Preview & Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

Kurt —  April 1, 2009

Records: Lakers 58-16 (1st in West) Bucks 32-43 (tied for 10th in the East, 3.5 games out of the playoffs)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.9 (3rd in league) Bucks 106.4 (23rd in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.0 (6th in league) Bucks 107.7 (15th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Bucks: Ramon Sessions, Charlie Bell, Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva, Dan Gadzuric

The Lakers Coming in: It has been frustrating, at a time that the Lakers should be gearing up and looking like a team serious about the playoffs, they continue to look like a team that is tired and bored. And the bench has lost all confidence.

Since the Lakers are pretty much locked in the number two overall spot (ahead of Boston/Orlando but behind Cleveland), it is time to try to get guys some rest. And at the top of that list is Kobe Bryant — Phil needs to sit him. Kobe hates that. Fans who pay money to see him hate that. But, as Reed said yesterday, his legs are tired and it is affecting his shot.

TRad pulled this together in the comments — Kobe’s recent games:

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
@Char 11/28

For those of you scoring at home, that’s 37.7% in his last 8 games. Kobe’s shot has gone flat, and that is not because of his hand, which has been injured all season when he was shooting well. It’s his legs.

Right now, what matters is getting the Lakers ready for the playoffs, and that means getting Kobe and Gasol a few breaks. A few games off.

The bad performances the last two games were on offense, the one area of the Lakers game that will bounce back the quickest. This is a great offensive team. It just needs a little rest and then the mojo will come back. It may be partway through the first round of the playoffs, but it will come back.

One more thing — resting the starters means more play for Farmar, Sasha and the bench. That, fans, is going to be frustrating as well if recent play is any indication. But that is the price for resting the starters, so be prepared to pay it.

The Bucks Coming in: It’s been a tough year for Bucks, who are now playing out the string. They are without Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd, which is to say they are without their offense.

Richard Jefferson has started the downside of his career, with everything seeming to slip a little this year, but he is still capable of a big game. Like the 29 and 10 he dropped on the Nets the other night.

Ramon Sessions will have Lakers fans saying “that is what we want in a backup PG” as he has some skills and tends to make good decisions in transition. Charlie Villanueva can make plays.

All in all, not a bad supporting cast. Just missing the stars. Which is why they are 3-7 in their last 10 and a few games out of the playoffs. With Redd or Bogut, they’d be in.

Keys to game Last meeting it was the Lakers starters who just crushed the Bucks, and the bench did its part and held the lead. That was against a Bucks team with Redd (who was plagued with foul trouble, however). The Lakers need to sit on Jefferson (your man, Ariza) because without him they have few halfcourt options left. The other half-court plays involve Sessions driving and trying to kick. You can’t leave Bell at the three-point line, he’s the one Buck left who can drain it.

The other key is not to let Sessions and company get out and run. The Nets got crushed by the Bucks because they turned the ball over and did not get back in transition. (Well, that and the Nets have really packed it in mentally.) The Lakers need to take care of the ball, take away the easy baskets.

On offense — attack the basket. The Bucks foul more than any team in the NBA, and in the last meeting the Lakers did drive and get fouled, and that’s why they were up by 20 going into the fourth. But, tired legs at the end of a road trip tends to mean pull up jumpers — that can’t happen. Get the ball inside to Gasol, don’t settle and get to the basket. Do and the Lakers can win this easily.

The Lakers should control the paint. Should.

Often the final game of a road trip is one you can write off, but after the last two games the Lakers cannot do that. They need the win here, they need a little confidence boost before a potential playoff foe in Houston on Friday. This is a winnable game, if the Lakers brought their heads with them.

Where you can watch: 5 pm start out West, on KCAL 9.



149 responses to Preview & Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

  1. 45 minutes played for Pau last night. I know we’ve all addressed this, but that should not happen again this reg season. The fact that it happened last night has me scratching my head…

  2. Definitely am in the boat of rest our guys during games like this. Give Kobe/Pau some time off tonight (or at least very limited minutes), have them play Friday against the possible playoff matchup. Clippers on Sunday? Time off, etc. We still have a few good tune-up games against competition that matters, play Pau/Kobe the big minutes then.

  3. hear hear adam, for the life of me, I can’t figure why we’re not seeing more of LO with the second unit. and more of DJ Mbenga! too, even though he tends to get a bit anxious on the floor.
    I don’t know what it’s going to take for our bench to get their act together.
    last night PJ let them stay in to try and play through it, but it just got worse, not sure what the answer is right now.
    I don’t think it’s fair, or reasonable to expect the return of Bynum to suddenly bring the bench out of several months long funk, that’s too much to ask from someone coming off a long injury.
    I think it’s going to have to happen by seeing someone, Sasha, Jordan, Luke, getting hot, and starting to believe in themselves.
    this is a long funk for sure with the bench.

  4. Couple things:

    It doesn’t sound like Phil is ready to start resting/sitting out players. He said they are striving to hit 60 wins, obviously haven’t gotten that yet and will push on til they do.

    I am confused on why we think Bynum will help the bench? On offensively the second unit has been playing with a better polished and a much MUCH better passer in Gasol and we are still getting zilch out of them. I guess Bynum will improve the secondary defense but it doesn’t matter much when Farmar is getting torched and Sasha gets consistently beat by back cuts.

    I don’t know how this team will respond in the next couple weeks, a little worried.

