Preview and Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

Darius Soriano —  February 8, 2010

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Records: Lakers 39-13 (1st in the West), Spurs 29-20 (6th in the West, 8.5 games behind the Lakers)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 109.6 (9th in the NBA), Spurs 110.0 (7th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102.6 (4th in the NBA), Spurs 104.8 (10th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant? (game time decision), Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Spurs: Tony Parker, George Hill, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess

The Lakers Coming in:  That screeching sound you hear are Lakers fans coming to quick halt as we learn that Kobe is undergoing further tests on his bum ankle and Bynum is likely out for tonight’s contest.  Suddenly, the high that we all felt after the Portland game is gone and we’re now feeling a real concern for two of our best players.  I still have Kobe listed as a starter, but I really don’t know if he’ll play.  But since he’s still a game time decision, I think he may test out his bum wheel (if only because we will be even more short handed with Drew out) and give it a go tonight.  He always loves to play the Spurs.  Based off the history of both players, I’d be a bit more concerned about Bynum than Kobe.  Any time the words Bynum, injury, and knee appear in the same sentence I start to think bad thoughts about his long term health and need to be talked down off the proverbial ledge.  With the way that his past two seasons have gone, I don’t think any issue with a knee is minor for him even if it did come about from a routine knee to knee bump that happens pretty frequently.  But with anything injury related to Kobe, I tend to shrug it off just because he consistently comes back early from any prolonged absence and is notorious for getting treatment 24/7 until he’s back into playing form.  Maybe I’m giving Kobe too much credit here, but I think he’ll be back sooner rather than later.

The Spurs Coming in: The Spurs are a mystery that even the experts can’t crack.  Before the season started, they were universally hailed as a team that could contend for a championship.  They went against their past history of conscientious spending and jumped into luxury tax land for the first time in the Duncan era.  So far, the results have not been what many expected.  The problems they face are real and they’re in a dog fight for a top 4 seed and home court in the first round of the playoffs.  And while it may not be time to hit the panic button for fans of the Spurs, the truly concerned button was probably hit a couple of weeks ago.

Not all is bad for the Spurs, but they are underperforming as a group.  Part of that can be directly attributed to the uneven play of Parker and Ginobili.  Parker has been slowed by a variety of injuries all season.  Most recently he’s had to deal with an ankle sprain that kept him out of three games before returning to the last two.  And while I give Tony credit for fighting through the pain and trying to help his team by being in the lineup, his stats are down across the board and it’s affected his team.  As for Ginobili, he’s just had an uneven season and may just be showing his age and the results that come from a career of relentless attack on the basket.  Manu’s points are down to 13.2 per game (the lowest average since his 2nd season) and his impact as a sixth man has diminished in a manner that has really hurt the Spurs as they can no longer rely on a “starter” coming off the bench to change the game the minute he steps on the floor.

The one player that has not seen any real decline is Tim Duncan.  He’s once again having an All-NBA type season on both ends of the floor.  This man still guarantees you stat lines of 20/10/3 with almost two blocks a game while only committing two fouls.  Fantastic stuff from this future hall of famer.  Every year people who follow this league think Duncan is going to stop being effective and every year those people are proven wrong.  I’ll believe he’s falling off when I actually see it.  One other player to really watch is the emerging George Hill.  Hill has been playing quite well this season and is doing everything well (though no one thing excellently).  Hill has shown he’s a capable shooter and his deceptive size makes him a good finisher in the lane.  He’s also a good off-the-ball mover and is a guy that you can’t turn your head on as he’ll sneak into the paint for easy buckets if you end up watching the ball when one of the other Spurs is going to work.

Spurs Blogs:  48 Minutes of Hell is a great place to start.  Also check out Pounding the Rock for anything Spurs related.

Keys to game: The last time these two teams met, Duncan just killed us on the block.  The Big Fundamental used his textbook game to hit a variety of hook shots, wing banks, and runners that reminded everyone why he’s one of the all time great big men.  Tonight, the Lakers bigs (sans Bynum) are going to have to contest every shot and force him to take the shots that he doesn’t want to take.  That’s easier said than done, but I think we might see the occasional double team to force Timmy to pass the ball out when he’s got deep post position and give him his jumpshot (especially from the top of the key) as a preferred result in any set where Duncan is the shooter.  If Duncan beats us with 15-18 footers, so be it.   The Spurs are another team that will test our P&R defense with Parker and Hill handling the ball and Duncan/Blair/Dyess/Bonner doing the screening.  In these sets, Dyess and Bonner are strictly pick and pop players, Blair will almost always roll to the cup, and Duncan will do both.  So, we need to know personnel and tendencies and play each player to their strengths.  As for the guards, Parker and Hill both love to turn the corner and get into the paint so our goals should be to make them jumpshooters.  Make these guys bury low-ish percentage jumpshots and live with the results.  Tonight is another night where we’ll need sharp rotations as the two players that are in the P&R can be decoys as the Spurs look for either a shooter in the (Joel Meyers sponsored) short corner  or the other big man sitting stationary on the baseline for an open 15 footer.  The Spurs are a team that run a bunch of set plays but they are all a part of a larger system that all the players have confidence in.  In order to stop them, you need to play disciplined D and contest shots (or you just need them to go on one of their patented dry spells – I’m hoping for a bit of both tonight).

