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

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36 responses to Lakers/Timberwolves: The Barnes Supremacy

  1. Far from the toughest trip they’ll have this year, but 3-0 is 3-0. We’ll take it, with more on the side.

  2. The Barnes Supremacy, wow, the best recap title.

    Amazing how one by one each of the sub units are grabbing the recap headlines.

  3. This Lakers squad is shaping up to be the best since the Kareem/Magic back- to-back championship teams. These Lakers are like those 80s teams in that they have many, many weapons.

    I’m sure glad the Heat basically gave Beasley away for nothing. I think it was Thorpe on TrueHoop preseason and post LBJ/Bosh acquistion who suggested they keep Beasely to see what he could become. Me thinks Thorpe was right.

  4. OOoo

    Harsh Kobe evisceration. Do you really think he took many shots outside of the flow of his offense? I didn’t see anything that really looked detrimental to the team. How about that dagger three pointer he sank to push the lead to 17 in the second quarter? Kobe goes for those shots literally whenever he gets the chance even though they are usually horrible pull-up 3 point attempts semi-guarded.

    Don’t we have to take the bad with the good? Part of what makes Lamar so valuable is his natural tendency to be a playmaker and truly unselfish on the court, but at the same time because of his nature he shrinks to the background often when the Lakers need him most. Derek Fisher’s veteran savvy and unwavering confidence make him one of the most clutch players in the league, but they often times lead to him taking bad “its my turn” type shots. Lamar is Lamar and Kobe is Kobe and Fish is Fish. What makes Kobe great is that he takes and often times nails shots that exist well outside of the Lakers’ natural offense. What makes him bad is that he takes and often times misses shots that exist well outside the Lakers’ natural offense.

    I agree that 27 shots is a lot for 32 minutes even for Kobe, but I think most of Kobe’s shots came during the first half (5-15 first half I believe) when Pau had absolutely nothing going on the inside. It’s one thing when Kobe and the team completely ignore the inside game or they go away from it after it works, but its another thing when the inside game is just flat out not working.

  5. I think Artest only covered Love when LO was out of the game or when he had to match up with him in transition. Most of the credit to keeping Love off the boards should go to LO, who covered him for the majority of his minutes.

    Barnes could have had a football scholarship to just about every big-time university program in the country. I wonder how much of his underrated court vision can be attributed to his football days. Sure, he was a high school WR/TE, but I would bet that an athlete like him played a lot of QB growing up.

  6. Justin makes some great counter points with regards to Kobe and his shot selection. I was frustrated with some of Kobe’s shot selection though, and I think with games like this, it ‘s really his competitiveness getting the best of him. He takes matchups personally, and certainly didn’t like that he was struggling to score against a rookie. Also I think he has bad shooting nights like this because he misses a few, and gets determined to shoot himself out of the slump. But overall that competitiveness is what makes him great, and while we can hope he can find a better balance, he’s still the best player in the league and the driving force behind this championship team.

  7. Awesome title. And a sick stat from ESPN to put Barnes’ play in perspective:

    In the last 25 seasons, Barnes is the third player to go 20-5-5 and shoot 100 percent from both the field and free throw line in a game. The other two players are Gary Payton against the Cavaliers in 1994-95, and Charles Barkley against the Spurs in 1988-89.

  8. You all make splendid points, but I really have to agree with Philip that 8-27 is too much. A lot of shots he took with contested mid range jumpers that were 50-50 at best, early in the shot clock and/or flat out forced. Look, as the best player in the game, I realize (as does he) that he CAN make those shots but it sometimes does disrupt the flow of the triangle when he tries to shoot his way out of a slump. On an occasion like yesterday, they got away with it, but against tougher road teams a la the Nuggets last week, they may not necessarily. I think Kobe should simply “let” his lift come back, rather than alter the offensive sets a little bit.

    Otherwise, great game especially from the bench. Barnes was superb, Blake played a lot better than the stats suggest and I was happy to see DC get some quality minutes.

  9. Not to pile on here, but I also was a little frustrated with Kobe’s shot selection and shot total. There were times that he just seemed intent on beating his man and when he couldn’t because of a double team, he just fired up a wild shot. Let’s say he just refrained 4-5 times. that brings his total to 22 or 23 which is as high as it should ever go on. On this team there is pretty much always going to be a quality look available to a very capable player.

