Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

Kurt —  February 1, 2010

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Records: Lakers 37-11 (1st in West) Grizzlies 25-21 (10th in West)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 109.3 (9th in league), Grizzlies 110 (7th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 102 (2nd in league) Grizzlies 110 (25th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Grizzlies: Mike Conley, OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol

Before you do anything else, run to the local church and light a candle for Andrew Bynum’s knees tonight.

Happy Pau Gasol Day. It was two years ago today that the Lakers traded Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie’s contract and two picks to Memphis for Gasol. Since that day, the Lakers are 142-41 with Gasol in the lineup and have been to the Finals both years, winning once. While that trade is not as lopsided as once thought, is there anyone who would spend more than a second thinking about whether or not to make that trade again?

Lakers Coming In Sunday’s win in Boston may have been the closest thing to a signature win the Lakers have had this year. But the NBA schedule is an unforgiving mistress and now the Lakers have some tough games where they need to show that is not a fluke. Darius put it this way in an email:

I’d really like for the team to build on the momentum that they’ve established on this trip. There was a comment in one of the threads that spoke of our schedule up to the all-star break and there are some doozies still left to play before the rest comes (Memphis, Bobcats, Spurs, Portland, Utah). I’m not saying that the team needs to win all of those, but it would be nice to not be content with a win over the Celtics and get some wins against some other pretty good teams.

What will draw the headlines tonight — Kobe is 29 points away from passing Jerry West as the leading scorer in franchise history. That watch is in full effect tonight.

Grizzlies coming in: This team is good — good enough to be a playoff team in the West and good enough to have won 7 of their last 10. They are not consistent because their defense is not consistent (or is consistently bad), but they have a good offense and on any given night can beat anybody. Last week I caught part of them just outplaying Orlando like it was nothing.

That starts with All Star Zach Randolph. Deserved All Star. Randolph was always one of the best scorers in the game from the left low block, he was almost unstoppable. But he cared not about anything else on the court, or so it seemed. But this year his game has evolved, he has matured as a player. He is shooting a higher percentage than ever in his career, in part because he is getting nearly two more shots per game at the rim than before. He is getting to the foul line more. He is better on the boards (and a much improved offensive rebounder). He’s even playing some defense.

Combine that with the good Marc Gasol in the post and the athletic Rudy Gay at the three, and you have an athletic front line.

Grizzlies blogs Three Shades of Blue is quality

If you read one thing today, read this from Kelly Dwyer. (Well, technically it would have to be two things since you read this.) The man is a legend for a reason.

Keys to game: This is a brutal back-to-back for the Lakers — the emotional high and physical game in Boston, followed up by a lot of travel to take on a team that can score a lot of points and has some quality athletes. On the last game of the road trip. If the Lakers come out flat, they will get run right out of the building.

One thing Memphis has that Lakers fans wish they saw more of was two big men playing well off each other. The Laker defender of the big on the weakside has to be aware, they run little flash in plays near the hoop that are precise. The Lakers bigs need to be mentally ready to be physical again tonight.

The Grizzlies guards can get a little shot happy and not feed the bigs, and they will pretty quickly break out of their offensive sets to run isolation plays. They get away with it because Mayo and Gay are great athletes, but the Lakers can stymie them with good help defense and talking on the court.

Offensively, the Lakers should score plenty against a not very good defensive team if they run their offense and not settle for the first available jumper. Also, this is a battle of PGs who have not played great defense of late, if one of them can take advantage of this it will be a big plus.

Where you can watch: 5 pm start on Channel 9 in LA. Plus, ESPN radio 710am.


259 responses to Preview & Chat: The Memphis Grizzlies

  1. snoopy. thats true, but last year we won ALOT of the big games. this year not so much. and this wouldnt feel so bad if we had won that toronto game. no big win to trade for that loss….

    8884. yup, we’re playing teams with winning records throughout the allstar break and denver is closing in and theyre playing without melo. the game on the 5th is gonna be HUGE. watching them now, hopefully the kings pull an upset, but they’re down 2.

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  2. 199. Zero blocks, and only five offensive rebounds between them.

    197. Agreed that if they had lost in Boston it would have depressed me for a week. I’ll probably be philosophical about this loss by morning.

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  3. I repeat what I said during the game and in games before this.

    If we don’t learn how to run the triangle when things get tough/close then we will be much more susceptible to a hot streak or a dominant player.

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  4. Darius I think those”should have won” comments come from the lack of defensive and offensive execution late in the 4th quarter on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The Lakers held leads big enough to enable them to win close games in Memphis and Toronto yet failed to finish the way a championship team normally would. It isn’t the end of the world but losses like these do hurt, and 6-2 is more acceptable for the talent level this Lakers team has not 5-3.

