Lakers/Spurs: I Can Get Used to This

Darius Soriano —  February 8, 2010

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It’s a simple word that has a vast meaning.  It’s what creates a dynamic where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  And in basketball, it results in a beautiful style of play where no one player is king, but all players make an impact.  That’s what we’re seeing from the Lakers and it’s something that I (and I’m sure every other Laker fan) can get used to.

On a night where Kobe missed his second consecutive game and Andrew Bynum was out for his sixth consecutive quarter, the Lakers are playing with less talent but with more togetherness.  Two games is an extremely small sample size, but oh what a two games.  Facing two teams that have traditionally been tough foes, the Lakers have two wins.

Once again, the credit can’t go to just one player and we can’t identify a single play that was the difference in this game.  It was a total team effort and one where the contributions from every player that saw meaningful minutes added up to a double digit victory and tacos for the home fans.  But if we’re going to give out credit, let’s start down low and then work our way out (just like our offense – it just works best).  Pau Gasol was just tremendous.  I don’t care that he missed some easy ones.  The fact that he was even in position to miss those easy ones was an indicator of the work that he was doing to establish position and skill he possesses to get himself a good shot.  Plus, when he’s doing all the other things that he can do to affect a game, I’ll take some missed shots. He didn’t miss ’em all though.  21 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 blocks for the big Spaniard.  That’s putting in work.  Add to that Tim Duncan needing 17 shots to get his 16 points (no FT’s!) and give me more of that Pau, missed shots and all.

Then there was Odom doing his “I’m in complete control of this game with the ball in my hands” thing.  Another double-double for my favorite lefty (16 and 10) with 3 dimes (could have been more if Pau had made some of those bunnies or didn’t get fouled on a couple of others) and too many to count rebound turned fast breaks for LO.  Tonight, we all saw the Odom that I thought was a can’t lose player when he was a FA this off-season.  I really can’t say enough about the way that Odom pushed the ball against the slow-to-change-ends bigs of the Spurs while also making the right reads with the ball – choosing to either force the action or set up in the half court.  And since we’re talking front court players, Artest continues to play the all around, two way game that Lakers fans (and Phil Jackson, I’m sure) were hoping to see when we acquired ol’ crazy pills.  A nice and tidy line of 16/5/4 for Ron and more of his trademark take no prisoners defense on Richard Jefferson (who by the way started oh fer 7 and ended up with 9 points on as many shots).

But this game wasn’t just about our bigs; the guards chipped in their fair share as well.  Derek Fisher has earned much of the (when it’s fair minded) criticism he’s gotten this season.  But tonight he played a controlled game by taking the shots that were there for him and making them.  You can call it coincidence, but in the last two games – games that Kobe has been out – Fisher has had two of his better games all season and really stepped up to fill the void in leadership by playing steady and even more calm than normal.  There will be fans that will still want more from Fish or will call this game fluky but I think he’s been playing well and I am happy for a player that I respect a great deal.  

But, just as with our bigs the credit doled out to our backcourt must also be spread out.  Shannon Brown got the start in Kobe’s place and he filled in admirably.  WOW may not have shot well, but he made a big 3 when the Spurs were making a run and converted an alley oop dunk to open the 2nd half that really got the crowd and the team going.  But, the really solid game(s) were had by Farmar and Sasha.  Farmar really is putting together some good performances of late.  He’s found his groove on offense (still too many P&R’s for my taste, but those are the plays that allow him to get into the lane and create separation for his jumper) and is playing better defense.  Nothing all world about his D, but just solid position defense that was highlighted by an end of the first half stop against Parker where Tony waived off the Duncan screen and tried to cross over Jordan only to have Farmar stick with him, make him reverse his dribble, and then forcing Parker lose his handle when Jordan pressured him.  Overall, I like what Jordan is doing.  Last, but not least, we had a Machine sighting.  Sasha continues to lobby for more minutes (the Boston game aside) by playing under control, making the shots that are available to him, and playing hard in his limited minutes.  He’s still fouling a bit too much, but he’s aggressive on defense so fouls are going to come.

Overall, this was another very good win from our guys.  When the game started and Tony Parker was going crazy and the Spurs put up a 34 spot in the first 12 minutes, I thought this might be a long night.  But the Lakers defense tightened, we started to push the ball and the game started to turn.  And as the game developed, every Spurs run was answered and the game was in control for the entire second half.  Against a solid opponent – one at full health – I couldn’t have asked for a better performance from our team.  The teamwork shined tonight and that is something that I can get used to.

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers/Spurs: I Can Get Used to This

  1. I believe that, regardless of what they may say, Bynum and Gasol both play better without each other. Of course, the versatility of LO attributes to that, as well.

    The comments from the game post are correct in stating that the offensive game was not exactly pretty. But more important than anything else, the Lakers hustled and gave effort, which are what we’ve been criticizing for most of their losses. The sequence in which Pau, Artest, and LO fought for the rebound that led to Artest’s and-one pretty much summed up the game. I like the effort and energy that our players are showing, and I hope it carries over to future games.

    The only Laker that really struggled offensively was Shannon Brown, but that should not be a surprise. Shannon is a spark plug that is still inconsistent offensively and, regardless of their record and age, the Spurs are still a good defensive team. I also thought Artest had a slightly below-average game offensively. While his showing in Portland was certainly an aberration, his true offensive efficiency should fall somewhere between the past two games.

