Lakers/Hornets: Kobe & Pau All Alone In Loss

Darius Soriano —  March 29, 2010

[picappgallerysingle id="3216358"]
(Yeah I went with an old school ‘Zo picture here. What can I say, I’m in that kind of mood. That look on his face is just like mine…)

After game four of the 2004 NBA Finals, Phil Jackson said something along the lines of “we wasted one of the great games from Shaquille O’Neal tonight” as the Lakers lost a game where Shaq went for 36 points and 20 rebounds against the Pistons.  Well, while this game was no where near that magnitude, I feel like the Lakers wasted damn good games from Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant tonight.  Pau went for 26 points and 22 rebounds and Kobe had a well rounded line of 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers fell to the Hornets 108-100.  Just a frustrating finish to a game in an increasingly frustrating road trip that has the Lakers taking one step forward and then one step backward every other night.

How do the Lakers lose on a night where Kobe and Pau put up such gaudy stats?  Actually, it’s pretty simple.  When James Posey (a substitute, mind you) outscores the entire Lakers bench 13-12, that’s how.  Or how about when Darren Collison (another Hornets back up) matches the point total of two Lakers’ starters (Fisher and Odom) with 17 points.  Another good reason would be how Artest would have shot 5-6 from the field had he not went 1-8(!) from three point country (including several wide open attempts from the corner) leaving him 6-14 from the field and a point total (14) that matched his FGA total.  I think you get my point.  The Lakers outside of Pau and Kobe showed no consistency and the Hornets were steady enough throughout the contest to earn the win.

Really, this game turned on a 17-1 Hornets run that started in the late part of the 1st quarter and ended around the 8 minute mark of the second quarter.  That run saw a 4 point Lakers lead turn into a 12 point deficit that the Lakers would never overcome.  Sure, the Lakers made a strong push of their own at one point coming within a basket when the scoreboard showed 58-56.  But when a Kobe turnover turned into a three on one Hornets fast break, Fisher’s great defense to disrupt a pass turned out to be a curse as the ball bounced around and got kicked out to a wide open Marcus Thornton who ended up nailing a three pointer.  A two point lead went to five and even though the Lakers kept it close for a few more minutes they’d never really threaten again.

Games like this are extremely frustrating because rather than doing the little things that lead to wins, the Lakers did just enough to disrupt comebacks and lose.  On back to back possessions and within three points of tying Kobe and Fisher fire up forced three pointers that miss.  Instead of going into Gasol on the low block, we swing the ball around the perimeter and settle for long jumpers.  Several times in both halves the Lakers had defensive breakdowns that led to wide open shots.  On one play they’d get caught watching as Chris Paul handled the ball on the P&R and then lose track of their man when he’d make a back cut.  On another play, one of the Lakers’ bigs would over help on penetration and give up an easy offensive rebound for a put back bucket.  There were even a couple of plays where Chris Paul was left wide open after he used a hesitation dribble off the P&R because the hedging big man then left him to recover to his own man and then the guard that was supposed to come back to Paul stayed with the switch – resulting in an easy, wide open jumper for CP3.

And then there were the fouls.  The Lakers were reaching and grabbing Hornets players – often out of their own frustration from not getting calls on the other end.  But rather than playing smart and hunkering down on defense, they’d commit needless fouls that ended up sending the fourth best FT shooting team in the league to the foul line for easy points.  These types of mistakes are always costly, but they’re even more painful when they happen the middle of the Lakers trying to make a dent in a lead; when the margin for error is so thin because the deficit is not decreasing but the game clock is.

In the end, this game was just an overall downer.  As I mentioned earlier, the Lakers seem to take a positive step forward and then follow it up with a poor performance.  I wish I could say that this is an anomaly but it’s not.  As we’ve discussed before, the Lakers are consistently inconsistent.  It’s who they are.  They have the talent to win any game while (seemingly) having the attitude that allows them to perform poorly in any game as well.  Whether or not it hurts them down the line remains to be seen, but it is mighty frustrating to watch as the regular season comes to a close.

Darius Soriano

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27 responses to Lakers/Hornets: Kobe & Pau All Alone In Loss

  1. That sounded a bit negative Darious.

    They lost because Ron and LO pulled a late nighter (I got a late night text from business partner in NO) Fisher was 2 for 11 and the bench was out scored 36 to 12.