  10. I swear this will be the last point of reference I will use of this kind but doesn’t Barnes’ role strike you as the one James Posey gave to the 08 Celtics? The guy is just tough as nails, he doesn’t try to do too much, does just nearly enough and as the previous threads have made mention, a very efficient player.

    If you told me Barnes would be a very effective triangle player 2 seasons ago, I’d laugh you off. But what I am seeing from Barnes this year just gives me a special tingle (no homo).

  11. I rarely worry about Kobe’s shot totals – it’s his shot selection that sometimes gets on my nerves. (Granted, in this case the volume was also an issue.) He had 27 shots and it seemed like at least 17 or 18 were contested jumpers. A player of his skill and intelligence should be able to create more high-percentage looks if he’s going to take that many shots. Yes he can make them, but they still haven’t invented a shot Kobe isn’t capable of making.

    Against a top-notch defense that takes everything else away (think Boston in Game 5) I can live with those types of shots. Against the Minnesota Timberwolves, on a team with this many weapons? Not so much.

  12. Got my Christmas wish all wrapped up: a Matt Barnes will kill you t-shirt. So happy.

    I couldn’t catch the game last night, but can someone tell me who “guarded” Beasley last night and how/if Artest/Barnes did against him?

    I wonder if Miami wonders if they gave up too quickly on Beasley, or if more assets could have been obtained for him (although salary cap space for Miller was a pretty good one).

  13. Justin N., Nick, & everyone else,

    Did you read Justin’s comments? Did you watch the game? Can any of us really get inside Kobe’s head?

    Kobe did take most of his shots in the 1st half. There was quite an analysis of when Kobe shoots from Little White Statistics – http://www.littlewhitestatistics.com/?cat=7 – and we still cannot really understand some nights.

    Kobe is Kobe precisely because we simply cannot fathom how he plays.
    1) That is what makes him so dangerous to opposing coaches and teams – you can’t really predict what he will do next and he can do pretty much anything he wants on the court.
    2) Kobe has spent his life studying basketball and studying those who know basketball. He understands the nuances of this Laker team far better than we do.
    3) He has an ego the size of Manhattan.

    He is simply the greatest player of this generation. Let the man play basketball, without all the statistical rewriting of the game after the fact. Statisticians can ‘go jump’ as far as Kobe is concerned. They don’t add any information to the story.

  14. That’s always been an issue with Kobe; he just can’t trust the offense to do the job. Unfortunately, it costs the team at least several points a game. Doesn’t matter in a game like last night, but it does matter in a lot of games.

  15. While I agree Kobe took too many shots, the criticism that many were “outside the regular
    flow of the offense” is somewhat misleading.
    My memory of the game in the first half was
    of the ball going into Gasol repeatedly and
    of him either losing the ball or getting his shots
    blocked consistently. In such circumstances an
    “inside out” offense may not be the best.

  16. exhelodrvr,
    While you may be correct, it also is why the Lakers win more often than they lose.

    It is sort of like saying the Cardinals would be a better football team if only Kurt Warner would change his game and let the other people in on more of the plays. That really worked out well – didn’t it? I know that is a simplistic rationalization, but I get so tired of people making simplistic assumptions about Kobe and his impact on the Lakers.

    This is a complex superstar, on a complex team, with a complex coach. Probably nothing is as easy as it looks. Just because it is work to really dig into facts doesn’t mean we should take the easy way out. Come on people.

  17. I’m not concerned with what % Kobe shoots on any particular night. This will even out over the course of the season. However last night 27 shots was clearly too many. Something like 18 would have been perfect.

    The Lakers really did have tremendous ball movement in the 2nd half though

  18. I see both sides of this Kobe/shots debate.

    I’ve argued against high shot totals for Kobe in the past, but my bigger concern is whether or not the offense is being run. Kobe could take 35 shots for all I care, as long as the ball is moving in and out of the post or if there’s some ball and player movement before the shot gets put up. Because if the offense is being run, most of the time the shots taken by any of the players will be quality ones.

    Last night some of Kobe’s shots qualified as outside the context of the offense and other times they were within the Triangle and he just missed ‘em.

    The thing to remember with Kobe is what Craig W. states – this is the player that he is. But going deeper than that even, is the point that Kobe can create quality looks (at least what could be deemed quality looks for him) without really running the offense. That’s his gift as one of the best scorers ever and one of the better one on one players this league has ever seen. He can create something good from nothing and it’s why he’s often asked to bail out the team with the shot clock running down or in end of game situations.

