Winning: The Little Things and Getting Healthy

Kurt —  November 5, 2009

Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles Lakers
Winning two games of a back-to-back road trip is good, doesn’t matter if it was pretty or not. Being 4-1 without Pau Gasol is good, doesn’t matter how easy it came.

First, time for the all-to-regular injury update: Andrew Bynum is going to have an MRI today on the elbow that got hurt — likely mild sprain when hyperextended — on a hard fouled late in the Rockets game. We’ll update this post with any information about his condition and status for Friday night when it comes out. But based on his comments, I wouldn’t be shocked if he missed a game or two.

• Pau Gasol will practice with the team today (Thursday). The Lakers were saying Sunday was the likely return date, but if Bynum can’t go Friday that timetable may get pushed up. We shall see.

Personally, it’s game 6 of the season Friday. I’d rather play without Bynum and Gasol than rush somebody back and extend an injury. But we’ll see how things shake out.


The Lakers (and we fans) are starting to see some little things that the Lakers will need to do a lot more of to win.. A couple of examples.

• 1:35 left in regulation, Lakers down one. Aaron Brooks has the ball out high and Chuck Hayes comes out to set the high screen, but Bynum (who has Hayes) doesn’t come out past the free throw line. Fisher gets picked off, Brooks comes around, looks up and can set his feet and shoot a wide open three, which he drains. We often talk here about Fish’s defense and how he struggles with guys like Brooks, but defense is a team thing as well this is all Bynum, who did not bother to come out and show on the screen, so Brooks could do whatever he wanted.

Next Rockets possession (1:22, 89-87 Rockets): Same play. Hayes comes out to set the high screen, but this time Bynum comes out and traps Brooks (with Fisher) and the result is a turnover and a fast-break to Kobe the other way (who gets the foul call on a clean block by Hayes). Kobe hits both free throws to tie it up.

The Lakers will see a lot of pick and roll from quick point guards this year, which will be a test for Fisher/Brown/Farmar, but it will take team defense to stop it.

• 2:10 left, Lakers down two: Ron Artest gets the ball out on the right wing, and looks at Kobe then takes charge and dribbles around the key over to the left wing where he shoots a jumper fading to his left and misses.

Then with :40 left and the game tied at 89, Kobe is working the right low block on Battier when Scola comes with the hard double. Kobe finds Artest with a nice bounce pass for an almost straight-away three, which he drains (and we think the Lakers have it won, ha!).

Two things illustrated here. One we knew but it is even more clear now — Ron Ron is a very good jump shooter with incredible range when he sets his feet and squares his shoulders, but on the move he is awkward. Second, Ron is starting find some comfort spot in the triangle — he shoots the three much better from the top of the key than the corner, so that is where he went to space the floor, and it worked.

A few other notes:

• Stu Lantz harped on this on the broadcast: The Lakers final play of regulation, when Bynum came out high to set a pick for Kobe, both players trapped Kobe and he had no lane and no options. Stu questioned bringing another defender out high rather than clearing out when everyone in the building knew Kobe would take the shot. Stu is half right, I think — bringing Bynum out high to set that pick is a mistake because his only threat is a long roll back into the paint. However, that play makes a lot of sense with Gasol — he can pick and pop, trap off him and there is a bigger price to pay.

• The Lakers are letting opponents grab 32.8% of their missed shots — they are giving up way, way to many offensive rebounds and second chance points. I think this is really a matter of focus (getting Gasol back will help, too).

• Darius made a good comment on Bynum:

Bynum (like Pau, but unlike Kobe) gets most of his post touches in the hub of the Triangle (on the strong side where he is flanked by 2 wing players). When the ball is entered into the post from this side, there are a multitude of cuts and options for passes on both the strong and weak side. Bynum rarely utilizes these options and mostly waits for the side to clear so he can go one on one. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s a viable option and he’s good at it. But, in order for our offense to run at a higher level with even more efficiency and contributions from other players, there also has be passing from this position on the court when the options present themselves. Gasol, Walton, even Kobe pass from this position more than Bynum. I just want to see a bit more of it from ‘Drew.

• Remember that last year, the Boston Celtics started the season 27-2. Orlando started 4-3. It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.

Forum Blue & Gold will be down tonight from roughly 10 pm to midnight Pacific, for scheduled maintenance. The server this site is on had issues last night during the game, so tonight it is getting some love from the tech guys, just be warned. Sorry for the inconvenience.

to Winning: The Little Things and Getting Healthy

  1. I guess Bynum better skip the next game, against Memphis!


  2. I knew sharing an arena with the Clippers was a bad idea. Some of their curse has rubbed off on us and now we haven an injury jinx!

