Around the World (Wide Web): More Bynum and Less Farmar, Brown

Phillip Barnett —  March 17, 2010

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers

Last night, the Lakers closed out their second three-game road trip of the month with as many wins, defeating Sacramento 106-99. This three-game trip featured three of the top six fastest playing teams, and outside of their Monday night game against Golden State, the Lakers did a fairly good job controlling the pace and limiting scoring. And now, after their first three-game losing streak during Pau Gasol’s tenure, the Lakers are now on a four game winning streak, and the ONLY constant during this winning streak has been Andrew Bynum. During these past four games, Bynum has been averaging a quiet 20 points, 10.25 rebounds, 2 blocks, shooting 63.3% from the field and getting to the line 5.75 times per contest. For me, it’s not surprising that he’s putting up these kind of numbers, because he’s had some absolutely great stretches of play before, but he’s been working harder these last few games than I’ve ever seen from him. He’s finally recognizing that, if his teammates aren’t going to feed him the ball when he wants it, he’s going to have to find other ways to be affective on the court. Last night he grabbed five offensive rebounds, three of which led to dunks for him.

From Lake Show Life:

On Tuesday night in Sacramento, Bynum was the beast.

Early in the contest the Lakers pounded the rock inside forcing the Kings to contend with the Altered Beast in his natural habitat – 5 feet from the hoop.

On both ends of the court, Altered Beast Mode was in full effect.

Bynum controlled the boards, defended the hoop and abused any mere mortal in a Kings jersey.

It wasn’t until early in the third quarter that Bynum finally scored on something other than a dunk. His free throw line extended jumper was good for the Beast’s 19th point of the game. Soon after the beast reverted back to man as he stepped aside allowing Pau to put the finishing touches on a 28 and 12 night.

From Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register:

Bynum was a late bloomer and didn’t go through the usual rigors of the amateur circuit as a prep phenom who – even when beaten up or worn down – had to produce for his team to win. He is still learning a lot of basic things, including playing hard at both ends even when you don’t feel that great.

That, coincidentally, was the gist of Fisher’s speech to the team. Pau Gasol summarized Fisher’s words this way: “Let’s just play hard. Let’s give our very best. And that’s how things are going to turn around for us. That’s how we’re going to get our confidence back.”

For Lakers veterans, it was a reminder. For Bynum, it was a revelation.

“I’ve just kind of made a commitment to playing hard on defense, and consequently you get involved in the game,” he said. “I like it a lot. It’s very fun for me, and I’m going to keep it up.”

To paraphrase Bryant’s positive spin about the Lakers being hard to beat if they give the effort they gave in defeat in Orlando: If Bynum plays with this kind of bounce, it’s going to be hard for a team to beat the Lakers four times in a series.

I think last night also showed the value of the same Derek Fisher we’ve all been chastising all season. It’s painfully clear that Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown just don’t get it yet. Farmar and Brown may be more athletic, quicker, shoot better and are younger, they aren’t better for the Lakers than Fish is. During the first six minutes of the second quarter, while Farmar and Brown were on the floor, they were able to collectively amass no points, no rebounds, no assists, one turnover, one illegal defensive call, one foul while allowing Tyreke Evans to run ramped. During those six minutes, Sacramento scored 20 whopping points.

Just check out this second quarter time line from the LA Times Lakers Blog, a post on the Lakers poor bench play from last night:

2nd quarter, 11:19 – 11:09

After receiving a pass from Lakers backup guard Shannon Brown, reserve guard Jordan Farmar immediately launched a contested 26-foot three-pointer over Kings guard Tyreke Evans. After Sacramento forward Jason Thompson grabbed the rebound, Evans ran the break and drove to the rack. He missed the left-handed layup, but Thompson tipped the ball in, reducing the Lakers’ lead to 30-19.

