We’ll Know A Lot More About The Lakers in Two Weeks

Kurt —  December 25, 2009

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Last year, the Boston Celtics came in to Christmas Day as the defending champs and a team with just a couple losses — they came in the best team in the NBA. And the Lakers thumped them in crunch time. Thumped them good.

The Celtics went on to lose six of their next eight. They were never quite the same team after that (although clearly injuries added to this). They were never really a title threat.

The Lakers are the defending champs. They had the best record in the Association. They got thumped by a contender on Christmas day.

I don’t care about the one game. One game in December will not matter five and six months from now, when the games do matter. What I want to see is how they respond to this loss the next couple of weeks. Does it shake their confidence or to do they shake it off? This is the biggest test so far this season. Let’s see if they respond like real champions, the kind that repeats.

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The Lakers actually got to the rim more than the Cavs — the Cavs had 24 shots at the rim, the Lakers 31. The difference is the Cavs shot 79% at the rim, the Lakers 52%. Close out the easy ones, something the Lakers have struggled with for a couple games now.

Regarding the referees, what bothered me more than the calls was how the Lakers dealt with it. And how poorly they dealt with it. Very un-champion like.

Zephid added this about the game:

1.) Off the ball movement
I’m pretty sure the Triangle offense is predicated on off-ball movement and spacing, and our team sure didn’t have a lot of it today. I saw a lot of trying to force the ball into the post; this led to a number of easy turnovers when guys like Delonte West and Jamario Moon just jumped up and intercepted the entry pass into the post. The triangle has built-in releases in case the post pass is not there, but our guys just held onto the ball way too long, eating up the shot clock, and then forced way too many bad passes.

Similarly, the Cavs off ball movement was superb, which got a lot of open dunks for Lebron, Hickson, Moon, and Varejao. Guys like Artest, Kobe, Brown, and Farmar got killed on off ball screens and back door screens. Then, our bigs were either too slow on the rotation or weren’t in the proper position to help. Pretty sure it wasn’t Mike Brown, but somebody on the Cavs coaching staff deserves some credit, because the Lakers seemed genuinely unable to adapt to these off ball movements.

2.) Post Play
On defense, Shaq really punished Andrew. Out of anyone in the league outside of Kendrick “Babies for Breakfast” Perkins, I think Andrew has the best chance of taking on Shaq 1v1. But, Shaq repeatedly got good position in the post and made Andrew pay with a plethora of dunks. And as always, the activity of Varejao was difficult for Gasol and Odom to handle.

On offense, both Bynum and Gasol got manhandled by Shaq, Varejao, and Big Z. Andrew was definitely not aggressive in his post moves, which given his ineptitudes with passing, made his post game very inefficient. Part of the blame goes to the perimeter guys for not properly spacing the floor, but when Andrew gets the ball, he needs to show Shaq he’s the boss now.

Pau, on the other hand, seemed really bothered by Big Z. A number of his shots were blocked/altered near the rim, and his mid-range shot looked even worse. This is a game where we really needed Odom to bring some energy (much like the game in Cleveland last year in February), but he just didn’t bring it on the boards or on defense.

3.) Pace
The Lakers played way too slow. Our front court is somewhere between 4 and 500 times faster than the Cavs front court, and we didn’t take advantage of this. The only guy who had a couple of good post positions was Artest, and that was when he was pissed for not getting fouls called for him. However, our backup guards, like Farmar and Brown, forgot that when you push the pace, that doesn’t mean you should take the first open look you get. Farmar and Brown both put up some pretty awful shots in semi-transition, where I would’ve preferred for them to wait for help and get it into the post.

4.) The Triangle

To the Lakers: Run it. Through Pau. A lot.
That’s all that needs to be said.

Kurt

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60 responses to We’ll Know A Lot More About The Lakers in Two Weeks

  1. Funny how when other team’s fans such as the Jazz or Celtics do stupid or dangerous things (whether overhyped or not) such as throw foam hands (and water bottles) onto the court, they (the fans) get excoriated on this and other websites. Lakers fans are just like any other…they are the “best in the world” when their team is near the top, and when their team sucks, or blows a big game, they act up like petulant babies and throw things around. Let’s all get over it and realize that the NBA is entertainment, that the fans are paying big money, and that whether it is Kobe whining about Jazz fans booing Derek, or Lebron whining about Lakers fans throwing foam, the players come out looking like the poor sports.

