Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers/Pacers Reactions

Phillip Barnett —  March 3, 2010

There isn’t much I can say about last night’s game that Darius didn’t touch on. The Lakers struggled early, but a 26-6 run in the third led to the 122-99 route of the Indiana Pacers. Kobe still had an off shooting night (five for 14), but got to the line frequently (14 of 15). Jordan Farmar had a huge night, scoring 19 on 10 shots, Fisher hit a few three pointers, Shannon Brown had an impressive overall night, the bigs played huge and Ron Artest looked like he’s playing some of the best basketball he’s played in recent years. After holding Danny Granger to only nine points, he has now held the last seven players he was matched up against under their season average:

Opponent, Player, Points vs Artest, Season Average
Indiana, Danny Granger, 9, 22.7
Denver, Carmelo Anthony, 21, 29.1
Philly, Andre Iguodala, 13, 17.3
Dallas, Shawn Marion, 10, 11.4
Memphis, Rudy Gay, 17, 20.0
Boston, Paul Pierce, 11, 17.9
G.S., Corey Maggette, 17, 20.3

Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register wrote this column on Artest’s improved defense since the All-Star Break:

The old Artest is who he expects to be come playoff time, when he plans to be down to 250 pounds. Yet in another sense, Artest wants to give the Lakers a new Artest.

He noticed so many other top clubs bringing in new talent at the trade deadline.

“So I figured everybody was trying to gear up for the Lakers, maybe,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I could be kind of like a whole new person after the trades.”

Indeed, Artest has systematically denied everyone he has faced since the Feb. 18 trade deadline, capped by astounding efforts against Denver’s Carmelo Anthony and Granger – both All-Stars last year. Anthony and Granger combined to shoot 11 for 28 (39 percent) from the field with 12 turnovers in the two Lakers victories, with Phil Jackson noting after both games how he has mostly indulged Artest’s insistence on not receiving double-team assistance on his side of the defense.

Outside of Artest’s continuing motivated play on the defensive end of the floor, the most inspiring part of last nights victory was the fact that nearly the entire fourth quarter reserved for the Taco Unit, giving the starters much needed rest heading into a three-game road trip beginning in Miami on Thursday. For much of the early part of the season, the Lakers reserves had troubles holding leads, if they can continue to pour it on with the starters on the bench, the Lakers title hopes will be much brighter. The K-Bros of Land O’ Lakers talk the Bench Mob:

STRONG SECOND UNIT

While the Lakers’ third quarter officially blew the doors off this outing, it’s important not to overlook the foundation set during the second quarter. Down by one as the frame opened, Phil Jackson opted for a lineup of Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and –after giving him a once-over with a feather duster– Adam Morrison. It was the most “second unit” second unit we’ve seen in a while this early in a game, with just one starter on hand and concerns brewing a cruddy team might actually put the Lakers in a hole.

Those worries took little more than four minutes to eliminate.

During that time, the Bench Mob went on a 14-6 run and created a lead never surrendered again. More impressively, every player scored at least one bucket except LO, who was content to set up three of the seven scores. The highlight was a driving reverse layup from Farmar, who shaded off defenders with his body and while using his southpaw to unite ball and cord. A very sweet move that got a few television and jumbotron replays.

It was also nice seeing Morrison contribute during his first meaningful minutes in many a moon. After his lob entry set up Andrew Bynum (eventually inserted to give Gasol a breather) on a reverse layup, the excitement was evident as he pumped fist while getting back on defense. There were low points as well –three turnovers along with four points and two assists– but all in all, he and PJ were pleased. As were the fans, who clearly enjoyed seeing the little-used reverse carve out a productive stint.

I enjoyed Mark Heisler’s column on last night’s game, where he wrote, “McRoberts, the third-year reserve with his second team, scored nine points in the first quarter. Of course, he had one advantage: He was trying really hard.” Also, Dexter Fishmore of Silver Screen and Roll had a hilarious recap of last night’s game where he said, “With Granger MIA the Pacers had to find scoring elsewhere, and of course they didn’t because they’re horrible.” Post game interviews can be found in the Land O’ Lakers link mentioned earlier. Also, Mike Bresnahan has a few quips on the Lakers not looking to add to their roster, Ron Artest being voted the second dirtiest player and some notes on the Phil Jackson/George Karl rivalry.

-Phillip

Phillip Barnett

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19 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers/Pacers Reactions

  1. The Bench Mob is back?!?

    Okay, maybe we shouldn’t celebrate too early. But one of my main concerns this season has been our second unit’s inability to score, and more importantly, protect a lead while the starters are resting. If they can’t do that, the playoffs are going to be excruciating for our starters. We need the Bench Mob finally can make a come-back and return to their former glory, not just against the Pacers, but against every other team’s second unit as well.

