San Antonio Was A Pain In The… Back

Kurt —  January 12, 2010

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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).

to San Antonio Was A Pain In The… Back

  1. Here is my suggestion for how to fix the bench and improve the team.

    Play who has done the best together and stick to a regular rotation. It’s that simple.

    As everyone knows, Odom plays much better with Kobe/Artest/Gasol than Bynum. It is time to start him and bring Bynum off the bench more. But it is less well known that Farmar has played significantly better with the starters than Fisher has this year. Look it up at the +/- section if you don’t believe me.

    So our bench would be Fisher/Brown/Walton/Odom or Gasol/Bynum. Vujacic and Mbenga could get spot minutes. Morrison and Powell should never play at all. Bynum would get some minutes with the starters to ensure that Powell and Mbenga didn’t have to play.

    That would be a very strong bench if everyone was healthy. Plus, if we actually had set positions and rotations instead of the randomicity that Phil seems to favor then the players would be able to work together more effectively and learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses.


  2. Not a bad game overall in my mind. Bynum looked aggressive and in the game. His block on Duncan 10 feet out was great.

    The bench was great holding their own in the 4th.

    Kobe looked great in the first half before the aggressive defense started to limit his opportunities and one of his turnovers possibly tweaked his back.

    Artest played with hussle, fought inside and had the 3 going at times.

    I have no doubt in a series with all of the Lakers healthy and a more down to earth shooting percentage by SA we would win 4-1 or 4-2.


  3. Point on the Gasols as a doctor. His father is a doctor too, as his grampa. Even Pau attended college to be a doctor but had to leave it up because he was starting to play regularly with FC Barcelona’s first team.


  4. After frequenting FB&G for a couple of years I’ve come to one decisive conclusion – I’m very glad that the person coaching our team is a professional with 10 rings and not one of the fans.

    Glad to see Luke back. As someone who also has had back/disc problems, I can attest that injury is incredibly tough to recover from. Too bad Kobe looks like he needs to spend some time on the IL. Also, I think I know why Sasha is playing so poorly – he doesn’t want to get traded. Once the trade deadline passes, he’ll shoot 45% from 3 and play solid defense. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


  5. dave in hillsboro January 13, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Couple things here. First, I know Bill Bridges mentioned this in an earlier thread, but I also feel I have to give Henry Abbott some well earned credit for his posts about the Celtics physical defense and his take on the Gilbert Arenas situation. He can really do some quality insightful work–he’s impressed me over the last week or so. I’ll resist the urge to put a back hand on that compliment. That’s my set up for tying in this little nugget Abbott threw into his Tuesday bullets, something which really resonated with me, a quote from Ettore Messina (former CSKA Moscow head coach, current FC Barcelona head coach):

    “If you want to accomplish something meaningful, you have to suffer on your way to the goal. And this exactly is our moment of suffering. For the first three months of the season we were winning games and getting praise from everyone around, the expectations were met and surpassed. But the adversity was bound to come and it came in the form of injuries. And not only that. We’re still shaping our game, still trying to set priorities and define a hierarchy inside the team. Right now despite all the injuries we have to start taking it one step, one game at a time, try to restore our confidence. I can’t say I’m not worried at all, but in my career and my life beyond the basketball court I’ve had a number of moments similar to this one. That’s why I know for sure that if you’re serious about what you’re doing, if you work hard and stay together you can always turn things around.”

    This perfectly encapsulates where the Lakers–and so many other teams in the NBA–are right now. The Lakers faced down adversity last season and came out on top. They’re facing adversity again this year. It’s all about what they get from those struggles, where they end up. Will they learn from this adversity, get better and overcome it? There’s still plenty of time for them to do just that.

    As fans, we need to remember this feeling, this low point. It will make the ride to the top that much better, even if we don’t get all the way there.


  6. Lakers need to not worry about the outcome of the next few games. They need their players to get healthy. Give the bench players more run.

    The Lakers can make a deep run in the playoffs without HCA. I don’t think they can do it if they have to have a MASH unit travel with the team.


  7. Last night’s game was a dud, but it was great to see Luke back. He has such a great handle on our offense and made several great plays. I would have liked to have seen what would have happenned if Kobe could have come back in the 4th quarter when our bench made one last push, but injuries are a part of the game. I’m just wondering, but would it be so bad if Mamba just sat out tonight’s game and gave himself a few days rest? At some point, don’t you think Phil or the medical staff need to say, “I know you can play. It might be better for 1-2 games if you don’t play. We need you as healthy as possible for the long run.”