  5. I know I’ll be called a Chicken Little for saying this, but I’m quite concerned. The Lakers haven’t looked very sharp since that undefeated road trip just before the All-Star break. Yes, they’re winning… but there are cracks showing.

    Yeah, best record in the west, long trips and tired legs… I get it. But Kobe and Pau are clearly tired from playing basically nonstop since fall 2007, and the bench has fallen off big time from earlier this year, let along last year’s play.

    Losses like the Hawks game, or the blown leads vs. Dallas and Philly at home – not good signals.

    Getting crapped on in Portland and Phoenix, dropping games to the freaking Bobcats… again, not good.

    Someone had a likely playoff bracket on TV over the weekend and the thought of catching the Hornets in round two did not sit well with me.

    Hopefully this is just pre-playoff jitters, but my mind keeps drifting back to the Mavs in 2007. They’d lost a disappointing Finals the year before, been dominant in the subsequent regular season and by most accounts seemed poised to be playing in June again.

    And then they hit a young, hungry team that never read the “Mavs will win the West” memo, so off rode Dirk & Co. into the April sunset.

  6. i’ve only watched bits and pieces of the games in this road trip. How do the guys look when they’re on the bench? They’ve basically been stuck with each other since March 21. Obviously their play in the last two games doesn’t suggest a lot of happiness, but I’m just wondering what the chemistry is like. Better? Worse? Same?

  7. i think everyone is overreacting. an 82-game season is a long one and there are peaks and team is immune from it in most circumstances. there are still 8 games left to make adjustments and bynum is still coming back so that will help the team dynamic. so lets not be fairweather fans and cry everytime the sky appears to be falling. the celtics last year were not in the best shape when the playoffs started but they were a good team and it showed in the end. the lakers are a really good team that has hit a lull, they will get past it. if we go sub .500 over these next 8 games then we will have so problems to address but lets wait till then. kobe is still kobe and phil is the zen master, they will figure something out.

  8. I definitely don’t think it’s a chemistry issue among the players. Part of the problem is an ice-cold Kobe. I can’t remember a rough stretch in his career as bad as this one. He was missing some wide-open shots last night. He’ll snap out of it, and when he does that will help the starters a ton.

    As far as the bench, besides Luke (what happened to all the Luke hate?) they are playing terrible. Jordan Farmar has reverted back to “we need to find a point guard to replace Fish” mode, Sasha can’t hit the broad side of the barn, and Powell has had the hands of Kwame Brown as of late.

    Maybe it’s just boredom in waiting for the playoffs, maybe it’s just fatigue, but the bottom line is I have enough faith in this team to not worry about them snapping out of this funk.

  9. -7 A fair weather fan is someone who only follows their team when it’s winning. I see few such fans on this blog.

    Just because people express concern or se flaws in the team’s play doesn’t always mean they’re overreacting or have abandoned their support for the Lakers.

    To just say “Kobe is still Kobe” and Phil is the master is naive, or haven’t you noticed that Kobe’s shooting has been awful of late or that Phil’s greatness wasn’t enough to prevent him from losing his last two trips to the Finals? I think the world of them both, but let’s not assign this year’s playoff success to nothing more than past reputation.

    I think the Lakers can win it all. I hope they do just that. But there are some holes in their game of late, and that’s reason to be worried. There’s nothing fair weather about that observation.

  10. j.d. Hastings April 1, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I just want to point out that I wasn’t the only one who realized that Bill Simmons proposed the sports equivalent of Credit Default Swaps in his column yesterday:

    Q: Just got done reading Part 1 of your mailbag. While your idea of auctioning off Vegas bets sounds like a great idea, do you realize that you just suggested the same scenario that ruined the mortgage industry and the entire economy?
    — Tom, Pittsburgh

    SG: Time for the greatest three-word comeback of all-time when you don’t have a comeback … yeah, but still

  11. More of Shannon Brown please with Sasha Vujacic acting as the point guard. Maybe some Adam Morrison when RJ isn’t in the game.

  12. I’m not going to waste time worrying about Kobe and Gasol being too tired to perform come playoff time, because let’s face it: if that happens, everything else is moot and the Lakers will be fishing by the WCF if not before.

    What really fills me with dread is the continued dismal performance of the second unit guards. I know the starters will see their playing time spike during the playoffs, but those 15-20 minutes that Sasha and/or Farmar are on the court could be enough to cost the Lakers games against other title contenders.

  13. What happen to Kobe . He is not playing again. The Lakers need to go into the paint and shoot. They definitely need to attack the basket more

  14. Speaking of Luke, anyone know how he’s doing? I believe he dislocated his right pinky last night – is he good to go?

  15. Here are the back up pont guards the Lakers have faced in the last 8 games. JasonTerry, Lou Williams, CJ Watson, Hinrich, Will Bynum, Dooling, Flip Murray, DJ Augustin. I would take any of them in a heartbeat.

    Combined their average is 15.5 ppg, 51.1 FG%, 3.4 assts, 2.1 TO. During the same period Farmar’s stats are: 4.5 PPG, 35.1 FG%, 2.5 Assists, 1.1 TO.

    The only surprise is that Farmar’s TO rate is lower than it seems like it really is given the number of poor decisions and bad passes.

    Take out his “tribute” game against the bulls and the stats are 3.2 PPG on 29.6 FG%.

