Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

Kurt —  April 5, 2009


Records: Lakers 60-16 (1st in West) Clippers 18-58 (14th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.5 (3rd in league) Clippers 102.9 (30th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.6 (6th in league) Clippers 112.2 (27th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Clippers Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Fred Jones, Brian Skinner, Zach Randolph

The Lakers coming in Cleveland has come back to the pack, and with the Lakers just one game back now of having home court throughout the playoffs, the Lakers will be slower to take their foot off the gas and rest Kobe and Gasol.

But Phil Jackson may not want to rest Gasol, like all of us have been calling for. Gatinho brought this up in the comments and used a Phil Jackson quote after the last game to make his point.

“But he knows he has to step it up and he’s done a terrific job of playing the kind of minutes that are really a compliment to him, to be able to take care of his body and compete at this level.”

This Phil Jackson quote confirms suspicions I have had as to why he’s playing Pau such heavy minutes. I think Phil believes (And we all saw it) that Pau’s conditioning was a factor in the playoffs last year. He ’s playing him so many minutes to keep him in good condition. I don’t know what kind of worker he is off the court, but a lot of “burn” will put you into a shape that conditioning can’t. So what to us may be perceived as borderline abuse , Jackson sees as a tangible means to toughen/strengthen Pau up for the playoff run, which as Kurt frequently mentions, allows for plenty of rest between games once they begin.

Also, I was at the last game (working for the other place) and was down on the floor watching Andrew Bynum work out before the game. He is moving pretty well, laterally and pivoting on his foot. He was working on plays out of the triangle, and he put away one dunk. On Saturday he apparently ran some 5 on 5. All in all, we should be optimistic. Understand that he is not explosive again yet, he is still recovering, but he is getting there and looks pretty good.

The Clippers Coming In: The Clippers are in the second game of a back-to-back, having played in Denver last night. And they are depleted. Missing in action last night was Marcus Camby (ankle), Mardy Collins (foot), Ricky Davis (knee), Al Thornton (foot), and Chris Kaman (flu),

Off the court, the Clippers are a mess. Looking for a GM to be the boss of the coach that ran the last GM off, that has disaster written all over it.

But in spite of that, on the court there are some pieces that can work. And the rash of injuries to the Clippers stars this year has brought forward a couple young talents that have jumped forward. DeAndre Jordan can leap out of the building and has moments of brilliance.

When I saw the Clippers a month ago, the guy who impressed me with his speed and effort (in contrast to Davis) was Mike Taylor. He is a guy out of the D-League last year who has made the most of his chance. I asked . Kevin Arnovitz (he of Clipperblog and TrueHoop network) his thoughts on Taylor and where he needs to improve to take the next step.

He’s a rabbit. Devastating in transition. Aggressive, lightning quick, can cut through defenses with ease, and has the springs to finish at the rim. Also has a very nice floater, if he needs to pull up.

Though he’s had a torrid streak of late, his jumper isn’t consistent. In the halfcourt, his playmaking abilities are limited — but he’s shown signs of improvement, even in the last three weeks. He’s starting to make passes and find shooters much more effectively than he did earlier in the season before he went out with a hand injury.

Add that to Al Thorton and Eric Gordon and there are some young guys the Clippers can really start to make part of the future. If the GM wants to.

Keys To The Game: One of the first things Phil Jackson said in his post-game press conference is that he told the team that they cannot let up in the next two games, against the Clippers and Sacramento. These are teams that will get up for the game and have some athletes — look past them and they will jump up and bite you. Ask Cleveland about looking past Washington.

Zach Randolph will be “covering” Pau Gasol. Anyone who has watched Randolph play defense knows why that is in quotes. Denver manhandled the Clippers in the paint last night and the Lakers should be able to do the same. (Remember last meeting with the Clips Bynum dropped 42 on them.) The Lakers should be able to get offensive boards and putbacks. They Clips do not have anyone who can cover Odom.

That said, smart defense and help is needed on Randolph, who is a great low-block scorer. The Lakers need to throw a variety of looks at him, and more importantly deny entry passes and force other Clippers to beat them.

In general you want these Clippers to be jump shooters, but not catch and shoots off drive and kicks. Bottom line, when the Clippers get penetration, they become a lot more dangerous. And that is in part due to the fact they have guys who can hit the three. Such as Steve Novak. Do not leave him at the three point line. He is shooting 48.9% from there in the last 10 games. Eric Gordon and Baron Davis also are shooting well from three lately, the Lakers need to try to force more midrange and not give up a lot of open threes.

More Banging with Mbenga, please. He earned the minutes. It should be noted that Phil has been a little less about the steady rotation and more about going with the guys getting it done in that game lately. Play well, Jordan and Sasha, and you get more minutes. That simple.

Where you can watch: 6:30 start here in Los Angeles, the game is on Fox Sports with the Lakers guys or KTLA 5 with Lawler and the Clippers guys.

Kurt

Posts

135 responses to Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

  1. I think Mike Dunleavy is the biggest reason why the Clippers arent good. None of the players like him and he tries to control everything. Please fire him Clippers! They are clearly underperforming.

