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.

53 responses to Tracking Aaron Brook’s Path Through The Lakers

  1. Slowing Fish = Scoring Brooks. Sadly, there’s no short term answer here. Unless Farmar and Brown step up, Fish remains the best option despite the shortcommings.

  2. Quick young point guards have just as much trouble guarding Brooks as ‘slowing Fish’ does. Only solid team D can truly contain these guys. And since the league is suddenly full of them, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed in practice throughout the season.

  3. I think the issue in defend is also base on Gasol absence. We need the twin tower to scare people off and get D-Rebound. At least that will solve the offensive rebound and maybe the scoring in the pain issue. I just wonder how slow the Laker starters will play when Gasol come back, considering how slow how slow Artest is.

  4. @themonkey
    Yet another reason to get Farmar or Shannon in as starting PG. Either one of them could bring some spark and energy.

  5. For a few games this season why not experiment by giving Farmar the starting nod. I feel like starting would give the guy more confidence to play well just like he did against Houston in the playoffs. As much as I love Fisher during the regular season I feel he should be taking more of a Lindsey Hunter role on the bench mentoring and saving his energy for the playoffs. But giving either Shannon or Jordan the start would throw a new dynamic for their mental confidence, look at what JJ Hickson is doing for cleveland, coming off the bench he was struggling to find any kind of flow in the game but now that he starts his confidence is up and he’s playing really damn good.

  6. Watching (or rather, hearing about) Roddy Buckets makes me cringe a bit…if only he had fallen, and Buss could have eaten a tiny bit more salary….he seems like exactly what we could use off the bench right now.

    KD’s take:;_ylt=Aj.TN8srxHqZgKRppFyGxFq8vLYF?urn=nba,202789

    5 – I’ve wondered for some time how a start would impact those players. I think someone shared some stats that show Shannon plays better with the starters. It’s a pointless discussion because Phil won’t relegate Fish to the bench, but I’m curious if either of them would play substantially better as a starter.

  7. -7 Game planning to stop someone like Aaron Brooks in today’s NBA is pointless. Even if L.A. had a quick guard to defend him, the offensive player always has the edge because he’s not reacting. And the rules as called today won’t allow you to hand-check, so there’s really no good way to slow a good, quick guard simply by suggesting it’s up to the point guard to check him more effectively.

    This was the second quick, crafty PG the Lakers have played since Thursday. But with Nash, L.A. played a smarter game by working the ball inside, which limited the run-outs that Houston used so effectively.

    Playing smart, inside ball, rebounding well and controlling tempo are L.A.’s best hope for slowing guys like Nash, Brooks or Parker. They followed that plan against Phoenix and won in a romp; they drifted away from it against the Rockets and we saw the results.

    To me, the bigger concern over the past six quarters has been the push to make Kobe the top post option. When he’s getting good looks and making shots, I’m all for it. But otherwise they need to work through Drew more often to restore some balance.

    Against Affallo and Battier, I think Kobe became a bit too personal — as in, “I’ll show you” — and the flow of the others suffered. He does that from time to time; Phil lives with it. It’s not a major worry long term, as Kobe’s been that way forever.

  8. I agree that trying to stop really fast guard is nearly impossible because of the nba rules. However, that doesn’t excuse bonehead play after bonehead play by fisher. For example, why did fisher leave brooks to double carl landry 17 feet away from the basket. Result wide open 3 for a sharp shooter. He did that more than once and got burned. Fisher also giving up a 4-point play to brooks right after the lakers got the deficit under 10.

    As far as the comments regarding the play of Farmar and Brown, its just too much pressure for them (especially farmar) to play well. First because fisher is cemented as the starter no matter how bad he plays. His minutes wont decrease no matter how bad he plays. So the lack of opportunity really does hurt a player. So they try to do too much in a short period of time. Secondly, Phil has gone with a different second unit just about every time the second unit is one the floor. That hurts the chemistry, especially when they go small. Phil needs to set a rotation and go with it.

    Here’s another idea, start Josh Powell. Have lamar go back to his role as 6th man with obviously more minutes than he would normally have with Pau playing. Josh Powell is a much better jump shooter than Odom and Powell has played well in extended minutes thus far. I think that option will help spread the floor if kobe wants to stay in the post and provide a pick and pop option if kobe’s shot is off. That would also help Lamar become more aggressive and assertive playing with the second unit. With the starters and kobe in the post he just floats around the 3-point line.

