Tempered Exuberance

Zephid —  November 13, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson Sets Up a Play at Toyota Center in Houston
We as Laker fans have a lot of things to be happy about:

  • Our team has only one loss, tied for the fewest so far.
  • Our team has played this well in spite of our 2nd best player having been hurt all season and nobody really knows when he’s coming back.
  • Our team just whomped on the 2nd best team in the Western Conference last night, to the tune of 121-102.
  • Our bench seems to be making a turn in the right direction.
  • Our young center is quickly turning into a budding All-Star.
  • Our resident crazy person hasn’t really gone too crazy yet.

Needless to say, we’ve got a pretty good first couple of weeks to the season.  Yea, Phoenix was on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, but I’m not so sure it would’ve really mattered if both teams had been rested.  The Lakers managed to do the three things required to beat the Suns:

  1. The Lakers size and length (I feel dirty just typing the word) worked the Suns weak interior defense (consisting of Amar’e “yea, defense isn’t really my thing” Stoudemire and Channing “pillowy soft” Frye) on their way to 78 points in the paint.
  2. The Lakers managed to keep the pace of the game in their favor, only allowing the Suns to get 2 fast break points compared to LA’s 12.
  3. The Lakers held the Suns to 35% from three.

Perhaps the only disappointing part of last night’s game was the 24 offensive rebounds given up, 14 to the combination of Amundson, Dudley, and rookie Earl Clark.  However, when a team misses 63% of its shots, that’s a lot of bricks up for grabs.

Now the Lakers move on to probably their most difficult test of the early season: @Denver on the 2nd night of a back-to-back.  Back in August, I kinda sorta somewhat picked this game to be our first lost (damn you Dallas!), but I don’t expect anything to change.  Last night’s game started late, something like 10:50 ET, so 7:50PT, so the Lakers had to get on a plane, fly to Denver, get to a hotel, all the while losing an hour due to time zones.  Our starters did manage to get some rest due to the blowout nature of the game, but I’m not so sure that 10 minutes less of NBA game time will be all that beneficial.  We could be in for an ugly game on the heels of one of our team’s best performances of the year, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves with the pre-mature gushy gushy dominance posts just yet.

On a completely different note, everyone should check out SSNR’s post on why PER hates Kobe.  I think their argument is pretty solid, highlighting the fact that the triangle produces a lot of assists for Lakers other than Kobe.  I would also add that the VOP multiplier (value of possession, according to Basketball-Reference.com) is higher in today’s game (since team’s simply score a lot of points), giving added bonuses to things like rebounds, steals, and blocks, of which Kobe gets few.  Overall, I’d say the fact that PER doesn’t work should be an indictment on the statistics we keep, and not so much on the measure itself.  In my opinion, PER does the best job possible of getting a single value, over-arching measure of efficiency, given the statistics available.  And if the league kept track of things such as hockey assists, FG’s from ISO, FG’s from assist, blocks leading to possession, challenged FGA’s, unchallenged FGA’s, etc., I’m sure Hollinger would develop a new and improved PER to take those into account.

Zephid

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43 responses to Tempered Exuberance

  1. I expect some ugly play tonight. This is a schedule loss, going from LA to Denver on a back to back is not an easy thing to do.

  2. Even though we’re scheduled for a loss, I have a feeling we’re going to be solid tonight. Nuggets are #2 in our minds, and we should come out to take it to them as we usually do in statement games. Kobe will be as aggressive as he has been all season and they will again have no answers. Healthy Bynum and Artest are essentially new pieces that will be out to prove their worth for the first time against this Nuggets team. SB will do good work on Billups. If we lose this game, it won’t be because of lethargy, but rather because our bench underachieves or we miss the depth w/ Pau.

    A very keen point by Collins last night – Kobe’s post work not only is highly efficient but takes away from the fast break offense of the player that has to guard him. Last night it was Richardson, tonight will be JR.

  3. Bill Bridges post from the Game Chat thread was so good, I’m copying it here for him:

    “The Suns excelled at two categories last night. Offensive rebounding and free throw defense.

