Lakers/Thunder: Defense Carries The Day

Darius Soriano —  April 18, 2010

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Winning ugly is still winning, so in the case of the 87-79 Lakers victory, I’m very happy.  The Lakers now have a 1-0 lead in their first round series against the Thunder and that bodes well for their future success in this match up.  Phil Jackson has never lost a series (44-0) where his team has won the opening contest and the Lakers game one effort against the Thunder is now the 45th series in which Jackson’s team has pulled out an opening game win.  Whether or not the Lakers can continue that streak remains to be seen, but if today’s game was any indication, it will be tough for the Thunder to win 4 times in the next 6 games.  But we’re getting ahead of ourselves some as there is plenty to discuss about this first game.

This game truly was a defensive battle.  Neither team reached 90 points and the Lakers’ 41% shooting was only a hair better than the Thunder’s 40.3% from the field.  The Lakers held the Thunder to an offensive rating of 94.1 which is 15 points below their season average.  And the key to all of this was Ron Artest’s defense on Kevin Durant.  As the primary defender on KD, Artest helped to hold Durant to 24 points on 24 shot attempts with 4 turnovers.  And when you separate out Ron’s defense from the other Lakers that got time on Durant, you see that KD only went 4-18 from the field for 9 points – excluding FT’s (per ESPN stats and information).  That is a tremendous effort from Artest and should be applauded.  When you can hold one of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA to 22% from the field that is saying something.  But, I should also add that Durant did the Lakers a big favor by continuing to rely on long jumpers in isolation situations.  Based off his regular season stats, Durant shot only 40% from the field in isolation situations but took a bit over 25% of his shots in those exact scenarios.  Coming into this series, I mentioned that this would be a major factor in whether or not Durant would be successful and today that held true.  If KD is going to be content with settling for long jumpers with Ron playing him in close proximity, I’m unsure as to whether he’ll play substantially better than he did today.

And while the Thunder struggled on offense, the Lakers numbers weren’t much better (offensive efficiency of 103.6).  Just like Durant, the Lakers main perimeter threat also struggled with the solid one on one and team defense that he encountered.  Kobe needed 19 shots to score his 21 points, missed 5 of his 12 free throw attempts, and never really found his groove with his outside shot.  If not for him nailing 2 of his 5 three point attempts (one of them a dagger around the 6 minute mark), his 43.2% true shooting mark would have been even worse.  However unlike Durant, Kobe did move away from shooting the long jumper and found ways to get better shots and be effective on offense.  Kobe worked the post and attacked the basket and ended up taking 8 of his 19 shots from within 12 feet (making half of those attempts).  Taking advantage of his time against James Harden in post up situations, Kobe made a couple of nice turn around jumpers, drove hard to the paint to take short bank shots, and did not settle as often as we’ve seen him in the past.  So while Kobe didn’t necessarily have an advantage, he squeezed every ounce out of his match ups that he could and persevered to be as effective as he was in this game.

But, just as both teams superstars had their struggles, both teams’ secondary players did have good games.  For the Thunder that meant Russell Westbrook.  After missing his first 2 shots, Russ found his effectiveness rather quickly and got into the paint to make his next six.  Westbrook terrorized the Lakers in the open court by racing through their transition D and using his superior athleticism to get defenders on their heels and finish at the rim.  Aided by the Lakers’ poor offensive balance and missed long jumpshots, Westbrook was able break free and not allow the Lakers to “build the wall” in transition that would limit his driving lanes.  Overall, Russ scored 23 points on 16 shots and 64.8% true shooting.  He was (literally) the driving force behind this game being as close as it was from the Thunder’s perspective.  If the Lakers want to make life easier on themselves in the upcoming games, they’ll need to do a better job of transitioning from offense to defense and getting secondary defenders back to help in cutting off his angles to the rim.

As for the Lakers, their offensive and defensive success was built on the shoulders of Gasol and Bynum.  The two Lakers bigs played very well inside and combined to put up 32 points, grab 25 rebounds, and block 7 shots (while contesting many others).  The return of Bynum was especially significant as he was the catalyst on the interior.  On multiple possessions he established deep post position and made himself a good target for post entries.  He finished in the lane with authority and on one play in particular got the crowd (and the Lakers’ bench) off their feet with a powerful dunk executed off a fantastic seal of his defender and then a strong drop step to the middle.  And Bynum’s presence allowed Gasol more freedom on offense.  While Pau was not as dominant as hoped in the post against Green, the big Spaniard did continue stroking his silky mid range jumper and was able to score on the block with enough consistency that OKC never really had an answer for him.  The Lakers will need to find a way to get Pau more post touches and incorporate more actions within the Triangle to combat the Thunder’s fronting tendencies, but that’s what the game film is for.  But when it comes right down to it, with Pau making his jumper and drawing help on his post ups and Bynum occupying space and collapsing the defense on the other low block, the Lakers set the foundation for their success on offense.  And with both of them patrolling the paint on defense, the Thunder only grabbed 9 offensive rebounds (on 43 missed shots) and missed good interior looks because of those long outstretched arms.