    Just kidding. Sort of…. though I guess better getting the injuries out of the way early in the season, right?


  3. Artest had a couple hickups with his movement in the triangle. I remember a sequence late in the 4th when Drew had to yell at him to cut through the paint to clear out for Kobe who was facing up Battier. But man, that 3 pointer was money. He’ll get that look all the time late in close games when Kobe draws a double in the post. In a game 7, score tied, less than a minute to go, I’ll be happy with Ron taking that shot any day.


  4. I’d rather Bynum have a mild elbow injury on the eve of a Memphis game than a more severe knee injury during it.


  5. GAH! JB, don’t jinx it!


  6. Couldn’t help it–what is the elbow but the arm’s knee? 🙂


  7. After watching the Warriors beat Memphis last night using Mikki Moore at center and Jackson/Maggette at PF for much of the game, I’m fairly confident the Lakers can win handily without Gasol and Bynum.

    Should be another good defensive matchup for Artest, since if you shut down Rudy Gay they have very few scoring options other than a disgruntled AI off the bench.


  8. I thought as long as we don’t play at Memphis in January…

    Feb. 1st @Memphis.



  9. Darius points are exactly why comments made by others claiming Bynum should be the first option are ludicrous.

    I know Bynum had 17 rebs last night, but right now, he’s *still* not getting the tough rebounds. There were quite a few rebounds that Hayes, Scola, or Landry got that they had no business getting. Including one Hayes got OVER Drew that should have been embarrassing. Bynum is still hesitant, and that is understandable, but he must counter his and hesitance and diminished reaction with better boxing out.

    Some of this falls on Lamar too. Guys like Landry and Millsap are LO’s kryptonite because they hustle. Half of Landry’s points wouldn’t have been scored with better boxing out.


  10. While having Gasol in the mix should have a positive impact w/r/t defensive rebounding, he can only address half the problem.

    from past box scores:

    a. thornton: 7 offensive boards
    s. marion: 4 offensive boards
    j. smith: 4 offensive boards
    durant: 3 offensive boards
    ariza/battier: 3 offensive boards

    it would seem our guards and wingmen need to prepare for long rebounds and put themselves in a better position to secure them. we’re an elite defensive team if and when that happens.


  11. Man, if that’s true about Bynum, I really, really feel bad for the kid. He actually seems to put the work in and just can’t catch a break.

    I know I will sound like I’m beating a dead horse but bear with me. Why doesn’t Fisher come off the bench? We always view it as a knock on Fish etc., but I mean it as a knock on the bench. I actually think they might benefit from having a vet on the floor with them organizing the show, and Fish could clearly use the rest. This would also keep him fresh for when we really need him- late in the game as he showed again today with the nice steal.

    One more thing: I think it’s a real cop out when we’re basically told to STFU because it’s only the beginning of the season. I understand it’s way too early to panic, but it is by no means too early to criticize. The Lakers have been playing extremely sloppily and to be honest haven’t watched them deliver a convincing win. THAT, is not panicking, that is a fair assessment from a Laker fan that watches as much basketball as he can. And it is a little more disconcerting when you take into account the smash mouth basketball the Celtics are playing. Also, even though CLE and ORL have lost a game or two, they have delivered solid wins.

    And to your point about the Celtics 27-2, we never saw that team finish so your point doesn’t really apply. They got off to a hot start the year they one the title and who knows how they would have finished if Garnett had been healthy. Also, the Magic started 4-3, but they also started 33-8.

    All I’m saying is that it’s fair to question the Lakers play.


    • GXS, fact the Celtics started 27-2 and we never saw that team finish is EXACTLY the point. We are five games into an 82 game regular season. You are judging the Lakers without Gasol, so how valid are any long-term criticisms of this team?

      I’ll say it for the millionth time — try to enjoy the ride. Everything is not a failure if it is not a 25 point win. The season can be a good one for fans without a title. Lakers fans are spoiled, we come off a title and the team goes 4-1 without its second best player and the comments here make it look like this team is on its way to a 25-win season. If you think the Lakers have the worst bench in the league, you are not watching other teams. I can tell you to lighten up, because it’s my blog and that’s what I believe. Again, we’ve started to talk about concerns with the bench and PG play (but do you really think Farmar/Brown make those key defensive plays at the end last night?) but the tone here sounds to me a lot like my 5-year-old when I tell her no more candy.


  12. I’m not really concerned about the offensive rebounds were giving up. My main concern is (And I didn’t think this was possible) were getting even less from our bench then last year. I think with Odom starting we might has the worst bench in the league. I think were okay if nobody gets hurt since we have the best starting 5, but if the injury bug happens and our bench players have to play major minutes, watch out.