2nd quarter, 10:44 – 10:30

Odom grabbed the rebound off Thompson’s missed 17-footer and pushed the ball up the floor to Brown. On the far end behind the perimeter, Brown dribbled between his legs and then drove left past Kings guard Francisco Garcia. Though Sacramento forward Andres Nocioni and Thompson moved from the weak side to help, Brown went through traffic for an over-the-shoulder layup. The shot hit off the backboard, Nocioni grabbed the board and pushed the ball to Evans. He drove to the rack and drew a foul on Odom, who also was given a technical for arguing the call. Evans converted on all three free throws, reducing the Lakers’ lead to 30-22.

2nd quarter, 10:30 – 10:10

After Evans made the foul shots, Brown manned the point. Drawing pressure from both Garcia and Evans, Brown dribbled behind his back near the timeline before Evans swiped the ball. Brown grabbed the loose ball on the far end of the court after Odom batted it away from Garcia. He then drove to the basket and forced a left-handed layup, despite there being three Kings players in the paint. After Thompson blocked the shot, Evans grabbed the ball and passed to Kings forward Omri Caspi on the other end. He finished the play with a one-handed slam, cutting the Lakers’ lead to 30-24 and capping off Sacramento’s 7-0 run.

When Derek Fisher entered the game for Shannon Brown (Farmar left the game 30 seconds earlier), the pace of the game immediately slowed down, he hit an 18-footer and had a pretty dime to Bynum. More importantly, Sacramento scored only 11 points the rest of the way. Yes, Fish played with more of the starters, but he also plays with more control than Farmar or Brown can at this point. The thing is, with the way the Lakers roster is built, the starting unit has at least two mismatches at all times, four guys who can operate on the post, and have the size to play a very slow game. Neither Farmar or Brown allow the Lakers to take advantage of those mismatches, and play too fast and out of control for the post game to be effective.

Reactions from the Lakers/Kings game

- From the Los Angeles Times Lakers Blog: The Lakers walked out of Arco Arena Tuesday with a 106-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings, marking the team’s third consecutive road win after going through a frustrating four road-game losing streak. But more importantly, the Lakers likely left most fans feeling better than when they squeaked out a three-point victory Monday over the Golden State Warriors. That performance prompt valid questions on whether the Lakers would ever consistently develop enough before the playoffs begin. The Lakers didn’t quite answer that question either against the Kings. After all, the Lakers shot 18 of 28 from the free throw line, including Kobe Bryant’s eight of 14 clip from the stripe. Sacramento (23-45) ranks nowhere near among the Western Conference elite. And of course, this is just one game. The Lakers had shown positive signs before, what with their physical presence against Denver, their team balance against Indiana and their improved effort against Phoenix and Orlando. But all of those games were wedged between poor games, which featured both wins (Philadelphia, Toronto, Golden State) and losses (Miami, Charlotte,).

- From The Lakers Nation: In all, the Lakers had only nine turnovers, with Kobe Bryant collecting the most with just three, a third of what he collected last night. Instead of throwing the ball around carelessly against one of the youngest and most energetic teams in the league, the Lakers threw crisp passes to each other, handing out 23 assists on 42 made field goals, a few on very impressive lobs. Pau Gasol had one of his most efficient games in a long while, with 28 points on 12-14 from the field, and it seems the spring in his step has resurfaced. This was apparent on one fast break sequence that implored a running Pau to send a no-look pass to a sprinting Shannon Brown, who finished with an emphatic one-handed dunk that sent the crowd, Lakers and Kings fans alike, into a frenzy. Kobe Bryant led all scores with 30 points, collected nine rebounds and handed out seven assists. He shot 10-26, which is just under 40%, but he appeared lighter on his feet than in recent games, he’s more active on defense and his greatest contribution of all? Directing the offense before him. If there were stats kept on the assists before the assists, Kobe would probably be one of the leaders.