    The last game was Farmar’s worst because he didn’t look to shoot at all. It is as if he has given up completely. It is time for Phil to take him out of his misery and the rotation. Yes Vujacic has also shot terribly but at least he is still shooting and hasn’t given up. And defensively, he isn’t being schooled by a rookie.

    A comment some time back defended Farmar by saying that the play of the backup point guard can’t be the reason for losses. Maybe.

    And yes, Kobe has played poorly the last several games. But when the starter struggles, this is when a Will Bynum, Flip Murray, and Jason Terry can step up and lift the team. And when the opponent’s second string PG ouscores yours by 10 on 51% shooting, this is a significant handicap. You shouldn’t have to get an outstanding game by Kobe, Gasol (and 45 minutes) and LO to beat the Bobcats.

    Farmar is a handicap even Tiger Woods would have trouble overcoming.

    By the way, Flip Murray is an unrestricted free agent, is on 1.5M (versus Farmar’s 1.95M next year), and would make an excellent triangle point ala Ron Harper.

  16. I agree with Bill – it looked like playing Shannon Brown ahead of Farmar last night completely destroyed whatever confidence in his game he had left.

    Unfortunately, Brown played really nervous last night and didn’t exactly distinguish himself either. Perhaps Sasha at the point would help, although I’m not sure who would then spell Kobe. Morrison? yikes…

  17. If we think the Lakers offense in the paint is stalling now, it will be tougher when Bynum returns. The middle gets so clogged that Kobe is primarily reduced to the outside shot. Other effects of Bynum’s presence: Pau also doesn’t play as well, and Lamar doesn’t seem to feel the pressure to step it up.

  18. Lakers starters minutes:
    Kobe -37
    Fish – 31
    LO – 30
    Pau – 37
    Ariza – 25

    Cavs starters minutes:
    James – 38
    Williams -35
    Ilgauskas – 27
    West – 34
    Varejao – 29

    I believe the Lakers are the better team…after all, many claim that the Cavs are Lebron and a bunch of scrubs (which we know is a reach, but they certainly don’t have the talent of Boston or LA). That aside, why does Cleveland appear so fresh and the Lake show seem so limp? The starter minutes are basicallyt a wash, and I don’t think the Cavs bench is anything to write home about.

    Either way, I don’t think the Lakers can afford to rest the guys (not that Kobe would go for that, anyway). Success in the playoffs has as much to do with momentum as any measurable stat.

    We may not even see the Cavs in the end. Everyone is giving the Cavs a final pass, but if the Celts get healthy…forget about it. No matter what happens, I just don’t see KB losing in the finals 2 years in a row. He is way too much of a competitor for that.

  19. What would help our depth? Bynum. So, here’s the Bynum update today straight from the Lakers:

    Lakers center Andrew Bynum has been undergoing supervised basketball and conditioning workouts at L.A.’s practice facility since Monday, March 23, making progress towards the full rehabilitation of the MCL in his right knee that was torn on Jan. 31st in Memphis.

    According to team spokesman John Black, Bynum is operating under the watchful eyes of both Lakers Director of Scouting/Basketball Consultant Bill Bertka and longtime team physical therapy consultant Clive Brewster of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic. Bertka has been putting Bynum through various basketball drills while Brewster – who has successfully rehabilitated injuries suffered by Mitch Kupchak, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and others – is in charge of Bynum’s step-by-step rehabilitation.

  20. By the way, I loved the pic today.

  21. Hey, Cav’s fan here. #18, how can you say that if KG is healthy, forget about it? Did anyone really watch last year’s series? The Celtics obviously won, but that was due to: 1. HCA was huge and 2. Nobody on Cleveland could hit a jumpshot (especially Wally S.) You have to see that Boston is not as good as last year (they miss Posey and the “oldtimers” are another year older. The Cav’s are “infinitely” better with M. Williams added. It is not possible for the “shooters” on the team to be as bad as last year’s playoff performance. With their more tenacious defense, HCA, and Williams helping LBJ, I think that Boston will be no match if they make it past Orlando. I am very much looking forward to seeing you in the finals.

  22. Fun stuff over at Lakers Blog with Photoshop and Bynum at the Mansion. Some funny stuff there:

  23. #21, Do you honestly believe that the Celtics “will be no match if they make it past Orlando?!” Don’t be fooled by their recent performance. They are still the champs…and you are not even giving them enough credit to get by the Jameer-less Magic?! Forvive me for thinking that Boston has enough talent to figure out how to win without James Posey.

  24. I think the primary benefit of Bynum coming back is adding another consistent scorer to the rotation. Let’s face it: Pau looks exhausted recently. If Bynum was jostling with Okafor in the paint last night, Pau would have had a field day shooting over Diaw. Without Bynum and with Kobe cold, our main scoring threats are Pau and Odom. With Pau tired, Odom not always consistent, and Ariza hot and cold from range, we don’t have enough consistent scoring ironically enough. That or our offensive flow is screwed up. Having a guy who can consistently bring at least 10 and 8 a night is a big edge.

  25. It’s not a blowout, but count me in the group that thinks the Cavs win a seven game series this year against the Celtics regardless of how healthy the C’s are.

  26. Well, we’ll just see about that won’t we Kurt?! And it will be a blowout – both the Cavs and the Celts (probably even the Magic!) can take the Lakers in a 7 game series.

  27. celtics will take it over the cavs.