  13. Brought over from previous thread:
    Wow…just checked out both Houston Rockets blogs (Rockets Buzz, Dream Shake). Sounds like they need a waaambulance. Tons of complaints about officiating, the Lakers would be a bad team without Kobe (not even a mediocre team), the Rockets would have won with Chase Budinger playing, Laker fans who don’t live in LA are bandwagon fans, etc. And I’m just talking about the blog posts themselves, as I didn’t stick around to read the comments.

    Usually the opposing team blogs show at least a smidgen of respect for our guys, but none was granted. We beat a tough team on the road on the second night of a back-to-back in which both games went to overtime, without one of the three top power forwards in the league. Nothing was said on either blog about Pau’s absence or the back to back OT games. Of course, I’m sure those blogs don’t care what I think, so I’ll just take the two wins and be happy.
    New comment:
    I only saw the 2nd half and OT last night, but I only noticed two questionable calls in our favor: the fast break foul that sent Kobe to the FT line towards the end of regulation, and the non-shooting ruling when the Lakers fouled Brooks. I think the refs called the foul on the Kobe shot attempt because one of the Rocket players took a full windup and swung at the ball when it was up high, and there was incidental contact from the other defender. With no full windup, I don’t think Kobe gets that call. On the Brooks play, Odom was fouling Brooks almost on the entire drive, and the ref waited until right before Brooks shot to make the call.

    These calls tend to balance out. Scola, for example, gets away with two blatant fouls per every foul for which he gets whistled. For example, he body blocked Artest out of bounds when Artest clearly had him beaten to a loose ball. No call. Later, he grabbed Bynum’s arm, then flopped when Drew pulled his arm away. Offensive foul called on Drew.

    I thought Drew passed much better out of the double-team last night than he’s done in any previous game I’ve seen him play. I checked the box score and he had five assists. Not bad. The coaching staff obviously has noticed what we’ve been noticing all season, and Drew looks like he’s starting to get the message. If he has to miss more than a few games, I’ll be both bummed and pissed off. That was a dirty play by Hayes, who should have gotten a flagrant.


  14. 1 note about the possession Artest did his artest thing with 2:10 left- I remember that because the possession before Kobe had taken a soft double from Artest’s man and didn’t pass it out, instead crossing the lane for a missed shot through a double or triple team. I felt at the time that Artest did his thing to get that shoty that Kobe had sort of denied him.

    Ultimately I kind of understood. We know both guys’ personalities and if Artest only has one possession like that a game, I’m fine. Fisher took more bad shots than he did last night.

    And when the similar situation presented itself late, Kobe made the pass to good result.


    • And JD, agreed, I didn’t mean to overly harp on Artest’s shot selection, which is pretty good. It was more about how he sets himself when he shoots.


  15. Dude Abides: Dead on about the calls, I saw Scola’s arm fully extended, pushing Artest within full view of the official. I think he misses getting that call because once he’d assured Artest couldn’t get to the ball, he flopped out of bounds himself.

    I’m not complaining — gamesmanship is part of the game. It’s unfortunate, but Scola’s good at it, so fair play to him. About the Brooks/Odom call, it was clear on the replay he tossed the ball up once he felt the contact, it looked to me like he was setting up a pass on that drive.

    And although you didn’t mention it, I’m sure that the Rockets blog didn’t mention the rather huge reversed call on the Bynum/Landry out of bounds play. It probably went off Drew, but last year it doesn’t get reviewed and they lose the possession.


  16. ” I can tell you to lighten up, because it’s my blog and that’s what I believe.”

    Since I found out about this blog, I check it first before espn. I’ve really liked it until that comment. You don’t like the how the game is going and you want to take your ball back and go home. That’s fine with me.

    Know, however, that I wasn’t trying to start an argument. You provide a forum for fans to discuss, and criticizing the Lakers a prime topic for discussion. In fact, critiquing the game IS enjoying the ride, I’m sorry you don’t see that.

    Also read the entire post before you reply. NO, Farmar and Brown DON”T make those plays, like I clearly said in my post, we need Fisher at the end of games and said that CLEARLY.

    Sure, address the 27-2 celtics, but that that 4-3 Orlando stat was cherry picked, because they started 33-8.

    Also, these are not LONG term criticisms, one day you tell us to focus on the game TODAY, the other you tell us they have no bearing to focus on the prize in June. Make up your mind Kurt.

    And as far as this Blog’s mission of level-headed discussion, way to go calling us a 5 year old girl. I have insults of my own, but, like you said it’s your blog and you’re allowed to do whatever you want.


  17. maybe some people actually “enjoy” criticizing the team early in the season. I notice here in Boston, the celtics are 6-0 and fans are still ripping the team apart just because they like to do it.


