“LAL unbeatable when playing D.”

Kurt —  January 6, 2010

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Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey may not be familiar with the mantra of this site — the Lakers will go as far as their defense will take them — but based on his post-game tweet Tuesday he is a believer.

Solid D both ways.LAL unbeatable when playing D.Reb edge killed us.Transition kept O on life support

For the second game in a row, the Lakers did play defense. They held Dallas to 101.1 points per 100 possessions (right at the Lakers season average, second best in the league) then held Houston to 85.9. Dallas shot just 40.6% (eFG%), Houston shot 42.9%. Plus, the Lakers dominated the glass.

It was not a pretty win Tuesday, but the Lakers are back to winning with defense. And, if Lamar Odom is going to play like that sick, I’m sneaking into his house today to plant viruses.

Kurt

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41 responses to “LAL unbeatable when playing D.”

  1. Odom had a sick game. Although I missed seeing the game due to bad internet connection, I can’t help but marvel at his statline: 17 points, 19 rebounds, 9 assists and 1 steal. He was 7-10 shooting w/ only 1 TO.

    My goodness Lamar.

  2. Its great to see Lamar posting the big numbers, of course we always knew he could do this, the question is, as always, one of consistency.

    I hope that the Lakers can carry this momentum to the big roadtrip and steamroll a 8-0.

  3. I missed the first 2.5 quarters of the Rockets game due to being on airlines and airports all day yesterday. I finally made it back home around 9:30 PM my time… wiped out, starving, fed up with everything, only to be told by my equally tired husband, “Lakers-Rockets are on”.

    We dragged our tired selves to the TV and found the game, just in time to see Lamar do an absolutely beastly layup. “Er… isn’t he supposed to be sick?” “That WAS sick.”

    It was a good ending to an unpleasant day. :)

    By the way, with regards to Lamar’s fantastic stats from last night: This should not surprise anyone, we know he can do this. Remember the road trip from hell last February? Andrew had just ended the season with a heart-breaking knee injury, and Kobe had stomach flu, and we all knew he’d play, but at 50% and on IV fliuds. And Lamar walked on the floor, took over, and that was that. I just wish, wish, hope, PRAY he would do it more often! Not take over, there’s no room for him to do that when Kobe, Pau and Andrew are on the floor along with Ron, and that would cause disruptions in the game play. But this level of effort from him makes me happy.

    (I’ve been gone from FB&G for less than a week and I fell like I’m completely out of the loop and have no idea at all what’s going on with the Lakers anymore; I didn’t even know Ron was cleared to play yesterday! I’d no idea how often I check this blog until I lost access to it for a few days.)

  4. I love how a smothering defense can impact plays where the defense isn’t even that good. What I mean is, last night the Lakers did a tremendous job of playing physical position defense where Houston was consistently finding another layer of defenders on penetration and when shooting their jumpshots doing it over an outstretched arm. But, on the plays where the Lakers didn’t close out well or were beat by good ball movement, the Rockets missed lots of those shots as well. And I think that’s because they never got in a rhythm because of the overall strong D the Lakers displayed on most other possesions. I liken it to when an NFL QB is harrassed and hit and sacked early in a game and for the rest of the game he is off target with his passes and stepping up in the pocket when no pressure is even there. Essentially, the QB is over aware of the rush and it leads to mistakes. Last night, I thought the Rockets missed a lot of shots they would have made had they not faced so many hard closeouts earlier in the game and in some ways, our defense was in their heads.

    Also, I was impressed by our P&R defense last night. Ballhandlers were rarely allowed to turn the corner (and when they did, they had to shoot over Bynum/LO). On switches, our bigs bottlenecked guards and put up roadblocks to deny penetration. And our guards (especially Fisher, I thought) did a good job of giving different looks on how they reacted to the screen – fighting over the top, then going under, and other times shifting the angle so the screener couldn’t really get a good pick…really good stuff.

  5. Lamar needs to be reward after every big game with candy and some Kardashian booty. Motivation is key.

    This guy needs serious mental work. I believe in his talent to a point where a 15-5-5 stat line still seems to be underachieving.