  28. I’m in that group that thinks the Cavs will beat the Celtics also. Labron takes his game to a whole another level in the playoffs. I think he and the whole team are more determined and better positioned this year than any to win it all.

    It’s his perceived “ascendency to the throne”, “the passing of the torch from Kobe to LBJ as the best…” and the Cavs need to win it all to have a chance to keep him around in 2010.

    Though if our bench gets it together and with a more rested Pau and Kobe and Bynum back, I think we have as much of a chance as they do to win it all.

  29. #21, and we you. it’s just rather unfortunate that our two teams aren’t clicking at the same time at this point of the year but rest assured, we’d get out of this funk and we’ll get our beast down low to make sure things get a lot interesting this year.

    the celtics are still the champions and as far as any team other than them is concerned, the title still goes through the land of the green, which makes the upper bracket of the eastern playoffs so interesting. not to say things are less interesting here. it’s just that things have only gotten tighter by the season out west for like 4-5 years already.

    interest. oh that word i commonly abuse. and if you are with me on that, might as well pray no injuries or deterring factors dislodge our teams, or any team for that matter.

    great pic by the way. great preview kurt.

  30. CeltsNation, props to you but a lot of people are calling this as they see it…just as the lakers were unfairly called the favorites entering the finals last season. Now to say that Cleveland is more favored over the Celts as the Lakers were called favorites over the Celts last year… now that is a debatable issue. Good thing for us we only get to meet one of you (fingers crossed). GO LAKERS! (and let the playoffs rock soon!)

  31. any links for the game?

  32. At this moment Cavs are clearly the favourites to win it all. I believe Lakers could beat them (they’ve already made it twice this season) – but we need to “pump up the volume”.

    The return of Bynum would be huge. Mbenga and Powell were lately over their heads. Lakers need 25 from backup PF/C (to keep Odom/Gasol minutes in medium 30s) and Bynum should provide it easily. Playing Bynum with reserves should also make it easier for Farmar/Vujacic. Throw it to Bynum and wait for the doubleteam and kickout. Basketball is so simple game (when you have a dominating center).

    So Gasol/Odom/Bynum is the best frontline rotation in the NBA. Walton/Ariza are at least adequate at SF. Bryant/Fisher are very good starters at guards (assuming Bryant will return to his normal level). The only question mark is 25 mpg from backup guard. I dare anybody to find a team with so few weaknesses.

    The offseason however looks critical. I’ve read recently that Marion may have to sign medium level exception contract. If so then Odom/Ariza could be cheaper than we thought. But we _need_ in a bad way better 3rd guard than Farmar/Vujacic (Vujacic contract was a BIG mistake, it seems). After all for how long we could take Fisher’s game for granted. During this trip he looks like a third, maybe even second the best player (the other two are Gasol and Odom, and I dare to say Gasol is Lakers MVP this season).

  33. Apparently, Mo Williams *does* make all the difference in the world. Cleveland has practically the same lineup as last year – with the addition of Mo Williams – and they have the best record in the league?!

    Just a question to all you guys, which is the more appealing NBA Finals – Lakers vs. Celtics or Lakers vs. Cavaliers?

    I mean, obviously, Lakers being in the Finals is enough for us Lakers fans, but which would have a more gripping “storyline?” The rematch between the Lakers and the Greens? Or the rising King’s claim to throne, and de-throne of the current king?

    Personally, I’d like to see the Lakers and the Cavs. The reason is, well, Boston is supposed to be good. They stacked up talent, almost unfairly (yeah, yeah, we “stole” Gasol), to be an unstoppable team. I want to see the league’s top two players go head to head. Though in the two games these teams played each other, the Lakers’ other players (not named Bryant) were the key in the wins, we know at one point or another during the Finals LeBron or Kobe will outshine the other.

  34. either or j-man, the plots are unique and they both command high drama. the battle of the traditional powers or the battle between the established and the rising franchises. personally, i’d like to give the cavs a shot at us though a shot at the celts can be rewarding once it goes well.

  35. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Bogut = emo

  36. The dude – gotta agree. that slicked back black hair doesn’t really help his cause

  37. “Apparently, Mo Williams *does* make all the difference in the world. Cleveland has practically the same lineup as last year – with the addition of Mo Williams – and they have the best record in the league?!”

    They’ve also had a full training camp to integrate the guys they traded for last year, an offseason without the holdouts of Varejao and Pavlovic, and LeBron playing the best basketball of his career. I think those factors may also have had something to do with their improvement. 😉

    Anyway, I like them over Boston in the East. Like I said at the start of the season, they took the Celtics to 7 games with an offense that was all LeBron all the time. Since then the Cavs have improved by leaps and bounds and the Celtics have gotten slightly worse. I think the loss of Posey will really hurt them in a series against LeBron.

  38. Any other links for the game? I am desperate here…i have been missing games 🙁

    L.A. vs the C’s would definatly be the better match up….the history..the rivalry….the big markets.. i dont think the cavs would have quite as much fanfare….of course it would be close…and you would hear much talk abt Lebrons ascension but give me the boston hollywood match up any day

  39. Ryan looks like we lost our only link to the game. Anyone got another one?

    Check out part 2 of Simmons mailbag… someone asks if Kobe should get the MVP for showing Lebron how to really train over the summer. He has a nice answer about how Wade, Bron, and Kobe push one another to be better.