    And yeah dredawg seriously Denver is probably the hottest team in the west right now along with the Jazz and we see them both, as well as a pesky Spurs team, a streaking Bobcats team and play at Portland. Tough road till the all-star break.

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  5. 5-3 is fine for this trip. Last game of a long trip, a back-to-back, against a pretty good team. Nothing to get worked up about.

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  6. 5-3 isn’t fine at all.

    The Lakers have a worse record than Cleveland, and Cleveland owns the tie-breaker.

    If the Lakers meet the Cavs in the Finals, as things stand, LBJ and co have home court.

    How is that fine?

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  7. Lakers8884,
    I hear what you’re saying. And, I’m with anyone that wants to talk about execution and what can be done to improve that. But, even though the Lakers are a talented team, Kurt mentioned in the preview that Memphis has one of the best frontlines in the NBA. Randolph is an all-star and a perennial 20/10 guy. Marc Gasol was an MVP of the 2nd best professional league on the planet and is a very good young player. Rudy Gay is in a contract year drive and is playing very, very will the season. You add in two top 5 picks in the backcourt and Memphis has talent too, you know? You add in a player that comes out of no where and has an impact on a game (Hudson) and you’re in for a tough night. Now combine all of that and throw in a sub par Lakers’ performance and you’ve got a close game that went against the Lakers. Yes it’s frustrating. Sometimes I think fans react the same way that we hate for players to act – that based off talent we should just roll the ball out and win. When, I know that’s never going to be the case.

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  8. to illustrate how terrible the east is, the SOS (average winning percentage of opposing teams played) of that roadtrip was at 49 percent. (that percentage is skewed even because we played the 2 top east teams).

    the next 5 games (4 at home for the lakers) is at 60 percent SOS. WOW.

    denver win again. only 3.5 games behind….

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  9. This was my first chance to see the “new” Zach Randolph. Heck yeah he looks like an all-star. The Lakers defended him reasonably well, I thought, but he got his shots up in an unhurried manner. And got all the bounds.

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  10. The Lakers have a worse record than Cleveland, and Cleveland owns the tie-breaker.

    That sounds really familiar to last February…

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  11. I agree, this was the end of a long road trip and road games are tough, from one hotel to another, no family around, they are not in their own practice facility, and maybe some partying also out and about. Memphis is not a bad team, so 5-3 is also fine with me for this road trip. Bynum did not get hurt either.

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  12. Yes Darius. Both teams played hard. Sorry I meant yes, Sheed.

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  13. Actually Mimsy, that doesn’t. Last February, it was:

    The Lakers have a worse record than Cleveland, and Los Angeles owns the tie-breaker.

    Remember, in 3 of 4 championships won this decade, we did not have the best regular season record.

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  14. Yeah but Cleveland can’t sustain their winning streak – not without Mo Williams and Delonte West.

    We’ll be back on top soon.

    Kobe made the right decision, I’m actually quite relieved he made the correct basketball play instead of trying to be the hero. It shows a lot of growth.

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  15. I hope the Lakers aren’t counting on Cleveland injuries to bail them out …

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  16. @215
    Kobe has passed on game winners many times…and as far as I can remember they were almost ALWAYS misses. Except for a DFish here or Shaq there

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  17. 5-3 is an ok trip but frankly the Lakers talent level is better than that. Although like Darius says, having talent is no guarantee of wins and losses.

    The most troubling thing to me about tonight’s game was that stretch to open the third quarter where the Lakers couldn’t throw a pea in the ocean. Man that was ugly.

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  18. 218,

    Kobe was in facilitator mode to start the second half and nobody could buy a shot. He than decided to take over and got the team back in the game. Today was one of those days where everyone seemed fatigued, and Kobe should have taken a few more shots.

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  19. I don’t know how many of you listen to ESPN 710 out here in L.A., but PJ from the beginning of the road trip felt that this trip was going to yield a 4 – 4 record (actually 5 – 4, because he thought it was a 9 game trip… which I’m sure he was just joking.) His pregame today was very realistic that tonight was going to be a tough game to win.

    Memphis has a great home record at 18-6. A majority of those losses came early on when they had the misdirection named allen iverson. They have an all star big, great athletes, and playing really good basketball. Since the beginning of the road trip, people were pointing to this game as a possible loss.

    Memphis produced wins against other good teams: wins agains Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, Portland, and Utah. They are one of the hottest teams since Christmas going 13 – 6.