  18. Kurt, on that last regulation play. I actually thought they were going to try and set up one of their favorite plays and it just wasn’t executed properly.

    We saw that a lot last season where Pau sets a pick closer to the sideline for Kobe. At the same time LO flashes to FT Elbow. They ran that against Clev successfully when it was still a close game.

    It opens up a multitude of options not only because of Pau’s skills but because of the versatility of Kobe and LO. All of a sudden you’ve got a rolling Pau. LO at the elbow and Kobe reads the D.

    Pass to Pau if open lane, or pass to LO, make the D react, LO touch pass back to Pau who’s still cutting and can get a layup.

    Alternately if the D sags to either LO or Pau or misplays it, all of a sudden you leave Kobe wide open for a 17 footer. If there’s enough time, that also leaves a wide open corner three all the way on the other side. LO can read the situation if he gests the pass. If the D has flooded that side, instead of passing it to Kobe or Pau, he kicks it to the corner. Multiple options all resulting in good looks.

    I think this scenario still works with Drew since he has soft hands and can roll to the basket for the lob. His jumper isn’t as dependable as Pau’s but he has shown capability. I wonder if this was a teaching moment for Phil. It’s a great opportunity for Bynum to practice this play in game conditions. Learn what the right decision is and how to execute. His chance to earn end of game burn.

    Just a thought.


  19. 9) wondabop- In my view, I would place more of the blame for our poor defensive rebounding on Lamar than on Bynum. LO is great of the offensive boards, but last night he seemed like he was always getting trapped under the hoop on the defensive end.

    Also, all the guys in comment 10) are all perimeter players. Place some of that blame on Kobe gambling and Ron being allergic to jumping.

    Seriously, what I’ve seen from Bynum this season is the best ball he’s ever played. Bummed that he’ll be out.


  20. 16- Kurt, I didn’t think you were harping on Artest, I just thought that sequence was funny when it happened.

    And you’re right about enjoying the ride. One of the biggest benefits of being defending champs is that there doesn’t need to be as much anxiety the next year. The team has proven what it can do. It wants to get it done again, but getting to that stage of the season intact is the most important part of that. Right now is the preseason for the lakers. Games count, but making sure the little things are in order is worth losing a game or two in November.

    Other teams tearing it up right now don’t have that. They all have something to prove. The Celtics need to prove they belong back in the forefront of everyone’s consciousness. The Magic need to prove they deserved to be in the finals. The Cavs need to prove they aren’t trending backwards. The Nuggets are trying to prove they are in the top echelon of teams.

    All of them need to focus on these things to frame their mindset for later in the season. The Lakers just need to worry that they get healthy and understand everybody’s role. And they have a lot more to adjust to right now than just replacing 1 starter. Bynum’s increased role, Pau’s (and now Bynum’s?) absence, Kobe’s increased post game… these are all elements being worked in. In addition to the fact that a lot of the team focused on resting through the summer and there’s a lot of cobwebs to work through.

    If the team is still struggling with OKC in March, or go 0-6 against the big 3 in the East, then I’ll worry, but for now this is part of the joy of winning- letting all the other contenders battle to see who will be our challenger.


  21. gxs,

    I disagree.

    Check the archives of this blog a year ago. You’ll read the same worrying comments. In a year we were favored by many to do what we did, win IT all.

    If you want to think about Boston fabulous start last year, and this year. Also remember that after they loss to us on Christmas, they went into a tailspin. When they were HEALTHY. Blowing out team a week into the season means crap. I do not think last night was sloppy at all. Save for second chance opportunities, I think last night was a good game.

    What qualifies as a “convincing” win? Your statements imply that we should be blowing every team out. A win is a win. Lesser teams would not have walked out of a back to back road trip overtimes 2-0.

    Oh yeah, Cleveland had the most convincing wins last year. Where did that get them? An average or losing record against the top teams and bounced in the ECF.

    The regular season is about working up to peak. A peak that no other team got to last year. Every year Phil Jackson’s teams prove that they peak at the right time, but every year we go through this.


  22. Definitely wold rather have the injuries now, let them rest and hopefully heal 100% and the rest of the guys can steady the ship until everyone gets back.

    I was actually out with a friend last night who had the NBA Game Time App on his phone. I was impressed with how smooth and sleek it was. It was very similar to the scoreboard. Check it out the link below.


  23. I like the fact that these guys are still finding their way and are having to use a little grit. It builds character and forces them to stay away from the idea that they are so good that they can just flip a switch when they want to play well.

