On The Defensive

Darius Soriano —  May 26, 2010

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Defending the Suns is a difficult task.  Before this series started we talked about the nuances of the Suns offensive sets and how the variations of their P&R give teams fits.  There’s a reason this team was the top ranked offense in the league all season (both in points per game and efficiency) – they’re damn good on that side of the ball.  And while the Lakers had mild success slowing the Suns’ attack in the first two games of this series, whatever hurdles the Lakers were presenting are now gone.  In games 3 & 4 the Suns blitzed the Lakers defense and we’re now at the point where the Lakers need to get back to their defensive principles to recapture their ability to be more than just a minor speed bump on the Suns’ path to 115+ points a game.

Below are 5 defensive techniques that the Lakers need to get back to on the defensive side of the ball:

1). Create the proper angles when defending the P&R.  In the first two games the Lakers did a good job at simultaneously fighting over screens and hedging and recovering to the roll man.  Understand that when Nash is the ball handler in the P&R, his top priority is to set up one of his teammates.  So, the Lakers guards need to get back to getting over the top of the screen while the big men show on the ball handler in a way that discourages penetration while also limiting the passing angle to the big men.  This is easier said than done, but if the Lakers can’t at least slow down the decision making process of the ball handler, they’ll continue to get beat on this action.  In order to accomplish this, every Laker defender must have active feet and hands; they must have fluidity of movement to rotate and recover while getting their hands into passing lanes forcing the ball handler to hold the ball or getting deflections when the pass is made.  The Lakers accomplished this reasonably well in the first two games and they need to get back to doing it in game 5 and beyond.

2). Containing dribble penetration.  Again, this is easier said than done.  Plus, this is one facet of the Lakers defense that has been an issue for multiple seasons running.  However, besides the P&R, the entirety of the Suns offense is predicated off of dribble penetration into the paint.  Whether it’s Amar’e, Dragic, Barbosa, or Nash the Suns want to drive the ball and either get all the way to the hoop for a layup/dunk or they want to collapse the defense to kick the ball out to open shooters.  If the Lakers are going to slow down the dribble penetration, they need to do one of the two things.  First is to be much better defensively while closely guarding ball handlers on the perimeter – which if you’ve followed the Lakers for the past several seasons isn’t that realistic.  Second, and a better strategy, is to lay off the ball handler and turn them into jump shooters.  This may sound counter intuitive because the Suns boast one of the better jump shooting teams in the league.  However, besides Nash and Hill (and to a lesser extent Barbosa and Dragic) the Suns aren’t a team that is comfortable pulling up for jump shots off the dribble.  So, by giving the ball handler space, you invite them to shoot pull up jumpers while at the same time limiting their driving lanes.  How many times did Farmar or Brown give up drives to Dragic and Barbosa?  How many baskets did those drives create?  How many times did Amar’e bull his way to the hoop and make shots right at the rim?  These are the plays the Lakers need to limit and it starts with either playing much better defense on the ball handler, or inviting them to take the pull up jumper instead of penetrating.

3). Remember transition defense principles.  This is pretty straight forward as the Lakers need to understand that when in transition, the Suns players run to the three point line.  In game 4, the Lakers often got caught out of position in transition defense by recovering to the paint when the ball was getting pushed at them.  This led to shooters being left wide open behind the three point arc.  In that 9 point burst that gave the Suns their lead (that they would not relinquish) in the 4th quarter, the Suns got two 3 point baskets just because the Lakers lost their men in transition and recovered to the paint.  Needless to say, those baskets changed the tenor of the game and created a hole the Lakers never dug themselves out of.  If the Lakers are going to defend the Suns effectively, they need to limit their transition points and that means marking shooters that run to the wing and wait for Nash, Dragic, and Barbosa to set them up after pushing the ball up court.  The Lakers showed that discipline in games 1 & 2.  They need to regain it in game 5.

4).  Rebound at the defensive end.  Whether or not the 18 offensive rebounds the Lakers surrendered in game 4 were an anomaly, that number is entirely too high and can’t be repeated.  The Suns are too elite of an offensive team to give extra possessions and nothing good can come from the Lakers giving the Suns second chances to score the ball.  In order to slow down the Suns on the offensive glass it’s going to take a team effort.  Not only do the Lakers bigs need to rebound better than they did in game 4, but the Lakers guards/wings need to close down the FT line and not allow the long rebounds from the Suns’ missed jumpers to be grabbed by the opposition.  This simply comes down to boxing out and hustling to the ball.  If the Lakers want the ball, they have to go and get it.  They can’t just stand around and hope it bounces to them.  All of the previous points require focus and effort, but none more so than rebounding.  The Lakers just need to put in the work.

5). Practice good shot selection.  I know I said that these are defensive principles that need to be improved upon, but the Lakers shot selection is too intertwined with their struggles on defense to be ignored.  In the past two games the Lakers have shot 60 three pointers and only made 18 (30%).  That’s entirely too many attempts and too many misses that fuel the Suns transition offense.  I understand that the high number of 3′s attempted are tied into the Suns’ zone defense, and that any talk about shot selection needs to also discuss how the Lakers can crack the Suns’ zone.  But, ultimately, it’s not so much what the Lakers need to do to beat the Suns zone but ultimately the types of shots that the Lakers take that matter.  The Lakers are scoring the ball well enough, but the fact that they’re taking and missing so many long jump shots is impacting their ability to effectively transition from offense to defense and thus doesn’t allow them to set up their defensive formations.  That loss of defensive integrity is allowing the Suns to get into the paint too easily which then leads to over helping, which results in too many wide open shots by the Suns.  So, the Lakers need to show more patience on offense and execute better if they hope to help their defensive efforts.

