Lakers/Bulls: Killer B’s Save the Day

Zephid —  November 23, 2010

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As it turns out, Darius lied about there not being a recap. Like Willis Reed limping out of the locker room in the Garden, I’m here to save the day (or ruin the day, from the Laker perspective?).

Speaking of saving the day, the Lakers were kept afloat by Shannon Brown’s red hot first half, then carried home by Steve Blake’s clutch shooting. When Brown sank a three after checking in at the end of the 1st quarter, we had no idea we were in store for a bombardment. He sank 3 threes in the 2nd quarter, finishing 5-10 from three for the game, one huge three coming late in the 4th quarter to put the game away.

During the 1st half, the Lakers were really struggling in their half-court offense, with much of the credit going to Joakim Noah. Noah was so active in the post on defense that the first two possessions that the Lakers attempted to get the ball into Gasol led to turnovers. Because of that, Gasol never got into a rhythm (although his effort was questionable from the outset, given his matador defense and lack of lift on his rebounds). Chalk it up to a bad game by Gasol, but Noah simply outworked him on offense and defense. If not for Kobe’s quick start (the first 7 Laker points) and Shannon Brown’s explosion in the 2nd, the Lakers probably would’ve been down by double digits going into halftime.

At the start of the 3rd, it looked like the Lakers were going to pull away, going on an 8-0 run to start the 3rd to go up by 10. But then the Bulls stormed back, riding the power and speed of Derrick Rose. Rose simply got into the lane at will, due to both lackluster perimeter defense and poor help from the interior. The Lakers were unable to wall off the paint, and Rose made them pay with lay-up after lay-up. It wasn’t until halfway through the 4th quarter that the Lakers seemed to figure Rose out, successfully walled off the paint, and made the Bulls take some tough shots.

Other than the defensive improvement, it was great to see the Lakers actually run the triangle in the 4th quarter. With the game tied at 79 with 9 minutes to go, Kobe came in from his regular 4th quarter rest and immediately went to work in the pinch post. The Lakers ran the most basic triangle set, with the lag pass followed by a cross court cut by Kobe into the pinch post. 15 feet from the rim with his back to the basket, Kobe could survey the floor and see where the double teams were coming from. If they came from the top, Kobe would dribble out and find the open man. If they came from the inside, Kobe would hit the cutters going toward the rim. If the double never came, Kobe simply rose up and hit shots. Kobe’s excellent play led to 4 open threes (1 by Brown, 2 by Blake, 1 by Barnes), as well as a jump shot for himself and free throws for Barnes. This put the game at 95-83, the Lakers largest lead of the game, pretty much sealing the game.

Lost in all of this was the excellent play of Lamar Odom, who had 21 points on 7-13 shooting with 8 rebounds. Even though the Lakers had three starters that were basically offensive non-factors (Pau, Fisher, Artest), they still played very active defense, getting 9 steals and 9 blocks as a team. While this wasn’t the prettiest of wins, the Lakers managed to grind it out and execute down the stretch. They also were able to contain Derrick Rose during the key 4-minute stretch that put the Lakers up by 12. Just a good, solid, grind-it-out, team victory. Can’t really ask for much more.



54 responses to Lakers/Bulls: Killer B’s Save the Day

  1. Great recap Zephid. Really wish I had the chance to catch this game. Seems like the Lakers depth is truly making a difference this season and considering how that was not the case last year it really makes me appreciate ths group even more.

  2. This was one game where Pau got outhustled. It would seem he has accustomed himself to those tough Celtic-like players and now it is the lithe, athletic big men that can give him the most problems. He seemed to feel he could rebound without leaving his feet tonight. I hope he has learned his lesson.

    Also, Fish was at a real disadvantage this game – however, he did defend better than the box score would show, especially that play where he was guarding Gibson near the block. I think this was one reason Blake was in there at the end. Phil is trying out Blake at the end of the game to see if he can succeed there. Hold for use later in the year.