  2. What we should be looking for in the next two weeks or so.

    1. Bynum’s production – Celtics, Cavs, and Orlando have the potential of being ‘long’ and we need Bynum’s production to counteract that and provide the necessary balance. If Bynum continues to have 4 point 5 rebound games then the oft mentioned ‘length’ advantage the Lakers have is moot. (kinda same issue with Lamar) Heck, at this rate, we may be better off giving D.J. 5 or so minutes.

    2. Bench Production – The Lakers arguably have the best starting 5 in the NBA. However, no NBA team can survive a season without having a competent bench. Jordan Farmar looked like last year’s Farmar and Shannon Brown continues to show why he is overhyped by continuing his horrible shot selection. Odom gets thrown out without making an impact (again) and Sasha was Sasha aka the broken machine. (Over on SS&R, Clark notes a great example of Sasha’s play. In the late 3rd, he ‘hounds’ LeBron, and when LeBron passes, he goes to double team Varejao 25 feet away, thus leading to an eventual easy dunk.) Although the return of Luke Walton should help with ball movement and running the offense, and at this rate, even shooting, if the bench continues in this funk, the Lakers may need to look at a move such as the one suggested one’s with Bulls or Knicks or sign a vet like Stackhouse that Jackson can trust enough to give Kobe a break.

    3. Off the ball movement – The triangle should not be an isolation offense. That’s left to the LeBron James offense. We had no off the ball movement today and atleast 5 post entry passes were easily picked off. If what we is need to put Kobe in the post again and Gasol at the elbow extended or baseline, we should do so. We also lack a slasher, who makes crisp off the ball cuts as Trevor did last year. While Artest has been better than many expected he is still a relatively poor finisher at the rim, thus negating his effectiveness in such a role. Furthermore, we also need those in the post, ie Bynum to be willing passers to facilitate such cuts. Some 3 point shooting to properly space wouldn’t hurt either.

  3. Rambitions, do you come here a lot and see posts ripping other teams fans?

  4. Quick questions for the group: Is Pau getting enough touches? I was at the game and I remember the entire section asking why Pau isn’t touching the ball in the post or high post. I’ve never been at a Laker game where people actually got angry with Kobe dribbling/shooting. (11/32!!?) And a lot of them were not good shots. When did the Lakers become a pick and roll team?
    Now, I love the pick and roll, but unless someone has the guts to make that bounce pass in between two guys, it can’t be effective. Cavs were just playing the dribble and had no worries about a pass. When a pass came, it was 3 seconds late and not in a great position.
    2. Was Kobe shooting too much? Was he forcing it? Seemed that way at the game, but if people were watching and saw something different, let me know.
    3. Were the refs as uneven as it seemed? It felt that Lebron got to be physical and the Lakers couldn’t be?

    I don’t mind the loss, but I hated the way the Lakers lost today. I only saw the triangle a few times at the game (and i had seats behind the basket so i could see the spacing).

    Also, on a side note, Cleveland shot lights out. They hit the open threes, they passed it perfectly, their moving screens (ilgauskas mostly) were working.

    And no, I did not throw my foam finger.

  5. Well, not much to add after reading the comments. Zephid seems right on with what he said, and the Lakers will come out of this better than before with improvements to their game. I do not think the FO is going to make any changes to this team, unless it means cutting salary somehow. Kobe is playing way to many minutes per game at this point of the year. There are still a lot of games to be played in this season, so let’s take out the Kings…

    “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” –Arthur Ashe

  6. I don’t think Lakers fans are ever praised as the best in the world. I’m one and even I wouldn’t ever say that. And while I’m not one for tossing things onto the court, as Kobe pointed out, at least it was (mostly) foam.

    That said, a little petulance can go a long way sometimes. I liked the vigor, if not the result.

  7. Two good Lakers reads. They’re panicking way more than I am, but I have a lot of respect for both writers so maybe it is time to panic. Maybe I’m just high on holiday spirit and it’ll hit me tomorrow. Either way, solid reads.