    And the Lakers had a chance to win the game at the last second after playing an emotional, insane game against the Boston Celtics the day before. While I am disappointed in the 5 – 3 (i was predicting 6 – 2), it feels like this loss has ended our season (on the comments anyway).

    We didn’t play our best game. I’m sure people were tired, i’ve never been on an 8 game road trip, but since people keep saying they are difficult, I have a feeling that they probably are.

    I love the passion on this site, from kurt, to darius to every single comment, because we all want a laker championship, but it’s so… emotionally draining, for lack of a better word, after a loss.

    Now, I love that Kobe has the ball at the end of the game. He either gets to his spot to rise over the other player to make a shot, and that’s usually what happens. (See Boston, day before). Memphis played great defense on him WAY outside putting a 7 foot M. Gasol over him. Kobe is amazing but that would have been the worst shot. the ones who criticize him for passing the ball answer me this: if u love Kobe’s heart, his play, and his skills, why are u mad that he passed up a shot? Don’t u think that he looked at the situation, thought about it, and said, someone will be more open. Ron Artest at that point was 6 – 8 and 2-2 from three. It was a good look. Sometimes the ball goes in. Sometimes the ball doesn’t (See Ray Allen, yesterday). It happens.

    Andrew Bynum had a crappy game, and I completely understand it. The last two years he had 2 season ending injuries at the hands of these guys. I was expecting him to have a crappy game, because cmon, he’s 22 and I’m sure theres some fear there. The fact he gets to walk out of the game should be a win for him. And for us.

    Now all this hype about Home Court Advantage. First, it’s february, and no one knows what’s going to happen in the league til the end. Second, the hype about home court advantage is based only on the Lakers losing the Finals to Boston. In that series, it seemed that every single advantage was necessary because that Boston team was really good. And let’s not forget that: we didn’t lose the Finals to Boston because of home court advantage. We lost it because Boston was a better team. And they showed it. Even on our court. Third, the team with the best record last year was…… The Cleveland Cavaliers. And Orlando, who had 8 wins less, beat them. Fourth, 2001 – 2002 Lakers did not have the Home court advantage against the Kings, and we won. 2000-2001, the Spurs had 2 games on the Lakers, and we won then too. My point, HC matters, but it’s not a guarantee. Just like Darius stated earlier regarding talent, it’s not a guarantee.

    I’m disappointed in the loss. But they fought hard. On the second day of back to back. and yesterday was against Boston. It isn’t the end of our season.

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  20. Last game of an 8 game road trip. Second night of a back to back after the emotional win against the Celtics. Playing against one of the few teams with two quality big men. Shadows of the Bynum in Memphis Curse of the last two years.

    So, yeah, of course the defense was ragged. The Lakers were reaching, not moving their feet. That is a sure sign of fatigue. The Lakers were settling for mid range jumpers early in the clock, not hustling for post position and playing at the rim. Again, a sure sign of fatigue.

    Honestly, as banged up as the Lakers have been, and considering this is the time of the season that the Zen Master turns into the Zen Chemist and brews line up after line up variations, I am very happy with the 5-3 run.

    Once again, this is not June. The sky is not falling. I have every faith that the Lakers will get it together, learn from these games, and most important, put out a ton of effort once the playoffs begin and games matter.

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  21. Kobe Talks About Passing West on Lakers site looks like he is really in a bad mood…can’t really blame him after that game…

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  22. This is such a glass half-empty/half-full discussion. As you probably knew from my previous posts, I’m a half-full guy.

    My first reaction to the end of this road trip is that we played fairly well. We didn’t play our best, no. But we played well enough on the road to win most of these games. We weren’t blown out in any game . We were in it until the last minute in all the games. We won one and lost 3. One was on a questionable call (Hedo’s foul), and the other was on a missed 3 by wide open Artest. Yes, we could have lost to Boston had Kobe didn’t hit the shot, but we did a lot of things well, including Artest doing a good job on Paul Pierce. Look, what I’m trying to say is that all the Lakers fans wanted 8-0 trip with at least 6 blowouts. However, we’re not as dominant as the Showtime Lakers nor the Shaq-Kobe led team. 5-3 east coast trip is a pretty good trip considering that we weren’t playing as well to begin the trip. I think the team will improve in the next few weeks as they’ll work on their defense more. I wouldn’t be surprised to see our team beating Denver and Portland soon. Of course, they could lose those games, too. However, I just think that our team is getting better and better overall. We’re not that far behind CLE for the best record overall. We need to be a bit patient about being critical of the team. No one is immune from bad games, including Kobe, Lebron, Magic, and even MJ. Bynum and Pau are not HOF level players, yet (or ever!). They are near All-Star level players. We all know why LO never made the All-Star team–his inconsistency. I’m just saying that other than Kobe, we can question their effort every night. They also don’t have quite enough talent to dominate nor is our team playing well enough to do that as a team. I just think the Lakers’ best has yet to be seen so far this season. We still have February, March, and April to work on getting better as a team. I’m sure even Artest’s miss tonight will help the team down the road as Artest realizes that Kobe is willing to pass to him with game on the line. I would love to see Artest doing the Big Shot Rob imitation in the playoff games, maybe even in the Finals.

