Lakers/Spurs: Another Blowout Loss (Or, Is This Rock Bottom Yet?)

Darius Soriano —  December 28, 2010
AP Photo/Eric Gay

AP Photo/Eric Gay

On Monday, in the wake of the loss to the Heat, I wrote the following:

Besides changing the mental approach of the team, the Lakers also need to shore up their on court play and improve their execution on both sides of the ball in order to truly improve.  Greater focus will only go so far if that mental energy is still expended on doing things incorrectly.

Tonight proved to be a perfect example of the point I was trying to make when I wrote that.  Against the Spurs the Lakers came out with more energy and had a strong fighting spirit.  However, much of that energy was misguided as the team worked itself into a such frenzy that and it resulted in everyone pressing to do the right thing (especially on offense) but rarely actually accomplishing it.

The king of this was Kobe.  #24 started out the game aggressive (just as I wanted him to be) and he converted on 4 of his first 5 baskets.  He looked sharp as his jumper was falling and he was able to get to good spots on the floor to work in his comfort zone.  But that early success led to him completely abandoning the offense and going off on his own to try and score the ball and with little success to show for it the rest of the night.  Mr. Bean finished the night with 21 points on 27 shots.  To pile onto his inefficiency he finished with 5 turnovers to only 1 assist.  In a bizarro NBA, that kind of backwards stat line is great but against the team with the league’s best record, not so much.

Kobe wasn’t alone in playing erratic though.  Derek Fisher had more fouls (4) than points (2) and even earned a technical foul as he chased down Richard Jefferson after being knocked off the ball when trying to get a rebound on a fast break.  To my eyes, the play was clean as Fish simply got caught up in the wash as RJ aggressively went for the ball to get a put back.  Derek, though, took offense to getting put on the ground and provided another example of the Lakers misdirecting their energy.  Rather than Fisher using his anger as motivation to play harder, he ran halfway down the court to try and get in the face of the opposition and intimidate his way to success.  I must say that while I liked the tenacity, it should have been used to play better defense or to set better screens in the Lakers floundering half court sets.

Adding to the Lakers’ backcourt’s misfortune was the play of Shannon Brown and Steve Blake.  Combined they shot 2-16 from the floor and never got in the flow of the Lakers sets.  Blame Kobe’s gunning or the overall lack of cohesion shown on that side of the ball all night, but both couldn’t hit shots while continuing to just fire away (especially Shannon).  Countless times Brown declined post passes in order to take a jumper or drive the ball into traffic and it didn’t end well a single time (his lone make came on a kick out from the post).

The Lakers’ starting front court wasn’t any better as Gasol and Odom combined for 18 points on 17 shots with neither grabbing double digit rebounds in a combined 71 minutes of game action.  Both big men looked slow to the ball on offense (Pau consistently got beat to post entry passes all night) and couldn’t ever seem to fully take advantage of the chances they had when they did have the ball with a good opportunity to do something positive.

Meanwhile, the Spurs just continued to prove why they’re one of the best teams in the league.  On a night where Duncan and Ginobili were pedestrian, Tony Parker and DeJuan Blair both had huge nights exploiting the Lakers tentative interior defense.  Parker used his lightning quickness to get out in the open court and finish at the rim in transition or masterfully used screens in the half court to either get off uncontested jumpers or penetrate the lane.  Tony finished with a game high 23 points and easily could have had more had this game been closer and he played more than the 34 minutes he got on the night.  Then there was Blair who simply beasted the Lakers in the paint both scoring and rebounding the ball.  The undersized Spur tallied 17 points and 15 rebounds (including 6 offensive) on the night and consistently outworked the Lakers by diving hard to the rim at every opportunity. 

Really, the Lakers were simply outclassed.  Again.  Even with the positives of Bynum playing well (4-4 FG, 10 points, 7 rebounds), Barnes continuing to show his value, Artest beginning to break out of his offensive funk (4-9 FG, 10 points, solid drives, decisiveness), and the Lakers putting together one of their better quarters by erasing a 9 point deficit in the 2nd frame to take a halftime lead, the negatives of their misdirected energy and focus doomed them tonight.  While I do believe this game can be used as a stepping stone of sorts, I’m not convinced that this team has yet figured out a way to fully incorporate all their players while committing to the offensive and defensive schemes in a way that will create success.  Tomorrow they get to try and prove that they can properly channel their frustration and anger into positive play but as even the most optimistic fan, I’ll have to see it first before I predict that it will actually happen.  As I’ve said after recent games, this team is a long way from being the unit it needs to be to truly compete.  So while I still have patience, it’s slowly deteriorating as the frustration builds.

Darius Soriano

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56 responses to Lakers/Spurs: Another Blowout Loss (Or, Is This Rock Bottom Yet?)

  1. In both the Heat and Spurs games the team actually game out of the gate with their butts on fire, only to have everything fall apart due to a lack of cohesion. Hopefully they’ll take this as a sign that there’s something much deeper wrong than a matter of effort. It’s almost as if they look at their own talent and become jaded into thinking they need not be more than the sum of their parts.

    I remember how well the Lakers started the year playing offense as a unit, while the Heat looked like a bunch of talented guys playing pick up basketball.

    Oh, how the tables have turned.

  2. I’m not big on X’s and O’s, but that was some really poor offense.. flustered? rushed? Kobe going solo again? You said it Darius, Lakers were out-classed, particularly in the second half. Did anybody else notice the on-court body language? Whining and frustration. Not gonna win with that attitude. The Lakers need to show up as professionals, not as whiners with an undeserved sense of entitlement.