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2009/12/25/1219685/ghastly-laker-offense-inspires
    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2009/12/25/1219727/now-is-a-perfectly-good-time-to

  8. thank you kurt. i don’t know if you can pull off some article like this in ten minutes or less. kudos to zephid as well, nice batman-robin tandem analysis here or however you wanna call our dynamic team of bloggers. the ideas sure are crisper and hard-hitting than the laker offense last night.

    sT — i’d keep my fingers crossed about the lakers standing pat (am talking about the bench). the way i see kupchak and the way buss has been spending, not that i read minds, but they know better than us the standing of the roster and they’d do what they can to guarantee a second championship in a row.

    which brings me to driven’s point — i’d rather, if and only if there is a winning offer (as not to speculate) settle for a slasher who can shoot. sad that it has to be a broken machine instead of trevor off the bench to fill that role. i’ve heard a lot of stackhouses, robinsons and hinrichs (and to a degree gomes from our friend in minny). to me only a hinrich offer will make me think twice about the roster. the guy can shoot and defend and is a high-iq player. i do not know how much game stack has, but at this point i am willing to give him a chance. but am not mitch.

    but the voice of reason in our wiser bloggers tell me to not be panicky as i was prior to crossing paths with this blog. this is one game, a poor sample. i am not however adding hype to luke’s return. i don’t think that changes a lot. that would make things smoother though on offense.

    in the same light, i am not going to spare ab, lo and pau from their performance. i know how much they can do better. last night was the opposite.

    looking forward to making a counterstatement in sactown. to me, the road games against bos, cle, atl and orl (den por, dal and sa out west) are the real tests. enough of the subpar beating.s

  9. Is anybody else shocked at our offense this year?

    I watch other teams and they have guys who can consistently hit wide open shots. The only guys you can rely on to hit an open shot seem to be Kobe (sometimes better when contested) or Fish. Everybody else is inconsistent as NBA refs. Lamar doesn’t have confidence in his stroke, Sasha = fail, farmar usually close to going in but rims out, ron ron depends on what he eats before the game, and shannon is streaky.

    Our front court offense is shaky as well. Pau beast on the boards lately, but against more competent big men and defenses he really needs to develop a Big Z long/mid range to get people running at him. Drew and Pau where are the 5 foot jump hooks, Pau dominated the playoffs with his quick release hook shots.

    Lastly, Drew great against average big men. However, against legit teams he is absolutely pathetic. I would put good money that he will struggle 90% of the time against Nuggs, Celtics, Magic, and Celtics.

    It might all come down to the 3 ball, if u are getting wide open looks because of double teams on kobe, pau, or drew u have to make the other teams pay.

  10. Side question – do you think Kobe should get flagrant for leveling Mo Williams (after uncalled Shaq’s foul on the other end)?

  11. Tej — am not so shocked. this could be a lot worse than we thought. but as mike breen was saying, how can we boo out loud a 23-5 team? only laker fans i guess. btw, i don’t know if that was a rhetorical question.

    TRad — after all I saw, they all seem to cancel out. i mean kobe had his share of take downs.

  12. While watching Andrew and Pau get physically dominated in the post, I noticed how weak their base was. Neither played “low to high”. Both failed to move their opponent off a spot, and both got knocked off their spots. When they were posting up, they failed to make space. No “goalposts” with their arms, and no dropped hips. I would have liked to see Pau use some reverse pivots on the catch to create some space, face the defender, and drive at him. Didn’t see any counter moves, either.

    I hope Santa brought Pau and Drew a squat rack so they can develop some lower body strength. Some Phoenix Suns trainers would be nice, too.

  13. Losses like these are great for the team. This shows the Lakers they have another level to reach on offense despite their record.

    Here’s to more fluid ball movement and stronger off the ball cuts in the new year.

    Cheers

  14. I didn’t see the game (that Christmas thing got in the way) so I can’t really comment on that much. But one thought I had in looking at the box score and comments is that some good outside shooting would cure a lot of the Lakers’ problems on offense.

    I wonder how much of the spacing and lack of good ball movement are the result of a team that can’t seem to hit an outside shot. In recent games I have seen a lot of open looks not going down. With some consistent shooting, the offense would look a whole lot sharper and I think Gasol, Bynum and Kobe would have more room to work.