    The big picture argument is whether shots like that are needed against lower quality teams like the T-Wolves when the Lakers could easily dispose of them by just sticking to the script of ball and player movement (i.e. how Barnes got most of his shots last night). And honestly, I don’t know if there’s really a good way to answer that besides saying “who knows”. In the end, I think we all appreciate Kobe’s greatness, but that won’t stop some from wanting more at times. When players are that good, it’s easy to sometimes see past the fact that they too aren’t perfect and will also make mistakes. But like with other players I’ll live with the imperfections because the positives can (and do with Kobe) so far outweigh the negatives. We can still comment on them though and I think that’s what Phillip did here.

  19. 16) The Lakers win more than they lose because they have great players and a great coach. Not because Kobe takes too many shots outside the offense.

    This current roster hasn’t peaked yet; one of the biggest factors is that they don’t run the offense well a significant portion of the time, and Kobe plays a big role in that.
    I don’t buy the argument that it’s because he’s such a great competitor – you can be a great competitor and still stay within the system.
    As noted by others, it’s not the number of shots he takes, it’s taking the shots outside the offense. And Kobe taking a twisting, backing-up, double-covered shot, even if he is the best in the league at being able to make that shot, is NOT a better option than running the offense and getting Pau an open 12 foot shot, or getting Kobe a five foot shot with his defender off balance.

  20. I just like how Blake comes in and runs the offense. He finds the hot shooter and takes his shot when he’s got it. Like all players, he has his up and down nights, but I never worry about whether or not he’s going to have his head in the game.

  21. Also, is anyone else getting tired of John Ireland asking every single one of his postgame interviewees: “Are you surprised the bench has come together so quickly?”

  22. In our need to comment on Kobe’s shots we forget something. One of the reason Kobe is as good as he is, is repetition. Doing the same thing over and over and over again when you are tired of seeing it.

    Only taking shots in a game when the game is on the line, or always feeding another player until that player starts to miss doesn’t help Kobe to develop his own game. Kobe is always going to work on his game – when he is actually playing. Devon George once said Kobe was the only player he ever saw who could think up a shot before practice, practice that shot, then implement that same shot that night in a game. Nothing substitutes for game conditions. Because of this, Kobe will always be taking shots we feel are outside the offense. How else is he to practice in game conditions?

  23. Kobe is going to have these kinds of games. I have just come to accept it. Expecting Kobe to *always* stay within the flow of the offense, and not let his personal matchups get to him is like expecting Bynum to play 82 games a season. Both ain’t happening.

    Unfortunately on some nights the Lakers have to absorb Kobe’s wild shooting and still get the W. And as others have pointed out it is easier to do that against the T-wolves, than against the Spurs.

  24. The Kobe “to shoot or not to shoot” debate is tough because you can’t really look at the number of shots he takes and say that he needs to shoot a certain fixed amount of shots every game. As much as some people don’t like the fact that he takes a lot of shots, his ability to put pressure on the defense is what makes this team dangerous. Even when he misses shots, he gets so much attention that he allows Pau and Lamar to get uncontested offensive rebounds and putbacks. Obviously Kobe just jacking up shots just to do so isn’t a good thing, but it’s a slippery slope to start trying to force Kobe into a facilitator role. That’s not his game (even though he could do it), and I don’t think it benefits the Lakers in the long run. His ability to create his own shot is in big part what makes the Lakers special. Well, that, Pau Gasol and an influx of talent throughout the roster. Should run the Lakers run the Triangle more? Sure. But just running the offense for the sake of running it, isn’t going to win ball games. There’s been plenty of times where I’ve seen them running the offense and not getting quality looks. It has to be run with purpose and the players need to be aggressive and decisive. Kobe understands that, and at times he can be overaggressive, but I honestly would rather have that than him not being aggressive enough. Especially since Pau and Lamar have some issues with assertiveness most of time.

  25. Kobe is a very self aware about his legacy. He has these types of games because he wants the all time scoring record. So he shoots more when he can. Nothing wrong with that! Especially when he knows its against a crappy team like Minnesota that wont affect the outcome of the game. He knows there gonna win anyway. I love that about Kobe. But dont get it twisted he still wants to win above anything else.

  26. Time and time again we have seen Kobe make unbelievably difficult shots. Time and time again he splits a double team, or draws contact and fades away, or spins and fires up a jump shot, and makes a bucket where very, very few other players would have even taken the shot.

