Preview and Chat: The Chicago Bulls

Darius Soriano —  November 23, 2010

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Records: Lakers 12-2 (2nd in West), Bulls 7-4 (3rd in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 117.6 (1st in NBA), Bulls 106.7 (15th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.8 (12th in NBA), Bulls 103.2 (9th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Bulls: Derrick Rose, Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Omer Asik
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum (out), Theo Ratliff (out); Bulls: Carlos Boozer (out), Taj Gibson (doubtful)

The Lakers Coming in:  I have a feeling I’ll be typing this a lot this season, but the Lakers are on a winning streak (this time of 4 games) and are playing high level basketball.  Their point differential is tops in the league (nearly 2 points better than the Spurs) at 11.3.  Even thought they give up the most offensive rebounds a game of any team, they lead the league in total rebounds per game – a stat that will only improve once Bynum returns (as they better control their defensive glass andgrab a couple more offensive rebounds a game themselves).  So while there are specific parts of the game that can be nitpicked, there’s really no point to do so as it that would make me the Shallow Hal of basketball analysts.  Instead, appreciate what you have with this team because they’re putting on a display on most nights that even the most spoiled fans (and, based off the franchise’s success over the years, I’d consider Lakers fans pretty spoiled) need to get up and acknowledge as being pretty damned good.

Having said all that, if there’s one thing to note it’s that the Lakers’ early season schedule has not been that difficult.  And even though I’m trusting of the numbers I spouted off in the previous paragraph and in the quality of play we’ve seen being the product of the Lakers’ skills and not necessarily their opponent’s lack thereof, the caliber of opposition will start to improve in the upcoming weeks andthat starts tonight with the visiting Bulls.  So, while I remain confident and think that the Lakers will continue to show the class that they’ve displayed even against tougher foes, it will be interesting to if there are any marked changes in performance or results.

The Bulls Coming in:  As mentioned, the Bulls are a strong team and likely the best the Lakerswill have faced in their first 15 games.  They come in having won 5 of their last 6 contests with their only loss coming to a red-hot Spurs team. 

They’re led by Derrick Rose who in his third year has developed into one of the best young guards in the league and by Joakim Noah who is now one of the premier rebounders and defensive bigs in the game.  This duo is flanked by LuolDeng who also continues to flash his all around game (albeit inconsistently andnot with the greatest efficiency) by scoring and rebounding at an above average clip and by other solid role players that contribute by excelling at the things they do well and avoiding the things that they don’t.

While their offensive and defensive efficiency numbers don’t jump off the page, this group has the ingredients to stay close in any game and win them down the stretch (3 of their last 5 wins are by 5 points or less) based off  the individual talents of Rose and their ability to get needed stops and rebound the ball effectively.

Interestingly enough, though, it’s the development of Rose that has some wondering if he’s really as good as many have made him out to be.  Over at Hardwood Paroxysm, Noam Schiller has a great piece up that discusses Rose and how he’s judged by the media and fans and whether he is the MVP candidate that he’s being touted as.  It’s worth your time to read the entire thing, but here’s a key passage that caught my eye:

(Rose) has undoubtedly been fantastic this season, and this Boozer-less Bulls squad probably has no business being 6-4 right now. But we are constantly led to believe that Rose is more than this. His name has been repeatedly thrust into MVP discussions, both by the media and by himself. If this is the case, then the standards by which we must judge him are MVP standards. Not young-stud standards, not perennial all-star standards, but MVP standards. Either that, or re-adjust your expectations. Otherwise, we’re just being hypocrites.

Call it hate if you want, but I refuse to sit back andbe satisfied with what Rose is now when what he can be – and hopefully will be in the near future – is so, so much more. MVPs. Titles. Unheard of athletic dominance. This is what we were promised, and what we should look for. We are looking for Derrick Rose to become DERRICK ROSE, not some kind of glorified Steve Francis/Stephon Marbury, sans the headcase.

The article touches on more than just Rose and discusses hype, hate, and even brings up Kobe, so go check it out.

Bulls Blogs: For many years now Blog-a-Bull has been the gold standard of Bulls sites.  By the Horns also does a fantastic job covering the team from the Windy City.  Give both sites a read.

Keys to game:Tonight is a great match up for the Lakers not just because the Bulls are a good team but because the things they do well are things that the Lakershave struggled withcontaining both this year and in season’s past.  The Bulls post the 7thbest offensive rebound rate and attack the glass with reckless abandon.  Noah is the key culprit here but Deng also grabs nearly 2 offensive boards a game.  And while the Bulls will likely be without Taj Gibson – who is also a very good offensive rebounder – limiting the Bulls on the O-glass will be a test tonight for the Lakers.

The other thing the Bulls do well (and that the Lakers struggle to stop)  is penetrate from the PG position.  Rose is simply one of the best creators off the bounce in the entire league andwhoever matches up withhim will have his hands full.  We’ll see if Phil goes with Fisher on Rose or if the Bulls’ starting of Bogans allows Phil to use Fisher on the less talented offensive player while putting Ron or Kobe on Rose, but regardless of the match up the Lakers will have to deal with Rose’s darts into the paint where he can finish with a finesse floater or throw it down with authority.