  40. “i dont think the cavs would have quite as much fanfare….”

    Kobe vs LeBron = unprecedented fanfare. You can bet David Stern is rooting for that series to happen.

  41. lmao what do u know, the second unit comes in and gives up a lead…this is already getting typical

  42. fairly standard fair so far, bench awful etc

  43. God what a disaster. Pau is wearing down at a precipitous rate – not establishing good post position or sealing off his man, and not even bothering to contest interior shots or box out. When he’s failing to establish himself on the interior it’s hard for the second unit to run anything through him, which leaves them virtually zero offensive options.

  44. Josh Powell needs dunking practice.

  45. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    That dribble drive by Sasha? Never a doubt. However, our D stinks, especially in transition, and I’m guessing it’s fatigue.

  46. La defensa de los Lakers es muy, muy mala… 🙁

  47. The link started working for me again.

  48. wiseolgoat: He does look tired. That rest better come soon..

    Nice to see Sasha hitting some shots however. (Grasping for straws.)

  49. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I wonder if my new 47-inch LG Electronics HDTV is jinxing the Lakers.

  50. Do the Lakers even care about playing basketball anymore? Are we bothering them by asking them to work for their paychecks?

  51. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you, DJ. You’re not a back to the basket player. You can hit the face-up jumper, so stick to that. Also, Josh, you’re only a face-up guy too.

  52. Some defense would be nice.

  53. Phil needs to go to each of the bench players and list things they’re not allowed to do. For Powell, it’s thinking that he has a post game.

  54. The Lakers defensive communication is horrific.

  55. Nice flop for Villanueva.

  56. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Powell is a solid pick and pop guy. I can’t understand why the bench doesn’t run it more often when he’s in. DJ has no jump hook, but he can make a turnaround bank shot and he’s a solid face-up shooter. Stick to your strengths.

  57. at least kobe is feeling it today

  58. Wow this is truly the twilight zone.

  59. Hey…does anyone know what the deal is with free NBA League Pass until the end of the season? I had a co-worker today tell me that Time Warner cable is providing free access to the TV version for the rest of the regular season…problem is I tried the League Pass stations and they are not showing any games.

  60. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Bummer…two straight plays where DJ was ready to block the shot and Trevor picks up two fouls. I wonder if that’s what Kurt means when he says our defensive communication is terrible.

  61. im not sure why kobe is bothering to pass it at the moment

  62. Oh, man, Kobe’s version of the “Where will Amazing Happen Commercials?” with his shot against the Suns brings back good (and bad) memories.

  63. I think Kobe’s shooting slump is over at least for this game.

  64. We finally look alive for the first time this game.

  65. Does this look like last night? Big opponent lead, late Lakers first half run to make it close. Let’s hope the second half is different.

  66. THIS IS HOW WE SHOULD PLAY, for 48 min, not 24

  67. HORRENDOUS block call on luke there

  68. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Hmm…that block call on Luke was the exact same play as the charge call on Lamar. Both times, the man with the ball lowered his shoulder into the defender’s chest.

  69. Professional foul by Jefferson on Sasha.


  71. Can’t see the game, but from the play by play, both Kobe and Sasha look like they got their stroke back. How does Farmar look?

  72. Sasha with double figures for the first time in living memory.

  73. Lol, still having trouble with guarding the P&R.


  74. they run that pick and pop with charlie villanueva all the time – we need to recognize this much, much faster

  75. And there is the problem with Sasha at the point.

    This half was really all about the defensive issues. The Bucks are shooting 60.2% eFG% at the half. The Lakers are not closing out on shooters, and the bucks are hitting the shots.

  76. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    72. Magic
    Q: How does Farmar look?
    A: Meh

    I should add, this is the type of game that the Lakers have been winning this season. Some of our slumping shooters are starting to knock some down. Also, Phil, did you see how DJ’s stint in the second quarter didn’t kill us? Give him a few minutes in the second half and maybe Pau will have something left in reserve in crunch time.

  77. Maybe we’ll see a little bit of Morrison tonight with Luke and Ariza both in foul trouble unless Phil has Kobe filling in at SF for most of the night.

  78. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Umm…Stu? Lamar was pushed pretty hard in the back. That’s why he didn’t get the And One.

  79. I don’t think refs decide games, teams need to adjust. That said, this is a poorly called games. Both ends, both teams paying the price.

  80. 81

    I have 2 words for you: 2006 Finals.

  81. Transition defense? What is this transition defense you speak of?

  82. Do the Lakers ever get more than 2 guys back in transition? Gimme a break.

  83. If the Lakers aren’t going to look for Pau on offense, and Pau isn’t going to provide interior defense, he might as well be resting right now.

  84. we need to bring back our mighty 3rd quarters.

  85. Ariza’s 3-point shooting has really cooled off lately.

  86. trevor seems to view going to the basket as running and jumping a crowd of people

  87. cheer for bobcats (today)

  88. Is it just me or does Kobe seem a step slower (and also running a little awkwardly) after he re-tweaked his ankle this game?

  89. wohoo, what’s with the bobcats? handing the celtics a worse loss? let’s wait and see. i have a more positive vibe here than about yesterday, something about charlotte seeming to outdo us.

  90. I think it was knee that kobe tweaked.

    Farmar’s doing a really good defensive job on Ridnour, but that could just be Ridnour taking ridiculously forced shots.