    All in all, this is a good win, better than the one in Portland. The Lakers played without Kobe and Bynum against a Spurs team that had its three core players. Maybe Kobe should sit out the Utah game and take the time to really catch a rest. If the Lakers play against Utah without Kobe, I think that would be the real test. We all know what our team is capable of, as do the players, but arrogance and complacency from knowing that has been a problem for them before, and they know it. So, hopefully, Kobe sits out the next game and the Lakers really go out and show that they can bring that energy and effort consistently.


  2. Good assessment Darius. I completely agree. My keys to the game was for Pau and Lamar to outwork Duncan and Blair…Check…Pau and Lamar to stay aggressive all game check (although Pau should’ve went 14 or 15 out of 20 instead of 8/20). I also said Fisher should just take what the Spurs give him and stay within the flow of the game. He did that to perfection. And lastly to give a effort 44 out of 48 minutes and they did just about that. Lakers played with tremendous effort except for the first 2 minutes of the game and the last 2 or 3 minutes of the 3rd. Other than that, they played hard and smart and it led to a win.

    I think kobe should sit vs. Utah as well. Its not just the ankle that needs rest. Its the elbow, knee, finger and back.


  3. Saw Laker fan, Pete Sampras tonight at the SAP Open in San Jose…asked him in the post-match press conference how he felt about his Lakers this season. Answer: “Great, Great, I’m feeling great! But it’s all about peaking at the right time.” Words of wisdom from the great champion and Laker fan 🙂


  4. Hmmm, If Kobe can, I think he should try and play the Utah game. He will get plenty of rest after that. I mean we almost definetly arent gonna beat a blazing hot Utah team in Utah without Kobe, despite how well we have played the last two games. Though I think he will probably sit it out and wait until after the break.


  5. @BOOBOO

    You are right when you say they play better without the other, but they combine to make us a better team. Bynum has to have the ball to be successful. He won’t play defense if he isn’t scoring. He won’t go after blocked shots if he’s not scoring. He won’t rebound if he’s not scoring. We can win without Andrew, we can not win without Pau.

    Excellent point about ShamWOW. He is best in spurts. I think the same could be said for Trevor. That’s why he’s in Houston. Artest, though not as athletically gifted as Trevor, is a better player overall. He has been showing us why we need him. We beat alot of teams up inside. Even though his shot is horrible inside, it seems to work for him.

    I disagree that this team can compete against Utah without Bynum and Kobe. Utah is incredibly hot right now. Our troops liked like tired puppies after the game. They need a rest. The “Bunnies” that Pau missed are because he isn’t fully healed, doesn’t have his wind back, and he is just plain tired. He can’t play another 46 minutes. He stated the he really needed the rest on Sunday. Let’s not mess up another player if we don’t have to. I hate to say this, but I would take the loss and play Powell and Mbenga 20 minutes each.


  6. Great writeup Darius about the game. Lamar took it from basket to basket dribbling like a PG all the way, unfortunately he missed the layup, but I really liked that play. I had not checked the box scrore, but Gasol’s stats were amazing indeed, the team seems to be jelling without some 35m in star players who are injured. Between FB&G and Kurt’s ProBasketballTalk, these basketball blogs are worst than a MMO game in my life, and you know how addicting those games are.


  7. Hey. I think you’re one of the best Laker analysts around, so I’m curious what you think about this:

    The Lakers are 5-0 this season when Bynum plays less than 15 minutes (0, 0, 0, 11, 10). Those games have also been more or less blowouts and offensive clinics. 35, 27, 25, 20 and 23 assists. There’s been a lot of talk about the Lakers offensive efficiency woes this season, but I think that a big elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge is that Pau and Bynum might NOT work together.

    If you think about it it makes sense. When you put the ball into Bynum on the block, you’re basically getting a lesser version of Pau Gasol. With Pau on the block you expect him to either make a fantastic move and a subsequent amazing triangle pass for a good look OR a fantastic move for himself and a very high % shot of his own. With Bynum you expect a pretty good look, but his passing and offense-running skills are definitely lacking in comparison to Pau. Both are guys that can take their man one on one in the post, but one of them is much better at passing and facilitating the offense, something that comes into play quite often as teams double the Lakers down low on the inside. That’s something the Lakers are seeing a lot more of this season.

    So should Bynum go back to the bench? I think that if Lamar Odom is going to show up like he did these past couple nights the answer is undoubtedly yes. It’s a tough pill to swallow: sending your 12.5m/yr borderline all-star center to the bench, but really it may be whats best for the team. A lot of people are commenting that the triangle has been run much better without Kobe on the floor, but really I think Bynum is more of the problem. He can be a black hole with the ball at times.

    I also think it’s worth mentioning how much BETTER the Lakers became as a team when Bynum went down last season.


  8. I’m not anti-Kobe, but it seems obvious that the team plays more freely without his presence on the court or even on the bench. Sasha hit some nice contested 3’s and looked much more relaxed out there. Lamar seems to pick things up whenever anyone on the team is out, but he also seems as if he asserts himself more in the leadership role in Kobe’s absence.

    I thought that the bench had somehow just turned into dust, but these two last performances just showed that Kobe’s insistence on having the ball and taking the highest number shots on th team causes the other players to lose focus and sag off in their effort because they know their efforts will not be rewarded due to Kobe’s selfish play.