  3. This frustration comes because of what we expect out of the Lakers, a veteran team that has won the last two NBA Championships. Tonight my observations were that the guards just kept taking jump shots left and right, of which none seemed to go in (bricks). Bynum had a good game, except his FT’s were horrendous, but I see him improving over time. They really need a win tomorrow for their own confidence building, and to settle the fans down.

  4. Honestly, Gasol and Odom both played horrible on both sides of the ball. Gasol was flat out bullied and showed very little energy on either end in the second half. His defensive rotations were late or simply never made, and on offense he rarely fought for inside position or tried to get himself going.

    Thus I didn’t actually have a problem with Kobe gunning as the back-court + Bynum seemed to be the only ones playing with energy. And out of all the guards I would much prefer shots form Kobe as opposed to anyone else, especially with how flat out soft Odom and Gasol both played.

    Gasol and Odom where simply talented big guys who thought they where going to get by this game on just being talented and not doing the other stuff required to be a good player AKA the Antione walker approach to basketball.

  5. I dunno how many of you watched the game on NBATV vs a local LA channel but the Spurs announcers only made this more frustrating. Their open bias and hatred of the Lakers was disgusting for a national broadcast. You don’t have to love us, but when you respond to a positive Laker play by saying something negative about us and you also respond to a negative Laker play by saying something negative about us it’s a joke. They reveled in every mistake and the commentary on the refs was just amazing. They acted like they really thought every single play should have been called for the Spurs. While this is what you’d expect from a 14 year old fan of the Spurs, you would expect a lot more than a group of announcers on a huge channel like NBATV.

    On our side of the coin….holy (edited for profanity). The effort is pathetic. I have no idea wtf Gasol’s problem is, but he spends most of the game not even jumping. Small guards drive right towards him and he just stand there. There were so many times a ball would bounce off the rim and near a Laker play and he would pull a “Daria” and hardly even put an arm out without moving. They are literally playing like they hate each other. Fisher and Kobe want to win so bad they’re out of control and the rest look like they couldn’t care less about the outcome and I just hope they aren’t that angry with Kobe.

    Where is the “Zen Master” now? For a guy that pretty much stares off into space and refuses to call timeouts, and has most of his value tied up into controlling egos and making all the personalities work he’s not getting even close to the kind of production out of our team that we need.

    Does it seem like Steve Blake is getting Artest syndrome in that he catches a ball in rhythm and doesn’t know wtf to do and double clutches on all his jumpers? The guy is a total non factor right now, unless you count negative factors. It was disgusting to see how many times someone had sealed their man in the post and a perimeter player would look right at them and then drive into 3 guys or take a long 2….Phil needs to get a hold of this team IMMEDIATELY. The talent level isn’t the issue. If we just sucked, it would be easier to handle…but when your favorite team constantly loses because of a lack of effort and heart….you get 2008 Finals flash backs.

  6. Im waiting for a report of locker room discontent. The way LA is playing basketball as of today they cant like to be around each other much. A fight amongst brothers usually settles the score and things get back to normal with everyone knowing how the other feels. Anger amongst teamates is the root of all the misguided emotion displayed on the court, causing confusion and a look of hopelessness in the face of adversity when all should be on the same page.

    It wouldnt be Hollywood without all the drama, time to check all egos at the door(that includes you #24).

  7. I have plenty of problems with Kobe gunning as there is no need for him to break the offense every time he sees that the back up PG is guarding him.

    I always brag to my Spurs friends about how Phil has Popp’s number (4-1 in the playoffs) but wow, the Spurs played the Lakers like a fiddle. It was almost disgustingly predictable:

    -Put George Hill on Kobe, a fierce competitor who’s a little undersized. He will take this as an insult and chuck away. The early success just played into it

    -Front Gasol with lesser players. It’s not like he’s going to be aggressive in getting open and it’s not like anyone but Steve Blake is aggressively looking to make entry passes

    -Just play Odom as a face up player, he’s not going to punish you in the post anyways. Send a hard double whenever he actually decides to put himself in an advantageous position, which will only encourage him to facilitate even more.

    -Let Ron Artest shoot 3s

    The result: the travesty you saw tonight. No dedication to any offensive scheme whatsoever. You’d think the triangle hasn’t produced 11 championships or something.

  8. From the Daily Dime:

    For the season, San Antonio gives up 4.6 points per 100 possessions fewer with Hill on the floor.
    “He’s our best defender,” Ginobili said. “He’s the one that’s always going to chase the opponent’s top scorer.
    ____

    Duncan had 2 points and 4 RBs, and the Lakers still got smoked. I am not panicking or what have you, but this is not “business as usual.”

  9. And for the record, I hate box score watchers who offer brilliant hindsight like “Well when Kobe isn’t scoring, he needs to pass to the big guys more”

    Or throw out stupid stats like “The Lakers are 14-3 when Kobe takes less than 20 shots, and 8-8 when he does!”

    … without any deeper insight into the context of why shots were taken and what his teammates were doing or what the score was. Phil has been banging home in recent years the idea that Kobe’s always going to be aggressive, and that when his teammates aren’t he’s going to end up with a lot of shots.

    ALL THAT BEING SAID

    Every criticism of Mr Bean, on this night, is valid even if the reasoning is usually misguided. Most nights it really isn’t, people just take a consequentialist perspective and are in love with the idea that Kobe shoots his team out of games and would never consider that many nights Kobe is trying to shoot his team back into one.

    But tonight… oh lordy. Kobe, you put too much on your shoulders and Atlas you weren’t.