In the end, as Kobe said after game 4, “We lost the game because our defense sucked.”  So if the Lakers are going to get back to their winning ways, they need to tighten up the D.  It’s an old cliché, but defense wins championships and the Lakers haven’t been playing enough of it lately to advance for the chance to play for that trophy.  Here’s hoping that when the Lakers return back home they rediscover some of the defense that they didn’t bring with them to Phoenix.

Darius Soriano

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78 responses to On The Defensive

  1. Damn you, Darius. I just posted this on the other thread.

    Totally agree with CA’s post over at SS&R.

    The Lakers got nothing from their bench, but the biggest issue is not Phoenix’s zone defense.

    People are crediting their defense as being incredible for “holding” a team to 50% shooting. Let that sink in.

    The only reason their defense looks “good” is because we shot 60% in games 1 and 2.

    Kobe said it. We lost because our defense sucked. We didn’t box out. We didn’t get after loose balls. We lost focus when their bench was in.

    Our offense hasn’t scored under 105 points in 4 games. Our offense isn’t the problem. Play some D, win the series. It’s that simple.

  2. I know you hate the refereeing stuff, but I’ll give you some hard facts:

    Just take a look at these numbers:

    Updated FT numbers and overall +/-
    Home Games FT
    Lakers 197
    Opponent 195
    Lakers +2

    Away Games FT Total
    Lakers 142
    Opponent 245
    Lakers -103

    Home Games FT Total
    Suns 212
    Opponent 174
    Suns +38

    Away Games FT Total
    Suns 180
    Opponent 200
    Suns -20

    Home Games FT Total
    Celtics 237
    Opponent 209
    Celtics +26

    Away Games FT Total
    Celtics 177
    Opponent 209
    Celtics -32

    Home Games FT Total
    Magic 189
    Opponent 149
    Magic +40

    Away Games FT Total
    Magic 171
    Opponent 162
    Magic +9

    Overall Magic +/- (+49)
    Overall Suns +/- (+18)
    Overall Celtics +/- ( -6)
    Overall Lakers +/- ( -101)

    The Lakers are getting hacked to death inside without any calls (when the Suns are getting touch fouls on the other end), so they stopped driving into the paint, because they see it as a fruitless effort. All of the touch fouls got the Lakers to naturally start playing more tentatively on defense. Over the back calls that went against Lopez and Amare in Game 1 and 2 were not called in Game 3 and 4.

    My only issue with the Lakers is the bench did a poor job of finding three point shooters in transition on two separate stretches.

    The Suns didn’t change the Lakers’ style of play, the way Game 3 and Game 4 were officiated changed the Lakers’ style of play.

  3. cheapassgamer May 26, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Any thoughts about why Phil isn’t putting Sascha in for a few minutes? Another shooter on the floor might help with the zone. Worth a shot right?

    Or did Sascha pretty much lose any chance of playing time after that silly 3-pt foul in Game 1 on Grant Hill?

  4. Even if you believe (as most do) that the refs missed calls last night, there’s no doubt that our players have to learn to play through that if they want to have a chance against Boston. Because of Boston’s physical style, the refs let their bigs (especially Perkins) get away with more contact under the rim than most teams are allowed (including Phx). If we’re having trouble scoring against a Lopez/Stoudemire frontline that’s allowed excessive contact, we’re going to have more trouble against a Perkins/Garnett frontline that allows excessive contact. So in some ways, being in this type of dogfight is actually good preparation if we advance, despite the opposite styles of play.

  5. Cookie Monster May 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Do you think it’s a good idea to use Sasha Vujacic? Instead of going Farmar-Brown-Kobe for a 3-man back court, could we sub in Machine and try to get a little bigger and, dare I say it, under control?

  6. 3, 5:

    Also, alot was made before the series of Sasha being a good defensive match-up on Dragic given his familiarity from the Slovenian national team. Moreover, spastic defense (Sasha) cancels spastic offense (Dragic) right?

    Sasha’s ankle must not be right, because he should have certainly seen some burn by this point…

  7. The only fear with using Vujacic, is he hasn’t played well in about since his most recent ankle injury against the Clippers. We just don’t know if he is mobile enough to guard the Phoenix run, and that may be holding Phil back from using him. I remember he was put in the Utah series and was overall pretty sloppy when he was in there.
    Also, Farmar, Vujacic, Kobe, maybe, but that leaves Richardson/Dudley with a huge mismatch – Vujacic isn’t big enough to pester them (I guess neither is brown), and particularly if Richardson was in we would see some Ole! defense. Its not like when Vujacic was playing big minutes that we didn’t have a problem with dribble penetration and weakside help D.

    Overall, since Lamar was the X-factor in the 1st two games, maybe his more or less no show, energetically, was the X-factor in games 3 and 4. At the beginning of the 3rd, after Bynum got taken advantage of a few times, Phil called a timeout and really layed into Bynum. The defense for the 3rd was much much better and allowed us to get back into the game. I don’t really think putting an ice cold Vujacic into the game in a HUGE 4th quarter is the right situation to call on a guy the Phil does not trust. The idea is to stop taking so many long jump shots, because it feeds into Phoenix’s O even when we score. They can contest and sprint back to the other side and we are left out of position.