In the end, was this a pretty game?  No.  The Lakers didn’t shoot well and had some defensive lapses that will need to be improved upon.  But, in a game like this, it’s nit picking to try and find too much fault in the Lakers’ performance.  The Lakers made Kevin Durant work for all of his points and made every member of the Thunder (save Westbrook) play against their strengths.  Offensively, the Lakers will need to improve on getting the ball inside with more consistency, but (as I mentioned) some time in the film room should help that considerably.  So even though there are adjustments to be made, having to make them while possessing the lead in the series is a much better position to be in than vice versa.  And having Phil Jackson being the mind behind making the adjustments helps too.  His record speaks for itself there.  So now, we wait for game two.  But in the meantime, enjoy this first game.  The Lakers earned a win have taken the series lead.  And being able to say that never gets old.

Darius Soriano

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69 responses to Lakers/Thunder: Defense Carries The Day

  1. Excellent job by the Lakers today.

    Watching Bynum and Gasol work was a lot of fun.

  2. A win is definitely a win and we’ll take 100% of the times. But I do think the lakers should nit pick. Not to get down on themselves, but in an effort to improve and be as best as possible. Perfection won’t happen but they have to nit pick because the opposing team is going to nit pick and look to exploit the weaknesses they find in the following game. But this was overall a good game. The playoffs are going to be scrappy and ugly.

    And my nitpicking goes…I would like to see Odom do a better job of contesting shots in the paint . Kobe’s shot is looking much better and he’ll find his stroke. Fisher was 4-12 but if he hadn’t taken a couple bad shots in the first it would’ve a respectable game for fish going 4-9 or so. I expect Fisher adjust. As a team they have to conjure up a plan on how to defend Westbrook in the open floor as a team (They should watch the first 3 quarters of the last Boston vs. Cleveland game).

    Lets keep this winning going. Go Lakers.

  3. I don’t know about some of the negative comments in the game thread, but I, personally, liked what I saw: The OKC Thunder was just held to 79 points.
    For me, it doesn’t matter whether you play crap on the offensive end as long as you’ll commit to the defensive end. It’s like this: If you don’t score, then don’t let the other team score. The negative becomes positive then, and just like what happened, the Lakers although they played almost crap for the next 2 1/2 quarters, they still won the game. That’s what happens when defense is done.

  4. While the Thunder made this game interesting, the Lakers’ win was seemingly never in doubt. There were tense periods, but never that rush of points that indicated our defense and composure were collapsing.

    I think I will settle for that, after this year of frustrating inconsistency.

    I doubt it is possible to have the returning starters perform much better in their first game. Sure Kobe could have shot better, but there is that issue with his finger and I will settle for the reduction in his turnovers.

    Lamar is Lamar and that is the best reason for his coming off the bench. Now we can start games with a rush, instead of a whimper, and rely on him coming in to help hold the lead.

  5. I haven’t watch the mavs play in a long time but they sure have a lot of depth. i know they picked up some players before the trade deadline but on paper they now seem like they could give the lakers a tough series.

    if lakers have to face them i am not too confident – the lakers bench will be smoked.

  6. karl,
    The Lakers didn’t have much of a bench last year either. They do however, have 5 very strong players and Fish can be somewhat clutch.

  7. On a side note….KG is suspended for game 2. Thats huge.

    Mark…I completely agree with the committing on defense comment. They lakers are a lock down defensive team when they commit. I said a few weeks back that they look like Detroit circa 04-05 when they commit. I the lakers have been a team that has relied on their potent offense the past 2 seasons and stepped up defensively when needed. Now its the complete opposite. And it’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, different doesn’t mean better or worse. I just wish the lakers realize how good they are when they commit defensive and really rely on that.

    But I’m an offender in negative commenting. But I don’t see what’s wrong with pointing out things you see. Like there were about 4 times Odom could’ve jumped to contest a shot, instead he opted to play the 7’10” defense (standing still with his hands up).

    But I don’t like reading the comments like the lakers are in big trouble, they won’t win a championship blah blah blah after a bad play. But I comment on the game as I see it.

  8. Yes, we still have HCA in this series with this win, that is good. Both KB and KD had shooting woes today, I see this as an ugly win, but a win anyway. I also got happy when KG was suspended for a game, wow, lots of K’s here in my comment.

  9. joel,

    I, personally, did not intend to say anything against the long-timers, what I was trying to point was the commenters who made “soft” come back again and it’s as if our bigs minus Bynum didn’t do anything right, and as if our guards weren’t doing anything right as well, as if they were forcing shots when in fact they were good shots at all.

  10. Craig – not doubt about the starting 5 plus LO. I wasn’t trying to rehash all the bench talk. I’m just bummed that mitch didn’t do something to shore up the second unit before the deadline. I know we just have to root for the team as is.

    I think we all agree that the bench played better last year while other teams improved…so less margin of error.

    Anyway – great win today!!!

  11. Ron was absolutely a stud on defense today. Big props to him.

    Jordan and Fish had bad games, but both hit big 4th quarter 3’s.

    Kobe looked a lot more spry than he did last week.

    Bynum and Gasol playing volleyball is fun to watch.

    Bynum can be the difference.

  12. karl,
    With our salary constraints and the triangle system, there isn’t much room to pick up decent people who can run the triangle. Changes weren’t going to come until the summer.

  13. Be the GM of the team. Sign up for UTL’s Sim League today. http://utlsports.com/showthread.php?t=460 Teams go on a first come, first serve basis.