  6. ARticle by Lazenby up over at Hoopshype, it centers on LO and Tex Winter/the Triangle Offense.

    http://blogs.hoopshype.com/blogs/lazenby/2010/01/04/odom-can-still-hear-winter/

    Best (indirect) Artest quote I hadn’t heard:

    That’s not to say the versatile forward [Odom] hasn’t had tremendous frustrations with the system. He laughed heartily when he heard that new teammate Ron Artest talked of the triangle as an impetuous lady who needs constant romance.

    “You can call it that,” Odom said. “Romance is good. It’s always better when you take your time.”

  7. anyone else notice that around the 2:30 mark left in the 4th quarter, when Houston was closing in, PJ switched our Farmar for Fish, and the lead went back from something like 2 to something like 8 in a matter of a few possessions? I’m not saying Fish scored or shot our way back into it, nor did he play stellar defense that was the turnaround, but he did bring a sense of calm, and that seemed to be enough for the Lakers to zen their way back to a comfortable lead.
    I’m just sayin’ … felt like leadership to me.

  8. #7. chris h,
    Last night again showed why Farmar is a real talent, but still not quite there. He had some really good plays on offense and is a great attacker, but he did not play smart defense last night and it led to fouls (and ultimately, short minutes). It was games like last night where I’m glad we have 3 PG’s, because they all bring something a bit different to the table that do help our team. I’m also happy that Sasha is finding a role again. He’s playing a more controlled game where he’s still agressive, but playing much smarter (on offense) and not forcing as much. There were a couple of plays in particular where Sasha got a handoff of a sidline screen action and instead of shooting or forcing a pass, he just pulled the ball back and reset the offense. Sasha’s also been hustling on the glass (both offensive and defensive) and making an impact on the game in more ways than just being a “shooter”.

  9. ‘And, if Lamar Odom is going to play like that sick, I’m sneaking into his house today to plant viruses.’

    I know it’s unkind, but I fear there are already plenty to be found…

  10. Yeh, I don’t care if Lamar misses 5 shots in a row, because I care more that he takes 12-15 shots instead of 7-10, he would still make 7/15 or better!

  11. anxiously awaiting aaron’s comments on how the defense could have been better if fisher wasn’t starting according to 82games.com….

  12. #7 chris h

    I think phil took farmar out of the game last night around the 2 or 3 min mark when jordan commited a turnover that led to a runout and an easy bucket in transition at a crucial point of the game. if he didnt turn the ball over i really believe he would have kept jordan in the game.

  13. I may be completely wrong, but it just seems to me lamar plays so much better when he is in the starting lineup at th PF alongside Pau or Drew.

    Its ashame Drew would probably never accept a role as 6th man, where he could be a scoring option off the bench and have the paint to himself when Pau rests.

    Am I off base here?

  14. 13, I agree, if Drew agreed to come off the bench and be that aggressive go-to scorer, it would benefit the team tremendously. LO-Pau seems more efficient offensively and the second unit needs a post scorer. LO can’t ‘facilitate’ if there are no scorers around him.

    I really don’t think it would be a blow to Drew’s psyche or confidence in the long run. He may pout for a bit but he’s the confident kind of player that would step up.

  15. 8, omg Darius, so close to a ringing endorsement for Start Sasha! Just some quick notes from last night.

    -I didn’t start watching until about 6 minutes to go in the 4th, just in time to see Farmar blow a defensive assignment which led to a wide open Battier three, then respond on the other end by throwing a lazy pass which was easily intercepted by Battier. Fisher definitely brought some calm, as well as some better off-ball defense in keeping up with Kobe’s forced switches.

    -I liked Andrew’s patience last night. He received the ball in the post, let the runners run off him, genuinely seemed to look for the pass, before going up and getting easy shots over the smaller Rocket defenders.

    -The Rockets didn’t go on that 8-0 run late in the 4th because they outworked us or played harder; they got there through execution on offense and some well-run plays ending in Battier threes. Honestly, if they can get a legitimate center (probably a Kendrick “I Will Never Smile, Ever” Perkins type), as well as a scorer on the wing (Joe Johnson type), they’ll be a scary team.

