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.