On offense, the Lakers need more of what they showed in Portland.  The Spurs are a team that excels at making teams play in isolation and if the Lakers start to play a lot of one on one, the Spurs will have one the “style” game even if the shots go in.  The Lakers need to enter the ball into the post, cut, screen, and move the ball.  As individuals, the Spurs are not strong defenders (save Duncan) but as a group they can still get the job done (though not as well as in years past).  So, move the ball, get the defense scrambling, and then attack them in their weakspots.  One place where the Spurs have always been vulnerable is in the inbetween parts of the court – FT line, elbows, shallow wings.  So, I hope to see a lot of our elbow sets and mid-range post ups for our wings where they can turn and face, then attack with either crisp passing to cutters or get up easier shots when they get into the paint.

Where you can watch: 7:30 pm start here on the West on TNT (which means more like 7:45) or on ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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200 responses to Preview and Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

  1. Let’s go Lakers! This one’s for Warren, for Kurt, and the FB&G community!

  2. First one’s for Warren.

  3. How nice would another win w/o Kobe be for his and our team’s sake? For those of us Laker fans living in San Antonio I urge or team to get the job done but health is the #1 concern. We will beat this team when it matters most. And no anti-Fisher rants tonight FB&G family!

  4. If Pau is able to subtly affect the game more than Duncan tonight we have a good chance. Let’s go Lakers!

  5. Ok, so maybe I’ve been out of the loop for a while, but can someone clarify for me what’s going on with Kurt and FB&G? Is he pretty much focusing full-time on his new site, and handing FB&G to Darius, etc.? Is he really just going to be part-time here? That makes me sad!

  6. Tony,
    Yes, you are pretty much correct. These posts should answer any questions you have about what’s going on:’m-out-—-but-you-can-be-in-at-fbg/

    I think we’re all a bit worse off with Kurt leaving FB&G to focus on his new gig. But, I will try to live up to the standard that he set all these years. I’ve got some big shoes to fill and will work hard to try and do just that.

  7. I completely agree with the team executive who said this – worst H.O.R.S.E. field ever.

  8. Totally agree on the H.O.R.S.E. participants. Durant I can handle as the defending champ, but the others? Get some Monta & Baron in there.

  9. @3 – Here, here.

    Especially in San Antonio, out of sheer respect for the glory that has simply been deemed “0.4” in that crazy 2004 season, let us take joy in (instead of take apart) Fish.

  10. 7.8. agree, awful. Who would u pick, i would go for baron, steve nash and for comedy THE MACHINE!

  11. The machine is actually a pretty good pick. We hear all the time that he makes shots when it’s not game-time so maybe he’d just tear it up. Plus, you know, he’s nuts (watch him play D), which would add an element of intrigue to the whole thing. The only thing that I would DEMAND is that after every letter he receives he showers the fans with a good dose of sasha- face; “What?! Me? ‘H’ ??!! This must be a MISTAKE!”

  12. I love the comedy potential of Vujacic as a H.O.R.S.E. competitor! Just fantastic to think of him looking around, baffled, after missing a shot and picking up a letter.

    And yes, Nash would be excellent. I could imagine him producing a steady dose of runners, off-hand push shots and leaners.

  13. First, no anti-fish rants tonight…UNLESS…he forces up a bunch of contested shots and goes 1-7 or 2-10 and tony parker and hill combine for around 35 points. If that happens the lakers will lose. Then the rants will start pouring in.

    Sorry to start off on such a sour note. But with or without Bynum and Kobe lakers have a really good chance of winning this game. However, it’ll be dependent on the play of L.O., Pau and Fisher. L.O and Pau have to be aggressive and make things happen tonight and not let Duncan and Blair out work them and discourage them on the offensive end. I expect a 20-10 night from Pau. Pau has to make Duncan work on the defensive end. Duncan is a great defender, but no one can guard Pau on the block when Pau decides he’s going to be aggressive. L.O. and Pau have to set the tone tonight. The way they played offensively against Portland will not get it done tonight. I mentioned Fisher as well, he just has to get his within the flow of the game, thats all.

    Can the lakers string together two good games against quality opponents? I know they have it in them. They just have to play together and played hard for 44 minutes. No typo, I know this team will have a couple of lackadaisical minutes.

  14. Can someone please explain the routine “This one’s for Warren” remarks we see on this site?

    I recognize that people will write this on the first comment of game preview posts. But what’s the origin of this practice, and what’s the supposed point?

    It’s part of the site’s culture; I get that and am not saying “Cut it out” or anything. I’m simply lost about the reasons, which obviously predate my experiences on FB&G.

  15. Everyone needs to check this out. Fantastic new analytical tool over HoopData:

  16. Kurt’s new site is up! Clicky ->

  17. Darius,
    Bynum’s knee bruise is very minor. It was a knee to knee thing… that is all. It is his hip that kept him sidelined in the 2nd half at Portland and will keep him out presumably until after the all star break.

    Tonight will be tough without Drew. He always does a great job on Duncan at both ends of the floor. In order to stay competitive tonight with or without Kobe we need to stick to the game plan which is as always… let Fisher exploit his nightly advantage at PG. This time the mismatch is VS Tony Parker. We will see if the Frenchman can at least somewhat contain Fish tonight (I know I know… nobody can).

  18. Darius,
    I think we will need some definition area on this site if we continue with the Warren posts.

    Chris J.,
    Once again, here’s the story. Warren is a current poster who lives in the Philippines. Two or three years ago Kurt was posting the game preview threads in the middle of the day, when most of us are working, but it was about 1AM in the Philippines and Warren was on-line.