    I like the point of this post – how the Lakers react is the key. I think we lost twice to the Magic last regular season…

  15. I really don’t understand why out of all games would Phil give more minutes to Sasha instead of Brown. I mean what does this kid have to do to get some plying time. Also (I love the guy) D-Fish is starting to look tired and I believe should volunteer himself to a back-up role with this team. I truly believe you make Brown the starter and Fish his back-up. Farmar may be playing better than last year but he doesn’t fit the triangle at all. Im just shocked that Phil doesnt play Brown with the starters. Plus a simple dunk from Brown could’ve woken up that crowd. Let the kid play.

  16. Last year, the Boston Celtics came in to Christmas Day as the defending champs and a team with just a couple losses — they came in the best team in the NBA. And the Lakers thumped them. Thumped them good.

    ++

    I believe the game was tied with 3 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

  17. I was disappointed to see Pau getting stopped by Z (or anyone else) one-on-one. That really seemed to stand out in the third quarter.

    Watching Lebron maneuver on the court anywhere reminded me of 2002 Shaq in the paint. I think I’ve seen less contact made by NFL running backs on third and two. And just about every play could be called a foul. (Maybe other teams don’t try to guard Lebron as close all over the court; probably only the elite teams even have the players to attempt it.)

    I haven’t seen Cleveland play this year, but I have to give them a lot of credit for coming out to play hard (and playing well) in a big game. If I didn’t know better, I would have said the Lakers were the team forced to play a Christmas game at the end of a long road trip.

  18. The game was very bizarre. It almost seemed as if the two teams exchanged identities in terms of style of play, pace, ball movement, etc…Side question just out of curiosity, primarily aimed at those closer to the team, Kobe is known for watching extensive amounts of film. What about the other players, primarily in respect to Odom, does anybody know to what extent the other guys watch film? This is not to bash anybody, purely out of curiosity.

  19. Like the rest of us, I am disappointed with the effort shown during the game.

    I actually curious what change from the first 2 minutes of the game and the rest?
    Because I think we dominate them early. I know it’s a very small sample, but I am really curious if we move away from our execution and cause problems to ourselves.

    Overall, this game feels like our christmas game against the ugly green 2 years ago, when we chose to wear short shorts. I think we went over our head and feel like we have nothing to prove and ends up being too complacent.
    We were surprised by their execution and most of all, intensity.

  20. Strategically speaking, LO has a basic disconnect between how things are unfolding and what he does with the ball. He reacts only to what is happening immediately in front of him in most cases. That is Lamar. Watching film does not seem to change his way of playing.

    Other than Pau, I am not sure how much film they watch.

  21. I think the finger(s) were meant for the refs.. the whole finger-ing thing was sparked by a terrible call..

    RE Sasha’s PT: its all about spacing.. remember how awesome our 1Q offense was w/VladRad? Like many have mentioned around here the Laker 3PT shooting has been terrible..

  22. I think we’re going to learn more about the team today than we did yesterday. I want to see the WHOLE TEAM come out ready to play tonight – we all know that Kobe will go full throttle after a game like that, but I want to see some fire from Pau/LO/Drew as well.

    There was just no offensive rhythm in that game, and that seems to be what this whole team uses as fuel. When the offense is running smoothly, it seems like everything (the defense, most importantly) picks up.

  23. 11 – It has been my intuition that Shannon Brown has played much worse and selfishly than most of us would like to think. It is simply ridiculous at this point to consider making him our starting point guard. Shannon has an 8.1 PER when playing PG while allowing 21.1. For comparison, fish has a 10.1 and 18.1 given up. Shannon also seems much more willing to shoot, utilizing Fisher’s PUJIT style. When it goes in, they work, but lately they have not and have simply been a poor shot. Thus its no surprise that Browns Assists per 48 is 3.2, just alightly more than half of Fishers Assists per 48 at 5.9. (And Fisher isnt exactly noted for his passing) The reality seems to be that Fisher is simply, even at this point the best pg on our team.

  24. I know he’s become a running joke around here (and rightly so) but maybe it’s time for Phil to give Ammo a run every now and then? The one above average skill he has is shooting. Maybe the threat of him hitting a 20 foot jumper is enough to keep defenses honest? If we go to a zone, we can somewhat protect him on defense as well.

  25. Ron Artest is out for tonight.

    He tripped over a box and fell down some stairs at his home, resulting in stitches to his left elbow and the back of his head. Nothing serious, but he is out for tonight’s game, according to the team. He will be re-evaluated today.

