Preview & Chat: The Charlotte Bobcats

Kurt —  March 31, 2009
Charlotte Bobcats v Los Angeles Lakers

Records: Lakers 58-15 (1st in West) Bobcats 33-40 (9th in the East, 2 games out of the playoffs)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.1 (3rd in league) Bobcats 104.8 (27th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.0 (6th in league) Bobcats 105.7 (8th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Bobcats: Raymond Felton, Raja Bell, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Emeka Okafor.

The Lakers Coming in: I’m tired/tired of being admired/tired of love uninspired/let’s face it, I’m tired!
— Lilly Von Shtup in Blazing Saddles

I think other than Mel Brooks, Reed summed up the feelings of the Lakers and their fans best in a comment yesterday:

This has been, perhaps, the most uninteresting end to a regular season in memory. Our seeding was set by Christmas. With Drew out there really aren’t any young players whose development is interesting. Ariza is a bright spot, but if anything we’ve see our young players regress as the season progresses. There were no interesting trade additions. The rotation is largely set. The team’s strong play eliminates the “maybe they’ll turn the corner” angle. Everyone’s getting along.

So, we’ve had to endure solid, steady, but fairly monotonous basketball without any dramatic subplots. It’s tough to complain about monotony when it’s winning, but please wake me when the playoffs begin or Bynum returns.

One interesting thing, the Charlotte Observer interviewed Raja Bell about how to slow Kobe today. He said all the right things — that you can’t stop him just make him work a lot, make him hit jumpers, etc. But one question caught my attention:

Q: Is he better or worse when angry?

A: “Depends on what kind of anger; if he’s angry at who he’s playing against, better. If he’s angry at an official, or something else has him off a bit, that could work into his opponent’s hands.”

The Bobcats Coming in: Two games back that is tantalizingly close to the playoffs but a difficult amount to make up. Brett from Queen City Hoops laid out how they can do it at ESPN.com today, and of course that includes beating the Lakers.

The Lakers see old friend Vladimir Radmanovic tonight. Vlad is steady, his numbers with the Bobcats are down slightly from his numbers in LA, but not a ton. He is playing four more minutes a game, shooting 38.1% from three (down 3%), his true shooting percentage is down 4%, and his PER is almost identical.

I still really covet Gerald Wallace, and he has been playing well. In the last 10 games he is averaging 19.8 points on 59% shooting overall and 45% from three, plus you can count on about 10 rebounds and 4 assists. And he is going to keep attacking the rim.

Keys to game This is going to be a tough game. The fans are pumped up because they want revenge on what they see as a dirty hit on Gerald Wallace. The team should be pumped up and focused because the playoffs are within reach. And remember that double OT loss for the Lakers in the last meeting.

After the last showing in Atlanta, the Lakers run into another team that likes to jump passing lanes on the wings, be aggressive on defense and go for steals. The triangle offense is filled with pressure releases for these situations (or guys can just come out a little farther to get the ball). Like Atlanta, this is not a great half-court offensive team, but if you give them some easy transition baskets off turnovers they will score plenty.

The Lakers did not defend the pick-and-roll well last meeting, so we should expect a lot of that. The Bobcats run it with Raymond Felton (UNC!) and Diaw, both of whom can drive or hit the outside shot. The Lakers need to be disciplined and communicate, show out on Felton but recover fast.

Also, just make Diaw go left. Please. He’s more one sided than Odom.

Wallace also is going to get his chance to slash, and that is hard to stop. Slowing him means pushing him out on the perimeter with ball denial then having more crisp rotations behind him.

The Lakers should be able to run — this is a Larry Brown team after all. They want to grind out the game. Some easy transition baskets would be nice.

Here are a couple quick thoughts from Darius:

I wonder how we’re going to adjust to the defensive schemes that the Bobcats run. Larry Brown has had lots of success in game planning against our offensive sets and they’ll do similar things that were successful for the Hawks (and Boston in last years finals). They will deny ball entries to the wing, they’ll half front the post, they’ll deny ball reversals, and they’ll be very aware of the flash to the highpost from the weakside big. All of this is meant to disrupt our timing. Against the Hawks our guys did not do a good job of establishing the timing in our sets. (Sidebar-a while back Gatinho posted a link to a video where Phil and Tex were talking about the principles of our offense. In that video they stressed that one of the major principles is players reading the defense and reacting to what they are doing and moving accordingly. Essentially when the defender is five feet from the ball, we should be passing to the open player who should have been working to get open because he was reading that the pass would be coming soon-end sidebar.) Anyways, I’d like to see crisper sets tonight. Better timing, harder screens, sharper cuts, and-overall-more fluid movement.