    Let me ask you. Say you live in LA and have a business meeting starting at 7:30 PM and ends at 11:00. And say you have another business meeting in Denver the next day at 7:30 Denver time. You also have a prep meeting around noon to prepare for the evening meeting. Would you

    1. Take a 1:00 AM flight that gets in 4:00 AM Denver time resulting in a sleep time if you are lucky (after commute and checking into the hotel) of 6:00 AM. Of course your body clock is fried and you can’t get any real sleep before the noon run-through. Maybe you catch a nap in the afternoon but basically you are zonked for your big evening meeting

    or

    2. Go home and get to sleep around midnight in your own bed. Get up around 7::00 AM to catch a flight to denver in time to make the prep meeting. Check in to the hotel (because your employer had one available) for a nice afternoon nap and go to your evening meeting fully energized.

    I know which scenario appeals to me and probably all of you out there.

    Now what if you had a private plane and didn’t have to fly commercial. So no security, no check-in, no waiting.

    What would you do?

    I think the league forces teams to travel the night before – probably a throw-back to the time when teams flew commercial or charter. Or maybe when they took buses! The Lakers had to get League approval to fly on game day the day after XMas. So therefore, all teams must not be allowed ordinarily to fly in on the day.

    But what logic is that?”

    It makes so much sense my head hurts. Wait a minute…you’re telling me you want players to get a FULL NIGHT’S REST the day before the 2nd game of a back to back?

    Why would they want that?

    In today’s era of charter jets, why doesn’t the NBA adopt Bill’s option 2? If you want to be picky, why not make the rule that if a team is within a 3 hour plane ride, they can leave the day of the game in a situation where there’s a back to back.

    I would think the NBA would want a better product, right?

    The Lakers are going to be exhausted tonight from flying all night, the altitude change, and having played last night.

    It could be an ugly game. If they lose, no one should be down on the Lakers.

  4. Slightly off-topic, and some of you may have already seen it, but Simmons had a remarkably pro-Kobe article today…even if it is still couched in “I really wish I could hate him” language:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmonsnflpicks/091113

  5. I’m reposting this so we can all point and mock again:

    Lebron on MJ:

    “He can’t get the logo, and if he can’t, something has to be done. I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I’m starting a petition, and I’ve got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I’m not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it”

    The combined level of ass kissing, obliviousness, and self-aggrandizement makes Oscar night look like a day of atonement. Forget the Celts, I so want the Lakers to give the Cavs an epic beatdown.

  6. speaking of that simmons article, im 99% positive that if sasha played for anyone else I would hate him, but seeing as he’s a Laker I love him and love how he winds fans and oppo players up

  7. burgdundy’s break down on the suns was amazing. i was at the game at times it was eerie how much the game followed his scouting report. kobe destroyed richardson in the block. he is amazingly skilled at wedging his body in the defender and using his elbows to create space. it seems like kobe is a lot stronger than he looks and when he pushes off, it is frustrating and possibly painful in an aggravating way. jrich was livid a couple times. all the while kobe had a poker face. i tried to see artest’s reaction, but the one time there was a skirmish he was so far away from the action i thought he wanted to sit down with jack and talk movies….

  8. If the Lakers win tonight I will be incredibly and happily surprised but if they lose I won’t hold it against them.

    Also on a side note, did LeBron really say that? I’m speechless.

  9. The Lakers will be fine tonight. Do not forget that we were the best road team in the NBA last year. That will not change.

    Regarding the Suns. I see SA, Portland and Dallas doing the same things to them. Our center rebounds, blocks shots, posts up, and hustles down the floor to establish position. Their center is a career softy who wants to shoot 3’s. ‘Nuff said. Hot start. Good team. Same Suns.

    Yes. LeBron is an ego maniac. Funny how he says this on the night MJ is there to promote his new 25th anniversary Jordan with Dwyane Wade.