    The lack of effort when Kobe is around is hard to prove from just 2 games, but this team held the Spurs to around 50 points after giving up over 30 in the frist quarter by playing smart team defense and passing on offense. I’m not sure that this team can integrate Kobe and ever play to their full potential, but that is only really true in the regular season.

    Even though Kobe’s absence has caused many, if not all the Lakers to play better team ball over the past couple games, this is not a team that can win late in the playoffs without Kobe’s spark. Role players play each other to a draw in crunch time in the playoffs so the need for a go-to guy becomes more pressing.

    All in all, I’m glad for the injury in that it makes the season more interesting by adding some new wrinkles in dissecting the team’s chemistry and state of mind, and gives me hope that the deeper part of the bench is not a spent force., a la Sasha and Luke. Hopefully Kobe will learn from watching the team in this past two games and learn that his teammates need some consistency and rhythm from the offence instead of waiting for Kobe to decide if he wants to prove a point to the player guarding him by taking a retarded turn-around Js from the pinch post and refusing to pass inside or try to draw a foul by driving to the basket.


  9. 8. Yusuf – well you haven’t seen how drrayeeye and I predicted Pau Gasol to LA via Kwame and parts 😉


  10. Warren

    I have several posts prior to THE trade saying the same thing. I went into an analysis that showed the Lakers needed an inside presence and Gasol scored most of his points from the paint while Jermaine O’Neal and Garnett were both outside players (jump shots). I also pointed out that he was more of a second fiddle, did not have the injury history, and was younger than the other two. I was the only one on my sights praying for that trade, that’s why I came here. Everyone thought I was crazy.


  11. One thing no one is talking about: defense. Kobe takes a lot of plays off; I don’t blame him, given the energy he expends on offense and the minutes he plays. Also, with the finger, it seems to me he is not jumping the passing lanes any more. So, I think it is fair to say that there has been a defensive gain with him out. Part of that was Roy’s being out and the fact that Popovich is monitoring Ginobili’s minutes so strictly, bur Brown’s energy has been noticeable.

    As far as the other issues:

    Odom has spent a lot of games this year hanging out 15-25 feet from the hoop, settling for Js, sort of like Rasheed Wallace after a night of clubbing. Odom’s value lies in his ability to pass/handle like a 3, go to the glass, drive like a 3 and finish and board like a 4. With Kobe AND Bynum out, he has been doing all of these things.

    Finally, there are the skill overlap/system fit issues that we have been talking about all year. Farmar is the team’ s most talented guard other than 24, but he doesn’t fit the system OR the personnel that well. In the radio interview after the game, Farmar said there was “more space to penetrate” with Bryant and Bynum out. The team on the floor the last two games fits much better with Farmar than the team as it normally is. Farmar, like Bryant and Bynum, needs the ball.

    And, of course, there is still the Bynum/Gasol issue. Gasol would likely be best matched with a guy like PJ Brown or Ben Wallace as they were in their heydays–guys who can defend the post if need be but don’t play the post offensively. Bynum would be best paired with a stretch 4 who can also board–say Rasheed Wallace circa 2006. I am not in the “trade Bynum” camp, but this is still an issue.

    I liked Jackson’s decision to let Farmar finish. I didn’t like his decision to play Gasol 46 minutes. Jackson is coaching this year like he is going to retire. Also, I will be very interested to see if there is any payoff in April and May for how much rest Popovich is giving TD and Ginobili now.


  12. The Lakers are not a better team without Kobe, but they certainly have better teamwork. Maybe he’s paying attention. The improved teamwork is also due to the Gasol-Odom pairing. I think it’s past time to put Bynum on the bench.


  13. Over the last two and half seasons, we are 9-5 against the Spurs. Pretty solid, but nothing to write home about. Damn, after this post I had in my head that we’ve been dominating them ever since we came back to relevance in the league, but I was wrong! 🙁 A couple more wins oughta do it – and I’d really like to see in them in the playoffs, probably in the first round, and sweep their asses or down ’em 4-1.


  14. In American football there is an adage that the quarterback gets to much credit in a win and too much blame in a loss, despite being the key component of almost all teams.

    We may be coming to the same conclusion with the Lakers.

    I too am beginning to think it is not the loss of Kobe that is revealing what the other players can do in the triangle, but the loss of both Bryant and Bynum. It’s the combination that seems to point the way.

    This is a hard conclusion because I have been in the Bynum camp almost from the beginning.

    I don’t want to go into any trade talk because I don’t think anything will, or should, happen this year. This does impact how Phil might approach his rotations for the remainder of the year, however.


  15. I don’t think it makes any sense for Kobe to even consider playing in Utah. It’s the last game before the All Star Break and we’ve just won 2 games against 2 very good opponents.

    Let’s let the chips fall where they may and if we win in Utah, awesome. If we don’t, hey, it’s one game without a few of our starters.

    I don’t care if we win tomorrow. Well I care, but I care more about having a healthy Kobe Bean Bryant come June.

    The team is playing great, they’re building their confidence and their comfort with the offense. If anything, some more time with them running the offense and playing defense like this should help alleviate some of Kobe’s natural instinct to protect the team from itself.