  26. @Trad

    Would they give Shaq a flagrant after leveling Kobe down or Mo a flagrant after pushing Kobe out of bounds on a lay up attempt?Besides Kobe happened to run into him not over him.
    7 or 8 of Kobe’s misses were on suspicious smelly foul like situations by the way.I wish he was on Lebron all game long.He played his heart out.

  27. 24. With Artest out, you may just get your wish today. I wonder who starts and for how much longer Luke will be out.

  28. Ouch. Poor Ron, I wonder what’s worse… missing the road-game opportunity to redeem the team after the humiliating and embarrassing display on Christmas Day, or knowing that there’s more than one basketball fan out there chuckling and laughing at the mental image of him falling down the stairs?

    At least it’s against the Kings, who we should be able to take out anyway, and it’s nothing serious.

    VoR, you didn’t miss much. The game was so frustrating to watch we turned it off early in the fourth quarter and went to play board games with the family instead. And yes, the outside shooting was a huge problem, but our presence in the paint wasn’t that good either. I remember very well a game five years ago where Andrew was completely unafraid of Shaq, to the point of dunking over him and nearly getting in a fight with him… that wasn’t there yesterday.

    The refs were appallingly bad. The way the Lakers didn’t adjust to them and instead went into pouting mode was as bad. Kobe had a legitimate gripe with every complaint he made, but at some point, you need to tell yourself “screw them”, play through it, and find a way around it. It didn’t look like the Lakers were trying to do that.

    Knowing how Kobe handles humiliating losses, I almost feel a little sorry for the Kings tonight. Almost.

  29. Why can’t Bynum develop a back to the basket, low post game? He’s long as a 747, has a good touch, is a pretty good passer..it boggles the mind. When he squares up to the basket from 10-15 feet out, you know it’s going to end badly. He can dunk when given a great pass, that’s about it, can’t create a shot. Disappointing, after some glimpses of becoming more of a solid player.

  30. Toward the end of the game, I began to feel it would
    ultimately be a blessing in disguise. The Lakers
    got a lesson in what it will take to repeat. Clearly
    they can’t get by on individual talent alone. Their
    much hyped bigs production has been declining
    of late. Against OKC they missed countless shots
    at the rim and were fortunate to win. Now they
    know (should know, anyway) that they must play at a
    higher level against the better teams. Despite
    a off shooting day, I thought Kobe clearly set an
    example with his intensity on defense even when
    there was no chance of winning.
    Also I agree with other commenters on Farmar
    and Brown. I assume each would like to start at
    PG, but each one took an immediate 3 upon
    entering the game. Neither made much of an
    attempt run the offense.

  31. 23

    I agree that Brown hasn’t progressed as hoped this season. Apart from dunking in transition, has he even shown one specific skill that he excels in? His shooting is streaky, his decision-making with the ball is poor, and his defense is generally mediocre. The much-criticised Farmar has actually done more to stake a claim for a starting role (which isn’t saying much), but at the end of the day neither of them is doing enough to dislodge Fisher.

  32. Other teams’ fans getting excoriated here? No. Just their announcers.

  33. With Artest out for tonight’s game in Sacramento (and here’s wishing him a speedy recovery), might this be the night we finally see Phil trot out the Odom/Gasol/Bynum “triple towers” in the starting line-up? Not the greatest circumstances for such an experiment, but it might at long last satisfy a lot of our lingering curiosities.

    I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but am I correct in assuming that this particular frontcourt combination hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in its small-sample-size opportunities?

  34. Mimsy – I wouldn’t underestimate the Kings if I were you. They took the Cavs to overtime the other night. I think tonight is going to be really tough and it wouldn’t shock me to see the Lakers lose.

    As for the game yesterday, I really don’t think we lost because of a lack of effort. We had some bad turnovers, but overall we missed some shots we usually make and the Cavs shot lights out.

    As for our bigs Bynum and Gasol, I have been saying this for a while but I really believe they are a little overrated. I’ve been hearing all season about how Gasol is a top 5 player in this league and I think that’s ridiculous. I think he is a really good player, but I don’t consider him to be in that elite status. People talk about how lucky Kobe is to be playing with him, but I think the Lakers are the perfect situation for him. When Gasol and Bynum play against physical players they get intimidated (Shaq, Garnett, Perkins, Mark Gasol).

