shakespeare might have said:

    To not be or not to be?

  31. #28 – Comment of the season, so far.

    Kurt could have gone the Shakespearean route, too:
    “The bench needs to sucketh not.”

  32. coffee is for closers March 27, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    26. well, I haven’t reviewed the stats but my guess is last year’s bench wasn’t performing at the level of this year’s bench pre-bynum injury where this was arguably the best bench in the league. I think a glaring problem since the bynum injury, is two-fold: they miss a consistent low post scorer so they too often settle for way too many 3’s too often shot early in the shot clock. So when the shots don’t fall, looking at you sasha, they’re susceptible to big runs against them. They also don’t have odom’s length which helps defensively and controlling the boards. This has been forcing phil’s hand lately, playing pau a lot more than is probably advisable.

    Which probably leads me to my only other concern about a championship run – are kobe and pau going to hold up for the run with all the basketball they’ve played with last yr’s playoff run + olympics + this year’s playoffs? Anyone think the lakers would be better off cutting down their minutes, and just conceding the best record to the cavs? Isn’t having the guys with fresh legs more important than a possible game 7 in finals vs. cavs?

  33. j.d. Hastings, what are the odds that you and I would both be composing comments involving Shakespeare to post on a Lakers blog at the EXACT same time?!

  34. 33- I’m no mathematician but I’d have to say ~ 5,460,672 to 1.

  35. at the game. rocking my FB&G. tee. there are more Laker fans than nets fans.

  36. Man when is this damn season gonna end. BRING THE PLAYOFFS ON ALREADY

  37. But we dont want the season to end yet, we got to at least get tied with Cleveland for best record. At some point, Cleveland will lose again lol

  38. coffee is for closers March 27, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    35. ok, wondahbap, we’ll expect to hear kobe’s mvp chant quite loud at his first throws tonight.

  39. Nice shot of Kobe entering the Izod Center wearing a sweet pair of purple & gold headphones (wonder if those are available at the Lakers’ team store).

    Did Marv just say that this is expected to be the first Nets’ sellout of the entire season?! Whoa.

  40. Are the Lakers playing Syracuse? What game am I watching with all this zone?

  41. When did Odom start to shoot the midrange jumper that well? Much better stroke.

  42. Odom is taking those jumpers in rhythm without hesitating. He’s much more successful when he shoots like that rather than shooting after thinking about it too much or pounding the dribble beforehand.

  43. Beautiful behind-the-back pass by Kobe to Pau for the dunk. Nets look completely flat on offense; they don’t have anyone that can create their own shot outside of Harris and Carter.

  44. *That was a beautiful play by Kobe to set up the trailing Gasol.

    *The Nets don’t seem to put up a lot of resistance in the paint. They’re not blocking shots, they’re not fouling hard, they’re really just letting us shoot inside.

  45. Gasol with the bench again. So far so good.

  46. 40 – No, but we are playing Devin Harris. And given how Will Bynum lit us up, I’d say zone, zone, and more zone.

    Has Phil not tried Lamar + bench after the Bulls game? It worked so well, and it bought Gasol some rest. I’m terrified that this will come back to bite us in the later rounds, we’re wearing our best big man down to the core.

  47. Still at work and not able to watch the game, but from reading the play by play on espn it seems like it’ll be a good night for Pau. I like it when I see Pau’s name and the word “dunk” in the same sentence. It can only be good, unless you add the word, “miss” to it. Good thing that’s not the case.

  48. Short leash, as it should start to be this time of year.

    And let Harris shoot the three all night. He is shooting 18% in his last 10.

  49. Joe Crawford, one of our training camp invitees and D-leaguer, has signed with the Knicks.

  50. To be fair, that was a blatant travel by Ariza. Maybe I’m just an amateur basketball spectator, but having played basketball since I was in elementary school, it just amazes me how many NBA players travel.

  51. Noooooooooooooooooooooo. Please no! God forbid

  52. Any idea what the injury could be?

  53. Jammed foot maybe, it did not look like a turned ankle.

  54. I am not watching the game. What injury are you guys talking about? I noticed that Kobe left the game with 50secs remaining in the 2nd quarter. Is that because of an injury?

