Lakers/Thunder: Pure Awfulness

Darius Soriano —  March 26, 2010

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Well, well, well.  The Lakers really know how to take the wind out of the sails of a winning streak.  Three days after having one of their better wins of the season, the Lakers come through with one of their worst games in recent memory.  The closest comparison is probably the Bobcats game that was in the middle of the Lakers three game losing streak, but that game was the 2nd night of a back to back and was at least in the 13-18 point range for most of the night.  This game, against the Thunder, was just plain awful.  It was flush down the toilette bad.  I immediately erased it from DVR so that it didn’t infect my cable box.  There were so many things wrong with this game that this recap is really a postmortem.  So here it is, bullet style:

*The Lakers scored their season low in points.  They had an offensive rating of 85.6.  Their true shooting was 45.5%.  And, if you were unlucky enough to watch this game you know that those numbers don’t even do this stink job justice.  I mean, Kobe was 4-11, Pau was 3-10, Fisher was 2-6, Ron was even worse at 1-6.  Even Odom, who didn’t shoot that poorly, needed 16 shots to score his 15 points.  No one played well on offense.  Oh sorry, Ammo and Powell combined for 14 points on 6-8 shooting.  I apologize that I barely noticed the taco unit putting up points when the game had been decided for the final 15 minutes of game time.

*In the preview, I mentioned that the Lakers needed to be conscientious about limiting the Thunder’s offensive rebounding and watching their turnovers committed.  And how did the Lakers do in those areas?  Well in the O-rebounding department, the Lakers only gave up 8.  But they made up for the success in that area by being awful in the turnover game.  18 TO’s for the Lakers with Kobe having 9 of them all by himself.  On Twitter, I mentioned that Kobe looked like the NY Giants version of Kurt Warner with all the fumbles, falling down, and passing to the other team.  But I really liked commenter Bobji’s description as well: “Kobe’s running with the ball like he’s wearing bowling shoes.” Save for a stretch where Kobe hit a few consecutive jumpers, #24 never looked uncomfortable in this game and it showed with his inability to control his dribble or make correct reads with the ball.  Give Thabo Sefolosha a ton of credit here as he stuck to Kobe better than most and didn’t fall for any of the head fakes or get distracted by his myriad of feints and hesitation moves.

*But it wasn’t just the offense that was bad, the defense was terrible too.  For pretty much the entire game Russell Westbrook got to the places on the floor where he felt comfortable and knocked down shots.  23 points on only 13 shots for Russ as he was the star of the show early and often for the Thunder.  And as for Durant, he was able to free himself up on curls and as a ball handler on the P&R to create good looks for himself.  He stroked his pretty jumper when he had space and attacked the rim when he got a step on his defender.  Early on that defender was Artest, but after some early foul trouble it was Kobe.  Then after some cross matching and switching on defense it was Shannon Brown.  But in the end it didn’t matter.  KD had 26 points on 19 shots and would have had 30+ easily had he not shot so poorly from three point range (1-7 on some pretty good looks).

I’d give you more, but what is the point?  The Lakers were beaten handily tonight by a team that wanted this game more and played like it.  The Thunder came out with a ton of energy and an offensive focus that the Lakers did not even attempt to match.  And their defense was superb as they made entry passes difficult and denied ball reversals very well.  Ultimately, my more positive self says that there are games like this and let’s just move on.  But, in the back of my mind, the negativity of another loss where the Lakers just didn’t seem to show up is frustrating.  I hate to over analyze a game like this because it truly was an awful performance.  But the Lakers have given us a few too many of these games this season and that is worrisome.  Do I think this type of game is more than just one loss?  No, I do not.  But do I see the Lakers offering up at least one of these in the playoffs?  I sure do.  We’ll have to see if/when they do how much it impacts the series that they’re playing.

Darius Soriano

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38 responses to Lakers/Thunder: Pure Awfulness

  1. Ouch! After a long day, I was hoping to come home to another Lakers victory. I guess not….

    Maybe the only thing to really take from this is that you can’t get too high when you win (as they did beating the SAS) and you can’t get too low after tonigh’ts stinkfest.