  10. Yes Lebron said that (a couple of differnt times I believe). I think that Jalen Rose had it right in that Lebron is this new generation of players and they don’t really know who came before, they just know Jordan. Sad really.

    Great Simmons article mainly because he is true to himself, if for nothing else giving props when they are due. Even if it’s in a backhanded sort of way. But what else do you expect from him?

  11. Count me in the crowd that thinks with our current performances of Bynum, Artest and Kobe, we have a very good chance of winning tonight, it would not surprise me at all. If LO comes to play, then watch out folks, or Denver that is, he seems to have great games against them. I bet Shannon Brown still has energy to display tonight.

  12. Quick on LeBron. If he thought that everybody should give up #23 in deference to Jordan, why did he pick the number in the first place? What has changed since LeBron came into the league? Witless.

  13. Go Lakers! Ron, you’re on Carmelo; go forth and destroy. Kobe, we expect you to be brilliant. Lamar, please keep that beautiful focus you’ve had so far this season. Shannon, we expect at least one dunk over Nene. Speaking of him, Andrew, that’s your assignment. Crush him.

    I know tonight’s game is going to be ugly, painful, difficult, and exhausting… and I’m still excited about it. :)

    @everyone
    I think I’ve said this before in this blog: I love watching Lebron play. He’s a phenomenon, and his talent and athleticism are unmatched His personality leaves a lot to be desired though.

  14. Didn’t the league institute some new system where they have cameras tracking every player to allow for increased stat collection?

    PER is a fantasy stat. It rewards risky defense (gambling for steals and blocks) and rewards players on bad teams who get to dominate the ball. As SS&R pointed out, numbers are great so long as the human brain looking at it understands which question they are answering.

    I think its funny that in a week we’ve gone from having to remind ourselves not to freak out because its a long season to not becoming too excited because its a long season. The reality is, the Lakers have just gone up against 3 TERRIBLE defenses in a row. And depending who’s playing tonight that could extend, though you have to expect Denver to bring some effort given the history.

    I’m worried that the next time the lakers face a team that actually tries on defense, they’ll be so unfamiliar with it they’ll score 10 points with 8 turnovers in the first quarter.

    78 points in the paint and 18 free throws. That’s all you need to know. The Suns played defense like Bynum’s scouting report said he had swine flu. Even if the did play 7 games in 10 days all across the country.

  15. @#3, the sleep and practice schedule has been discussed in some other sites. I believe Portland has started doing that. One other team also which I can’t currently remember. I completely agree, I don’t understand why teams don’t tailor their travel to provide the least disruption.

    As for tonight’s game. I’m writing the team off and calling the season a failure if Lakers start of 19-2 and instead of 20-1 as predicted.

  16. I haven’t been able to catch too many Lakers games this season, being on the dreaded EST. However, I did catch last night’s game and saw, for the first time this season, Kobe’s post-up play. WOW! It’s not like JRich is a chump defender either. I know playing on the post is less taxing, relatively speaking, but can Kobe sustain playing in the post that much all season long? It looked like JRich took major umbrage and physical abuse defending Kobe. Who’s to say some physical defender won’t be sent out to rough Kobe up one of these days (God forbid!).

    Also, I’m amazed by Bynum’s growth and I do like Artest’s hustle. Just the little things he does, like when he and Kobe ran a 2 on 2 break and he was already under the rim, boxing out to get a rebound.

    Can someone explain to me why ShanWow is getting such inconsistent minutes? I know that Farmar is being sent out there to run the team and all, but I don’t understand why ShanWow gets spotty minutes here and there…

  17. If we win tonight, any Phoenix excuse of having to face us on the 2nd night of a back to back willl lose a lot of credibility in my opinion.

    Where did all the talk about the Lakers having figured out how to beat the Nuggets go? It seemed like the Lakers turned the corner on Denver midway through the WCF last year and G. Karl and PJ were both willing to admit it. Is that all gone now? These two teams aren’t that different are they? (Ariza/Kleiza/Carter aside)

  18. @3. It could have to do with making sure that the teams that need to fly get to their destination asap. I know teams have their own charters and that they don’t have to deal with traditional commercial airport junk, but things like weather happen to everyone. I would imagine the league requires the earliest trip out so that there is less risk that the game can’t be played because one team isn’t in the city.