    In conclusion, we’re not even at the half way point of the season if you include the playoffs. The Lakers can improve and will improve. Just have some faith in the team and in PJ. It’s a much more enjoyable ride.

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  23. They need to win these games!! Either way, congrats to Kobe!!

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  24. Sorry for the double post, but I forgot the most important argument to be happy about the loss at MEM.

    Andrew Bynum came out uninjured!!!

    Weren’t we scared to DEATH that he might have another serious injury?

    I’m just saying that we should be thankful that we’re fans of one of the most successful franchises in all of sports!

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  25. By the way, a must read – Kevin Ding:

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/shots-232119-bryant-gasol.html

    “Now we can focus on winning games again.” – Gasol. Ouch.

    “Let’s get him over the hump, so we can play team ball again.” – Phil.

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  26. 5-3 result for this trip is not mediocre,Toronto game felt really bad as it was gifted to them on a phantom call.Otherwise congrats to the team and especially Kobe!

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  27. Additionaly,I always think KB would take the last shot no matter what his chances are 🙂

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  28. The Kevin Ding article is right on the money.

    We will not win a championship without our big dominating, it’s our biggest advantage against the best teams in the NBA. Last year when we played a perimeter game we almost lost to migit Houston.

    We have so much talent that it might not even matter, but I really wish Kobe would shoot less and distribute more – that is the key to us winning a title and he just always seems so reluctant to do it – just not in his DNA to pass up shots. At least he did tonight. Plays like that will keep defenses honest and get everyone going.

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  29. I was so upset last night after the game that I couldn’t even come on to comment. Where do I start? The team did seem sluggish throughout the game, probably due to the last game of an 8 game road trip.

    Well to start, Bynum got out of Memphis healthy. Was it just me or did it not look like Bynum was extremely passive throughout the game? Usually I’d be all over him for that, but after what happened the past 2 seasons I’m ok with it.

    Shannon Brown needs to play under some kind of control. He is just playing way to fast and it shows when he turns over the ball. Also, he is doing a poor job of moving his feet when trying to keep people in front of him. I don’t mind the quick shots because he’s one of our better shooters.

    Derek Fisher has got to be one of the worst passers in the NBA. He makes some of the worst passes and makes some of the worst decisions with the ball in traffic. I know he’s our heart and soul and makes clutch shots, but seeing him start the fast break or get in the paint to make decisions is a nightmare.

    Lastly, the end of the game execution was just bothering me. It seemed down the stretch of the game, they kept running set plays in which there were possessions that Kobe didn’t even touch the ball. Listen, when he has it going like he did last night, you have to make sure he’s getting the ball. Also, on the last possession, why did Pau come to set the pick, knowing Marc Gasol would try to trap Kobe because they really wouldn’t mind Pau taking a long jumper in that situation. The Lakers had abandoned the high screen late in the game against Boston, putting Kobe at the elbow and clearing out. When you try for the high screen late in the game all you’re doing is bringing more defenders for Kobe to have to shake off. On any last play, get Kobe the ball and everyone get out of the damn way!!!!!!

    We have some tough matchups coming before the all-star break and this would have been a really good win to end our road trip. Oh well.

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  30. Seid From Ethiopia February 2, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Thank God the tour is over. 5-3, not bad. but shouldve been 8-0. alot of you are saying 7-1 but I think we had a very good chance of winning @ cle if it wasnt for pau.
    Now The Lakers should answer alot of questions. especially PJ.
    1- PG , I think Farmar should start. remeber last year in the playoffs when fish was suspended jordan started @ houston and he showed he can be a relaible PG. but I dont know what are we gonna get from a reserve Fish.
    2- what is up with Pau. I mean dude you are the second option and 11 and 10 points are not enough.
    3- 3point shooting and the bench play. while I am not a basketball genious , we will be a better team when we spread the floor from the 1 and 3 positions. that way the bigs and kobe gets room to operate. we are not getting any thing from fish. thank God Artest is coming to his own self lately. that helps. Also 3 point shooting from the bench helps. I missed the old machine. it seemed that every body remembers how the 08 season ended. but how we got there was beautiful .remember the bench mob. when we were down million pionts in game one of the west finals, farmar ,luke , sasha and ronny comes off the bench and gets us back in the game. remember when sasha scores 9 straight points to start the second Q against jazz in the second game of the west semis. how about sashas 21 in the finals. we need some one to shoot us back in the game from the bench.