    The local fans were happy, yet most knew this win was just that – a win. I know that Dallas fans will be amped up tonight for payback for our beatdown a week and a half ago. Let’s go Lakers!


  8. Nobody pointed this out on the last post but Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmer somewhat were lost out there on defense last night. The Spurs were running the same sets and Fisher and Farmer were constantly getting beat on backdoor passes. Also Bynum did a poor job of moving his feet to get back into defensive position on the pick and rolls.

    Everyone tends to point to our offense, but our defense obviously was the reason we lost. The Spurs were hot and we didn’t play good enough defense to stop them. Also, as I pointed out in the last post, lets not get too excited about Luke Walton’s play just yet. I know he hit a couple jumpers but I’ve never really been a huge fan and need to see more before I’m convinced he needs to be playing many minutes as opposed to keeping Artest out there longer.


  9. As someone who has both broken fingers and had back injuries, the spasms worry me a lot more. Partially because they’re so much more severe (obviously), but also because they tend to be lingering. Has Kobe had back spasms before? This is definitely something to monitor because there’s so many cases where this just lingers and gets progressively worse.

    I realize this isn’t a tech forum but I thought I’d ask – if one of the keys on my laptop is sticking, is it safe to pull the key out to clear what’s underneath? Or will that do further damage to the laptop? Thanks to anyone who can answer.


  10. I personally would like to see if a lineup of: Farmar-Brown-Walton-Odom-Bynum could win some games… bench of course would be outright terrible. Fish-Sasha-Ammo-Powell-Mbenga.

    Kobe, Gasol and Artest out… that would be interesting.


  11. Farmar-Brown-Walton-Odom-Bynum

    I proposed giving this line-up some run in a thread a couple of days ago. This would be a good group to get AB17 off.


  12. great to see Luke back last night. I really think with Farmar’s improving play and Luke’s return that we will have a potent bench once Gasol returns.


  13. didn’t Kobe have back spasms two years ago against the Jazz in the playoffs? Obviously he didn’t miss any games, but I believe he has that history.


  14. 1) Dave,
    “Play who has done the best together and stick to a regular rotation.”

    Yeah, except no one from the bench falls into that description at this point. Brown, Farmar, and Vujacic have been wildly inconsistent all season; Walton’s been hurt, Odom’s been starting more often than not. Powell is not playing as well as last season.

    The Lakers bench strength has been overstated, IMO, because of how well Lamar plays occasionally. They don’t have a decent backup at either SG or PG yet, and their depth is more a function of having several players who play multiple positions/roles well, (Gasol, Lamar, Kobe, Artest, Walton), then a function of having a lot of good players. So when one of those players get hurt, they are losing more than just one individual.


  15. 2nd of a back to back. No Pau, Kobe hobbled. Dallas eager for some payback. This is a game we’ll probably lose anyway, so please Phil bench Kobe. Bench him for the Clippers game too. It’s time to ask WWPD (what would Popovich do?). Time to put your foot down. Let’s see the other guys step up. Make Kobe sit and watch his teammates. Maybe he’ll be reminded he has them.

    The way I look at it, we have at least 3 losses fewer than we should thanks to Black Mamba. So if we lose a few now, it all evens out.


  16. Back injuries are never fun.

    I injured my back several years ago while helping my brother move and something that I’ve learned is that you never fully heal from a back injury. Once it’s hurt, it’s easier to hurt again.

    Considering Kobe’s mounting injuries, I’d really like to see him sit. Yeah, it might cost us a few games, but I’d rather have Kobe closer to right in May and June than out there trying to win games at 60% now and risking dropping to 0%.


  17. 9, Snoopy, don’t pop it off unless your keys are designed to be popped off (like most USB keyboards). The keys on most laptop keyboards are not designed to come off by themselves, and if you break one of the hinges, the key will never go back on and you’ll get to press a nub for the rest of that laptop’s life whenever you wanna hit that key. Or carry around a USB keyboard with you.

    Trust me, that happened to my enter button. Started to stick, I popped it off, tried to put it back on, realized it was broken, then got to push a nub for the rest of that laptop’s life. Sucked, so much.


  18. I came across a post with detailed injury updates on Silver Screen & Roll. It’s a sobering read.


  19. 8, Artest is playing hurt, with plantar fasciitis no less, so less playing time and pounding on his feet is better for him.

    Dunno if this has been posted before, but here’s a good Kevin Ding article about how so many Lakers are playing through injuries that nobody is talking about.