  14. westbrook was great today, but did anyone else notice specifically when he was able to run? if memory serves, it was almost invariably off a kobe long missed J.

    this is yet another reason to pound it in to Pau and AB– their missed shots near the rim don’t play into OKC’s primary advantage the way missed perimeter jumpers do.

    i think it was a good win– by no means did we dominate, but it was less close than the score would indicate. and watching Artest hound KD (esp away from the ball) was incredible.

  15. @Joel
    Good. I saw that elbow and Garnett has definitely earned his suspension. Good riddance. :)

    Andrew Bynum played great today. He was an absolute beast on both ends of the court, and whenever he plays like this I want to strangle him for not doing it more consistently. He can completely take over when he wants to, and today he did. Way to go, Andrew.

    We need to figure out a way to at least slow down Westbrook for next game.

    Ron was fantastic on defense. Look out, because Durant will take this personally and come back with a vengeance and a point to prove next game. If this keeps up though, Ron will have earned every penny we promised him. This is what we wanted him to do wen we offered him a contract, and he’s doing it impressively well.

    Now, someone needs to point out to Ron that the scruffy look doesn’t fit him. Either he lost access to all mirrors in his life, or his barber called in sick, I don’t care, but that color job was blotchy and the beard unkempt and out of control. Ron is normally a vain man. What happened, and how can we fix it?

  16. #15. I have nothing to say besides “hello” to Mimsy. Long time, no see.

  17. @Darius
    Thank you. It’s good to be back, I’ve missed this place. :)

    My computer died… I’m still in the process of replacing the broken parts, but in the mean time, I have a new laptop that can connect me to the important things in life again. Like FB&G.

  18. Bynum was awesome today. if he could take it out on Nene and the grease/diesel/left-over shaq later on, lakers will be in good shape

  19. Mimsy, you were missed around here, good to see you comment again, after a looonnnngggg time. With this Laker win today and all of the good things that have happened around here, the future looks bright.

  20. very happy to see bynum and gasol play well today. i hope that they can duplicate today’s success not only for the rest of this series but also in the later rounds, in which they’ll face far bigger and stronger front lines.

  21. Great defensive effort. On offense we are what we are. 18th in the league in FGP and 26th in 3 point shooting. Doing my simple math if Drew and Pau shot around 60% and Fish and Ron shot 30% yet they took the same amount of shots as the bigs then”””””””’well someone needs to explain math to this team.

    Just a simple theory on my part.

  22. @sT,
    Good seeing you too. :) The future looks bright indeed. For all the ugliness of today’s win, it had a couple of very positive things to it. The first and most obvious ones are Andrew Bynum in Beast-mode, and Ron Artest’s defense on Durant. The next is the overall defensive effort of the Lakers. It might not have been pretty, it might not have been elegant, but it was effective. We held our opponents to under 80 points, limited their biggest offensive weapons to very poor shooting, and took their role players out of the picture.

    There will of course be adjustments on both ends before Tuesday, but the playoffs are going very well so far. :)

  23. I enjoyed the defensive effort by the Lakers in game 1. I believe in unicorns!

  24. Oh I think I figured it out. The reason Ron and Fish took as many shots as drew and Pau is that point wise 30% 3 point shooting actually translates to 45% so that’s why they keep shooting.

    That’s makes no sense and I wrote it//////

  25. Great blog as always. I was thrilled to see how Bynum played today. this is the best he has played coming back from an injury. The Lakers absolutely need him if they have any chance of repeating. Artest D was great, and after sub-par 1st quarter, Pau played great.

    What I did not like. Kobe’s finger/injuries are still bothering him. Is it only me, but I am ticked off that Lakers did not rest him more during the regular season. Here they are without homecourt over Cavs and the Magic and Kobe not healthy. He’s giving it his all (played great D with steals and blocks). But I am not sure he will be there when team needs him at his best. Fine for OKC and maybe for Western Conference but against Cavs we need him to hit not only shots but free throws too.

    Fisher somehow gets out of the selfish offensive player talk but he can easily be suckered into taking too many shots. Through the half he had more shots than Pau and Bynum. Everyone likes to point at Kobe shot selection but when is the last time Fish DID NOT shoot a fast break three with no one around for a rebound at least once in a game. And his inability to play D, forced Kobe to play a stretch there keeping Westbrook in check.

    It is not only Fish, but Farmar, Artest, Odom, etc.. will all jack up a three if other team lays off of them. Well if I was the other team’s coach. I would do just that. Fire away guys. Goal should be to have Lakers attempt 20 or more threes a game best way to beat them. Not only does it take the ball out the bigs hands but makes it less likely that Pau or Andrew can get an offensive board due to the longer distance rebounds. This could kill the team later in a playoff series. Why anyone would not allow these guys (and now Kobe too with the injuries) to fire away from behind the arc is beyond me. The Lakers simply cannot consistently hit an open three, and really shold not attempt them as much as they do.

    But that said, the lakers defense is championship quality and IMO better than last year. If they keep up the intensity they can play with anyone (just maybe more like this game where neither team gets 100 pts).

  26. I repeat Brian the Lakers were 26th in the NBA in 3 point shooting.

    Makes you wonder if ego trump common sense.

    Or coaching!

  27. The Lakers are a different team when Bynum’s on the floor and playing like he did today.

    What’s the latest on Sasha? I’ve been out of the loop and haven’t heard if he’s expected back anytime in the playoffs.