    Also, someone above mentioned Kobe’s defense and taking plays off. I believe that either Darius or Kurt mentioned after the Portland game that having Kobe off the court helped. Not because he’s a bad defender that takes plays off, but because with a bum ankle and that broken finger, his defense has suffered much more than his offense.

    Just another reason for him to sit until after the All Star break, come back healthy and ready to simply take what’s turning into a phenomenal team to the next level.


  16. I would rather put Gasol and Bynum out there together at the cost of a few games so that they can play better off one another in time for the playoffs. To bench Bynum and say that they’ve plateaued in terms of their chemistry together is underestimating these professionals and PJ. Besides, the first quarters of NBA games don’t matter anyway. How many times have you seen teams dominate the first quarter and lose?

    Though Kobe’s on my fantasy team, I’m praying for him to sit out more games. There’s no way we’re catching Cleveland because they’re in the East, so why not get healed for the playoffs.


  17. Warren had a trade idea that was posted earlier. The idea was complimented by other commenters as well thought out and I agree with that. However, I have removed those comments, but saved their content for potential use in the future. Believe me, I appreciate ideas of how to improve the team. I’m more of an X’s and O’s guy, but talking schemes will always come back to what players we have to run those schemes so the talk will inevitably shift back to personnel. That said, the spirit of this site is not going to change and speculation on any trade will not be allowed until 1). we have a credible and confirmed story (not just an sourceless rumor) that the team is actively talking to another team about a trade 2). we have a trade speculation thread up. We are approaching the deadline and there will be another opportunity to discuss trades. But this thread will not be the one where the conversation occurs.


  18. Darius,

    Like you, I’ve been thrilled by these two games for many of the same reasons you’ve expressed so well. The Lakers won by more than a dime, and were even pulling away at the end, from a totally intact Spurs team that had beaten the Lakers by 2 dimes in San Antonio. Not only were the Lakers without two starters, they started out down nine, and they missed many easy shots. Team defense, team rebounding, ball movement, spacing, and unselfish team basketball can make up for many sins.

    There was no volume shooting or lop sided scoring, with five players in double figures. Pau Gasol dominated the game statistically, but he did it more with his eight offensive rebounds and eight assists than his 21 points.

    Oh–and the entire team was having fun and feeling confident.

    Me too.


  19. what I can’t understand is how much forgiveness there is for LO. you’ve all seen the effort he’s put out the last two games, and this comes with more minutes played.

    he should be excoriated(!) for the way he characteristically plays. there’s no excuse at all for his typical lassitude.


  20. I almost think it would be better to move Bynum (though I don’t want to) than bring him off the bench. Drew isn’t mature enough yet to handle that type of move even for the good of the team (I’m sure he thinks he should get the rock more than Gasol, too, justifiable in his mind by his big offensive outings in Pau’s absence). Bynum’s pouting and lack of effort would be in full force as part of the bench mob.

    I do not envy Phil one bit. People who doubt his ability (despite his resume, unreal) forget how great he is at mangaging personalities and dealing with a lot of diverse talent. He will figure this out.


  21. It seems pretty evident to me at least, that the offense is less stagnant with Bynum out. Mostly because of the two-man game of Lamar and Pau. While the idea of bringing Bynum off the bench is tantalizing (he would wreck shop on 95% of backup centers in the NBA), I don’t think PJ is looking to do that. There is a way of integrating Bynum into this offense with Pau out there as well. These players are too smart and too skilled to for the Lakers to be average by our standards offensively. Maybe it has to do with Bynum being a more willing passer or reading the play better, I am not entirely sure. I leave that analysis up to the brilliant basketball minds of Darius, Reed, and Gatinho. They can probably provide a clearer answer than I can.

    As for the trio of young guards, it seems that Sasha’s relegation to mop-up duty has calmed him down a bit, making him use his head a bit more. He is playing a lot smarter than he has previously all year. Farmar and Shannon still make head-scratching decisions, but they are playing with great energy and enthusiasm. It seems that their confidence is sky-high now.


  22. I hope people aren’t starting to think Bynum is expendable. No doubt there are spacing issues when him and Pau are on the floor together. It is up to the coaching staff to figure that out. But let’s not get too hasty here. The Lakers will need Bynum’s big body if they are to complete their title defense. Every front court is not as undersized as San Antonio’s.

    There will nights and teams where the Lakers front court will have to out-muscle the opposing front court. And there is nothing about a Gasol+Odom combination that says “muscle.” And that’s okay. The Lakers won last year because of versatility. There will be night were they need Pau and Lamar to run circles around the opposition.

    But dismissing Bynum+Gasol is like getting rid of your uppercut to fight solely with the jab. It’s the combination of punches that ultimately KO’s the opponent. And for that reason the Lakers still very much need Andrew Bynum.


  23. Eventhough Phil Jackson would never do this, I am of the feeling that we would be better off making Bynum come off the bench. In watching these 2 games it is obvious Odom has looked much more energetic in starting alongside Gasol. Although I do think Bynum is needed to play against the powerhouses of the east, there does seem to be more space for our offense to operate more effectively with him out.

    As for the people saying how much more fluid the offense looks without Kobe, and that they hope he has been watching so that he can not dominate the ball so much when he gets back, I would caution that our offense hasn’t been the problem. I mean, you guys act like you want Kobe to be a role player. You take the bad with the good. Yes it is frustrating to see him take bad contested shots at times, but he is our best player and deserves to take the majority of the shots. I have been more impressed with the way we’ve played defense these past couple games without Kobe, and regardless of how many shot attempts you are getting there is never an excuse for not playing defense.


