Lakers/Mavericks: Terry & Dirk Demolish Lakers’ Defense

Darius Soriano —  February 24, 2010

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In what was a tight, back and forth game for most of the evening, the Lakers just didn’t have enough in reserve to pull out a game that was there for the taking.  All credit should go to Dallas who played well on both ends of the floor, rebounded the ball with effort and aggression, and made shots when it mattered all night.  And even though the Lakers had a chance to win this game, this contest always seemed to be just out of arms reach as a final late game push fell short.

The game started out close as neither team could find any separation from the opposition.  Each team was effective with its initial game plan as Dirk was stroking silky jumpshots while Kidd controlled the flow of the Mavs offense and the Lakers exerted themselves inside with early buckets from Bynum and post ups and finishes from Artest.  The back and forth would continue all game, but a few trends would start to develop as the second unit made their appearances and those trends would be major stories throughout the rest of the game.

The first trend that developed was the Lakers inability to control their defensive glass.  The Lakers bigs were just having trouble securing defensive rebounds and the extra possessions that Dallas earned would be costly to the Lakers defense as they mostly took advantage of the additional shots by either scoring or earning trips to the foul line.  It’s not like the Lakers rebounding was bad for the entire evening, but long bounces off jumpers went Dallas’ way and even when the Lakers were in position to grab the ball it just didn’t happen.  I mean, Kobe would collide with Pau and the ball would go out of bounds.  Bynum or Gasol would have the ball on their fingertips only to have a hustling Maverick tip it away late or body them up and watch them fumble it away.  And so it went for most of the night for the Lakers on the glass.  And without gaining much traction on their defensive glass, it was tough for the Lakers to get any flow on offense as too many possessions ended with the Lakers not changing ends in their normal fashion as they were constantly battling for rebounds with Haywood, Najera, and Marion.

The second trend that developed was a red hot Jason Terry.  In the game preview I wrote:

As for Terry, he is a notorious Laker killer and he needs to be marked from the moment he’s sitting at the scorers table to come into the game.  He can light it up from anywhere and relishes his chances to stick it to the Lakers.  I think we’ll see a lot of Shannon on JET tonight and that means we need the disciplined defense that WOW showed against Portland and San Antonio to make sure that Terry doesn’t get that good feeling going.

Let’s just say that Terry found plenty of space to operate in this game and in his typical form, he lit us up.  30 points on only 20 shots for JET as he filled it up from the three point line when his man gambled on steals in the post or lost him in transition.  And then when the Lakers tried to pressure him too far from the basket, he’d use his quickness to get by them and get into the lane to finish there.  Just an explosive night on offense for a player that has been doing it for years against the Lakers.  If it wasn’t so predictable, it’d be amazing.  Sadly it was just typical Terry when he sees the Purple and Gold of the Lakers.

But it wasn’t just Terry that hurt the Lakers.  It was Dirk too.  The big German was his normal fantastic self scoring on mid range jumpers, post ups, and earning trips to the foul line with his array of up and unders, feints, and ball fakes.  The man just put on an great shooting display scoring 31 points on only 19 shots and did it without even taking a three pointer.  Add to that his 9 rebounds and only one turnover and he was just the complete player that fans once overrated, but now don’t seem to appreciate enough.  Dirk also provided the key play of the game when he found himself with the ball isolated on Kobe at the FT line with only a few ticks left on the shot clock.  Dirk went into his trademark crouch to back down Kobe, turned, ball faked, and then dipped around Kobe and sank the jumper while simultaneously taking a swipe to the head.  He then extended his arms in a celebratory show of exuberance that showed how much he really wanted this game.

And tonight, that really was the difference.  The Mavs really wanted this game and they played with heart and effort the entire night.  And while the Lakers also played hard, it was mostly in stretches when they sensed a push would get them to the finish line and a victory.  And that type of effort just wasn’t enough tonight.  The Lakers didn’t play with the assertiveness or the smarts that would earn them a victory and Dallas did.  Simple and plain.

A couple of other notes on  this one:

*The Lakers offense is really not in synch right now.  Tonight’s game produced an offensive rating of 101.7 which is essentially what it looks like to watch the Timberwolves play every night.  Some of that can be attributed to the poor shooting night of Kobe and the low FT attempts, but something is not right and it’s been this way all season.  Obviously tonight was well below even the Lakers standards this year, but it’s nights like this that contribute to the Lakers hovering around 10th in offensive efficiency all season.  If I had to do a mini break down of our offensive woes, I think our issues continue to be our lack of outside shooting (5-17 from 3 against the Mavs is below average for us, but all too typical) and our inability to stick to running our offense.  The ball is still sticking too much when Bynum has the ball, Kobe is still running too much P&R, and our other guards continue to over dribble and use shoddy decision making in both the open and half court.  And, even on nights when the shots are falling, most of our makes come from the talent level of our players rather than the team work that should flow from our sets.  Is our offensive execution a fatal flaw?  I don’t know, but it’s troubling to me that after 58 games the Lakers still haven’t righted the ship on offense are still not performing at a level that is representative of the talent on this roster.