    Also, Phil and KG are right about Durant. Some of the calls he gets are borderline Michael Jordan-level in terms of their ridiculousness.

  28. Ken,
    Remember not long ago in the 80’s when each team only had two to four players allowed to shoot a three point shot? Coach would get all over anyone else attempting it? Today it is like a manly code of honor that if you are open YOU HAVE TO SHOOT IT. WTF? If you have no range to hit it then please move in and take an easier two point shot or pass to a guy who can make it. Yet the Lakers fall into this morass where everyone has to try hitting it. So all the other team needs to do is leave you open. You shoot, you miss, they rebound. Great defense. Very frustrating. And I really think it could be the Lakers downfall this season.

    I also think it is why the Lakers should NOT run as much triangle offense, and use more pick and rolls. In the triangle, the opposing team can always leave the outside wing player open and decide to double down towards the post. At least in a spread offense with a pick and roll, you know one of the bigs can be involved.

  29. Excellent points Bryan/ Spot on.

    Can’t imagine that happening during Riley years. He never let Rambis shoot 3-pointers. Ok so that was a bit of a joke.

  30. 28. and Ken

    I don’t understand why no one, especially artest, will take a step or two inside the line. Artest has a really good 20 ft jumpshot. It just seems that L.O., artest, kobe, fisher, brown and farmar have just settled for the 3 this entire season, so it probably won’t change. So lets just hope they start knocking the 3 down with some consistency. However, it was a good start for farmar and brown in limited minutes today.

  31. Hey they can miss all they want as long as we win.

    Its a ego thing.

    Fisher thinks he is 22
    Ron thinks he is the 41% 3 pointer when he was with Sac
    And Kobe thinks he is———–Kobe.

    Bet you Hodges is fired next year.

  32. thisisweaksauce April 18, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    BrianAu(28),

    In terms of running the offense, I believe that Darius would highly disagree. Darius has stressed that the Lakers’ offensive struggles this year have come from not running the triangle at a high level (there are other problems, like poor 3 point shooting, but this is the main one, I believe), not from a lack of PnR. Darius will now proceed to explain why he disagrees… right?

  33. Ugly game, nice win. Loved the scrappy defense. You can debate Artest vs. other players if you really want, but I don’t think anyone plays as hard on every defensive possession as he does.

    I’m glad Fisher hit a couple threes, but his shot selection in the 1st half was poor again. Actually, I was really pleased with Kobe today. Inefficient game, but he stuck to the game plan. Especially starting out – he forced nothing until Thabo went to the bench, and then Kobe went to work on Harden. Actually, it was Fish who took up the perimeter chucker mantle early on – quite a few plays where he should have gotten the ball inside, and took a poor shot instead. It’s no coincidence his 3-point makes came off set shots that other players created. Can’t give him a pass when he’s supposed to be the veteran (the ‘non-breaking-out-of-the-triangle’ of our 2 vets).

    Loved the interior defense too. Artest’s shot hasn’t come back. I didn’t look at the box score, but I’m sure his 3-point column can’t be good. Although we didn’t seem to have a ton of threes, we had timely ones that broke Thunder runs, and that made all the difference.

  34. thisisweaksauce,
    I never meant to imply that Darius would agree to more Pick and Roll. I concur with you that he would probably disagree. But this is my opinion not his. I think the outside shooting is sufficiently atrocious that going more to a two man game (not all the time) makes a lot of sense. Now the defense cannot as easily collapse, and the shots will come either in the paint or from a mid-range jumper. Again just my thoughts, and of course you (and Darius) can disagree that is what makes these blogs interesting :-)

  35. Just wanted to thank LOfan and ShannonBrown for the links to the game online. So………………thanks!

  36. Well I agree with you Brian. The problem all year is defenses are collapsing and would love to have Fisher, Kobe, Ron and Brown hoist 3 pointers.

    Hence 18th in shooting with 2 guys shooting over 50% down under and 26th out of 30 teams in 3’s

    Don’t have to be member of mensa on that one guys.

  37. ken,

    they shoot them cuz they are open. Fish shot 3-6 from beyond the arc today. what’s the problem?

    Ron shot open threes, he didn’t force them he just flat missed them. But maybe thats because he’s expending a lot of energy on the defensive side of the ball guarding that … what’s his name… oh yah, Durant. Even the bench played above what we’ve expected them to do. Shannon was 2-4
    Jordan was 2-3
    Lamar was 2-4.

    Lamar looked like he was trying to feel his way into the game, trying to figure out when and where he should be offensively aggressive, which is understandable because he hasn’t been off the bench in a while.

    At any time in this game was it ever in doubt? even when they cut the lead to 6, was it really in doubt?

  38. RE Running more P&R: thisisweaksauce is correct in that I don’t think the P&R is the answer for the Lakers offensive woes. Especially the traditional high P&R that teams like Cleveland, Orlando, and Phoenix run. I say this for two reasons 1). The P&R actually works best when you have shooters to space the floor. The threat of those shooters makes collapsing on the dive man or trapping the ball handler difficult to accomplish. Those help defenders end up having to stay home and it opens up driving lanes for the ball handler and for the dive man. When the help does commit on the ball handler or the dive man, that leaves a shooter who then has to make the outside shot to make the defense pay. I actually think, with the way the Lakers shooting is right now, our offensive efficiency would drop further if we went to more P&R. 2). The Lakers need more ball and player movement, not less. And the P&R encourages 3 players to stand around and watch the 2 players executing the P&R. Those three guys become stand still, spot up players and I don’t think that plays to the Lakers strengths. I’d much rather prefer that all our players (save Fisher) be in motion to occupy defenders off the ball and give our primary offensive players more room to operate.