    The absence of Pau (and Bynum) allows(or rather forces) Phil to do his normal “get bench guys in in big situations and crucial parts of the game” routine without me having to yell, “Put the starters back in!” (because I don’t have his patience and long view in the heat of the moment) Josh Powell and Shannon Brown should be the benefactors in these situations.

    I also liked the lineup in the last two games that had Artest and Bynum out there with bench guys. This seems to be waking up Artest’s offense while also getting him some extra time in the more standard version of the Tri that the bench typically should be running.

    I think our concerns about Artest taking bad shots or pounding the air out of the ball should be tempered by what he was dealing with in his previous incarnations in Houston and Sacramento. As the Houston announcer said last night, “I think Artest dribbled the ball too much in the Houston offense last year.” To which Clyde Drexler countered, “Without Tracy or anyone else able to create their own shot (on the perimeter), he had to.”


  24. I guess I am a bit bewildered at the lack of respect Bynum gets from some of the Lakers fans here.

    17 rebounds in an NBA game is tough. There is no soft way to do that.

    I agree that Bynum is not shoving people out of the way, stepping on feet, swinging elbows, and tackling opposing players on the way to the rebound, so I suppose that he is soft.

    Here is the thing: the other guys playing against you are also some of the best players in the world. Even the third string guys are not bums. Sometimes they beat you to the spot, or the loose ball, or the rebound.

    Bynum is showing his effort in his constant hustle. He is out-working his defenders by running the floor very well, getting good position in the post and finishing when given the opportunity.

    Not sure what else fans want.

    20 and 10 a night, with a block, a steal, 2 assists, and only 2 turnovers. And, unlike many centers, Bynum hits his free throws. I would root for him for that alone, seriously.


  25. An encouraging sign last night (especially in light of some of the criticisms of the night before) – Kobe passing to Artest for the three in crunch time. Kobe passing to Bynum the next crunch time.

    Drew’s stat line was pretty good, too.

    Hoping the injury bugs leaves soon, that is the one thing that might take the enjoyment out of this ride…


  26. 17. JB, you’re right about that reversed out of bounds call. Neither blog mentioned it. Although it was definitely off Bynum and the referees were correct to reverse it, the reason it was off Bynum was because Hayes whacked Drew’s wrist and hand, causing the ball to fly out of bounds. The refs aren’t allowed to call loose ball fouls in a replay review, so the Rockets were awarded the ball.

    GXS, it’s certainly within Kurt’s rights as blog owner/moderator to collectively label a group of whining fans “five-year old girls” when they complain (after a championship season, no less) about a team that’s started 4-1 without its all-star power forward, including two OT road wins on back-to-back nights. ANY road win against this Houston team is impressive (even when LA is at full strength), let alone coming off an OT victory the night before, and without Pau for each game.


  27. 28. I can’t say that I blame Pau for being irritated with both the team’s handling of his injury and the situation that led to that injury. Turning down his request for three days of rest upon the opening of training camp was dumb. The guy was already in shape after the Euro championships, and his off-season schedule the past two summers has been insane. Is there another NBA player who’s had a tougher schedule the past two seasons (making it to the NBA Finals in both 2008 and 2009, making it to the Olympic Final in 08, and making it to the European Final in 09)?

    Also, with the Laker medical staff’s recent history of misdiagnosing and/or mistreating injuries to the Laker big men (Malone, Mihm, Bynum), it should be automatic for any Laker big man to get a second opinion from an outside specialist.


  28. 3ThreeIII,

    Re:”I guess I am a bit bewildered at the lack of respect Bynum gets from some of the Lakers fans here.

    17 rebounds in an NBA game is tough. There is no soft way to do that. ”

    I no way am I lacking respect for Drew or what he did last night. It was great to see that line. But going forward, he is going to have to do a better job boxing out because every team isn’t 6’8″ or shorter. There will be taller, more effective rebounders that he’s going to have to work much harder against, like Greg Oden, Shaq, Perkins, or Timmy.

    His length got him rebounds last night. It won’t some games (like his 3 rebs game). Given that his strength isn’t there yet, he’s going to have to work harder some games to get those rebounds. That happens by boxing out. With his size, strength, and length, better boxing out will make him impossible to rebound over. His rebounding is important to our defense. That’s my only point. Not to complain.


  29. OK, you guys win. I will keep my criticisms to myself. The defending champions are beyond reproach.

    I appreciate their wins as much as the next guy, I wasn’t blowing things out of proportion. I was just, as Kurt has advised millions of times, taking it one game at a time and pointing out areas where they clearly need work.

    Can’t wait to see some of you at the next LA live.


  30. ***Given that his strength i(or confidence) isn’t fully there yet…in his knee.