*Turnovers have really hurt this team in the last two games.  Last night the Lakers were able to overcome the 17 gaffes.  Not tonight with a repeat in the number of giveaways.  Call it fatigue if you want.  Call it an adjustment to having Kobe back in the lineup.  I call it lazy post entries, rushing passes to players that aren’t open, and silly offensive fouls where players are so anxious to shoot that they forget they can’t break the rules to get their shot off.

*I was impressed with the interior presence of Haywood.  On defense, he was strong in holding his position and contested shots at every opportunity.  He also rebounded well on both ends with 9 rebounds total (4 offensive) and gives this team much more than Dampier can.  That said, Dallas’ lack of interior depth will come back to hurt them if Dampier can’t return to health and show effectiveness for the stretch run.  Running Najera out there to defend a Gasol (or a Duncan or a Nene or a Boozer) is going to be a problem for this team in a meaningful playoff game.

*I continue to be impressed with Jason Kidd.  Has he lost a step?  Yes.  He is 36.  But his control over a game – especially offensively – and ability to run a team remains the highest level.  Combine that with his not-so-fluky-anymore improvement shooting the long ball and you’ve got a player that hurts you when you double off him and can dissect you with passes for his mates when you pay too much attention to Dirk or Terry.

Darius Soriano

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26 responses to Lakers/Mavericks: Terry & Dirk Demolish Lakers’ Defense

  1. “Is our offensive execution a fatal flaw? I don’t know, but it’s troubling to me that after 58 games the Lakers still haven’t righted the ship on offense are still not performing at a level that is representative of the talent on this roster.”

    It will be a fatal flaw if Kobe doesn’t start passing the ball more. I’m not one of those people who believes he’s the sole problem, but at the end of the day, the Lakers go through Kobe’s decision making, and the pattern of decisions he establishes over the course of the season. Last year, he consistently went to the people around him. This year, due to whatever cause you want to put it down to (injuries, ego, poor play from teammates dialing it in), this team has no consistent rhythm on offense with him in the game from one game to the next. In addition, I think it also impacts the way the Lakers play defensively. When Kobe was hurt, the Lakers ran the triangle. There was no “it’s the fourth quarter, give it to Kobe” exception — they just ran it. And running the triangle, which is the ultimate team offense, allows everyone on the floor to feel a sense of ownership, that they have a clearly defined role in the flow of the game, and that they’re helping determine the outcome somewhat equally. That feeling translates to the defensive end as well. People play harder on defense when they’re defending a lead that they feel they created. Say what you want, but with Kobe back, the offensive flow to the game is gone, and the body language of the players — as evidenced in two straight games — makes it pretty clear that we’re back to “The Kobe and Friends Show.” Lamar Odom goes to the hole for an and-1 in the final minutes and can’t get the ball again, despite going 8-11 from the field? No. 24 has to be willing to let the people around him bear some of the responsibility for winning and losing, particularly when they actually want the ball. And as we’ve seen, a number of Lakers have grumbled about not getting their touches — not out of selfishness, but because the offense works when LA uses its vast array of weapons. When it turns into “pass to Kobe” and stand back, the Lakers are predictable, they have no rhythm, the change in morale is obvious, and they’re much easier to beat (see the 2007-08 NBA Finals).

  2. How can any team continue to start and play Fisher. Another 3 for 13 while Terry 30 points and Kidd 14 or for that matter anyone who is on the court with Fisher has a free rein..

    He is so slow he couldn’t even foul a guy at the end of the game.

    He is the worst starting point guard in the NBA yet he actually thinks he can shoot and takes more shots then Gasol and Bynam. 13 shots!

    How can Phil set there and not stop this?

    And for those who complain stop with the Fish bashing. Not as long as he continues to hurt this team and make a mockery of the point guard position.

  3. After watching the game and having some time to soak it all up; I’d have to say that the Lakers were given many chances to run away with this game but just couldn’t TIGHTEN IT UP*.