  91. Pau is exhausted and it shows on defense. He’s simply not challenging anything that is being funneled his way. Phil should give DJ minutes to 1) rest Pau 2) put someone who is going to contest (and block) shots in the paint.

  92. man, how much of kobe will be left for the playoffs? injuries here and there. this guy is a warrior.

  93. Is it me or does Pau Gasol almost NEVER leave his feet to contest a shot in the paint? This is a guy who has averaged close to 2 blocks over the course of his career. He should be much more of a deterrent to players who come into the lane. As things stand, once someone gets past the perimeter he has an uncontested layup 99% of the time.

  94. That’s unfortunate to see. I was actually rooting for Sessions to get a triple-double (not at the expense of a Lakers win, of course).

  95. 95. Leaving your feet exposes you to fouls. Also, it’s great when you leap like the Birdman or Amare, but that is not Gasol. He is better off being who he is rather than being who he is not.

  96. wow what’s the record for # turnovers on consecutive possessions? we’re at 4 now

  97. man a basket would be nice, its a good thing ridnour is terrible

  98. 97

    My point was more about getting across and contesting shots than leaving your feet. Besides, unless he’s in foul trouble 2 free-throws is better than an easy layup.

  99. They have matchup problems with us ALL over the place. Lamar needs to torch Alexander, Pau needs to dominate Villanueva. Pau’s and one dunk is a great start.

    Farmar’s really playing good D these past few minutes.

  100. Lakers have turned the ball over on 22% of its possessions so far.

  101. Diaw with the dagger!!!

  102. Good to see Gasol getting more involved in the offense. That last passing sequence involving him and Kobe was sweet.

  103. Haha, Sasha has a funny “running face.”

  104. damn, looks like i spoke too soon

  105. 98. If I remember correctly Kwame B. had a 5 consecutive to’s in a game last year before he got traded.

  106. I think Kobe has more layups in this game than the rest of the road trip combined.

  107. LAKERS taking over! Stop, kobe and pau time! (props to Joel)

  108. how do the bucks think theyre gonna get away with not doubling gasol, he is too good

  109. wow kobe missing a lot of close ones.

  110. HUGE offensive board by Pau.

  111. Kobe’s individual D on Jefferson in the 4th quarter was fantastic.

  112. good game

  113. The Dude Abides April 1, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    I like how Phil left Sasha and Jordan in the game the entire 4th quarter to rebuild their confidence

  114. Tim Duncan is the premier defensive big man of the last decade, and he hardly ever leaves his feet. Pau plays defense similar to him, using his length instead of any great jumping ability. IMHO it’s the best possible form of solid defense (and it’s what Duncan partly used to help shut down Lebron in 07) because big men that jump and get high block numbers 1) tend to be faked out of their jockstraps by skilled little men, and 2) tend to only be good help defenders (see: Camby, Marcus). I like Pau’s brand of defense as long as his lateral movement is on. From the comments it sounds like he’s worn down and is a step slow.

  115. Didn’t catch the game, but it surprises me that Kobe led our team with 4 assists. Overall though, looked like an efficient game – our players seemed to take advantage of the match ups advantages everywhere. Good to see, now let’s just go get our feet in the sand, if you will..

  116. *match up advantages

    Oh, btw – 43 mins for Pau tonight…I guess the Zenmaster knows something we don’t??

  117. 116

    Again, ‘leave his feet’ was probably the wrong choice of words. What I meant to say is that he isn’t getting across quickly enough to challenge players who get into the paint. This may be where fatigue is affecting him more than anything else, although he did have a couple of key blocks/alterations in the fourth quarter.

  118. Jordan Farmar. 5 Points. 25 minutes of playing time. AWESOME. Gentlemen, I think we are witnessing the birth of the greatest point guard in the history of the NBA. Wow. We should trade Bynum, Ariza and Kobe and build a team around Farmar.

  119. If you didn’t see the game, you can’t fairly comment on what Joel was saying.

    Pau didn’t attend to contend layups, at all. Even Stu said similar, Pau needs to at least try to affect the layups, not necessarily that he needs to jump high and block it.

  120. Yeah, that’s where you see the effects of his fatigue – contesting attempts at the rim. Up until the 4th quarter, he was also catching the ball way too far from the hoop on offense, thus letting any double teams harass him easier.

  121. man, that ray allen guy is clutch.

    and the wiz-cavs game seems to be promising should arenas and haywood gradually find their way in the lineup

  122. I only caught the 4th quarter of this one, but I liked what I saw and it seemed like the team addressed (at least for one night) a great many of the concerns we fans have been expressing as of late: contributions from our guards off the bench, Kobe shooting well and, more importantly, driving to the rim and getting to the line and … my personal favorite … Pau getting a lot of touches in the post down the stretch.

    The Bucks helped us out by fielding a relatively small team (which allowed the Lakers to play Kobe at small forward), but I was still encouraged.

    Only two road games left in the regular season, versus five at Staples … 64 wins seems do-able.

  123. I’m from Chicago and was lucky enough to stumble across 2nd row seats to this game. A few observations:

    – seeing Kobe up close was all I hoped it would be. Particularly working the refs, talking smack to RJ and generally having a loud mouth (telling Lamar, ‘work his azz’) were so cool to see up close
    – Sasha and Farmar thriving and closing the game was so promising. Also went to the Bulls-Lakers game and those 2 roadies were their best games in recent times by FAR (maybe I should try to make all the games?)
    – Gasol going with the left 3 times in the fourth was SICK
    – Milwaukee’s version of celebs (Aaron Rogers, Dominic James, some American Idol guyY made me chuckle a bit

    All in all, a nice win. Definitely enjoyed talking with the Laker fans in the crowd afterwards….