    At least we didn’t lose to the Nets. and Sasha hasen’t made a error in 3-games.

    Expect a close win aganist Atlanta.

  2. 74 games into the season plus 100+ games last season, and it seems like the Lakers haven’t learned yet.
    I hate to rant, but it’s March for goodness’ sake, shouldn’t we be clicking right now? November, December, January, February, I’m ok with that if we’re not too engrossed with playing playoff basketball. But it’s late March and with 8 games left, this isn’t what I expected to see. It’s just disgusting.

    I am still believing on this squad, but they got to show others that they believe on themselves, too.

  3. Mark blame it on video.

    Scouts figured out how to beat Lakers.

    Run through our PG’s and spread the court for 3′s.

    Double Pau and Kobe amd leave Fish and Ron open.

    Blame it on video.

  4. Yeah, I kind of did not want to read this recap after a game like this, Darius you are spot on here. I still have faith that the Lakers will win 4 out of 7 games against any West opponent in the Playoffs though. I do like reading your recaps after a game, they are real, that is for sure.

    “We made too many wrong mistakes.” – Yogi Berra

  5. ken,
    I’m not sold into the idea of teams getting through us. As I’ve said, this team looks bored, they know they can win anytime they put their hearts and minds into it. It’s like being the richest man in the world, when he wastes money, he knows he WILL lose something, but it doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day, he’s still the richest man in the world.
    They’re a sleeping giant, and hopefully they wake up come playoff time.

  6. You might be right Mark but its hard to throw out our point guard problems.

    i don’t see a team in the West beating us 4-games due to this weakness but it will extend each series.

    Good news that’s more games to attend and to watch. Which is actually a good thing.

  7. Let’s just use the same excuse everyone has used since the start of the season – “It’s just March, relax. We know the Lakers turn it on late. You’re overracting, Chicken Little.”

    BUT, I will point out that the Lakers would have an identical record in March as last year (10-5) if they win against Atlanta.

    We should wait until after the next few games (Hawks, Utah, Spurs, Denver) to really see whether the Lakers are ready to roll into the playoffs.

  8. no one can beat them 4 out of 7, just wait.

  9. Good recap for a bad game.

  10. Maybe because we know it’s beating a dead horse at this point (no offense Fish) but it’s kind of amazing how we always step around the pink elephant that is our PG situation

    It boggles the mind how we could have just opted not to address this massive Achilles heel at any point in the off season before the trade deadline.

    We couldn’t at least go the Smush Parker route and sign a d-leaguer for the minimum?

    Mustafa Shakur.

    Morris Almond (who’s actually a SG/SF but could at least knock down a 3).

    Just sayin’

  11. Story of the game? Kobe got a lot of people open looks, and they didn’t make them. If the teams played again tomorrow with a similar flow to the game, I’d take it (assuming we sank a normal amount of open looks next time).

  12. Ken,
    Good stuff as always. I agree with most of what you said per usual. But this all changes when Bynum comes back. The length inside enables us to challenge shots at the basket without having our defense collapse so hard when the opposing PG penetrates. It also solves the bench problem because Lamar goes back to his 6th man duties. It doesn’t solve our PG problem and I am a tad worried that Artest hasn’t shot the three ball like he did for the first half of the year… but all in all it shouldn’t hurt enough to stop us from winning another ring. I know I say this after every loss but this just doesn’t change the fact we have the best team when healthy in the NBA. The only team I see giving us problems is still Orlando who I still think we will see in the Finals.

  13. Remember when everyone was applauding our defense against the Spurs and I said after the game that all we did was give them about 30 open shots from the outside that they didn’t hit? It wasn’t good defense then and it wasn’t good defense now. But again… when Bynum comes back and we have our size advantage back and a true Center in the middle all this changes. Basketball is mostly a game of personnel. Our D will go back to being dominating when we have our full compliment of players.

  14. Hopefully this team figures it out in the playoffs. Im done wit them for the rest of the regular season.

  15. Me too – sick of rooting for games that don’t seem to matter to them. Waiting for the playoffs. Mitch better have great plans in motion of getting rid of the trash!!

  16. WE NEED BYNUM. simple as that.

  17. Let’s get it right.

    The Lakers don’t have a personnel problem. The Lakers don’t have a pg problem. They certainly don’t have a Derek Fisher problem.