    All that said, I’m not against the P&R in spots as I think it can be quite effective. Understand too that there are P&R actions built into the Triangle both on the sideline and at the pinch post. So, I’m in favor of the Lakers using this type of action, I just don’t think it should be the primary offensive option on the majority of the the team’s possessions. I’d much rather see the ball go into the post and the Lakers cut and screen hard off the ball to get open and create good looks at the rim, in the mid range, and from behind the three point line. I think we can all agree that if the Lakers could consistently make some outside shots that they’d be a nearly unstoppable offensive team due to their post presence with Gasol and Bynum (and to a lesser extent, Kobe) but the Lakers can also create very good looks for themselves just by moving the ball and then taking the shots that are available to them within the flow of the offense.

    Remember too that defensive instincts tell players to close out on shooters. When the ball moves and the Lakers have open shots from 3, they should take them just to keep the rhythm of their sets and to keep the defense honest. No defense is going to stop closing out on shooters unless the other team is filled with Rajon Rondo’s. And despite the Lakers success rate this season in shooting 3’s, they still have guys that are respected from out there (Fisher, Kobe) and players that are capable that do force the defense to respond (Farmar, Brown). In the end, I want the players taking the shots that are open because that is what this offense is built on – taking the open shot in rhythm. This is why I don’t get too upset on a lot of Fisher’s shots. Even though Fish has forced plenty of shots, he still knows what shots this offense is supposed to produce and when those shots are available he takes them (unlike some of Farmar and Brown’s worst moments when they decided that they’re going to over dribble and then force up long, contested jumpers).

  39. i agree in theory Darius except the sample size is 82 games and 26th in the league.

    How about we agree they should shoot fewer 3 pointers?

    Now if Steve Nash is shooting that’s different.

  40. so are we rooting for suns or port?

  41. Stupid dunleavy giving up camby to portland. he is a rebounding beast.

  42. rooting for Portland so that way we know Amare won’t be back and there are way to many good bars in Pheonix for Ron and LO.

    Was that Artest who missed that wide open dunk in Pheonix?

  43. I agree with Ken. Portland all the way!

  44. Let me get one thing straight. The conversation on defending the Lakers by allowing them to be open for 3 pointers all day was NOT employed by OKC and we still did not come close to getting 100 points. IMO this will happen sooner or later be it this series or the next. There is no reason to cover any of our outside shooters. None have been consistently good enough to warrant it. Defenders should be sagging off four feet so they can more readily double down on any post player getting the ball or to better cut off players trying to cut to the paint.

    Now I agree with Darius that triangle allows for players to slash to the hoop but how often does this occur? Versus a player staying put for a wide open 3 (which he most likely will miss)? The great example of this is Lamar’s play. The best lineups for the Lakers all have one thing consistent – Lamar at power forward with either Pau or Andrew at center. When playing small forward Lamar too often hangs out at the three point line and does not slash to the hoop. Nor is he in position for an offensive rebound, and neither does he tend to make the types of passes he is capable of doing out of the post.

    What bothers me is not so much running the triangle the majority of times but having absolutely no set plays to take advantage of our players skills (beyond the spread out so Kobe is one on one). Would it kill the Lakers to run a back screen? Or any series of screens? We have this huge front line but rarely use them at all in this manner.

  45. Chownoir (was J) April 18, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Joel, if you’re going to play the part of resident nitpicker, I wish you’d at least get the facts and context correct.

    First off, quit calling it the 7 10 defense, MchHale called it the 7 11 defense as in being held up in a robbery.

    Second of all, he was talking about how he would attack his defender and try to get them in foul trouble. After picking up a couple of fouls, they would be forced to just stand there with their hands up in the air to avoid the foul. McHale had long arms and a high release often going up against guys where he had some kind of height advantage so yes, the “7 11″ defense wouldn’t work. He could shoot over them easily as part of his natural stroke.

    When you have 3 Seven footers like the Lakers, you want them to just extend out their hands and not jump to contest the shot and potentially pick up a foul. More often than not, the opposing shooter is shorter and have to arc and adjust the shot more. This forces a miss shot with minimal chance of a foul being called on the frontline.

    Early in his career, Bynum would get into constant foul trouble for contesting shots a little too eagerly. He’s now learned the balance of when to contest and when to just extend the arms to alter a shot.

    I think it would be much more effective for LO and Pau to contest shots against shorter players by just raising up and using their length most of the time. Especially against OKC where they tower over everyone else.

  46. Wow interesting. So if all your defenders are short and fat would that be the Circle K defense?

  47. Tonight the Lakers (as a whole) shot:

    32 for 78 FGs (41.0 %)
    8 for 22 3PT FGs (36.4 %)
    15 for 22 FTs (68.2 %)

    So adjusting for the 3PT FGs the Lakers shot:
    24 for 56 (42.8 %) from inside the arc.