  10. I think the problem may be more fundamental.

    The Lakers are old and slow.

    Not one Laker can consistently beat his man off the dribble.

    Not even Kobe anymore, who was stymied in the last two games by a coming-off-a-sore-knee Dwyane Wade and coming-off-a-sprained-toe George Hill.

    Not one Laker can consistently ‘lock down’ a quality opponent.

    Not even Ron Artest, who gets hung up on screens, lost in rotations, and who is highly dependent upon his quick hands for defensive success (or lots of fouls when his man anticipates it).

    Not one Laker impresses with his speed down the court or his serious hops (other than YouTube Brown).

    This may matter less in the playoffs when the game slows down and size and experience are more meaningful.

    But there has been a huge influx of supreme athletes into the NBA over the past few years, and the Lakers have completely missed out on any of it.

    All the defensive intensity in the world doesn’t matter if you’re simply not quick enough to contain your man.

    All the sophistication of the Triangle Offense is worthless if defenders can beat you to your spots, or get in your face the moment you receive the ball.

    Unfortunately, I think Kobe’s reluctance to admit the obvious (he’s no longer quick enough to beat defenders off the dribble) will make the Lakers transition away from depending so much on him that much more difficult.

  11. yeah im with buzz lightyear on this one!
    the lakers look SLOW!!!

    Gasol / Bynum no Hops…
    Artest is stiff..

    And im sorry to say it but Kobe has gradually been losing his quicks and explosion the past 2-3 years… thats why he’s always turning the ball over and forcing some ugly shots…i can’t ever remember him scoring 17 points etc like he has been lately…

    throw in the slow fischer, this team has hit the WALL FAST!!!

  12. The Lakers need to go back to the basics, from my viewpoint. We have trouble with defenses that front the post. We still can’t solve the zone defense, which makes Dallas even more dangerous than SA. Even our better passers have started making sloppy, ill-timed passes. These are all things you can fix with better discipline. We can’t change footspeed or how we struggle with quick PGs. But it’s the sloppiness I’m seeing that scares me.

    We have plenty of time to clean things up. Every major team struggles (even Boston and their losses to the KD-less Thunder, or to the Cavs). But man, this is a nasty, nasty rock bottom.

    Also, Kobe hasn’t been able to beat his defenders off the dribble for at least a year now. It’s nothing new. I hate our lack of dribble penetration, but it didn’t stop us from winning last year. There are bigger issues at stake. As Tex Winter used to say, post entry passes are a form of penetration. Reading the defense quicker, hitting outside shots, are much more important (to me) than Kobe’s one-on-one driving ability.

  13. at 6

    George Hill is perhaps the spurs best perimeter defender, if Kobe read the scout report he shouldn’t have been insulted at all.

  14. A few points. Our world champs are closer to 9th place and out of the playoffs then 1st. No laker team in 20 Years has lost 3 games by an average of 17 points. Kobe is shooting 31% the past 3 games has 14 turnovers and 5 techs.

    There is no way this slow, pondering, bad shooting, selfish team will ever get out of the West. Which is lucky because Boston or Miami would sweep them. Funny how the last time Phil was on his way out he also went through the motions.

    Losing is one thing. Getting hammered 3 games in a row is sad. Lakers have beaten 2 teams with winning records this year. This may well be a .500 team and out of the playoffs by April 1st.

  15. Boom, we lost again, just like I said.

    You guys should just stop expecting or caring about winning until our Lakers do. It’s easier on the heartbreak.

    Expect the All-Star break to be our regrouping point. Until then, we’re terrible and wake me when playoffs start.

  16. I’ve come to the gradual realization that even though Kobe’s PER has been pretty high this season, he’ll never be the same player, and it’s not because of lost athleticism or quickness. His mangled right hand simply hampers him too much. He can’t beat people off the dribble the way he used to because he can’t handle the ball as well anymore–not because he’s too slow. Very crafty defenders like Ginobili and long-armed, well-coached defenders like George Hill will give him more problems than they did before. It looks like it dawned on Manu in that first quarter, after the first time he did it, that he can poke the ball away from Kobe with ease. And do it often.

    Kobe’s so creative and persistent that he’s been able to remain effective over the past calendar year with useless right index and right pinkie fingers. However, this season it seems that he’s getting the ball stripped or poked away much more often than ever before. Now, more than ever, the Lakers need to go inside out with consistency. Unfortunately, I don’t think Pau is 100%, so we’re in trouble until he recovers and/or Drew returns to form.

  17. eerie pattern emerging,Kobe cannot buy a FT while Miamians are at the line when a fly passes by.So low..

  18. I dont buy the Pau not being 100% or Phil is losing his zeal to coach the team garbage I have been reading lately. It comes back to LA not using its size advantage on the inside(hell Im even getting tired of sayin it). How can Pau or Bynum be effective when between the two they only accounted for 12 shots(connecting on 8). If you include LO going a subpar 3-9 thats a combined 21 shots taken between three players. Kobe and ShanWoW went a combined 9-38(ShanWoW almost took as many shots as Pau and Bynum combined).

    The bigs are finally feed up with not getting the ball. Why fight for position when you know your not going to get the ball? Why get back on defense when your not the one jacking up jumpers. How does a team that holds Tim Duncan too 2 points get outscored in the paint? Feed the big boys on the inside and you will see a difference in all around play it’s that simple. Was it ever fools gold at the beginning of the season with such hot shooting.