  2. Kurt, how can I apply for the LA Clippers GM position?

  3. So disappointed in the Spurs. Could’ve used their help today…

  4. I remember back in the day when Dunleavy was considered an up-and-coming young coach and when the Lakers hired him it seemed (to me anyway) like something of a coup. Whatever happened?

    1- Having said that, I think the biggest reason the Clips don’t perform is their screwball owner …

  5. Anyone know if this game is available outside of LA? Not seeing it on NBA League Pass.

  6. Ya Spurs/Duncan looked pretty awful. Thanks for nothing San Antonio!

  7. 2. Ask Bill Simmons.

    And to me, the issues with Dunleavy (who is a bad fit with Davis) are a symptom of bad ownership. It all starts at the top.

  8. man this is a total pipe dream, but imagine the ovation that would result when with 9 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, ANDREW BYNUM comes in for pau!

    Phil didn’t 100% discount it in the LA Times article, so I can still dream…

  9. JVG used to provide some great insights during games where he was the color guy. Lately, it’s all about the humor and banter (if you can call it that). I wonder if that was a directive from ABC brass or just him. Either way, it sucks.

  10. Here’s a look at our/Cleveland’s remaining schedules.

    Lakers 60-16: tonight vs LAC, @ Sac, Den, @Portland, Memphis, Utah

    Cleveland 62-15: Washington, @Philly, Boston, @Indiana, Philly.

    From this perspective, we can see that HCA is very much in reach. The most critical game will be @Portland, probably deciding who gets HCA throughout. Looking at the Lakers schedule, assuming we bring our game every night, the only game we shouldn’t be favored in is @Portland, where they thrashed us last game. Assuming we take care of business in all the other games (Denver being another toughy, but being at home helps, and Utah being a terrible road team helps as well), we’ll finish the season at 65-17.

    Now, let’s look at Cleveland’s schedule. They have a very tough 4 game stretch coming up, with Washington, @Philly, Boston, and @Indiana. We’ve seen how tough Washington plays Cleveland, and Boston will always bring their A-game against Cleveland, KG or no KG. That being said, Cleveland has shown itself to be a relatively poor road team, and both Philly and Indiana are much, much better at home then on the road. That Indiana game is especially intriguing, as it is the second night of a back-to-back for Cleveland, going from home on the road. If I had to bet money, that would be the game I would bet on Cleveland losing.

    All that being said, if Cleveland loses @Indiana, they will finish at 66-16, not quite good enough for us.

    Thus, if we take care of business AND win in Portland, I believe HCA will almost certainly be ours, given that the probability that Cleveland wins all four of their tough games being very low. However, even if we lose in Portland, I’d still be willing to put odds of around 40-50% that Cleveland will stumble twice more and hand us HCA.

  11. wow, the lebron love on the abc telecast today was a little too much. didn’t the cavs just get blown out by 39 pts friday?? that is the difference between kobe and lebron… even dating back to the olympics. kobe steps up in big games. I am absolutely not worried one bit about cleveland if we face them in the finals, HCA or not. was it even close at all this yr when we went heads up? real hard to consider them a threat. as long as we stay ahead of orlando and boston(the real threats to our title run) we’ll get phil his 10th ring.

    also, kobe had a funny response to lebrons new mvp website when asked what his thoughts were about it, and joked… I just reallyreallyreallyreallyreallyREALLY want to win a championship. haha, classic!

  12. man, Sasha and Jordan are running out of games to get out of their funk.
    when I see guys like Steve Novak burning us with the consistent outside shot, I wonder why it seems that our 3 point specialist (other than B Scott) always seems to become a crash and burn head case. how much does Steve Novak make a year? I bet it’s less than half of what Sasha makes now.
    I’m sorry, I try to be positive about our team as a whole, but lately I can’t stop getting angry at him, cause he’s also being a bone head on the D, leaving his man who always seems to have a career night, from the 3 pt line, and then Sasha tries to make it up on our side, but it results in a clang and a long rebound and a fast break for the opponents, thus creating a momentum swing…sorry…rambling…
    let’s hope we see him start to have some more games like he had a few night ago, 10 pts, good percentage, etc…

  13. Kidd is killing Phoenix right now.

  14. I wonder hard Baron Davis will play. His BFF Kate Hudson should be in attendance, but I don’t think that’s enough incentive to provide some effort.

    The ownership has signed off on Baron Davis’s ridiculous deal. Not given Baron that deal was the obvious choice given his age and injury history. ‘Ol well.

  15. Given the beating Dallas is giving Phoenix, I hope I get to see Gerald Green play. I’m still a big fan of his.

  16. And I know Kurt said to keep the Kidd comments in the other thread, but just noting that Kidd has passed Magic for third place in the all-time career assists rankings.

    That and Dallas is streamrolling Phoenix. 16 points and 16 assists for Kidd, 81 points for Dallas on 63.8% shooting.

  17. 81 first half points. They should put the dog to sleep already… this is inhumane.