  19. I have no problem with Lebron’s reverence for MJ, even if it has taken on religious dimensions in a silly, self-important way. Wish he’d pushed the envelope a bit more, and petitioned the league to hold some kind of pre-game ritual where players have to genuflect in unison before a giant glossy photograph of MJ’s butthole.

  20. THE ONLY REASON LEBRON CHANGED HIS # IS TO SELL MORE JERSEYS … HE COULDNT HAVE STRAIGHT OUT SAID “I NEED TO CHANGE MY # SO THAT I CAN HAVE THE BEST SELLING JERSEY IN 2010 … NOT KOBE”

  21. 12) P Ami,
    “What has changed since LeBron came into the league?”

    The number of rings Kobe has.

  22. 20. I think the cap lock may be stuck on your keyboard.

  23. is K mart playing tonight? is he healthy?

    I am not a huge fan of the all-star game/break, and really don’t even watch the game, but last night I started thinking …
    Andrew is on track to be the West starting Center.
    Kobe is, as always, starting Shooting guard.
    (ok, so there’s 2 of the 5 starters)
    LO just might make it if he continues to average close to a double double, maybe as the Small forward)
    (so now there’s 3 of 5)
    and if Pau comes back and gets enough playing time in, he’s a good bet for starting Power Forward.
    (OK, so there’s 4 of the 5 starters)
    wouldn’t that be something?
    seeing 4 of the 5 western starters all from the Lakers?
    and Fish as a reserve, eh?
    and Shannon in the Slam Dunk contest.
    and Sasha in the 3 pt contest???… na, nevermind, I was pushing it there, haha.
    the funny thing is, this isn’t that far fetched.

  24. kurt, re: #20, I think he was excited, maybe yelling even. (it’s for emphasis)

  25. 22) Kurt,
    Maybe he’s doing it in honor of Kareem.

  26. 7 – ” … it seems like kobe is a lot stronger than he looks …”

    Maybe, although he looks plenty strong to me. Not massive, but …

  27. If you want emphasis, learn a few basic HTML tags. All-caps means you’re shouting… which is both rude and annoying. :)

  28. Jackie Robinson’s number was retired by MLB because of the social significance of his accomplishment. Just in his era alone you could probably pick out a few players who were on his level or greater. His accomplishment for our society is unrivaled in sports. Retiring Jordan’s number, like LBJ’s support for it, like Jordan’s presence at last night’s game- are all about Nike. I loved watching Jordan play and don’t have criticism of Nike that couldn’t be leveled at other corporations around the world. Retiring Jordan’s number is nothing more then a way to keep the Jordan brand in people’s mind and then to sell a few more jerseys. I think it’s borderline offensive to propose such a thing. It spits on the accomplishments of Cap, Wilt, Russell, Magic, Bird, Big O, Elgin, Cousey, Miken, Dr. J and all the rest of the basketball greats and for what? Commodity? Sanctifying that number is a cynical act and aught not be put on the level of what has been done to the #42 in MLB.

  29. 23 Chris h, Odom’s not going to make it at the forward spot, there are just too many great forwards in the west. But we could potentially go 3/5 … now if 3 out of 5 starters were Lakers, wouldn’t that be something?

    I would love to see SB in the dunk contest. He doesn’t even have to do anything gimmicky, just his statue of liberty thing it seems like he’s about to do on every dunk will be fine w/ me.

    Sasha won’t have had enough 3 pt makes to enter, but he could potentially win it imo

  30. One thing people seem to be missing from the MJ and LBJ story that is probably the most important thing not said in the story is the following:

    SO MJ HAS TIME TO FLY DOWN TO FLORIDA TO CATCH THE HEAT PLAY THE CAVS BUT HE DOES NOT HAVE TIME TO WATCH HIS OWN BOBCATS OR DO HIS “JOB” AS BOBCAT’S EXECUTIVE????