  3. Does anybody else worry this team is starting to look a bit too much like the 08 team that lost to Boston in the finals? Very good offensively but dependent on 3 shooting from the bench, weaker defensively? Don’t get me wrong it’s hard to knock this team and love how the killer b’s are playing but I don’t want them to get away from the tough defense that really carried the lakers in last years playoffs. Boston has shown they can beat a laker team that is all o and no d… And right now I like them to be our finals opponent again(rubber match!)

  4. It’s not so much lithe as much as size + hustle + agility

    Gasol also struggles (relatively) against guys like Z-Bo, Big Baby, and Al Jefferson. They wear him down and Gasol is by nature someone who paces himself and plays methodically. And that’s more blessing than curse keep in mind, given how many freaking minutes we play him

    That’s why I give him a pass where our announcers won’t on his flat footed rebounding. He positions himself and blocks out. As long as he does that I don’t care if he isn’t flying around going after caroms, that’s just stupid during the regular season not that I don’t appreciate Barnes, Odom, Artest, Brown, and on occasion Kobe going vertical to snare impressive looking boards.

  5. For all the talk about what would have happened if Lebron would have gone to NYC etc…can you imagine if he’d gone to Chicago? He would have put them, way, way over the top. Incredible, as a Laker fan, I’m happy he went to Miami.

    I’m glad the Lakers pulled out a scrappy win. Two items of biggest worry: Kobe’s shooting has been pretty off lately, and Noah did a damn good job on Gasol.

  6. Great run in the 4th by the bench to put the game away.

    I vote them a new nickname before it’s too late:
    the “B-Ringers”

    – they’d be ringers in their own right on another team, they bring out the hustle and the guns each night; and most importantly, the B’s are leading us to a RING!

  7. Pau is the real MVP!Pau is a monster!Kobe sucks!

    Get real Dwyer types..

  8. In March of last year, the Lakers would have lost that game; this was such a testament to our wonderful depth at the one two and three spot. The only problem I see is the interior defense and the sometimes erratic isolation plays by the starters (I can’t believe I just wrote that!) Pau isn’t a true center, which is fine but is also exposed against the NeNes, Noahs, and Loves of the league. He’s playing fantastically this season, but like the Lakers’ early schedule, the level of competition hasn’t been especially difficult. Can’t wait for Bynum’s return! (Whenever That will be)
    I love that this team has so many offensive options to go to! Take for instance today: Pay wasn’t working out, so the backcourt (minus Fish, everbody has those days) got going, and Lamar was able to be effective as well. Just a great win for a team that needed a challenge.

  9. I also wanted yo reiterate the poll shown during the game: how will Phil be remembered? As the Bulls coach or the Lakers coach? Personally, I think he will and should be remembered as the best coach in history but if I had to choose it would be the Lakers. For us youngins, there’s only so much of the 90s that can be remembered and the fact that he beat the Celtics adds to his Lakers pedigree. If they win this year it will solidify this even further in the next generation of basketball fan’s minds.

  10. Another great write-up Zephid, FB&G’s writing team has as much depth as the Lakers. I was was watching the game off and on, but what stood out for me was the bench play again, this bench is just so different than last year, and they will improve with LO added to the existing Killer B’s.

  11. >Lost in all of this was the excellent play of Lamar Odom.

    well, yeah; maybe that’s because he didn’t play at all in the 4th, when the game was ultimately decided!

  12. i was lucky enough to be sitting in the 5th row, center-court at tonight’s game (waaay closer than I’ve ever sat in my 18 years as a fan). And the two things that struck me most resoundingly were as follows: 1) Now, when Shannon shoots the 3, not only is HE assuming it’s going in, the crowd assumes it. That happened fast (15 games!). He’ll doubtless have letdowns and cool off, but he’s earned my confidence. You can tell he’s got the most of any laker guard in terms of a ‘green-light’ with the ball in his hands, after the Kobester, of course. 2) Rose plays at a speed and a half quicker than anyone. I know this is no new revelation, but the guy reminds me of Iverson at Georgetown, except dude is almost half a foot bigger. It’s scary; it exemplifies the most freakish incarnate of the guard-friendly rules in today’s games. I really want to see Wall play, it’s supposed to be about as breath-taking.