  18. Here’s the link to the stream, starts at 6:30 PST
    http://www.atdhe.net/live-tv-5984.html

  19. 8, it’s an ‘under’ play, but i’m betting we see Drew in uniform tonight. Just my instincts from having played the Phil-exegesis game for so long…

  20. yeah, i seem to remember earlier in the year Farmar was projected to come back later on that week, but then he unexpectedly came in and played vs. the Spurs and the crowd went crazy. It’d be awesome to see that tonight.

  21. Not only did Farmar come in and play but had his best? game of the season.

    I don’t see Drew doing that but it would be cool to get him some minutes tonight. I rather him get 6 games to round into shape for the playoffs instead of 2.

  22. Does anyone know how I can get access to detailed basketball statistics in some raw, easily processable form? For example, something which lists every shot attempt, substitution, steal, etc? I would be willing to pay a small amount of money if needed.

    The play-by-play recap on espn has all the information, but seems very tricky to process reliably.

  23. Today I figured out who Ariza most resembles: Matt Barnes. They’re about as identical as you’ll find in build and game, with Barnes being a better 3 point shooter.

  24. Ashish – If you are looking for game recaps, FoxSports.com, NBA.com, and………..uh, other websites offer game recaps.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/ is a good website that I think offers game recaps as well as advance stats with a glossary.

    I think ESPN has the best in-game play by play.

    Hopefully, that helps.

  25. Snoopy2006 – I agree. Though Matt Barnes’s passing ability leaves a lot to be desired. Yikes!

    I think Sam Young resembles Trevor Ariza too.

  26. 23, I think Ariza is better than Barnes in many different ways, but most notably: decision making. Barnes suffers from the Antoine Walker/Jason Williams (/Ron Artest?) syndrome of jacking up horrible shots at the worst possible time, alienating his teammates and destroying the flow of the game. Trevor’s also a better defender imo.

  27. 25 – I agree, but I think part of it might be a result of the coaching and system Barnes has played in. Nelson and Gentry encourage crazy shots, they’ve never really forced him to refine his shot selection. If Barnes played in the triangle under Phil, I think we’d see that change.

    Trevor probably is a better defender, although when Barnes is focused it’s close. Hard to say.

  28. Ashish, the better place to ask that question is on the APBR message board. A group of very smart stat guys who are always looking for the better of that stuff.

    A lot of what you (and I) would like to see along those lines, like what Synergy does, is proprietary.

    http://sonicscentral.com/apbrmetrics/

  29. This is an obvious “trap” game–a game they “can’t lose.” Let’s hope the Lakers don’t fall into it!

  30. This is obviously very off topic, but last night my fiance (who’s kind of the best) threw me a surprise 32nd birthday party with an awesome Laker-themed cake. I thought I’d share a photo with you guys, since if anyone else can appreciate the effort that went into make such a cake, it’s the good people on this site.

    http://tinyurl.com/dfjzgw

    (Hope that automatically hyper-links …)

  31. Joel R – You’re a lucky man. Any woman who puts that much effort into celebrating one of our’s Lakers obsession is a keeper.

    Now I’m hungry.

  32. Oh, and forgot to say Happy Birthday!

  33. Joel R, Very cool cake indeed and Happy Birthday.

  34. Happy B-day Joel! Awesome cake…..

  35. Sorry for the double post but whatever happened to the Lakers viewing party? I tried starting one a few years ago but didn’t get enough responses. But now that this site has more “members” and the playoffs are about to start, let’s try to get together.

  36. Joel, awesome cake man. Happy B’Day! Man, why can’t my wife be like that, she cracks it at me watching a game (and we only get 2-3 a week!).

    Finally got the ESPN double header on Sat so got to see the Lakeshow play Houston (I’m only up to the 3rd qtr on replay! Couldn’t watch it live argghh).

    Still laughing at Fish’s 3 attempt from the top of the key that missed everything bar the backboard, he’s 3 after that (Kobe dime) was a nice comeback….

  37. can someone post a working link for the game tonight … i would really appreciate it

  38. zerb, i always go to justin.tv and find a link within there. There’s plenty….

  39. Anyone know what channel the game can be found on Directv? I don’t see it listed anywhere…

  40. Has Drew suited up???? Anyone seen him???

  41. hey zerb this one is working http://www.justin.tv/jackak2

  42. I feel bad for the Clippers’ announcers. One (not Lawler) just said: “On paper, you would have to say that the Clippers would lose this game, BUT, you know…”

    Do they have to say that every game?

  43. Anyone know on what league pass channel its on? its no where on directv!

  44. It’s all good, I just heard Spiro say he’s back next week….

  45. Joel, buy her anything she wants! A keeper for sure!

  46. Does anybody have any reason why Lamar keeps getting pulled up defending the post? I saw two shocking calls during the Rockets game, and now he’s been called again when it looks like he’s got his hands straight up (I didn’t see this one).

  47. Joel, that’s an awesome cake. Not sure if I could bring myself to cut it and eat it, it’s a work of art!

    As for the Clippers, well, they’re playing like the Clippers…

  48. damm shannon brown haha

    this is the game the bench will break out from their funk

  49. Wow, go Shannon! Beautiful alley-oop from Walton. He has incredible hops.

  50. I’m not sure what the deal is on the local broadcast, but they seem to have the court unusually well mic’ed tonight. You can hear alot of what’s being said on the court…

  51. @ 50:

    You make a good point, I remember hearing Dunleavy instructing “Al – you’ve got Odom’. Odom was matched up on Novak at the time and this would have been a mismatch due to Odom’s relative athleticism.

