Tracking Aaron Brook’s Path Through The Lakers

Kurt —  November 16, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets NBA Game 5 Western Conference semifinals in Los Angeles

So many things went wrong in the Lakers loss to Houston (and Denver, really) that it’s hard to focus on just one. In the two losses the Lakers have gotten killed in transition (Houston scored 51 of its points in transition or the first 7 seconds of the clock). The Lakers rebounding is just sad. The inability to adjust to more active doubles and a fronting defense in the post is troubling.

Then there is one thing we expected to be a problem — stopping quick point guards. Like Aaron Brooks.

What follows is a breakdown of Brook’s breakdown of the Lakers, and while Fisher and the Lakers PGs earn their share of blame, the problems are as much about poor team defense.

11:00 First quarter: We’ll start with a good play by the Lakers. Brooks gets the ball isolated on the left wing against Fisher, and Fish does a good job shading him to go to the baseline, bait Brooks takes. Bynum is there waiting and Brooks stops his penetration then tries a little hesitation/step back shot that Drew rejects (Kobe scores on a PUJIT off it).

7:30 first quarter: Fisher is a little late off a screen to Brooks when he gets the ball on the right wing, and he cuts back to the right past fisher before Fish has dealt with a Scola screen (and before Fish has set his feet, a key to his defense). Scola’s man Ron Artest lays back so once Brooks gets by Fisher he has a lane to get by Artest and attack the rim. Bynum is there, too, but tries to make a play with his arms not his feet and the result is a layup.

5:50 first quarter: The Rockets are running off a Lakers miss and Brook brings the ball up the right side. Fisher is back defending but Brooks just drives right into him on the break and draws the foul. Can’t really blame Fish too much here, Brooks is so quick he would do that to any guard in the league. He hits both free throws.

5:00 first quarter: The Rockets are running again off a missed Artest three, with Ariza getting the board and making a long outlet to Scola. Brooks runs down the opposite side of the ball and spots up for the short corner three. Scola goes to the basket and both Fisher and Odom try to stop him, so he kicks it out to Brooks for a wide open three. Again, this is really a team failure of transition defense, more Rockets were back than Lakers, and they spaced the floor well.

4:43 first quarter: He gets a free throw on Kobe’s technical.

3:16 first quarter: Brooks comes off the high screen of Scola, which picks Fisher off pretty well, but as Brooks looks to drive he sees Bynum, and he remembers what happened when he drove in and tried to shoot over Bynum last time. So, he stays outside and drains the open 20 footer before Fish can recover. Yes, Fish got picked off pretty good, but if you don’t have a big show out on the pick, this is the risk you run.

2:50 first quarter: Fisher makes a terrible entry pass into the post to Kobe that Budinger steals and outlets to Brooks, who leaked out was all alone for a layup.

7:30 second quarter: Budinger misses a corner three, and when the shot goes up Jordan Farmar starts to cheat in looking for a rebound, but the Rockets grab it (so problem #1 for the Lakers on this play was their poor rebounding). Meanwhile now Farmar is standing below the free throw line, while a pass is whipped out to Lowry at the top of the key who makes the extra pass to Brooks who is open from downtown and Farmar is way late. Net.

9:40 third quarter: Brooks out on the high right wing goes away from the Scola screen and blows by Fisher, but Odom is there to try and ride Brooks in to the basket. Brooks gets close to the rim and makes a nifty stop and jump move that catches Odom off guard. Layup.

6:55 third quarter: Scola has the ball at the elbow working against Odom but doesn’t like what he sees, so he steps out to the wing and Brooks, in the corner, comes out and takes the ball on a handoff using Scola as a screen. Fisher actually does a decent job fighting through the pick and is with Brooks to about the free throw line, but Brooks draws contact there and when he hears the whistle throws up a quick, ugly little prayer that falls in. Three point play.

5:33 third quarter: Brooks throws an entry pass to Scola at the elbow then starts to make a lazy little cut off it and it looks like he is going to go under the basket (something Budinger does from the corner). Fisher is focused on Scola and cutting off that pass under the basket, so much so he doesn’t notice Brooks bounce back out to the three point line. Scola passes out, Fisher runs out hard but late and fouls Brooks on a three pointer. Four point play.

4:45 third quarter: Ariza trips driving to the basket on the opposite side from Brooks, and Odom picks up the ball — then throws a bad outlet that is stolen by Hayes who makes a quick pass to Scola about 30 feet out who passes to Brooks about 30 feet out on the left side of the court. Fisher had dropped down to make the steal then really hadn’t moved, watching Hayes save it on the other side of the court, but by the time he realized what was going on with the broken play it was too late. Three pointer Brooks.

4:04 third quarter: One of Fisher’s worst plays of the night. Scola has the ball on the left midpost, Brooks is at the three point line straight away and has been on fire. So Fisher decides to make an indecisive, slow double team on Scola, and as he gets close Scola whips a bounce pass to the wide open Brooks. Another three. You just can’t double off a hot guy like that, let alone an indecisive double like that. Terrible decision.

3:45 fourth quarter: On a reset out high, Brooks drives and is on the right wing when he picks up his dribble. Fisher is a step off him at this point but with the dribble gone takes a step to Brooks as if to trap him. Brooks jumps into Fisher’s chest as he comes toward him, throws up the shot and draws the foul. He hits one free throw.

1:30 fourth quarter: Lowry tries the right side with a probing dribble but finds nothing, then the Rockets do something they did well all night — reverse the ball quickly. Artest has switched on to Brooks off a screen earlier but he is late charging out to Brooks and is not quick enough to stop him anyway, Brooks just blows by him and nobody else is there to help. Lay up.

That last play was all sorts of ugly. It really summed up the Lakers night.