  20. Snoopy, sorry I didn’t see your keyboard post earlier. Adding to what Zephid said, try to find the service manual for your laptop and look at how the keyboard is constructed and attached.

    Most common cause of sticking laptop keys is gunk/dirt underneath them. By removing the keyboard, tilting it and shaking it you may be able to get the cookie crumbs (or whatever it is) out and the key back to working. If not, I still don’t recommend taking the key off until you know 100% that it won’t break. Replacing a laptop keyboard is a hassle.


  21. Snoopy,
    There are small cans of compressed air, with tiny straws you attach to the spray attachment. They are designed to get into small places on your keyboard and dislodge the gunk there.

    Any computer repair place should have them, or know where you can find them.


  22. My theory on Bynum is that he pulled back physically after the Oden injury. I think he saw that and it brought back bad memories of the last two years and he became more cautious.

    Duncan’s fadeaway’s while falling to his left don’t worry me. The Spurs in the first half shot like the Blazers on Friday.

    They should rest Kobe and give the bench players a ton of time. It’s hard for those guys when they get in with Kobe, Pau, et al, because they defer to the stars or they get over agresssive, it’s hard to find the balance. When they play the 4th in a blowout, they take turns shooting quick jumpers with nobody in rebounding position. (Does Powell need to jack up a shot nearly every time he touches the ball?)


  23. The Ding Article was great – basically coming out and saying what I’ve been saying all along:

    Most of the team is sucking it up and playing in pain, while Gasol who “knows his body” is milking minor hamstring injuries.

    Way to be there for your teammates, Pau.


    • Wow, I don’t know how you read the Ding article and get Gasol is soft out of it. That is Phil Jackson putting a bug in Ding’s ear. I guess it comes to this: Is it better to have lesser Kobe shooting 31% and 6-inch vertical Artest, or is it better for them to sit out for a while and get their bodies right then come back 100 as opposed to playing through a lingering injury for an extended period?

      Or, we could say that each player knows his body best and his limits and should make the decision for himself. But that would be mature, something seemingly largely missing from Lakers nation this year.


  24. Any computer repair place should have them, or know where you can find them.

    Walmart sells them for a very reasonable price. I paid less than $3 per can for mine.


  25. Zephid, plantar fasciitis is a common basketball injury, many players can play through it I know I could in high school several years ago. Little injuries here and there happen for most every player in the NBA your body takes so much physical beating over the course of the season that some need to miss time some dont. But the fact is making excuses for losses is something the Lakers cant rely on, players on the bench need to step up and take accountability for the missing players and provide a spark, after all that’s what the bench is for. Im not saying you in particular make excuses but alot do, we shouldn’t be defined by the fact that Gasol is hurt, or Luke is hurt, or this player is banged up or this player is sick. The Lakers have really only had 2 significant injuries, Gasol, and Artest missing time. Some could say Kobe’s injury has been significant but you could also say half the games he’s played in since injuring it have been spectacular and half have not. The key factor here is when Gasol has been gone in games the Lakers needed to win, nobody has stepped up on a consistent basis, which really shows how dependent on Gasol we are as well as our lack of depth.

    I would LOVE to see Kobe get to rest along with Gasol and Artest to make sure they heal properly, but unfortunately everybody knows if Kobe or Gasol isn’t playing they aren’t half the team they could be and they would be lucky to win alot of games, it’s just something the Lakers dont have the luxury of doing. But I have to say I respect the heck out of Kobe and Artest for competing while injured but I do not blame Gasol either because the biggest key is being healthy as a team come playoff time.


  26. Gasol “milking” injuries? PJ should spend less time whining about Pau and spend more time on Bynum and some other players. It’s been noted before what a control freak PJ can be, and I guess Pau makes him a little uncomfortable because Pau is smart and mature enough not to get fazed by the Zen hen. I can’t believe Ding got suckered into that. Nice catch Kurt!


  27. On a funny note did anyone see how Knicks players were blaming a loss to Oklahoma City recently because they got a lack of sleep due to . .. . . . A Haunted Hotel LOL, Al Harrington said he spent most of the time in Nate Robinsons room because on the 10th floor where he was the only one sleeping, a woman supposedly jumped to her death holding a baby in her arms back in the 30’s. Most of the players were convinced it is haunted, and that story just made my day.


  28. Stefan, don’t take this the wrong way, but the key phrase in your post is “in highschool, several years ago”.

    These guys aren’t in high school anymore, and their bodies have taken a lot more punishment over the years than ours have. Minor ailments will have an effect on them as well as on any other human body.