    This style of jumper jacking started at the end of last year before the playoffs. When the playoffs started a common goal was set and a championship was the result. 31 games into this season their seems to be no common goal and the playoffs are 50 some games away. Showing no love for the bigs will be the downfall of this season, but its never too late too fall in love with them again.

  19. @19. I don’t think it’s garbage at all. I think Pau has been playing with a bad wheel. I’ve never seen him miss so many lefty hook shots. That shot was automatic last season and the first few weeks of this season. He’s missing more than half of them now.

  20. Lots of desperation on this blog today.

    Come on, guys, this kind of funky stuff happens to the team every year. Look back at every single season in the last 3 years and you will find a period when Lakers hit the proverbial “wall” and that was the spark everyone needed to explode on them and underrate them immediately.

    I hate to admit this, but with only Boston Celtics being the other team, Lakers are first or second in the NBA in terms team construction and experience for the playoffs. The team has been demotivated and typically gets spanked to the point that media and fans just explode on them. Then they seem to turn things around and everyone is happy at a parade.

    And one more thing. One of the trademarks that the Lakers teams of 2000s (first and second edition) will be remembered for is their “switch button” and every single Laker team in the last decade that won a championship at some point flipped the switch

    The Lakers will flip the switch as well, the question is when. But, please, for the sake of sanity, let’s not get into absurd scenarios of Lakers missing out the playoffs and falling apart. Why think pessimistic when you do not have to?

  21. Unfortunlately I didn’t get to see the game, but my best bet is that at the beginning the Lakers wer playing pretty good D, and hitting mid range jump shots to fuel their offense. Which is a fine strategy if a when the mid range game isn’t falling they have an alternative option.
    I actually think we have a personell problem, and it’s not because I don’t like any guy in particular. Too often we are playing guys in roles that were once good but now subpar in, or that never truly fit.

    Ron is not a floor space (teams want him to
    shoot and even when though they rarely close out, he often mangles the shot). Ron is primarily in there for his defense, but if they run his man through screens he gets tortured on that end.

    Fisher, while clutch and a spirited captain, has trouble guarding anyone who handles the ball a lot. Put him on Ray Allen in a playoff intensity game and have him chase through screens and fight for position and he’s fine, but put him on a ball handler like a Parker or Rondo or Paul and every play he’s looking for help.

    Odom, while playing well, wants to be more Rashard Lewis (jumpshot first, post up last), which is fine because we need the floor spacing, except that he not a good shooter. Outside of ten feet at least.

    After watching Barnes for the past month an a half, he reminds me of Artest. We are using him as a shoot and D 3, but hes really not a deep ball shooter and when teams have a bigger three or play small and he needs to guard a big 2, he seems to struggle on both ends of the floor.

    While Farmar certainly had his deficiencies, they difference between him and Blake is that he had some speed, and really didnt shoot that much worse on the same type of shots that Blake is getting now.

    And while I really like Brown, despite his really beautiful shot at the beginning of the year, he is not a classic shoot/spacer and we are using him as such. And in D I have no idea who he guards.

    Typically when watching this team as a unit, when subs come in or all the starters are in, teams are playing the exact same D every night and we dont have an answer. Front Pau and face up Odom away from the key, allow Kobe to have and shoot the midrange, where lots of bodies are available for poke aways, and disregard the shooters (Artest, brown, Blake, barnes, sometimes Odom, fisher) aside from late closeouts to slightly disrupt their shot because they are not a dribble drive threat at the basket.

    I don’t know the answer, be it a trade, or just players getting better, but since Mid November that has been the game plan against the lakers from most teams and it has shown a good amount of success, even from “bad” teams.

  22. It seems like phill doesnt care, he seems so uninsterested, and he did nothing to try and save this game, no meaningful ingame adjustments, didnt seem to try and limit kobe’s shoot-a-thon, he seems so indiferent its scary

  23. 16) and 17),
    I think it’s a combination of both. It has got to be frustrating for Pau when Kobe consistently plays outside the offense, even though 95% of the time, the most advantageous matchups occur when the ball goes inside. And I think that he is still dealing with nagging injuries.

  24. @ 15

    That is a good point. Kobe’s overall TO% is the same, but it would be worth checking to see if/how much it has gone up since he hurt the pinkie. It may be that two bad fingers is too much, even for him.

    @9

    I have talked many times about the team’s age and lack of athleticism; the Lakers have less young, athletic talent in key roles than any team in the NBA, except perhaps for Dallas. We just saw SA getting work from Hill, Neal, and Blair (although Blair is not a great athlete). Even Boston has Rondo in a key role. The Lakers have only Brown, and Bynum’s injuries have robbed him of much of his explosiveness.

    The question is whether the Lakers’ size, skill, and depth can compensate for that weakness enough to keep the team at a championship level. With Kobe and Pau struggling, the answer, obviously, is “no” at this moment.

    Couple of thoughts:

    1. In the Milwaukee and San Antonio games, Boykins/Dooling/Parker/Neal outscored Fisher/Blake 62-6. Even taking roles etc. into account, that is a lot. While he won’t do it, I think Phil should consider using Brown more as the nominal 1 and cutting Fisher’s and Blake’s time. Brown’s lack of court vision would be a problem, but Fisher and Blake, even given the limited amount they are asked to do, are getting overpowered athletically right now.
    2. Although this move would exacerbate the slowness issue, Phil might consider playing Walton 8-10 MPG to get his passing skills on the floor.