  8. Also a Vujacic, Brown, Bryant backup almost requires Kobe to bring the ball up every time, as there are no other ball handlers on the floor, which will inevitably serve to sap his energy even more.
    Its not like there is a quick fix to beat Phoenix guys, everyone on the Lakers just has to play better, their is no magic potion.

  9. OMG OMG ZOMFG;

    Got into medical school. So happy. That’s one less year of undergraduate studying for me!

    University of Calgary, BTW – that’s where I live.

  10. A good post from NBAplaybook (via truehoop) on how the Suns changed their zone in the 4th to slow down Kobe.

    http://nbaplaybook.com/2010/05/26/suns-4th-quarter-defensive-adjustment/

  11. Canadian Suns fan here – just a note – it is the Suns defence that is causing probs for the Lakers – just not in the way you think.

    The Suns zone forces the Lakers to take a higher percentage of shots from outside, leading to more misses and runouts and transition 3′s for the Suns. The Suns realize that they can’t be a great defensive team and stop the Lakers from scoring (hence why thelakeshow is still shooting over 50% for the series – but if they can change the way that the Lakers are getting their points, then thats all the #1 rated offense in the league needs to create seperation.
    Lakers should be taking 15 or less shots from 3 – prob is that active Suns defenders are doing a decent job of limiting touches by Pau deep down low and can live w/ Kobe getting his. meaning that you have to trust Odom, Artest, and the laker bench to make smart offensive decisions, and unfortunately the Laker bench looks scared except for Odom who’s got the skills to breakdown the zone (but suffers from scarecrow syndrome for sure at times).

    Game 5 will be interesting for sure – Lakers need to win this one decisively and get Kobe some rest (32-35mins or less would be good) because if its close and Kobe has to go for 45 mins plus again – even if Lakers win – the Suns will still have way too much momentum going back home where the shots do fall and the bench is a factor. If it does get to a game 7, then it really will be a coin flip – home court advantage won’t be enough and it’ll depend solely on whether Kobe can muster the energy to play a full 48, because he won’t be getting any help.

    Can Kobe beat the suns by himself w his hand tied behind his back – you bet – but if he has to play 80+ mins over the next 2 games for the Lakers to survive to Game 7, then I like the Suns chances cuz that Laker bench is starting to shrink from the big moment like Vince Carter!

  12. Snoopy I completely agree with you; but the question that every Laker fan wants to ask is why our own bigs aren’t allowed to play physically, or at least to that extent. One’s a fluke. Two’s a coincidence. Three’s a trend. It’s now been three series into this postseason and those who watch the team notice the pattern.

    Obviously every team sends tape to league office for video reviews of unjustified calls, but it seems the way our team goes about complaining with the officials don’t do as much good compared to other teams. I’m in no way suggesting that the league or any referee is trying to fix games, but I think the players (or maybe even Phil) can take a different approach on the road and see if that changes anything.

  13. Snoopy:

    Totally agree on the “learn to play through uneven officiating” comment–Boston works (and succeeds at working) the whistle at both ends of the floor. They routinely get away with murder on defense, especially as they age and lose a step, relying more and more on the “wiley vet” brand of dirty, er, I mean, aggressive defense.

    And Vlade’s got to be on payroll over there, because I don’t know of any current team that puts as much effort into selling incidential contact on the offensive end than Boston. I mean seriously, Big Baby and P.P. spend more time on their butt than their feet–have you ever seen a man with Baby’s center of gravity get knocked down as frequently? And by opposing defenders 100lbs lighter no less? It verges on the comical…

  14. Funky Chicken May 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Burgundy, haven’t we had enough of the complaining about officials? I mean, really, our guys are VERY adept about complaining about calls, and I don’t see any players or coaches arguing that the Suns didn’t deserve to get more calls.

    In game 3, we shot a club record 32 shots from behind the arc. How did we adjust for game 4? We shot 28 from behind the arc, with at least 4 more that were intended to be 3′s but our guys had feet on the line. In other words, in the last 2 games the Lakers basically set and tied a franchise record for long shot attempts instead of pounding the ball inside where fouls tend to get called.

    The Suns, meanwhile, pushed the ball hard at the Lakers, forcing the action and getting the calls. Sure, there were a few bad calls; there always are bad calls. But you can’t seriously think the officiating was the reason the Lakers lost can you (if you say “yes”, note that none of the players or coaches agree with you…).

  15. I think I may have said this during last year’s playoffs, but blaming the refs when we lose implies very strongly that if not for their help we would never win. If we want to claim that we don’t need the refs to carry us to victory, then we have to stop claiming it’s their fault when we don’t get there.

    The Suns owned the paint against us, and that’s where the fouls are called. If our three biggest guys refuse to attack the basket, they shouldn’t expect to shoot free throws either.

  16. the defense did suck, and that is why they lost the game. ugh

  17. Darius:

    One other observation re point #3 of your post:

    I noticed that during both of the Suns 2nd and 4th quarter runs (both fueled by transition 3s) there was a lot of gambling off the defensive rebound under LA’s basket. Kobe and Artest in particular got caught a number of times lingering on the offensive side of the court trying to poke away the ball after the defensive rebound or going for the cheap steal off the initial pass to Nash/Dragic, rather than retreating to their defensive assignments. This left us outnumbered on the break, busting our 3pt defense.

    I understand the desire to try and make the hustle play and salvage a broken offesive possession, but we’ve got to be smart about it. This is also the type of thing that led to quick fouls that got us over the limit early in the second half.