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  31. 224. WOW @ Gasol. You know i will listen to him more if he made more of an effort you know like nail those free throws in cleveland or even get the bucket before that. Or maybe if he had played better and more at the end of the boston game two days ago. Or maybe even positioned himself well to get the rebound yesterday. At least Kobe does whatever he has to do to win.

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  32. As I said on the Land O’Lakers Blog – this is just one game. And as Darius summed up nicely in #208, the Grizzlies are a young and very talented, continually progressing team – plus they had won 11/12 home games before the match last night and the Lakers had just brought their all (not ‘A’ but definitely all heart and muscle) to take down the Celtics the afternoon before. So I’ll take narrowly going 5-3 on the road and losing to a spry and upstart Memphis team to finish the trip….so long as we save the best for last – AND DOMINATE IN THE POSTSEASON! Also, as another guy said a few posts before, doesn’t matter if Cleveland gets the best record again and we’re #2 or or #2 or eve #3 in the West, so long as we bring home the bacon come June. Which we will.
    If everyone’s so worried about our excellent team, why don’t you jump ship now cuz you might just poop you’re pants when we win the Championship. Jeez, I love the game and our Lake Show too, but come on – don’t take it so short-sightedly.

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  33. I missed the game tonight due to cocktail-related activities, but I have to say that while I’m disappointed that we lost, I don’t understand the utter panic I’m seeing.

    The team lost on the 8th game of an 8 game road-trip, on the second night of a back-to-back, the day after a tough, emotional win over their most bitter rival, to a team that matches up fairly well with them.

    Yeah, it’d be better if they won, and if you change any of those factors above then they probably do win.

    Sucks to lose. The Lakers will be fine.

    Even during Showtime we lost on occasion.

    Even during the Shaq-Kobe years we would sometimes lose in the regular season and it looked like the team just couldn’t pull it together.

    There’s a lot of season left, and for the most part all of the Lakers’ problems are fixable.

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  34. 8#214,
    You’re right, that’s how it was. My bad.

    This was the second night of a back-to-back against a very athletic team that I’m sure I saw someone mention we would have match-up difficulties against.

    Like Matt R just said, there is no reason to panic. We’re still 37-12.

    Take a look at those numbers for a while. We’ve won two out of three games this season. Sure, we’re losing some heart breakers, and there are problems that need to be addressed, but in the end, we’re still the Lakers. We weren’t perfect last season either. I’d love to see us have the best record at the end of the season, but if I had to choose I think I would prefer having the best record at the end of the play-offs.

    The important thing right now is that the candles and sacrificial chicken worked. Andrew’s knees were unharmed against Memphis.

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  35. While I agree with Pau and Dwyer that there needs to be more offensive balance, I’m not sure the answer is so cut and dry as “Kobe’s a ballhog.” We all saw the game – no one other than Kobe was able to “throw a pea in the ocean.” When Pau did get the ball he was unable to get to his spots on offense, and played passively on the boards all night.

    I realize it’s a bit of a chicken and the egg thing (do the big men need to get more touches to succeed, or should they succeed before they get more touches?), but I think there’s blame to be shared all around.

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  36. Speaking of getting the ball inside, Kelly Dwyer also has an opinion on Kobe’s shooting habits of late…

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  37. Didn’t have time to read the comments, and sorry for the late post, and if I’m repeating…but it almost felt like we were ready to be home. Of course there were underlying factors as well, but Phil not calling a time out, going for the win instead of the tie. It’s like we just wanted to roll the dice and get it over and get on the plane, one way or another.

    The thing I don’t like about this is how Kobe gave someone a chance at the end of the game. 1st time he’s done that this season. And he was let down, per se. This may come back to hurt later if he forces himself to take the final shot double-teamed instead of looking for someone because he doesn’t trust anyone else to knock it down. We shall see.

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  38. Which, Mimsy, leads to an even better article. I love Kevin Ding.

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  39. Quote from after the game: That’s a lot like what Gasol said after the game, when Gasol also said “I totally agree” with Jackson’s assessment of it being a mediocre 5-3 trip. Gasol ended that comment by saying he hoped the Lakers now “understand what we have to do better.”

    So any fans content with a 5-3 record, enjoy mediocrity, it is not time to panic but anyone happy with 5-3 shouldn’t be especially if the players arent.