    Repeated from yesterday: as someone pointed out, only three teams in the shot clock era have lost three straight by 10+ (much less 15) and won the title, and those are three of the weakest champs ever:

    78 Bullets
    79 Sonics
    (post-Walton, pre-Magic/Bird)
    95 Rockets
    (MJ just back from baseball sabbatical)

    None of Phil Jackson’s 11 championship teams has ever lost three straight games by double digits.

  25. I look to Fisher and Jackson to get this team right. It’s obvious Kobe is forcing the issue too much, and it’s hard for this team to play cohesive when your main guy is one step ahead of you. I don’t think it’s panic mode, yet. If after the all-star break, they are still stumbling to wins and getting blown out by the elite, then I believe its “nervous time”.

  26. Someone else mentioned it and I’ll do it again: I’m waiting to hear that there’s some sort of disagreement in the locker room.

    I’m starting to wonder if there’s a Kobe/Pau issue that we aren’t aware of.

    Of course that could just be my paranoid, panicky Laker fan brain working overtime.

  27. I take exception to the downpour of the bench. Especially that Brown and Barnes were “cold” at the
    shots. What are we expecting of the bench, when
    Phil Jackson lets the starters ( at the start of the
    3rd quarter- WHEN WE WERE AHEAD THANKS TO
    SHANNON, BLAKE AND THE BENCH) allowed the
    starters to sink us by 10 to 11 points BEFORE he
    called the bench back in! Are we really expecting
    miracles of them when Jackson should have called
    them in when we were only 4 to 5 points behind? I
    believe that the bench would have done their job and it would have been a different game . But if you’re going to wait that long and let
    us get SO FAR BEHIND, then it ain”t Shannon, or
    Blake or the man in the moon- it’s JACKSON and
    his slower than molasses reactions to what’s happening out on the court.

  28. How about we have a team of players that is, at the root of it, tired of playing basketball. This may be the mental part of going to the finals three years in a row – plus all the summer ball over those years.

    I don’t buy that Barnes and Blake would provide the new energy. Neither are starters and both are learning their way for this team – maybe doing well, but not changing any chemistry for the other, mentally tired players.

    Also, the fact that the coach announced his retirement may not have any positive effect and may make further triangle execution just a phantom effort.

  29. Kobe is not the same; some combination of hand and knee injuries/surgery.
    Artest seems to have lost his edge
    Gasol is not playing as well (I suspect nagging injuries)
    Overall, Odom has been playing better
    Fisher roughly the same (which isn’t a good thing)
    The bench has been inconsistent.

    Generally they haven’t been playing within the offensive and defensive schemes well. That needs to start with Kobe (who is probably the worst with that – and Jackson has never been able to get him to stay within the systems). Clearly the most favorable matchups occur when the ball goes inside (often to come right back out to a now-open shooter depending on how the defense reacts), and frustration may be a factor in Gasol’s play. Brown has been showing some of those same Kobe tendencies.

    And as a group, getting two rings has (I assume) taken away some of their drive.

  30. Don’t forget to tell us to enjoy the journey.

  31. Looks fine to me just missing shots he normally makes. No funny looking gait running down the court, havent seen him dragging his leg(zero) I quess when only one person on the team can jack up shots trying to find theirs, it is impossible for Pau(or any big) to get his groove back over the course of a game.

    Teams in the league are finally following the 08 Boston Championship D on Kobe. Make Kobe’s aggresiveness and will to one up every player on the court(including his own teamates sometimes) too their advantage. The one on one, jumper jacking has other teams believing that the fall of the LA evil empire has began. There is no fear in guarding (1) player while the rest of the team watches a self destruction in progress.

    19. Rev
    Phil will not be the one, he is a firm believer of letting the players fit the puzzle pieces together on their own. Do you think Phil and the coaching staff hasnt sounded off about ball movement and playing as a team? If anything Phil should make the team watch video of LA’s last two opponents in a dark silent room. Look at the extra passes, easy offense through spacing and ball movement. Although the Spurs two biggest guns over the years(Duncan and Manu) got shut out, it was still a blowout cause everyone on the team was personally involved in the victory.

    The mid-life basketball crisis has to end soon for Kobe or the team will continue to suffer at his hands. Mr. 24 is talented as any player in the league, but the time has come to share the load. An 80 to 70 percent Kobe had better team results than a 100 percent one. Is that an oxymoron or what?

  32. What’s mind blowing to me is every person on here is bashing Kobe right now for jacking shots *last night*, did anyone see the Miami game? He tried to go into facilitator mode on Christmas day and NOBODY delivered, so it’s perfectly logical for someone with as much drive and fire as him to try to put his stamp on the game. While he didn’t do so effectively like he has in the past, Pau and Lamar were showing the same exact signs of poor play as before so I guarantee Kobe at halftime said this isn’t going to cut it I need to be the guy. Now everyone can disagree saying the team didn’t need it but let’s be honest Pau has been an average big man for two months now with his best games coming against teams with below average big men. I would argue Lamar has been better for the past 2 months, but quite frankly we should have all seen this coming from Kobe. He has always been the spark that lights the fire of this team and he was trying to do it last night, he just didn’t spark anything more than a bad loss. I blame him and the team, but I said it before and I will say it again until Pau starts playing better this team will not return to form. He has been horribly inefficient for someone who shoots so close to the basket and by not having to double team him that enables defenders to lock up perimeter players (making kobe and company’s shots more difficult). Bynum has shown more life in his return of 7 games than Pau has in the past 2 months, that is a bad sign. So blame Kobe all you want but we have all seen Pau look like half the player he is (for whatever reason), and you can’t be a dominant team without a dominant big man, it is a fact of the NBA. So if Pau wants more touches he needs to prove to the team he deserves them, then people like Kobe and other guards will give him the ball. But he isn’t outworking anyone right now. And give me a break if you aren’t getting the ball take pride and block every shot that comes in the lane and grab every dang rebound there is, Shannon Brown had more rebounds than he and Lamar last night, and they let Blair look like an allstar when the guy has no offensive skills. Stop whining and just play the game of basketball, take care of the little things and the bigger things will come your way, like boxing out, playing sound defense, and actually working in the post to get position to receive an easy pass, not one that is risky because you are half going at it.