  35. 33

    Top 5 in the league is a ridiculous ranking for Gasol, but I’m curious as to where you’ve heard that kind of statement. Most people seem to think he’s a top 10-15 player, which seems about right to me.

  36. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sports_blog/2009/12/artest-gets-hurt-at-home-will-probably-miss-tonights-game.html
    here’s the link to the LA Times story on Ron.

    I was quite dissapointed with Andrew’s weak sauce performance yesterday. he should have been highly motivated against Shaq, as someone mentioned above, remember that game where Shaq slammed over Drew, next possession Drew fakes Shaq out of his shoes, then they got into a pushing match afterwards? that alone should have brought drew to the game with some FIRE!
    he’s got to learn to use emotion as well as physical skills to elevate his game.
    Champions learn to use their internal emotions for elevating to the higher level, and I’m just not seeing that in young Drew.

  37. Joel – I’ve heard it. And in my opinion he’s not a top 10-15 player either.
    Kobe, Wade, LeBron, Carmelo, Garnett, Paul Pierce, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Dirk, Chris Paul, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, Deron Williams. That’s 16 players. Is Gasol better than any of them?

  38. I think people are making too big a deal about the way the fans behaved. Just because they boo it doesn’t mean they’re booing the team. I believe they started throwing the foam fingers after a bad call. When I saw that it looked like the fans were reacting to the officiating, which was horrible. I’m sure the team agrees.

  39. Even the boxes of the world are against us.

  40. Rudy, just off your list, right now I’d take Gasol over Pierce, Dirk, Durant and Roy easy, and I’d debate another few. He is the most skilled, polished big in the game, in my opinion.

  41. And to add to Kurt’s list, I’ll take Gasol over Deron, Parker, & Amare as well. The guy had a bad game yesterday, he doesn’t have too many of those.

  42. I’d take him over Parker too, any day. Look, Gasol is not top 5 in the league. But he is the best passing big in the game today, and his offensive game belongs in the same breath as Duncan.

    Just because the team forgot how to run the triangle doesn’t change the fact that Pau is the most crucial ingredient to running the system properly. If there was proper cutting and spacing around him (and if he got enough touches), he’d be killing it right now.

    Ah, but of course, I forgot – Pau is weak and doesn’t like physical play and gets bullied around. Let’s slide him down 30 spots.

  43. @Rudy – I’d say one could certainly argue that Pau is at least as good or is better than a few names on that list: Tony Parker, Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, Deron Williams … I’d even include Stoudemire and (at this stage in his career) Duncan, each of whom are more of a direct comparison. More importantly, though, I’d say Pau’s unique skill set is particularly valuable to the Lakers.

  44. Kurt, I would take Roy and Dirk over Pau personally but I agree with your general thoughts. He isn’t the flashiest player in the league, or the most physically dominant, but he understands the game of basketball and knows how to make wins happen at the highest level.

  45. I was disappointed in the Lakers effort against the Cavs. Yes it is only one game but the Lakers need to adjust better to the way the game is being refereed. Tonight will be a good test to see how the Champs respond after an embarrassing performance. The bench is a concern and would Odom be better starting and Bynum coming of the bench and being the main post up threat with the second unit? If the Lakers have not learned yet, repeating will be difficult as every team will be looking to beat the Champs. Hopefully Walton will be back soon to bring some continuity to the second unit running the offense.

    With Artest out tonight it would not surprise me to see ShanWOW start and Kobe move to the small forward. PJ will probably decide on a starter based on matchups. Fisher will have his hands full tonight with Tyreke Evans. I would like to see the Lakers come out with some fire and burry the Kings early

  46. So why would Phil play Sasha when you have Brown. For all the nay sayers for Brown who keep bringing up mathmatical equations to show how poor he played should really take into consideration that he is very young, also he doesn’t play with the starters so the game isn’t as esay for him as it is for D-Fish. I really do love D-Fish but he plays with the starters for a reason–and thats to hide his age. D-Fish hardly ever plays with the second unit. Brown hasn’t been given consistent minutes. One game he will play 10 to 15 minutes and others he doesn’t even make it off the bench. He’s a tough defender and will learn the offense with time and experience. Everyone played like crap yesterday, but this loss may have woken the sleeping giant–we may be thanking the Cavs for this game after we hoist our 2nd consecutive trophy.