  31. 32. Gxs, there are definitely faults. Even without Gasol, the team is far and beyond better than 90% of the rest of the league. 4-1 with a +1 pt differential is still 4-1, but is not 5-0, or 4-1 with a +30 pt differential.

    There are definitely faults with how the team is playing. I think what Kurt is trying to say is that it is November. If the team is playing like this AND not getting the results (4-1 wins most 7-game series, I think) in June, then it is time to panic.


  32. @29 Of course it’s within his rights to enforce an attitude on the entire populace of a blog where open discussion and debate is cherished…

    I pretty much agree with 18 entirely. I have enjoyed this season immensely so far, as have many others. I don’t see why a few complaints and thoughts about “I hope such and such happens, soon” do anything to dispel this. I don’t really see mass panic saying that this season is obviously done and we’re a horrible team.

    After reading that comment it has skewed my view of this site quite a bit as well. There have been so many posts in the past week or so saying “All is well, beginning of season, don’t worry/talk about it til later”. If that is really the point, why am I bothering to watch games now at all? Oh, because I actually enjoy watching the Lakers, even if I find a few faults. I sincerely hope that open discussion and debate aren’t limited just because a few people can’t handle a small bit of debbie downer syndrome.


    • News on Bynum: Just a strain, nothing serious, but he is doubtful for Friday. Gasol is practicing but not in contact drills and likely will not play. Phil said after last night he wants Gasol to play, Gasol said at that time he had a ways to go. That tension continues to bubble up. But at least it’s nothing serious with Drew. When more info comes in, I’ll try to get a short new post up. (We may start doing more of that around here, a couple smaller posts rather than one massive one.)


  33. I haven’t watched every minute of every game, so someone tell me if I’m wrong. It seems to me that whenever the bench guys are in, they’re all in together. It might be a better approach to throw in some of the bench guys periodicly with mostly starters, and rest the starters individualy as opposed to all at once. I know we did this last year, but if you remember the bench wasn’t neary as good last year in the second half after LO and Ariza moved to the starting line-up.

    I think when Pau comes back we will be fine since you will always have 2 of the 3 bigs in (Pau/Bynum/LO) with 3 reserves, but in the meantime maybe resting the starters individualy can work.


  34. 37. Franky,

    PJ seemed to have mixed up last night.


  35. Criticism is fine, but claiming that the Lakers should make any sweeping changes to their roster and/or style and/or rotations 5 games into the season is like citing a really hot day in January as rigorous proof of global warming; absolutely undecidable and almost certainly false.

    Some people get joy out of criticism; that’s just the way they are. Some of us can simply laugh through the mistakes and cheer through the victories. It’s ok to be critical, so long as it is done in a tasteful, respectful, rigorous, and insightful way. Simply citing over and over again that Derek Fisher sucks does not fulfill any of these qualities.


  36. “Games count, but making sure the little things are in order is worth losing a game or two in November. ”

    J.D. The little things that is causing all the panick, boxing out, big man showing on pick and roll, and rotating on defense has been taught since players first picked up the ball. Its the elementary things that LA is struggling with, and a veteran team that has been together for some time should not struggle in the hustle department. PJ can teach the team the tiangle, work on bench rotation, team cohesiveness, but he cant teach hustle, thats something that the players have to do themselves.

    If it was a case of ironing out the wrinkles of Drew playing limited minutes last year because of injury, or Ron being implemented into a new offense thats fine to take one on the chin for. But to take one on the chin because we are not doing what has been taught since organized ball first started, is a true homer with horse blinders on.


  37. 36. Kurt, I’d take a potential loss to Memphis if it means Bynum and Gasol healthy the rest of the way.


  38. 36, Kurt – is the tension bubbling due to organizational resentment with Pau’s decision to play Eurobasket this summer?


  39. The substitution patterns for the bench are strange right now–PJ subs 5 for 5 nearly every time, leaving the team on the floor without a reliable go-to scorer. These guys are a little spoiled by having Kobe on the team, and so Sasha/Luke/Farmar/Powell/Mbenga/Brown are all a little reticent to take that shot with the shot clock running down.

    Putting LO back with that group will make a huge difference, not only because his jump shot is much improved this year, but because he’s a threat to take it to the hoop as well, and the defense sagging off him gives the other players space. I predict once the starting lineup is back at full strength, we’ll suddenly see the bench, led by Lamar, pick up significantly.

    (And if Luke could just find a way to shoot just slightly more reliably, they’d begin to blow people out.)

    But Phil always experiments with rotations early in the season, oftentimes until mid-December. He does unorthodox things, like running a team out there that clearly isn’t getting it done, and doing it for extended minutes, to see if they can work it out, or if not, who is the weak link.