On defense, I’d like to see us do a better job containing Felton off the dribble and matching the effort of Wallace and Okafor. I’d also like to see Odom do a number on Diaw and have LO use his length to disrupt what Boris likes to do on the block. Last game Diaw got it going using his Euro craftiness and it fed his confidence which led to better shot making throughout the rest of the game.

Where you can watch: Early 4 pm start out West, on KCAL 9.

Kurt

Posts

146 responses to Preview & Chat: The Charlotte Bobcats

  1. Celtics shut down KG for probably the rest of the regular season, according to ESPN.

    Laker thoughts:

    I know Phil might rest some of our guys, and it’s the end of the road trip, and we have the number 1 seed out West, and based on regular season performance we DONT HAVE TO HAVE the number 1 overall seed, and basically our guys are probably getting focused for the playoffs, but I really hope we come out w/ a win tonight. So sick of being worried about the Charlotte Bobcats.

  2. is it just me, or is anyone else not seeing a laker game on kcal at 4pm today? weird…

  3. the other Stephen March 31, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    thou shalt not covet thy neighboring franchise’s gerald wallace.

  4. It’s off topic in terms of the Bobcats, but a San Antonio columnist wrote a decent piece on another NBA rule that may be worth tweaking.

    The irony here, however, goes back to last year’s playoffs. Spurs fans love to bring up how Barry was supposedly fouled at the end of Game 4. The NBA even retroactively said a whistle should have blown, for all the food that after-the-fact ruling did anyone.

    Yet what’s seldom mentioned is how the refs totally blew the call on the prior possession, when the Lakers rebounded a shot that clearly hit the rim but the shot clock was not reset. This missed call forced a rushed shot that Kobe missed, thereby giving the ball back to the Spurs.

    Had that blown call been subject to review, the Lakers could have inbounded and run out the clock, or been sent to the line to try to pad their lead.

    It’s a shame we keep seeing refs’ mistakes impact games. I don’t think there’s a real solution to this issue, but it’s a real concern for fans and everyone else, seemingly moreso in basketball than other sports.

    http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/spurs/Time_has_come_to_expand_use_of_instant_replay.html

  5. “good” not food… I swear I have more typos here than anyone.

  6. chris J, maybe you hadn’t had lunch yet, and it was on your mind.
    man, I hate to rag on a player, but I can’t help it right now, every time I watch Sasha, he seems to be havin brain farts on D, and is very tentative on the O, either passing up shots, (cause he’s unsure) or shooting too quick, and seems to be over thinking.
    he’s gotta find his groove back, this slump is going on waaaaayyyyyy toooooo loooong.
    maybe we should’ve traded him rather than Vlade.

  7. Might we see Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic on the floor together? I think this is a strong possibility tonight because the Bobcats like play Felton and Augustin on the floor together.

  8. I put the Over/under for points by Vlad at 17. When he’s interested, he’s deadly.

  9. JD – I’ll take the under, but not by much. I’m also hoping he’ll put up a bunch of rushed turnovers, trying to do too much offensively.

  10. Before the Celtics brought Garnett back before they played the Spurs, they admitted that he had not even practiced yet. Although they said the MRI only showed a sprain, I thought that decision strange.

    Remember when Pierce hurt his knee against the Lakers they didn’t even bother to do an MRI, as if to say they didn’t want any bad news to get in the way of winning a title.

    I wonder if the doctor’s recommended an arthiscope to take a look at Garnet’s knee, but collective denial shouted “no.”

  11. Pierce “hurt” his knee? Puh-leaseeeeeee.

  12. Remember when Ray Felton was mentioned in the same breathe as CP3 and D-Will…I’m sure Ray does.

    I have a sneaking suspicon Garnett will play in the playoffs, and even if not 100%, contribute to the team advancing at least until the ECF.

    The Kings should never have let G.Wallace go in that expansion draft.

    I wonder what type of reception, if any, Adam Morrison will receive.

  13. The NBA, where faking an injury happens.

  14. Yeah, my AT&T U-verse channel lineup has news on at 4:00 pm, well it’s got to be wrong I would think, I mean the game should be on KCAL today at 16:00, otherwise I guess I am not seeing it…

  15. sT, you like the U-verse? I’m looking into getting it. I helped my Mom switch to fiber optics back in TN, and the quality improvement was amazing, both on TV and the net…just curious. (the SD on fiber optics, was better quality that HD from cable)

  16. chris h, yes, it is a very good service that everyone should have if it is available in your area. They have 18mb Internet capability also, nice. You can record up to four shows at once with the DVR, anyway – Go Lakers.