    Also play Mbenga 5-10 minutes a game and stop going with the small line up with Odom at the 5 or Artest at the four. Their small line-up has not played well at all this season. So its time to go away from it for a will and stick with playing big.

  9. Might also our success against the Suns have to do with the fact that Nash, at 35, is not a quick point guard that we have trouble defending nowadays?

  10. Fish’s defense wasn’t so much the problem as his early-offense, deep flings he insisted on taking. It completely threw the laker offense out of rhythm. It was like Jordan Farmar inhabited Fish’s brain last night.

    In order to be effective, Fish has to play extremely smart and disciplined. Otherwise, he’s absolutely awful.

  11. So I guess it’s official, what we all suspected for a while – Iverson and the Grizzlies are terminating his contract.

    Is that the end of his career? It could very well be. I don’t think any team is stupid enough to offer him a starting job now. But I think it’s very realistic that, in 1-2 years, some team in need signs him. We’ve seen lots of teams trying to drag old players out of retirement, and Iverson still has plenty left. I think we’ll see him again, if not this year.

  12. @Snoopy,
    It worked for Marbury…

  13. Why let Brooks shoot so many jumpers, force the guy middle to where the bigs can help? The lakers D has been a struggle fest last couple of games. No more excuses just play D…..

  14. I’m kinda desperate enough to say we sign AI 😉

    Allen, Kobe, and Ron on the same team. Oh we won’t be lacking intensity, although Allen brings a different kind 😀

    Seriously though, Houston is our Kryptonite in many ways, since they’re not really intimidated and work really hard and are disciplined. Oh and they have a quick point guard, a decent defender on Kobe, and that sparkplug Ariza…

    That’s why I think a final rematch with Boston will not be pretty compared to the other two eastern contenders.

  15. 13 – Wait, why would we want to funnel Brooks to the middle? Penetration down the middle of the floor is the worst kind; that creates options on both sides and wreaks havoc. I believe it’s a better idea to funnel penetration baseline, where the bigs can help easier and trap the penetrating guard.

    I didn’t see the game, but I’m assuming we didn’t see much of the aggressive trapping on the PnR that Bynum did so well last time.

  16. the other Stephen November 16, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    i understand that ron gets even more competitive than normal when we play houston, but this is an embarrassment:

  17. Is it possible that besides missing Pau, we may be missing Kurt Rambis? I just don’t get how we can be outrebounded and outhustled and have so many mistakes on defense… This is NOT only on the players but also on the coaching…

  18. Snoopy-

    What do you think the odds of Charlotte picking up Iverson are? Everybody knows they need scoring. Maybe they don’t want to inhibit the development of D.J. Augustin and Raymond Felton?

  19. Been out of town this weekend was able to see the first half of the Denver game and none of the Houston game. I was shocked to see the outcomes, but was not shocked to see post about how effort seems to be the cause of a lot of our problems. The first 10 games have been a roller coaster ride with plenty of cotton candy fueled stomach aches. I have faith that PJ will work the ills of the offense and defense out, even if it means less KB in the post and more shooting drills for our wing players to get them on track. We have to knock down shoots from the outside if KB is in the post, it defeats the whole purpose of his fighting for position if perimeter players cant hit the side of a barn. Phil has shown confidence in his players over the years for a reason, if the players way doesnt work, then the player cant be upset when Phil decides to change whats being done for a better outcome.

    The NBA season has turned out to be a treat for all teams(LA, Boston, Orlando, Cleveland) that were suppose to dominate the league. Its just a testament that the league has some good young talent and will thrive in the future. GO LAKERS.

  20. Aqzi – Good question. If any team is dumb enough to sign Iverson, it’s Charlotte’s combination of Michael and frenetic Larry. But what’s changed is that every team is now aware, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that signing Iverson is worthless unless you guarantee him a starting slot. I haven’t seen any of Augustin but I heard he hasn’t been doing well lately. That said, I think they’d be foolish to stunt the growth of a young PG, like you said. Or waste Felton’s extension. So it’s unlikely, but you can’t rule MJ out of anything.