    The Lakers do have an injury problem that impacts substitutions. Changes in substitution patterns do effect team defense. Laker team defense is historically tested by speedy penetrating guards, and tonite was no exception.

    But ultimately, it was not bad team defense against speedy guards that lost the game for the Lakers. It was bad attitude–and this attitude problem could easily cost the Lakers an NBA championship.

  18. i find it very amusing to see farmar struggle every time he is in the game with the starters, only to see him turning it up as soon as kobe and pau leave the floor. i really think phil should play the lineup of: famrar, brown, artest, lo, and mbenga a lot more especially early in the game. that forces jordan and lamar to score instead of just dropping it to pau or kobe and then wait and see.

    usually our allstars make their move and make something happen but every now and then they kick it out for a 3 and our guards almost never hit those shots. its very frustrating, but they are young and need some sort of rythm to hit shots.

    what do you guys think? forcing farmar and lo to play agressive because there is no kobe and pau on the floor might solve some of the problems, no?

  19. Interesting part from Markazi’s piece, for those people who’ve always bashed Phil when things aren’t going well, saying things like “Well, he’s the coach – if he would tell them to stop jacking up shots, they would”:

    Jackson all but begged his team to stop shooting three-pointers after first quarter, writing “0 for 6 from three,” their accuracy from beyond the arc, on his dry erase pad and told them to go inside more. It was like telling a group of kids to catch up on their required reading while vacationing in Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. The Lakers continued to shoot three after three after three even though they continued to miss three after three after three. They hit only 7-of-29 shots from beyond the arc…

  20. Why do I get the feeling Aaron and Ken are the same person posting under different names just to agree with each other?

  21. ReignOnParades March 30, 2010 at 7:59 am

    17. “The Lakers don’t have a personnel problem. The Lakers don’t have a pg problem. They certainly don’t have a Derek Fisher problem.”

    Wow, what incredible denial. Look I love what Fish has done for us too over the last decade+… but to constantly throw everyone else under the bus for not adequately picking up his slack is absurd. I notice no one does this for Farmar, Brown, or Sasha when they’re at the 1 and dragging the team down with inexplicable fouls and an inability to stay in front of their man or deal with screens.

    And I’m not one to throw Fish specifically under the bus when Shannon and Farmar also play bad defense and take bad shots. Fish has been amazing for us, but his athleticism is totally shot. Farmar doesn’t fit, although at least he’s making 3s: and he probably won’t be back next year hardly anyone in the organization wants him back. Shannon is a 2 guard. And Sasha apparently can’t take orders.

    It’s hard to point fingers at any one guy.

    But that position is a mother ****ing problem.

    We just need someone to play defense and drain 3s. Something that could be solved right now had any of the following things gone right for us over the past three years:

    1. The Lakers managed to trade for a draft pick and got the guy Mitch was targeting: George Hill

    2. The Lakers kept Trevor and just played him at the 1. He was our best PG defender anyways, and his shot, when open, is more reliable anyone’s right now except for maybe Farmar, percentages be damned.

    3. Instead of selling the Toney Douglas pick this year, they actually kept him. Apparently he’s playing great D and knocking down 3s for New York. Awesome.

    It’s a problem, one that even the most ridiculous of optimists would agree will become a major concern once Fish retires or assumes a Brian Shaw type role and Farmar is let go. And we haven’t dealt with it, and we have only two second round picks in the upcoming draft to work with.

    That’s why I’m looking at d-league guys, looking at FAs (… Felton? He’s only had one year of work knocking down the 3 at a good rate though, and this happens to be a contract season for him), and my personal favorite– hoping to God that the Lakers can trade up or have this guy fall down to them somehow:

    http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Avery-Bradley-5285/

    HE WOULD FIT LIKE A GLOVE. Not to be confused with “THE” Glove, who happened to be the best PG Kobe’s ever had to work with even if he didn’t fit in the triangle and was on the downslope of his career.

    But to wrap up this rant/essay:

    “But ultimately, it was not bad team defense against speedy guards that lost the game for the Lakers.”

    Gee, you don’t think good individual defense might help bad team defense? But hey, let’s disregard the defensive liability factor for a second because like you’ve said, we haven’t been able to guard speedy PGs since pre-Magic

    Here’s what someone on another forum had to say about just the ability to stretch the floor:

    “I’ve gotten used to having no defense at the point over the years, but this being terrible at threes thing is killing me.