    Just another one of the little things the Lakers can correct (and normally do) that will have them back on track the remainder of the series…

  18. Oy Vey, Funky Chicken.

    How many 3′s did the Suns shoot in Game 3 and Game 4?

    By your logic, the Suns couldn’t have shot more than 10 per game, right? That’s the only way to explain them shooting 20 more free throws than the Lakers per game.

    The total number of 3′s the Lakers took in Game 3 and Game 4 was 60 (admittedly, a number that is WAY too high).

    The total number of 3′s the Suns took in Game 3 and Game 4 was 52.

    So taking 8 less three pointers results in 43 more free throws?

    Do you honestly believe that?

    It’s such a straw man argument, and I’m sick to death of hearing it.

    OF COURSE, the Lakers aren’t saying the officiating was the reason for losing (though, Phil has hinted at in both games), THEY DON’T WANT TO GET FINED.

    The Lakers absolutely know what’s REALLY going on…that’s why they’re jacking up three pointers, they don’t want to get killed in the paint if they’re not going to get any calls.

    The Suns were still a jump shooting team, they weren’t forcing the action any more than the Lakers. They were just getting ticky tack touch fouls with 4 second left on the shot clock to bail them out of bad possessions.

  19. My 9 year old son’s baseball team got robbed by the Ump on (not 1 but) 2 pivotal plays in their playoff game yesterday — and lost. They likely would have won otherwise.

    The team also played crappy. And he blamed the ump the whole way home.

    I told him he is right about the bad calls, but has to take responsibility. Had they done the crappy things better all game long, then those calls wouldn’t have decided it. I also told him that bad calls are part of the game – every game – they always will be, too.

    So: Okay, yeah, the NBA refs suck. AND – the Lakers had better suck it up . . . and quick.

  20. one other thing to watch for – aside from Kobe and Dfish(who always at least show up mentally tough when it counts) – watch to see if the rest of the Lakers are playing not to lose vs. the Suns playing to win.

  21. @Burgundy
    The thing with that argument–whether it’s true or not–is that its’ completely outside of our control, as well as the team’s control. If the refs are biased against the Lakers and the discrepancy is intentional to try and make them lose, then that of course sucks, but here’s the thing: It’s not changing. If it was going to, it would have changed long before now.

    This. Is. How. It. Is.

    Deal with it.

    The problem, of course, is that our players are dealing with it by backing away. In basketball as well as in poker or karate, a tie will go to the aggressor. We have a reputation for being a soft team that plays finesse, not physical, basketball. I promise you, that has a lot to do with it as well, just like Boston’s reputation allows them to get away with more, we get away with less.

  22. My #19 comment was fine until I edited it and now it’s in moderation with my #14 comment. Maybe 14 was getting lonely? :)

  23. great post! i cannot believe the amount of complaining about the refs. it’s like the disciples of ralph nader are here from the sacto series! if the lakers make it past this round (and they should) and if they play the celts, how did you think the game is gonna be called? I cannot believe the amount of sasha fans here! they’re talking about a guy i have never seen before: a guy who defends ( as opposed to acting like a defender), a guy who consistently scores…a guy who does not complain – to his teammates, his coaches and the refs.I would love for sasha to play well but he hasn’t consistently shown it all year. and phil always tightens up his rotation into the playoffs (like all coaches). so it’s not gonna happen now.

  24. Darius,
    Rebounding.
    Both Lamar and Bynum were leaving the boards early after a shot when up – as if we were going to make 100% or they were afraid of being late on defense. I don’t mention Pau because he usually does this and I feel it is why he averages less than the other two per minute played. I can understand this with our guards, but our front line???

    On defense I see our guys ball watching, instead of trying to get rebounding position. This I really don’t understand because we are supposed to be a good rebounding team.

    I would class Lamar and Andrew as role players and say they don’t play as well on the road – sadly. I sure hope to get better from them at home.

  25. My #19 comment became #22, and now that I re-read it it looks like I’m attacking Burgundy. Ops. Burgundy: Sorry about that, it’s not meant as an attack.

    I just get frustrated with everyone bringing up the “the refs are out to get us!” argument after every loss. We should hope that Kobe lights the fire of terror-fueled urgency under his team mates so they start to actually play some defense next game. Not whining over things that no one on the Lakers can do a thing about.

  26. I think a lot of the defense of the screen roll going badly of late has been the fact that Fisher is getting murdered on the screens. Both Lopez and Amar’e are shoving Fisher with both hands as he’s coming around the screen, and Fisher is getting called for fouls for trying to fight through them.

    If you watch closely, you can see Fisher will give them a quick stink-eye and go back about his business, but it’s obvious that someone is getting Scola’d pretty soon if this shit doesn’t stop. Either that or Fisher is going to start flopping like crazy and getting a ton of offensive fouls called on Phoenix.

    Farmar and Brown have similar problems, but the difference is magnified because they aren’t as good as fighting through screens as Fish. That’s why Dragic looks like the second coming of Allen Iverson, because our guards are getting wiped out on screens.

    If I were the Lakers I would watch how Boston defends the screen and roll; Rondo goes under while KG jumps out on the dribbler, totally stopping the dribblers momentum and allowing Rondo enough time to recover. Then, KG just slides back over to his man and they’re back to square one. Perhaps our bigs aren’t as quick as KG, but they need to either show harder or hedge further back, because they’re getting burned in between.