  24. @Busboys4me

    “I was the only one on my sights praying for that trade, that’s why I came here. Everyone thought I was crazy”

    You are not alone. Ever since I saw Gasol playing for Spain and flying under the radar in Memphis, I’ve wished for the Lakers to snag him. When my dad told me that the “very good dude from Spain” was going to the Lakers, I didn’t believe him. My immediate thought: championship.

    Another thing, Drew needs to learn how to be a better ball player. He’s a great solo act, not so much as a teammate. That comes with time. If not, then trade him for another great player or a couple of solid role-players.


  25. Darius: if a player assists a teammate fouled, and then, this teammate made 1, 2 or 3 FT… The NBA doesn’t count the assist?

    In some FIBA leagues, does it.


  26. Pato,
    In that situation, the player that makes the pass only gets the assist if the player converts the shot on which he was fouled. If the player does not make the basket, but makes the FT’s after the foul, an assist is not rewarded to the passer.


  27. Bynum is needed against “size” opponents. Namely, the Nuggets (Nene), Cavs (Shaq), Celtics (Perkins), and Magic (Howard). So I think talk of moving him to the bench would be detrimental to our playoff goals. The two of them (Gasol and bynum) need to figure out how to play together because you can’t have Bynum come off the bench for the next 4 years. At some point, they are going to have to learn.


  28. So proud of the way the team has played the last two games. Totally agree with Darius’ characterization above.

    The issue is the ceiling for the team without Kobe:

    Without Kobe, they’ve been like Houston in the sense that they play with energy, teamwork, and they scrap to win…but ultimately, the Lakers aren’t a championship team without Kobe.

    But someone mentioned it above, and I think their is a lot of validity to the statement:

    The Lakers have been a better defensive team without Kobe. They’re more active…more apt to come up with steals. Since he got hurt, Kobe’s been taking his “free safety” role to the extreme. He’s giving up wide open jumpers to his man without conscience.

    Maybe Kobe needs to get his legs and hand better for that reason…he may have adjusted for it on offense, but it doesn’t seem like he’s adjusted for it on defense.


  29. Hmm…do people remember a huge factor in our win over Boston nine days ago? Bynum was a beast who pwned Perkins on offense, grabbed a ton of rebounds, and contested seemingly every Celtic shot from 12 feet and in. All this happened as the Celtics played much better for the first 39 minutes than they had been doing in their recent stretch of games, and then the Lakers overcame an 11-point deficit with nine minutes to go. Pau was on the bench while Drew was on the court for most of this fourth quarter comeback.

    We all know that Pau is Option #1A along with Kobe on offense, as the offense frequently runs best through Pau. However, a healthy Bynum is another huge factor in the team’s success and versatility. Let’s not forget that.


  30. I recently watched a Lakers/Nuggets game on ESPN Classic (Dec. 2007, Iverson went for 40-something).

    If you compare that Andrew Bynum to the current edition, something has gone physically and/or mentally wrong.

    The pre-Gasol Bynum was a *much* better defensive player both in terms of aggressiveness and defensive instincts.

    Offensively, his moves were not as polished, but he seemed to get his points much more in the flow of the game.

    My guess is that the combination of knee injuries and the change to the ‘zone the strong side’ defense (instituted in the 08-09 season) has made Bynum mentally uncomfortable on the court.

    Even if his knees are 100% healed (which the knee braces seem to indicate is not the case), he still doesn’t seem to trust his footing, nor does he have much explosion.
    I can relate to this feeling, as I still don’t trust my knee after a meniscus tear injury.

    The ‘strong side zone’ defense, where a ‘big’ moves to low block on the ball-side of the court whenever the ball gets to the wing, makes Bynum (and other Lakers ‘bigs’) have to think about their defensive rotations.

    The previous ‘guard your man and give help when needed’ defense was less complicated.

    Given Bynum’s relative inexperience overall with basketball, I believe he’s having to think too much instead of just reacting. This slows him down and gets him out of position.

    Conversely, his offensive moves allow him to repeat familiar patterns over and over again, and working on those moves was probably the bulk of his practice time while he was recovering from his knee injuries.
    Unfortunately, this means Bynum’s primary strength right now (his offensive game) is probably what the Lakers least need from him.

    Probably the Lakers long-term strategy is to let Bynum keep playing and hope that the other parts of his game catch up with his offense (and they have shown signs of doing that lately).

    But I bet if the Lakers could get a defensive stud/rebounding stud/energy guy (someone like Kendrick Perkins or Jaokim Noah) for this year while keeping Bynum for the long term, they’d love to do it.


  31. 23) – Just trade him? Seven footers do not just fall from the sky in the NBA. Just look at how many teams wanted to get their hands on Gortat. You don’t just give away seven footers. The NBA is still a big man’s game. Teams with the most size up front will usually prevail.

    It’s funny how Andrew helped hold the team down during the first 11 games when Pau was out. He was very effective. Now people want to ship him out. What are the chances of Pau misses more time before the season is done considering he looks like he is not 100%? Let’s not get crazy here.