    And as far as I’m concerned Pau can talk about getting the ball more inside all he wants, talk is cheap he needs to show he is more reliable consistently because it’s something he wasn’t last night or against Boston. He needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

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  40. I know Simonoid, I was going to link to that one as well before I noticed that someone else already did. 🙂

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  41. I’m glad Pau spoke up, if Andrew would have said it everyone would have said he is a selfish young player, etc. Somebody needed to say it.

    If Farmar or Shannon ever threw it into the post, I might have a heart attack.

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  42. All of the excuses about the road, the second of a back to back, the letdown, the talent of Memphis, the hunger of Memphis, are valid. No, one game doesn’t mean the sky’s falling, but the angst that we feel as fans comes not from our inability to accept that championships are not won in February, or to understand that the other guys get paid too.

    We are lucky enough to be rooting for a team playing for championship stakes. I think Laker players, coaches, management, and fans would agree that if this season doesn’t end in a championship, it will not be considered a success. Dr. Buss didn’t race past the salary cap to hang a Western Conference Championship banner.

    Given that we have more talent than most of our opponents, and given that we cannot clinch championships in February, or November, or March, etc…..all we as fans can do is look for SIGNS, or INDICATORS, that we’ve got a championship team as we journey through the season with our squad.

    Sweeping Boston and Cleveland last year did not clinch the championship for us, but it was a sign (especially the Boston road win) that we had the mental toughness necessary to win the championship. Losing to Cleveland twice, or blowing games in Memphis and Toronto don’t eliminate us and don’t bring the sky down, but they sure don’t mark us as a championship team.

    Overall, I appreciate the level headed tone of this site and the grounding of most arguments in the realm of statistics and quantifiable evidence. However, basketball, like all sports, is still also a game about the intangibles, the things we cannot measure with numbers. I believe it is these areas that we as fans fret about, and maybe we blow them out of proportion in relation to the statistical side of the coin, but THEY ARE NOT MEANINGLESS. This brings me to last night’s game and the just concluded road trip…..

    5-3 in and of itself is the sign of a very good team. 6-2 or 7-1 is the sign of a championship team.

    Losing an obvious trap game last night in and of itself doesn’t signify that much, but WINNING obvious trap games is the sign of a championship team. (The Lakers were the best road and back to back team in the NBA last year, were they not?)

    Getting owned by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on any given night is no big deal. They are very good players having great years. My question is, when are we going to OWN somebody for a night? I’m talking specifically about our frontline against another ELITE front unit. Cleveland’s front line crushed ours in two games, and at best we can say we played Boston’s to a draw.

    Pau is in a slump. I believe he’ll be fine. Andrew Bynum has plenty of valid excuses to be inconsistent, but we don’t win the championship if that doesn’t change. I was hoping to see him build from Sunday’s great game, especially because he’s young and has a better shot to handle back to backs than some of our older guys. He didn’t. It doesn’t mean trade AB, it was just a missed opportunity for him to prove that he is a consistent contributor to a championship team. I believe he can be, but right now he’s not.

    That’s pretty much how I feel about the Lakers right now….I believe they can be a championship team, but right now they’re not.

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  43. There were other unhappy Lakers, notably Gasol, who had 10 points and nine rebounds. He took only seven shots, making four. Andrew Bynum took only three shots and had five points in 26 minutes. Ten shots combined for the Lakers’ big men?

    “I don’t know,” Gasol said, shaking his head. “Obviously, we’re not making a conscious effort on pounding the ball inside. So we settled a little bit too much. It’s not like they were double-teaming or anything. It is what it is. It happens often.”

    Are the Lakers a better team when they go inside? “One hundred percent,” Gasol said.

    Does everybody know that?

    “I’m not sure,” he said.

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  44. @243
    Pau is in a real slump,I definitely agree.

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  45. man, what a difference a day makes! (but I was one who warned about Memphis for this particular b-t-b. )

    >And the Memphis team that beat us today isn’t the scrub they used to be..

    Memphis plays at Cleveland tonight — how is this not a blowout win for Cleveland? and if it is, how should we all react to that?

    and, regarding the reaction to the missed shot (by Artest) which could have won last night.. consider the missed shot (by Ray Allen) which could have beat us on Sunday.

    I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…

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  46. I can’t believe how short-sighted some of the comments are on this page. If you believe that Pau and Andrew don’t deserve the ball more in the post and that Kobe – as good as he is – deserves to shoot the ball 22+ times each game with the personnel we have, then I don’t know what to say to you.