  2. This Kobe guy is shooting horrendously. I say we trade him.

  3. Still concerned about Kobe heading into the stretch run. Shot not falling & his legs have been looking heavy ever since he came back from injury (except 4 the Memphis game, which was his 1st game back). Really picked up on it during the Nuggets game, in which he had iso’s on 3 seperate occassions (twice against K-Mart & once against Birdman) but couldn’t get seperation & settled 4 long jumpers. Now maybe it’s due 2 the fact that the ankle is still tender or because his ball handling has been affected because if the finger injury, but on the norm, Kobe would’ve easily broke down these 2 individuals off the dribble & either gotten 2 the hole or created an easier shot 4 himself. We all know Phil has been playing him too many mins & even though he’s only 31, Kobe has alot of mileage on those legs. That’s why, in my opinion, it’s imperative that Phil employs Sasha into the rotation once he returns next week from the shoulder injury. He’s a young player with fresh legs (considering that he’s barely played all year), he’s a legit 6’6/6’7 & a pretty good/pesky defender. In the sparse playing time that he’s had this year, he’s kept his emotions in check and has been more under control (signs of maturity). 4 all the criticism that he receives (especially on this site) regarding his inconsistent shooting, it’s hard 2 get in any type of shootin’ rythm when you’re not playing on a consistent basis (if at all). ASK ANY SHOOTER. Guaranteed, given consistent playing time (especially on the floor with Pau & Kobe), he’ll start hitting those jumpers that he’s been known for.

    Important 3 game stretch, startin’ 2morrow, against 3 teams (Heat, Bobcats & Magic) that play us tough. Especially on their home court. This month (11 of 15 on the road) will show what we’re made of. I have the utmost confidence that we’ll storm through it.

    LAKER 4 LIFE. GO HARD OR GO HOME. LETS GET IT.

  4. I’m curious, in terms of improving his shooting, just how does Sasha get “consistent playing time.. especially on the floor with Pau & Kobe” if he’s also to get a significant portion of Kobe’s minutes?

  5. Anybody out there think Artest can play solid D against Lebron? He seemed to be unable to do it in the two games they played. How has Artest defended Lebron while he was in Sacramento and Houston?

  6. #5
    Based on how Ron played against Carmelo Anthony I’d say there is a very good chance he’ll play much better against Lebron now than he did earlier this season. Last time we played the Cavs Ron has serious foot problems, he was heavier than he is now, and he had a bad shoulder and a couple other minor injuries. If he’s healthy now, he’s going to be an entirely different defender.

    I’m very much looking forward to see what he can do. I don’t expect a lock-down, after all, it’s Lebron, but I do expect results. :)

  7. Artest was heavier earlier in the year – and he has plantar fasciitis. The weight makes the problem worse, a key reason for his losing as much weight as he can.

    He was guarding Lebron at this heavier weight. Also, he was adjusting both to our system and what this team specifically needs from him.

  8. tsuwm,
    Without speaking for Tra, the way that Sasha gets minutes with Kobe and Pau is if he plays for Shannon (or less likely, gets minutes at PG) with Kobe sliding to SF. This was the closing lineup used in the Lakers ’08 run to the Finals and Sasha excelled playing next to players that created shots for him rather than having him be a player that had to create for himself. To be fully effective, I think Sasha needs to be paired with a perimeter player and a post player that can get him shots. Ideally, the line up that Sasha would get minutes with would include either Bynum or Gasol, and either Odom or Kobe (if not both; both would really be better). This would give Sasha a post up big and a “wing” player (Odom operates a ton from the wing in our sets) that is a creator with the ball in his hands.

  9. I fully expect Ron to do better should he meet up with LeBron down the line. He is clearly taking is activity level up a notch. Still, we are talking about LeBron James. It is humanly impossible to shut that man down. But Ron can do enough to keep him from destroying the Lakers.

    That alone would be a huge contribution.

  10. Regarding Kobe’s legs, don’t forget that breakaway dunk that he was fouled on–he got up like you rarely see him get up anymore, it was actually a shame that he didn’t get a chance to convert it, the crowd might have noticed there was a basketball game on and made some noise.

    I think more than anything his poor shooting is due to the layoff and remembering how to shoot with the broken finger that’s continuing to heal. Once he and Vitti figure out the right splint/covering for its current condition and he adjusts his grip to compensate again, he’ll go drop 40 (or 50) on someone.