  27. Zephid,

    I saw the same thing. Where Frye threw out BOTH his arms to fisher while moving and Fisher was getting pissed. He even didn;’t go to a huddle after a time out and actually stared them down. Sadly, Fish can Scola anyone because the other two cant fight through the screens.

    maybe sasha can throw some elbows?

  28. Zephid – your point about the Phoenix’s screens lends further credence to my complaints about the officiating.

    In Game 1 & 2, the Suns got whistled for offensive fouls when they manhandled Fish on those screens.

    In Game 3 & 4, Fish got called for a defensive foul.

    Stuff like that adds up in the players’ psyches and the way they approach the game.

    I love all you guys saying, “You’ve got to play through it!” like it’s easy.

    That being said, all three of our bigs become absolute basket cases when the calls are going against them.

  29. 30 – ‘I love all you guys saying, “You’ve got to play through it!” like it’s easy.’

    I don’t think anybody is proposing it’s easy. Just necessary.

  30. Sasha of 2008 is not walking through that door. Please stop asking for him to play minutes. The love affair has to stop. Sasha basically caught fire during his contract year and we bit. His days of being a significant contributor were brief and are now over. I just pray that he does not get enough PT next year to somehow finagle another contract out of the Lakers.

  31. 30, I don’t think it lends credence to all of your officiating claims; it definitely shouldn’t cause Gasol and Odom to start hacking away at Stoudemire in the paint. The only person it should affect is Fisher, and he’s a consummate professional and has been handling it in his own way (you can see him get in some cheap shots here and there, just no full blown Scola’s). But I definitely agree that it got us into the penalty early and gave up a ton of free throws for the Suns. And yes, they have to play through it, because otherwise we’re not making the Finals, let alone winning it. It won’t be easy, but frankly winning championships isn’t easy either.

    32, Sasha’s EC will be valuable next year, since the FA class of 2011 isn’t so bad either. Although he may be our only backup guard if we don’t add anyone this summer…

  32. I would prefer for Pau and Andrew to stop hedging on ball screens. They react too slow and tend to drop back too late. Like Darius said, Nash’s main objective is to create. I wouldmuch rather him trying runners or pull up than Amare rolling to the rim with Fish tailing him, or or bigs being late.

    Also, I was wondering why Ron didn’t try defending Amare, and we saw it late. I have no doubt that Ron may be better suited to defend Amare considering the PNR. He can hedge and get back much faster, if the staff insists on hedging.

    Much of the two losses came down to rebounds. The Lakers have now been outrebounded in every road game these playoffs. The ond game they had the edge (slight) was Game 6 in OKC. They have outrebounded their opponents in every home game. I expect the same tomorrow, and should they win the glass in PHX, it’ll end in 6.

  33. Burgundy,

    They are a Championship professional basketball team. Yes, it should be easy. The ability to adjust to the whistle is what separates the elite teams. Home calls happen for every team, and weathering them and playing through is what made the Lakers a consistently good road team last season. They are that team still. Just not as much.

  34. Why don’t we use up some fouls from DJ and Powell. Go take a few hard fouls and get out. At least we can send some kind of message. And seeing Brown chewing his nails and that scared look on his face made me sick. They need to get their heads in the game period.

  35. Burgundy,

    Last night, the Suns had EIGHTEEN offensive rebounds, and overall a +15 rebounding advantage. Of course they got more fouls called. They had more offensive possessions.

    Additionally, there were several fouls committed at the end of the game, when the game was already over (like in the last 1 minute). That’s a bunch of FTA that only function to pad the stats – they don’t reflect the actual difference when the game was in the balance.

    That said, I agree with many who have already posted. Phoenix got calls on their home court. Maybe a lot of calls. But the guys not named Kobe need to learn how to play through it. Let’s look at all the other things our guys did wrong (rebounding, lazy defending, poor shot selection) and recognize that the FT discrepancy did not lose the game. The guys not named Kobe did.

  36. Our biggest weakness ends up haunting us here against the Suns.

    3 point shooting.

    If we had some seriously reliable threats, the Suns would be forced to abandon the zone, but for now, Kobe is our only 3 point shooting threat, and even he is quite streaky.

    Times like this I miss the playoff-Ariza, as he would’ve feasted given Brown’s opportunity or Artest’s. I also miss the once-hot Sasha and Luke, as they once shot close to 40%.

    At any rate, we would’ve won last night’s game if we only boxed out correctly and did not give up offensive boards that often. Those were momentum builders for the Suns and killers for us.

    Also, for a team like the Suns, they are actually better if they shoot (and make) more threes, since threes rebound long. Even if we all box out correctly, if they start shooting threes, the chances of them getting a board increases, and since they are all outside the arc anyway, they’re not really risking too much in case of a fast break either…

  37. Simonoid – Congrats! I also got into med school recently, so we’ll be entering the same class (albeit different countries).

    In four years when any Laker gets injured, we’ll be able to play doctors on the Internet, except for real.

  38. Mimsy (15),

    First off, let me be clear that I don’t believe the Lakers lost because of the officiating last night. The Lakers lost because, other than Kobe, they played uninspired basketball.

    HOWEVAH, (channeling my inner Stephen A. Smith), I don’t think Lakers fans who are complaining about the referees are necessarily claiming/implying that the Lakers need the officials’ help to win. The Lakers don’t get as much help at home as other teams (like the Suns or Thunder). Rather, they more or less get a level playing field, sometimes with a slight advantage. But yet, they are still undefeated at home during the playoffs. The numbers don’t lie on that point (Burgandy, among others, have provided those stats numerous times).