    Let this trend continue and I’m pretty sure we’ll see the 02-03 or 03-04 Lakers team that failed to win the championship. Just because Pau failed to have an impact in the BOS game or miss FTs in the CLE game does not mean you go away from him the next game. Give the man a chance to play his way back from a mini-slump.

    Kobe gets to shoot 37 times against POR after a 10-30 outing against LAC the previous game while Pau doesn’t deserve the ball because he isn’t “aggressive” enough? Gee, it’s kind of tough to get a rhythm going – especially for a post player – when your star player is running a 1-on-5 offense every time down the floor. I know Kobe’s not the only one at fault. Fish, Shannon, Jordan, and Ron all are. But Kobe is our leader, supposedly. He is damn smart and old enough to know not to play like this is 2006. He’s got freaking Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum instead of Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown. When is he going to tone down his shooting on an injured hand, and allow his teammates to find their groove and settle into a dynamic offensive flow?

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  47. I’m not to upset about the loss, but a successful trip would have been 6-2.

    I’m more upset about the trends that keep happening.

    Lamar, Fishers, Brown’s bad shot selection and decision making.

    Lack of effort on the boards. The lakers bigs constantly get out rebounded because the don’t box out and don’t go after rebounds. That includes all three of them Lamar, Pau, and Andrew. Lakers were out rebounded in 6 out of 8 games on this trip and by some of the worst rebounding teams in league. Inexcusable.

    Lakers bench as a unit is horrible. Their is no chemistry, no energy, no defense, no offense. They were outplayed by Memphis’ bench. Thats embarrassing. Out played by boston’s bench out played by Cleveland’s bench, Toronto’s bench and so on. Phil cannot play 4 bench players at once. It didn’t work in the beginning of the season and it isn’t working now.

    Back to Lamar. He refuses to play inside. Lakers have always wanted him to be aggressive, but to him that means settling for a bunch of jumpshots. That would be okay if he was a good jumpshooter. But he’s not. He can be streaky sometimes and bad most other times. He needs to play closer to the rim. Am I the only one bothered with Lamar falling in love with the long range jumper?

    Now Fisher, I really don’t want to bash Fish. But he just doesn’t have any skills. Someone said early he may be the worst pg passer in the league. And I agree. There were a couple of plays that fisher couldn’t make that would have led to dunks. One was a lob completely off, another one was a bounce pass to Andrew that bounced way to low. His shots don’t even look good coming out of his hand. Most of his shots are really long or really short. Can Fisher get better at the age of 35?

    They just can’t look for Kobe to bail them out game after game. Yes Pau and Andrew need way more touches in the post. Kobe, Pau, Andrew should get half of the lakers shots every game.

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  48. When is he going to tone down his shooting on an injured hand, and allow his teammates to find their groove and settle into a dynamic offensive flow?

    When they force him. Kobe is pathological, he is incapable of slowing down. He can make smart decisions, like passing to Ron for the last shot because trying to shoot over Marc Gasol and two others would have been a dumb thing to do (paraphrasing Kobe’s post-game comments), but he will never be able to step back and let the others run the offense unless they step up, take control, and score effectively.

    Everyone has blind spots and glaring flaws, this is one of Kobe’s.

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  49. New Post up by Gatinho on Kobe and Jerry West.

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  50. I think everyone is overreacting. When Kobe is more healed (even though he had a spectacular game), and Artest gets more involved in the offense and Bynum continues to develop, we will become more dangerous and start winning these bigger road games that we have mostly lost all year, despite the Celtics game. This team is too talented to at least not make it out of the West. But yes, frustrating end to the road trip, 6-2 sounds a lot better than 5-3.

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  51. I know my comment will probably get blocked, but for those of us who cringe every time Fish gets the ball, there’s one thing I keep in mind that provides me with hope: The Lakers have 2 contracts expiring this year that are worth trading as a packaged deal – Ammo and Fish. Only problem is finding a team willing to take a draft bust and over-the-hill PG.

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  52. 247) – You make too much sense. Gasol and Bynum should get at MINIMUM ten shots apiece EVERY game. I am amazed to see games where they finished with 6 and 7 shots respectively. It is insane.

    If you want to tone down the other teams bigs it helps to get them in foul trouble. Kobe doesn’t slash much anymore so he is not getting opposing bigs in foul trouble like he used to. In fact, the Lakers don’t have a true slasher anymore. The next best thing is to put the ball in the post and let Drew and Pau draw fouls. But it kind of hard for them to do that when they are not getting the shots.

    What ends up happening is the Lakers bigs get beaten to the punch regarding fouls and are forced to play timid for large stretches of games.