  52. luke and shannon always seem to connect for the alley oop

    http://www.atdhe.net/live-tv-5984.html
    heres a link if anyone needs it

  53. Thanks, Kurt (for the apbr pointer). I will try to see if can buy this data for a reasonable price.

    E-ROC, thanks also, but the problem with pay-by-plays is that they are in plain text, which would (a) require a lot of effort to parse into raw data, and (b) may not be consistent enough from game to game.

  54. Joel, that is impressive. And happy birthday.

  55. What’s the reason that Fisher only played 5 minutes in the first half? Is it so they can get bench players time against a bad team? Or was it something else?

  56. It’s only appropriate that you had Kobe on your cake, Joel. Did she say your famous line too? Happy Birthday.

  57. 55. Yeah, I’m guessing so. Farmar played some and Brown got some burn which is good for him. We were up by 19 so why not?

  58. Sorry for the double post, but I found a pointer at apbr to basketballvalue.com, which has all the data that I was looking for nicely parsed: http://basketballvalue.com/downloads.php . Thanks, again, Kurt, and if I manage to find time to run any tests and I find anything interesting, I will post them here.

  59. The Dude Abides April 5, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    55. Fish went to the locker room early in the first quarter to have his sore foot looked at.

  60. The Dude Abides April 5, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Oh Lamar, you should have taken that fast break to the hoop and then either passed or shot.

  61. The key reason the Clips are down only 7: They have grabbed 37.5% of their missed shots. Way, way too many.

  62. The Dude Abides April 5, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Ugh…Fish with the PUJIT three when Lamar has Baron defending him in the post three feet from the rim.

  63. why we keep shooting 3pts?
    i am @office, but really, why we keep on shooting 3pts?
    can somebody help me understand this?

  64. The Dude Abides April 5, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Hilarious end to the 3rd quarter: Mbenga attempts a three! :D

  65. 63. That is one of the questions I would like answered.

    Why are Farmar and Vujacic regressing so much?
    Why do we keep shooting 3s?
    Why are we missing so many FTs?
    What’s actually IN a Jack in the Box taco?

  66. Wow. Joel just said this will be the 8th game in a row the Lakers have held the opponent under 100. I was surprised to hear that.

    Could it be that the defense is actually starting to buckle down? It hasn’t seemed like it. Or bad to mediocre teams?

  67. 65.

    emma…whats in the taco?
    240 calories and 18 perecnt of your daily cholesterol

  68. Has Mike Taylor finished dribbling yet?

  69. Fisher has a minor sprain of his left foot…..

  70. The Dude Abides April 5, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    68. Have we made a FT yet? :D

  71. For those wondering why the game isn’t on league pass, I called DirecTv and it is not being carried. Not sure about other cable providers. Although if you have league pass, you can see it on League Pass broadband – which I am and receiving great feed. Weird…

    Kurt – any idea of the possible dates for the first 4 games (2 H/2 A) for round 1? Living in the lone star state I’d like to see one of the games in Big D.

  72. Why do the Lakers seem to want me to have a heart attack at the end of games that they should win outright…

  73. This run is making me feel….

  74. Remember that time that we couldn’t hold a lead over the Clippers in the fourth?

    For the record, this is why I think fresh legs on the part of the starters is more important than trying to catch the Cavs over these finals games…

  75. 71. I know the Lakers first game will be the Sunday (19th) 12:30 game (it’s not official but everybody knows it). From there I would guess Tuesday in LA, Friday and Sunday in Dallas, but that is a guess.

  76. I think we have completely fallen asleep…

  77. you can’t exploit Gasol on Randolph enough.

  78. Randolph’s stock has plunged over the last couple seasons like… well, like all stocks have plunged lately.

  79. That bucket and board was huge.

  80. Eric Gordon is a menace…

  81. anyone else here think Eric Gordon looks like a hobbit?

  82. Get it to Kobe or Fisher on the in bound and please hit both free throws…..

  83. The refs lately seem to be in playoff mode, letting a lot of grabbing and holding go. Tonight, against Houston, both games.

    By the way, that was a nice three by Gordon.

  84. Thanks, Kurt.

  85. Also, i think Gordon and Anthony Randolph lead the league in “almost about to cry” faces per game.

  86. If Eric Gordon ties this thing up I will be forced to yell some profane things…

  87. Rare night where Odom is -7, worst on the team. For the season he leads the team in +/-.

  88. Thannnnnkkkkk you Baron Davis…

  89. Kurt – you’re right, Kobe MUGGED Gordon that out of bounds play

  90. Way too close for comfort. A win, but not pretty. Still in the hunt for HCA and hopefully we can shore up the D some.

  91. Almost the same angle and direction as Fish’s Point 4 shot.

  92. Good D by Ariza on the last play. But that can’t be how Dunleavy drew that up, 5 seconds is enough to have someone (Randolph) come out set the pick and pop.