Offensively, the Lakers’ game plan shouldn’t look too different than on most nights but may require some early tweaks.  The fact that Gibson is likely to sit out means that the Bulls will trot out some height in its front court with both 6’11” Noah and 7’0″ Asik patrolling the paint.  Gasol has been on such a roll lately that he should still be able to get his typical numbers, but when he goes inside it will be a stark difference than what he’s seen in recent games vs. the Warriors, Pistons, and Suns.  I’d like to see Pau use his face up game more against Asik and his standard post game against Noah and would like to see him do the majority of his work from the mid-post where he can either turn and face or back his man down for good looks at the basket.

Tonight is also a night where Kobe should be able to get going early.  The Bulls start an undersized back court in Rose and Bogans and neither has the size to keep Kobe from earning good post position nor contest his shots effectively when he shoots his turn around jumper.  If the Bulls decide to turn to Deng as a defensive option, the Lakers should then move the ball onto Artest who will have a similar advantage inside against whoever switches onto him.  When the Bulls go to the bench they have better a defensive option in Ronnie Brewer, but Kobe’s typically had his number as well dating back to Brewer’s days with the Jazz.  Essentially, don’t be surprised to see Kobe go to work tonight or for the Bulls to try to counter Kobe’s aggressiveness with double teams andtraps withthe result (hopefully) being facilitator Kobe breaking down the defense with the extra pass.

There’s also a good match up of benches tonight.  I’ve already mentioned Brewer but the Bulls also have former Jazz-man Kyle Korver and former Warrior CJ Watson as key reserves.  This trio has the ability to affect the game in different ways and the Lakers must be ready for Brewer’s activity in the passing lanes, Watson’s open court skill, and Korver’s marksmanship from deep.  I’m especially concerned about Korver as the Lakers haven’t done the best job marking shooters this season and Kyle is currently shooting an outlandish 56.3% from three this season.  The Bulls use him a lot like the Jazz did by running him off screens and as a weak side threat that keeps help defenders from clogging the paint on penetration by Rose.  So, whoever is on Korver tonight (likely Barnes) will need to chase hard and fight through screens while also showing discipline when not directly involved in the game action.  Because if Korver gets hot it can change the game.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time out West, locally on FSW and nationally on NBA TV.  Also listen at ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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134 responses to Preview and Chat: The Chicago Bulls

  1. Also, my apologies in advance but real life has taken over today and the recap won’t be up until laaaate tonight or early in the morning. I’ll catch the game after it’s over and recap it when I’m finished watching. Hold it down for me tonight, everyone.

    Also, someone told me Warren should get a hello here. So, hello.

  2. I consider the first post to be an extension of the preview, so….

    This one is for Warren!!

    Now – looking forward to this game. Lakers need to face some tougher competition. They have done a great job of not sinking to the level of the competition like they did so often last year, but now it is time to see if they can bring the same effectiveness against a better team.

  3. Why are people surprised Ariza isn’t a good player? I just don’t get it. He was only a good player for 2 months of his entire NBA career. It baffles the mind. Here is Hollingers take….

    “Trevor Ariza, New Orleans
    Ariza’s addition has undoubtedly infused the Hornets with some athleticism that has proved valuable at the defensive end, but offensively he’s had the same problem that plagued him Houston, which is why I was skeptical New Orleans could get value from the four years and $28 million remaining on his deal.
    Namely, he can’t shoot straight. Ariza is at 37.7 percent from the floor after hitting just 39.4 percent a year ago. His true shooting percentage is once again among the worst in the league, and it appears playing with Chris Paul hasn’t completely cured his compulsion to take terrible shots. In particular, his willingness to shoot 3s isn’t matched by an ability to convert them — he’s taking 4.4 a game (nearly half his overall field goal attempts), but he has made only 31.6 percent. For his career, he’s a 32.1 percent marksman from downtown, so this shouldn’t surprise anybody.”

    Also… my friends think I am overrating Fisher now. But I say poppycock. The guy always has had everything you need to be a good player minus the athletisism. Now (edited) he is getting in passing lanes, finishing at the basket, making shots, and is probably one of the best defensive PG’s in the NBA this season. As much as he was hurting us the last few years he is helping us now, and with little fan fair. The guy is flying all over the court.

  4. I think we’ll see Artest on Rose, Fisher on Bogans, and Kobe on Deng. Good Laker defense will mean a lot of long jumpers from Deng early. Bad defense will mean a lot of putbacks from Noah and layups by Rose.

    Will be a real shame if Taj Gibson can’t play tonight. The Lakers have been cruising against subpar competition, and need a real test of the kind that Thibodeau and the Bulls should provide.

  5. #4. We’d all like to see every player shoot 60% from the floor, but it’s not always possible, espeicially when talking about Kobe. His shot selection could surely be better but most nights I’m okay with what he’s doing because the man – even now – is relied upon to score on this team and sometimes that means taking a few contested shots or being the guy asked to create with the shot clock running down.