  17. Kwame A,

    I hear what you’re saying. He’s going to give Celtics fans a ready made excuse as to why they didn’t win this year. I can already imagine the excuses they’ll make. 100 times worse than San Antonio fans thinking they would’ve beat us with Manu.

    The NBA, where every fan is a conspiracy theorist……

    …and if you are into conspiracies than you should like our chances this year, because the Lakers have the best plot line this year.

  18. If I had my druthers, the Lakers playoff opponents would look like this:

    1st Rd: Dallas (Mavs don’t matchup)
    2nd Rd: Denver (Nobody to guard KB)
    WCF: Houston (Our talent trumps them)
    Finals: Boston (Revenge factor trumps potential LBJ sonning)

  19. The KCAL Web site lists the game as on at 4 live. I’m at work so that’s the best I can do.

  20. Wallace is having his way with Ariza right now.

  21. Lakers starters getting roughed up…wait till the Lakers bench get in there…they’re gonna get killed!!!!

  22. Has anyone else noticed that Kobe has been starting lots of games lately shooting around 1/4 from the field? I miss the days where he would come out on fire and defenses would have to adjust early on.

  23. i can see the same malaisse that we had against the hawks

  24. actually, I think if you’re a conspiracy theorist the Cavs have the best storyline – “the ascendancy of King James to the throne”

  25. lakers are getting outplayed and outworked by the bobcats…gonna be a long night….smh

  26. wow Shannon Brown the first guard off the bench instead of Farmar – and he promptly turns it over bringing it up court…

  27. Will someone please remind Odom that Boris Diaw shoots over 40% from 3? Looks like he didn’t get the message from the last game.

  28. anyone got a link? i can’t find it

  29. looks like farmar is in the doghouse

  30. I love it…shannon brown, first guard off the bench…screw Farmar and Sasha.

  31. On a night when Kobe and Pau can’t buy a bucket, where we would be without Lamar?

  32. again it seems like every shot kobe takes is a tough one

  33. 34

    Pretty much. I think he took 2 shots close to the basket and both were heavily contested fadeaways.

    Odom is pretty much the only Laker who has anything going right now.

  34. Catched the game late. What’s happened to Fisher playing only 2 minutes of the 1st quarter (box-score) ?

  35. I like the defensive intensity that our bench is showing – probably no coincidence that it’s coming with Lamar out there instead of Powell. Luke is playing really well too.

  36. 36

    Not sure which box score you’re looking at but Fisher has played 9 minutes so far.

    The bench is looking surprisingly solid, moving the ball well and keeping the Bobcats guards out of the paint.

  37. sometimes luke does suprise you, he’s not such a bad post player

  38. Phil needs to tell D.J. not to attempt a shot unless he’s wide, wide open.

  39. Luke’s post game is ugly but effective, whereas Mbenga’s is just ugly. He should never be allowed to take a jump hook ever again

  40. Wow, Farmar can’t even make an open jumper…useless

  41. oh dear dj

  42. Joel,

    ah thanks, that’s a relief. I don’t want another one of our guys get injured now. I was looking at ESPN box-score.

  43. Also, Walton and Odom are the reason our offense is working well right now. Phil should just remove all ballhandling responsibilities from Farmar and Vujacic and have them be spot-up shooters.

  44. cheer for pistons?

  45. Kobe having a brain fart?

  46. Pistons are not winning tonight…they’ll have a lead like the mavs did the other night and get blown out in the second half.

  47. So far, offensive rebounding and low turnovers are making up for the bad shooting by LA.

  48. Allen Iverson
    Will Bynum
    Walter Herrmann
    Jason Maxiell
    Rasheed Wallace

    That’s a freaking good bench (on paper).

  49. Remember earlier in the season when everyone was piling on Luke, saying he should be traded and that he didn’t belong on the team. Now look at him; he’s our most effective bench player. I’m holding the same stance with Jordan. How about we take more than a sample of 10-15 games before we claim he doesn’t belong on the team.

  50. Stephanie Ready’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard.

  51. If the Lakers don’t get out hustled by the Bobcats for rebounds, I think they’ll have a chance of winning even with the poor shooting.

  52. Wow, Luke is having one decent game and now he’s the savior from our already weak bench. The guy can’t even guard Vlad???

  53. Josh Powell needs dunking practice.

  54. I am only seeing the boxscore but y is Kobe taking (and missing) so many shots? whats the deal? anyone have another link? he really should distribute the ball more when he slumps like this and learn to feed off the success of his teammates

  55. 54,

    He’s had a bunch of good games. He’s been the only consistent bench player for a while now.