    It’s funny that both Kobe and Andrew miss (most of) two games, the Lakers look good, and the conclusion is Andrew is the problem. Kobe’s overshooting is the probelm as well.

    If anything this games shows that the offense should run through Pau Gasol a lot more often than it does. In some ways 20 shots for Gasol are more valuable than 20 shots for Kobe. When Pau gets the ball on the block, guys cut to the rim. When Kobe gets the ball on the wing, they stand still.

    The last two games showed me the Lakers have all they need to repeat. They just have to work harder at making it work. And unless some team is giving away a top quality player, the Lakers don’t need any trades.


  32. Sorry about the typos in post #29.


  33. I agree with Dudes’ remarks (#28) about Bynum’s impact in the Boston game. He was the difference maker, and he honestly received more respect, defensively, from Garnett and Perkins than Dwight Howard did in last Sunday’s game.

    In regards to the current play of the team, the issue is really two-fold in my opinion. With Odom in the game, and especially with Bynum and Bryant out, Gasol has a lot more space in the paint to operate. That means there is more space to post/re-post and A LOT more space for cutters, a staple of the triangle. And the second point is that with Odom as the primary ballhandler and with Gasol being the only player operating in the paint, the other three players on the floor have a great deal of room to cut, cross, rotate, etc. So Farmar, Shannon, Artest, Sasha, Luke have a ton of space to actually execute the movement that the triangle requires.

    With the normal starting lineup, Gasol’s in the paint, Kobe’s near the paint, Bynum’s in the paint and no LO to control the ball, which leaves Artest and Fisher as your cutters and your movers (when they actually decide to run the triangle O). That spells trouble and bad offensive flow.

    Just my two cents…


  34. After reading all of the insightful comments on this post, I’ve started another where we can talk more Bynum and LO and the offense. Feel free to move comments from this thread to the next one.


  35. I would pay good money to delve deeply into Kobe’s psyche and state of mind right now. Of course, to the media, he’s saying the right things. I wonder how he really feels?

    To be honest, last night’s game was a thing of beauty to watch, and must have made Tex Winter smile at how the Triangle should be run. The spacing, the cuts, the unselfishness, what a thing of beauty.

    It’s always interesting to see superstars evolve into different players throughout the course of their careers. Obviously, Kobe will have to adapt to his body aging within the next few years. But will that also yield an adapting of his game to be less of the complete focal point of the offense, especially since we have so many weapons within the framework of the Triangle? Or, will Kobe take it upon himself to simply identify this as another “foe” or “enemy” and relentlessly attack it on the court as if it’s another defender, sometimes to the detriment of the team?

    Are we beginning to witness what Mr. Smith in the Matrix calls the “sound of inevitability” with respect to Kobe morphing into Kobe v. 3.0 (or whatever upgrade he currently is)? I’m definitely not subscribing to the school of thought that the Lakers play better without Kobe. That’s insane. But I may be buying into the sheer necessity of Kobe’s metamorphosis into a different Kobe. He’s been saying all along that his teammates need to step up, so he can essentially, step down. His teammates have responded these past two games. Now, we await to see how Kobe responds on the court.


  36. I refuse to listen to any trade talk involving Kobe!


  37. So fun to watch these last two games (though the first quarters have been painful).

    It’s been really fun watching the team run the offense. The psychological point of the triangle is to keep everyone on the team involved in offense, reading and moving, so that they don’t just let a superstar dominate (and be swarmed). Unfortunately, the team seems to have drifted into watching and not reading, pre-Kobe-injury.

    1. It’s been interesting watching Popovich try to work Jefferson into the team concept. I really respect what Pop has accomplished over the years, but I think his style plays into the stereotype that a coach really just needs to yell more. That only works on a team whose leader (Timmy, and the Admiral back in the day) will take it and learn from it. Now we’re hitting year 14 of Pop, which is a damned long time to go without losing your team. This year is the biggest crisis to face Pop – how to transition the team to a post-Tim world, and I’m fascinated to see if he can do it. Jefferson is a first test case, and it’s not working. Worse yet, Pop is saying things in the press that suggest he’s given up on RJ.

    The big point is that fans treat teams like fantasy rosters and figure it’s no big deal to get players working together. This year, the Lakers are facing a transition of similar proportions – integrating Bynum and Artest, and figuring how to transition to post-Fisher and (ulp) post-young-Kobe. And I wanted to give credit to the coaching staff for managing it as well as they have, so far. They’re doing a great job, with the caution that the team of course needs to improve to get past DEN and CLE.

    2. As great as the team has played these last two games, we haven’t played a lot of bullies. We need Bynum to play against the big bruising bully teams (BOS, CLE, DEN). He hasn’t played that well against them so far, but he’s our main interior hope. Without Bynum and Kobe, we should have a reasonable chance against UTA, because their bigs are finesse. All the way? Forget it.

    3. Artest seems to have adopted the policy that if he spots up for three, he won’t take it unless he can wind up for two seconds or more. Otherwise, he’ll pass off. This is a solid policy. He also ran some solid triangle plays (a couple of good strong-side options, like the crossing-rub-screen by the wings leading to a dive down the lane. Really encouraging.