    The Lakers have the tools they need to beat the Mavs and I don’t even think Mark Cuban himself, would try to deny that. The problem is that this Lakers team was assembled for Phil Jackson and his Coaching style but the players divert away from it slash fail to execute together. This team can’t win a Championship without Kobe yet they don’t play like Champions with him. I’m not panicing. I’m just stating what must happen in the next 6 week or so.

    I believe back in December, Phil Jackson should have been dictating the Triangle in late situations instead of diverting to the P&R. Also, there were problems with passing in the post that would lead me to believe Kwame Brown put a voodoo hex on L.A. I didn’t even bother counting since I’m sure we all watched the same game. Lastly, a play that really stood out to me was when Pau made the conscious decision to run away from a wide open 3pt shooter (when he was the closest one to him, roughly 20ft from the basket) to get the rebound and didn’t even attempt to put a body on Haywood who swollowed up the rebound and got an easy foul. Those were two bad decisions, the second being unexcusable that will get you beat throughout a game. If our bigs don’t go up strong for a rebound (LO needs to show em’ how its done) we won’t win games. If we don’t execute passes well and make sure the ball doesn’t stop moving as soon as it touches Kobe’s, Drew’s, or Pau’s hands we will not win games.

    Yes, Kobe could have bailed us out tonight but maybe since he didn’t the Lakers will look harder at this game to see what went wrong against a possible playoff contender.

  4. Is it too early to be worried about Pau? He had that good couple of games when Kobe was out, but except for that I feel like he hasn’t been in a good rhythm since his second hamstring injury. Is it a matter of him getting his conditioning back, figuring out how to fit with Bynum, both, neither?

  5. I agree entirely with David. The game is no fun to play for the rest of our team when Kobe dominates the ball.

    The beauty of the triangle offense is that it allows every player on the court to make plays and be involved. As David says, this will also cure any defensive ills, as involved players play with intensity and focus on both sides of the ball.

    Just about every member of this team played beautiful, involved basketball while Kobe’s ball-dominating selfishness was off the court. The results were clear and a joy to watch. This is no longer the case.

    Hopefully, Kobe can realize this by watching tapes from the games in Portland and Utah v. the tape from tonight and use his incredible talent within the offense, moving the ball and spreading the playmaking to the rest of our talented team, especially Pau and Lamar.

  6. I completely agree Fisher shouldn’t have taken 13 shots. I think there should be some rules regarding Fisher. No more than 5 shots a game. Never drive to the basket unless no one is around you. Only shoot the ball when you are wide open.

  7. Someone mentioned it in the game thread, but it bears repeating because I’m just flabbergasted. Fish’s 13 shots were more than Lamar, Drew, Pau, or Artest took. All of those players shot more than 50% from the field tonight. That is simply unacceptable. Fish should be one of our LAST options on offense.

  8. A good portion of Fish’s shots were a direct result of Kobe dominating the ball and sending the ball out to Fish late in the shot clock for an assisted three.

    Also, Bynum is really not playing well- we are much better with Pau and Odom on the court

  9. I am all for the analysis that Fish shouldn’t take 13 shots, but how can kobe 23 shots not be mentioned?

  10. The Lakers will not resign Kobe, and they will make a run to Lebron on 2010 free agency…. just kidding.

    Hope Kobe adjust and let his team mates get more involved. It’s time to give to Lebron individual performance, his the best player right now in NBA.

    Kobe should shift his focus on collecting rings and finals MVP.
    A championship at the expense of Lebron and Shaq would be sweeter.

  11. Rhythm. That’s how I’d like to see it. The Lakers play beautiful music when in rhythm, when not, not so.

    Rhythm is the proverbial “flow” of the offense. Its the fluidity in motion. Its the beat of the ball.

    Sad to say, the Lakers this season sounds like an untuned piano. 2 post threats with no 3-pointer never works. You don’t need a Phil Jackson to tell you this.

    When the ball is fed to the post, esp to Mr. Bynum, its never coming out. Nada. No chance it goes back out to seek a better re-post. Either he forces it in ala Kobe forcing a 30-footer or he makes it.

    I’m very sorry to tell you but Bynum has become Zach Randolph from 5 seasons back. All the goods, still has the potential, but not half the brain we’d like him to have.

    Worst of all, he thinks he has the right to pout when he doesn’t get his scoring. Ummm who are you again young man?

  12. I don’t think anyone had a good game aside from Odom. As for the Fisher criticism, I too have been down on him but I think people are way too consummed with statistics. Yes he had 13 shots, but I really don’t remember him taking bad shots. Our rebounding or lack therof was the reason we lost in my opinion. We just could not keep them off the offensive boards. That was so frustrating.