    What I DO think these Lakers fans are implying is that in order to have a fair chance at winning any given game (home or away), the referees do need to call it even. I personally don’t mind a more physical brand of basketball (in fact, I prefer it), but if you’re going to call a game that way, you have to call it both ways. It makes for an unenjoyable viewing experience when two opposing teams are officiated under two different set of rules. I just think a lot of fans are sick and tired of games being so one-sided simply because the game is being played in a different venue.

  39. Congratulations to you too! Except we get entertained by a 3-year program, so I’ll get my “Dr.” title a year before you. :D

  40. It’s hilarious. On a bad ticky-tack reach in (and subsequent technical) foul on Perkins, he was ejected from the game late in the 2nd by Eddie Rush. It’s hilarious to listen to Mark Jackson and JVG bash Rush while Breen sits silently, fervently thinking of something to say to defend the referee, but coming up with nothing.

  41. Oh and just to add to that. I really won’t bother hiding my satisfaction at feeling the refreshing change of seeing biased calls against someone in green for once.

  42. what a total bogus personal on perkins and a bogus technical and ejection. great refereeing once again.

    woudn’t it be crazy ironic if, after the red sox cheated on roids and became the first team to come back from a 0-3 hole in major league baseball, the bruins and celtics both lose 3-0 leads in a matter of a month?!

    wow, wouldn’t wanna play an orlando team coming off of that momentum though.

  43. This Celtics/Orlando game looks vaguely familiar…

  44. Sorry for the quadruple post (can’t edit past 5 minutes), but I sure hope Perkins gets himself suspended for Game 1 of the Finals. All it’ll take is 1 more technical, assuming this last one is rescinded by league office.

  45. Hey simonoid and snoop,

    Congrats on getting in. I had no idea you guys were applying. I know how long the app process was so congratulations. Ill be entering UCI in the fall for med school as well. Local laker games but no time to watch them yay!

  46. I’m not saying I completely blame the ref’s but that ridoculous foul and technical is reminiscent of the ticky tack foul calls going the magics way.

  47. The first couple games of this series the fans on this site had insightful comments on the game that were entertaining and basketball savvy to read. Then you lose 2 games and all i read is bitchin about the refs! There is no conspiracy. Kobe is playin out of his mind but he is only shooting jumpers, the rest of the team is bombing away from beyond the arc while phoenix is taking it to the rim. The more aggresive team, usually the home team gets the calls. It is as simple as that.

  48. The league is F.U.B.A.R. … Traveling is rampant. The Refs have too much leeway. Please define a foul and CALL it that way all season. The acting or “flopping” has become just embarrassing to the point that it’s comical. I really am finding it hard to stomach. But how does it get fixed?

  49. Wow. (edited) We’ll be fine if we simply make the Suns work on both ends. I expect our team to roll. We have a pivotal game 5 @ our place. Go Lakers! And congrats to all the future MDs. Now let’s get our health system back to being affordable.

  50. Officiating is always an issue, regardless of the level of the game, regardless of the stage, and it’s never going to get us anywhere unless you are Phil Jackson or Mark Cuban and can afford to pay a few grand in fines.

    So, while it’s noted, it’s not going to help us win any games.

    Also, like I said before, our regular season games were also played with refs, the same crews that officiate the playoffs, and our Wins and Losses, our shooting tendencies and percentages all include the influence of refs as well.

    Sure, each decision seems to matter a bit more, but unless we can get statisticians to get something like clutch-reffing (defined by reffing tendencies with either team leading by no more than 5 points with less than 5 minutes remaining) or at least a comparison from regular season reffing, all this complaining about the refs is understandable, but ultimately just complaining.

  51. if the zone is so effective against us, tell me again why we don’t use it against the suns?

  52. While wondering the streets of SF today on business I caught up with the last days posts.

    I noted that Darius and a few others questioned my thoughts on Phil being out coached claiming it was the players.

    So here are my thoughts.

    Phil must have told them how to beat a zone but they choose to shoot 32 and 28 3 pointers because they were not paying attention.

    In the 2nd quarter Phil benched our best defensive player Artest for 8 minutes as the suns rained 3′s over Brown, Farmer and Odom in a 41 point quarter because Ron wasen’t paying attention when told to go in the game.

    In the last 40 seconds Phil called a time out and told his team to foul. Artest thought he meant foul a 91% freethrower Nash twice in 12 seconds because he wasen’t paying attention.

    My conclusion:
    Phil is a great coach.
    His team (all but Kobe) has a serious case of ADD. There are pills for that!

    So I guess I was wrong. Its the team lack of attention and not the coach.

    Thank you for pointing out my error.

    ps to Phil
    Instead of flying to New Jersey for a vodka with a Russian rich guy, I have 600 cases of award winning vodka in a bonded warehouse in Long Beach. I will even delivery Phil a case or two for free. No flying needed.

  53. 13thirtyone

    cuz u need to practice it throughout the season for it to be effective. and the suns are the best 3 point shooting team left in the playoffs…

    ken,

    10 championships. Shouldn’t his track record afford him some slack? He’s lost two finals appearances, the best win percentage, and 10 freaking rings. are you telling me that your armchair coaching is right, and the guy with 10 rings is wrong? no offense, but i trust him.