    This was really the best test the Lakers have had with their cookie-cutter schedule this first quarter season, and I’m glad they’re cashing in and winning when they should be. If Phoenix isn’t shooting franchise-best 3pters and the ball bounces right in Denver, this team is 15-0.

  13. > chalk it up to a bad game by Gasol…
    Noah is clearly one of the best centers in the league, and Gasol is a not a center. Neverthelesss: 11 rebounds (all team got 38), 5 blocks (not bad), two steals. Is that very poor defensively?

  14. Who saw the big swat by the young man DC? I saw him mouth “Slap yo mama!”

    When the Lakers get such balanced scoring as they did last night it will be very difficult for a coach to plan for them. I was happy that they clamped down on defense when they needed it and ran the offense down the final stretch. This team is showing a lot of championship poise right now.

    On a negative note – Michigan St. bumbled away a victory to UConn last night. Michigan St. is another team with a ton of depth. Dreymond Green is NBA-bound for sure.

  15. Darius, Phillip, Zephid and Jeff (am I missing someone?) Thanks for all of the effort you put into this site. I can only imagine how much time it takes. Just know that it is very much appreciated.

    I believe at the end of the fourth quarter, Phil was riding the hot hands of Brown, Blake and Barnes. (Too bad Kobe and Pau forgot to for a stretch. ) LO had a big third quarter and kept the team afloat when not a lot was going right.

    Not the prettiest game but this truly was a team effort. Everyone chipped in. I think the Lakers are always going to struggle against young, energetic, athletic teams. And not having Bynum really hurts in terms of the demands placed on Pau and LO.

  16. Think how well Brown would be playing if Jackson was any good at developing players!!

  17. GGAA,
    You are right. I just think back to game 7, and how the ‘pundits’ talked about Kobe’s poor game. The dude only had 15 rebounds in a very bruising, defensive laden contest.

    Oh, I forgot, Tom T. was involved in that one too…

  18. I don’t really buy this “Pau is not a true C but Noah is” argument. Noah himself is a converted PF who moved to C full time and at 6-11, 232, does his work more through catlike quickness, length, good positioning and sheer hustle than size and brute force. I was super-impressed with his game though. It seemed he was everywhere on D. Asik didn’t do a bad job himself when Noah was resting.

    I’m not trying to take anything away from Noah though, he did a wonderful job on Pau (who mostly seemed flatfooted and listless after being taken out of the offense). Pau generally gets his rebounds through positioning and his length, and Noah’s activity and hustle really made him look slow all night.

    I also thought Pau mentally checked out a bit and started going through the motions as the Bulls defense did an excellent job of never allowing him to establish a comfort zone.

    To their credit the Bulls played well and put up a tough challenge, but I did like that we were (eventually) able to tighten up on D in the fourth. Too many buckets right at the rim for Deng and Rose through the first 3.

  19. I can’t gush enough about Brown, ever since he joined the lakers I have been a very big fan of his play. To see him improve greatly in this span of time with the Lakers is amazing. I think if Bynum stays healthy (knock on wood, fingers crossed, hugging rabbit’s foot, etc.), he and Brown could be the future of the franchise when Kobe hangs it up. But that’s just me. Killer B’s doing work!

  20. Kobe does not suck. This is getting ridiculous

  21. Can Ron-Ron shoot at least 30 percent? Love the guy, but these 1 for eights on long bombs is getting a bit ridiculous…

  22. Just remember who the Bulls’ coach is: the crafty Tom Thibbideou. He has seen Gasol and Kobe and has every defensive trick in the book to deal with them. However, ShanWow’s improved shooting, Barnes, and Blake, (“We specialize in defending leads…”) is a new weapon in the Lakers arsenal. Accordingly, they had a better night than Gasol.

    We need to start a website immediately. I don’t think he’ll pull a Vujacic and disappear for the next 3 years. I’m really impressed by him and see a great niche for his career. I can’t say that he would do as well on other teams because the Triangle does a good job masking his weaknesses and accentuating his strengths.