    Lakers are 26-2 if they shoot 36% or better from three, 28-18, otherwise. Hell, just shooting better than 31%, they’re 35-6. I suppose that’s encouraging in a way but man, it is depressing to lose so many games simply cause the guys can’t hit an open three and thus the whole team struggles to get an offensive rhythm.”

  22. *#20. Don, it just seems that way. Ha. I can verify both of their existence(s), though. That made me laugh. A nice little pick me up this morning.

    *#19. Snoopy, that is interesting indeed. The thing about shooting the three ball is that sometimes that is going to be the byproduct of the offense. All of those open threes that Artest took? – I want him taking those; He was wide open! But, if you’re going to take them, you better knock more of them down. Just like the anecdote about Kobe calling for the ball – If you’re going to ignore him and go in a different direction on offense you better do something with the ball that leads to some sort of successful possession (even if it’s a miss) because you will draw his ire if the ball just gets swung around the perimeter and we settle for a long jumper (Kobe could do that all on his own). The offshoot of this conversation is whether or not the team is tuning Phil out and that is a question that *no one* (at least not any fans) has an answer to. I mentioned this yesterday, but I truly think this is why Phil likes veteran players. Not because they listen better, but because they know how to play the game and do the the needed things; the things that win games. Guys like Shaw, Fox, Horry, Odom, Fisher. Not to say that guys like Farmar, Brown, and Sasha won’t be those types of guys down the road – but they’re not those guys right now.

  23. It’s really disappointing that the Lakers didn’t beat this Hornets squad considering the fact that they are statistically eliminated from the playoffs and have nothing to gain (except sticking it to us).

    I’m fairly certain at this point that home court advantage throughout the playoffs is solidly in Cleveland, but I’m still pretty hopeful that they have some major obstacles in getting to the finals. The east may be very weak (which incidentally helped the Cavs’ record), but it’s very good at the top. The Magic will give them all they can handle. Boston, Atlanta, even the Bucks…anything can happen. No one thought the Magic would roll the Cavs the way they did last year, so we’ll see.

    If Markazi’s article is vaild and the Lakers are just bored seniors with college acceptance letters in hand, I really hope it won’t be too hard for them to turn it on in the playoffs.

  24. The question is should Derek Fisher do what Luke Walton did last year and give up his starting spot? Who gets it is a bigger question though.

  25. Since it’s clear that as a unit the starters don’t seem to care about the remaining regular season games (Pau and Kobe seem to care slightly, off and on), I think this is a time where Phil should be getting a little more creative with his rotation. I liked what someone above said about getting LO more minutes without Kobe and Pau on the floor and letting him get into his aggressive mentality a little bit heading into the playoffs. And given how bad the bench has been, I think the only possible solution now is to get them more minutes before the post-season. Sasha sure isn’t going to wake up by sitting on the bench in these meaningless games. And why not even just give Fish the last 3 -4 games off. Since there is no desire from the team to chase the Cavs for #1 overall, at least get some use out of these games by trying to get some confidence and rhythm back in the bench mob.

  26. #21 On the ESPN 710 radio station yesterday, several experts were asked who they would add to the Lakers to solve the “pg problem.” They said “no one.” They did have ideas for other positions.

    Everyone agreed that no pg on any team in the NBA today can effectively defend the pick and roll–one on one. No one. Aaron Brooks has said that with current rules, he couldn’t guard himself. Chris Paul’s former coach said that nobody could stop him, only perhaps restrict him to one side or another side–get him to shoot or pass, but not both. We could go on.

    In the past, the Lakers (with Derek Fisher at pg) have completely shut down Chris Paul with team defense–as they have for many other pg superstars throughout the league–but not every game. It requires complex switching, rotation, focus, and energy.

    A recent interview by Simer, and analyses by Darius, SSR, and Bing of the OC Register have made much the same point: though he has always lacked quickness and athleticism, Derek Fisher plays his pg role on the Lakers very well, but that very role often makes him look bad–and his subtle sacrifices for the team go unnoticed–by those who carry out more superficial analyses–but not the team, coaches, and Phil Jackson.

    As Derek himself says, what happens next year depends substantially on whether or not the Lakers win a championship this year. All three members of the 3 headed pg monster might be back–or none of them might be back. Only Shannon can choose for himself. But that is irrelevant right now.

    The Laker problem is serious and real–but it is a team problem. The possible pg probem next year will be solved next year.