  55. They way he appeared to be stretching while on the floor makes me fear some kind of strain.

  56. Kobe looks fine.

  57. sprained ankle, will try to play

  58. Sprained ankled. Re-taped, thicker. Will return.

    We will see…

  59. Marv Albert noting that Yi is out of the rotation. His Chinese sponsors won’t like that (not to blame Frank; Yi is horrible and playing Anderson at this point in the season is a much better decision).

  60. As a halftime aside – I am not sure if someone else has pointed this out, but there is nice analysis of Kobe vs Lebron vs Wade against the top defenses in the NBA this year at basketball-reference.com blog:
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=1827

    Off Rating against Top 10 defenses:
    Kobe: 114
    Lebron: 110
    Wade: 111

    Off Rating against all teams:
    Kobe: 115
    Lebron: 121
    Wade: 114

    My takeaway is that Kobe has higher offensive rating against the top defenses because Lebron & Wade are still developing their jump shots.

  61. The difference so far: Lakers turovers on 11% of their possessions, NJ on 27%.

  62. Kobe is a real warrior, it’s a pleasure to watch him knowing that he is pretty much playing without 2 fingers and now with a sprained ankle, yet his aggressiveness has not gone down

  63. Phil was a color commentator for the Nets? Wow, wish I could have listened to that.

  64. Looks like I picked the right time to come home. Nets haven’t scored since I turned on the TV. :)

  65. I think LeBron James would have missed 10 games after the sprain injury Kobe suffered.

    Am I glad Kobe is on our team. Love to hear the “MVP!” chant on roadies.

    Hopefully, Lakers can finish the 3rd quarter strong and let the bench mob extend it in fourth. Perfect opportunity for the bench to prove themselves. If things go well, we will win by as much, if not more, as we are winning now.

  66. Stop! Kobe time!

    The bench can’t possibly mess this up can they?

  67. That 3rd quarter. Oh my. Not much else to say I guess.

  68. HELLLLLLL YAAAAAAAA KOBE

  69. Kobe on fire. Nothing stopping him.

    Also, Pau is shooting for a triple-double. 24 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists.

  70. wow, the reserves giving back leads have become somewhat of a pattern. it’s not just a one TO or 2 TO in a row and done, it’s more of a TO leads to more TO and bad play. Means more minutes for the starters if Phil keeps a tight leash.

  71. Sasha’s quest for dumb fouling continues

  72. Good flop, Luke.

  73. I think the bench has checked out the regular season to a degree. When Andrew when down, initially they weren’t that bad. But lately, it seems that they always the the same effort and decision problems every game.

    Maybe they just need some rest?

  74. We need Kobe to hit some big shots…its not surprising that the Lakers just about blow a 22 point lead…nothing new to this team

  75. Our bench is 5 of 19.

  76. The +/- numbers for this game look just like last game, all the starters double digit + numbers, all the subs in the -. Even the tighter rotations tonight keeping starters out there has not helped.

    This is where I worry about legs on the second night of a back-to-back. Tired legs lead to arm fouls.

  77. Gee! I left when it was 81-61…Oh my Lakers, Forever keeping stuff interesting

  78. luckily we defended the free throw very well

  79. Odom with a double double.

  80. Looks like Kobe needs to get back to the days of playing with Shaq if we are to win this season.

    Go to Pau & Bynum early and often, and limit his efforts until it is absolutely necessary.

    Anyway, my bracket is now officially kaputt…

  81. True story: A few days after the Gasol trade, a poster on the ESPN message board tried to argue that the Lakers gave up too much to get him.

  82. That reporter was hot.

    Anyway, good game all-around, IMO. Sure there were struggles, but throughout the game, they played good defense and passed the ball well.