  21. There is nothing wrong with the Lakers besides Kobe’s groin, Pau’s hamstring, and the starting PG. Within 24 hours the groin will be fine, within 2 weeks the hamstring will be good to go, and within 2 months the achilles heel will be benched in favor of Shannon Brown. Just sit back and enjoy Lakers basketball. Oh… and pray for health.

  22. So Luke is out for six weeks according to the L.A. Times. I know he has a cult of people who seem bent on hating the guy’s game. But he still is needed. So there is Luke’s back, Pau’s hamstring, and Kobe’s groin. Well, let’s look at the bright side. At least this is all happening now. Hopefully they can get this injury thing out of the way in the early going.

    So what happens to Kobe’s post game when Pau gets back? With Bynum in the lost post and Gasol in the high post Kobe really needs to be out on the perimeter. Of course that can be adjusted. But priority post position goes Bynum and Gasol. The new post up Kobe is fine in certain situations. But the Lakers still need the slashing to the rim Kobe.

    Regarding Brooks the Lakers were not going to stop him. However, he didn’t have to have a career night either. Fish should have looked to back Brooks down a little more. He could have gotten some fouls on him and worn him down a little. Launching jumpers against a small, quick guard like Brooks plays right into his hands.

  23. God I hate Stewie’s retard clone of Chris Rock.

  24. I am waiting to see Bucks/Lakers, wonder how many point he will get against our PG. Maybe it would be a new record, considering he already score 55 points as a rookie.

  25. Good thing for Luke he’s got a good reason for not being able to suit up. Having pops threaten to punch your coach in the face isn’t likely to do wonders for one’s place in the rotation off of the bench.

    Seriously, though… Who would want to punch someone to defend Jim Gray’s honor? Dude epitomized the term “Sideline Douche” long before Ric Bucher perfected the art.

  26. sT from the last post… don’t worry, my speculations, once supported by drrayeye become realities 😉 Farmar and Morrison make a decent offer for a PG that has fallen out of favor from his coach. As of now, go figure. Did I mention we save about 2.2m in the deal as well?

    Anyhow, I still maintain our need for a legit PG (in terms of mindset) that still has the physical attributes to defend and run the point for us… its not much about getting 11 dimes per game as I pointed out because the TRI does not rely on the PG to feed the guys. All that needs to be done in this position is handle the ball, hit the spot-up three when open and defend the quicker PGs of the league like Brooks.

  27. I think this post is a good opportunity for Aaron to point out how and why we need to relegate Fish to the backup 1 role… don’t get me wrong, I hate his constant sarcasms about DFish but the glaring weakness is catching up to ultra-quick PGs has become a legitimate concern.

  28. Thanks Warren, I am very happy to see you commenting regularly now days or is it nights for you half way accross the world? Yeah, where is Aaron in this post, especially after last night’s game.

  29. Where’s Aaron?

    I’m thinking Aaron is a legitimate fan of the Lakers, more than anything else. He doesn’t actually hate Fisher, he just hates that the team isn’t doing any better, He’ll be back, he will post, he will comment… and he will do it in his own way, frustrated that the team isn’t doing as well as it should.

    Aaron, if I’m wrong, now is a good time to mention it. Don’t make me look stupid a month from now… 🙂

  30. Reading the piece on Yahoo, I realized I jumped the gun. NY actually makes more sense for AI than Charlotte. The Cats have two solid PGs, the Knicks have….Duhon? They have very little to lose with a flier contract as they’re floundering now, and they could legitimately offer AI a starting spot. Now the only question is, how often does Donnie W. get hammered?

  31. hey everybody, Aaron did a post, see #21.
    and I have to say he’s done a fine job of keeping his word that he wouldn’t bash Fish any longer, so why are you asking him to start again? I guess we love a controversy, and that’s why Palin’s book will be a best seller, eh?

  32. Oh no, Pau Gasol passed away on CSI Miami tonight after the car accident, how terrible. We need like a jack of all trades for our PG in the future, in my mind.

  33. is there any chance we can sign Gafney to a 10 day contract???

  34. I’m surprised how quickly this discussion turned to Fish-bashing, I thought the original post by Kurt did a good job of pointing out the team-issues involved.

    If Kobe could be convinced, he would be the best option against Brooks in my mind. Let him do the Team-USA-vs-Barbosa thing he can do so well, and force the Rockets to match Brooks up against a much bigger player.