    Gasol – Is it just me or does it seem like he can’t catch a cold out there? Seriously, I don’t know what happened to this guy’s hands but this season he has dropped a lot of passes and fumbled a lot of rebounds which has hurt us. Also, how is it that he cannot get deep post position on Dirk Nowitzki?

    Brown – I’m beginning to think that great game against Golden State was the worst thing to happen to this guy. He is just out of control and way too aggressive out there. Seriously, every time he gets the ball he’s looking to make a play instead of just running the offense and taking what the defense gives us. Last season he was a good spark off the bench, but lately his aggressiveness is hurting our team.

  13. Interesting to see how the Lakers immediately reverted back to form when Kobe touched the ball on the wing. Everyone clears out to the side, waits for Kobe to shoot, then tries to get a rebound from terrible position. I don’t understand it. How come when Lamar or Pau catches the ball on the wing, everyone is moving, Artest is curling into the lane, Fisher or Farmar or Brown are diving into the paint, or the other big is sealing his man underneath. I’d recommend watching really closely the next game whenever Kobe catches the ball on the wing; no one moves, except to clear out the strong side.

    This contributed to Kobe’s poor shooting percentage, our team’s poor shooting percentage, our lack of offensive rebounds, long shots leading to runouts and easy baskets for the Mavs. Everything comes back to the ball going to Kobe and then everything stops moving.

  14. It’s like when Bynum forces shots it leads to Kobe forcing shots to make up the difference, which in turn causes Bynum to force up more shots since he’s thinking “I never get the ball I’d better put it up” – and then when Farmar and SB come off the bench it leads to the same thing. Fish likes to get in the act w/ terrible three’s. And of course Kobe tries to go into bailout mode again and takes bad shots. Meanwhile Tex Winter cries himself to sleep.

  15. A little perspective here folks. This is the second game in two days. Dallas was clearly stoked and ready for this game, and it showed. Kobe is still trying to get back into form.

    That being said, JET is the Laker killer. Farmar played atrocious defense last night. For example, in one sequence, he doubles JET (who already had Shannon guarding him) and left JKidd open for another 3. Time and time again, when matched up with JET, he didn’t run through the screens as well. But honestly, I don’t have any answers to these problems. I don’t think having Kobe chase JET around screens is the best use of his energy. Fish can’t do this for a sustained amount of time. Shannon seemed to have regressed a bit in his defense form. Sad to admit it, but I missed Sasha out there last night.

    As to the offensive end, there were many sequences where our guys dribbled out the ball, and then handed Kobe the rock with 4-5 seconds on the clock. What else is he supposed to do?

    Not a tremendous “statement” game per se. But this Dallas team is for real. The closing lineup (probably Kidd, JET, Caron, Marion, and Dirk) are all veteran professionals. They will be a force to reckon with in the playoffs.

  16. Hmm, Caron misses game due to “reaction to medication” and now NBA wants him to stop chewing straws.. any connections?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/dallas/nba/news/story?id=4945104

  17. 16 Mojo, an entry pass is not the same thing as a dish out pass out of dribble penetration. I’d like Kobe to set up his teammates more after drives rather than just simple entry passes. It makes the game easier because more than one person is playing. Kobe on isolations took the shot too many times rather than pass after creating something.

  18. Fisher taking 13 shots in the game isn’t the problem. I’m more interested in why he did, and why that is higher than either Pau (9), Ron or Andrew (8 each), or Lamar (11). Our two big guys are supposed to be our second and third scoring options, but they get fewer touches than either Fisher (who we all agree shouldn’t shoot as much as he does) and the first guy to come off the bench, Lamar Odom. I’m not saying that Lamar shouldn’t get his shots, on the contrary when he attacks the paint he can be a force of nature and should definitely be allowed to shoot as much as he wants.

    But for a team supposed to run an equal opportunity offense that shares the ball and spreads the floor, the shooting opportunities and the number of shot attempts people get is far from equal.

  19. I found and relished this site years ago because it brought me comfort and joy from knowledgeable basketball (and mostly Laker) fans. These days, not so much with the comfort & joy. Kobe’s the hero, Kobe’s the problem. Lamar is a beast, Lamar is a vanishing act. Fisher is a veteran who can be clutch, Fisher is a posion who can be the end of our dynasty. Farmar is improving, Farmar is a liability. I could go on and on.