  83. Why did Brown play 16 seconds, is there any reason for that?

  84. This game has made me fully realize that Kobe Bryant is a really really really bad team defender. There were three times down the stretch where the Nets ran the PNR with Carter up top, Kobe on him. The Lakers gameplan for the center PNR is to have the big (Gasol) show hard, and hedge Carter back into his man (Kobe). If Gasol has to follow Carter, Kobe is supposed to cover Gasol’s man (Lopez), to take away the passing lane. If Carter makes it around Gasol, it is a helper’s job to cut off the lane (Ariza or Odom). In this case, Kobe is supposed to go to Ariza or Odom’s man, switching off Carter.

    Case 1: Carter is contained by Gasol. After this, Kobe is meant to get back in front and continue guarding Carter. Kobe was so far off from Carter that when Gasol backed off, Carter drove past both Gasol and Kobe to get into the lane.

    Case 2: Carter passes to Lopez. Kobe was too far from Lopez to properly block off the lane, so Ariza came over to cover the lane. Meanwhile, Kobe is supposed to run to Ariza’s man, but he waltz’s his way through the lane, so Ariza’s man gets a wide open three.

    Case 3: Carter blows past Gasol. Ariza came over to help, and Kobe is supposed to run over and cover Ariza’s man (usually in the corner for a three). Kobe is slow again, gives up another open three.

    I really can’t believe how slow Kobe’s rotations are. Not only does he move slowly, a lot of times he doesn’t even rotate, not only giving the opposition a wide open three, but also making his teammates look really really bad, because they were usually helping off their man to protect Kobe’s back.

  85. I can’t stand Farmar. I just can’t stand him jacking up a bad shot after a bad shot. The confidence is good, but not overconfidence. TS% .490, As/TO below 2 – it’s a joke. Couldn’t we get f.e. this Dooling guy? I have no faith Farmar will develop – he’s the least productive from Lakers regulars.

    I hope after Bynum’s return the bench mob will just feed the post.

  86. Tell us how you really feel, TRad. lol.

  87. 63- Thats a great stat, I will be using that one in future arguments.

    Nothing new here this game, Gasol is dominant against a team like the Nets, Kobe looks a little tired but can get hot, LO, Fish and Ariza gave strong contributions and the bench struggled. Phil stood up, but even that isn’t that weird anymore. New Phil about 2.3 times a game. This is down from old Phil who stood .7 times a game.

  88. 87)Zephid

    I would use the word “generally uninterested” rather than bad, because he is an exceptional defender when he wants to be. It’s frustrating to watch when he is doing that – same thing when he is in one of his “iso moods” on offense.

  89. Zephid,

    Tonight, Kobe’s slow on rotation thing might be because his ankle sprain.

  90. On another note, it is very troubling that the bench play has been so bad and inconsistent lately.

    I thought the loss to the 76ers would shake them out of whatever funk they were in, but looks like I was proven wrong.

    I still think the bench plays better with Odom in the 2nd quarter than with Gasol. But I guess come playoff time, it’ll be better for two starters to play with the bench.

    I can’t wait for Drew to come back.

  91. What would the Lakers do without Gasolution!

  92. 90: I’d like to see Phil average around 1.6 per game. that’s the sweet spot.

    If the Lakers give up big leads to the likes of Nets, that’ll just give eternal hope for any team they meet in the playoffs. a 25pt lead = nail biter down the stretch. Then of course there was last year’s finals. shudder.

  93. 92, JaneDoe, you’re right, I completely forgot Kobe had to leave the game at the end of the first half. That would appear to be why he seemed extra slow on defense in the 2nd half. Although I would have to agree with exhelodvdr that Kobe has been generally uninterested on defense for all but one game this season (home against Cleveland).

    It does make me feel bad for guy’s like Sasha, Derek, Jordan, Trevor, and Odom, because they always come to Kobe’s aid when he gets beaten, but Kobe’s lack of rotation leaves their man wide open, and they take the flack for giving up an open three. That being said, Sasha and others to some extent have a tendency to over help, so the blame goes both ways.

    It’s sad, because our first unit plays amazing defense for stretches. The past two games we’ve shut down teams completely for minutes at a team. And I honestly think the only reason the D falls apart when the bench comes in is because the bench is less athletic, period, and they overhelp. This leads to all the late rotations, which give up wide open threes, which have always been our downfall.