  16. Drew, Odom is not going to be consistent or better if you start him or bring him off the bench, if you play him at the four or the three, if you play him with Gasol or with Bynum. (He will not eat them with a fox, he will not eat them in a box, he will not eat them here or there….). Odom is never going to be consistent, he is never going to be what some people expect of him. Revel in these good games, but do not expect that he has turned some corner. This is a 10-year vet. What you see is what you get.

  17. 13 Yeah as silly as it sounds Phil must believe Odom stabilizes the bench.

    While switching Odom and Bynum might give you an extra win or two, I’d rather have the team as it is, developing Bynum against starting centers and competing for touches.

  18. >>>Honestly, if they can get a legitimate center (probably a Kendrick “I Will Never Smile, Ever” Perkins type), as well as a scorer on the wing (Joe Johnson type), they’ll be a scary team.

    ain’t they yao and mcgrady? if they are both healthy:)

  19. Yao, if healthy, yes. But the McGrady bus left the station a couple years back, he is not what he once was. But nobody is going to take on that contract for that production, so the Rockets are stuck.

  20. I forgot to say it in my first comment, but I thought I was hallucinating from exhaustion last night when I saw Sasha hustle for a rebound and actually fight to get it, and then made a smart pass (I think to Lamar?). But he kept hustling, went after rebounds and it looked like he was playing smarter and with more effort on both defense and offense than he did earlier this season. Several times he passed instead of hiking up a bad shot, and it looks like he is on his way to figuring out what the team needs him to do, and is working to make changes to his game to fit in and provide what he can and what’s necessary.

    A new and improved Machine is back?

    EDIT:
    Haha! :) Should have refreshed and read the new comments before I posted. Darius beat me to it.

  21. I completely agree on people’s point on Sasha, I thought he was the definition of “confusing activity with achievement” in the way he played, but he’s playing a lot more focused and in control now, on both ends. I also think maybe he realized that with his size, he can be a pretty good rebounder at the 2 spot.

  22. Sasha’s not looking to shoot at every opportunity, almost as if he’s feeling himself as a 1 rather than a 2 of late.

    Farmar has been playing great the past month or so, and with Shannon thrown in we’ve seen some signs of life among the reserve guards. It’s encouraging, though not quite close to the level of steadiness we hope to see by the spring.

    The trick for all three of those guys is to slow things down enough to where they’re looking for good shots and not just rushing up bad ones. The recent Farmar playing style, when he attacks the rim a lot — that’s the kind of effort that will make him a valuable NBA point man.

  23. Off topic, but Mr. Arenas has just been suspended indefinetly by the league: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4802267

    So sad that this happened. He can call it a “mistake” or a “joke”, but at the end of the day he gets to make make $16m to play a game for a living and asking him to excercise some common sense off the court is not too much to ask. I for one agree that the league had to take a hard stance. I also expect the Wizards front office to void his contract. Let’s face it, Arenas is not the player he used to be and this would free up the Wizards to become a player in the upcoming free agent market.

  24. Chownoir (was J) January 6, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Not to be all Pollyanna or fanboy apologist, but maybe we should look at the other side of things when considering LO and Drew’s inconsistency and bouts of passivity. That there is a good side to this part of their personality. These two seem to step up big when they’re needed but they also don’t complain loudly when Kobe and Pau get most of the touches regularly. It takes a different NBA personality to be able to switch back and forth from deference to the stars to being a star. So maybe part of that passivity and inconsistency in both is they’re fighting that balancing act all the time when Kobe and Pau are on the court. Bynum shrinks back because he’s not going to demand the ball, he knows that Pau has first priority. It would be easy for him to pout and demand the ball. But even he acknowledges that Pau should get more of the touches. Same with LO, he’s happy deferring and contributing in other ways.

    It is a very nice luxury to have two players who can perform at star level but not cause locker room tensions by demanding a bigger role. They are happy biding their time until needed. Most players learn to be a star or a role player. Few are able to successfully do both as LO and Bynum seem to do.