    On a side note though, the advanced stats do tell an interesting story when it comes to Kobe. His TS% is right at the league average but is a hair higher than last season. So really, he’s just as efficient as last year even though his three point shooting is down. Why? HIs FT shooting is way up (88% this year compared to 81% last year) and he’s taking nearly one more FT a game this season compared to last. It all means that he’s scoring nearly as much per possession but doing it in a different way. Also, I have a feeling that Kobe’s three point shooting will improve as the year goes and we’ll see an uptick in his efficiency.

    I’m not here to hype Kobe beyond belief but I also don’t think it’s fair to criticize him for being just as good this year as he’s been for the past few seasons. You know, that’s the same guy that’s led this team (with great help from Gasol, Odom, Bynum, et al) to championships the past two seasons.

  6. Re: The New Fisher
    Not to keep complimenting Derek Fisher… but I do like me some numbers. While people were telling me last year that his awful stats didn’t matter because Fisher did stuff on the floor I couldn’t see, this year when I started seeing him do the little things peolpe imagined him doing last year the stats also look a lot different.

    His improvement from last season to this season is shocased in various areas, according to HoopData.com, including makes at the rim (39.5% to 58.3%), shots from within 10-15 feet (36.4% to 66.7%) and player efficiency rating (9.22, 11.9)

    Weird, when a player gets more athletic his numbers improve. And although these will all be career highs for him it is normal for a 36 year old to improve his speed and quickness after all those years training. He must be taking his vitamins.

    Re: Kobe

    He is one of the greatest players to ever play the game… but he isn’t perfect. But he is rpetty close.

  7. This season is so unique: I find myself agreeing with Aaron. And then to top it off, he has something nice to say about Fisher???

    Tonight’s game should be interesting, I hope the Lakers play well as a team. That being said, does anyone else think the whole “The Lakers have had an easy schedule” thing is played out? I mean, wasn’t this the same discussion last year when the Lakers were at home for the first 1/3 of last season… I understand if this were the clippers and they opened up a 10-2 start of the season with most games at home, but from the Lakers? It just seems like a lot of writers are writing about things to put a chink in their armor because theres nothing else to write about this team except, you know, pretty damn good basketball.

  8. Ahahahahahaha…. ESPN awards watch has both Kobe and Pau on the MVP list.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/notebook/_/page/Awards-101123/nba-awards-watch

    Here is a question – if you are building a team which ‘big three’ do you want – Kobe/Pau/Odom, Pierce/Garnett/Rondo, or James/Wade/Bosh?

  9. #7. Seriously, you’re being ridiculous and need to stop.

    I suppose there’s no need to put any of your stats into context right? Like how his percentages *are* up, but his attempts are still extremely low so any difference in makes per game is going to show a dramatic spike in his %’s. Like how his shots at the rim went up from .3 out of .9 to .6 out of 1? Or how his makes from 10-15 feet went up from .1 out of .3 to .1 out of .2? What a difference! (sacrasm.)

    Instead of coming around here to trying to spew unfounded rumors because a player that you had little kindness for is now playing better (combined with a performance for the ages that brought you to understand better what a lot of folks were talking about in the first place), why don’t you just appreciate that he’s playing well and take it for what it’s worth. He’s performing slightly better in a few areas this year and it’s making a difference.

    One last note on Fisher: last year when he was missing a lot of his shots I commented several times that his shot was *just* missing. And while there’s little solace to be found in shots that just miss (they count the same as airballs) I always thought that we’d see some sort of turnaround in his shooting at some point just because his lift on his jumper still looked good and a lot of his misses were back rim. Well, guess what? We’re seeing that improvement now (though it’s much higher than it’s been in recent years and likely won’t stay this high for the entire year). It’s not rocket science or some other *technique* that’s not legal. So, again, just stop.

  10. Darius, do you think getting a contract this year and/or playing with Blake have anything to do with Fisher playing better this year?

    I notice he seems to be a lot more under control this year. I am no stat hound, but it seems to me he is actually doing more with less, if that makes sense.

  11. Exciting game tonight. Rose and Noah are basically the perfect players to beat the Lakers. A super fast scoring point guard and a very hard working rebounding big man who will make life hard for Pau and Lamar. I’m eager to see what the Lakers will do against what is their toughest game to date.

    This game will be all about the Lakers playing their game on both sides of the ball. It means playing within the offense (as always) but also not needlessly gambling on defense.

    I’m also excited because beating the Bulls will require multiple players having good games. Whereas when we are facing the lessor teams basically if anyone of the Kobe, Lamar, Pau has a great game we will win. Unlike the Suns or Nuggets where we just needed to not play poorly, this game should require the Lakers to have a “good” game.

    This should be a good one and I think its time for the Lakers to be pushed/tested a bit

  12. 11, I think Fisher’s play has a lot to do with having much more support in terms of depth (he is required to do less), Lamar really having a strong start (again things will just come easier to everyone else), and finally now playing with Gasol, Lamar, & Kobe for 2+ years and Artest a full season.

    Basically imagine being in a work place which has the very best technology, the very best people and the very best culture. It becomes much easier to excel at your job and have success.

  13. Ray- The Lakers are playing well, but the schedule has just been too easy so far to really get any sense of how good they can be (Sagarin has them 30th in strength of schedule through yesterday).