    Yes, these guys are also in better physical shape than the average person, but I don’t think we should assume that because they are, minor ailments don’t affect them. I think we should instead realize that because they are, they are able to play through physical issues that would side-line the average person.

    I don’t know about you guys, but if I had sprained my knee, broken two fingers, and had back spasms, I would not go to the gym for a strenuous workout five times a week. Id’ be in bed, on strong pain killers.

    Let’s try and summon up some of that fabled maturity we’re missing this year and realize that all our starters are hobbled, and playing at around half their physical capacity right now, and be a little proud of them. Despite injuries they are still out there fighting, and fighting hard. I would love to see them get some rest and recovery time, but if that’s not possible, I don’t think it makes a lost of sense to look at the team’s current health situation, look at their record and play, and then write off these injuries as “excuses”.


  29. At least with Dell laptops, new keyboards are cheap and relatively easy to install.


  30. The loss sucked, but it was good to see the Triangle make an appearance last night.

    And when Bynum is playing like he did last night, it’s hard to figure out why he could ever struggle against lesser foes. This isn’t the first tomehe’s given Timmy trouble.

    Luke…glad to have you back.


  31. #5 Great quote from a great coach, a “slight” mistake though, he’s head coach for Real Madrid not Fc Barcelona.


  32. RE: 26

    : ) Kurt playing the role of the finger-wagging school marm again…

    I get it. It’s more important for Gasol to be healthy come playoff time than in January.

    But let me ask you this:

    How would you feel about Gasol if you’re Ron Artest and you’re playing with two bad feet?

    How would you feel about Gasol if you’re Kobe Bryant and you’re playing with all those ailments?

    Last season the Lakers had a TEAM goal in mind – they desperately wanted to get back to the Finals and win it all. So they collectively worked their tails off (at least, for the most part) to acheive that goal, and they did.

    This season is a much more fractured bunch:

    1) Kobe and Ron seem to be working towards a championship.

    2) Fish is trying to work towards a championship, but his body doesn’t appear up to the task.

    3) Odom’s heart appears in the right place, but he seems to drift in and out of games trying to figure out his role (no different than last year).

    4) Bynum seems to be most intent on proving he’s an elite center.

    5) Gasol seems most intent on getting some rest.

    6) Farmar is looking for his next contract, which isn’t necessarily conduscive to him stepping up to replace an aging Fish.


    It’s Pay Riley’s “Disease of More” theory regarding how hard it is to win back to back titles.

    Maybe it’s just not the Laker’s year.


  33. Whops. I took so long posting that Stefan had time to edit his post. 🙂 Hazard of posting from work… I have to stop to talk to customers all the time. 🙂


  34. Burgundy,

    I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of how would Kobe or Ron feel about Pau. That is a lot more important than what the fans think.

    My bet is they are both frustrated with their own injuries and are looking forward to Pau getting back to full strength. This is not the playoffs. They know that. I doubt they are stressed at all about Pau’s recovery time.

    Look at it from another angle – we’ve got fans saying Pau should suck it up and play. We’ve got fans saying Kobe should suck it up and sit out.


    • I’ll just say from my locker room experiences and having seen Kobe asked that very question, the “frustrated with Gasol” thing is not at all the case with Kobe and Artest (Ding has said the same thing). Notice neither of them has said a word about Gasol’s injury, it has always been Phil. Kobe respects Gasol more than any other player on that team, it is obvious. And every time asked he has just given a variation of “Gasol knows his body and what is best, etc.” If you think he is just being politically correct, is this how Kobe treats Bynum, for example? Kobe has no issues with Gasol. And, despite the public reputation, Artest is about the most care free guy, the most live-and-let-live guy, in that locker room. He wouldn’t get on Gasol for that.

      Nobody in there seems angry at Gasol. Nobody.


  35. I know it’s been discussed at length here on the site, but Kobe and Gasol have to really re-consider their respective participation in summer international competition. Of course, most of us would love to represent our country in competition, but it may hinder their play in the NBA as they get older.

    Pau came to camp physically beat up, and it appears that he hasn’t recovered from it. Although Kobe had time off this summer, it’ll remain to be seen whether he takes time off this upcoming summer to heal his body.

    I know Pau is not someone we equate to Mr. “Let Me Heal on Company Time,” but doesn’t it appear that Pau is essentially doing the same thing by competing during the summer?

    Also, with our banged up crew and lack of depth, doesn’t this essentially screw up all the crazy Lakers’ trade talk since most of these deals include a 3 for 1 or 4 for 2 idea, which would completely deplete our bench?