    It won’t always look pretty. These guys are trying to figure it out. But I must admit, I can’t stand watching games where Kobe takes more shots then all other starters combined. That’s not good basketball. And there is never any good excuse for that kind of shooting disparity.

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  53. My favorite line of these ridiculous comments is #248 Joel B…

    “I really don’t want to bash Fish. But he just doesn’t have any skills. Someone said early he may be the worst pg passer in the league. And I agree.”

    Ummm…..yeah, I’d call that bashing.

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  54. @254.
    Well to make you happy maybe I should have said I’m not trying to bash Fisher. But thats the same as saying I don’t want, which I don’t. But I would call bashing more in the lines of saying he needs to retire, i hate him, he doesn’t need to be in the nba blah blah blah.

    But as fans we all love Fisher, but saying he just doesn’t have it anymore is not really bashing him. Are you seeing something completely different when he plays then most other laker fans.

    And let me rephrase that comment make you happy. Fisher doesn’t have the necessary skills to consistently contribute at a level a starting point guard should be able to. I’m sorry and yes I would love to see fisher start playing well. Right now fishers best attribute is to run the offense and knock down open shots. Not to mention, he hasn’t done either that well so far. I feel at times Fisher tries to do too much such as taking contested shots and driving in the lane against multiple defenders that normally leads to turnovers.

    But I think many will agree, at this point, the best we hope for from Fisher is to play an okay by not turning the ball over and hitting 2 or 3 shots. With the talent the lakers have that should be enough. But he cannot play 30+ minutes and be successful anymore. Yes, its sad but its true.

    If you disagree let me know.

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  55. You guys are making sense with everything. Ever since Pau signed that extension…his performance has been totally unexceptable! 10 shots for our BIGS…no way. Fish is getting way too many minutes. I wish I could speak to Phil about Josh Powell. I feel he will give the Lakers what they need off the bench, but the Zen Master doesn’t trust him in game time. Talent is not my concern at all…it is HUSTLE play! We don’t have it and if we don’t get it before April… We will we Fishing with D. Fish and them boys.

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  56. Joel B.
    regarding your rebounding comment. Are you saying that the lakers all season have been crappy on rebounds? or on the three losses?

    Last time i checked, the Lakers were #2 in rebounding. In the league. So maybe you mean in this roadtrip? I’ll agree with you on the roadtrip, that there’s something wrong with the rebounding.

    Bottom line on Fish: Phil Jackson trusts me. Actually, more likely: he trusts Fish more than he trusts Farmar, Sasha, or Brown. And even though he’s had his worst year ever, there’s something to Phil playing him. I don’t know about you, but I trust in Phil Jackson.

    But I guess this is why we are called Fanatics: we are crazy no matter if we win or lose!

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  57. jOEL B How is this. 1 for 6, zero assists, and minus 12 for the game. Oh by the way at 37% he is next to last for starters. He is last in the NBA for assists and last in the NBA in point difference for any starting point guard. Sure we love the guy.Sure he has made some big shots. This is now not then. Even Willy Mays played one year to much. What’s the chance of Fish doing a Luke from last year and talking himself out as a starter?

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  58. Mark Overt Skilbred February 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Great article, as usual, Kurt!

    LAKERS MIDSEASON DOLDRUMS

    Sometimes it is more than just the fans who are bewildered when a great team begins to struggle midway through the season. This is especially true when the team in question is long on talent and short on injuries, has a good mix of older and younger talent, and excellent playoff experience. When you add in the Lakers’ great record on the road, there just does not seem to be a good explanation for these midseason doldrums. Watching last night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, I couldn’t help feeling that the Lakers were allowing their opponents too much response-time, as if politely waiting for their answer to the latest maneuver. Normally when the Lakers are in attack mode, there isn’t much time for their opponents to respond effectively, and by the time they have it figured out, it is already too late for them. Maybe what is missing in our offensive game is the element of surprise. Does the NBA have us figured out to the extent that they are now anticipating our offense effectively and defending against our triangle system? Should we experiment with alternating systems of pick-and-roll, give-and-go, alley-oop and motion offense, making better use of our big men in the center post? It seems that our inside game has been rather inconsistent, as though we aren’t sure that our big guys can handle the assignment. I am of the opinion that we will never know for sure until we make the attempt. What better time than now to discover our strengths? I’m confident that Pau, Andrew, Lamar and Mbenga can handle whatever we throw at them. Sometimes in order to shake out of the doldrums, it becomes necessary to shake up the lineup a little with some different match-ups, as well as alternating style-of-play. But whatever we decide, let’s not wait much longer to make the needed changes. Let’s not wait until the playoffs to make good use of them.

    Mark Overt Skilbred

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