- From Lakers Edge: Despite a few lean years since they were contenders, the Sacramento Kings still put up a fight before succumbing to the Los Angeles Lakers 106-99 at Arco Arena. Long gone are the Doug Christie/Rick Fox confrontations, the Mike Bibby/Chris Webber/Peja Stojakovich-led offensive might, yet the fervor and the hatred for the Lakers remain. An amused Phil Jackson seemed more enthralled with the raucous Laker fans in attendance than with the squad the Kings had assembled on the floor. One must admit, they were an anonymous group, even for the dreaded Queens. It’s hard to hate someone when you don’t even recognize them. Sure, the uniforms are the same, the noise and volume are insane, but you almost feel sorry for the franchise that came within a Robert Horry three-pointer of reaching the NBA Finals. As the Kings prepare for the lottery and the Lakers try to retool themselves for a deep run into the post season, the contest was still spirited and chippy. Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 30 points and added 9 rebounds to go along with 7 assists.

- From Lakers of Fire: The topic of Kobe shooting too much has been a lively debate pretty much all season long in Laker Land, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I saw the most interesting statistic about the Mamba’s itchy trigger finger: Some background for your next heated Lakers argument: They’re 3-5 when Kobe takes 30 shots or more, 25-9 when he takes 20 to 29 shots and 20-4 when he takes fewer than 20, including the five games Kobe missed. Those appear to be some pretty hard figures to argue against, but I wasn’t voted Most Argumentative in high school (totally true, by the way) for nothing, so kindly allow me the opportunity to make a rebuttal. Let’s start with the most glaring issue, the 3-5 record when Kobe takes 30+ shots.  Even I am willing to admit that 30 shots is quite a lot and runs a great risk of ruining the offensive flow for the Lakers, but was that really the case in those eight games and did it cause the five aforementioned losses?  In the three wins, Kobe shot a lot, but he was also highly accurate, shooting 50% or higher from the field.  Conversely, in the five losses, he shot 40% or lower.  Not a good start.  But the real killer wasn’t just Kobe’s bad shooting, it was the toll it took on the Laker offense.  Only twice in those eight games did they have an Offensive Efficiency rating higher than 106, their rating for the season.  And only one of those games was a Laker win, which seems to suggest that they did so more in spite of Kobe’s voluminous shot attempts.

- From the Los Angeles Daily News: The Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets have loomed large in the Lakers’ rearview mirror recently. The Mavericks and Nuggets each trailed the Lakers by four games in the Western Conference going into Tuesday’s play. It remains to be seen whether the Lakers finish atop the West for the third consecutive season. No question, it should be their top priority judging by what Lakers coach Phil Jackson had to say. Jackson actually couldn’t say for certain how the Lakers might fare in the playoffs if they fail to hold on to the No. 1 spot in the West and secure homecourt advantage for at least the first three rounds of the postseason.” I don’t know,” he said. “I really don’t. We haven’t played great on the road this year. The last two years we had really good road records. We want to have home-court advantage. We feel we can sustain it if we can continue on the pace we’re going. “We look over at the other conference and see who’s two and three. Orlando is sitting a couple of games behind us (actually, 2 1/2 games). Those are all important things when your goal is to win a championship and to repeat.”

(Update: NBA Playbook takes an in-depth look at Ron Artest guarding Tyreke Evans. Go check it out, Sebastian Pruiti does an absolutely phenomenal job at breaking these things down.)

The Lakers don’t play again until Friday when they’ll be home to Minnesota. They’ll have one more home game on Sunday after their Timberwolves game before going on their third three-game road trip this month.

-Phillip

Phillip Barnett

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20 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): More Bynum and Less Farmar, Brown

  1. *Shannon. There was a play last night that he scored after reading the defense, cutting to the basket, the receiving a nice pass from Pau.

    Offensively, plays like that is what earned Shannon the minutes. If he can just stay along that path, the bench would be much better. He was never a good passer or ball handler, and most likely never will be, but that could be less noticeable if he stays within his lane.

    *I wonder just how big of a target does Pau or Drew have to be in order for Shannon to make the pass inside? There were a few times when they were open – they sealed their defender off and the pass should have been made to them, but Shannon can’t pull the trigger. One play Pau kind of threw his hand up like, “Hello, right here!”

    *Both Farmar and Shannon have been playing like 2 guys trying too hard to pad stats trying to impress for their next contract. It’s hurting them and the team. Everyone would be better off if they both settled down. What team wants consistent gunners, who defend poorly, and don’t bother to stay within their role on a team? Especially when they are on a Championship team already. It shows a sense of selfishness and lack of focus.