  36. To follow up what Kurt just said – Are we really experts now on what players think and how they feel about eachother? Really? Instead of saying that Kobe or Ron feel a certain way, why don’t you say that is how *you* would feel if you were in their shoes. I’m sorry if this is coming off as me being a jerk. But I honestly don’t get how any of us could know what another person thinks or feels about his teammate unless that person told us.


  37. well, there’s a chance that every year isn’t the Lakers year.

    I like our chances though. I don’t see how this team is fractured. fractured teams don’t get the best record or go on long win streaks.

    Kobe’s health is the number one concern right now. I’m really not that worried.


  38. This sucks.

    Blake Griffin out for the rest of the season.

    Hopefully he has a good recovery and comes back strong for next season.


  39. This is funny. The thing is that no matter how much we debate, argue, or whatever you want to call it, Ron’s foot will still be sore, Pau’s hamstring still strained, and Kobe’s fingers are still injured.

    We can think and say whatever we want… at the end of the day, the only thing that can heal injuries and get our players back to 100% is time (that would be shortened by rest), and the ones who know how these guys feel about each other are… well, the players themselves.

    Speculation is fun and it’s what blog comments are all about, but let’s keep the speculations a bit realistic. 🙂


  40. It’s an extreme overreaction at this point to suggest that it’s not the Lakers’ year. It’s January. This is a veteran club. Injuries are a huge part of the game & they happen. If they can hang around through them, a healthy Laker team can beat any team in any venue. If there best ball starts rolling at the end of March with health, we can rest assured that this group will be charging hard toward ring 16. And likely get it.


  41. YES luke walton contributing. One of my favorite way-under-the-radar players. Brings and all around game, truly understands his offense, and has flashes of great basketball IQ.


  42. I hope Kobe sits out tonight. I’ll take a wallopin in Dallas anyday if it means that KB gets a chance to recoup his back.

    I know that this is hard for a guy like Kobe to do, but it is what this team needs right now.


  43. #39: for that matter, I never hear Kobe single out any player for criticism, even in a veiled indirect way. All he ever says is “I” and “we”. Even now I can’t remember Kobe saying anything about Shaq during their feud (Shaq OTOH had plenty to say). Or Kobe saying anything about Phil, who called him uncoachable.

    #40: to be fair, I don’t think Pau planned on getting hurt then resting during the NBA season. Pau probably feels, like Yao Ming does albeit to a lesser extent, a lot of pressure to represent his country. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if he cuts down on his commitment this summer. I wonder if anyone at the front office has talked to him about this issue.

    Does it seems like serious injuries are on the rise? Have the players gotten too big? I know strength and conditioning are supposed to prevent injuries, but maybe this is being outstripped by sheer size. Looking at old 80s games, the players back then look more like guys do in my 24hr fitness, just taller.


  44. 48 – didn’t kobe have plenty to say about shaq, including calling him fat and lazy?


  45. #48. Kobe did criticize Shaq during the 2004 year in an interview. Saying something that it was crap that shaq asked for money during pre season while two hall of famers came to play for nothing. And there was plenty of griping documented between the two.

    But you are right, I don’t hear him criticizing anyone since the trade bynum for kidd youtube clip a few years ago.

    I’ve got this for Laker fans tonight. Expect a loss. 2nd night of back to back. Kobe back spasms. and Dallas is a very good team and playing hard right now. I for one expect a loss just because it’s a 2nd night of back to back. Those are usually tough and very tough through texas. With Pau still out, it will be a tough order.

    Now, no one tell me I’m a downer. I expect this loss so that I can be extremely happy when the win happens and I won’t be pulling my hair out if they lose.


  46. I kinda like the idea of the league thinking that we are not the best team. It takes some of the pressure off the players of expectations to win every game by 20 points, and allows for growth. When your on top the only place to go is down. Has we have seen so far this year LA has become a work in progress because of all the injuries and players not becoming accustomed to their roles on the team. Lets get healthy and maybe the bench players will earn their money tonight( I meant pray for the bench).


  47. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m not fretting about whether it will be ‘the Lakers’ year’ in the middle of January. That kind of thinking just made me overreact at times and put too much emphasis on every loss (few that there were). Not that I’m ignoring or minimising whatever problems exist now, but hey, at some point the playoffs will start and all our questions will be answered. Until then, I find it easier to just worry about the next game rather than the next title.


  48. dave in hillsboro January 13, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    35, That’s what I get for posting something at 5am.