    For quite some time, whenever he would be the first poster we would win the game. Well, you can see where I am going here, so we just are trying to continue the tradition.

  19. Aaron,
    Yeah, I know his hip really was the issue that limited him in the last game. But, when the game started and he was wearing a sleeve on his other (non-bulky-braced-knee) I was a bit concerned. There was also the report that Bynum is experiencing swelling in his knee and noticed that his movement was compromised even before his hip injury, so I’m a bit more concerned. After all, his hip injury was reported as a “bruise”. Now, that may be underselling his hip injury and I know that the team is saying that there is some discomfort there, but I’m a little skeptical when it comes to Drew and his knees. A knocked knee typically doesn’t linger in this manner. But, I’m not doctor.

  20. I think the only way we win this game is if Fisher sits, Farmar plays 35 minutes and he gets 30 Pick and rolls. Only way.

  21. no kobe no bynum tonight, lets hope for a gasol career night

  22. I would not assume that anything with Bynum’s knees is minor, especially since he has been having soreness, and occasional swelling, off and on all year.

  23. Darius,
    “I’ve got some big shoes to fill and will work hard to try and do just that.”

    As long as they aren’t those cement shoes that Artest wears, you’ll be fine.

  24. kurt has already forgotten us. Lakers are #4 in his power rankings…

  25. just heard on the TNT halftime show, kobe is not going to play….

  26. I hope that Farmar gets more burn tonight because of his ability to get to the rim, by dribble penetration or by slashing. It makes LA that more dangerous, defense has to rotate, to defend with a finisher in the game other than KB and LO. I think Farmar has done a good job of finding the open man or finishing at the rim and not settling for his jumpshot too early in the offense. Its time to take the training wheels off and let him get the big game experience that LA will need in the playoffs.

  27. Ernie(TNT) just said that Kobe is not going to play..

  28. When I read that Kobe wasn’t playing tonight, I smiled. Let the man rest. Let the team play and grow.

    Hope neither Kobe nor Andrew’s injuries are too serious. We need a full squad for the playoffs.

  29. Darius, I would personally love to see Bynum wearing at least a soft brace/support on both knees all the time.

    If I were a big guy playing in the NBA, no matter what my age, I would be all about braces, sleeves, supports, othotics, and tons of ice during and after each game. Traditionally big men have trouble with knees, feet, and hips in that order. Not everyone is blessed with the durability/resilience of Kareem/Shaq/Duncan etc. Lots more Bowies/Odoms/Waltons genetically speaking.

    I would love to see Bynum be pro-active in his therapy and prevention. Not just working out, which he does do, but everything. His quote the other day about, “Being to young to need ice” had me crossing my fingers that he meant it as a joke.

  30. VoR, I completely agree with you. Health in the playoffs trumps gutting out these next two games. I hope that he sits the All-Star game, but the NBA would probably throw a huge hissyfit if he did.

    Tonight, I am hoping the effort and energy from Portland carries over. Some of the ball movement in Portland reminded me of last year’s squad. That offense was beautiful.

  31. Bynum’s leg (knee) looked funky against Denver too, even before the Portland bump happened. He was wearing an extra brace vs. the Nuggets too, which suggests its more than just the results of Saturday’s injury. Hopefully the time off will suffice and he’ll be good to go once everyone gets back from Dallas.

  32. The NBA couldn’t complain if Kobe missed the ASG, assuming he sits out the regular season games leading up. If he’d gutted it out & played for the Lakers, I believe he’d HAVE to appear in the ASG.

    On a different note, hopefully the Hornets keep building this lead so we get to see the start of the Laker game.

  33. And of course, as I post that comment about the Hornets building a lead, they go and give up a 14-2 run….

  34. 32. Chris, Drew bumped knees with Stephen Jackson in the Charlotte game on Wednesday, so that’s why he was sore on Friday and Saturday. He even mentioned that the injury was the same type as two years ago, just a lot more mild. He should definitely be wearing one of those “kneecap sleeves” on his left knee whenever he’s on the court.

  35. #33…yes! Hopefully Kobe sits out the next game…misses the ASG, and won’t have to play until the 16th, I believe. That should let some of his injuries heal.

  36. #13 Joelb,

    You wrote:
    “First, no anti-fish rants tonight…UNLESS…he forces up a bunch of contested shots and goes 1-7 or 2-10 and tony parker and hill combine for around 35 points.”

    so what you’re saying is that you WANT rants right? Becuase that bar certainly isn’t high enough. I would say, 1/17, 2/25, and Hill/Parker combine for 78points or less. This way, it’ll be a toss up. With your figures, i already have my Fisher rants ready to go.

    In fact, here is a pre-emptive one:

    Fisher sucks.

  37. vintage vinsanity

  38. If Kobe sits, I hope the NBA does the right thing and selects Monta Ellis as the injury replacement.

    At the very least, it will stop the whining from NorCal/Warriors fans, at least for one weekend.

  39. Jeez these TNT games.. Almost 5 am here in Sweden now.

  40. I HEAR you Andreas….Every time we have the second game in a TNT doubleheader, I’m pissed from the moment it’s announced

  41. ok seen enough, farmar please

  42. Calling for Fish head already huh

  43. How much worse can Fisher be trying to guard Parker? Obviously, Parker is ridiculous but still its getting pathetic.


  45. Lamar is Sick!!!!!

  46. I’m getting a lamar Odom jersey. He’s great.

  47. the strength of lamar

  48. Odom is getting me all kinds of excited.

    Fisher’s D is making me depressed.