    In terms of pure shooting efficiency (not including Turnovers or And One attempts) the Lakers were better from beyond the 3PT line than from inside of it. (24 points on 22 attempts versus 48 points on 56 attempts.)

    Of course, the reason to go inside is that it is MUCH easier to score consistently there, and it leads to other good results. (Fouls against defenders, clock control, low turnovers, less opposing fast breaks, etc.)

    Bynum and Gasol are wonderfully consistent, and efficient. 13 for 24 FGs tonight (54.1%). The other Lakers were less so going 11 for 32 FGs (34.3%). Andrew and Pau are 20% more effective than anyone else, and yet they had less than one third of the Lakers total attempts… I have no answer for this mystery…

    In short if the Lakers focused offensively on feeding the post and/or shooting three point attempts, and NOTHING ELSE (No two point attempts from farther than, say, 6 feet from the basket) their offensive efficiency would be greatly improved.

    And, they would suddenly be the Orlando Magic, but with two extra Dwight Howards…

    I cannot fathom why NBA teams do anything but that…

    *shrugs*

  48. Chownior

    Are you serious. Get my context right? 7’11 not 7’10 defense whoop -di-doo. Yes, Mchale was specifically referring to players putting their hands up after he drew fouls on them, and they would do that to avoid another foul. But his point was that once a player just stands there with his hands up, the offensive player has the advantage because they could just rise up and shoot over them without worrying about getting it blocked. In addition to not having the shot block, they can also spin right around a played as Collison did in this game versus odom. So standing there with your hands straight up is not the way to contest shots. I’m guessing you’ve never watch dwight howard play. He never just stands there with his hands up. The way to contest is to jump straight up and straight down without bringing your hands forward. That’s exactly why Bynum got called for so many fouls because he would never keep his hands straight up when he jumped. And its funny that you say that you don’t want your bigs to jump and contest shots, but Bynum was dominating defensively today because he was jumping and contesting shots(the right way). Even when you stand there with your hands straight up and someone (Westbrook) is coming straight at you, your just as likely to pick up the foul and send them to the line for an and-1.

  49. Hands straight up defense… You have to be careful doing this. Everytime I see a big just raise his hands straight up the offensive player initiates contact and seems to get a foul call almost all the time. I am not stating that a player needs to leave his feet or not. Just that arms straight up in the air is a recipe for a foul call. Offensive player can then cause contact with one or both of the arms to get a foul called. Note that a foul does not have to be technically initiated by the defender. Recall the famous jump shot kick of Reggie Miller to draw cheap fouls. In the current rules, it seems even easier to “draw contact” with famous Wade wearing thigh and elbow pads no less getting to the foul line every possession it seemed in the finals. His only goal at times to plow into someone and draw contact.

  50. I hope the Thunder baits us to shoot open 3s.

    That may be just what we need to get our 3s falling again, some in-game practice.

    I’d feel much much better about our repeat hopes if our 3s start falling…

  51. I have a question about the Boston vs Miami game.
    Back in 2007 i think, Suns vs Spurs, every player who left the bench got a technical and quite a few got a suspension. How come in this case, only Garnett got suspended? i know he initiated it, but in 2007, only 1 person initiated it too (big shot bob). Why are the standards different? THere were at least 4-5 Miami players shoving around –shouldn’t they all receive technicals and/or be suspended?

  52. dave in hillsboro April 19, 2010 at 6:06 am

    27, Chris J, the latest on Sasha is here:

    http://my.lakers.com/blogs/2010/04/17/sasha-vujacics-ankle-ouch/

    Be forewarned that there is a picture of his injured ankle, which is visibly bruised.

  53. Aaron has his Fisher obsession, Ken has his club obsession, and I think I’ve found one thing that irks me so much I have to harp on it over and over again:

    Our crowd royally sucks.

    This isn’t new, but it struck me again just how pathetic of a home court advantage we give our guys. This is the first game of the playoffs!

    The Staples Center crowd is like most tennis match crowds – they clap politely and cheer after a good play, and then fall silent again. Good crowds work the opposite way – they give their team energy when the team needs it the most.

    Am I bitter because I can’t afford tickets and live too far away to go? Of course.

    But seriously, if you go to a game and have vocal cords, please use them. And throw a beer on Adam Sandler, I haven’t seen him stand once in all the games he’s been to at Staples. That should get him out of his seat.

    (On a side note, I respect J Timberlake and Leo DiCaprio a lot more after seeing how they act at Lakers games, like real fans).

  54. Kenny.
    It was Miami’s bench. Exactly where were they supposed to stand?

  55. Craig – I think he’s asking about guys like Magloire, who were not just standing around, but actively involved in the fray. Kenny – I think it might just be a technicality, that they didn’t literally leave the bench area. Magloire might have been trying to separate guys instead of initiate fights, so the NBA might have worked a loophole to avoid giving more sentences. But I’d have to watch the tape again to see if any Miami players actually trickled onto the court during the fray.

    In praising the Thunder, Artest drifted into a meandering monologue during which he admitted he wasn’t sure which teams ended up making the NBA playoffs.

    Of his five personal fouls Sunday, Artest explained that “some of them were good and some of them were weird.”

    This is why I love Artest.