    Frankly, I would keep Lamar on the floor with the 2nd unit both for his offense AND his defense. For all the crap we give him, Lamar is a rare player like KG that can both defend the low-post and cover faster players on the wing. When DJ and Josh are on the floor, neither of them wants to leave the paint, so we have a lot of slow rotations.

    On another note, has Derek Fisher missed an open three all season? Yea, he’s missed a ton of contested one’s, but it seems like he hasn’t missed a wide-open one in forever. I wonder what his shooting percentage is when he’s wide open.

  94. @Zephyd

    Re:Fisher

    I agree, it seemed that he is 100% when open. Not only 3s, 2s also.

    Which leads to a question: whom would you like with the ball in the last seconds: open Fisher or undoubled Kobe?

  95. Zephid,
    Your comment about players not having good instincts when helping falls right in line with what Coach Cleamons was saying about them and the staff’s reasoning for playing the type of defensive scheme that we do. This is why our SSZ is so much more effective when the ball is penetrated from the side of the floor where there are only two players (the ball handler and a player in the post). As you’ve noticed our SSZ really breaks down when the ball is penetrated from the top of the key or when there are three players on the strong side of the floor (the ballhandler, a post player, and a player in the corner) because our players who are defending players in the corner often help on penetration and leave their man who then become available to shoot the open corner three.

  96. Kobe, as well as anyone, knows it is a long season.

    I see him defending very well, in the fourth quarter of tight games.

    He simply doesn’t expend much energy in a regular game, comparatively. Which is one of the reasons he shoots so many jump shots vs drives to the hoop during the regular season.

    On the plus side, Kobe is one of the few players that actually can “Turn it on” when he wishes to.

  97. Open fisher. I will put my life on him open . Especially if it’s a critical 3.

  98. Agree, I’ll take an open Fisher anyday. Kobe’s hit clutch shots, but that’s partly because of the sheer volume of end-of-game shots he’s taken. We tend to forget the misses. He rarely gets to the rim at the end of a game and often forces contested (even single covered) jumpshots.

    Fisher, on top of being a great shooter, has that veteran poise and savvy and will come up big in big moments (like in the NOH game).

  99. PeanutButterSpread March 28, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    D-Fish missed an open three in the game against the Pistons. Luckily, Trevor appeared out of nowhere (as he often does) for the putback slam.

    The bench sucked last night :(

  100. First things first, I’m glad Kobe’s ok. I’m glad we held on for the win.

    I am not glad with the minutes our starters had to play to secure a victory over the 11th best team in the eastern conference.

    With the heavy minutes the starters are enduring it appears that Phil and the team are gunning for home court throughout.

    My question is wouldn’t it be smart to rest Kobe for tomorrow’s game and to start resting key players since we have already secured HCA until the western conference finals?

    The best-case scenario by playing balls out into the playoffs is barely squeaking by CLE to maintain the best record and gain HCA throughout and to allow Kobe the chance for a repeat at MVP.

    The worst-case scenario is they play balls out and fall just short of gaining HCA throughout. The wear and tear catch up to Pau, Kobe, Lamar, and Fisher in the Finals and we don’t have enough to push through the Finals.

    A writer just asked Kobe how important an MVP is, and Kobe answered it is important, but winning is ultimately the most important. Well if he is trying to win a championship it would be best to sit for 2 weeks and finish off the final week gearing up for the playoffs.

    Having key players sit will ready them for the playoffs, and give the 2nd unit important time to grow and fail without consequence since we have locked up the HCA til the Finals.

    What do you guys think?

  101. Open Fisher without a doubt. Now, open Luke may be a different story….

  102. I believe that resting players is highly overrated. Really the only reason it has become so prevelant in recent years is because the teams that have won the championships have been older teams. I don’t remember any talk of resting players at the end of the season when Jordan was playing, nor when Kobe and Shaq were three-peating. It’s only because of San Antonio’s recent success and other older teams, like Boston and Detroit, needing to rest their players before the playoffs begin. I don’t think that will be a problem for this team.