  49. Don’t you just get the feeling sometimes that Lamar could destroy the league if he wanted to? As far as skill with regard to size is concerned, there’s simply noone who tops him in my opinion. (Of course, he has some other issues as a player – but still, the man is nothing short of amazing.)

  50. Lamar is just excited about being on TV during the Super Bowl.

  51. Man, how good is Lamar?! When he plays like this it’s jawdropping.

  52. This is where I think fans see what they want to see. Yes Parker has been very effective to start the game. But all but one of his baskets have come off the P&R where Fish got wiped out and there was not good help from a big man. Twice there was no hedge at all and the big man (Pau) was caught back peddaling and Parker got a lay up. On another play, Fisher got screened twice(!) with little help from his big men. I’m all for pointing out what players could be doing better. But criticism must be fair.

  53. why not put artest on manu? He’s wasted on bogans.

  54. I am glad we re-signed LO to an extension, when he wants to be, he can be a beast.

  55. Please Pau, pick up your game man, it’s been long enough since his return but he still looks clumsy an out of balance at the offensive end.

  56. When was the last time Pau hit a 15-footer? He was almost automatic from that range last year!

  57. Its just the point that Parker knows that as long as Fisher is in the game guarding him, its feeding time at the all you can eat buffet. Putting somebody else on him might change Parkers mindset just a little.

  58. @53
    Probably because Ron is way too slow to keep up with Manu.

  59. I agree that criticism needs to be fair, but Fisher has been fairly terrible defensively for about two years. At some point it can’t be a matter of circumstances. At this point in his career I mentally prepare myself before the game starts that no matter who we are playing, Fisher will be abused. Maybe I jumped the gun a little in this game, but lets be honest he can’t guard a traffic cone in a phone booth.

  60. I’m not going to continue down the Fisher path long. And I agree that confidence is a big part of the game. But isn’t execution a big part of it too? I’m pretty sure that keeping Parker out of the lane is part of the Lakers’ game plan. So, you know, when Fish gets picked off by solid screens, he’s going to need help from his teammates. The opposition’s confidence is meaningless when the other team can take fundamental steps to disrupt the play that the player is scoring on. It’s not like Parker is shooting 35 footers. He’s coming off the P&R and getting into the lane after his man gets screened. The bigs need to show out on that and stop Parker’s momentum.

  61. Ginobli makes we want to barf. Parker is going for 50 tonight.

  62. Inability to get stops will be the only thing to prevent the Lakers from winning tonight. Abolutely getting carved up right now.

  63. I think SA just had their highest scoring qtr of the season. Nice D.

  64. Not ideal to have given up that many points in the first. Need to make the adjustments on the P&R that others have mentioned. More hedging out from the bigs.

  65. The Machine ends the 1st quarter with a 26 footer

  66. Is anyone else having issues with the TNT feed? It’s barely watchable on my TV 🙁

  67. its a machine sighting!

  68. Sasha with three straight!!!

  69. TNT seems fine here on Verizon FIOS.

  70. machine, ive kept saying he deserves more burn

  71. UPS finally brought the Machine some spare parts!!!

  72. josh powell you are not tim duncan please stick to open jumpers

  73. We need Lamar back in for Powell ASAP.

  74. Josh Powell isn’t very good.

  75. Aha! I reset the satellite receiver and now it works again! GO LAKERS!

  76. Defensively the Lakers are doing a better job of keeping the guards out of the middle of the floor. If the Spurs run their P&R from the extended wing, our defense can take a much more simplistic approach and shade everything and overplay the dribbler to go away from the screen to the baseline and all we give up is the top of the arc jumper or a long two pointer by one of their bigs.

    Also, I’m liking Powell’s activity just not liking the results. I think it’s clear he’s been working on his post game as he looked very comfortable shooting those left handed hooks. But when they don’t fall, it seems really low percentage and almost like a wasted possession.

  77. We’re missing that break to Pau a little. Just overheating the passes.

  78. why not stick with sasha?

  79. haha…that look phil had on his face after farmar missed that pass to pau by a mile was priceless.

  80. Gasol is missing some point blank shots there…legs still heavy huh

  81. Pau really can’t buy a bucket. Tough misses on those bunnies.

  82. Gasol is a mess on Offense.

  83. Man, that’s 3 of those little hooks that Pau’s missed. He’s just finessing it a little too much by the looks of it.

    Good to see Lamar back on the floor.

  84. Again Pau is playing well (much like vs the Blazers), but just not getting his shots to drop.

    Edit: Is he going to play the entire 48 minutes btw? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do that, and being half-Spanish, I’ve been following him closely since he was a rookie.

  85. Pau used to be automatic with those little hooks and bunnies in the paint…he is just really struggling

  86. Pau looks tired tonight

  87. I tune in and see the Machine leads the team in scoring? Was he immediately full of confidence — as if this is what he usually does?

  88. The Pau/Lamar P&R makes me laugh. Who would expect to see a 6’10” guy run a P&R with a 7-footer.

    I like Fish’s activity on defense. He’s doing a solid job the last few possessions on the Parker/Duncan P&R.

    Looks like Marv and Doug Collins have been reading this blog lately with the Fisher comments.

  89. Pau does have 10 boards. Nice work there.

  90. I get home from the gym and I see Fisher pulling Farmar. What’d I miss?

  91. Ron Artest is crafty. He created that entire collision, fell down, and got rewarded with two freebies.

  92. Great sub by Phil and great D by Farmar to close the half.

  93. awesome, awesome D by farmar.