  56. @Snoopy
    Thanks to the magic of DVR my husband and I watched that little scuffle a few times, and though I’m not willing to swear to it, I’m pretty sure that the only Miami players who stepped on the court were the ones who had been on the court during the play just before hand. In other words, the ones supposed to be there.

    And according to LA Times, Artest declined to comment further on the “weird” calls since he doesn’t want to get fined ;)

  57. Joel,

    You’re the one wanting to nitpick. If you’re going to start citing things, at least cite them correctly where it makes sense.

    I do watch Howard play and I have no problems with guys jumping and contesting shots. As I said, it’s a balance. Please re-read what I said.

    Also I pointed out the height factor. My point was if a player is considerably taller, there are times, not always, when it is better to just go straight up with the hands and just going out there contesting every shot and getting into foul trouble.

    Guys like that, you just give a pump fake or head pump everytime because you know they’ll go for it and you can get the foul on them.

    I’m all for guys closing out shots but there’s also a big difference between wildly contesting shots by jumping at everything and doing it with discipline. Sure LO can be more aggressive at times going for the block and I think overall Laker bigs did a great job yesterday contesting hard deep inside the paint. I did love how hard Pau and Bynum was going up to contest the shot but again, different circumstances. These were one on one situations.

    But there are also times when you’re out in space or if you’re not going to get there in time that the prudent action is to just rise straight up especially if you’re much lankier. Refs are less likely to make that call against you.

    LO contesting shots I think is one of the more consistent parts of his game. Sure there are things to nitpick about this game, I’m just not sure I agree with your points.

  58. 52) – Welcome to Staples Center. When I was kid and we went to games back in the ’80s at the Forum it wasn’t like that. The reason (I believe) is because the average guy could afford to go to a game and get a good seat back then.

    I am not mad at Jerry Buss for getting as much as he can for a ticket. I respect the business. However, the downside is Lakers games have become the “cool” place to hang out for the very casual monied fan. Whenever I am at a sports bar for Lakers games it is NEVER quiet. Those guys are the guys that should be filling up Staples Center.

    Satan himself, Bill Simmons, actually did a good article on how this same thing is affecting home field advantage in the NFL. Honestly, I don’t think it matters for the Lakers.

  59. I think what Joel is trying to say (and I agree) is that when Westbrook makes his kamikaze drives to the hoop, it’s better for Lamar to jump straight up without trying to block the shot, instead of standing in position with his arms up. If he jumps straight up and there is contact, the refs frequently give the benefit of the doubt to the defender (since they’re allowed to call the vertical space above their spot their own). This is especially true if they have set up position within the circle near the basket area. When Lamar just stood there in the 7-11 position, he got called for the foul AND Westbrook scored over him. If he were to jump plus put his arms up, it would be tougher for Westbrook to make the shot and Lamar would be less likely to be whistled for a foul.

  60. @58,
    I remember when I went to Salt Lake City to see the Lakers play The Jazz, and the Laker fans attending that game weren’t exactly quiet either… though I admit the locals were by far much louder. That place gets LOUD!

    I think you’re on to something with Staples Center tickets just costing too much. I mean… if you can stay home watching the game with affordable beer and snacks, with an HD-DVR and a 62-inch HDTV with a group of friends, and have the time of your life, why would you be willing to pay outrageous ticket prices for seats with a worse view? Especially when you can get a 6-pack of beer for less than what a stadium cup of Coors Light would cost you.

  61. Man reading these comments I would’ve thought we went 3-20 from 3. The fact is we went for 8 of 22, 36.4% from 3! That makes me ecstatic, jump for joy, and makes me think you all are a little too emotionally biased. And I don’t blame you, seeing as how I’ve killed small animals over Fish missing wide open three’s this season. (FYI we held the Thunder to only 12% 3 pt shooting).

    36.4% would be good for top 10 in the league in the regular season this year.

    But wait, this isn’t the regular season. As I and others have said, in the playoffs as you play better team-oriented defensive teams, higher intensity players, and coaching staffs with days to adjust, the “team flow” concept of shooting three’s should be less effective. Take Pho last night finding themselves unable to create a good shots and was left to do or die on Nash creating one on one 22 foot jumpers.. The importance of one on one play is magnified in the playoffs because a double team is something you cannot gameplan around – its simple math, 3 vs. 4. So the teams that employ dominant one on one players (how much better you are than your matchup) would have the advantage in the postseason by this logic, with respect to shooting 3’s.

    I looked up the three point percentages of teams in the 2008-2009 season versus in the postseason.
    08-09 Reg Season
    Boston .397
    Cleveland .393
    San Antonio .386
    Portland .383
    Chicago .381
    Orlando .381
    Houston .375
    Denver .371
    Atlanta .366
    (Non-playoff teams omitted)
    19th LA Lakers .361

    08-09 Postseason
    Por – .388 : +.005
    Den – .383 : +.012
    Chi – .378 : -.003
    LA – .377 : +.016
    Bos – .360 : -.037
    Orl – .360 : -.020
    Mia – . 357 : same
    Dal – .354 : +.004
    Atl – .347 : -.019
    SA – .330: -.050 a lot
    Hous .328 : -a lot
    Cle .336 : – a lot

    Sorry I got lazy when the math became too difficult, but for the most part teams shot a lot worse – the few that shot better were about the same as avg on the season. The teams that stayed the same or improved – Por, Den, Mia, they all had dominate scoring wings. Whereas we had a dominant wing and dominant post players. Teams that tanked may have been due to lack of offensive diversity (Cle), failure to get the ball in the post (Orl), lack of dominating matchups (SA, Hou, Bos), or falling in love with their regular season success (SA, Orl, Cle, Bos). Of course other factors like playoff experience may be apparent but I’d argue that our philosophy – dominate one on one matchups, don’t stress the 3 in the regular season so as to not have our players fall in love with it, are the best recipe.