    (sorry for the caps lock Kurt – I couldn’t resist)

  31. This is the game my friends. The first game. The first game against one of the 3 teams. Nuggets, Celtics, Cavaliers.

    Ariza was sufficient against all of the rest. But not quite big enough, not quite strong enough, and ultimately not quite good enough on defense to slow Melo, Bron, and Pierce. The road to the champion will go through at least one of this triumvirate. This is the game that we see what Artest might mean against the top 3 SF in the league and tip the odds in our favour.

    Artest will stay on Melo throughout. Will Melo try to check Kobe as Affalo and Smith have no chance against Kobe in the post. Nada.

    If Melo takes Kobe, will the Lakers rotate and post up Artest against Affalo/Smith?

    How will PJ counter the Nuggets’ small line up of Lawson at the point and Billups at the 2. I hope he goes large, posts up Kobe against Billups and punishes them.

    Looking forward to seeing this. … That is if the Lakers don’t sleep walk through it.

  32. P. Ami,

    Agreed.

    sedale,

    Any team that complains about schedules most likely isn’t good enough to win these:

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/09ringceremony.html

  33. Things I liked about the game last night.

    -The win with Gasol resting

    -AB – man, wishing him a full healthy season

    -Ron screening out on the break away. I think it caught Kobe off guard

    -Sasha as the enforcer – he’s like one of those yipper dogs on my street – obnoxious and funny

    -Ron’s reaction on the bench after the SB dunk. I was laughing and rewinding over and over again. I swear, he is like a kid sometimes

    -Josh Powell

  34. I don’t quite understand why LeBron wants the NBA to retire Jordan’s #23. He really didn’t have that distinguished a Laker career.

    http://www.checkoutmycards.com/CardImages/Cards/025/137/07F.jpg

  35. The one player for the Nuggets that worries me tonight is Ty Lawson. He is fast, doesn’t take bad shots and doesn’t turn the ball over. Did I mention he is fast, grin. I know it was preseason but in that second game against the Nuggets Lawson made Farmar look like he was the rookie.
    Melo will get his 30 points on close to 30 shots, Smith,(no longer J. R.?), will make a couple of incredible plays both good and bad, NeNe will sulk when he gets outplayed by Bynum, Billups will hit a couple threes and shoot some free throws interspersed with disappearing for long stretches. We know what those guys are going to do but Lawson can change the game if the Lakers don’t account for him.
    The Lakers are the better team so let’s hope that the short night doesn’t sap their legs. I am thinking that this game was circled by Phil Jackson before the season though so the blue and gold should be up for it.

  36. wow, today starts off with a LOT of fodders for discussion, doesn’t it.

    * LBJ on 23-6. I think it’s hilarious. Out of this world, actually. Now I have no idea about the ‘maturity’ level of this guy. Mein Gott, “if i can’t wear it, nobody else should?” Had that been Kobe, you’d get a tornado of posts about it. Anyway, I actually thought LBJ was worthy of 23… not equal, but at least worthy.

    * BS on Kobe: I see where he’s coming from, and now it’ll be more fun to read his posts as he has clarified his sports hate thing. One thing to know he’s a Boston fan and thus automatically hate everything Purple and Gold, quite another to know that it’s all worked up in the name of fandom.

    * @Denver: if it’s a close game, it’ll be a classic either way. I can’t imagine how Chauncey and Carmelo would have been preparing for this game, and since we’re at the tail end of a back-to-back (which, btw, seemed to be one of our better games last season) and a decent PF short, it wouldn’t be all doom and gloom even if we lose. On our end, Artest will be pumped because he knows Melo is the reason he’s a Laker and Kobe will always be Kobequately ready.

  37. HUGE, HUGE credit to Bynum on defense last night. He executed the game plan about as well as it could be executed.

    Every time Nash and Amare tried to work the pick and roll, Bynum stayed with Amare. Amare couldn’t get his game going, because Bynum defended him so well. Consequently, Amare played D that, at best, could be described as “disinterested.”