  54. swedishmeatballs May 27, 2010 at 2:08 am

    @Mimsy (in swedish)

    Haha se där.. det var otippat. Men du bor inte i Sverige va? Har läst dina kommentarer ett tag och fått intrycket av att du bor i L.A. Hur som helst, kul med lite vettiga svenskar! (Karlstad här btw)

  55. Burgundy,

    You are completely on point no matter what is being said.You just cannot overcome a 20 FT deficit even if you shoot better,which has been the case,Suns shot 52 threes to Lakers’ 60.The difference is nothing.With all due respect,I know there are lots of guys commenting without actually watching the game or just biased or should remain silent to earn paychecks or just to be politically correct not to incite anything but this is really unfair to the guys playing..

  56. Just don’t play like lazy turds on defense.

  57. It seemed to me that the Lakers completely stopped looking for the highpost. Get it to Gasol there, Odom roams the baseline while Kobe haunts wings or the opposite low post.

    Maybe this can be done through Kobe, if he brings up the ball or catches it at the top, then pass it to Pau, cut of the high post and drag the defense in a tail through the key, opening seams for Odom flashing to the hoop…

    The main thing with playing against a zone is speedy passing and decisions. If you hesitate the zone has time to adjust, but if you play fast, the zone will leave small openings everywhere.

    But at the moment the Lakers are playing the opposite type of ball. Slow and deliberate… perfect for a zone defense.

  58. Phil both experiments and seems more rigid in the regular season.

    In the post season he wants to emulate John Wooden and force the other team to adjust to him, but he will call time outs when they are needed more often. He tends toward being consistent in the playoffs and doesn’t ride the ‘hot hand’ as much as people like Gentry. This means players – and opponents – tend to know what he will do.

    This is great when he has the superior talent, but can get you in trouble when you don’t. You may get more out of some marginal players, but people don’t get the chance to flower in the playoffs. Trevor was a case where he really didn’t have much choice, but to continue playing him.

    This team is clearly 8 players deep (9 if you count Sasha, which I don’t because Phil won’t play him). Player #5 is somewhat injured and just learning how to play with injury. Player #6 is an instinctive player, but doesn’t have a strategic brain and often loses the chess match. Players #7 & 8 wouldn’t even be in our opponents 10 man rotation.

    This is not a good situation for a man like Phil Jackson. Our top players have to play lots of minutes against a very athletic, 3pt shooting, active team.

    We can win, but we do have obvious weaknesses and Phil may not be the best coach in this particular situation.

  59. 57, best advice I’ve seen so far.

  60. don’t play like lazy turds on defense…..and on offense.

    Stop giving letting shooters just launch uncontested shots, stop “not” moving their feet and letting defenders blow past them, stop fouling so much and stop letting Phoenix snatch offensive rebounds from them..

    On Offense, stop making the first easy play against the zone (which is launching up a 3), stop looking for the home run play (a pass through 3 suns defenders in the zone)

    They stop doing those things, they’ll start rotating better on defense, closing out on shooter and rebounding. They’ll start finding the creases in and openings in the zone and make better passes on offense that lead to better shots. And as a result, they will the game. Easier said than done.

  61. Congrats don, that’s awesome. Not only will you have local Lakers games, but UCI is home to the greatest dance crew in the world, Kaba Modern. Good times all around. We’ll have plenty medical consultants on this site in a few years.

    I have a feeling Perkins’ 2nd T will be rescinded. Which is great, because that means his 7th could come in the Finals…

  62. Simionoid, Snoopy2006 & Don:

    Congratulations! That’s awesome. Don, I went to grad school at UCI and watched every Laker game in some form or fashion. You have to make time for what’s important. :)

    Re: the Refs. I’m over it because I have to be. Instead, I focus on the fact that PJ is 18-0 in game 5s when his team is tied 2-2 in a series. I also focus on the fact that the D must improve, plain and simple. I also pray the guys don’t get frustrated and translate that into poor shot selection.

  63. Where are you headed snoop?

  64. From a Suns fan regarding Game 5.
    What to watch for:
    1. Early foul calls against the Suns. These can deflate most teams. We’ll see if this happens and if so, how the Suns respond.
    2. Lakers pounding it inside, particularly to Gasol and Odom. Can the zone prevent or disrupt the Lakers inside game?
    3. Kobe penetrating the zone. Penetration is the key to attacking and breaking down a zone D. Will PJ assign the task to Kobe (or will Kobe take it on himself?) I don’t think anyone else on the Lakers is capable of this task.
    4. Suns bench play, again! Can the Suns bench produce on the road, particularly in LA, reasonably close to their last performance at home? Hey, they did in San Antonio, so why not?
    5. Total fouls and free throws. Will the disparity turn in the Lakers favor? If I was a betting man, I’d put money on it!
    I think that the Suns two unit team is the key. Fresh players, lots of energy, pushing the pace and scrambling energetic defense are the trademarks of the Suns two wins. If Suns play to their strengths, I think they have a real shot!

  65. Just a brief stroll down Championhip Lane to warm the cockles:

    The Legendary Back-to-Back Lakers of ’88, in winning the last championship of Magic and Kareem’s careers, went 3-7 on the road, and played three straight 7 game series en route to the title. Laker teams have endured bumpy roads before…….

    I’m glad the onus for this series is back on the Lakers’ defense, because it has been unconscionably bad . I’m including rebounding in this context because defense doesn’t end until you have the ball. Darius’ points are well taken, and really are virtually all bound by the common thread of EFFORT.
    1. They must be willing to run back to the three point line in transition, after makes and misses. Gasol and Odom have developed the bad habit of putting up a half-hearted trap of the Sun rebounder after Laker misses (Kobe’s been guilty of this as well). consistent SPRINTING back will help a ton.