    The Lakers lost to their only legit top 10 opponent (at Denver), and we finally get another one tonight to see if that was a fluke. I’m concerned that the easy schedule has made the Lakers a bit soft, but here’s hoping I’m wrong.

  14. VoR – which “big three” you want depends upon when do you want to win. Win now? The Lakers power trio. Win in 2008? Pierce/Garnett/Rondo.

    “Building a team” implies – to me anyway – positioning to win down the road … in which case I guess the Miami three me-egos must be in the discussion. After all, two of them are just 26 and arguably not even at their physical peaks. However, I’m starting to wonder if LBJ will ever be anything other than a wimpy *** freak. At best, he has a lot of growing up to do. At worse, he could go down as the most overrated player in league history.

  15. I love Noah’s game. The kid is a champ at heart – he’ll have a ring before he retires.

    VoR – I’ll take the trio with the most championships earned.

  16. I was about to say: Aaron loves Fisher, Aaron loves Fisher nahnah nahnahnah.
    But Darius, you had to take to the real world…too serious for this rolling Lakers.

  17. For the big 3 question. If I was a GM and my job depended on it I would take LBJ/Wade/Bosh because of their ages but only if I was able to make trades with 1 or 2 of them. Otherwise Kobe/Pau/Lamar because they have proven they can play together and win.

  18. edit:

    My agreement with Aaron was solely on his first posting, not the second one.

    I do not agree with his second posting and his insinuation that Fisher is on PEDs. If aaron says something about Fisher and Pacquiao getting PEDs or something…. im going to be annoyed.

  19. I am sure the “easy schedule” talk has made its way to the player’s ears. I expect the team to be eager to show they can beat a top Eastern competitor. I look for the Lakers to come out with a lot of fire tonight.

    Also, who wouldn’t love to see Joakim Noah in a Laker uniform? He is one of my favorite players in the NBA because the guy leaves it on the floor every night. It is hard to root against players like him. But I will be tonight!

  20. 11) VoR,
    For the first time in four seasons, there is a reasonable substitute available for the great majority of Fisher’s minutes. (i.e. Personally, I think that Blake could play 40 min per game and the Lakers would actually be better off.)

    And, for the most part, the overall play of the team is better this year.

    That has to have an impact on Fisher’s play – the threat of Blake taking his minutes and the fact that the team doesn’t need as much from him leads him to stay within his capabilities more.

  21. I like By The Horns’s preview:

    The Bulls have been playing well and were one horrific third quarter away from beating the Spurs in San Antonio on the second night of back-to-backs. But this Lakers team is something else again. They rank 1st in PPG (112.5) and Offensive Rating (117.6). They rank 12th in Defensive Rating (105.8), which isn’t great, but it’s good enough considering how efficient they are on offense.

    That efficiency starts with…not Kobe Bryant. Despite playing his fewest MPG (32.6) since his second year in the league, Kobe has still managed to squeeze off enough shots to lead the league in field goal attempts (279). However, Bryant isn’t shooting the ball at a superstar level: Only 43 percent overall and a mere 30 percent from downtown.

    Believe it or not, Pau Gasol has emerged as L.A.’s best player. Gasol averaging 22.8 PPG on 56 percent shooting to go with 12.1 RPG, 4.1 APG and 1.7 BPG. He currently leads the league in Player Efficiency Rating (27.6), Offensive Win Shares (2.5) and Total Win Shares (3.3). Gasol also ranks 2nd in Total Defensive Rebounds, 2nd in Total Rebounds, and 3rd in Rebounds Per Game. He’s 3rd in Offensive Rating and 8th in Field Goal Percentage.

    Bottom line: Dude is awesome.

    Gasol and Lamar Odom (14.6 PPG, 58% FGP, 10.6 RPG, 3.9 APG) may be the most fearsome frontcourt tandem in the league. Throw in the continuing all-around brilliance of Bryant (25.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.8 APG), the defense of Ron Artest, the veteran leadership and three-point shooting of Derek Fisher (58% from downtown), not to mention off-the-bench contributions from Shannon Brown (11.1 PPG, 52% FGP, 51% on threes), Matt Barnes (47 % on threes) and Steve Blake (also 47% on threes)…

    …and you have one seriously stacked team.

  22. I’m sure Fish who is president of the player’s association and who’s entire life and career is based around his honor and professionalism is going to go around taking something illegal. Yup, that’s got to be it.

    The simpler explanation that maybe not having to play as many heavy minutes due to a better backup and he has fresher legs is completely preposterous.

    And I love that some people think the minimum standard for Kobe is that he shoots 60% from the field.

    I guess even this haven of smart basketball talk can sometimes be sullied by wild comments.

  23. I like Noah too.

    Not sure how serious the ‘Melo for Noah talk was, but if that offer was on the table, the Bulls front office made the right call.

  24. Our schedule is really funny, almost as if somebody foresaw the absence of Bynum and let us get comfortable and deal with the tougher opponents once Bynum comes back. Not complaining, but 12-2 isn’t really 12-2 when you haven’t faced any of the real contenders, and we’ve lost to Denver.