    I really liked the offensive balance that half – no one has less than 3 shots, no one has more than 8.

  94. It bears noting that the Lakers are without two of their starting five, and the Spurs are at full strength.

  95. if the lakers win, will comments be “Great win.” or “the spurs aren’t playing well, so its not really that good of a win.”

    I’m thinking more of the latter than the former.

  96. LO took it to the hole from the other end of the court, but missed the layup, good to see though, our 6′ 10 forward running like that, doing PG stuff.

  97. save from the turnovers, that was really good offensive execution by the lakers.

  98. You say crafty, Spurs fans scream flop, and somewhere Vlade Divac raises a glass of bubbly to Ron Artest.

    I really do love this offensive balance. Not that I’d want this full time, but in some ways this scrappy group reminds me of the Lake Show days.

    Isn’t 3 consecutive shots the definition of “catching fire.” Sasha’s got the hot hand! FEED THE MACHINE!!

  99. He’s lost his touch (hopefully he’ll be able to take it back) but at least he’s doing a fine job in the defensive end, I don’t care if he doesn’t have a good night offensively if he’s capable of shutting Timmy at the other end.

    Also I’m with Andreas there’ not sure if he’s going to be able to play through 47 minutes….Maybe we could put DJ in Blair while Timmy is out.

  100. aaron, did you tweet to charles barkley? it’s like he read one of your posts verbatim!!


  101. Ray,
    Me and Charles… the only people crazy enough to put down Fisher publicly.LOL Fish is a champion, a winner, and a great guy… I will probably go to hell for calling him a bad basketball player. But all I care about is winning.

  102. @aaron,

    I’d be lying if i said Fish hasn’t lost a step. He has. But he is better than Farmar as a starter. And I am not sold that heinrich would work.

    So given those options, and Phil’s insistence that he will stay with Fish, I’m ok with it.

  103. Pau is giving it to Duncan in this quarter…loving that.

  104. Finally Pau’s catching a break. Like I said earlier: I think he’s been playing well all along, but the shots just weren’t falling. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

  105. but how bout this aaron… u ready??

    after watching shannon run the triangle as a starter, I would be curious how he does as the starting point guard along side kobe.

  106. Doug Collins is killing me. Literally. Killing me.

    Why does Pop always look like the last guy in a bar just before closing?

    Lakers hanging tough…I’m content so far.

  107. If we gave Gasol the ball this regularly against teams that didn’t have Duncan, he’d average an easy 30 a game.

    I love how much pressure he puts on the SA defense.

  108. when you run the offense this is what happens, long may it continue

  109. Odom. Oh man he is so good when he turns it on.

  110. GOlden state on pace to score roughly 200 pts.

  111. This is why we all go so crazy when Odom does nothing for weeks at a time.

  112. @Darius,

    are we allowed to call out the people who said two games ago that we wouldn’t even compete against teams without Kobe?

    Is that allowed?


    cmon, just say that Fish has played two good games in a row. Say it…

  113. Some of this basketball is just a thing of beauty. Plays are being set up from the post, people sharing the ball. Even when the shots aren’t falling it’s still incredibly effective.

    We already know that Pau and Lamar are willing passers, but I also want to give credit to Ron. It seems that he’s more than willing to share the ball when the situation calls for it.

  114. Who else thinks the Lakers actually running the Triangle are just beautiful to watch. Excellent job getting the ball in to Gasol and operating off of him.

  115. Personally, I’m not a fan of I told you so’s.

  116. I love Artest’s game lately he has been efficient and great on both ends of the floor, exactly why we brought him here. And he is more than capable of being the go to scorer when Kobe is out.

    On another note is it too much to ask the basketball gods to see Lamar play the way he has the past 2 games, EVERYTIME he goes on the floor. I think not
    and Ray two games is still not a great measuring stick of how we would do without Kobe, now if Kobe had sat out starting weeks ago like people had wanted him to then we could have a better answer to that, it’s still too difficult to judge.

  117. Anyone know where i can find the commercial “where the sixth man happens”. I really like the beat.

  118. @Darius,

    that’s not a no.

    but I won’t say I told you so to all those that said we wouldn’t compete with Kobe sitting.

  119. the last time the lakers had a 6’9 guy running down the floor, doing what LO is doing in this game was… magic!

    LO is the secret sauce. if i was PJ, i would spend my entire time figuring out how to make him go ALL the time. forget fisher, put in LO at PG.

  120. Gasol would be shooting 60% if not for all the missed tip ins.

  121. Boy, am I missing a lot. 🙂

    After having 34 first quarter points, the Spurs had 34 points in the 2nd and 3rd.

    Gotta love the effort.

  122. Reed
    Gasol needs to try to grab it and DUNK it some more

  123. Let Mo change jerseys at the end there. Bad Juju.

  124. Ray, I agree with Lakers8884, Two games is not a great way of determining how well we would do without Kobe playing. Say if he sat 10 games that would be a better way to judge, so you cant really say I told you so.

  125. @Lakers8884

    I definitely agree that 2 games is not a measuring stick. But I am talking about comments that said we wouldn’t win ANY game much less compete if Kobe sat.

    Though I will say this for the past two games, the ball movement is a lot better. Don’t take that as I don’t think Kobe isn’t important, but thinking how much better our team and how much easier for him it would be to score/win.