    *Sasha deserves more of both their minutes.

    *Most of Kobe’s shots were good looks at the basket. I don’t like it when people write things complaining about Kobe’s shot attempt numbers, without taking into context the type of shots he was taking. Kobe missed some easy ones, but the pressure he put on the defense is worth noting. No one on the Kings could guard him.

    *When the Lakers went up 102-92, they scored when Kobe was doubled, drew the defenders out a little while evading them, swung the ball to Fish, who passed to a wide open Pau. Who scored on an uncontested 10-12 ft. jumper. That play is something the Lakers haven’t been as good at as they were in the past. If they can continue to improve on that, namely Kobe passing out of doubles and Pau finishing, opponents are going to have a big problems if they continue to try to double Kobe. Like Denver in last season’sco WCF’s.

    *Darius noted on Twitter the drag screen Pau scored on, from a Kobe pass. That was nice to see too.

  2. I wanted to bring this over from the last thread…

    Serious question: aside from forcing a bad pass, why can’t Phil just make it mandatory that the ball must go inside every possession? Even if the big kicks it back out right after. And if they can’t make the entry pass without turning it over, swing it around the perimeter to the other big on the other block?

  3. #2. SB,
    I think the coaches can (and do) make this a point of emphasis. But, as I mentioned in the game wrap, this is a read and react offense and every time down the court the players should be taking notes of what the defense is giving them and exploit it through the built in options of the offense. Now, I’m right with you that going inside is not done nearly enough, but there will be times where the post entry is not available and the ball needs to go somewhere else. In those instances, I’m happy to see other options in the offense explored, I just want to see them executed better. I want to see better timing on the FT line flash from the pressure release player, I want to see more fake handoffs combined with inside pivot moves where the man with the ball attacks (Shaq and Rick Fox used to do this masterfully). So, yes, I want to see more post entries, but I don’t want the players making up their minds too early about what they’re going to do on offense. The Triangle should work in a way where the defense can “dicatate” what the offense does with the offense still having options to score based off the movement of the players within our sets.

  4. Brought over from my in game comment:
    The Lakers constantly run the play where Kobe/Artest throw a pass into Pau/LO and then Kobe/Artest cut and then post really close to the basket behind Pau/LO’s high post. What if they flip positions since Pau/LO are talented passers and could start off on the wing?wouldn’t it be more affective if they were the ones that would end up with the ball under the basket? Thoughts…?

    In Addition:
    I can’t believe this team hasn’t been utilized to its full potential. IMO, I think that injury, a weak bench, and a new starter have a lot to do with this. Although, I just feel like it doesn’t add up to this veteran team being sloppy, really bad at shooting, and stagnant on both ends of the floor (especially against good teams.)

  5. Darius,
    We both know the main reason the ball doesn’t go into the post as often as it should is because the Lakers perimeter players have egos and want to create the offense themselves. How often are they looking at Gasol or Bynum wide open under the basket with an easy passing angle and just ignore them?I think its also boring to just dump it into the post… its almost too easy for them. When playoff time comes around and all they care about is winning and not having fun we will see the ball in the paint much more often.

    Jeremy,
    Great idea. But the reason they don’t switch them is because than a smaller player like Artest could easily get doubled by the bigger PF or C that is guarding Gasol or Bynum. The play works already as Artest scores almost every time they give him the ball under the basket on the double post up. Plus its harder to make the entry pass when Gasol’s outside shot form 22 ft isn’t respected.

  6. This post has been updated with a link from NBA Playbook taking a look at how Artest guarded ‘Reke. Make sure you check that out. Great stuff.

  7. thisisweaksauce March 17, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Jeremy (4),

    Whoa whoa, what’s with all the negativity? We won last night. The offense did well (offensive efficiency noticably higher than season average), and Bynum is going through a stretch where he’s playing not only well, but hard, offensively and defensively. Remember last year during those stretches where he played very well? We looked unbeatable. I know those times when he was awesome came right before injury, but this year, he’s doing it at the best time: right before the playoffs. We have one of the best (if not the best) defense in the NBA. Gentlemen (and ladies), I believe we are beginning to round into playoff form.