    It really is a blessing though that we have ample time and opportunity to integrate our newcomers and give rookies playtime. All of this bodes really well for the future, regardless of how tough the remainder of the schedule ends up being. We’re also blessed that while the West is tougher, we don’t have a decidedly concerning, legit threat in the West.

    As for Gasol blossoming, that is just awesome, and it will make it easier for Kobe to extend his career and become a role-player in chase of more championships. He can then do the transformation of winning a championship as a sidekick, the man, and as a great role player/specialist, at which point he may become a sentimental pick for DPOY as well.

  25. Exhelo – totally agree with you on Blake – but I also wonder if Fisher was pressing last year because it was a contract year.

    On the big three question – I think Jeremy hit on what I was thinking. It seems the Miami crew is talented but it is not the right blend of pieces. The Celts and Lakers, though older, have a better blend. I also think that player for player, the Lakers may be better. I give Lebron a slight edge over Kobe, but I think on the other two, the Lakers are better.

  26. Man these 7.30 starts really kill me…that’s 4.30 am here in Sweden. Lakers are playing such a beautiful brand of basketball now though – pretty much every game is must-see-tv.

    Sleep is for the weak!;)

  27. So, real life continues to intervene for me (and the rest of the FB&G crew) and there won’t be a recap tonight. My apologies to all. There would have been one if this game wasn’t on NBA TV and I got the replay on my broadband account, but it’s now blacked out for me. So, comment away and keep me up to speed on what happens as I’ll be missing this game. Ugh.

  28. What exactly do people expect to happen to this team when the schedule gets tougher? Are they gonna suddenly turn into the Clippers? They’re 2 time defending champions who obviously got better in the offseason. This as a great team no matter the schedule.

  29. Darius: Apologize is the last thing you need to do. Here we are, getting state of the art material – for free – all the time; what kind of sick people would we be if we blamed you for missing a single game? (Moreover, through no fault of your own.)
    I’m grateful for everything you guys do=)

    That being said: A nice thing with living in Sweden is that the league pass broadband doesn’t black out any games at all. Not even this season when Swedish TV has actually started showing some games. In Spain for instance, they black out every game that is on TV – but so far, we’re in luck here in the far north. (Knock on wood.)

    And deservingly so, I might add, considering that we have to stay up all night in order to watch the games;) (And also, considering there is a snowstorm right outside my window – curse thee, Swedish weather.)

  30. Someone please save me with a link to this game? I cant stand this blackout crap on my league pass broadband, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

  31. whoah Artest is checking Rose this should be fun.

    Also no way Bogans can guard Kobe, he may explode tonight

  32. Need a quality link to stream game. Anyone?

  33. No ball movement from the Lakers so far. Not sure Pau has even touched the ball yet.

  34. 8 minutes in and I don’t like what I am seeing on defense or on the boards. Looks similar to the phoenix game but its early

  35. Simonoid, you are my saving grace, Thanks for the link

    Shannon is the only guy with enough speed and strength to keep up with Rose

  36. VoR: He had an offensive board and gave Artest a nice look from three. But they are having trouble making the entry pass when Noah is fronting him. (A common theme for the Lakers when defenders front Pau, which is why I’d do it all the time if I was the opposing team.)

  37. Thank you Simonoid, you’re a gentleman and a scholar.

  38. very active interior defense is giving pau fits and making it difficult for him to get the ball.

    still we maybe playing at 60% while the bulls are playing wonderfully and we are down by 2. way to early to worry

  39. In the meantime, Kobe has decided that because he’s scored 9 of our first 11 points, he’s too good to waste his energy on defense. I mean, not closing out on shooters, reaching in rather than moving his feet, and not bothering to contend most shots.

  40. And while Fisher is one of the best fast break defenders, Kobe at this point is one of our worst. Sure, the flashy challenge and block still show up once in a while (those have been on a constant decrease), but most of the time, he just stands there to avoid picking up a personal.

  41. You’re always welcome, gents.

  42. Unfortunately I see Noah giving Pau problems with his defense and length tonight but I hope he proves me wrong

  43. Noah is making Pau a non-factor on the boards right now. It’ll be interesting to see if Pau can get something going. I think this is a night where the Lakers are going to need a lot from Kobe.

  44. Noah is amazing – his motor is out of this world. (And since I’ve been talking so much about Sweden tonight, I feel that I need to point out that he’s half Swedish – like myself as a matter of fact:D)

  45. Agree with Noah neutralizing Pau on the boards but this is where we need Artest, Kobe & Barnes to really help on rebounding. We should still win the rebounding tonight

  46. Gasol just looks out of gas. He’s playing flat footed, slow on rotations and slow off the ground.

  47. Shannon Gold!

  48. And the triples from Shannon just keep on coming. One of the hottest starts to a season that I can remember seeing.

  49. Lakers are getting some open looks, but nothing in the paint and Deng is playing well.

    Amazing rainbow by Shannon!

  50. SHANNON BROWN wow this kid never ceases to amaze with his improvement

  51. @48 – Looks like Pau was frustrated by the two early turnovers from entry passes at the start of the game. When we did get a good entry pass, it led to an assist to Barnes for a trey, so we gotta keep with it for in-out ball movement.