  47. There’s no way Pau Gasol is better than Dirk or Brandon Roy. Gasol is in fact very skilled and he looks really good in the triangle offense and especially is good with the lack of big men in the NBA at this time, but it is obvious when he plays physical players he gets intimidated.

    How quickly we forget about 2 years ago in the finals when he was labeled as Pau Gasoft. He gave Kobe no help in the finals.

    I’m not trying to diminish the impact Gasol has on our team. He is a very good player but I just don’t think he is an elite player and in order to beat a team like Boston or Cleveland, Kobe is going to have to play great not good because they can throw bigger more physical players at our bigs.

  48. “Why can’t Bynum develop a back to the basket, low post game?”

    Bynum has a great game with his back to the basket. He’s at least as good as basically every center in the game in that department save Yao. He can back down and turn to finish with either hand on a hook or a jumper; he has a nice set of pivot moves to lose his defender; an up-and-under layup to finish with either hand, and to top it all he always looks to finish strong.

  49. @rudy, did you forget last years playoffs regarding gasol? He was pretty physical throughout the playoffs going against D. Howard, K. Martin, Nene. Sure, two years ago he was manhandled in against the celtics, but so was everyone on the team.
    Let’s not get a little too crazy about one games results. Pau was working hard last night. He set tough screens all day, rolled and never got the ball where he needed it to be.
    He is top 15 player because he has an extraordinary set of skills. An Amazing passer, Good back to the basket moves, can face up, can shoot up to 16 feet and is really smart. That’s what makes him elite. Some people are just good at scoring, but Pau’s skills make him an elite player.
    I don’t know, I like Pau. And I agree with Zephid, Run the triangle. Through Pau. A lot. It will make the game so much easier where Kobe wont have to shoot 35 times to get 35 points.

  50. Rudy, you bring up two years ago and ignore that Gasol was the primary defender on Dwight Howard in crunch time last year’s finals and dominated him. He has lost that soft label with anyone who has watched the team consistently the last 18 months. Join us in the present.

    Pig’s right, Bynum’s back to the basket game is not the problem.

    Anyway, new Sacramento post up. And do not think this team is a pushover tonight. The Bulls did that and….

  51. The Finals 2 years ago had a little to do with the fact that Perkins and Garnett were the best defensive frontline in the NBA. Wouldn’t you expect any normal (though talented) player’s output to diminish? When Kobe struggled against Battier or Artest or Bowen (rarely) we never claimed it was because he was soft, only because it was great defense.

    Also, no disrespect, but anyone questioning Drew’s back to the basket game clearly has watched one Lakers game all season long, and it was yesterday. His back to the basket moves are the one thing about Drew’s game that you can’t question, it’s the boards and passing people harp on.

    I have to say, though, the sky-is-falling reaction is more subdued than last year, which is better than I expected. I think Kurt was dead on – the next couple weeks will reveal a lot of things. Then we’ll see if we can learn from our mistakes and get back our proper offensive movement.

  52. I’d take Gasol over Garnett any day at this point in their respective careers. Just compare their numbers this year. Gasol is definitely top 10-15 in the league.

    And all this “Gasoft” stuff is just dumb. It’s very obvious what happened- Gasol was frustrated and disappointed, both in the officiating which allowed Shaq and Z and Varejao to engage in Boston style grabbing, pulling, shoving and hacking and in himself for bouncing so many close shots off the rim. Gasol played a bad game. Just remember- the Lakers are 101 and 22 or so since adding him. That should end any question of his value to the team.

  53. Re: Gasol top 5 player

    I don’t know about style points (the beauty is in the eye of the beholder), but let’s check some metrics.

    PER

    Last season Gasol was 12th. There were 5 bigs with better PER – Howard, Duncan, Nowitzki, Yao, Shaq.

    Win Shares

    He was 4th last season, behind James, Paul and Wade.

    Wins Produced

    He was 8th last season. Better bigs – Howard, Murphy.

    What does it tell us? That he’s a perfect “second bananas” for Kobe. Efficient, good defender, good rebounder, average usage guy.

