Lakers Preseason Game #5: The Clippers

Kurt —  October 18, 2009

NBA 2009 - Lakers Beat Clippers 88-85
The easy thing to say is that tonight is a regular season game one preview. Except that it is not.

Sure, the Lakers and Clippers play to open the season in 10 days, but this game will look nothing like that game. Reason number one: No Pau, Odom or Luke again tonight. Don’t think this is anything serious, it’s just preseason precautions.

Those absences do make the “who do the Lakers match up on Blake Griffin?” debate interesting. My guess (and it is early in the day, so it is just that) is the Lakers go with the same starting five as last night — Fisher, Brown, Kobe, Artest and Bynum — which leads to an interesting Artest on Griffin matchup in the post. Artest is strong but he’s not the strongest guy in that matchup, however he has a lot more savvy and tricks than the Clippers youngster. Could be fun.

By the way, don’t read too much into the funky starting lineup — preseason games are a good time to experiment. Again, if this was the season a couple of those guys would have played, but no reason to risk anything. Still, it will be interesting to see if Brown feels more comfortable at the two in this game, he was not last night and it impacted everything he did (including shooting). And he needs to clean up the post entry passes, which were pretty bad at times.

Andrew Bynum is doing great at getting deep position and getting the ball in close to the basket so far this season. He can again tonight, although Kaman has the size to keep him out in a way that nobody from the Kings or Warriors could. What Bynum can do is run, beat Kaman down the floor to his spot. One other thought: As Bynum continues to have success, other teams will start to double and send other defenders, and he is going to have to make the smart pass out. A couple of times last night he took contested shots when there were wide open guys for the short-corner three (for points scored, the most efficient shot in basketball). If it is him taking a contested 8 footer or kicking out for a wide open corner three, the correct choice is clear. He has shown he can pass in the past, I trust we will see that again.

It’s hard to know what is really going on through coaches’ minds in the preseason. With the Clippers, are they really thinking about starting Rasual Butler over Al Thorton (as was done last night)? Is Dunleavy resting Thorton, or trying to send the often inefficient, poor defending player a message? With the Lakers, the questions are less grand as the roles are somewhat predefined in this veteran team. But we will keep watching tonight and looking for clues.

Again a 7:30 tip off on Fox Sports (flip between this game and the Dodgers win) and on 710 ESPN. As for bloggers, Kevin at Clipper Blog is one guy I have stole stuff from in the past, continue to do so, and he is just one of my favorite basketball reads. Also, Clipsnation is quite good and deserves the readership.

On a separate note, if you read one other NBA thing today, make it this story about Bill Walton going back to Portland.



45 responses to Lakers Preseason Game #5: The Clippers

  1. I like Sasha’s play recently. DJ Mbenga, not so much. Josh Powell played well last night, as well.

  2. Kurt, you say you think they’ll start Brown at the 2. Maybe this is a silly question, but why not start Sasha? I mean, he’s used to playing the 2 and he’s been playing well enough lately to warrant the start.

  3. the other Stephen October 18, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    kevin arnovitz over at clipperblog is probably the best blogger in the network. the only reason why readers don’t completely flood his site is because he loves and covers such an unfortunate team. if the team truly turns around, i expect that his blog will be the first in line to enjoy that new attention.

    does artest really have tricks and veteran savvy? i just assumed his only move was flexing his muscles.

  4. kevin arnovitz over at clipperblog is probably the best blogger in the network.

    Other than Kurt you mean?

  5. where’s the stream?

  6. I have not seen Blake Griffin in NBA action yet, I am looking forward to this tonight (he is on a fantasy team of mine), besides enjoying our Lakers players, of course.

  7. links, anyone?

  8. Go to and click on live sports.. Quality stream

  9. links pleaaaaaase

  10. i know its been said but fish has consistently been awful so far this preseason

  11. At some point Kobe might want to contest one of those 3s from Gordon.

  12. The Dude Abides October 18, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I see that not only do the players have to deal with replacement refs, but the game statistician is still in preseason form. That assist by Kobe to Andrew right before the buzzer was counted as a missed shot and offensive rebound.

  13. First preseason game I’ve seen. Like the way Andrew is playing. DJ played well off the bench in the first half. Blake Griffin is extremely impressive. I wonder how the Clipper organization will screw him up.

  14. Eric Gordon needs to keep that beard. When he’s clean-shaven, he looks like a hobbit.

  15. Josh Powell is about as good as I am on his best day.. Honestly what a terrible athlete who moves like a damned pogo stick.