    The bigs not showing on Nash did result in a few floaters and layups, but that’s not going to kill you when you play the Suns…and it certainly didn’t kill the Lakers last night.

    Collins comment on Kobe in the post was also an underrated advantage. When you’re stuck in the post, it’s tough to get out on the break…

  38. off topic here, but I was just thinking about when Pau does return.
    this will push LO to the bench, and knowing PJ, he’s going to want to really limit Pau’s minutes, so, the first one off the bench…
    LO! same team we’ve been going with and winning with since the start of the season.
    i think we’ll see the bench primarily anchored by 1)LO, 2) Ron, 3) Shannon, 4) Drew, with Luke and Jordan sharing time with Josh Powell, and Sasha, depending on match ups.
    but really, how nice is it that when our key player returns from injury, it works perfectly into the way the coach prefers his rotations to work anyway?
    noooiiicccee. (props to Stu)

  39. At the risk of becoming the resident Simmons pimp for today, AV Club (a book/film/TV/music site that I highly, *highly* recommend) ran an interview with him regarding his book today:

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/bill-simmons,35319/1/

    It’s interesting because it’s a unique context for him. AV Club is first and foremost a pop culture nerd site; the only other thing I’ve ever seen written about sports on there was by Chuck Klosterman. Anyway, it’s a good interview, so check it out. And if you have any interest in pop culture nerdery in general, it’s a great site to frequent.

  40. Is LeBron so venerable that he expects the NBA to retire Jordan’s number? PLEASE! Jordan was the man, but c’mon, let’s not let LeBron call the shots. Someone should ego-check LBJ.

    If this happens he should change his number to 00 instead of 6, that way if a future NBA star wants to declare a similarly asinine edict to retire LeBron’s number, he’ll only have to worry about sharing the limelight with Benoit Benjamin and not Bill Russell.

  41. By the way, the Nuggets are a more diverse team, so there isn’t as rock solid a game plan to be used against them:

    1) On offense, you still have to go inside (that should be the game plan with this Laker team against EVERYONE), but the Nuggets have excellent shot blockers, so you have to be smarter about when you shoot (going straight up the way you can against the Suns will result in some blocked shots against Nene and the Birdman).

    2) Assuming Melo is guarding Artest, it would be wise to stick him in the post as much as possible. Melo’s offense will suffer the more he has to work on defense, and working out of the post is much more draining than guarding around the perimeter (especially against a beast like Artest). It also limits the amount of easy offense afforded to Melo.

    3) Obviously, Kobe should do the same when guarded by JR Smith (who doesn’t stand a chance against Kobe in the post).

    4) Chase Billups away from the arc. Billups does some of his best passwork up top, because he’s excellent at surveying the floor and finding the open guy. He’s not as effective on the move (remember in the playoffs, once LA figured this out, and Billups was forced to drive and pass on the move, he wasn’t as successful).

    5) Don’t take quick shots against Denver’s second unit (JR Smith and Lawson), because they can fast break you to death. In regards to Lawson, he’s exactly the type of guard that gives the Lakers fits (quick, shoot-first types). Shannon Brown should probably have defensive duties in this instance. The key with guys like Brooks, Parker, and Lawson (not necessarily saying Lawson is at that level) is to force them to pass by having your bigs show when they’re driving (which is death against a pass-first point like Chris Paul or Steve Nash because they’ll instantly find the open guy).

    6) Contest on Nene’s jump shots. It seems simple, but there are quite a few bigs who you WANT to shoot that 15 foot jumper. Nene is deadly when he’s shooting that 10-15 footer, so you have to step out on him.

  42. “Now, if I’m not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it”

    Good grief. At least win a ring, nay, a single Finals game, before coming out with this kind of narcissistic nonsense.

  43. Lakers/Nugs preview and chat up. Burgundy and others may want to repost that great stuff over there.