  56. 55, BCR, I think I’ve said that every game for the past 2 months.

  57. 50. On paper. In practice AI is going to handle the ball instead of Bynum, instantly making the offense less efficient. Maxiell won’t get the touches he should. It will just start to disintegrate. And when things go bad, it is so much fun to have Sheed around….

  58. I had mentioned it in my post in the last game that Phil should give Shannon some run over Farmar and he did it. Glad to see it. I think it’s a good wake up call for Farmar to know that even this late in the season, he is not an automatic 1st guard off the bench and that he seriously needs to get his act together.

  59. Kurt,

    Well ideally Wallace, Bynum, and Herrmann would stay on the perimeter with Maxiell in the post and allow Iverson to drive and dish to a trio of shooters, a bunch of threats that’s hard for another team’s bench to contend with, but yes, it doesn’t work this ideally (hence my “on paper” comment).

  60. Yes Kobe is 4-14 but like 6 of those are HIS shots that he just didn’t knock down.

    I like Shannon Brown coming off the bench first but I feel like he is too tense right now. Playing to not make a mistake instead of just playing.

  61. Zephid,

    I know. It bears repeating though ;-)

  62. Pau shooting for a triple-double for what seems like the fourth game in a row.

  63. I’m at work and can’t see the game, but I’m guessing Brown was brough off the bench early because of his CHA history.

    I seriously can’t wait for the Bobcats to be contracted.

    On a completely separate note, if anyone read Bill Simmons today, he posts an idea:

    “There should be a section on eBay that allows the auctioning of enticing future bets. For instance, a few weeks before the NBA season, I placed $300 on 15-to-1 odds that Cleveland would win the 2009 NBA title. Those odds have dropped to 2-to-1. Not that I would (after all, Cleveland is going to win the 2009 NBA title), but shouldn’t I have the option to sell that $300 ticket on eBay? What if someone bid $1,200 on it (which would be a smart move because, again, Cleveland is going to win the NBA title) and I was guaranteed a $900 return on my investment? Should I take the money? This would be a fun Web site, you have to admit. And if eBay can’t do it, then why couldn’t the casinos themselves build a Web site that allows people to sell future tickets and get a second cut on the action? It all makes too much sense. ”

    What’s awesome about this, is that I think this is almost exactly the first step of what leads to a “Credit Default Swap.” You sell bundles of sure thing bets such as “Housing Prices will never contract” over and over again, then have AIG insure them without regulating that they have to keep any money on hand to pay out and a few years later you’ve destroyed the world!

    Simmons, you’re a genius.

  64. These Bobcats announcers are really good. Really knowledgeable and not biased at all.

  65. Who’s the color guy?

  66. Just from the boxscore, Radman is outscoring our whole bench.

  67. If we are a little intelligent and play the post hard and also controls the stupid jumpshots from Ariza this game will be O.k
    (I hope so)

  68. Looks like Kobe has rediscovered his jumpshot…

  69. KOBE TIME!

    i’m pretty sure this is exactly what happened with him in the Nets game.

  70. bout time kobe

  71. refs turning on us quickly

  72. even on a 1v1 break Kobe chooses to pull up…

  73. He is still missing everything …whats going on?

  74. HAHA sasha refusing to leave Felton alone on the out of bounds play and draws the technical on him – classic!

  75. Gerald Wallace shoots 30% from 3. Why are the Lakers continually running him off the arc?

  76. Farmar’s decision making on offense is growing increasingly painful to watch.

  77. wiseolgoat – Bell got back to have his shoulders squared already.

  78. 77. Not lately, he is shooting 45% in the last 10.

  79. why even play farmar right now

  80. That was an incredibly horrible set of sequences by the bench. It sums up everything and anything that is wrong with them.

  81. This game can’t even be blamed on the Bobcats curse. The Lakers just don’t have it in them right now…it’s pretty sad. They’re lost on offense and confused on defense, and they’ll look to Kobe to rescue the team again.

  82. 80

    I’d still rather take my chances with him taking a lightly contested 3 than run hard at him and allow him to drive to the basket. I don’t think he’s made a jumper all game.

  83. Kobe is awful during this road trip. Actually – since Philadelphia game. Take a look:

    Phi 5/15
    GSW 9/25
    @Chi 10/25
    @OKC 6/18
    @Det 10/18 (the only game above 40%)
    @NJN 5/19
    @Atl 7/19

    It’s composite 52/129, 40% shooting for seven games. Against no defensive powerhouses. What worse: he can’t shoot, but he is shooting.