    He does this because he is supremely confident. He doesn’t take shots thinking that he is going to miss.

    “You can’t be scared to fail. You’re not going to make every shot or every play, but you can believe that you can. I think that’s my strongest attribute. I believe that I can.” -Reggie Miller

    That is a Reggie Miller quote, and as I recall he gave it after his horrific Finals Game 1 against the Lakers, where he shot 1 for 16.

    I also remember the answer he gave to the question of what he wished he could have done differently in that game.

    “I wish I could have taken more shots.”

    Shooters shoot.

  27. And if Kobe had made the great majority of those shots, hardly anyone would have complained. Kobe is Kobe. He’s a scorer and shooter and we should all know what to expect from him by now. We’re a winning franchise with a great bench and even greater starters, I for one can live with some imperfections here and there.

  28. #20. exhelodrvr,
    While I’m in agreement with you on most of your points, I think it still needs to be said that even when running the offense correctly a good shot doesn’t necessarily come out of it. So, even if the players (all players, not just Kobe) stayed within the system 100% of the time it wouldn’t mean that the results would be substantially better than what we’re seeing right now.

    Remember, the Lakers are leading the NBA in offensive efficiency right now and doing so by a healthy margin. What they’re doing is working exceptionally well. That’s why I’m not quite on board with your statement that the Lakers “don’t run the offense well a significant portion of the time” because the results say otherwise. It may not be the Triangle of Jordan’s Bulls, but it’s still the basic sets with little tweaks to maximize the results with the roster that’s in place.

  29. 20, I think when the Lakers actually run the triangle, they’ve run it extremely effectively. It’s when we get late into close games and start relying solely on PNR that we’ve gotten into trouble. Sometimes it works out great and Kobe throws up a 30-10-10 game. Other times it doesn’t work, when Kobe misses 20 shots and has 7-8 turnovers. The bottom line is that we’re far too relient on Kobe running the 1-4 PNR with Gasol late in games. If Kobe is really on his game, it works perfectly. If Kobe shoots poorly or starts forcing passes, the offense falls apart.

    Frankly, I’d like to see more 1-2 PNR with Fisher to either force a smaller defender onto Kobe or a wide-open shot for Fish, like we saw in Fisher’s legendary Game 3 of the 2010 Finals.

  30. 29) Clearly, you don’t get a great shot every possession if they run the triangle.

    But it’s a very simple question – would they score more if they ran the offense more consistently, and if Kobe did on his own.

  31. #31. They’d score more running the offense consistently, I’m guessing. But, my point is that they’ve been running the offense pretty consistently and the results speak for themselves. Against the Wolves, it could have been better. In some other games this year too. But overall, they’ve been pretty good at running the sets, getting good shots, and punishing opposing defenses with their execution. I don’t know of any team where the offense is run perfectly all the time (not even Utah), but I’d put the Lakers execution in the top 2 or 3 teams in the league – even with people complaining about Kobe (which I’ve done some this season too).

  32. Thank God Rajah Bell did not sign with the Lakers. I dont think he would have been a good player as Matt Barnes is playing right now with the Triangle Offense. On the Kobe taking shots outside of the offense, taking shots one-on-one with a defender on his face, I would just post this query…when Kobe took those incredible shots against phoenix in game6 of WCF did he not took those shots outside of the triangle offense while being guarded by a good defender?

  33. the griz beat the HEAT ;-)

  34. @33. Exactly…we’re so much better with Barnes at backup SF and Shannon at backup SG.

    @34. Simmons had some funny tweets about Memphis vs Miami:

    BREAKING: Just filed to ESPN news desk: Dwyane Wade fired as general manager of the Miami Heat.
    44 minutes ago via ÜberTwitter

    Way to fan up Memphis!
    about 1 hour ago via ÜberTwitter
    http://twitter.com/sportsguy33

  35. 35, now imagine if we had landed AI and T-Mac …..*barf*.

  36. #35. The Dude,
    I’d be able to see those tweets if Simmons hadn’t blocked me from following him…

    #36. Zephid,
    You said it man. The Lakers role players have been excellent this year. And really, I’d much rather have guys that are used to being role players than have former stars trying to play roles that they never have before.

    And on that note, a new post is up:

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2010/11/20/saturday-special-matt-barnes-delivers-rare-night/