  93. Man we had to make that close. Ariza had good defense on that last play though.

  94. for oncee I think it’s safe to say that at the end of the game the starters were the ones who gave up the lead

    since that doesn’t happen often…i wouldn’t think it’s a bad sign

    and this felt like a trap game, no energy and etccc, so glad we got a W

  95. Both the leads we had were product of fortune and not effort. The Clips just missed a ton of shots in the 1st and 3rd quarters, then got hot at the end of the 2nd and end of the 4th. It just so happens that Phil wanted to ride his bench till late, then when the Clips started hitting shots again, the starters were cold coming back in. Nothing new to say about this one.

  96. The Dude Abides April 5, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    81. He totally looks like a hobbit and it’s been going around the NBA blogosphere.

    83. I counted two blatant holds by Skinner on Odom and Randolph on Gasol that weren’t called. Usually when you reach out and grab someone’s jersey to prevent them from getting away, you’re going to get a foul called. Kobe’s hold on Gordon was blatant as well, and twice Fisher was obviously fouled on three-pointers and neither was called. This officiating crew was pretty clueless, but either way, we had a lead of 81-62 with about five minutes left and couldn’t hold it, and that’s not on the officials. Our guys simply thought the game was over.

  97. 81-

    thats funny you mention that cause i hear the guys in the locker room call him hobbit. supposedly his nickname

  98. On the day Cleveland dispatches SA by 20 or so, we battle the Clippers to a game where the outcome wasn’t decided until the end.

    Nice.

    Seriously, at this point in time, I’d take any and every form of win as long as none of our guys get injured. But not really worried about HCA in the finals, because whoever it is that comes out of the east will be quite spent.

  99. Man, Kobe sounded pissed post game on KLAC. Not happy with the 2nd unit, and why should he be.

    How many times have the starters been inserted after icing their knees in the 4th?

  100. Now that we can all breathe again …

    Thanks for the kind words and the birthday wishes, everybody. I’m definitely aware that my lady is a keeper! Hopefully she won’t catch on to the fact that it’s not mandatory for our significant others to enable our Lakers obsession …

    One of the best parts of the entire party is that I’m a California transplant living in Boston and most of our friends are big-time Celtics supporters, but they had to swallow their prides if they also wanted to swallow any of the delicious, delicious Purple and Gold cake. Good times.

  101. I didn’t see the game, but came home in time to catch the Laker post game interviews of Farmar and Luke.

    It’s nice to have confidence, but its another thing to be so over-confident that you can’t take responsibility for playing bad and understand the need to step up and play better. When asked what he thought about how they are struggling to put away these teams and Farmar reasons that it’s a long season and any team can beat you if determined enough.

    That’s weak sauce. I totally agree with Fox’s comment on that, it’s time to stop with the excuses. There are only a few games left and they need to get into the playoff mentality and put these games away. True any team can beat you, but if you are determined to get to the finals and win the championship, you should be playing thinking that there is no team that can beat you and that you will win. I’m surprise that both Farmar and Luke didn’t think that they are playing that bad and actually think that the bench are playing well.

    Mentally weak. It’s going to haunt us come playoffs if they don’t get it together and you can’t get it together if you don’t think anything is wrong. Weak.

  102. The Lakers sure are nice people, helping terrible teams gain confidence and all. When a team that should have been demolished by the Lakers (in this case, the Clippers – with the Vegas spread at +16) come “close” to winning, they gain confidence. Everytime that we barely survive the game and get a win, the next time we play the same team will just be that much harder.

    Good to hear about the news on Bynum.

  103. lol the good ol memories watching the ’02 comeback against the mavs on fsn right now. kinda neat to revisit seeing nick the quick out there, shawn bradley, and a young dirk and nash together. didn’t know raja bell was on that squad too. oh and can’t forget medvedenko and samaki walker along with the sly fox, big shot bob, and b shaw holding us down. and what was that? tracy murray?? forgot about some of these guys. haha, good stuff.

    also, I miss the buzz back in november when noone could stop talking about us competing to break the bulls’ regular season record. how we would just simply demolish the clips by like 30 pts a game in our first 2 matchups. now? the regularity of blowing big leads occured once again. thank god for andrew bynum.

  104. the whole thing was a yawn fest! so boringg! i want the portland game

  105. watching part of the classics on the lakers channel, and it is CRAZY how much kobe improved, wow, major props just for that. Dude deserves MVP for improving so much now haha. Wow Fisher, Shaq, Fox, Horry playing together feels like such a distant memory, a memory filled with good times, just like our season now. I hope the lakers can build on this team they have now because it is special.