  84. so Radmanovic makes a ridiculous layup that looked like it bounced off his face, and Kobe misses a wide-open layup under the hoop?

    maybe it’s just not our night…

  85. The worst thing about Kobe’s current slump is that the Lakers have no relief for him coming off the bench. Case in point: 3 guards have come in off the bench (Farmar, Brown, Vujacic) and combined for 1 point on 0-8 shooting. Adding a quality guard (or 2) has to be a priority for Mitch this offseason.

  86. The Dude Abides March 31, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    See that Jordan? That’s how you pass it to Pau when he rolls. A lob pass! Not a bounce pass through two defenders.

  87. There is a better solution:play inside

  88. Joel,

    It’s why I think Farmar is gone after this season. Vujacic’s contract might be hard to move, and Lakers have made their investment. Kupchak is either going to trade Farmar along with Morrison’s expiring contract for another guard or seek one in the draft (probably both).

  89. Ummm we’re not going to get stops if Kobe has to guard Diaw and Bell on the perimeter. Another blackout for Lamar on the defensive end.

  90. so frustrating, nice run and then diaw gets a lucky bounce

  91. The Dude Abides March 31, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Kurt, please check your spam filter. This is getting ridiculous.

  92. Lamar and Pau combined are 36pts
    19reb 10ass 50% FG

    Inside is the only that works the last few days

  93. 89

    I agree, but unfortunately there is the small matter of the playoffs before that can happen. Farmar looked like a liability in last season’s playoffs as well.

  94. The Dude Abides March 31, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Ugh. I’m not even going to watch the end of this game.

  95. Lamar is the lone positive player in the +/- at this point.

    We need this guy.

  96. That about wraps it up. Ugh.

  97. If the cavs pull this out we should definitely start resting our guys.

  98. And 44 minutes for Pau..

  99. i guess we will settle for the 2nd best record then.

  100. It’s pretty shocking that the Lakers are struggling on offense, not on defense.

  101. bench: 3/20, 7 points, all by Luke

  102. I guess the lakers won’t have 60 wins before they head home…oh well.

  103. There is no way the current bench is going to flip a switch when playoffs come if they don’t progressively get better in the few games we have left in the reg season.

    I can’t wait till Bynum gets back. Hopefully with him in there an a line up shake-up maybe we’ll at least get 15 points each night from our bench.

  104. i am so annoyed. thoso last to games freak me out.

  105. Joel,

    Oh, certainly he’s going to get minutes; they’re just going to be spot minutes giving Fisher a rest. Phil probably will just play Sasha at the point and keep Kobe in the game a good chunk of the time.

    Bynum returning isn’t going to be a panacea for the bench. Farmar can’t play well even with Odom and Gasol in the game.

  106. Lakers were OUTworked, OUThussled and OUTplayed by the bobcats…same old story….

  107. Our bench..

    -Farmar looks lost,so many stupid turnovers the last couple games. He gets BURNED by every other guard. He has got to be gone next season.
    -Sasha can’t hit anything.
    -Powell gets blocked on every attempt.
    -Mbenga has it in his head that he is a capable offensive player.

  108. I don’t think Bynum’s return will solve all the bench’s issues, but if Bynum and Luke can score at least 15 points combined, that’s better than it is now. ugh.

  109. Maybe we should do our own shelving. 2nd overall is not bad at all. Besides, we hold our own against Cleveland (though their swagger entering the playoffs is disturbing after seeing this game of ours). This loss was not encouraging at all.

    This, to me, emphasizes the need for Bynum. The bench needs an anchor and usually that’s a man down low. If Bynum is gradually but surely injected (forgive the verb) into the 2nd lineup, then maybe we could see some consistent interior D and O, resulting to more free shots from outside. Then we should be well-rounded team again. The drop from the starters to the bench, at least in feel, is quite alarming. But I don’t want to pressure our big man.

    But then, GO LAKERS!

  110. i am not hating, but farmar, vujacic and powell were plain horrible.
    if this continues lakers will loose against the bucks as well.
    i am a little concerned right now.

  111. lets not forget, pau looks lost sometimes out there with the second unit, he had like 3 or more crucial turnovers. ugh

  112. Maybe Phil will try to get some offensive punch from Adam Morrison in the next game. At this point, I think its worth a shot.

  113. Good god people get a grip.

    Not good losses, the bench is not playing well, but this is not the end of the world. The team is bored. We are bored. And the result is a silly freak out for some. Chill. The Lakers have the best record in the West, second best in the NBA, will win 60+ games. And the coach might know more than you and me about getting a team ready for the playoffs.

