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.
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