  106. yuck. i hate that we can’t hold leads…

    so i know this is a slightly distasteful thing to do (not very discrete, self-promoting and all), but i recently got espn.com’s david thorpe to answer some questions about ariza’s growth as a player for my blog, and wondered if kurt would be interested in maybe linking/quoting from it a little bit at an opportune time? i’m a looong time FB&G reader, but am usually not really the commenting type (in all areas of blog reading.. though i never shut up in real life), and couldn’t find any sort of official email to proposition kurt through… If anyone can help me out you can reach me through the blog … just click on my name! also, even if you can’t help me out, if you like fat basslines you should check it out anyways…

  107. PJ just stood up and walked away from the post-game interview after a few words, talking about we will have practice tomorrow. Seemed very pissed off and disappointed with this game. I almost feel like this was a loss for the Lakers and it almost was.

  108. J-Man,

    So you think we gave confidence to the Clippers? A team not going to the playoffs. We don’t play them until next year. How much we won by doesn’t matter. We won. I think you should remember there is some leeway given in a game like this. Phil had Shannon Brown playing more minutes then he will see in all of the playoffs.

    Confidence is gained when #2 seed Orlando stomps #1 seed Cleveland by as much as 41 pts in a game.

  109. Someone feel free to correct me, but I don’t really recall what our bench did that was so egregiously wrong. It didn’t seem like they turned the ball over on sloppy passes or jacked up silly 3s – more like the Clips just got out in transition more, got hot, and packed the paint on D.

    At that point, it was our bench against their starters, and despite the fact that we were playing the Clippers, we were just overmatched. Just goes to show that claims earlier this season about our bench being able to make the Eastern Conf playoffs was pure ESPN hyperbole.

    Of course, my recollection could easily have been affected by the fact that i mentally tuned out (much like the starters) with us up by 19 with 7 mins to go.

  110. We need to recognize that part of the problem for the 2nd unit is the fact that Ariza and Odom are no longer in it. With Odom and Ariza in the bench, we have the premier bench in the league. Without them, we have an average bench. Period.

    I am hopeful that when Bynum comes back, the game of the bench will improve as I expect the bench’s game will have to slow down a bit to accommodate him. Right now I see a lot of running with little thinking from this group, so perhaps a little slowing down will help.

    Finally, I agree with what Rick Fox said after the game in response to Farmar’s comment: if the bench guys can’t understand that they have to improve, then they won’t improve. The more I listen to Farmar talk, the more and more I want to see him wearing another uniform. I hate to say that as I know that there are a lot of Farmar-lovers here, but that’s how I feel right now.

  111. At this time our bench is not even average. All this talk about a good bench seems to be about another team.

    We will need some production from our bench during the playoffs – even if it is only from 2-3 people. That production extends to the defensive end of the court. If we don’t get it, then we will not make it out of the Western Conference.

  112. This much I know from what this disappointment shows…kobe and pau will have a wild ride in the playoffs. geez.

  113. bench play is really disappointing
    i really cannot understand why.

    we start this season on the high with our bench even considered the deepest in the league.

    now i think compare to cavs, orl and boston, we’re probably the worst.

    should we panic though?
    i think we really need to see this through
    if PJ can be that angry, it means he didn’t understand it himself.

  114. I completely agree with 109, wiseolgoat. The bench didn’t really do anything too wrong; The Clippers just got hot and our shots stopped falling. It was Phil’s fault for trying to play our bench players for a quarter and a half without rest.

  115. Craig W & 1331,

    MannyP13 just commented on why the bench doesn’t look good. I agree and have also posted about the bench along those lines.

    Losing Ariza and LO from the bench is A LOT to lose. If Bynum does come back, everything changes and the bench is once again the best in the NBA. The play could still be better, but when you lose two guys in Lamar and Trevor PLUS the minutes Bynum was putting in with the bench, you’re talking about NBA starter quality being lost.

  116. Last night was strange in terms of bench play. At the start of the fourth the starters handed the bench a 12 point lead. The bench then got it to a 19 point lead and that 19 point lead went down to 14 points when Phil put in the cold, literally ice on their knees, starters. I don’t know how I feel about that. I really cant point to them playing bad last night and maybe the clippers, who have capable players, should get credit.

    anyhow when games like this get me down I look to our 10-1 record vs. the cavs, celtics, spurs, and rockets with that one loss coming by 1-point and it shows me that this team knows when its time to get down.

  117. I didn’t think the bench played too poorly. As K pointed out they did extend the lead in the 4th quarter. However, I do think that Phil wanted to send them a message when he pulled Farmar right after Jordan made that terrible post entry to Luke, basically saying: sloppy play won’t get it done.

    As for what the bench will look like when Bynum comes back, I hope that Bynum is healthy enough to start and Odom goes back to the bench. And even though Ariza has played very well as a starter, I wouldn’t mind seeing Luke back starting so that we could go back to a more balanced lineup with both our starters and bench having a leg up on other teams. I really liked our rotations when LO/Ariza were coming off the bench and I also think that Farmar could use his wing man back on the second unit. We can explore this more when Bynum acutally sees some court time, but these are my initial thoughts.

  118. I have to agree with manny and wondahbap. At the beginning of the season our bench consisted of Farmar, Sasha, Ariza, Odom plus either Gasol or Bynum was out there with the bench. Thats a pretty good bench. Now our bench consists off Farmar, Sasha, Walton, Powell Gasol/Mbenga. That is a differennt bench that is not nearly as talented. With Odom you had a player that could rebound the ball and push the tempo, and with Ariza you had a guy that could press the create turnovers leading to a faster tempo. The bench is missing those two abilities and it is one of the reasons they are struggling right now.