  33. When this trend of poor play started the Lakers were still playing poor defense but still winning because they were outscoring teams (all lesser opponents with lesser talent).

    Then the poor play on both sides started against Indiana at home.
    Look at Pau’s shooting in these losses (and for those who watched the game take into account the poor defense he played against players like Hibbert while getting bullied in the post)
    Pacers- Pau 5-15 FG, Kobe 14-33 (Kobe tried to will his uninspired team to a win with 41 points)
    Grizzlies- Pau 5-13 FG, Kobe 9-25 (Kobe with a few too many shots but Pau still very inefficient)
    Houston- Pau 2-8 FG, Kobe 10-24, Lamar 11-16 (bigs were having success but Pau tweaked his hammy)
    Clippers-(Fisher’s miracle)- Pau 4-13, Kobe 9-15
    Bulls- Pau 9-15, Kobe 9-23 (Team doomed by poor defense, Turnovers)
    Then the Lakers go on their winning streak by playing against weak teams on the road with weaker talent again.
    Bucks- Pau 6-12, Kobe 9-16 (Chalk this one up to uninspired, lack of motivation and poor defense)
    Miami- Pau 8-17, Kobe 6-16 (Kobe tries to facilitate, Pau shoots subpar for being close to the rim but never puts any stamp on the game, most baskets come on tip ins or putbacks)
    Which brings us to last night, so really let’s think of this, is this all really Kobe? If you have seen the games Kobe hasn’t been spectacular for the past month and a half but he has been his usual solid self. I don’t know why people can’t see it, this starts with Pau, by dominating down low he makes everyone’s job easier. So blame Kobe for the problems right now that he’s over the hill or cant dominate or whatever but the proof in the games says otherwise, he has put up similar stats to last year but the difference is Pau has regressed. Say he has’t gotten enough touches (lately he hasn’t but he hasn’t earned any either), he’s the most important player on this team so if he isn’t going to cut it, it’s time to rest him and start Bynum.

  34. Lakers 8884;
    Kobe’s play clearly isn’t the only factor; if other players were doing better this season the Lakers would have won a few more games.

    However, if they are going to win the title this season, they need to play the systems, both on offense and defense. Kobe is the biggest culprit there, and if he were to set the example, others would follow suit.

    Yes, there are times where others will miss open shots, and times when Kobe will make “impossible” shots when 2or 3 defenders are wrapped around him. But over the long term, they will do better staying within the system.

    That is particularly true this year, where they are trying to adjust to a significantly different roster than they had last season (when you include both the new players, the players who have come back from injuries, and the players who are playing notably better or worse than last year), and where Kobe has (at least so far) clearly lost something. (Combo of the knee and hand issues.)

  35. Pau’s play over the last three years has warranted him the same amount of rope as #24. An off night against Miami and an efficient night against Spurs(Pau), is in the same context of Kobe facilitator one night and shot jacking the next( a L is what it accounts for ).Its not just the number of shots in itself lately, its the flow of the game turnovers or quick jumpshots. Now Kobe is not the only culprit of this disease it is the whole team. Since he takes the majority of the shots then he will assume the majority of the blame.

    LA will be play itself back into a game only to make a bonehead decision( lazy pass, quick jumper, technical fouls). The momentum is halted and good teams capitilize on the miscues. Watch both games and you will see this all too often during the course of the game.

    Last night LA cuts the lead to six late in the third( a manageable lead too overcome) with the ball. Lazy pass by Barnes leads to a fast break miss by Parker, Fisher gets pushed by Jefferson on the put back. Fisher runs up court to get T’d up ( 9 point lead now) next possesion Spurs score a potential 7 point swing in a span of maybe 30 seconds. The shooting of oneself in the foot is becoming contagious amongst all.

  36. What exactly has Kobe “lost”? Go back and look at his game stats, he is playing similar to last year and earlier in the season people were saying Kobe looked sharper than he had in years. He played bad last night but go back and look at the games he and Lamar have been the ONLY consistent factors this season. We all know Kobe tinkers within and out of the offense, we should all be used to it now it’s nothing new. As far as the other players, I expect the bench to be up and down all season just because it is hard to find a consistent bench like the Suns have. All I am trying to say is all this Kobe bashing is absurd because people are basing this on last night’s game instead of looking at this season as a whole. It starts and ends with Pau, his position is the most important on the team and he is not playing it well right now and hasn’t been for a while.

    I’ll add two more games of Poor play from Pau to my above list
    The Chicago game in LA – Pau 3-10 FG
    Denver loss – Pau 6-17 FG

  37. DirtySanchez- I agree completely, Pau has the same amount of rope in my opinion, but nobody on here is even mentioning Pau as the culprit, it’s all Kobe this or Kobe that. I’m not excusing last night’s game because he played poorly I’m just saying look at the season as a whole. Up to this point Kobe has taken almost 2 less shots attempts than he averaged last year, he has played more within the offense than he normally does, I’m just saying Pau was always a consistent force to back Kobe up but for almost 2 months now he hasn’t. I just think this bashing crap has to stop, we all know Kobe leads the same way he always has. I’m not bashing Pau either, I’m just saying man up or rest the guy because he isn’t getting it done on either end of the floor for the Lakers.