  8. Joey Jo-Jo Shabadoo March 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Off topic, but is anybody wearing green today? I’m like Sasha. I just… can’t wear green.

  9. I don’t really get the perspective that Derek Fisher playing with the starters implies that his numbers are inflated. We have a 9-man rotation: Fisher, Kobe, Artest, Gasol, Bynum, then Odom, Farmar, and Brown off the bench, with some spot minutes from Sasha (that should probably be increased). Although Ammo did get some ill-advised playing time yesterday, I find it hard to find long stretches where at least 2 starters aren’t on the floor. And I don’t think any of us consider Odom to be a bench player, since he’s so effective when paired with one of Gasol or Bynum. So really, Farmar and Brown are the only bench players that see consistent minutes.

    If you look at our top 5, 5-man units, we have

    1.) Fisher-Bryant-Artest-Gasol-Bynum 597.7 +116
    2.) Fisher-Bryant-Artest-Odom-Bynum 388.9 +50
    3.) Fisher-Bryant-Artest-Odom-Gasol 236.6 +31
    4.) Farmar-Brown-Bryant-Odom-Gasol 141.4 +35
    5.) Farmar-Brown-Bryant-Odom-Bynum 126.7 -25

    And the next lineup with the most minutes that doesn’t include one of the aforementioned 8 players is our 15th most popular 5 man unit.

    15.) Fisher-Bryant-Artest-Odom-Mbenga 30.5 +9

    Point is, Farmar and Brown are getting the majority of their minutes with Kobe, Odom, and one of Bynum/Gasol on the floor. So the argument that Farmar and Brown perform worse because they have to play with the bench is vacuous. The only real “bench player” that they play with is each other. So I think the question we should be asking isn’t “should Derek Fisher start?” Instead, we should be asking “why do Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown play so poorly together?”

  10. Ball Don’t Lie has a great recap of the Lakers-Kings…

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Behind-the-Box-Score-where-LeBron-is-exasperati?urn=nba,228518#remaining-content

    From Dwyer:
    “These Lakers want me to hate them.

    Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum had complete and utter mismatches every time down court, they were playing well together and finishing expertly all game, and yet this does nothing to tame Kobe Bryant (10-26 shooting) and Derek Fisher (2-7 shooting)’s triggers.

    …watch as two of this league’s most talented (if not this league’s most talented) 7-footers go to work. 29 other teams would kill for just one of these two, and the Lakers boast both. How can they continue to ignore them?

    Oh, I know. One makes mistakes, and one’s soft.

    Guess what? Inconsistent and soft still score, board, pass, and block shots for you.”

  11. Zephid,

    “Instead, we should be asking ‘why do Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown play so poorly together?’ ”

    Because there’s only one basketball.

  12. Joey Jo-Jo — I appreciated your comment. I’ve never worn green, on St. Patrick’s Day or ever, because I hate the Celtics so much. And I’m Irish, no less. Glad to hear other Laker fans share that outlook.

    As for the winning streak, the one question no one has been able to answer all season is what the players will do when the games really, really start to matter.

    These guys have played as far into the playoffs as is possible the past two seasons. They know what matters and what’s less important, and no one but the Lakers themselves has any insight into their mental and physical approach to a very long season.

    As fans we’d love to see them give 100 percent event night. But they’re men, and men get tired or find it hard to be motivated against a crap team in November or January. It’s human nature.

    Now’s the time when they can no longer afford to have that relaxed outlook. If they continue to build on this streak – not always wins, but playing well — it’s a good sign that things are coming together at the right time. They know what has to be done; let’s see them go out and do it.

    Oh, and where did all of the “Trade Bynum” crowd go?

  13. thisisweaksauce March 17, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Chris (11),

    Seriously. All the talk about trading Bynum was unbelievable. When he’s going… oh man. If he keeps this up in the playoffs and helps us repeat, we shouldn’t hear anything like that again. Who would trade the possible future of the franchise?

