Let’s start with the injury status: Kobe Bryant said after the game he was “pretty sure” he would play Wednesday in Dallas, although he was still shifting around in pain. This is Kobe, so as long as he can walk, you can expect him to play (plus he always does well against Dallas).
Ron Artest sprained a finger against the Spurs and is now doubtful for tonight.
Phil Jackson took a little jab at Gasol saying whether or not he played Wednesday would be up to Gasol. The little “Kobe’s playing why aren’t you?” dig. Those kind of mind games don’t really work on Gasol, who is probably more aware of his body than most players (remember his mom is a doctor in Spain) and will return on his own schedule. As he should: Losses in January may not be fun but what matters is him playing in May and June.
Due to work commitments I am late watching this game so I’ll turn the breakdown over to Zephid:
I really thought the bench came out in the 4th and did a good job getting us back into the game. The fact that we couldn’t finish probably stems from not having Kobe or Gasol available. Wasn’t a great game by any stretch, but these are signs of improvement. Also liked Luke Walton’s return; he really made the offense flow and actually had a couple of great defensive plays. Quick notes…
1.) Great duel between Duncan and Bynum. Bynum did well in the 2nd half, but Duncan really had his way with Bynum on offense, scoring in a plethora of little running hooks and fallaway jumpers. In contrast, Bynum really just overpowered Duncan on a lot of plays. Really if Bynum could just get a little more body control in the post, he could’ve made a number of the shots that just rimmed out.
2.) Luke Walton did something that nobody else did this game: cut off a passing lane. When the Spurs run their sets, they go for dribble penetration first, then pass to their release man. A number of times, the pass to the release man was either no-look or a very dangerous pass to begin with; the Lakers were just giving up so much ground on penetration that no one was covering the passing lanes. When Walton finally did cover the passing lane, he basically received a pass from the offensive player.
3.) We primarily got killed on defense with the Spurs PNR and passing to the release man, and with the Spurs off-ball movement. Back-door cuts with off-ball screens really hurt our guards and Artest, who didn’t really seem prepared for a lot of the Spurs schemes. However, most of these I think would be remedied during a 7 game playoff series, so I’m not so worried about the easy baskets.
4.) We came back in the game when we locked down on defense, and when we finally got some movement on offense. Either Andrew got the ball on the post with some cuts off of him (Stu Lantz made a good point about Luke Walton’s dive to the basket opening up space for Bynum to operate), or we moved the ball around the perimeter until we either got dribble penetration or a wide-open jump shot (like the one Walton hit).