    He’s free to do this because the first team is good enough to get back into most games (though this isn’t really wise, loading up the starters with 3-10 more minutes a game early in the season), and really, a #3 seed is probably fine by the end of the year, so you can afford to give away 3 or 4 games you should win. Obviously, I’d like to see them with the best record at the end of the year, but honestly I don’t think that’s Phil’s focus, and he’s coached 10 more championship teams than I have, so I’ll roll with that.


  40. @41,
    That would be a bit of a double standard, wouldn’t it, since they didn’t seem to mind Kobe playing in the Olympics?


  41. I am wondering about this tension that is bubbling up between Pau and Phil Jackson. Seems odd that Jackson is pushing Pau so hard early in the season. Is this a big thing Kurt or just two people thinking out loud to the press?


  42. 42 – good point, but since when have front offices in any team ever been rational? i’m just curious, like greencrow, what the source of all this latent tension is.


  43. @44,
    Also a good point on front offices… and I am curious as well. If nothing else, in any team sport the mood and atmosphere on the team is important, and tension this early in the season is a bad sign.


  44. Is Jackson antagonizing Gasol by indirectly questioning his toughness? Again?

    Jackson can be a little impish in the way he goes about motivating his players sometimes.


  45. #13, The Dude Abides,

    Those blogs, just like many around the NBA are just for the homers and not moderated very well. That is one reason that I come back to this site often. Most times I just come to read the comments and don’t participate, but am usually impressed by the generally open-minded and well thought comments.

    The true basketball fans in Houston (And there are many of us) understand the circumstances outside of the obvious that go on during games. I discussed Gasol being out, and the good fortune that we received when the Lakers went OT with OKC multiple times yesterday. Also keep in mind that there were pretty low expectations coming into this series, so people are overly excited with the season so far.


    • Wiseolgoat, I would put it this way: When you have Kobe on your squad, who would go Ronnie Lott and have his finger cut off to play a regular season game, the standard for what kind of pain you should play through may be higher than in other places. I don’t think it’s Euroball resentment.

      DirtySanchez, at what point does any team play at a constant rate with the fundamentals through 82 games? Do people think that Andrew Bynum just forgot how to box out, or that it was mental focus for a few game, which he had back last night, then will slack off on again in a few weeks for a while?

      This site has always tried to be about nuance. There certainly are things of concern this yearly in the season, the bench play being at the top of the list. But this is game six coming up, and come May the back-to-back against OKC/Houston will not matter. What will is if they have figured out the problems and grown enough to fix them. We need to allow time for that growth, I think. That is how PJ coaches, and he has 10 rings for a reason. Mitch was patient in the face of pressure to trade Bynum, and how did that work out? What we are simply saying is that sweeping changes now don’t make sense to us. People can disagree reasonably, and people can post that here. But if anyone comes in with an opinion, they need to be able to defend it with logics and facts.

      And for the record everyone, I can tell you whatever I want on my blog. Whether you chose to listen/subscribe to it or not is your own choice.


  46. the other Stephen November 5, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    i remember bynum came away from the foul clutching his left elbow? though he’s right handed, a hyperextension would probably hamper his ability to play defense more than it would his ability to score. since you use both hands equally on defense, a hyperextended elbow can have a significant mental impact upon a player, making him timid to even contest shots for fear of the slightest contact with his extended elbow.


  47. There is nothing wrong with a little constructive criticism. However, the Lakers are 4-1. It’s all good so far. We’re fine. The fact remains however many losses we have when the playoffs begin, if healthy, we have the best team in the world.


  48. @the other Stephen,
    Towards the end of the fourth Andrew was rubbing his right elbow, flexing it, and looked very much like he was evaluating or “feeling it out”, trying to figure out how bad the injury was. I don’t think I saw him clutch his left arm that way…

    I like that he stayed out there and put in effort anyway, though he probably aggravated the sprain more by doing so.

    I also half agree with ladlal in taking a loss tonight if it means we can keep Andrew and Pau healthy for the rest of the season… I’ll take a very close game, and accept a loss, but winning is my preference.

    It doesn’t have to be a crushing defeat, or a blow-out, or even a game where the score is a lot closer than it actually was. It’s early in the season, and we’re still not playing with the line-ups that will eventually become the standard rotations. We’re not watching this season’s finished product yet… whatever problems the team has, would be solved just in time for Pau’s return, and all of a sudden we need new solutions for new problems.

    Only Laker fans complain after winning 4 out of 5 games, hm? 😀


  49. RE: 53 – Kurt

    Kurt, is it safe to saw that the tension between Pau and Phil boils down to this:

    Pau doesn’t feel like his body is ready to play, and Phil thinks Pau is being a wimp?