    • Samy, why the Powell hate. First, it’s preseason, relax. Second, this was not his best day but he has a pretty polished, professional game. He can board, has a nice midrange game and hustles. Due to injuries and preseason he is getting a lot of run, and he’s not a guy that should start, he can’t match up with a Blake Griffin or a lot of the top starting fours in the league. But, 10-15 minutes a night off the bench against backups, he’ll be fine and a solid pro.

  16. Andrew’s game on the low block is polished. He’s doing a lot of little subtle things and he looks truly smooth.

  17. The Ammo!

  18. Never thought I’d say this, but when Ammo’s getting ready to shoot an outside shot, I’m thinking “automatic.”

  19. If Machine and Ammo plays superb every game, I’m predicting a season sweep.

  20. I didn’t see the game, but I just checked the box score and was happy to see Adam Morrison’s stats: 5/7 FG, 4/4 3PT.

    I’m glad he got a chance to play tonight (32 min). I heard he was lighting it up during Summer League.

    What do you all think of his performance tonight?

  21. marXter (23): You’re asking for a lot.

  22. Adam Morrison can shoot! I enjoyed watching he and Rony Turiaf play at Gonzaga. He can be serviceable in the triangle on offense.

  23. Good game from Drew. And Ammo is looking good – he and Sasha might start competing for the title of best shooter on the team…

    Anyway, so much for that Dodgers win, Kurt… oh well, Game 4, right?

  24. Kurt, part of me understands your perspective on Powell, but from a basketball player point of view the guy just does not move well on the court. He stands with his back straight up 90% of the time, I have never seen him bend his knees in a defensive stance when we’ve sent him to guard quick fours on the perimeter. To that extent we here at FB&G initially loved his ability to grab offensive boards yet so far this pre-season he’s turning his back as soon as the opposing team fires off a shot (even when hes not paired with Bynum obviously impacts rebounding chances).

    I saw him drive down the middle of the lane after beating his man on a defensive gamble (very out of the ordinary btw) with nothing but a guard waiting under the basket – without a second thought he flung the ball to the corner for a Morrison three. Yes Morrison did score but that pass is a guard’s play not a power-forward’s.

    So yes, he is a reserve who can shoot the free-throw line extended jumper (about as well Mbenga) but after looking at Craig Smith literally “banging” for boards I felt we could do better than a jump-shooting pogo-stick.

    *I don’t think he’s a bad guy, I love his story. I’m strictly talking basketball here*

  25. For a preseason game, the highlights were aplenty!
    – ShanWOW’s breakaway slam, where he started smiling while flying towards the rim, I’d be too with those hops.
    – Kobe’s flick over his shoulder off the board after getting tripped shot, unreal.
    – Blake Griffin’s superman dunk, ouch, but that was like Dwight Howard’s dunk contest dunk, with DJ as the cape.
    – Farmar’s ball control and distribution decision-making, me likey.

    Sorry if this was already pointed out, but I also noticed on the wall at Staples they have shifted all the existing banners over one column to the left so now there is no gap between them and the retired jerseys, but one currently empty column to the right before the little grouping of other Staples tenants’ clothwork at the far right. Yes, I am excited for Opening Night, could you tell?

    • Samy, points taken. I will say that if our biggest concern ends up being the four who doesn’t get on the court most nights, it doesn’t worry me that much.

  26. I agree with Kurt, 10 mins of Josh Powell are the most we can stomach at a time. He still has almost no game around the rim, he can’t put back the offensive rebounds he gets (because he can’t dunk, and doesn’t jump high enough which causes his dunk attempts to get stuffed), but he plays fairly solid defense and has a nice baseline jumper. As a 10th man, I don’t think we can ask for much more.

  27. last night’s box score is a great example of why I don’t buy into the whole +/- stat.

    Sasha had this highest +/- by far of any Laker (+15), and the rest of his stat line looks like this:

    12 min, 0-3 shooting, 3-3 FTA, 0 ast, 0 reb, 0 stl, 0 blk, 2PF. Makes no sense. In what way did he impact the game?

    • Travis, like any stat, the +/- can be skewed for one game, but over time it provides a simple, valuable thing: If a player consistently is in the positive, if his team consistently does better with him on the floor compared to their opponents, there is something to that. Odom led the Lakers in +/- last year. Does that mean he was the team’s best player? No. But the numbers show what he was providing coming off the bench was making the team better than its opponents.

      Now, don’t confuse adjusted +/- (what the Dallas stats guy was using) for raw +/-. Adjusted, which tries to account for differences in who a player is on the floor with, etc.. has doubters within the stats community. There are a lot of questions. But the raw +/- is simply does your team score more than your opponent when you are on the floor. Over time, that has value.

  28. … and for a guy playing for the minimum, I think he’s the best 10th man in the league.