  2. I feel incredibly grateful and relieved that I was unable to watch the game tonight. Judging from your description and the box score, I would probably have vomited all over the expensive rug in the TV room and permanently ruined it.

    So, do the Twin Samurais (Ron and Kobe) comitt seppuku now, or do they live to fight another day and wreak bloody vengeance on their next opponent…? Either way, it seems as if this was just plain old-fashioned ugly beyond words.

  3. Didn’t watch the game but I’m glad I didn’t. But another laker disappointment. On this trip I was really worried how Pau would step up to the challange being on the road against good teams so far he hasn’t offensively 7-21 in the first two games. I wasn’t going to say anything about his offensive output versus the spurs because he played good defense but now the spotlight is on him, can he step up. Looks like kobe was awful as well, but I really wont harp on kobe too much because he’s already proved he will show up consistently in the playoffs. But gasol was dominating against those sorry teams and hasn’t stepped up offensively against the past two good teams yet. Lets see how the lakers respond and how Gasol responds in particular.

  4. 3 more games left on this roadtrip from hell. We need to take at least 2 of them to get a 3-2 finish. That isnt bad.

  5. Really glad I didn’t see this and thus spared from the game thread (saw Hot Tub Time Machine instead – worth watching).
    I’m starting to get worried with our subpar performances against good teams. Sure we beat the Spurs and Suns but they’re not elite. There are so few games left of that caliber – pretty much only Hawks, Jazz, and Nuggest, if that.. We haven’t put on any dominating performances against elite teams and that is a real concern.

  6. I need to call around to the bars in OK City and see if they team was out late drinking. That’s the only thing that could make a team play that bad.

    Pau looked bad and girly like.
    Kobe had 9 TO
    Fisher and Farmer made Westbrook look like a MVP
    Phil looked bored and Sasha had a fight with Shaw.

    All in all not a night to be proud of.

  7. #6. Ken,
    If the Lakers were up late, it was probably because the hotel in OKC that teams usually stay in is haunted. Seriously.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Knicks-attribute-poor-play-to-haunted-hotel?urn=nba,213113

  8. Terrible game. Think of our upcoming schedule. Four at home, seven away. Six of them against teams above .500, but now that CP3 is back the Hornets are a different team.

    Well, at least we get to play the T’Wolves, Kings, and Clippers in three of our last four games. Not sure if that’s a good thing, either.

    Playing the worst team in the league right before going into the playoffs. Will that improve our momentum? Or will the Lakers squeeze out some few more lackluster games?

  9. Just got home from work, about to fire the game up on TiVo! I’m still psyched from the last game, can’t wait to see the lesson we taught these youngsters tonight in the OKC! Got my glass of red, pushing “play” now, this should be a treat.

  10. DON’T DO IT SCOTT! NOOOOO!!!!! (all said in an epic slow motion fashion)

  11. Darius, very nice write up! I’m glad that you are willing to be pointing out that the Lakers really do have something to worry about. This is not a one game loss. This is all season long. I know you tend to stay very positive and that is good but i really feel that this laker team does not have the mindset to win the ring. They have all the talent to do it and can easily blow out many of the teams they’ve played but refuse to play solid 48 minutes. (Spurs game was great in the second half but again, they made George Hill look like a superstar)

    I do not even think the Lakers make it to the finals this year since they will probably face Denver or Dallas – both teams very hungry for a championship.

    We shall see – I hope they prove me wrong.

    I sure do hope the Lakers will get the 2 pieces they need – the younger guard and someone who can hit an outside shot.

  12. Not to mention how crazy the arena was going in OKC, I hope you heard that Laker faithful… Staples Center needs to pick it up, even more so in the playoffs if the Lakers are going to have a chance to repeat. OKC put LA to shame tonight, not only on the court but in the stands, and if I know LA, this cannot continue.

  13. Ammo was +11, Josh was +12, and Mbenga was +15.
    Kobe was -22, Pau was -25, and Lamar was -36.

    Phil was obviously playing the wrong Lakers for the bulk of the game tonight.

  14. Phil Jackson said Pau was soft. Ouch.

  15. I can’t help but wonder if the losses by the Nuggets and Mavericks on previous nights had anything to do with the disheartening performance in this game. Our team is just so complacent. I don’t think they feel the need for the home court advantage throughout the playoffs as long as they get it for the western conference.