  38. Darius. I enjoy this blog a great deal. As a 40 year Laker fan and former player who has attended over 1000 games in my life I feel I understand the game. I get a bit put off when I read comments that certain blogs were edited or removed because they did not fit into spirit you have determined for this arena. Isen’t that called censorship? Why can’t I read what others think is a good trade, or a blast on Fish or Phil or Kobe?
    I understand the censorsing from Laker talk because they work for the Lakers but last I checked this blog is not owned by the Lakers. Or is it? Expressing ones thoughts is what being a fan is all about and when we lose the right are we no longer fans but puppets? Wonder if you will run this or remove it also?


  39. #37. Ken,
    When Kurt started this site, he created the commenting guidelines in an effort to keep the dialogue on the site at a high level – something I think he was successful in achieving. I’m going to continue with that now that I have taken over the site. The only comments that will not be published are those that include personal attacks directed towards other commenters (if you want to kill the players, I don’t like it, but I’ll let that stuff through as long as it’s got some substance to back up the opinion), talk of politics and religion (which don’t belong on a sports blog), and unfounded trade speculation (there are plenty of other Lakers sites where someone can discuss ways of getting their hands on Player X) that is not rooted in any kind of firm reporting from sources that I trust. Over the years, guys like Peter Vescey or Sam Smith have printed any rumor that they hear. Whereas guys like David Aldridge normally do their due diligence when talking about potential trades out there. Believe me, I like to talk trades, but I think it lowers the quality of the discussion if trade speculation takes place in every single thread. We’ve had 3 trade speculation posts on this site just this season and in each one the deals got more and more absurd by the time we even got to 40 comments on the thread. I won’t apologize for what I think keeps this site’s discussions thriving with the type of basketball talk that makes us all more informed fans. If that makes me a tad over the top as the moderator of the site, I’m willing to live with that. I hope you understand.


  40. I think a little credit needs to go to PJ for coaching these last two games – especially against the Spurs. I was at the game, and you could sense that the entire team was excited about playing – because there was the distinct possibility that everyone was actually getting real minutes! It was interesting to see how PJ dealt with players and the refs. He ripped into a younger ref at the beginning of the game for missing a traveling call. He also had no problem ripping into guys during the time outs in the first half. I know we have great players, but how would Cleveland play if they lost Lebron and Shaq (or Ilgauskas)? That being said, the Spurs missed a lot of open shots and Pop’s substitutions were befuddling. I thought we’d see a lot more Ginobli and more posting of Duncan. There was an air of mental and physical exhaustation on the Spurs. And that guy Blair, he’s a banger, but he does not really fit into the flow of their offense. Maybe the spurs are saving it for the second half, and I know Jefferson has been a disappointment, but they just don’t have the fire and confidence of before. And speaking of fire, I can’t imagine how pissed Farmar is that Shannon got the nod to start. But Farmar should run the offense more often. He relies too much on his athleticism. You should have seen Farmar’s face when Sasha took the three towards the end of the first half. Priceless!


  41. Thanks for the history. I have only been following this site this season when I got sick of Yahoo and the personal attacks on that site. I see your point and respect your choices. So I guess that trade of Joel for Daffy Duck as Laker announcer will not be printed. Oh well!


  42. Thank you Darius. I think it’s a bit unfair… But OK, the rules are the rules…


  43. What you guys are all saying is we need a defensive, tough, rebounding center. Not more offense. Can Andrew become that or is it all about offense?


  44. T. Rogers – “If anything this games shows that the offense should run through Pau Gasol a lot more often than it does. In some ways 20 shots for Gasol are more valuable than 20 shots for Kobe.”
    I could not disagree with you more on this point. You’re willing to take the result of this one game and come to a conclusion that if we ran our offense through Pau rather than Kobe, this would happen more often than running it through Kobe? You can’t be serious. If that’s the case, then why didn’t Memphis win 1 playoff game with Pau Gasol being the focal point of their offense?

    We won the championship last year with Kobe being the primary option. Why do you think we need a change of philosophy now? We are top 5 in scoring averaging over 103 ppg. It is our defense that has been the problem and it is our defense that has been the reason for the two wins without Kobe and Bynum.

    If we can run the offense through Pau and beat the Utah Jazz Wednesday in Utah, I will personally come on here and apologize to you and agree I was wrong. I will also stop my criticisms of Pau and buy into what everyone else on this site has been saying for months “These games don’t matter,” “Pau is not soft,” “Fisher comes through when it matters most,” “The offense runs much better when we feed Pau the ball,” “We will win the championship this year.”

    You can hold me accountable for this.


  45. So Kobe goes 2-12 and we win easily, Kobe doesn’t play twice and we win easily….

    Why does everyone think Kobe is the key to this team?

    When was the last time Kobe won a game all by himself? The last game he really dominated we LOST. I think we need to stop pretending Kobe is LeBron or MJ. He’s Kobe, and the only way we are going to win another ring is not if he “bails us out” or “goes off” but if he plays within the flow. Why has 25 year old LeBron known this for 4 years now and Kobe still doesn’t get it yet?


  46. @44:

    Agree completely. That’s why LeBron has 4 rings and Kobe has none. Oh wait…

    Why does everyone think Kobe is the key to this team? Because he is a top 10-15 player of all time, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, 6 time NBA Finalist, 4 time champion and one of the best players in the league year after year for more than a decade? Just a guess, but that could probably be one of the reasons.

    Great win, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Hope to see the whole team get healthy soon and witness the machine slowly shift to higher gears and ultimately destroying everyone in the playoffs.