  126. I can’t remember a game when all our guards played so well.

  127. wow Pau with the backhanded block

  128. Watching this game really makes me wish the Lakers took better advantage of having Gasol. The guy is amazing. We kinda forget that at this point, he is probably the best or #2 PF in the league.

  129. 15-13-4-1-3 for Pau so far…not too shabby.

  130. @Eric and Lakers,

    again the “I told you so”, which i didnt do btw, is for those that said that we wouldn’t win one game, much less be competitive in a game.

    Just for those specific comments.

  131. Kobe missing a few games is turning out to be a blessing in disguise. The ball movement has been snappy, all of our players have stepped up when they were asked to do more, and have been playing confidently. Solid performances on both offense and defense.
    Let’s hope this translates into Kobe trusting his team-mates more when he gets back, and letting them create more of the offense.
    (Kobe would be just as deadly without the ball in his hands, as a slasher, or a weak-side as spot-up shooter. Oh the possibilities…..)

  132. I hope Kobe is paying attention to this. It could be so much easier for everyone to score if he would just pick his spots in the offense. He could score 30 a night without breaking a sweat.

  133. Oh yeah, it should also be interesting to watch the Kobe-Less Lakers close out against a veteran Spurs team. Let’s see who steps up and converts under pressure.

  134. Too many bricked Js right now. Get LO back in there.

  135. Looking good. I honestly think this team plays better without injured Kobe. They’d be unstoppable if Kobe would play within the offense and facilitate a little more.

    But does anyone else get the feeling that maybe some of the other guys get nervous when Kobe is out there? I don’t know how else to explain the massive difference in energy right now. These guys are doing all the things we’ve been wanting them to do when Kobe is out there…so how come they’re only just now doing it when he’s sitting out?

  136. Lotta missed opportunities.

  137. I love this Laker team tonight, we rely on Kobe to much, this is good for all.

  138. why on earth didnt gasol dunk that

  139. Good hustle by Sasha, saving that ball. That was 2 extra points right there.

  140. Just checking the box score via espn. The Spurs have 0 fastbreak points?

  141. wait, wade isn’t with converse anymore??

  142. If Pau is converting anywhere close to his usual % this game is already over.

  143. Ray,
    Nike bought out Converse a few years ago. So, technically, Wade just moved to a different apartment in the same complex.

  144. Everyone seems to be focusing on the fact that Kobe is out, but you also have to consider that Bynum is not playing. Although I love him, the nickname “the black hole” is there for a reason. When playing guys like Lamar, Pau and Luke on the frontline, the ball is going to move better. (But we are in turn going to see more weak finishes at the rim; that’s the price you pay more or less.)

  145. i thought the reason “the black hole” was there was cause Zephid thought it was funny..

  146. 138- Josh
    Completely agree with you. You may have a point about nervousness, maybe they’re afraid to make mistakes around Kobe. I think it may also have to do with getting more touches. Kobe gets a touch on just about every possession when he plays. Without him, the ball swings around a lot smoother. The guys are also cutting more, knowing that they’ll get the ball. Pig Miller had an excellent point about Kobe needing to choose his spots more. Let’s hope to see that after get bets back.
    Also, what do you guys think about maybe starting Odom over Bynum?

  147. Also, I think that without Kobe the players feel like their performances are more valued, and hold themselves more accountable for what they do with the ball.

  148. Gasol has been lousy at finishing tonight, but he’s been a monster on the boards and in harrassing shots. Good effort tonight over all.

  149. look at this balance on shots:
    Pau 19 shots, Ron 15, odom 12, brown 13, fish 7, farmar 7.

  150. I dont think there is any question that Lamar and Pau will be the closing frontline in playoff games unless we are playing The Cavs or Boston

  151. Pau is just a better player when Lamar is playing along his side and not Bynum.

  152. Fisher looks upset. Probably read all your comments Aaron. If that’s the case, keep it up!!! Make him play with fire the rest of the year!

  153. When tacos are on the line, Pau can make that shot!

  154. Good win.

    Kobe rest up. We need you healthy.

    The others can compete.

  155. This clearly shows Denver is the second best team in the West, the Spurs are 4 or 5 at best, I would put Portland above them come playoff time when they have most players back (other than Oden and Pryzbilla)

  156. got to give it to gasol great all round game, would have been even better if not for a few in and outs

  157. 21-19-8-5. Ridiculous.

  158. dave in hillsboro February 8, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Great win. The absence of Kobe and Drew means there are fewer isos, fewer possessions where the ball goes into the post and no one cuts and the post man forces a tough shot against a double (or triple…or quadruple) team.

  159. How much of Pau’s assertiveness and dominance was the absence of Drew down low and how much was his need to be the alpha dog with Kobe out?

  160. A game like tonight really helps the confidence level, doesn’t it?

    Players like Fisher, Gasol, Odom, and Walton really make the triangle look flawless. Passing, cutting, making good decisions, taking high percentage shots, and working together.

    This was a fun game to watch.

  161. Great night overall. Hopefully Kobe allows the team to continue their growth in the tough environs of Utah on Wed.

    Rest up Kobe. It’ll be all good when you get back. Health is what’s most important.

  162. wiseolgoat: Hear hear. Pau said it best in the post-game interview: Maybe it wasn’t his most efficient game shooting wise (8-20 fg, 5-5 ft isn’t terrible but still), but in terms of overall play it was top notch.

  163. We only shot 43% and had 20 assists, so I’m not sure the offense was more effective than usual, but it sure did look better. Of course, what matters is efficiency, not style points.