  124. This game kind of sums up the road trip — it’s a win. It’s not the kind of game you want to see, not something that leaves you overconfident heading into the playoffs. But it’s a win, on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. And maybe it’s something you can build on.

  125. the wizards hateee cleveland

    should be interesting

  126. 119 – Joel, sorry I didn’t see your follow-up. I agree with you, Pau’s lateral movement and help rotations seem a bit slower than normal.

    Wow the Farmar hate is reaching all-time highs. Criticism is valid (I was and am one of Farmar’s biggest critics) but I guess it seems a little excessive when everyone piles on him.

    It’s partly our fault for placing such high expectations on him (although that’s because of the flashes he showed). At this point he’s playing rather like a late first-rounder, which he is. I’m sure at some point in the playoffs, for at least 1 or 2 games he’ll catch fire and spark us to victory. If we can find a more consistent option and better fit in the triangle, we take it. But I’m not sure who exactly we could pick up that fits the bill, so my guess is we’ll see Farmar around for a while.

    I’m glad he’s getting more PT right now. Maybe it’ll snap him back into form, and at the very least it means some rest for Fish.

  127. And I agree that Gasol was slow footed for three quarters today on defense. I can’t imagine for the life of me why he would be tired…

    Phil said again after the game that he might start backing off minutes when they reach 60 wins. I think that might have been a motivational tactic for the road trip, but now he wants to carry it through a game against a potential playoff opponent. That makes sense to me as a very Phil thing to do.

  128. Great article:

    “Pat Riley, Don Nelson and Gregg Popovich, among others, only days ago provided examples of Divac’s superb court vision, his career-long search for the perfect pass; as a passing big man, they rate him in an exclusive class consisting of only Bill Walton and Arvydas Sabonis.”

    I wonder if Pau will one day be ranked as one of the best passing big men of all time? For some reason I feel like he won’t get his due, although I can’t say for sure if he’s in the class of Walton and Sabonis (in his prime), who I never saw play.

  129. (To be clear, I meant in Walton/Sabonis’s league in terms of passing ability alone. I realize how incredibly rare a young Sabonis was.)

  130. much is being written here about shutting the team down asap and giving kobe and pau (especially pau) some rest. let’s take a look at the numbers:

    the lakers need to go 5-2 to secure HCA against orl and 4-3 to secure HCA aga boston (assumes both teams win out, which is obviously unlikely).

    lakers’ remaining games: hou, lac, @sac, den, @por, mem, utah.

    here’s how i break it down:

    definite wins: clips, @sac, mem

    probable wins: utah

    could go either way: hou, den

    prob. loss: @ port

    imo, it’s an argument for delaying the shutdown for another couple of games. thoughts?

  131. Lil Pau-

    I think there is a happy-medium between “shutting down” and “riding” our big guns. Our team is talented enough to allow Pau 35-38 minutes. LO can play big with DJ. I don’t think any key player should really see over 40 minutes from here on out. That just seems a bit excessive as we should not be that reliant at this point with a couple game advantage.

    Obviously, we do need to win games, but now our cushion is good enough to allot a bit more rest.

  132. Complain if you will, but the Lakers have the best road record in the NBA.

    On an individual basis tonight, Kobe was back, Odom is threatening to be a superstar again, and Sasha had a great game–especially in the fourth quarter when it counted. Even though Pau sometimes appeared to be sleepwalking, he made three key baskets and then an offensive rebound that effectively sealed the win.

    Farmar’s malaise is hard to understand, but I’m not willing to turn on him. He already did better in this game by focusing on defense. Jordan has been a clutch player for his entire career: his time will come.

  133. drrayeye,
    Not surprisingly, I disagree with you about Lamar, unless you only looked at his stats. His passing is still hit-or-miss, his shots are still very predictable and blockable, offensive fouls are his specialty, and he will always sag off his man (common complaint for most of the Lakers).

  134. I’m with drrayeye about Farmar. While he hasn’t been the model of positive production lately, he’s got a great deal of potential and brings many positives to the table. (Speed and confidence come to mind.)

    Here are some of my notes from tonight’s game:
    1st Half
    -Kobe is clearly not 100% during the first half. While he started very efficient (7/7 FG%), he did not bother challenge the fast break after turning the ball over with some poor concentration
    -The defense struggled to rotate quickly enough which left many shooters too open. That needs to be better. I don’t want to criticize the effort/concentration too heavily. The good guys did start the game with three straight buckets coming off second chance opportunities. That’s not a team just mailing it in.

    2nd Half
    -Defense starts much more intensely, even forcing a shot clock violation, but wanes until about 8 minutes left in the game. Lakers hit the switch and start caring on both ends of the floor.
    -Lakers don’t involve Pau in the offense enough until midway through the fourth. up until then, the Lakers forgot he existed. Involving him in pick and roll would have been useful.
    -Substitution pattern was tightened up in the second half with Pau and Kobe playing a lot of minutes. So much for the rest. Without getting rest in the half, Pau scored five straight points in the middle of the fourth that really seemed to turn the tide and give the Lakers the lead for good. Can’t overstate the impact of his effort at this point in the game.
    -Phil shows some confidence in the play of farmar and vujacic by going with them to close the game instead of Ariza and Fisher.

    overall, I liked what I saw the last 8 minutes of the game and was unmoved by the rest of it. Turnovers were the big stick in the mud tonight and I’m sure we all hope that stuff gets cleaned up soon.