  114. I’m not confident about our play going into the playoffs. I don’t care if the playoffs is a different game. We are slumping at the wrong time. There is no collective killer instinct. Farmars brain has taken a vacation. I want to hear the bench called a meeting or do something to acknowledge they are on a slump and are working on it. There are no more excuses. We are not playing well for a team that wants a parade in LA

  115. Kurt, please crank up the spam filter.

    Biggest problem I’m seeing right now is the precipitous decline in quality we’re getting in our frontcourt when we’re going to the bench. A couple weeks ago, when Powell and Mbenga were playing well, this wasn’t an issue, but they’re largely regressing back to the mean. Naturally, Bynum solves this, but the psychological benefit of having another consistent contributor coming off the bench will help.

  116. 116. The bench has acknowledged they sucked lately. What more pound of flesh do you want?

    Do you all think they go out there and say — hey, I want to play like crap today? Really? Do you think it is that easy to just get out of a slump? Have you all watched professional sports long?

    I again acknowledge that the Lakers have not played great ball. Again, they get their best defensive player inside and an efficient offensive force in the paint back. And, again, were the Celtics world beaters in the first round of the playoffs last year?

    I think what really sets me off is the doom and gloom rather than any hope or rallying around the team. I think some fans are just happier unhappy.

  117. not to worry kurt, i don’t think people are going as far as “end of the world” here but it can get disappointing at times.

    as far as i am concerned, a championship team has no time or excuse to play bored not unless at will (saving legs and stuff like that). we’re the only team who can say we’ve been playing bored and with our record, we’re still in absolutely great shape which says a lot. but still, not excusable.

    yeah, why not get some punch from morrison and brown? only reduced starter minutes will allow this. but at the rate our bench has been playing, we need some burn from starters to at least make losses look respectable. no, that’s not an exaggeration.

    bottomline, looks like another 2-game slump for us that we usually get out from. i just miss the 10-15 winning streaks.

    and pau should not be playing for that long. GO LAKERS!

  118. 2 reasons we lost the game.

    1.) The bench played 2.5 minutes of terrible basketball to start the fourth quarter. Their play throughout the game actually wasn’t that bad. Sure it was sub-standard, but it wasn’t nearly as horrible as the first few minutes of the fourth.

    2.) Kobe shot 11-28, but with only 3 free throws attempted. If he’s going to take that many shots, he has to get to the line.

    Overall, I agree with Kurt. There were tons of loose balls that they beat us to, and lots of possessions where Kobe just jacked up a shot. Finally, Kobe decided to pass in the fourth quarter, but by then all his teammates were cold and Pau wasn’t even looking for a pass because he was expecting Kobe to jack up another shot. The team just looks disinterested, and I think that stems from Kobe. He really has had no killer instinct these past few games, and he’s barely playing defense when he’s out there.

    And, as BCR said, and I reiterate:

    Josh Powell really needs some serious dunking practice.

  119. Didn’t give my full attention to the game, but I expected this loss. Over home court too…they can win in Cleveland, I just want them to stay on top of the Magic and the Celtics. My concerns are what John Ireland and James Worthy were just talking about on LTV…poor bench play, Pau playing too many minutes, Kobe getting worn down. Kurt says they’re bored, but it’s like…is it okay for a team that supposedly expects to win a championship to play down to the level of their competition on a regular basis? Or set this goal for themselves of getting home court throughout and then not living up to it?

  120. “I like turtles” March 31, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Kurt,

    I love the work that you do and you insight, but you can’t tell me you’re not the least bit worried. Good teams find a way to build momentum heading into the playoffs.

    Yes – the playoffs are a 2nd season with it’s own ebb and flow. Yes – the team might be bored. But their lack of effort can be contagious and hard to shake off.

    I still think the Lakers will be alright when all is said and done, but I’m officially starting to get worried.

  121. I second the sentiments about Pau. I mean really, we get comments that we’re shutting it down, then we play him the full game nearly? That guy has GOT to be getting tired sometime..

  122. So the NBA is tough. The team is tired and bored and physically banged up a little. Big deal. Please stop the drama just because we lost a couple of games.

    It is a very long season and we’ve done really well until now. This team can and will win the championship. That’s what pro athletes do, they reinvent themselves and overcome difficulties in times of hardship. We’ve got the best player in the world in Kobe and arguably one of the best in Pau. We’ve got many talented players who CAN play well and win. They’ve proved that. We’ve got the best basketball coach in the history of the sport, probably.

    “The coach might know more than you and me about getting a team ready for the playoffs.”