    2. Kobe needs to do less straying from shooters. He’s been singled out on this many times, but Nash is really punishing him for this. One thing I’d suggest is putting Kobe on Nash for stretches. Length is disruptive to Nash, and without going down the road of referee paranoia, I think it’s reasonable to say that Kobe will get more of an evenhanded shot to be physical with Nash than Fisher, because he is on equal footing with Nash. fisher has shown he can bother taller shooters (he played well on Ray Ray at Boston) and more importantly, has the discipline to stay at home and not roam. I know Kobe can’t be the full time Nash stopper, at least as long as our offense is flummoxed by the zone, which brings me to this:

    Nothing enrages me more than when my teams get beat by a gimmick defense. I don’t know why, but it drives me nuts. The fact that we had to spend more than 5 minutes on “beating a zone” on an NBA chat site is embarassing. THe fact that the Lakers have to spend more than a week on actually DOING IT is doubly so. The zone is a con. It tricks players into thinking that the things that work against a man won’t work against a zone, when in fact, they are exactly what you do against a zone. these include: 1.Dribble penetration 2. setting screens 3. moving without the ball and cutting hard to the bucket. With NBA wings anchored to the 3 point line, no zone should ever work simply because the ground is too much to cover in help and recover situations. In college it’s different because the shorter three point line bunches everyone up and there is more congestion, so the zone holds up better there. The Lakers should thrash this nonsense tonight, and if they don’t, shame on them.

    I don’t expect the Phoenix bench to decline in this game. Gentry has done a great job of building up their confidence and cohesiveness, and after having whipped the Lakers starters (!) in the 4th quarter of the last game, they will play well, and at the very least, hard. The Lakers need to step UP, not hope for the opponents to decline.

    One last tactical question that I’ve yet to hear addressed: what’s happened to the “Strong Side Zone” from last year? i don’t know how useful it would be with all the S/R’s being initiated at the top of the key, but I’m just curious about the extent to which it’s gone unmentioned this year. Did we just junk it when Rambis left? are we using it but just with less frequency? Would it be of any use here?

    This game is taking wayyyyyy too long to start……..

  66. 61 You called it snoop Perkin’s 2nd tech rescinded according to ESPN. Good for us, bad for magic.

  67. Much as I hate the very idea of the Celtics, still (reluctantly!) admire their mental toughness.

    Let’s hope the Lakers measure up.

  68. Sorry everyone, but there won’t be any morning links today. Real life has intervened and made it quite difficult on both Phillip and I. Again, apologies to everyone.

    We’ll have the game preview and chat up a bit after lunch.

  69. Personally, I would prefer a combination of Lakers over Suns, Celtics humiliation of losing against Orlando, and Lakers beating Orlando to a combination of Lakers and Celtics conference wins and a Lakers win over the Celtics.

  70. @65: yes, the lakers pretty much scrapped the SSZ when rambis left. bos runs something quite close to it.

    last year at this point (game 5 of the WCF), the lakers were

    4-1 UTA
    4-3 HOU
    2-2 DEN
    ———
    10-6.

    This year, we are:

    4-2 OKC
    4-0 UTA
    2-2 PHX
    ———-
    10-4.

    There’s no anomaly in our struggles right now– this is what it takes to win a ring.

    Here’s hoping the Lakers can:

    1. Move their feet on D.
    2. Not shoot more than 20-22 3 point shots
    3. Rebound– this was the most disappointing part of game 4 for me. Our size advantage plus their zone means we should KILL THEM on the glass.
    4. ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK!!

    I’m among those that took Phx too lightly. If we don’t step up and play a great game, we’re looking at an early vacation. That said, I still believe that the Lakers at their best beats Phx at their best, so Lamar, Pau, Drew… go earn your $.

    LET’S GO, BOYS!!

  71. @swedishmeatballs
    Nej, jag har inte bott i Sverige sedan 2004. Bor inte i L.A. heller, utan i Idaho. Ovanför och till höger, på andra sidan bergen, med andra ord. Innan jag utvandrade bodde jag in Umeå, halvvägs uppe i Norrland.

    All non-Swedes: Apologies for the language switch there. I rarely run into other Swedes online, so it’s always fun when I do. :)

    Now, back to very impatiently waiting for the game to start. Can’t wait to see how we’re going to play, and what adjustments Phil might make. I expect the first half quarter to be very revealing as far as what mindset the Lakers will have tonight. Coast or crush? Time will tell…

  72. 69 – Why?

    The Celitcs have beaten the Lakers like a drum in The Finals since 1959. Yes, predating even our heroes’ move to LA.

    Isn’t Boston owed a beat down?

    In contrast, what has Orlando ever done to harm our champions?

  73. 72) R,
    Because losing a series after being up 3-0, with game 4 on your home court, is close to the ultimate humiliation. Much worse (IMO) than losing to the defending champs in the Finals.

  74. 73 – I see your point, and will gladly accept either outcome.

  75. Hey guys, long time fan of FB&G but first time poster. Love all the analysis and comments from you guys. I’m not sure where to ask this, but figured this might be a good place since it is at the top. But do you see the Lakers going after JJ Reddick in the offseason, maybe as a MLE? Not sure how much he is worth, but with Kobe playing sooo many minutes, we could use a pretty good backup SG or SF that can score, and JJ will be a FA. Let me know if this is even a possibility, thanks!