    BTW I thought Blake did a decent job guarding Parker last night, his shot just wasn’t falling.

  38. Lakers8884,
    Kobe has more problems handling the ball – that started last season with the finger injuries. He does not have large hands to start with (compared to someone like Jordan or Erving, for instance) so those injuries have a larger effect on him than they would on some others. Secondly, he obviously has less quickness/explosiveness than he used to. Hard to tell if that is worse this year than last, or if teams have just adjusted to it. That turns him into more of an outside, jump shooter, and he is not great at that. He’s good at it, but not great. So he isn’t as successful in one-on-X situations as he used to be; thus he needs to be willing to play within the system more than he did previously. The real question is, is he willing to do that?

  39. Kobe has to shoot better than 45.5% (his career average) for the Lakers to be successful. This Kobe is not the kobe of old. His game has definitely suffered a decline. This is not the same guy that could score 50 points in four straight games, regardless of the defense geared to stop him. He has spurts of brilliance, but cannot sustain a high level of play for long streches. The sad thing is that this happens to every star, and no one can defy age.
    Kobe may be 32, but in basketball years, he is more like 36. He needs to come to terms with his aging body and modify his game. He can still take the big shot at the end of the game, but he needs to let the guys closer to their prime such as Lamar and Pao be more involved offensively. A big part of the blame goes to phil jackson for letting this go on. The starting five of the Lakers are all over 30. Despite having Pao, Bynum and Lamar, the Lakers seem to play outside-in instead of inside-out.
    It would help to have better shooters around him than Artest. I am sure that he gets frustrated when he sets up his shooters they can’t knock down the open 3, and it causes him to be less inclined to pass, but Jacking up 27 tough shots is not the answer. The off balance fade aways and triple-teamed shots are not the way to go, even for Kobe, who is (was) probably the best tough-shot maker of all time. Yesterday, Kobe was really trying, but he just did not have it. As a matter of fact, he has not had it all season long. I looked up Kobe’s game logs on nba.com. When he has taken 21 or more shots, Kobe has shot better than 50% in only one game (against Washington 12-23).
    The way the Lakers are playing now reminds one of how they finished the regular season last year. They started to playoffs on shaky ground looking slow and old against OKC, but Kobe drained his knee and started shooting the ball better which opened up the inside for others. But now, it looks like his game has taken a step back to late last season.
    The sad thing is that the Lakers are hostage to Kobe and pau’s astronomical salarie for the next 3 years. Paul pierce took a major pay cut so the celtics could afford to get more players. So did wade and Labron.
    At the age of 32, is kobe worth 24 million when pierce, wade and Labron are all making around 14 mill?? Short of a major change in philosophy of their game, I think we have seen the best of Kobe and the Lakers.

  40. #39. I’m as big a supporter of playing within the system as anyone else. Those that follow this site know that the x’s and o’s of the game are what I live for. But it’s too easy to say that “Kobe needs to play in the system more” and offer it as the end solution.

    Now, this will come off as an even simpler explanation, but Kobe just needs to make more shots than he did last night – whatever the variety and however they come. When he started out hot, the team took a big lead. When he went cold, the team started to struggle. And when the other players couldn’t get it going either (even when we ran the sets through them) the lead ballooned and that was that.

    Critiquing Kobe is always going to be dependent on what his success rate is. He consistently lives on the line of playing within the offense and when he has it going it looks like it’s all team ball (with a little bit of otherworldly shot making mixed in) and when he’s missing, it looks like he’s gunning. Last night it was the latter, but I can guarantee you that if he’s making his turn around jumper from the mid post (he missed several bank attempts) or earns trips to the FT line when he drives (he didn’t earn many last night and the result was turnovers) than his night is judged differently.

    I’m not trying to say that anyone is being unfair when critiquing Kobe. He wasn’t successful last night and the finger will get pointed at him. He said it himself when he said that he needed to make more shots. But what I am saying is that he’s playing the same way he has for the past several years and saying that there needs to be some huge change is off base, imo. I agree there needs to be more balance than there was last night, but *everyone* needs to play better. Barnes (if I’m not mistaken) was the only player to shoot above 50% last night and nearly every player made at least one lazy pass or had several incorrect reads in the offense. When the team is going poorly, I understand the want to look at Kobe or Gasol or Phil (they’re the leaders) and call them out. But this group wins and loses as a team and right now is no exception. They all need to get on board. I mean, many thought it was a dig at Kobe when Phil said that “if I was playing, I probably wouldn’t have passed him the ball”, but that’s really a dig at the entire team. In a read and react system, the Lakers aren’t reading or reacting, they’re going through the motions with set ideas in their minds. Passing it back to Kobe as he calls for the ball with 16 seconds left on the clock when the post is open? Who’s fault is that? I’m pretty sure it’s not Kobe’s. I understand that’s a pandora’s box because Kobe then shoots, but part of being a teammate is understanding the personality of the guys you’re playing with and reading the flow of the game. Last night Kobe was aggressive and if you’re going to pass to him he’s going to look to score.

    Again, this group wins and loses as a team. And right now, little is going right and it’s frustrating for everyone.