    Also… I hear defending the key is good, m’kay.

  52. 42. Simonoid

    Kobe doesn’t even try to defend the fast break since he’s too worried about picking up a foul and getting into foul trouble.

    Pau has been doing the same a lot in the half court this season, probably because he knows that there is no one on the bench that can play meaningful minutes at the 5. I think that is the single biggest problem with our interior defense this season.

  53. Zephid: Which is exactly why we need Drew back so badly. The team is playing great with Pau logging heavy minutes, but sooner or later all those 40+ minute games of banging against big centers are going to take their toll on him. (And also, he can’t play D as aggressively.)

    What Drew did for the Lakers these last play-offs, even when hurt, cannot be overstated.

  54. Steve Blake looks to the most almost every time he touches the ball. It isn’t always possible to get it in there but he is at least looking.

  55. Tyler: Exactly. Pau is forced to play matador defense because of Drew’s absence.

    Kobe on the other hand has a nice back-up in Shannon. I think in his case, it’s more about conserving some energy. (Which might be the case for Pau as well.)

  56. I am not sure Pau is going to sit at all tonight. I think it is a mistake to not give him a rest while Noah is on the bench. But then no one is paying me a few million to coach the team. :-)

  57. Man it’s a good thing we have that Kobe scrub to hold serve and preserve leads until we can get Shannon Brown in. :)

  58. Andreas:

    I think that Kobe’s matador defense is to save fouls more than energy. He does have a very capable backup, but I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t care and doesn’t want his minutes limited no matter what.

  59. Tyler: Well, he is – after all – Kobe Bryant. So you might have a point there;)

    He might still be somewhat hampered by the knee when playing D as well. Oh well, come play-off time – he’ll be back to being one of the league’s best defenders.

  60. Can I please get some of what Shannon’s been drinking? Hot damn.

  61. how is that not over-the-back on Noah? :P

  62. If Brown keeps playing like this, he has a serious shot at winning the MIP award.

  63. Shannon Brown is earning his Sasha contract… and at this rate, he may even get a Luke contract.

  64. I have a mancrush and his name is Shannon

  65. Noah is killing the Lakers even more when Pau is not out there. I guess Pau can’t play all 48 minutes though.

    Thank god that Shannon makes a 3 for every 2 they make;)

  66. I have ShanWOW on both of my fantasy teams, picked him up as a poor undrafted soul. If he became a starter this year he could make the All Star team.

  67. Fisher’s shot selection has been awful this game

  68. Nice block by Gasol. A good board before that. I think the time on the bench got him fired up. He is playing with more intensity now.

  69. I’d like a little run to get this out to 8 or so at the half…

    But I really didn’t get that run did I?

    Decent half though. Shannon on fire. Kobe started hot. And Pau finally seems to be finding his rhythm. Rough start for him, with Noah being a tough matchup, and the fronting in the post denying him the looks he likes to get.

  70. Derrick Rose is ridiculous.

  71. Jeez, when you watch Shannon and Rose play – you really realize what a pathetic physical specimen you are:D

  72. 73, he tucked the ball under his arm like it was a football and took two monstrous steps before laying it up reverse. I did not think that was possible.

  73. Reign on Parades November 23, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    You know at least when Dallas trots out Kidd for a million minutes a game they do so with some awareness of his strengths and weaknesses

    Putting Fish on Rose just gives him no chance. No chance. Meanwhile he can totally guard the 2s on this Chicago roster because they are either lacking in offensive ability or athleticism.

    Man, that just bugs the heck out of me.

  74. 76, I think Fish and Blake have done a decent job on Rose, actually. It is the bigs’ rotations that have been slow, leading to easy penetration.

  75. Reign on Parades November 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    My preference would just be to have Blake’s length or Brown’s athleticism matched up against Rose. All our guards have the size so that’s not a problem but Fish just has too much sand in his shoes at this point.

    Plus given how Chicago’s wings float around the perimeter Fish would be our first man back in transition D, and his ability to anticipate passes and draw charges on the break is the stuff of legend.

  76. Looks like that run is happening at the start of the second half rather than at the end of the first!

  77. Laker D has really picked up

  78. A good run to start the 2nd half. We should just naturally shoot better in the 2nd half but we also must do a better job rebounding. I understand getting beat by Noah on the boards but Lamar should be beasting Gibson and the rest of the team should get us to a push.

    Keep in mind though this could be the 3rd or even 2nd best team in the East. This is going to be a tough game

  79. I’m happy if we have Bogans on the floor for Chicago. That’s a win in anyone’s language!

  80. That was 3 straight times on the same possession Kobe decided not to close out. Twice on Bogans, once because he gambled on Rose. Lakers burned on the trey.

  81. Gasol is listless.

  82. We might want to start rebounding.

  83. Ron Artest is just completely off with his shot right now. Two misses led to easy points in transition for the Bulls.

  84. To be fair, the Lakers aren’t looking for him on offense. And part of the reason is because he’s not active. It’s a chicken and egg thing, really.

  85. 34 to 24 advantage on the boards for the Bulls. That is why it is still a game.