  164. I think Kobe should sit the rest of the season. Just let him come back to get his ring in summer and maybe ride the celebration bus.

  165. Ok my last Pau-nut-hugging-post of the night: He led the team in fgm, ftm, orb, drb, trb, ass, stl (tied, but whatever), blk, pts and +/-.

    The game forced me stay up till 7 am, but it was well worth it=)

  166. Pau’s line looks ridiculous. 21-19-8-1-5. Especially considering that he missed several bunnies, Pau could’ve gone for 30+.

    The passing out there tonight looked great even though we only had 20 assists. The Lakers definitely have the best passing frontcourt with Gasol + Odom + Ron.

    Sasha looked solid out there. Great energy, good decision-making.

    I’m interested to see if the Lakers can keep up the solid play on Wednesday at Utah especially if Kobe sits again.

    Does anyone else agree that Ron Artest has to be the most awkward person when he attempts to drive to the hoop?

  167. a lot of in and outs around the basket for Pau, he could have had 30 tonight. It’s been good watching the last 2 games, really nice to see all the other players do their thing without deferring so much.

  168. Ray,
    Derek played two good game FOR HIM in a row. I agree. In reality he played two solid games in a row for an NBA starting PG. But yes… he has been solid for two games in a row but still outplayed by Farmar in both games.

  169. Reed, it has to be with Bynum being gone, Pau would consistently play more like this last year when Bynum was out and it was just a frontline of Lamar and Gasol. Kobe isn’t the issue, it’s Bynum and that stinks to say but eventually I feel they will have to make a decision regarding that frontcourt duo, because it isnt as effective as it should be.

    These games I take with a grain of salt because it is great to see the bench step up like this but that is always going to be easier when someone starts and you get to play more instead of staying on the bench, the true test of a bench is how well they perform coming off time on the bench when they can step in the game and make a difference even if for a few minutes in a game. It’s been 2 great wins but I want to see the bench play like this consistently when everyone is healthy and they get fewer minutes with all the starters healthy.

  170. Addition by subtraction, almost.

    I think it’s safe to say that the two missing starters are the two that require the ball in their hands the most, although Pau quibs about not getting touches too.

    Let’s hope Kobe gets into ‘saving-legs’ mode after watching this, instead of ‘proving’ mode that he’s always in.

    But then again, Kobe won’t be Kobe if he doesn’t have something to prove…

  171. Great win! Staples crowd definitely appreciated
    the effort too. Would luv to see Kobe take the
    rest of the week off including the all-star game but I doubt he will. The league needs all the Kobe vs LJ matchups it can get, plus Kobe loves
    the spotlight.

    Denver game was a wake up call. Last 30 games we will see the championship run begin.

  172. Man that was fun to watch. Gasol + Odom is scary good when they’re playing well.

  173. To clarify my question above — I think most of us feel like the offense looked better, but they still only scored 101 points in a high possession game, shot 43% from the field, and were below their season average in assists. But I still thought things looked more fluid. But in reality don’t the numbers show it as a poor offensive game? It seems like we won with defense and rebounding.

  174. @aaron,

    haha. Nice work with the backhanded compliment on Fisher.

    It would be really interesting to see Shannon start a few games with kobe in the backcourt. Though I doubt it will happen.

    If Fish can keep that type of game up, that’s all the Lakers need. They don’t need more than that from their point guards.

  175. Also I was not diminishing what the bench has done they performed amazing the past 2 games and I am proud of the guys but, getting starters minutes is much easier on a players psyche than being a bench warmer for most of a game until the coach calls on you to go in the game. Part of that has to do with the bench being young, but the other part of it has to do with inconsistency over an 82 game season but there have games where we have needed them and they’ve been absent and there have been games where they’ve played and helped the team win. When the playoffs role around we will need them to consistently step up. I think starting Farmar or Shannon would do wonders for their confidence and elevate their level of play but that would make it nearly impossible for Fisher to get his motor going coming off the bench at his age so it’s a sticky situation.

  176. We were all right. Kobe needed a rest. I hope we can play this unselfishly when he comes back. It is almost impossible to stop a TEAM playing together, exposing others weaknesses, and taking advantage of all mismatches. This may be the biggest blessing in disguise that we have had all year. Portland may have been our turning point for a championship.

  177. Besides the all-around performance, it was the interview the spot where Pau excelled the most, recognizing his misses and giving credit to the team BB, that’s the same thing that I told rudy the other day, and this one goes for harold too, when Pau calls for more touches, he doesn’t want the ball to shoot it (ala Bynum), he wants it to play TEAM BB, to handle it to the cutter, or playing an inside-out game…

    That’s the difference btw AB and Pau when they talk about touches, one is talking about his shots and the other is talking about playing team BB and not iso BB.

    By the way wouldn’t it be awesome if the Machine could go into autorepair mode?

  178. Things that impressed me most about this game (apart from it being televised live in Australia):

    – Single digit turnovers
    – Pau on the glass
    – Fish with 6 of 9 from the field

    If we can bottle the style of play from the last couple of games, slot Kobe & Drew back in effectively, and the rest of the season looks a lot rosier than it did after a couple of the recent losses.

    Just hope Kobe rests enough and comes back energised.

  179. Aaron – please form your own site where you can bash Fish all you want and stay there. Jeez – some of you truly forget all this man has and is doing to help our great team. But I digress…

    Great win. Again. Kobe needs the rest. I do hope he plays in the ASG for those of us Laker fans in Texas who will be there (Texas Rob?). Pau beasted on the silverspurds when it mattered most. And Lamar – wow. Lakers – where winning while your superstar rests happens.