    This is the most sensible thing I’ve read all day. This is the kind of mentality that makes players relax, play better and say good bye to any perceived slumps. If players feel fans are on the brink of booing them, after having worked their asses off all season, they’re not going to feel mentally any better. It may affect their morale. What we need to do now is support the Lakers and believe they are that team that can fight and win in the hardest and toughest basketball league. I do believe so.

  123. I have a feeling that probably 5 people will be genuinely happy if the Lakers win the championship. Everyone else will be like “it’s about time.”

    I can’t understand the logic behind not playing someone when they’re playing poorly. Yes, if it’s during a single important game, like a critical game in a playoff series, but wouldn’t we be much better off if the bench players got out of their slump? What good does calling for Jordan, Sasha, Josh, and DJ to be buried on the bench do for us? It’s one thing to say that the players are playing poorly; that’s a fact, no one can deny it. But to claim that they should be benched because of it? That’s just counter-intuitive.

    I’ve been a math tutor for a long time, but the hardest skill to learn as a teacher is to learn how to let your students struggle. What would happen if every time a student could not solve a problem, I simply took it away from them and said, “oh well, guess you suck at math, so no more problems for you.” The student wouldn’t learn anything. The only way they will learn is if you allow them to struggle with a problem; give them something that isn’t obvious, something they have to work for, and then allow them to achieve the solution on their own. Not only is this far more rewarding for them, but it also causes the information to be far more salient and therefore useful.

    Our bench is going through a funk; Burying them on the pine is not going to bring them out of it. The only way is to let them play it out, and give them guidance as they go along. I have full confidence in our coaching staff to be able to do this, so no, I’m not any more or less worried about the Lakers winning the championship than I was after we beat Boston and Cleveland on the road.

  124. Both the cavs and lakers are putting on an act, one team is acting like their better than they are, while another is playing far worse than their potential. Come playoff time we will see the state of both teams. Just like kurt said, the celtics did not look like a championship team in the first 2 rounds of the playoffs. I think this team really wants to go home already, so do I ahhhhh come home i miss 7 pm games here in CA!

  125. LOL wow u guys need to chill

    The lakers got this u’ll see in the first round when they dispose of the mavs. Kobe will start goin to the line and cut down on the jump shots. Bynum will return the order of the bench. In the playoffs the bench will be less of a factor they won’t play as much

  126. 122. I wouldn’t say I’m not concerned. I’m thinking about how in the playoffs you can cut down on Farmar’s minutes (Sasha at the point and with the long TV timeouts Fish can play more). I have concerns about our focus as a team. I could go on.

    But all of that is different than anything shaking my belief we are going back to the finals. Or wanting to see that.

  127. we went to the line 6 times, and they went 22 times, and 2 for us were because of technicals

    WTF?!?

  128. The other thing is that this is the second bad offensive game in a row. I really don’t think that will be a long term trend, that is the one thing that will rebound when Kobe’s legs get a little more fresh and we head into those stupid long breaks in the first round of the playoffs.

  129. Being bored shouldn’t mean Pau playing 44 minutes in a loss. Either play to win or start backing off minutes on the starters.

  130. Think we’re the only one? Spurs just lost to OKC. At home.

    Start the damn playoffs already. Oh, and by the way, the NBA season is too long.

  131. oh wow lil’ pau i was just thikning the same thing

    imagine how crazy the fans would get right now if they were San antonio fans.

  132. 133. Or Boston fans.

  133. Kurt i understand your optimisim or lack of worry but you gotta admit it, the lakers are in a funk. You cant say a reason for a loss is because they are bored, they havent won anything yet to be bored just yet.

    At this point i am not even concerned about HCA, i am just concerned about us putting together a good 48mins of basketball. We as a team are a little bit over confident, thinking we can turn it on come playoffs….

  134. Kobe seems to be in a funk, and that basically is the state of this team. The Bench after LO left them has been more or less the same, it’s just that we don’t have our early-season Kobe, the one that was ultra efficient and had the best %FG of his career.

    My worry is that it will not remedy itself if we don’t get the other guys performing. Last playoffs, we were expecting a burst from Kobe that never really came, probably because he was spent just taking the team to the finals.

    But this season, at least I am not too farfetched (I think) to expect an explosion from Pau, and, gasp, Lamar. I’m not even worried about Bynum; if he can play better than MBenga that’d be all it’d take.

  135. I definitely understand the concern. While Boston may have gotten it together in the ECF last year, the 2001 Lakers team also comes to mind, that built momentum at the end of the regular season and used that throughout the playoffs. Each team wins in different ways.

    So I do appreciate the concern. But for all those who are feeling down/pessimistic, go back and watch the 2005 or 2006 Lakers teams. Watch Kwame and Smush again, and then realize how far we’ve come and enjoy the ride.