  86. We are playing like the Miami heat inside right now

  87. I was talking about Gasol, sorry. Just clarifying.

  88. We need to double Rose on the perimeter and get the ball out of his hands. Force the Bulls to make a shot.

  89. Where has Shannon been this half? As hot as he was shooting in the first half why isn’t he getting more burn?

  90. Seems like our strategy is to tread water and wait for Thibs to sub out Noah and Rose. =p

  91. Jesus, Pau. Get your head in the game

  92. I hate it when Pau mentally checks out like this

  93. Rose’s hop step/jump stop should be called a travel every single time.

  94. This Bulls team is right up there with the best in the East.

  95. Joe and they dont even have Boozer yet, imagine how good they will be.

    Thank god for Lamar

  96. LO did some heavy lifting that quarter. He is really bringing some intensity this year.

    Caracter!!

  97. Lakers8884: And we don’t have Drew yet, imagine how good we will be;)

  98. 98, Boozer replicates a lot of what Taj Gibson does, without the defense and blocked shots. I, for one, believe that the Bulls will be worse with Boozer on the floor, simply because their defense and rebounding will be worse, while their offense will only be slightly better.

  99. If I gave you this – “9 points, 2-of-7 shooting, 6 rebounds, 5 blocks” – you wouldn’t think this is Pau Gasol.

  100. Mark: In fairness, you have to add 4 assists and 2 steals to that line. And the game isn’t over yet. But even a Pau fan-boy like me has to admit that it hasn’t been his best game.

  101. Gasol is having a Kirilenko like performance.

    Not bad, but not Gasol-like.

    … but, did I say I like Barnes-Blake-Brown? I thought Brown was superfluous, but he really is making a case for a big payday.

  102. Nothing surprising about Gasol’s performance tonight. After that perfect game you knew he would struggle.

  103. Zephid, I’ll give you the defense but Boozer is a much better rebounder than Gibson.

  104. 105, Boozer may be a bit better, but I don’t think it’s that big a difference. One key is that Gibson has played beside Noah his entire career, and we all see how Noah gobbles up rebounds. We’ll see how well Boozer rebounds when he plays with Noah.

    Also, I’ve loved how the Lakers actually have been running the triangle in the 4th quarter this game. Kobe is getting the ball in the pinch post and killing the Bulls, passing out when they double or shooting over them when they don’t.

  105. This bench is so freakin’ clutch.

  106. I’ve only been able to watch the tail end of the third quarter until now, but it seems like tonight we’re seeing my favorite Kobe, the one that proves that his knowledge of the game is unparalleled. Kobe has studied Thibbs defense inside and out. He knows when double teams are coming, he knows where they’re coming from and making the right reads. If the double doesn’t come, he goes to work in an iso situation. The 12 minutes of game time that I’ve been able to watch have been brilliant from KB24.

    By the way, Steve Blake’s jumper is on in case you haven’t noticed.

  107. I love this bench, such heart and talent

  108. this is what I;m talking about..Barnes-Blake-Brown combo…

  109. 37 points for the 3 B’s so far. Pretty decent=)

  110. The bench upgrade this season is startling. There is a level of competence and confidence that hasn’t been there for a long time. Those three guys may have just iced the game.

    I also love that Caracter gave a couple of productive minutes. A long way to go for him, but he can be a payer in time.

  111. Boozer is a (slightly) better rebounder, BUT he can actually play in the low post. Taj Gibson has been relegated to a spot up shooter this game, which Boozer can also do better.

    But who knows.

  112. Andreas, 57 if you count the other B, KoBe Black MamBa Bean Bryant ;)

    Judging from this lineup, we could even see a 5-B lineup of Bynum-Bryant-Barnes-Brown-Blake.

    But it’d be nice if we could rebound some…

    PS- next time, let’s experiment with the pictures in the preview and NOT put up pics of our players strugglin’. That photo might have jinxed Pau ;)

  113. Notice the motion when Noah practices his free throw, it looks like a semi-normal shot. And then notice how he actually shoots it – like a WNBA-player:D

  114. Zephid, seriously Boozer will make them better. What have the Bulls been lacking for the past several years? An inside scoring threat, and Boozer will be able to do that for them in the East. Right now they are primarily a jump shooting team with a little bit of Noah and Rose’s drives scattered between. You can also add that they will finally have depth down low with Gibson coming off the bench, they will be one of the elites when all is said and done. Boozer looks bad when he plays against the Lakers but against other teams he is a 20 and 10 type guy (especially in the East). They will be better overall

  115. 116, you don’t need a back to the basket scorer when you have a guy like Derrick Rose on the perimeter. If anything, a guy clogging up the middle is a hindrance, just like Shaq was in Phoenix and Cleveland. They are a Rose-driving team; that is how they get the lead and how they were dominating this game early.

    I’m not saying Boozer won’t make the Bulls better, but he won’t make them elite. Derrick Rose makes them elite.

  116. As amazing as Rose is, he clears out with his off-arm almost every single time he attacks the basket. Should be offensive foul on a couple of those.