    I’d like to see more Farmar + Sasha this season… I don’t feel Shannon Brown’s game at all. Ammo is someone I’d like us to use at times… Other than him being the most tradeable expiring contract.

  29. Travis, the +/- posted at boxscores represent the team’s performance WHILE that particular player is on the court.

    In essence, its seen as his impact but its neither exact nor absolute.

    Perhaps Sasha was just at the right place at the right time last night.

  30. how about craig smith? the rhino is a freaking beast down low… he knows how to use his body extremely well… this clipper team have a bright future (clipper curse)

    anyone noticed that blake griffin looked lackadaisical out on the court sometimes… like a mindless soul flowing around… maybe it’s the offense…

    since it’s a preseason game, it’s clearly that ron artest needs to be MORE aggressive out there… it looks like he completely deferred to kobe out there… very similar to a neutered dog… (i kno, the comparison is harsh, but currently there’s none other i can think of)

    flame suit on?

  31. Powell is, essentially, our 4th or 5th big man and is a serviceable player. He can play spot minutes and perform certain duties quite well. Others…not so much. But, at least he’s useful and makes some of our sets effective (for example, the side pick and roll with Kobe). At least he plays hard. Give me a hard working player with *some* skill any day and I’d happily take him over a more skilled player that is lazy or only out for his own success.

    RE Sasha/Ammo and Farmar/Brown: I hope the competition amongst those guys pushes them all to be better players. The numbers game says that there aren’t enough minutes for all those guys to get regular, quality minutes night in and night out. So, let them fight for the minutes and prove themselves as capable of performing. Let them understand that there is another player ready to try and fill that role (back up PG or shooter off the bench) and that if you don’t perform, the other guy is ready to take your spot. I’ve always thought that competition makes all players stronger. And, if you’re not a player that responds well to competition then I’d prefer to have another player anyway.

  32. Greetings to all, been in and out this summer and now am excited for the season to start….just a few things.

    Watching the reserves finish off the game showed me why the triangle doesn’t work with every team.

    Since there is no dominant post presence (DJ) the opponents know where the slip screens are coming, so they are shooting the gap and cheating at the top of the key. The free throw line and extended is where we make our living and by shutting that down there was a lot of pick and pop and one pass and shoot plays.

    Luckily, our shooters were hot in the 4th qtr and we were able to win. But when they aren’t hitting their shots, watch out we’re in trouble and will require Kobe and the rest to bail us out. If they take too long to develop a rhythm we can lose some games that way….but that’s putting the cart before the horse.

    When you look at our starters play, there are so many options. Once the ball gets to the post the defense collapses and then you can either hit the 4 coming down for a drag, or the two outlet passes for a corner three.

    I hear Rambis is trying to instill the triangle at Minnesota and am anxious to see how Al Jefferson and the rest handle the change. With two new point guards on the team it’s going to look ugly for awhile, however Rambis got a lengthy contract so it’s worth a shot.

  33. @Vincent C – I actually thought Blake Griffin looked extremely impressive. He showed off some ball handling skills and some great speed/hustle. His putback dunk and the dunk over DJ were two plays that really impressed me. But there was a lot of other things he did that will serve him well in the NBA. I hope he turns into a star.

    AB continues to impress for the Lakers side and I have no problem with the way Powell has been playing. Without the real starting lineup in, the offense and defense doesn’t seem very motivated at the start of the games. Too many easy looks for the Clips and a lot of blown layups and jumpers for the lakers.

    I have no idea what it means but in the first quarter the Lakers shot mostly from the right side of the floor and in the third quarter the Lakers shot almost entirely from the left. Strange.

  34. Bynum looked good, and Ammo has his shooting touch back.

    Well, well, well.

    This season, to quote Mr. Artest, “Is going to be fun.”

  35. I agree about Powell being serviceable and whatnot, but what prompted me to write the post was: A. We’ve seen him more often in the pre-season & B. I feel like we migh

  36. *continued from the above*

    …we might be seeing him a lot more during the 4th quarters as the team begins to blow-out every team from the Bobcats down.

    Essentially given our financial concerns, his willingness to hustle (again not something I’ve seen so far this pre-season, but did see last year), and the fact that he can hit that jumper – he’s on the floor. But I’d advocate giving those 10 minutes of a WOW-Farmar-Ammo backcourt to Mbenga and LO/Artest so there’s at least some semblance of cohesion on the screen & rolls that dominate our reserve play.

    Vincent, Griffin was incredibly assertive both on offense and defense throughout the game – especially for a rook. Talk about commanding respect through your play – I have no idea what game you were watching.

    • Count me in the group that didn’t see what you did, Vincent C. I saw Blake twice at Summer League and now in this game, and he has played hard every time I saw him.

  37. new post up for today