  119. “They won some respect, if only for an evening.” -clipperblog

    then z-bo goes and gets arrested for a DUI and gives it all right back.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4046405

  120. I don’t think the critism of the bench is just about last night’s game. It’s about the overall lack of ability to hold leads and give away the game since the All-Star game.

    We only really have a few games left for them to get their act together. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m worried. Afterall it was in the finals that we let 2 big leads (game 4 & 6) drindle down to nothing and lost both. It’s not a new occurance. They had a whole season to work on that and redeem themselves from that embarrassment. Yet here we are with 5 games left till playoffs and we STILL can’t hold onto leads and win when we should.

    We have given every opponent confidence. I think every team that plays the Lakers knows that no matter how behind they are, if they just keep pushing and not give up they can possibly win. In contrast, at the beginning of the season before we developed this bad habit, teams just gave up by the 4th quarter when we had huge leads. Not anymore. Playoff teams are definitely not going to give up.

  121. wondahbap,
    The problem comes when you realize that Walton was starting and is now coming off the bench and doing well. The rest of the players haven’t adjusted to him and continue their ‘push it at all costs’ or ‘pass it around the horn’ options. Even when Pau is in, there seem to be very few post entry passes. This is no longer an adjustment period, it is a confirmed habit. Other teams have learned to put extra people back to stop our 2nd unit fast break and then we will shoot ourselves in the foot.

    I don’t see Ariza going back to the 2nd unit again in his career with the Lakers (unless he refuses to work on his mid-range jumper this summer), so I think talking about Walton returning to the starting unit is just blowing hot air.

    I am also sure Bynum will start out playing in the 2nd unit and, seeing that we will be in the playoffs, I doubt he will start this year – unless the matchups demand it. With Bynum in the 2nd unit, we will still have the same problems with Farmar and Sasha refusing to pass into the post. Our only hope would be that Bynum would gradually get more minutes with the 1st unit.

  122. New post up, but feel free to continue to discuss last night’s sad sack performance in the comments…

  123. Darius,

    I posted about the Like starting and Ariza playing with the 2nd Unit to strengthen it also. Then someone responded (I forgot who) that it might be a better idea to keep Luke in the 2nd Unit because he might do a better job as a passer making sure Bynum gets the ball and is worked into the offense smoothly. I thought that seemed like a good thought.

  124. craig, PJ said in the Times that he’d prefer to start Bynum, because he doesn’t want him to cool down after the pre-game warm ups…so he’s really using the medical reasoning verses ‘who’ deserves to start.
    so this would mean LO goes back to the bench and this time around with Luke, something we haven’t seen too much of so we don’t know what to expect.
    either way, it sure can’t hurt to get drew back into the rotation, taking some minutes away from Pau as well.

  125. The Dude Abides April 6, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I believe we’re going to see Drew at home against the Nuggets on Thursday. If he does end up starting, I wonder if Phil ends up starting Luke as well. That was our starting lineup when Drew got hurt. Phil could then bring in LO and Trevor at about the six-minute mark of the first quarter. That way, when the rest of our second unit enters the game, we’ll have a lineup of Trevor, LO, Jordan, Sasha, and Pau/Drew. That’s a nine-man rotation, just right for the playoffs.

  126. wondahbap,
    I remember that discussion. And I agree that playing Luke with Bynum would probably benefit both players. And that’s one of the reasons why I wouldn’t mind seeing Ariza go back to the bench. Trevor only averages 6 more minutes as a starter than as a bench player and I think that Phil could easily adjust the rotations so Ariza comes in with Odom rather than coming in with Farmar. That way when Bynum goes to the bench, Luke does too and their minutes could more or less overlap (if that really is who we want Luke playing with).

    Craig makes a good point in that Trevor may have played his last games as a reserve weeks ago, however I’ve always agreed with Kurt in that it’s really who finishes the games and Trevor has consistently been a closer for us. I would also reiterate the point I made earlier: I’d like for Farmar to get more minutes with Trevor as they have a tremendous chemistry. One stat (that is no way conclusive, but does illustrate my point), is that there were 21 games that Farmar played in (after his injury) before Ariza began starting. In those games, he scored double digits 6 times and scored 9 two other times. Since Ariza has become a starter, Farmar’s played in 14 games – scoring in double digits once and scoring 9 points once. Like I said, this isn’t the end all be all of stats, but it does verify something that I’ve noticed from watching the games – that Farmar plays so much better when Ariza is in the game with him as Trevor runs the floor with him and they play off each other really well.

  127. furthermore the reason Luke went to the bench is because they needed more ball movement since Lamar became a starter. With Lamar presumably returning to the bench the opportunity also affords the chance for Luke and Trevor to switch places which would balance everything else out. Chemistry shouldn’t be an issue as it seems this team has it in spades no matter the combination on the floor, save the five-some of Sasha, Farmar, Powell, Mbenga, and Walton.