  180. Artest is going to be one of the big keys
    to this championship run. I like him a lot,
    he gives a great effort each game. But Ariza
    came up huge in last years run and complimented the rest of the squad better.

    But I think Ron has turned the corner ever since
    Boston. I look for him to really click in the last
    months of the season.

  181. Reed,

    Check the points (and number of shots) in the paint category. The shots taken in this game were a lot cleaner in this game compared to other games (guys didn’t settle for contested jumpers). Also, having Odom pair with Gasol instead of Bynum really opens up the paint area, making it easier for cutters/drivers to get at the basket (Farmar had decent penetration this game even though he wasn’t trying as hard. Artest also had an easier time getting to the basket).

  182. Also, I know I shouldn’t judge this based on just 2 games, but just for the fun of it, who thinks this Lakers team is more like Showtime than Jordan’s Bulls.

  183. Ray,
    I agree it would be amazing if Derek could keep being an average PG… but these games are too few and far between. But as long as he is on the court I will be rooting for him. And I would love to see Shannon start and have Farmar as the spark off the bench to split time at PG. Sasha continues to prove he can still be a good backup when given the minutes.

  184. For mine the win was a combination of more assertiveness and acceptance of personal responsibility fueled by Kobe being out, the increased space in the middle available with Bynum out and nice use of length defensively. Of course it helps when Fish and Sasha combine for 21 points on 9-12 shooting.

    It was good to see the players both making passes and receiving catches while in motion. Often when the Lakers try to pound it into the post both the passer and post-up man are flat footed, and the post action doesn’t distort the defense or generate passing opportunities as effectively.

  185. Wow. Really proud of the way the team played. The team doesn’t play “better” without Kobe, but they do appear to play “harder” and more focussed without him.

    That’s been the difference.

    Also, for some reason, Fish can suddenly shoot again.

    Ultimately, the ceiling for the team is what we have to remember, in a big picture sense. Without Kobe, the team may play hard and run the offense fluidly, but they’re probably not good enough to win a championship.

    With Kobe, obviously, they can.

    Hopefully, when Kobe comes back, he’ll go back to playing more within the offense (rather than being ball-dominant, as in the past few games). Kobe should be following Jordan’s old formula during his second three peat era:

    6 points a quarter in the first 3 quarters, 12 points in the final quarter: keeps the team involved, and keeps him fresher at the end so he can put the game away.

    Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the Lakers are still a championship team without Bynum….

  186. Aaron,

    I don’t agree with you. There’s no need for Fish to be an “average” point guard because it’s not an average position in this system. I still think he’s the best point guard in this system. Farmar is more athletic, but he hasn’t shown that he’s better defensively, doesn’t take charges, and isn’t as comfortable running the offense.

    And Sasha hasn’t proven that at all. He had a great game today, but he still doesn’t look comfortable.

  187. Reed,
    I couldn’t get points in the paint figures, but from the box score, 20 out of our total 49 missed shots can be attributed to Shannon Brown (3-13) and Ron Artest (6-16), with an additional 12 to Gasol (8-20). Gasol missed a lot of lollipop (DUNK IT!), but the Artest and Brown figures don’t surprise me. From what I remember in the game, they were the guys most often breaking the offense and taking mid-range jumpers.

  188. This team plays very well without Bynam. His slow reaction on picks and standing around on defense hurts the team. Best game of the year for Fish, He really stepped up tonight.

  189. We had better chemistry the past two years without Bynum, now that he hasn’t played the last 1and 9/10ths games we look all of a sudden more fluid on both ends of the floor. Unless we are keeping him as a franchise player after kobe, after PJ; he is better off dumped for some players that can fill the slots on our bench. No? (not my personal opinion just what I can see being speculated by a non Bynum fan)

  190. So from reading some of these comments I guess the “trade Bynum” chants aren’t that far off. I didn’t realize he was the singular problem with the Lakers all this time. Let’s be realistic here. The Lakers need both options to win. They need the Gasol centered front court and the Bynum centered front court. Let’s not let one game against an undersized front court make us think the Gasol+Odom front line would be enough against Cleveland or Boston.

    Let’s remain sober in our assessments.

  191. wait, so we can keep fish now? YIPPEEEE!!!! Who hit that big three against Jameer last year? I forget.

  192. New post up where we wrap up the game and can continue to talk about the good win.

  193. And I hit a 20 footer with 1 second on the clock to win a state high school game. Of course that was 40 years ago. Memories are nice aren”t they,

  194. Gr8 Scott, I wont be going to Dallas to be one in 100,000… but more power to ya! should be an awesome sight. Mass of humanity.

    On Tonight’s game… the team just looks, for lack of a better word,… comfortable. The stress of playing with Kobe AND his high expectations must surely weigh on all their minds. Any shot you take must feel like perfection… or Kobe should have shot it. This must be a horrible feeling.

    Kobe is not going away, nor are his expectations. Hopefully the confidence they get while he is out will carry over into the latter part of the season and playoffs.

  195. 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 other comments 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.

  196. T. Rogers,
    You said it best. Against a small team like the Spurs we can win playing Gasol at Center… but as we have seen you cannot expect to win that way against bigger frontlines. If we had Bynum in the Celtic Final series two years ago we would be most likely going for a 3rd championship in a row this June.

  197. What’s a guy gotta do to get some link love. JK, 48MOH and PTR are great Spurs blogs.