Archives For November 2010

Lakers vs. Pacers: Preview & Chat

Zephid —  November 28, 2010

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Records: Lakers 13-3, Pacers 707
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.6, Pacers 100.2
Defensive ratings: Lakers 100.6, Pacers 96.6
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Pacers: Darren Collison, Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, Roy Hibbert.
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff
Pacers: Jeff Foster

The Lakers Coming in: As we’ve seen over the past couple weeks, when the Jazz get down by 19, they have you right where they want you. After easily their worst shooting night of the season, what better way to bounce back then against Indiana at home, considering the Pacers have never won at Staples Center. However, even after shooting 4-15 from three point range, the Lakers are still second best in 3pt % for the season at 42.4%. While the Lakers are still in the middle of the pack in defense efficiency (102.9), they are still league best in offensive efficiency (112.6). These numbers will probably balance out in the coming weeks when Andrew Bynum finally returns, but for now, the Lakers remain a team that wins using their offense.

The Pacers Coming in: The Pacers have been playing excellent ball coming in to today’s game, blowing out the other LA team, Cleveland, and the Nazgul, with two losses by a combined 8 points to OKC and Orlando. While Darren Collison hasn’t lit the world on fire, Roy Hibbert has emerged as a quality big man, averaging 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. And while Hibbert’s foot speed is “questionable” at best (check out this utterly humiliating video showing how badly he gets burned by Brad frickin Miller), he has helped put Indiana in the top 10 in defensive efficiency (100.3), with a big gulf between them and the 11th ranked Lakers (102.9).

Blogs: Jared Wade at Eight Points, Nine Seconds, puts out quality Pacers-centric work in addition to his contributions to Hardwood Paroxysm and his other blog, the aforementioned Both Teams Played Hard.

Keys to game: When the Pacers get hot, they destroy (just ask Miami). Even though the Lakers shoot a much better percentage from three (42.4% to the Pacers 37%), the Pacers actually have slightly more 3PM per game (9.0 compared to the Lakers 8.9); it just takes them 3.5 extra attempts per game to do it. And while most of the damage comes from Danny Granger (2.7 3PM per game), Mike Dunleavy (1.9), James Posey (1.8), and Brandon Rush (1.1) are all highly capable distance bombers. And speaking of Danny Granger, he’s the f’ing man on this team. 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and capable of going off for 30+ on a given night, Granger can catch fire in a hurry and bury opposing teams. And despite my best attempts, Reed adamantly refuses to trade Granger to me in our FB&G Fantasy league (c’mon, who wouldn’t take Wilson Chandler, Tim Duncan, and Aaron Brooks for Granger?).

However, the Pacers do have a weakness, and that is slippery hands. 24.9% of their possessions end with a turnover, with 15.4 total giveaway’s per game. Granger and Collison are the usual culprits (since they handle the ball so much), but it really doesn’t help when your big men, Hibbert and backup Jeff Foster, are averaging 4.6 turnovers a game combined. The Lakers like to get their hands on balls (wow that sounds dirty), so if the Pacers are to have any chance, they are going to need to limit the mishandles.

The Pacers are also a relatively poor offensive rebounding team, ranking 25th in offensive rebound rate (23.7), but are monsters on the defensive glass, ranking 3rd (77.1). As we all know, the Lakers have a tendency to get worked on the defensive boards (69.5 DRR, good for 4th last), so as long as someone gets a body on Hibbert (3.4 OR per game) , the Lakers shouldn’t get crushed on the glass.

As usual, if the Lakers play their game, they should win comfortably. But if the threes start bombing and the Lakers stop running their offense, this could be a slugfest.

Where you can watch: Fox West at 6:30 p.m.

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

This game began exactly as you’d imagine Phil drew it up. Kobe was an early facilitator, Pau and Odom had things going early and Ron Artest was [some what] involved with the offense. They were playing great team defense, and getting easy buckets on the offensive end. At the end of the first quarter, the Lakers were up 33-17 and had an offensive efficiency rating of over 157, which is ridiculous. However, it seems as if the Jazz had the Lakers right where they wanted them.

November 6th – Utah trails the Los Angeles Clippers by 18 only to come back with a 109-107 victory in overtime.

November 9th – The Miami take a 22-point lead over the Utah Jazz only to lose 116-114 in overtime.

November 10th – Just one night after completing a 22-point comeback, the Utah Jazz overcome an 18-point deficit against the Orlando Magic to win 104-94.