  128. Ariza’s role should be adjusted with Bynum’s return, whether Bynum starts of comes off the pine…

    Ariza’s outside shooting has been anywhere from bad to unsteady of late, and from watching him play it’s easy to see that he’s aware of this. He’s passing up open looks, which suggests he’s got no confidence in his J right now.

    Last season, we saw more Vujacic during the fourth quarter, and because he was shooting well, it gave the Lakers a valid threat should teams double Kobe or Pau in the post. Now those 4Q minutes are going to Trevor, and if he’s not looking to score, that lets the defense sag off and play five on four, huring the other Lakers in the process. We saw this again last night vs. the Clippers.

    Right now, with a cold Vujacic and a cold Ariza, teams can clog the middle late in the game. They have no one to respect from outside, sans Kobe, and he’ll be guarded closely no matter where he is on the floor.

    Someone has to fill the role of outside threat, and right now — my opnion — Vujacic has the better chance of heating up from distance, if only because he’s a better pure shooter (albeit one who happens to be off the mark of late).

    How does that affect who starts? Here’s how: Putting Ariza back on the bench and Luke into the starting lineup would allow Ariza to play with the more-up tempo second unit we saw early in the season. Let Bynum or Pau rebound and outlet. Force some steals, get to running with Odom and Farmar, and hopefully Trevor sees the ball go in enough on short-range finishes that he begins to get his scorer’s mentality back. It’s the best recipe to “fix” Trevor’s issues of late.

    Hopefully, The Machine will find some confidence from playing with the starters and thereby get his shot back, since Radmanovich isn’t an option anymore. (Big emphasis on ‘hope,’ since no one has a clue why Sasha’s been so up and down this season.)

    The key to fixing the Lakers’ ails before the final five outcomes are revealed and the playoffs begin is finding someone to play with Kobe, Pau, Fish and Odom/Bynum down the stretch.

    This has to be shooter who can play D, and on the roster right now the only potential candidates seem to be No. 3 and No. 18.

    So let Walton start, Sasha finish, and Ariza run with the gazelles in the interim. It’s the closest way of replicating the success the bench saw early in the year.

  129. Darius,

    Those are good points, but I’m assuming Bynum won’t start when he gets back. Not right away anyway. But you are correct, Farmar and Ariza do play well together. The up tempo style of the 2nd Unit was great when it was LO, Ariza, and Farmar out there, with Sasha able to shoot open 3’s (not running jumpers from the left side of the floor, fading left). As a matter of fact, the ability to play a faster pace with the 2nd Unit was embraced. Unfortunately, the dynamic is completely different and Farmar still plays that way. Only it’s with Luke, Mbenga and Powell. That is why the 2ndUnit is giving up leads. They are playing at a pace that our personnel can’t play.

    No matter who gets moved back to the bench, it will compliment Farmar. But how short will the leash be when Bynum comes back? Will Phil let the fast pace play of the 2nd Unit resume? Especially if Bynum is out there? Does he make it a point to get the offense moving through Andrew, thus slowing the tempo?

    Ahhh! You know what? I’m just happy that he actually might come back. Who cares who plays where. It almost feels to good to be true.

  130. Well, playing Ariza with Farmar makes more sense because the two work much better on the break. If Odom goes back to the bench, then we have a better half-court option and don’t need Walton on the floor to do that. Odom also operates much better on the break than Walton for obvious reasons. This probably kills all of Mbenga’s non-garbage minutes and a good chunk of Powell’s minutes, but this is the time to shorten rotations for the playoffs.

  131. Bynum will most likely be starting – Phil believes that it’s best to play him in while his knee is still warm and active after pregame warmups, instead of bringing him off the bench cold.

  132. Phil did not say he would start Andrew. Besides, everyone here knows Phil loves to befuddle the media – it gives him a thrill. Phil was being hypothetical when talking about Bynum.

    It really doesn’t make sense to start a ‘just back from injury’ young player to work with the starters against seasoned vets who have started and played all year long. That is asking for bad things to happen.

    Also, regardless of how we might like to talk, Andrew will not be expected to score.

    Trevor was not promoted to the starting unit based on his ability to score and will not go back to the second unit based on his inconsistent shooting. If Trevor defends well and can affect the game that way he will (and should) remain in the starting lineup. Sorry about Farmar, but he will have to adjust or find another club to work for.

  133. Craig W.,
    I respect what you’re saying. However, if we use your logic of not asking Andrew to score (while also understanding that his major role on this team is defense and rebounding) then doesn’t it make more sense to play him with the starters so he can concentrate on defending the paint while also limiting his offensive responsibilities? Also, if we really think that Andrew’s conditioning will be subpar upon his return, then doesn’t it also make sense to play him with the unit that plays a slower pace while also letting him start the game when he’s still warmed up from pregame? I’ve maintained that I have no clue as to what strategy Phil will use in allocating minutes in Andrew’s return, but I do think it makes a lot of sense to go back to the role that he was playing before he was injured. Plus I do feel if he’s healthy enough to play, there should not be this big distinction between being capable of starting or not.

  134. We’ve started discussing this in the next thread, but Manu is out for the rest of the season and the playoffs.