Lakers/Timberwolves: The Barnes Supremacy

Phillip Barnett —  November 19, 2010

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Tonight, instead of writing the traditional game recap, I’m going to take a look at deconstructing tonight’s simple box score. I’m not taking a look at advanced statistics, just analyzing the Lakers 11th win with a look at the game’s purest statistics: points, rebounds, assists, turnovers and field goals. The game against the Timberwolves wasn’t complicated to figure out, the analysis should follow suit.

Matt Barnes: 7-7, 5-5 3FG, seven rebounds, six assists, zero turnovers

There really isn’t anything negative to say about what Matt Barnes brought off of the bench against the ‘Wolves. He shot the ball well, knocked down the three-ball, hit the boards and made a few fantastic passes. Barnes’ 24 points came within the flow of the offense, nothing was rushed or forced, he just let the opportunities come to him. There was one play in particular where Barnes was open for another three on the right wing, but found a wide-open Lamar Odom under the basket and fed him the ball for the higher percentage shot. I’ve said this before, but Barnes ability to make plays is the most underrated part of his game. He has excellent vision, and Phil Jackson will be able to really take advantage of his skill set when he gets another month or two of the offense under his belt.

Lamar Odom: 11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists

This is just a classic LO stat line. He does a little bit of everything which all adds up to a whole bunch. It’s games like this that prove the worth of having such a multi-faceted player. Tonight, LO spent a lot of time bringing the ball up and initiating the offence, which really opens up a wealth of options for the Lakers offense. We weren’t able to see what it opens up for Kobe and Pau too much, but we saw what it means for the other two on the floor. Derek Fisher, like Barnes, finished the night without missing from the field, including two for two from behind the arch, Shannon Brown came in and knocked down an open three. Even Derrick Caracter was able to come in and get some good looks at the basket on possession that began with LO starting the offense.

Kevin Love: 0 points 0-7 FGs, 7 rebounds

The last time the Lakers saw Kevin Love he scored 24 points and grabbed 23 rebounds, 11 of which were on the offensive glass. The game before the last meeting, Love recorded a 16 and 16 line. Two games after their last meeting, Love recorded the historic 31 and 31 line. Needless to say, when Kevin Love has been on the floor this season, he has played extremely well. Tonight, Kevin Love was a non-factor. A lot of the Lakers success in keeping Love off of the glass can be given to Ron Artest, who was out there putting a body on Love every time a shot went up. What Artest was able to accomplish won’t show up in the box score (five points, four rebounds), but he deserves a lot of credit for putting in the effort to keep Love off of the glass. Giving so much attention to Love did open up things for Darko Milicic, who had a fantastic game by his standards, but that is something the Lakers can live with. They went into tonight’s game with the mindset of not letting Love kill them on the boards for the second straight game, and Love had, by far, his worst night of the season.

Kobe Bryant: 23 points, 8-27 FGs, 8 rebounds

Don’t get me wrong, I completely enjoyed the shots that Kobe made. There were a few toward the end of the second quarter that were absolutely fun to watch (i.e. that beautiful reverse layup), but there just wasn’t any reason for Kobe to take 27 shots. A few of them were early in the shot clock, outside of what the offense normally dictates. The Lakers were never in any kind of threat of losing the game, so trying to “save” the team wasn’t an excuse either. I understand that he’s still working on getting his legs back, and considering that he is great at what he does and I am not, it’s hard for me to question his ways. However, at some point he has to realize that he has five teammates who are more than capable of carrying his conjectural load while he gets back to where he wants to be. This offense needs to work inside-out, and it’s up to Kobe to let that happen. It didn’t’ hurt them tonight, but at some point, an eight for 27 night is going to result in a loss. We’ve seen how capable he is in picking apart defenses with his ability to pass the ball and selectively pick his shots. Of course I’d like to see more of that, but then again, the Lakers scored 112 with the reserves in for the last few minutes of the fourth.

The big picture of last night’s win is the fact that the Lakers swept their first road trip of the season. It wasn’t the toughest road trip they’ll have all season, but the road trip began right after their second loss of the season. The three straight road wins were a good response to their first couple of losses of the season. The Lakers play again on Sunday against the Warriors before games against the Bulls and Jazz, who promise much tougher than the trio of teams they faced on their road trip.

Phillip Barnett