  23. 13, I agree with 18, Charles, that if you don’t consider Pau a center, then you can’t consider Noah a center, considering Noah is shorter (6’11 to Gasol’s 7’0) and lighter (232 to Gasol’s 250).

    Also, this game was one where if you looked at the box score, you would say that Gasol had a great defensive game. But if you actually watched the game, you would’ve seen him be slow on rotations, get out-hustled for numerous rebounds, and fail to wall off the paint on Rose’s penetration. Gasol certainly wasn’t an utter failure on defense (like say, Amar’e Stoudemire), but he certainly wasn’t good.

  24. My take on Pau right now is fairly similar to the above. A lot of the “best player in basketbal so far this season” is being floated around. I think where Pau excels in against lesser competition. He can really take inferiour quality opponents to task. I think where he struggles, though, has been pointed out above. The bruisers, bangers, and big bodiees (even Darko!). He has gotten even better at dominating the bottom tier of centers, but I still believe (offensively) he’s at a similar level when playing against the elite. I will say he only continues to grow with his awareness of the triangle and just being a ridiculously soft-handed great passer.

    Does anyone else kind of take exception with Brown having 10 threes? He is no-doubt one of the hottest hands league-wide, but 10 threes is a bit much. I will admit I didn’t think it was that many watching the game, but seeing it written, that is an awful lot. It’s quite easy to give him a carte blanche when he makes everything.

  25. It was just strange to see someone not bigger, taller or longer than Pau getting the job done. Pau was outworked and outhustled pretty badly. Every time he went up for a rebound, it really felt like he wasn’t trying. Every time I saw him try, I was wondering who was really out there, it sure wasn’t the Pau I know.

    Was it just an off day or Noah that good?

    Are the extra minutes already catching up with him?

    Probably a little of all of it.


  26. Taylor,
    If the threes he takes are open looks, in the flow of the offense, which they have been so far, and he is making a decent percentage of them (which I would say is 35% or so and up) then he should take as many as are available. He should be getting a lot of open looks, considering who the opposing defenses have to guard when they play the Lakers.

  27. Pau’s box score might have looked very good, but his game was ugly. It might be because we’re used to see him dominate in the paint and on the boards, and when we dont’ see that flashy finesse plays leading to rebounds and points we think it looks ugly. Or it might because it actually was ugly. Noah set the tone early in the first quarter, by hustling and playing hard, and kept at it the entire game. Pau, for all his marvelous qualities, is not a heavy muscled guy, and doesn’t have the weight and/or sheer physical strength to work his way past someone like NeNe or Noah. Contrast it to Ron Artest’s battering ram attack on the paint in the third where he basically pushed his way past two big Bull defenders and got a lay-up out of the deal.

    Pau got some good numbers, but he didn’t play well, at least not compared how I’m used to seeing him play. He was outhustled and outworked, and judging by his body language towards the end of the game he was frustrated and well aware he had not played nearly up to his full potential.

    What I really liked about the game yesterday was that the rest of the team immediately stepped up and took over scoring. If we can’t drop the ball down low to Pau, I guess we’ll just shoot from the perimeter then? Or, as I said to my husband when the Bulls took a lead early on in the first quarter, we’ll just have to bring in the Bench so they can restore order.

    And if you’d told me last year that I’d ever come close to thinking that I would have laughed in your face… A reliable bench? They have those in LA now? 🙂

  28. I noticed in the boxscore that Pau finished with 5 fouls. Can anyone clarify how he got them, when, and if at any point he got pulled out of the game due to foul trouble? Trying to figure out if fouls contributed to any lack of rhythm.

  29. Darius: Foul trouble was not a factor. Pau picked up three or four fouls in the last six minutes or so of the 4th, with the last coming with the game sealed and barely any time left on the clock.

    The Bulls did a fantastic job denying him post touches and Noah and his helpers did a great job forcing him into passing out or taking difficult shots when he did get it.

  30. Darius, in my recollection, he picked up two or three in the fourth, defending the rim aggressively. I think he felt like he was in the clear (not needing to limit fouls to stay on the floor with no real back up) and just decided to send a message. I noticed it at the time and was surprised at him giving up obvious fouls, but it was part of the D that helped seal the win.