    I hope they are right for our sakes.

  16. If we have to play the Thunder you just gave them the confidence they needed. This time last year the Lakers were playing great with a chip on their shoulder. Now you don’t know what you will get. Even though the whole team played bad. Everything starts with the point guard situation. Every team has figured out, we are gonna kill the Lakers at point, it doesn’t matter who we play. We don’t have a consistent three point shooter. On NBA TV Steve and Cheryl just shook their head. They admitted the Lakers have the worst bench in the league. They said you always need bench players to come in and give the team a boost when the starters are playing bad, we have scrubs. As much as I hate to admit it Kobe has lost a step and all the injuries and the minutes are catching up with him, As this team is now constructed we will be the number 1 seed in the west this year, but with no changes next year will be hard to make the playoffs in the west because every team is getting better and younger

  17. I don’t think we want to meet these guys in the first round… nor Portland… nor… Oh well…

  18. A few thoughts:

    1. John Hollinger and Phil Jackson, two guys with very different views of basketball, both said recently that the Lakers miss Luke Walton. Given Walton’s age, the nature of his injury, and who his dad is, I am not optimistic, but if they have him available for 10 minutes or so a night, that will help a little.
    2. Jackson talked a couple of days ago about how the bench sucks.
    3. The Lakers are 53-19, and have the #1 seed in the west pretty much locked. They are not going to catch Cleveland. The thing to focus on, I think, is staying ahead of Orlando, currently 51-22. People have been talking Cleveland all year, but Orlando can definitely beat them. If the Lakers are in the Finals against Orlando, I think it will go 6 or 7 and the Lakers will need HCA.

  19. The Lakers go out in the second round this year. It is just plain torture watching this team play this season. You hope (because you are a faithful fan) against all logic that they will come out and put a good game together, but you know that wont happen this season. And that’s a sick feeling to have. Come to think it, this team is not deep. The onus is on the starters to produce every single game. And that is too much to ask for three staright seasons. The bench needs to be shored up.

  20. The Lakers go out in the second round this year.

    _____

    If everyone is healthy, this is highly unlikely. The most likely scenario, as Aaron said a few weeks ago, is that the Lakers get to the Finals, but are exhausted when they arrive there and lose to Cleveland. Cleveland and Orlando have to deal with each other, and the Celtics will not go down without a fight, but both Cleveland and Orlando are likely to sweep their first-round matchups.

    There are, however, no easy outs in the West. I will be quite surprised if any Laker in-conference post-season matchup goes less than six games, and would not be at all surprised to see the Lakers get pushed to 7 three times in a row. The team is still excellent, but it is a year older, it is banged up, and has specific weaknesses:

    Defending opposing 1s
    Long-range shooting
    Poor bench play

    that have not been addressed.

    Still, there no other teams in the West as good as Cleveland or Orlando, so if healthy with HCA, the Lakers should make it back to the BIg Top.

  21. 19) winwin:
    “The bench needs to be shored up.”

    That’s one of the problems with using the 3 players for 2 positions rotation that they have for PF and C. When you lose one of them, it’s the equivalent of losing both backups on a team with a more “normal” rotation. And when one of those three is injury prone, and the end of the bench (Powell and Mbenga) are very limited, it’s a set up for problems. Add in an injury-prone SF backup, and PG and SG backups that are very inconsistent, and this absolutely is not a deep team.

  22. well, after watching the game i can only say that there was a lot of bad shots, bad luck and the ball simply wasnt going in at times. Still, i dont see why we should panic. We all know there is no chance the thunder could beat us in a 7 game series. Heck, they lost by 20+ against the pacers a couple of days ago, its not like they are perfect. Fact is: gasol,bynom,odom > collison, kristic, green and whoever else they have.

    It is true that the lakers had a couple of stinkers this season, but lets stay realistic: safolosha can do a great job on kobe for one game, but 7 games? Same thing goes for every other defensive specialist. The game will slow down come playoff time and then we will all enjoy having mamba isolated on whoever….