November 12th – (From the Associated Press): “Paul Millsap hit a corner jumper with 1:20 to play and the Jazz came back from a double-digit, second-half deficit for the fourth consecutive game to beat the Atlanta Hawks 90-86 on Friday night.”

November 13th – The Utah Jazz trailed by 16 at halftime only to have Deron Williams knock down a floater with 0.8 seconds left on the clock to give them a 96-95 win over the Bobcats.

November 20th – The Utah Jazz trailed by as many as 11 and trailed for the majority of the game before a huge 4th quarter gave the Jazz a 103-94 victory over the Portland Trailblazers.

Notice a trend? There were six separate occasions this season where the Jazz were forced to come back from double-digit deficits to come back and win a game. Tonight was their seventh. There are no surprises on how they won the game. Some missed shots by the second unit started shifting the momentum, they ratcheted up their defense and Deron Williams was, well, Deron Williams.

The Utah point guard finished the night with 29 points on only 14 shot attempts, 12 assists and two steals. Williams was 3-6 from behind the arch, including an absolute dagger to re-tie the game after Kobe seemingly collected every ounce of momentum Utah owned with his three-point barrage. Williams stole a Kobe pass one possession later, got the ball out to Raja Bell for his 12th assist and the Lakers never led again. Looking at the box score, however, you notice that Williams finished the game with a +/- of only 3, telling us that there is more to this story than just his brilliance.

The other part of this story is something that we’re not used to this season — the Lakers bench being outplayed. Last season, the Lakers’ starters came off of the floor expecting a portion, if not all of their lead to be gone by the time they saw the floor again. This season, Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake have not only sustained leads, but even extended a lot of them with their shooting. Tonight, that was not the case as the Jazz cut into the Lakers lead with the reserves on the floor, and rode that momentum until the final buzzer sounded. The Brown-Barnes-Blake trio finished the night just 5-21 and a lowly(er) 1 for 7 from behind the arch. The Lakers are leading the league in three-point percentage, but tonight, they shot poorly and suffered the consequence. When the three point shots started turning into defensive rebounds, things only got harder for Odom and Gasol in the middle, and the Lakers offensive efficiency nose dove off of the Rocky Mountains.

This isn’t the worst loss that we’ve seen from this team, and there really isn’t anything to be worried about. This loss is can be chalked up to a bad shooting night from the bench and one of the league’s premier point guards doing what premier point guards do. Kobe, Lamar and Pau all had good games, although Lamar and Pau didn’t do the greatest job on the glass in the second half, the Lakers just couldn’t knock down the shots that they’ve been hitting all season. To sum up the night, commenter Matt R. wrote:

Steve Blake 0-7 (-9)?Derek Fisher 1-7?Shannon Brown 2-8 (-6)

Matt Barnes shot well but was -10 for the game.

Our starters were OK. A collective +3, but our bench was a collective -33.
That’s why the bench is the bench. The bench wins the game for us in LA and hangs a massive albatross on us on the road.

These games are going to happen. The bench can’t be perfect all the time or they’d be starters making $30M a year. To be honest, without the free throw advantage (31 attempts for us vs. 17 for them) we could have lost by a much larger margin.

I’ll take a close loss on the road to a team that frankly is hard to beat in their own house in the regular season. I’d prefer the win, but let’s chalk it up to some bad shooting and bench jitters and move on.

The Lakers are now 13-3 without their starting center and will have the Pacers at home on Sunday night.

Lakers at Jazz Preview & Chat

Jeff Skibiski —  November 26, 2010

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Records: Lakers 13-2, Jazz 11-5
Offensive ratings: Lakers 116.9, Jazz 100.6
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.4, Jazz 104.7
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Jazz: Deron Williams, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff
Jazz: Mehmet Okur

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers are coming off a solid win against the Bulls on Tuesday and should be well-rested for tonight’s affair, Thanksgiving food comas excluded. As been the case for much of the season so far, the Killer B’s have buoyed the Lakers, most recently led by Shannon Brown’s 21 points. Even without the injured Boozer, Chicago’s gritty style was a good test for L.A. after a couple of expected gimmes against Milwaukee, Detroit, Minnesota and Golden State.