  14. thisisweaksauce — Apparently, a lot of people, based on what’s been written here over and over again.

    I get that AB has faults, but he’s 22 and the play level is already more than solid, with tons of upside.

    If he played on another team, he’d already be a 22-10 guy easily. The Lakers don’t need him to do that now, but someday they wll. Maybe sooner than any of us would prefer — Kobe won’t be here forever.

  15. It’s very clear to me that ShanWow should not be the ballhandler or a decision maker. He needs to play more like how Ariza used to play. Defend, shoot 3s, and make hard cuts. He just doesn’t have the handles or passes well to be the initiator in this offense, or even the post feeder.

    Farmar does a better job as the ballhandler, but he over dribbles way too much. Both of these guys have different agenda as they are fighting for the next contract. An average starting PG in the league makes anywhere from 5-8 million a year. A back up makes about 2-4. Both Farmar and Brown are looking for that lucrative second contract of their career. This is the time when they need to make big bucks. They know that the only way to do it is to show that they have the ability to start. Unlike Ariza who excelled by playing his role very well, these guys are really hurting their chances of getting that fat contract by playing out of their roles.

    I wish Farmar would realize that he can get a “good” contract from the Lakers (in the 3-4 million range) if he just plays within the system. There’s no way anyone’s going to pay him 5 million or more in this economy. I guess we’ll just have to bring in a veteran guy who’ll be happy to earn 3 million and be a part of a championship team next year.

  16. tsuwm’s writing tips, #1 (not meant to be ridicule, but in the interests of better writing)

    >while allowing Tyreke Evans to run ramped.

    I think that the word wanted here is ‘rampant’, as in unrestrained or unchecked – Evans ran rampant around the unorganized Laker defense.

    (this may be an example of an ‘eggcorn’, where the sound-alike word substitution almost makes sense.)

  17. Felix F. Fowler jr. March 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    The key to the Lakers sucess is Lamar Odem. The big if is, If was the coach my starting lineup would be Bynum as center, Gasol Pf, Ron at smf, kobe at shooting gaurd and Lamar Odem at the
    point. First and third quarter, Odem would run my offence. I would also put
    Magic back to work with Lamar going over all of Magics game films to show him how Magic he broke down defences.

  18. Zephid,
    Because the Lakers two best lineups this year statistically have been with Fisher off the floor and Farmar or Brown on it. Hey… maybe that is because Phil only plays Farmar with the starters against bad teams… there are ways to argue that data.

  19. 11, Please clarify, I don’t see the point you’re trying to make.

    19, Out of all of our 5-man lineups, only 11 have more than 55 minutes to their name. Of those 11, the best lineup in terms of win% is

    6.) Fisher-Brown-Artest-Odom-Gasol 85.3 +46 83.3%

    The second best is #4 above,

    4.) Farmar-Brown-Bryant-Odom-Gasol 141.4 +35 70.8%

    The worst is

    5.) Farmar-Brown-Bryant-Odom-Bynum 126.7 -25 36.6%

    Unless you’re of the belief that Andrew Bynum is a much, much worse player than Pau Gasol, it would seem that #5 would be a cause for concern with the high score of #4. Admittedly, 4 seems like statistically our best lineup. But such a drop-off between that lineup’s production and the lineup replacing Gasol with Bynum makes it seem like there is something going on beyond the fact that Farmar and Brown are simply more productive than Fisher and Artest.

    Also, none of our top 20 lineups contain one of either Farmar or Brown then the 4 other starters, so your statement that Farmar and Brown playing with the starters is statistically our best unit is not evidenced. Even if we could find that data, they have less than 23 minutes on the floor together, so there is sample size issues.

    My point was that Farmar and Brown aren’t playing poorly because they’re stuck playing with scrubs; they’re playing with the same guys that Fisher is playing with. The only difference is they’re playing with each other.

    All my data comes from 82games.com Check it out for yourself.

    http://www.82games.com/0910/0910LAL2.HTM