    Also in Bynum’s case, we forget that he’s spent less than a full season and only one training camp playing with Pau at full health for both of them. 08 training camp was the only full camp for them together. Even then Bynum was still shaking off the rust of that injury. Then he got hurt partway through the season. 09 training camp Pau was hurt. The two have played together healthy maybe 30-40 games over two season? Drew has shown an inclination to play within a system and learn. Some of this just takes time. If he still struggles after playing a complete full season with Pau with training camp then maybe there’s cause for alarm. But for now Drew has shown improvement in all areas that has been pointed out by fans and coaches. Just ticking off some of them off the top of my head: Play D without fouling, Pick and Roll defense, Patience in the post, Passing when double teamed. He’s improved in every single one of those area in the last two years and they haven’t even been complete seasons. That last one, there’s been complaints since the beginning of the season, but even the last few games, Drew has shown a willingness. Given his lack of AAU and college ball, I really think for many of these weaknesses, Drew just needs the time and experience. He could be one of those guys that just does better by doing. Not everyone is a basketball genius like Kobe that can learn a move in practice, work on it for a few hours and be able to execute in a game right away.

  25. Kurt,

    I disagree about Tracy’s deal. I think the Knicks would trade Eddy Curry, Jared Jeffries, Cuttino Mobley’s contract and picks to get that sweet expiring. They’d be able to land two big fish FOR SURE, without those deals on the books for next year. The Knicks would have roughly $8 mil on the books then. Can you say spending spree?

  26. 25, but why would Houston do that deal? They get Eddy Curry’s rotting corpse for a year and a half, Jared Jeffries just gives them another role player (and with a bad contract to boot), and McGrady’s deal is expiring anyway, so no need to trade for other EC’s.

    18, if Yao could stay healthy for 70+ games and the playoffs, he would be their big man. And anybody who says Houston is better without Yao didn’t see Yao dismantle the Blazers in the playoffs last year (56% from the field, 92% from the line). He was also the big reason Houston upset the Lakers in Game 1 last year (28 pts, 10 boards). When he is healthy, Yao is almost unguardable, because his turnaround fallaway shot is so high and so accurate, which no center can guard.

  27. 24, wait, but Bynum does pout when he doesn’t get touches… That’s why we saw all the 2-3 rebound games in December. Indeed, his defense his improved wildly and he is committing far fewer stupid fouls, but he’s still a kid and he still wants to dominate. I’ll buy that LO is totally ok with being out of the spotlight; everyone knows he’s a deferential type of guy. But Bynum? I’ll have to disagree and say that he’s passively aggressively letting his play speak for his unhappiness with being the 3rd option.

    I’m more worried about the disappearance of Pau Gasol’s outside shot than I am about any sort of chemistry issues at this point. Coming into the season we expected a lot of high-low action between Pau and Bynum, but right now Pau can’t play high because his shot just isn’t going in. So it ends up with both of them trying to get into position in the post, with Kobe further clogging up the middle, and killing all the spacing of the offense. Once Pau regains his outside shot, I think we’ll see some better chemistry between him and Bynum.

  28. great stuff by roland, and a great game by Lamar.

    I forgot who said it, but over at ESPN somebody said Lamar is capable of producing a triple double every time he gets starter’s minutes, and while I scoffed at it knowing Lamar’s inconsistency, it was very true yesterday.

    As for defense, not only do we usually win when we play defense, but it makes life as a fan much easier when your team is actually playing hard, and nothing makes it easier to realize that your team is playing hard than seeing them play D.

  29. Recently, the Lakers have done a lot of the little things to win games. I love that LA’s perimeter players are helping the bigs by boxing out, instead of seeing 5 guys scramble for 1 defensive rebound.

    Kudos to Sasha for his hustle.

  30. ESPN somebody said Lamar is capable of producing a triple double every time he gets starter’s minutes, and while I scoffed at it knowing Lamar’s inconsistency, it was very true yesterday.

    Just throwing this out to see if anyone else has noticed this trend: Lamar is capable of producing a triple double every time he gets starter’s minutes, if he gets them because a key starter is out injured.