    Go Lakers!


  47. 44 – Nobody is prenteding that Kobe is LeBron or MJ, but he is an elite player in this league and the best player on our team. I don’t understand how people see these 2 games as a big enough sample size to determine that if the offense was run through Pau and Kobe played second fiddle, we’d be better off. Pau and/or Bynum do not get great post position against every team.

    I don’t believe the Bulls teams with Jordan ran there offense through Luc Longley or Bill Cartwright. The triangle doesn’t have to be run through the post. Kobe is our best offensive player. I want the ball in his hands the majority of the game deciding when to shoot or pass.


  48. I think the one thing Kobe needs to realize from this is that for the Lakers to be the best team in the NBA, he has to average around 22-24 points a game, and shoot about 4-5 less attempts per game.

    Also, as good as Kobe is on the block, he needs to go back to the perimeter, and revolve the offense around Gasol down low.

    Lastly, #44, I being a huge Kobe fan still agree with you. It’s frustrating at times seeing that Kobe still seems to play for his own accomplishments and legacy than the team’s betterment.


  49. @Matthew, he is a great player and has been fortunate enough to play with some other hall of famers. Basketball is a team game. Games light last night show us how valuable someone like Odom can be. But he needs to be involved to play like that. The fact that the Cavaliers with inferior talent are playing better than us is because their depth is being tapped into, and before the last few games, our hasn’t.

    It’s not like I’m the only one that thinks Kobe needs to change his ways, the Lakers do to. We win if he shoots 15-20 times a game and sets up his teammates, not if he leads the league in field goal attempts yet again.


  50. My question is this: Kobe, a proven offensive arsenal and a savage beast whose objective is to hoist the O’Brien trophy in the air year after year, has to deal with teammates who (in December 2009, simply retracted reporter’s questions by saying “how many games have we lost? Like 6” (Ron Artest during an interview) and people expect him to just “trust” his teammates? If I was in that position, I would take as many shots as I need to, (which he determines usually in a span of 5 minutes in the first quarter), in order to WIN. That’s a competitor’s thinking, and I believe that that’s Kobe’s thinking also. For the teammates, he is a huge safety net, and I sometimes feel like they treat these regular season games as practices when Kobe’s not on the court. I’ve even been so frustrated with their lack of effort and play (including poorly chosen contested threes in transition and the abhorred PUJIT) that I have conceded to say during much of this season that being a Lakers fan is like having an asshole boyfriend: you see their talent and abilities analogous to marriage, or in the Laker’s situation: CHAMPIONSHIP, but instead endure play analogous to forgotten anniversaries (they forgot to show up on Christmas, not that they had been playing especially amazingly before that, in Denver 2x and in many games against lesser teams in which our pure talent gave us a W) and continue to play with extreme inconsistency (i.e. Spurs meltdown and Maverick-possibly the best game of the season-game next day). My thing is this: the Lakers have it: the proverbial “it” people in the Entertainment Industry use to define the Michael Jackson or Beatles of any given generation, the big thing that people need-the Lakers have, arguably in excess. People are arguing about too much TALENT! I just believe that these past two games have shown us what is truly lacking: synergy (the sum is more than the parts). If we keep up this play, then I can say that we have solved the problem with energy, if and only if this energy is sustained. But what we need for when our superstar(s) come back synergy. I truly hope Kobe will take it in his hands to tell these kids that their play has been amazing and they need to do this EVERY NIGHT in order to gain the trust of the Mamba. I’ve literally been dreaming about what the rest of our year would look like should we incorporate Kobe/Bynum back into this synergistic and aesthetically beautiful offense (I haven’t seen the triangle executed like that since I feel like the Final’s last year). But I can see the future, and it looks great.


  51. I’m sorry, but some people that post here make absolutely zero sense. I don’t want to insult anyone, but the logic some of you use is…well, pick your own word.

    2 games is a non-existent sample size, especially vs teams such as the Blazers who are missing 4 of their best players including their all-nba star, or an old Spurs team who is 10-11 away from home. But even if you take good competition, 2 games is virtually nothing.

    Not to mention when you don’t take other factors into consideration. To make this short, anyone who thinks that this team is actually better without one of the all-time top ten best players in NBA history, Kobe Bryant, or without a player with as much potential/skill/physical ability as Bynum…well, that person is lost in the wilderness.


  52. You’re so blinded by your worship of one guy.

    No one said the Lakers are better without Kobe. But in wins this season, Kobe averages more assists and almost 3 shot attempts less per game.

    Last year, he averaged SEVEN MORE shot attempts in losses than wins, and had more assists in wins. (Now we have a bigger sample size)

    If you want to win games, you have to have a team effort. One guy going off takes everyone else out of their rhythm and makes them tight in end-game situations. It’s so obvious but Kobe is blinded by his own quest for personal greatness and most Laker fans just fuel his fire. I for one, would like to see him facilitate the offense and pick his spots, become a more efficient player, and take a team that has so by far and away the most talent in the NBA and dominate the league.


  53. If you people believe Odum will keep this up, you’re in for a rude awakening. Pau was the leader of a team that was 0-12 in playoff games, not only did he not win a series but not one playoff game until he played with kobe. trade kobe, unless you’re getting another superstar that would be crazy keep trusting in Dfish and Lamar.