    I don’t think he was pulled at any point due to foul trouble. Hopefully someone else can confirm or more accurately address this for you, but that is how I remember it.

  31. Is it just me or does it seem like whenever there’s an article stating Pau is the MVP or he’s the best player on the team, he throws out a stinker of a game.

  32. @Darius
    I don’t remember the details of every one, but the ones I do remember happened in the paint, hustling for a rebound or to block a shot. Not stupid fouls, and not fouls that you could legitimately argue were bad calls either. While he wasn’t pulled from the game more than usual (he played 42 minutes, according to Yahoo’s box score), I’m sure it contributed to him being a bit out of rhythm and frustrated in general.

  33. >I’m sure it contributed to him being a bit out of rhythm and frustrated in general.

    I don’t think so; cf. 30/31.

  34. I think Pau has to make a mental note to play Noah like he does the Celts and other physical teams. He needs to get mentally ready for games like this; otherwise he shuts down if it’s not working out. The stretch in the 4q where the game went from 3 to 12 was pretty amazing. The Lakers were so quick in transition, like the Suns used to be, but with great defense. Maybe I’m biased, but if Barnes and Blake play this way all year, Kupchak should be up there for GM of the year.

  35. You guys realize that every single player in the NBA ever had bad games right? Pau had a sub-par game against a very tough opponent. Its one game, in which we won! I really don’t understand all the hand ringing and psycho-analysis that’s going on.

    Two days ago we were acting like he was the next moses.

    It’s a long season, there will be up and downs for every player. Let’s try to be a little consistent.

    Might as well get this out of the way as well. Brown, Barnes & Blake will all have bad games this year in which they look like they forgot how to shoot and drive to the basket. Brown at some point will shoot a ton of three’s and miss them. They will still be awesome and still be one of the best benches in the league.

    The beauty of this team and why we are different from just about every other team in the league is that the Lakers can still beat every team in the League when one of their superstars struggle, or when they shoot bad, or get out rebounded etc.

    Pau was down, the bench was up, Lakers win – story of the game

  36. FYI, we’ll be chatting at 10:30am pacific. Here’s the link:

  37. @tsuwm
    Fair point. As I said, I don’t remember details on the fouls. I blame work hell-week… working in the back end of retail this time of year tends to make me half asleep in the evenings :p

  38. Pau just had an off-night, which was exacerbated (or maybe even caused) by Noah’s energy. I really hope he’s not tired, which he kind of looked like to me last night. For those of you commenting on how he has trouble with physical players, please stop. The dude is in regular season cruise mode. Come playoffs, those 250 pounds will weigh heavy on the opponents. He does, much like the rest of our team, struggle more against athletic teams however. Ibaka will give him fits if we meet OKC in the playoffs this year.

    Anyone else growing concerned with Ron’s game? Barnes’ play has Ron sitting out a lot of key moments, and I’m starting to become alarmed at how poorly he is playing. He’s not even consistent on D. Hopefully this isn’t going to affect his psyche in the long-term.

  39. Watching the game last night just proves that this team will be able to win in so many ways. The bench guys came in and showed they can win games for the team when the stars are having an off night. Every player in league has an off night or are in foul trouble limiting their effectiveness. But the good teams in the league have other players that will step up when the usual suspects fail to bring it.

    The bench will only get better as the year progresses and AB returns, so an off night by Kobe or Pau will not mean doom or the end of the world as some fans seem to believe. In contrast it will allow the bench to gain confidence( fans as well) that they can get the job done.

  40. Assuming that Brown’s performance continues along these general lines, this will be the first time in awhile that the Lakers have had a “scorer” coming off the bench.

  41. Anyone else growing concerned with Ron’s game?


    Barnes is faster than Ron is, so it makes perfect sense to put him on younger and more athletic players. Ron is a workhorse like no other (except maybe Kobe) he’ll stay in shape and stay ready to play… but he seems like the kind of guy who needs to get in rhythm before he’ll play well. Then again, he started out poorly last year too, and it worked out pretty well towards the end of the season.