    Think about it. Yesterday he dragged himself to work, aching, sick, tired, because he knew that with Pau out injured, Artest (possibly not?) playing after begin out with a concussion, and DJ Mbenga also being under the weather, the team needed a strong paint presence. He pulled himself together, told himself, “I have to do this. The team needs me”, and produced a double-double, nearly a triple. The game I am so fond of bringing up, from early February last year, he played a lot like he did yesterday, and in a similar situation. Kobe was almost too sick to play, Bynum was out, and we were walking into Boston.

    Lamar may be inconsistent, but I’m starting to think that there is a sort of consistency to his play. If he believes that no one else can fill the shoes of the injured starter he steps up, plays his heart out, and reminds us why we are so glad we were able to resign him. It just requires some serious urgency and necessity before that will happen, as well as a lack of other viable options.

  31. Harold,
    I have always thought that announcers exaggerate Lamar’s “triple double threat”. He has had 5 triple doubles in the last 6 years (counting this season); I don’t think that makes him much of a triple double threat.

  32. Well said Mimsy. We all know Lamar can be classified as “consistently inconsistent”.

    But I believe Lamar’s inconsistent play and stat line are actually a by-product of his deferential nature. Lamar plays the way the team needs him to play.
    Because of his inconsistent play, many believe he is overpaid. But, I think he is an important part of our team, a “glue guy” type role player who steps up when necessary.

  33. Mimsy, you hit the nail right on the head. I think this also explains why he’s often such a beast in the playoffs. Lamar may drive us crazy in the regular season, but no one can accuse him of not stepping up when the games really matter. For all his shortcomings, he’s a truly valuable player that has the uncanny ability to fire up this team in it’s most desperate times of need.

  34. exhelodriver,

    But Lamar posts many more “near” triple doubles like last night

  35. Whops. Make that “re-sign” Lamar, not resign… :)

  36. @Daniel
    The reason he drives us crazy is because we know he can play this way. We’ve seen it often enough to know that he has it in him, and we have slowly come to realize that he can bring it out practically at will. And then on most nights he steps back, plays it slow, and lets the rest of the team run the show. AAAARRRRGH!!!

  37. Mimsy,
    The beauty of Odom’s game is that, with this team (one with Kobe AND a very good post player like Pau/Bynum) that Odom has the freedom to do what it takes to help win the game. Maybe that is initiating offense; maybe it’s scoring; maybe it’s hitting the offensive glass; maybe it’s all of the above.

    Not sure if you’ve been reading the K-Bro’s blog over at ESPNLA, but they had a couple of good posts on Odom recently that talk about the philosophy that Odom plays with. I’m linking to one, because that one has a link to the first one (if that makes sense). Check them out:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/733/more-on-lamar-odom-how-he-measures-good-play

  38. Mimsy,
    I know what you mean, but I think often he’s stepping back in order to take what the defense gives him. He’s mature enough of a player to recognize that he doesn’t necessarily have to take a lead role every game. However, other times he does seem to completely disappear. But as Darius pointed out, the Lakers have the luxury of turning to other studs like Drew and Pau to pick up the slack. So to me, Lamar’s inconsistency now is far less frustrating than it was before the acquisition of Gasol and the emergence of Bynum.

    Kurt said it best it comment 16. We simply have to reserve ourselves to accept Lamar for who he is. But as long as he’s making plays like this in the postseason (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaRb1tHiaUQ&feature=fvsr), I don’t really care one bit. =)

  39. Darius,
    I read their blog on LATimes.com pretty frequently, but I generally don’t read a lot of ESPN. I don’t think they have very good writers on their staff. ;) Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out.

    Daniel,
    I agree completely. When Kobe and Lamar were all we had, this tendency to vanish for long stretches at a time that Lamar has used to driev me nuts, to the point I was begging for the Lakers to trade him away. Now however, we can afford that, because we have Pau and Andrew who can fill the role that turned into a void before they arrived.

    Having Lamar Odom on our team is a bit like living with raging mood swings. You suffer through the deep valleys because you know the peaks are going to be awesome. :)

  40. Outside of a few games around Christmas and New Year’s, the Lakers play MUCH better with Ron Ron on the floor. His +/- is off the charts.