    Is it also safe to say that Phil could have avoided this if he didn’t take the hard-line stance when Pau asked for the additional days off at the beginning of training camp?

    It seems to me that Pau was exhausted at the beginning of training camp, and wanted additional days – Phil denied him because he felt it was important to start developing continuity with Ron in the offense.

    Shortly thereafter, Pau tweaks his hamstring and is out for a few weeks – an injury that probably was the result of wear and tear.

    Since then, Pau has felt like he should take the maximum time possible to rest his injury and let his body recuperate.

    Phil, however, felt like it was solely Pau’s choice to play in the Euro Championships, and he did this for free. Jerry Buss, on the other hand, is paying him $16.5M this year to play for the Lakers. Phil feels like if his hamstring is good enough to play, he should play – it’s his job.

    In fact, Phil (and the Laker org) went so far as to order an MRI and send it overseas to his family and his Spanish doctors to show that Pau not only had a very minor hamstring strain, but he was also well enough to play.

    Pau, however, is still trying to maintain that his body doesn’t feel right to him, and he needs to rest to be in optimum shape.

    Would you say that’s pretty close to what’s going on?


  50. Kurt I just dont like to give a pass for unsound fundamentals, and lack of hustle for excuses. As a fan if my team loses because the other team outplayed them, then so be it. But to lose because a veteran team doesnt seem focused on the little things, then that makes me a little upset. Dont get me wrong to start out 4-1 is great, but I want to see more of a collective effort as a team, as the season goes along.


  51. Dirty Sanchez-

    Since when is homerism taking a patient approach when discussing games with other fans of the same team? “the little Things” is a vague term. In relation to boxing out, I’d say that A) we’re missing a 7 footer and B) the other seven footer is learning to deal with some obvious fear over his legs in traffic. He’s skittish in the lane, especially when it comes to jumping, and that’s something he’ll either have to get over or learn to deal with it a new way. That’s obviously affecting his rebounding.

    Moreover, the change in style on this team between Artest and the increased posting up of every position (except PG) will also affect those fundamentals. Until you are familiar with who is going to be doing what, when, you are going to struggle to be in the right place at the right time.

    But how do you fix that? Reps. Do I wish everything was effortless and seamless right now? Sure. But if they do have to face adversity to strengthen their sense of identity and purpose, I’d much rather see them go through it now and, as happened last night, see them succeed despite some obvious difficulties.

    Sorry if that consitutes horse blinders, but I guess I’m entitled to my own take too.


  52. I agree that the Lakers are still figuring things out. Differences include a healthy (and offensively improved) Bynum, a new Artest, no Gasol, and Walton who missed most of the preseason. In addition, there are significant changes in the coaching staff. No Rambis or WInter, and a less-involved Kareem. So it is totally expected that things will be out-of-synch for awhile.

    But a lot of the issues so far is due to old-fashioned sloppiness, not to new teammates learning the system. Bynum has never been good at positioning himself for rebounds; that is something that he needs to learn if he is going to maximize his potential.


  53. Chill out everyone, this is somewhat sad and amusing at the same time.

    As fans, we have vested interest in our team, and have the right to worry and voice our worries whether it’s the offseason, preseason, regular season or the postseason. It’s never too early and never too late to start complaining, as this season isn’t the first nor will it be the last.

    But at the same time, we, as fans, have no control over anything. Nada. This makes it quite futile to complain or criticize anything, since none of our complaints will make it to the coaching staff or the players, unless it is stuff they can use to their advantage, a la PJ using the media.

    So, any criticism and complaint is basically moot, especially if there are other fans, and in this case, the blog author, who is irritated by criticisms that aren’t informative.

    Yes, not constructive, but informative. This blog is not for the players and coaches to read and search for answers; it is a place where us fans can turn to find insight and deepen our knowledge and increase our appreciation of the game.

    So if you newcomers haven’t realized, comments are valued and discussed if they contain concrete examples of plays, even if those comments criticize Kobe or Fisher. But if the comments have no basketball insight, then even the most obvious (Ammo sucks) will be either ignored or will be seen as mere whining and taking up bandwidth.


  54. Re: Phil and Pau.

    I have to side with Phil. The Lakers pay Gasol’s salary, not the Spanish government. I respect his right to represent his country in international competition. But if he can get out there and contribute he needs to do so.

    Pau needs to take a lesson from Kobe. You would have to cut both of his feet off to keep him off the floor. I am sure Pau needed a rest. Phil could have given it to him. But Pau also could have opted out of international play this summer. What does he plan to do next Summer for the World Championships? Will he play and then expect the Lakers to give him two months off again while still collecting his $16 million dollar salary? I hope not.