    What will happen will happen. A bunch of sports nerds (myself included) tapping away on their keyboards won’t affect how our team plays or how far we advance this year, so why all the anger/depression? Sometimes you just have to let it go.

  136. Sorry for the double post, but the question i have is this:
    If our bench was so successful in the early season because of Odom leading them (or Odom being with them), why isn’t Odom the one always on the floor with our bench?

    If anything, I think he should be the one getting 44 minutes of play not Gasol.

  137. As was commented earlier Kobe seems to be in a shooting slump himself lately including today. I wonder if his injuries are affecting his play. Pau is still playing way to many minutes. I want the playoffs to start now…

    If we don’t feel our angry feelings today, we will need to face them tomorrow.

  138. We had 29 more field goal attempts and still lost. I didn’t watch the game, but I would suspect that the offense this game was off. I think a good practice or two at home should be able to solve that, considering the talent on our team.

    I’m going to hold off on freaking out until the Denver-Portland back to back next week. If we’re still hitting the wall at that time then maybe this is something more serious than tired legs and a lack of motivation.

  139. 139 – “If we don’t feel our angry feelings today, we will need to face them tomorrow.”

    Or we could just not be angry.

  140. The loss stunk, but it’s over. We need to start resting guys, get Drew some conditioning time in games and build some semblance of a decent bench. This team knows it can win in the playoffs and is nearing the games that will truly define what this season will be. I wouldn’t mind seeing Kobe and Pau sit out 2-3 games – we don’t want to run them ragged. Odd thought – maybe Phil should have the team watch some late ’70s Sixers games to remind the team that talent alone won’t win come Finals time…

  141. On the one hand, it’s true that players occasionally hit a stretch of bad funk that they can’t climb out of. Shots that usually fall, don’t. Just to throw this out there, Farmar (went to same HS) used to pull up two steps past the halfcourt line and swish a jumpshot, and make it look easy. Farmar shot from NBA 3-point distance – during High School games – and make them. My point is, these players practice their craft and work their butts off, but sometimes things just don’t go the way they should be.

    On the other hand, it’s blind optimism to use the excuse of “bad funk” or “one bad game” everytime they lose one (or two). If the Lakers had played two consecutives games such as these past two during November, it would be perfectly acceptable. However, this is the time to switch to a higher gear, to get into the right state of mind, and perform as such. The Lakers (not just the bench) have progressively regressed. That’s not a good sign. Kurt, as you mentioned, it’s hard to snap out of a funk; so what’s to say that Lakers will be able to snap out of their current funk come playoff time?

    Sometimes it’s more important to point out the errors now, rather than assuming they are only temporary. How many times did Okafor catch a pass under the basket while Gasol moved to help the baseline drive? And as another person pointed out, why not allow Gerald Wallace the 3-pointers, rather than a drive to the basket?

    Anyways:
    – I feel Kobe may have wanted to impress Jordan, for obvious reasons.
    – I like it better when Ariza was running with the second unit, instead of Walton. Just completely switch styles when the bench comes on, (some of) the opponents will be flustered before they can adjust.
    – Vujacic hasn’t performed well for months. Ronny, a hustle guy, could always contribute regardless of how well or terrible he is shooting. Was signing Vujacic a mistake now that it’s in hindsight? I do like Powell a lot, though.
    – There has to be only a handful of point guards drafted below 25th pick (and in their 3rd year) that are major contributions to their team. Cut him some slack.
    – Lakers barely scraped by the Mavericks, while Cleveland demolished them. And it would be fair to say that the Cavaliers have a worse matchup against Dallas.

  142. There goes any chance of getting the best record for the regular season.

  143. Larry Brown’s Bobcats executed a great game plan that goes all the way back to Boston last year: keep Kobe taking contested jump shots while packing the paint. Kobe fell for it: hook, line, and sinker.

    Lamar responded to Larry’s ploys and almost single handedly pulled the Lakers back in the first half–making two out of three “not so dumb” 3 point baskets, numerous rebounds, and even a put back on a Kobe miss. Unfortunately, Lamar couldn’t compensate enough for “airball” Kobe.

    This was the biggest game in franchise history for the Bobcats. Both MJ and the owner were there. Hard to beat that motivation. They remain in the hunt for a playoff spot.

    This is not the time to dump on any of the Laker players–including the “bench.” This is when they need our support the most. Talking about “getting rid” of anyone can wait.

    It’s impossible to forecast. The Lakers may not make it out of the first round–or they might win the NBA championship.

    That’s why we watch and hope.