  117. Ok, Gasol, cheap way of getting a double-double ;)

    Finally waking up?

    and wow, didn’t break 100…

  118. Why are Kobe and Pau the only ones shooting? I think the other guys earned some crunch time touches.

  119. Harold: Smart move by Pau;)

    My last defend-Pau-post: Apart from the 12-11-4-2-5, he does lead the team in +- with a +13. Just goes to show that it’s pretty important to have a big body in there when the opponents have a quality big like Noah.

  120. @andreas, i think it shows how much we expect from our players. thats a sick line for most people, but for pau, we expect at least 6 more points…

    doesn’t matter though

    WIN

  121. Seriously Rose doesn’t need a back to the basket scorer? Every good perimeter player has to have a solid big man to play with, the last team to win a title without one was the Chicago Bulls with Jordan. I’m not saying Boozer is an elite big man but come on he’s gonna make things easier, otherwise Rose will be doing the same stuff he’s been doing the past few years driving and forcing shots without any help. That whole Shaq clogging the middle thing I thought was true too but listen to what Rondo said about him in the press recently, he says he makes his job easier because guys will come to double him and he can always just dump it off to Shaq. Rondo and Doc Rivers were both complimenting him about it.

  122. Andreas, I don’t think you’ll hear many complaints from Laker fans about Pau. He is a key reason for two championships and a second place finish.

    Well, good night all. Solid win against a good team.

  123. Fairly ugly game all around except in stretches.

    For those who didn’t watch, all that you missed – Shannon’s hot shooting gives us a slight cushion for most of the first half. The second half is close, mainly behind the beastliness of Rose, until Blake and Barnes join the 3-point party. A couple turnovers and quick ball reversals (this is Thibodeau’s overloading defense, remember) give Barnes and Blake a few open threes; they connect, and we’re suddenly up double digits.

    From there it gets as ugly as before. We revert to isolation plays and our offense stalls, and the crowd gets nervous before we get a couple stops and manage to hold on.

    Pau really struggled; I haven’t checked the box score but I haven’t seen him this out of tune with his teammates in a while. Noah’s reputation is for his help D, but he’s a better on-ball defender than advertised. This wasn’t just a random off-game from Pau, this was some top-notch defense.

    With all their change in personnel, this offense is still too Rose-heavy. It’ll be fun to see what thsi team is like with Boozer returns and Gibson is pushed into his natural 6th man role.

  124. Very good win tonight by the Lakers. The bench was great and despite a tough game for Gasol he still ended up with a double double. One of the best wins this year

  125. Boozer is not a guy who ‘clogs the middle’ like Shaq anyway. He plays the pick-and-pop game pretty well himself and when he does go down low it’s not like he’s taking 5 dribbles to get his shot off.

  126. Clogging the middle is a problem with big, lazy centers, not with mobile 4s. Boozer’s defensive lapses and his off-mindedness in protecting the ball will hurt them though (not sure what his actual TO stats are like, but he really seems to cough it up when it matters most).

    But for storyline’s sake, I do wish Bosh and Boozer switch places… I’d love to see James and Boozer reunite… and I think they’d better service their teams.

  127. first of all great game to watch! And make no mistake this is a quality win over a very good team.

    Second I think we need to keep in mind that Pau is not going to dominate every game he plays. He had an incredibly tough assignment tonight and has been called on to play a lot of minutes. Let’s go easy on the criticism.

    third its games like this where we really miss Bynum. If he is healthy Noah has to check Bynum which means Pau plays (and dominates) Gibson.

    I’m very happy tonight. On to probably our most difficult game through Dec in Utah.

  128. Nice win. But.. and I hate to repeat the obvious.. we sorely need another big in there. Caracter is too short and his D is truly rookie-esque. Barnes/Artest at 4 with LO at 5 is not a viable option. We’re getting out-rebounded and giving up more points in the paint than scoring. 42 minutes for Pau is also bad. If our 3-point shooters didn’t get so scorching hot in the 4th, this game may have had a different end.

  129. knickers, you should have watched the game. Kobe’s passing out of the double team won the game. He played very well and the shots he took were not that bad

  130. Knickers,
    I don’t really understand the reason why you are on this site. This site is about discourse about the game – not Kobe Bashing/Loving.
    From the game I saw, in the fourth quarter the bulls “disrespected” Kobe so much that he was almost always doubled near the wing, he passed out of the double team and the ball swung to the shooters for open 3’s. For this game at least, Kobe wasn’t jacking up shots, and some of his shots were bail out at the end of the shot clock. By the way, Kobe was 8-18.

    Shannon Brown also shot very well tonight, though at least 3 of his shots were end of shot clock/end of quarter situations where he had to jack it up. Thus his 7-14.

    Overall I thought it was a pretty good game for the Lakers – the Bulls matchup well against us, as Rose was just destroying all of our guards all night and Noah was just a handful for Gasol. And, man those guys hustle for boards.

  131. interesting lineup down the stretch. Fish and Artest on the bench is now standard, but where was Odom??

  132. He didn’t watch the game and has the audacity to complain. Some fan, haha.

    Solid win, hope they find Pau’s balls, if you will pardon my French.

    Rose is marvelous, although a bit of a chucker for a PG.