    For reference if you take 20 3’s, shot .368 in the reg season and shot .328 in the postseason that’s a -2.4 point differential already (without accounting for the additional gains by spreading the defense)

    Moral of the story. Play like we did – start by dominating one on one matchups, play consistent defense, keep taking open three’s. And moral for the disgruntled fans – I’d argue it’s not WHO takes the three, but HOW we take the three that matters more.

    Ron took open three’s. BrianAu if you think leaving NBA level players open consistently for three’s is a good idea, well, that is why you’re not a coach in the NBA. I will love for Ron and the rest of our guys to keep taking the shots they got. Esp Ron because he only takes wide open shots.

    Oh yeah, remember how I mentioned Pho couldn’t create shots? How about 41% in the reg season vs. 34% last night? For 32 3’s, that’s a 6.72 point differential that would’ve given them a W in the 105-100 loss.

    OK now to make up for the time I’ve spent at work I’m going to work twice as hard as I normally do… too bad for my employer what I normally do is surf the internet.

  62. DEFENSE. That’s what this series & for that matter, our entire playoff run this year, is going to come down to. Let’s be real, our offense is going to continue to be sporadic because we don’t shoot the ball well from the outside. Our best perimeter shooter, arguably, is sidelined with a bum ankle & even if he was healthy, he’s been out of rythm all season because of inconsistent minutes. The comparison that I like to use when it comes to shooting (and making) jumpshots in the NBA is getting a hit in Major League Baseball.

    In Baseball, it’s possible for a hitter to see the grooves of the ball when it’s pitched to them, have perfect timing on their swing, make solid contact on the ball once it arrives to the plate and STILL make an out. Whereas in Basketball, you can be wide open with no one within 10 feet of you, put the proper arch on the shot, have it leave your finger-tips with precise rotation and STILL miss the shot. In situations like this, when an individual feels that he’s done everything correct to achieve his goal (in this case, getting a hit or making a shot) and it’s STILL not accomplished, there’s nothing that a person can do except hope for a better result on their next opportunity. What we, in sports, call this is “A Slump.”

    I say this because basically, your shot comes & goes. If you’re a good shooter, eventually, it’ll come around. But when it comes to Defense, an individual can never go into “A Slump” because, even though good defense can be taught, the basic principles in being a good defender is EFFORT. Which CAN NOT be taught. Therefore, if we continue to play defense with the same intensity & effort as we displayed in game 1, we’ll be fine because as we all know, DEFENSE wins Championships.

    LAKER 4 LIFE ….. GO HARD OR GO HOME

  63. Sorry for the double post, but I’d also argue (even tho this is more of a stretch) that a differential like a 2.4 itself is not a huge deal (Christ Durant gets two FT’s just by Marty McCutcheon being annoyed at Ron’s hair). But taking 3’s is what matters. Even if you shoot .3 vs. .4 percent, the fact that you take them and make less will have an impact on the defense. Nobody likes their guy hitting a three on them, so its difficult to stay consistently disciplined.

    What’s worse than taking an open 3? Not taking one. Then you’re back to square one with 10 seconds left on the shot clock. Also, I don’t think you get enough space in the playoffs to be able to step into 20 feet because by then you’ll have been closed out.

  64. Ah Mimsy’s back! Good to see you again. We were wondering where you’d disappeared to a few weeks back.

  65. @Snoopy
    It’s good to be back :) I vanished into a pit of broken computer parts that kept me offline. Since it’s going to take me a bit longer to get that fixed, I got myself a laptop so I can follow the playoffs properly.

  66. Scrolling => lots of yellow happy faces = Mimsy’s back

  67. That’s right! I’m the yellow smiley queen! (Yes, I find it funny that no one else uses them.)

  68. Snoopy I am insulted that you say I have a club obsession(I was in the record biz for 18 years) I ALSO have a Fisher obession and I want to be given full credit for my sicknesses.

    THANK YOU

  69. On the fans at playoffs a few thing to consider. There are many corporate season ticket holders. Apx 20% and most of those are in the lower levels. We use these tickets as incentives to our customers. During the playoffs many of the fans in the lower levels are gifted these seats and may indeed not be Laker fans but more looky-lou’s more interested in star gazing.

    If you go up to the higher seats and walk around you see and hear the real fans and they are loud. My tobacco Company has given away seats to all the first two rounds to customers. By the way those seats cost $210 each and were only re-selling for $225 so the demand for this first game was very low.

    I promise you Timerberlake, Decaprio etc never paid for a ticket to a Laker game in their life. Record Companies and agencies like CAA have owned blocks for years. Now guys like Jack and Andy Garcia are real fans and buy their tickets.

    The sum of the story is most people on the lower levels are not normal Laker fans during the playoffs but Corp sitters or have tickets purchased from season holders to make money.