    However, since he’s shooting poorly, he’s more inclined to pass, which 1) makes the offense move more smoothly when everyone’s getting (and making) shots, 2) increases role players’ confidence in their shooting (and Kobe’s confidence that they’ll convert if he passes), and 3) will make him that much nastier of a decoy in the playoffs while teams are watching these games’ tapes for ways to defend him. Given that he can switch from Shooter Kobe to Facilitator Kobe every trip down the floor, it will make this team even more impossible to defend.

  11. It will be curious to see how Artest does against LeBron if they happen to meet up in the finals. The key would be for him to keep him off the free throw line which is tough considering LeBron gets a lot of calls even when he’s initiating the contact.

    I’ve been commenting on this site about my fear of Kobe’s poor shooting. He has to find his shooting touch in order for the Lakers to go far into the playoffs. Everyone on this site seems to not think it’s a big deal. I’m not as confident as everyone else that he will all of a sudden just come out of this slump and play consistently for the rest of the season/playoffs.

    As for the bench mob, I’m not gonna put that much stock in outplaying the Indiana Pacers. Although Shannon Brown finally played under control last night, we still have problems with our bench.

  12. OT:

    Here is a great article by Wilt Chamberlain summarizing his career. It was written back in 1974.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1089076/1/index.htm

    Wilt’s impact on the game of basketball will never be matched.

  13. Most of my thoughts have already been voiced here.

    Not sure how much to believe in the Bench Mob given this was the Pacers. I am hopeful that Farmar might work out though. His (lack of) D still scares me a bit.

    Agree completely with Darius about Sasha needing time with starters (LO is basically a starter) so he can be a spot up shooter. I continue to feel he is a better fit for what the Lakers need than Brown, though Brown is the better athlete by far.

    Can’t say enough about Artest. But covering LeBron? He may do better, but how much? LeBron is just so athletic; you can’t compare him to anyone else. Also, since LeBron has “favored nation” status with the refs, I suspect Artest will battle foul trouble if and when they meet next.

  14. For a long time I knew Ron Artest reminded me of somebody, and I finally realized who it was: The Japanese movie actor Tatsuya Nakadai. Now for those of you who are not hitting themselves on the forehead and saying “Of course! Tatsuya Nakadai!”, let me explain that if Toshiro Mifune is the John Wayne of classic samurai movies, Nakadai is the Gary Cooper or Henry Fonda. His movies include Harakiri, The Sword of Doom, Goyokin, Samurai Rebellion, The Human Condition and Kagemusha. I couldn’t find an image on the web that gets the resemblance exactly (it’s in the eyes and the cheekbones), but this comes pretty close:

    http://tinyurl.com/yg57u9p

    So anyway, if anyone is looking for a more flattering nickname for Artest than Crazy Pills, I propose The Samurai.

  15. Maybe Wilts number should be retired by all teams also. Same for Magic, Bird, Dr. J. Etc. Then Lebron’s number too.

  16. Henry Abbots backhanded compliment to Ron Artest

    Last night, Ron Artest played amazing defense on Danny Granger, and kept him from scoring much at all. Granger is donating money to St. Jude for every point he scores. So Ron, I assume St. Jude can be expecting the check? (Or at least next time you’re in your underwear on late night TV, consider some fashionable St. Jude boxer shorts.)

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/13941/seven-things-you-didnt-know-about-st-jude

  17. New post is up. Fast break thoughts on random happenings around the league.

    http://bit.ly/bW9Bay

  18. T. Rogers,
    That was a great article. I never read SI when Wilt retired so this is the first time I have had the chance. Thank you!

    Wilt was bigger in real life like Ali was bigger in real life. People today don’t understand what it was like in the 60’s and 70’s – how these two towering sports figures really polarized our nation. They were larger than their sports. Michael had lots more charm, but his was a fame driven as much by marketing as by talent. These two took on the establishment and came out standing – something not many people can say they did.

    I loved Wilt’s comment that the Lakers had to win it all or they were considered a failure – one of the pressures he wanted no part of. It’s something we fans ought to think about as we constantly criticize our club.

    Another comment about his being called selfish for shooting so much and being asked to hand the ball off to lesser talented players. Sound familiar folks???

    Of course the fact that Wilt pulled down more rebounds than Russell has also, conveniently, been lost in the shuffle.

    Basketball is still a team game and no one individual, no matter how talented, can get to the top by himself.

  19. #14,
    Ron-in? :p

    Speaking of Kobe shooting, SS&R has this piece up:
    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2010/3/3/1334722/not-that-we-should-be-worried-or