The Jazz Coming in: The Northwest Division-leading Jazz are on the up-and-up after defeating early season titan New Orleans by a 105-87 margin on Wednesday night for their third win in a row. Utah was led by the sturdy Deron William’s 26 points and 11 dimes, but also got 40 points combined from Paul Millsap and newcomer Al Jefferson. Speaking of Jefferson, Carlos Boozer’s de facto replacement at the center-forward spot has pretty much picked up where his predecessor left off, averaging 17 points and nine rebounds on the season. Overall, the Jazz are still a bit hard to read at this point — they had some great come-from-behind wins a few weeks ago and have had a tough opening schedule, yet the jury is still out on where they’ll ultimately fall in the Western Conference pecking order. Either way, any game against a Jerry Sloan-led squad at Energy Solutions Arena is bound to prove challenging.

Blogs: Follow Jazz news out of Salt Lake City on Salt City Hoops.

Keys to game:

You could have written this 15 years ago and it still would have been true — the Lakers need to get out to a fast start to quickly take Utah’s rowdy crowd out of the game. As much as you think that noise couldn’t possibly bother a back-to-back championship team, especially one that has actually showed they’re more than capable of beating the Jazz on their home floor in recent playoff runs, Utah’s crowd is a factor that must never be ignored.

Another key to the game we would have been discussing 15 years ago is how to manage Utah’s production from the one spot. The personnel has changed from the Stockton era, but Deron Williams’ ascension to elite status continues to provide the Lakers with all kinds of matchup dilemmas. Williams ran a potent pick-and-roll with Boozer for several seasons and even though, Jefferson doesn’t have the same range, the duo has shown increasingly more chemistry in recent games. Williams has particularly killed the Lakers in the past with his ability to drive deep into the lane, so the onus will be on Gasol and Odom to provide some form of resistance down low.

Paul Millsap’s continuing emergence is one of the main reasons that Utah has been able to jump out to a strong 11-5 start despite losing some key pieces in the offseason. There was a lot of talk of whether or not the undersized four would be able to step up once Boozer eventually departed and he’s answered resoundingly through 16 games with a career-high average of 20 points, plus nine boards. Millsap is a hustler and always seems to be near any loose ball, so Odom, Artest and Barnes will need to make sure they have active hands tonight.

Statistically speaking, the Jazz, are a middle-of-the-road defensive team. Williams is solid from the one, Millsap can’t be overlooked despite being undersized in many matchups and Kirilenko remains one of the league’s bigger defensive pests. Where L.A. can really take advantage of Utah is with its depth — something the Jazz seemingly just don’t have the personnel to match at this point. C.J. Miles is averaging 11 on the year off Utah’s pine, but the drop-off is steep from there with offensive mainstay Okur out.

Where you can watch: KCAL at 6 p.m. or ESPN Radio 710 AM

Happy Thanksgiving!

Darius Soriano —  November 25, 2010

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First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving! We Laker fans have lots to be thankful for and here’s a few things that I’m especially thankful for this year (both Lakers and in my personal life)…

Back to back NBA championships and a team that’s ready to compete for even more.

Kobe Bryant.

(At least) One last year of Phil Jackson coaching this team.

My fantastic family and their love and support in everything I do. Right this moment they’re cooking a feast for the ages as I’m holed up in another room typing. I couldn’t run this site without their encouragement.

Mitch Kupchak – whose ability to improve a championship roster every year is amazing.

Jerry Buss and entire Buss family. Simply put, the best owners in sports.

That Pau Gasol was traded here from Memphis in 2008. (This is something I’ll continue to be thankful for, seemingly for eternity.)

Shannon Brown’s summer shooting regimen.

Kurt Helin deciding to start this site a little more than 6 years ago.

Phillip, Jeff, Zephid, Bill Bridges and all the other writers and moderators that produce insightful and thought provoking content day after day.

Speaking of our great group of contributors, Jeff emailed me some of things that he’s thankful for this year:

Matt Barnes’ scowl and the tenacity he’s added to this team. At least this year, we’ll be on the other side of his next Twitter war.

Ron Artest’s instant redemption game-winner in Game 5 against Phoenix, only to be topped by his epic trey against the C’s in Game 7.

That we still have at least another four to five years of watching one of the undisputed greatest players of all-time. These are precious moments in Kobe’s career and I’m not only thankful for #24’s accomplishments, but also feel a responsibility to savor every last one of them.

The Lakers’ relative good health the past two seasons.

The fact that — contrary to popular belief — Sasha Vujacic’s career highlight at this point isn’t asking Maria Sharapova to marry him, but syncing two series-clinching free throws in the waning moments of Game 7 of last year’s Finals.

And finally, all of you – the readers and commenters – that have turned a website into a community and a place where we can all come and discuss the team and learn more about this team and the game that we love. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more informed, passionate basketball community on all the web.

Wednesday Chat!

Darius Soriano —  November 24, 2010