    As many people have said throughout the year, Kobe is really picking his spots. He chooses certain possessions to play defense; other times he just doesn’t care. Most of the time he just pulls up for a jumper in the lane instead of going to the cup for a dunk. Also, Fisher has had his minutes severely limited since sometime around the beginning of February, so I’m not really worried about him wearing down. That really only leaves Gasol, who is averaging around 39-40 minutes per game over the past two months. However, Gasol is the youngest of all our core players, being a spry 28, so he is also the least likely to break down over time. That being said, I would like to see his minutes held down, perhaps down to 32-35 a game instead of high 30s.

    Keep in mind, during the playoffs, not only is there a day off between all games, but all the games are also televised, so TV timeouts will enable players to rest without having to lose playing time. So resting our guys isn’t as important as getting our 2nd unit to tighten up the defense and having our rotations set for the playoffs.

  103. wondahbap – i was at the game too – section 117 (although minus a sweet shirt). are you a new jerseyan / new yorker?

  104. Personally, I think home court advantage throughout the playoffs is too important … and too attainable … to start shutting it down now.

    Also, I’ll start truly worrying about all the extra minutes Pau has been logging for us as soon as I see any indication that his play is being affected. Like, at all. The guy is an amazing athlete in incredible condition, something (outside of these parts) I don’t think he gets nearly enough credit for.

  105. 107
    I agree Joel R. Pau is an exceptional athlete. I think last year he was feeling his way with the Lake Show and actually playing kinda soft. This year he is more aggressive around the paint. The weight room work is actually already showing its positive effect.

  106. fisher always plays much better on the 2nd game of a back to back

    always

  107. Zephid,

    I remember Riley running into trouble, maybe even fines, on the late 80’s teams because he liked to rest Showtime. It’s not as if he was dealing with an old team. Aside from Kareem he had a 28ish Magic, an early 30s Cooper, late 20’s Rambis, a 27 year old Worthy and a B-Scott of the same age. Granted most of the rest was for players like Magic, Worthy, and other starters. Point is that teams saw value in recharging the starters once certain milestones were clinched, even before the Spurs.

    Kobe looks tired to me and I think Pau and Fish could use some time visiting Ced Ceballos’ old boat before getting to work on whoever it is that falls into the 8th spot. Stay ahead of the Cs and Magic for homecourt and let the Cavs have the best record. That is my take. As much as I think the Cavs are better then the Lepers and a focused Lakers are better then both those teams, I just think the Lakers would need the comfort of 4 home games against the C’s but it won’t be an issue against the Cavs.

  108. Pau is the one I’m truly worried about. Not only are his minutes through the roof, but he’s playing them out of position at the center spot. The constant banging has to take a toll on anyone, superb athlete or not. Pau doesn’t have a center’s build, the pounding takes an even stronger toll on him. Pau has looked tired in some recent games, I’ve seen several spots where he’s been slow to get up the court and has just looked spent. He’s playing through it now, but can he play through that for the next month or longer? I don’t want to take a chance.

    It is true that there’s more rest in between games in the playoffs, so hopefully that’ll be all Pau needs. Because it doesn’t seem like Phil has any intention of shutting it down.

  109. I’m not sure why there is still debate as to who’s MVP. I think we established that it pretty much goes to the guys on the better teams, so Wade and CP3 is out.

    Howard and Pierce are worthy of discussion, but Howard will probably get his due via a DPOY for the time being, and Pierce just has too much competition even within his team.

    That leaves Kobe and LeBron, but honestly Kobe falls into the same category as Pierce. Lakers have a better record and Kobe played through injury, but the novelty of that sort of faded, especially since he won the MVP last year. Kobe did win both head-to-head matchups but not decidingly enough.

    In the end, I think the MVP should go to LeBron, despite him being just as freakish as Dwight and not really ‘skilled’ the way Kobe is. But bottom line, as of now, LeBron with his one-man-offense is more efficient (more wins, more margin of victory)than Kobe & Pau & Odom running the triangle.