    Is he top 5? I doubt it – I’d take for sure James, Paul, Bryant, Howard before him. And there are several guys behind those four with similar productivity. But he’s easily top 15, and there aren’t many guys I’d take before him to play in Lakers at 4. At this moment of their careers I’d rather have Gasol than Duncan or Garnett. They might be a little better, but he’s younger and healthier.

  54. Like almost everyone else the way the lakers played bothered me more than the loss. The cavs simply played well. If jamario moon is going to hit 7-8 shots, mo williams is going score almost 30 and they cavs hit 54% from the field they are going to win most games. However ever if the lakers play well, they would beat the cavs despite how the cavs play.

    I always say the lakers are good because they play as a team…they cavs aren’t real contenders because its too much one on one basketball. Well the tables were turned and the cavs played laker type of basketball. Lebron didn’t personally try to show up kobe. And the cavs won. Props to them.

    But the lakers were just atrocious. Way too much one on one basketball. Pau looked scared every time he got the ball. They missed like 5 freethrows when they were making their push before the half and at the beginning of the 3rd. They really let the terrible officiating take them out of their game. Yes that officiating was terrible. But lakers have to be able to play through that.

    It was some bad coaching by phil as well. I thought phil went away from his normal rotation at the beginning of the second and put vujacic instead of brown in. The cavs actually pushed the lead when lebron was on the bench. Then I though in the 3rd Phil would put brown and odom in for bynum and fish to change the pace of the game as he did vs Utah…he didn’t do it until very late in the 3rd. Not only were the lakers a step slow, so was phil.

    But lakers will bounce back.

  55. It was ugly. The Lakers have shown zip against better teams with exception of Suns, losing to Denver, Utah and now Cleveland. No way are they going to win it again with the apathetic low energy they have shown all year. I now think Ariza was more important than people thought even given Artest’s being superior player in many ways. Some chemistry has been lost. He was a sparkplug and now Lakers look like they are DUI. I mean just no game on either end. Fisher cannot guard young fast guards. Bynum is bogus threat with no excuse (I don’t buy the asthma BS; he is simply a head case who is Zombified and has no sense for the game). Forced shots by everyone and no serious game plan, which I think leaves a lot of weight on PJ for continuing to use ancient Roman battle tactics (Triangle offense). There are enough smart coaching staffs that have the figured out Triangle’s weakness. Cleveland’s coaching staff has it figured out. Also the Cavs had motivation. They wanted it. I haven’t seen that with the Lakers all year and wonder if they have it besides KB, Gasol and Artest. If they don’t GEL soon it’s over for them this season.

  56. take bynum out of there…he’s so disinterested in the game when he’s not getting the ball.

  57. Hey, I love the Lakers win or lose,But the people in the stands aren’t loud and when someone from the other team goes to the free throw line they just boo now how is that going to make them miss there shot!They should be waving there arms and waving anything so they miss but all they do is boo,They are not loud even when we are ahead they are so quit it makes me mad I fell like jumping into the TV and saying get louder!!!When the Lakers go to other teames home town they are soooo loud stamping there feet and cherring there team? If we did that then I think that we might of won the cavs.also I agree they need to get rid of Bynum.They should of stated with Ariza

  58. Pig, if that was true, they would go to him as a second option. I’m not a hater, just thought he would be more of a force by now, say 15-10 most nights.

  59. “They were never quite the same team after that (although clearly injuries added to this).”

    Uh. That’s right. Injuries “added” to the Celtics’ problems. And if the Lakers lose Kobe to injury this year, that’ll “add” to their not being a title team.

    Here’s hoping both teams are at full strength at the end of this year. No excuses, no questions, no doubts.

  60. “Rudy, just off your list, right now I’d take Gasol over Pierce, Dirk, Durant and Roy easy, and I’d debate another few. He is the most skilled, polished big in the game, in my opinion.”

    Pau is a very nice player, but if you care about *this year*, not the future, there is no way on earth you can take Pau over Nowitzki. Dirk’s a better and more versatile scorer, as good at other phases of the game, and very tough mentally.

    Pierce and Durant are 3s, not 4s, and their games are completely different than Pau’s. Maybe compare him to Bogut or Kamen?

    Maybe the most interesting comparison, tho, is Garnett. No obvious edge, to me, just a different game. Pau is better with his back to the basket and he’s probably a better rebounder right now, too. But there’s nobody better than Garnett at helping to defend the pick and roll, and he absolutely directs the D.