  42. @25 – Three of Shannon’s 3-pointers were in the final seconds of the first three quarters, and were taken from between 30 and 45 feet from the basket.

    @29 – Pau was never in foul trouble. He picked up three fouls in the 4th quarter, with his fifth foul taken with five seconds left in the game and the Lakers up by nine.

  43. Regarding Artest, I’m a little bit concerned as well. Right now Barnes is rightfully stealing some of his minutes, as is Brown by playing so well that he stays on as SG when Kobe comes back to slide into that SF spot.

    Once Bynum returns, the minutes of Artest and Barnes at PF will be scarce as well (filled by Gasol and Odom), meaning they’ll battle it out at SF with some of those minutes going to Kobe as well (not counting the playing time going to Walton/Ebanks, though probably mostly in garbage time).

    Last season Artest could hang his hat on defense. Right now it seems that – at least as far as team defense is concerned – the Lakers have often had more success with line-ups not including him. Here’s hoping that he doesn’t take this as a slight and doesn’t let it get to his ego. If a player of his at least former alpha dog status can swallow his pride, this shouldn’t turn into a problem. But who knows how he is wired in that regard?

  44. Just because somebody is 7 foot tall does not make them more of a center than somebody who is 6-10. I don’t think Russel was 7 foot but he was as legit a center as they come, and while both Dirk and Garnett are 7 footers or fairly close, none of them will ever be considered centers.

    In that regard, I think Noah has made the transition to center much more eagerly than Pau has (then again, Noah is just EAGER) and he was pumped even more at the prospect of facing the Lakers and Gasol.

  45. >and he was pumped even more at the prospect of facing the Lakers

    I think Joakim Noah is immutably geeked about playing basketball..

  46. So who would you rather have guys? Andrew Bynum or Joakim Noah?

    I’m a bigger fan of Joakim (even in his rookie days), than Bynum. Not to take anything away from Big Drew, but Joakim Noah’s desire supercedes his talent, therefore making others think he’s one of the greatest centers of today. He is limited offensively, but he works really hard and rarely takes a play off.

  47. Without even trying to answer your question, I love Noah’s game. It’s not just the hustle, rebounds, defense, etc either. He’s got great feel on offense (how to set good screens, a very good passer, how to move without the ball) and that part of his offensive game is rarely discussed.

  48. Bynum or Noah?

    Noah has played 230 games 2007-present, while Bynum has played 150 games over the same period.

  49. This last game is a great example of why we should take all statistics with a ‘grain of salt’.

    If you don’t watch the game, you shouldn’t be able to comment much on it. Statistics do help when looking at a player over a long period of time, but even then they do not illustrate how that player fit into the team. So many things are that extra screen, that extra pass and so on. These things don’t show up in statistics.

  50. If we’re talking about what if’s, I’d much rather have Dwight over Noah / Bynum / whomever. But then again we’d probably give the other team a technical per game or something.

    Off topic, I’m just really intrigued that nothing is developing in Miami. PJ probably did his Zen Mind Trick because he really saw an opening to have that team implode. Wade & James pick and roll that frightened most of the league is not really there, and it’s almost as if they’re better off without each other (maybe that’s why Wade came off the bench?).

    Maybe Adrian’s piece on LeBron regarding his bad influence in the Olympic team (not Beijing, the one before) really has some merit…

  51. Because Wade and Lebron have some really similar attributes – to a great extent, that both require the ball to be most effective – it is possible that that team never reaches its potential. However, I think we should all ‘chill out’ a bit with the comments. We expect things to happen instantaneously in our sports world. That’s not the way things develop and the example of the 2008 Celtics simply is the exception that proves the rule.

  52. >nothing is developing in Miami.

    an apropos topic for Turkey Day, I suppose.
    – Eddie House gets most of the PG minutes
    – Zydrunas Ilgauskas starts at C
    – bench production worthy of the ’09/10 Lakers bench mob.
    – Haslem gone for the year?
    – Miller gone for months?
    – wade shooting 44%, james 45%

    one is left to wonder, ‘how does this team have a winning record’?!