    Ever heard the expression “being tossed about with every wind of doctrine?” (It comes from a Biblical scripture in Ephesians 4 that discusses unity, ironically) After every game, it’s like we’re talking about completely different teams and it’s exhausting. This team is very talented and there are clearly other talented teams in the league as well. No one is going to lay down for the Lakers. Everyone is figuring out their issues and has a few months yet to do so. The expectations in Lakerland make no allowances for that, though. 90% of teams would kill for the Lakers’ issues (and the results they have produced despite them). We’ll see what happens in May/June.

  20. Sometimes I wonder does Phil actually ever talk to his players for his $12 million.

    How about “Fish stop shooting”
    Drew ” You are allowed to pass”
    Drew “You are allowed to rebound”
    Drew ” Move your feet on defense”
    Fish-Farmer “Anyone guarding Terry?”

    This is called coaching isen’t it?

    I know its just one game and I figured they would lose but these are year long trends. If you take the top 3 teams from each league you find the Lakers playing .500 basketball aganist them.

    Maybe Phil is saving his coaching for the playoffs?

  21. I really want to avoid falling into the blame camps. And there are a few of them. Here’s a sample:

    The “Kobe is hogging the ball too much why can’t he be more like LeBron” camp.

    The “Bynum is shooting too much why can’t he be more like a young Ben Wallace crossed with Moses Malone” camp.

    The “Fisher is the worst player in the history of the NBA why can’t Brian Shaw suit up instead” camp.

    The “Sahsa is the only player worse than Fisher why can’t he just come up missing” camp.

    And of course, how can we forget the “Phil Jackson is old and is no longer an effective coach, when is this guy going to retire” camp.

    Being serious now, the Lakers have some real issues. As Darius alluded to, with 58 games played this team still just seems off. They looked their best with Bynum and Bryant out. The offense was crisp. The defense was consistent and they got some quality W’s and nearly took down a full strength (if they can be called that) Celtics team.

    Granted those five games were a small sample size. But Gasol and Odom look better without Kobe and Andrew on the floor. The other guys respond better to Pau and Lamar than they do to Kobe or Drew. And I am sure it is the unselfish nature of Pau and LO that makes playing with both of them on the floor at the same time a real treat.

    Is it me, or did the offense not look this bad in the first half of last season? This was before Drew went down. He and Pau have played well together before. Remember the beginning of last season saw Kobe with a very limited role for the first 20 games. Everything ran through Pau. Guys were moving (even Bynum) and the Lakers offense flowed like water.

    Maybe it does come back down to outside shooting. I’m just not so sure its that simple

  22. Realistically they were in the taking in to consideration: It was back to back, Kobe is still 80-85%, they shot awful from 3, yet they were basically 1 basket away from changing the major outcome of the game. If Kobe hits that 3 we have a tie game. Even if Gasol reels in that offensive board we’re still looking at a different out come. If they game was that close in Dallas and the Mavs played well and Lakers played bad, I’ll take LA in a seven game series every time.

  23. @Jane
    Well said. There’s a reason I’m not as active here as I used to be. And just to be clear, it’s not something that the the owner or moderators of the blog should be blamed for or for that matter be expected to fix. It’s a natural consequence of the site getting much more attention and drawing a much larger crowd.

    Unfortunately, it means that we get more of the types of fans that I avoid like the plague in real life: The ones who have a 5 second attention span, have a panic attack over any little thing that goes wrong, and immediately become convinced the best coach and players in the NBA today are incompetent morons who don’t care about winning a single game, if they don’t see a blowout every night. The Chicken Littles who don’t provide any of the intelligent and knowledgable analysis that first attracted me to this site. I’m here as much to learn about basketball as I am here to

    I know it’s an inevitable change, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. :)

  24. Mimsy, You are the (WO)MAN.

  25. I don’t think of myself as a chicken little. I think I’m seeing the same as what David sees. As much as it hurts to say it, I enjoyed the loss to Boston more then I did the win in Memphis. I prefer to see the team work hard, play tough, execute on both sides of the court and let the results be what they will be (hopefully talent will win out at the end) then watch forced shots, a lack of flow, sporadic focus (missed ft’s and dropped passes) and Kobe heroics.

    This season has been consistent in two things. The Lakers (Kobe really) make big games out of small ones with the game winners, and a lack of focus in statement games. In two games against Boston the Lakers brought it and went .500. Against the rest of the top teams (Denver, Dallas, Cleveland) bad focus led to donuts in the win column. I enjoyed the way the Lakers played with Kobe out better then with him in.

    It’s a bloody paradox that with the hardest working player in, the team itself seems more satisfied and less respectful of the game and it’s fans. I don’t think it’s a conscious thing, and I love our players. It’s just a strange chemical makeup of the Lakers molecule. Now, if this gets fixed by the playoffs then great.