    I have not watched the last game, but Im getting the feeling that the interior rotations are well off. When small PGs burn the D, and the rebounding is league-wide laughing stock, its not about wing-defender speed, it smells much more like inside-problems.

  35. Awwww… Gaffney, I liked that kid.

    I wonder if the Lakers make any moves to supplement the current injury-laden roster. Of course Kobe is not gonna be listed more than day-to-day and Gasol is gonna be back in 3 games or so…

    sT, my time is rather freaky for you guys because we are 15 hours apart (without DST) and 16 hours now that DST has begun. The easiest for you guys to know my time is to flip Eastern time into AM or PM… before DST. So if its 11pm in New York, its 11am where I am.

    Anyhow, I didn’t notice that Aaron DID post before me…

  36. 22) T Rogers,
    “With Bynum in the lost post and Gasol in the high post Kobe really needs to be out on the perimeter.”

    It’s always been a question how the Lakers will optimize the combined offensive games of Gasol, Bynum, and Odom. Due to injuries, there hasn’t been a chance to do that yet. Kobe’s new post game complicates that somewhat. (I guess in a good way.)

  37. There’s a claim out that Gaffney’s Israeli buyout is only $50K. FWIW. Still doesn’t address PG issues.

    Altho when a team gets out-rebounded by over 20,it’s hard for me to blame the PGs.

  38. Whops, didn’t notice that Aaron had already posted. I was looking for a long sarcastic rant, that must have been why I missed it. 🙂

    Yeah, we have problems on lots of positions, or rather we have problems with rotations, spacing the floor, and the team working together on defense. The poor rebounding is more of a symptom than the root problem… just like our poor team defense.

    • People, I have deleted or edited a number of comments now with people wanting to discuss trades or other pickups for this team. As is the long-standing policy of this site, we will not have a bunch of random speculation here (and someone saying they would like to play for the Lakers does not mean this isn’t speculation, right now just about everybody would like to play for the Lakers). This kind of speculation will simply take over the comments and change the tone of the site. Please stop posting it so I have to delete it.

      And, by the way, the answers to the Lakers problems may well be in house. I could swear we won an NBA title with this group.

  39. 38 – Kobe is just as deadly operating out of the triple threat from the elbow. When Kobe doesn’t overcomplicate things by dribbling and spinning all over the place, I’d argue that he’s more effective from there. It’s less taxing for him to rise up for the 18 foot jumper or take one dribble and stick the J as opposed to fighting for post position and putting up a fadeaway.

  40. With the groin injury, I do not think Kobe can really elevate and get his shot off the same as before, or move into position like he wants to. The injury will have to heal before we see any FG% improvement from him, and if he just plays through it all year, like I suspect he will, that will not get any better this season. He needs to come to senses and just rest for awhile, or we will be seeing more losses like against the Rockets, and the Playoffs with us at 8th seed may be likely (or maybe 5-6). When Gasol comes back our rebounding will improve all around for the team, you know, an extra 7 footer in the mix. Bynum is going to be an All Star at this rate.

  41. Darn, I was going to say that I want to play for the Lakers.

  42. ..i was just wondering, sheesh.

  43. 39 Stephen,
    “Altho when a team gets out-rebounded by over 20,it’s hard for me to blame the PGs.”

    – Actually I feel like our PG’s getting beat off the dribble forces help from our bigs, and secondary rotations as well, making them out of position for defensive rebounds. You might say that nobody can guard PG’s anymore in this league, but I think there’s a difference in how much the defense is compromised between getting a half step on someone versus getting left in the dust altogether.

  44. This is going to sound absolutely crazy- and I realize that before hand- but at times like these I miss Vlad Rad.

  45. @47

    You should miss Trevor more than Rad haha.

  46. Did you all see this already? Trevor’s ring, about the only beautiful thing from Sunday night:

    Thanks again Trevor, hopefully your hustle and energy will remind the Lakers what it took to get that jewelry.

    Side note: Kurt, totally agree on the Mavs/Bucks game. Dirk is pimp, but how about Jennings and that Ilyasova kid? They were pretty ice-blood themselves.

  47. 47 – That sounds absolutely crazy !!

  48. hey…
    it’s 2 o’clock…
    don’t we have a game today?

    I’m just sayin’…
    I know Kurt, beeee patient.
    got it.

  49. chris h read my mind…Pistons preview & chat is a small step towards moving past the madness that was Denver & Houston.