    I trust that our team will win it this year, you should too

  23. Too often I think fans make the mistake of taking the most recent performance and turning that into what a team is. While the OKC loss is one that has occurred at other times this season (I mentioned Charlotte in the recap as the most recent example), this team is still very good and a real challenger for the title. Those that say otherwise are looking too much into poor play. The fact is, this team hasn’t changed all season. It’s inconsistent. The Lakers are a team that can play a stinker of a game against OKC three nights after demolishing the Spurs with a second half performance that makes every team perk up a bit and notice. The ups and downs are frustrating for everyone. But don’t let the lowest of lows cloud the mind into the thinking the highest of highs aren’t possible or can’t happen. Will they? That’s a question that only be answered when the games are played and it’s why we watch.

  24. ReignOnParades March 27, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I don’t think anyone is saying this is an awful team because of an awful performance but I wouldn’t dismiss everything from this game. The worst aspects are season long trends:

    1. Not only Fish getting burned by PGs, but now losing his strength/height advantage
    1b. Farmar in reverse: not only getting overpowered but also getting burned.

    2. Kobe’s turnovers. It’s almost difficult to believe he’s only averaging ~3 on the season, that finger has given his handles so many problems

    3. Gasol refusing to drive to the rim for some odd reason. He’d been bricking his jumper until just recently and now it seems like he wants to score with his back to the basket every time instead of taking advantage of his quickness. We all know you’ve got great post moves and can pass the rock from there Pau, now show us some face up game!

    4. Derek Fisher’s shot selection
    4b. Every guard’s shot selection, but mostly Fish’s and the back-ups. At least Kobe can make stupid shots at a good rate.

    5. Phil’s bizarre line ups. The only “problem” I think that won’t be as pronounced in the playoffs (although as we’ve seen he’ll still throw out head scratchers even on the biggest of stages), and something that isn’t fixable per se

    6. An almost complete and total reliance on the starters. Good showing by the taco unit to make this a respectable score though.

    7. Ron Artest being a monkey wrench in the offense and limiting our running of the triangle

    The only good thing I’d take out of this game is Lamar’s continued ability to diagnose what this team needs from him. And maybe the Taco Unit’s 4th Q. That’s it.

  25. Darius I knew it had to be something. Haunted! Makes sense because now us fans are also haunted by the play last night.

    In my first post yesterday I said I did not feel good about the game. I expect every night a career game from point guards. 4 in a row over 20 a game.

    The tempo is set by each team taking it to the hole in the dike, Fisher. When teams get out to big leads it is almost always penetration up the middle and wide open shots.

    This latest yelling match with Sasha and Shaw may even shorten are already talent short bench. I don’t even want to see what Brooks does to Fisher tonight and Paul after that.

    It is very tough to win 4 on 5. They other 4 guys have to play great games to carry around the caboose. This game they were too tired and could not recover from the defensive liabilities of Fisher.

    To beat the Lakers you do it with speed, youth, doubling Kobe and attacking our hole in the dike.

    Every scout in the league has figered it out. Except Phil that is.

    The legend of D Fish is now haunting me. I think it might be the ghost of Smush Parker!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. larryobrieninla March 27, 2010 at 9:41 am

    thank youuu darius. it’s one game – and a horrible one! the lakers issues are well documented here. but i mean, does everyone now here think that san antonio will win the title since they beat the cavs last night and we lost to the cavs twice? i’d be more interested in how the lakers play tonight than anything else. the lakers were not exactly the model of consistency in last year’s playoffs, but they did know how to bounce back.

  27. I had a bad feeling about this game going in, but it wasn’t THAT bad of a feeling.

    I thought you could see it in the Lakers at the end of the Spurs game.

    “We’ve established that we can beat the heavyweights. We’re OK.”

    That look of relaxation. Not focused “OK, this is what we need to do every night,” but “Yep, we can still turn it on if we need it.”

    They needed this loss. They needed a reminder that they can’t let up just because they turned it on for one half against the Spurs.

    I’m a tad concerned about Kobe’s comments that “come playoffs it’s a different situation.” That seems to be the entire team’s assumption. “The playoffs will come and we’ll just always play like it’s the second half of the Spurs game.”