  135. Craig,

    You could add Lamar’s “make one–miss one” free throw adventures. As someone who has explored trade scenarios for Lamar regularly, I’m more than aware of his imperfections.

    Nonetheless, in the last two games, Lamar has emerged from his slump, with the “good” Lamar suddenly outperforming the “bad” Lamar.

    nomuscles (136), the last eight minutes clearly belonged to the Lakers, but by then, the Bucks no longer had anyone big left to put out on the court. That has to be a sobering thought.

  136. Drrayeye-was going to make the same point about the Bucks no longer having any bigs on the floor in the fourth. I thought Elson did and excellent job on Pau in the first half, bodying him up and not conceding any easy buckets.

  137. 130. I would put Pau in that category, or at least he should be considered. I would say he is at least as good of a passer as Vlade Divac was. Sabonis was an amazing player, even with two busted knees and in his 30s he was still good, and of course an amazing passer. From what I have read he was absolutely amazing before he came to the NBA. DIdn’t David Robinson say that he was the best player he had ever gone up against after the olympics.

  138. I thought Farmar had a pretty good game, in that he focused on defense and took the open shot that was provided to him. With the unit he was playing with, if he was trying to score more than his “5 points in 25 minutes”, we would have had serious problems with the offense. As it was, he completely owned the Bucks’ backup PG, and that’s really all you can ask of him.

  139. Nomuskles – Pau couldn’t handle Dan Gadzuric physical play in the post. That is pretty much the main reason why he wasn’t getting the ball. Once Gadzuric got into foul trouble, Pau started to attack as he was being guarded by Elson and Villanueva.

  140. Looking at the schedule I notice that the Lakers will have four days off before the playoffs start since there season ends on the 14th and the NBA likes to save
    Laker playoff games foe Sunday which would be the 19th. I think the staff has noticed that and maybe that’s why they are holding back on cutting back minutes.

  141. 136-As long as we run the triangle offense, Farmar will struggle because he has to suppress his game to fit the tri. But even outside of the tri, he is turnover prone and a horrible defender. If he wants to be a Laker, he will have to improve, both mentally and physically.

  142. Everyone see this? Pretty great, I think:

    (from LA Daily News):

    New York coach Mike D’Antoni told an ESPN reporter he knew the Knicks might be in serious trouble when they faced the Lakers on Feb. 2 at Madison Square Garden. D’Antoni walked past Bryant during pregame warmups.

    “Hey, Kobe, what’s going on?” D’Antoni said, recalling the moment just before the national anthem was performed and the player introductions were made. “And he wouldn’t look at me. I knew right then we were (bleeped).”

  143. The one thing that kills me most about Farmar isn’t his shooting struggles or even his struggles on defense (though those things do bug me), it’s the simple/fundamental mistakes that he makes. Like making an entry pass (or really any pass) into the post. He throws lobs or direct chest passes when he should throw bounce passes and throws bounce passes when he should be throwing it high. I don’t get it. He’s a guard! It totally reminds me of Kareem Rush. That guy couldn’t make an entry pass to save his life.

  144. I don’t like to complain about the refs, since I usually think the refs are bad instead of biased, but last night’s game was almost hard to watch. The Lakers weren’t getting any calls in the paint, even when players were getting shoved so hard it showed on TV (“Hey ref, get HD!”).

    In his mailbag this week, Bill Simmons said that Kobe, LeBron, and Dwayne were in a special category of players getting superstar calls. I don’t doubt that I’m biased, but I just don’t see it for Kobe. I think part of it is that Kobe just doesn’t do the full bore drives into traffic as much, and I think the refs almost always give the benefit to the aggressor in those situations (which may even be right). And maybe Kobe is more tentative when he does drive, either because of his hand or because he’s trying to use finesse instead of just strength or speed.

    I think strength is part of the reason LeBron gets so many calls. Like Shaq, players have to come at him hard or risk getting run over, so there’s always a lot of contact. Combine that with the fact that he’s coming in from the outside, where all the calls go against the defender these days and…

    I have no explanation for the calls Wade gets (though three years later I’m still glad I’m not a Mavs fan).

  145. 146

    First of all, considering the antics the Celtics get away with, Simmons has a lot of nerve complaining about biased refereeing.

    LeBron drives the ball to the basket all the time and gets hammered a lot. Corey Maggette is no superstar, but he gets to the line at will for the same reason. Apart from his penchant for travelling (and doesn’t everyone say the refs never call that these days?) I’m not sure he gets as much special treatment as some claim.

    Kobe is an even worse example; how many times have we seen him spend half the game driving into traffic and end up with anywhere between 0 and 5 free-throws? When it comes to Kobe it’s basically hit-or-miss as whether he will get favourable calls or not.

    Wade is a special case just because of the 2006 Finals. I’m not sure if he still gets those kinds of calls regularly but the stigma from that series his hard for him to shake.

  146. Wade travels on 90 percent of his drives. It’s never called.