    I have my doubts.

  28. We’re in a familiar position – going into Houston and hoping to see the team show us something to suggest things aren’t as shaky as some may believe.

    If last year’s any indicator, expect to see Aaron Brooks discard Fish like a wax-covered Q-Tip on his way to dropping 30 in a 20+ points win for the Rockets.

    But thankfully, last year doesn’t mean anything.

  29. Not much to take from this game other than the Lakers were off and aside from Lamar, none of them wanted to work hard enough against a young, ahtletic and highly motivated team. Pau and Kobe both seemed out of it last night.

    But there are really only two things that stand between the Lakers and getting to the Finals.

    1. Three point shooting. 13% last night. That won’t get them out of the first round. As I have said before, you can talk all you want about an inside out game, if the three isn’t dropping, this team is mediocre and opposing defenses basically play five on three.

    2. Bench support from Farmar and Brown. Those guys play well about one out of every five games. Obviously Fish is a liability quite often, but he is only a liability because the two guys behind him have been unable to step up and give anything consistent.

    Phil seems committed to Brown at this point. He’s getting paid millions of dollars and has ten rings so he knows a thing or two. But the more I see of Brown, the less I like him as a player. He seems like a genuinely good kid and I wish him the best, but he doesn’t help on the defensive end and is a poor fit for the triangle.

  30. @29

    Good post.

    WRT Brown, I think it is more that Jackson gets easily frustrated with Farmar and Vujacic more than that he really likes Brown. And I do think Brown is the best defender among the four non-Kobe guards (not a high bar).

  31. The past two games have brought the Lakers to the Tipping Point regarding the point guard position.

    There is no longer anything to lose in making a switch. Regardless of Sasha’s, Farmar’s, or Shannon’s faults. It can’t be any worse than what is getting progressively worse game by game.

    The rest of the playoff teams in the West have PG’s just as good, if not better than George Hill and Russell Westbrook.

  32. @32

    I agree to a point, but I think we both know that is probably not how Phil sees things.

    Farmar is the most talented of the 4 non-Kobe guards, and as such, as I said several weeks ago, I would prefer he got the most minutes–25-30 a game–of the Fadeout Four. But as discussed ad nauseum, he is not tremendously talented nor does his skill set fit the team’s approach.

    I would give him the most minutes of the 4 anyway.

  33. Folks lets not sell the cow before we get the milk. LA’s play last night was nothing out of the ordinary for them this season. The nonchalant, and we can turn it on attitude has been the most consistent thing the team has accomplished during the regular season.

    LA was due a butt kicking anyway, winning three out of four against a good OKC team is nothing to be ashamed of. Last night, although bad, doesnt cancel out the other three wins, its just on to the next one.

  34. since when did we do away with the triangle and implement the rhombus offense?

  35. I feel if Farmer was starting he would not force up 3-pointers he does when coming off the bench. He acts like a guy trying out for a team when he does that.

    Lakers need to change the perception that other teams have that they can run through Fisher like water in a rainforest.

    Teams don’t know enough about Farmer and therefore we might gain a advantage. Its tough because the Laker brain trust somehow thought these guard could compete. Clearly that is the biggest problem the Lakers have.

    It would be one thing if it was just defense but Fisher is the lowest rated shooter and assist starter in the league.

    Last night the Lakers had 7-assists the lowest number in 3-years. I guess they really are blocking Phil out sometimes.

  36. @ 29

    Precisely. Point #1 is the main problem for this team. The lack of the outside threat lets defenses sit back and wait for the inevitable pass to the post.

    This offseason I’m praying for Mike Miller or a similar outside threat. A PG would be nice, too.

  37. I am a long Laker fan, in fact I had season tickets in the Showtime days. I live in OKC now and was excited to be at the game last night…. was fortunate to get tickets 4 rows from the floor, mid court. The game was a huge disappointment because I have NEVER seen such a poor effort. Pau looked like he was sleep walking and failed to show up on defense on numerous plays. There was no ball movement (except turnovers) and they gave up in the 3rd quarter. In contrast, the Thunder showed energy, passion and tenacity. Come on Lakers… play up to your ability. Put in the effort your salaries deserve.