  41. Darius,
    The problem is that when Kobe takes shots “out of the system,” the other players don’t get into the flow of the game. That is true whether he makes the shots or misses them. He will cool off, and when that happens, the team is not in rhythm, and thus are not able to make up for him missing shots. This has consistently been an issue with Kobe. In the past, he has been good enough that he could get away with it more than he can now. He’s not quite at that level now; add in that the other players are also off their games somewhat, and this is the result.

  42. #42. I’ve always thought of what you lay out as a chicken and egg situation. Last night it was easier to decipher that Kobe was going to shoot a lot and his misses were the root of the Lakers’ offensive woes. However, in countless other games I feel like the other players haven’t done enough to find their rhythm and then defer. Kobe then takes the reigns because his teammates have passed them to him.

    I’ve seen too many fantastic Kobe performances where he generals a game expertly to think that he has any issues facilitating. But as a dominant scorer, he’s going to walk that line more finely than others and when the team is bogged down it’s Kobe’s (and the team’s) personality to use him as a scoring weapon than as a classic set up man/scoring hybrid.

    So, again, it’s not that simple to me. Your point is well made and I understand where you’re coming from, but to me it’s never as easy to say that all he has to do is pass more or even play within the system more. He’s not out there by himself and his mates need to seize the game in the same way that he does. That’s difficult though as Kobe is a demanding teammate and he wants to see positive results. I’ve never said it was easy playing with #24 because it’s not.

  43. Kobe’s adjusted +/- last 5 games is worst in league. His play is major problem (along with Artest). Watching the games it appears Kobe is not elevating much on shot. His defense has been horrible (+14 adjusted defense rating) last 5 games which means when he is in game Lakers give up 14 more points per game than if average defender is in. A lot of this is because missed shots set up transition ofr other team, I think.

  44. This Lakers squad is notorious for losing its edge unless it’s absolutely necessary. I think part of the reason for this is that Kobe only acclimates to team ball if it is absolutely necessary.

    His teammates don’t know what they will get with him, until the time where he is forced to put his ego aside.
    Then there are random games where he is a sharer, but his teammates are slow to react because this is not his usual way.

    Just look at his stats. The less he shoots, and the less he plays, the more they win.

  45. The only way that the Lakers have a shot at a title this year, is if Kobe makes the complete transition to Pau’s sidekick, and become a provider for the whole team.

    His ego is struggling with the erosion of his physical abilities as other players’ abilities are on the rise.

    Kobe thinks it is his responsibility to do everything and he has major trust issues. Same old Kobe Bryant issues, except they are not winning. Winning covers up ALOT.

  46. Darius,
    The other players don’t have the personalities of a Shaq, where they will scream for the ball. Given that, it is up to Kobe as the de facto leader of the team to recognize that and adjust his game accordingly. (The coaching staff also bears some responsibility for that.)

    Could be that Kobe doesn’t have the personality makeup to be able to do that. (That’s certainly been the hypothesis of many of his critics over the years.) If so, then this roster is highly unlikely to win the title this season, unless all the chips fall exactly right.

  47. Seriously people your logic does not make sense, I’m glad Darius agrees with me because Kobe has played at the same level he did last season and averaged 2 fewer shots. 39, you are wrong about Kobe’s handles he is not having anymore issues than last year, in fact his turnover average is less than it was last year. Have any of you watched the games, go back and look last year about how many times Kobe jacked up 20+ shots compared to this year, you will see he is much more tame on offense. Stop using one crap game from him and the entire team to use as a basis for comparison for the entire season because if you looked back he has been the most consistent scorer, yes he may take more shots but he has been better at converting than most on the team. Go back and look at box scores, watch the games and compare to last season as well, do your homework. Darius is right, it’s easy to blame Kobe because he is the star among stars but he is playing no differently than he has in previous years (I would argue more within the offense when you compare stats). And James no offense, your logic of “the less he plays the more they win” is terrible logic, they wouldn’t be even remotely close to a playoff team without him. Nobody on this team can create on offense consistently except for Kobe, why do you think when the triangle is struggling they abandon it for a P&R situation with he and Pau.

  48. Lakers8884,
    Read Kevin Ding’s article – link is in the next post – and you’ll see that the players and coaches also feel that way. And no one has said that Kobe is the only one who hasn’t been playing well. But he is the leader of the team, and as such needs to be staying inside the system.

  49. 47. Players don’t need to scream for the ball for Kobe to have to pass to them, they just need to show some confidence and cohesion so that he (along with other teammates) have the confidence to pass to them. I would be hesitant to pass to half the guys on the roster right now and I’m not Kobe. It is common basketball logic, if you play the sport you know if you have someone who isn’t carrying their load on the offensive end you either consciously or subconsciously don’t pass them the ball this is true at every level of the sport. Why don’t you go look at Gasol’s shooting percentage over the pass month and a half and then see why Kobe has become more aggressive as of late. Also if you don’t work to set yourself up in the right position to receive the ball then you don’t deserve it either, especially big men. This team LOOKS to kobe when they lack confidence, and like Darius said they passed to Kobe more than anyone else last night because you can tell this team has no confidence right now.

    I really could care less what Kevin Ding or whoever wrote, Kobe didn’t play within the offense last night so freaking what, he has played pretty consistent all season long and he probably let his frustration go last night but if I was the most competitive guy in the world I would have probably done the exact same thing. if you have watched every game this season, especially the past month and a half you would see that last night was nothing more than a wasted game, Kobe lead the charge but the whole team has been giving wasted performances so he is unsure of who to trust right now.

  50. Kobe is my favorite player of all time, but I disagree with those that think Kobe’s level of play is the same as last year. Maybe the end of last year when he struggled before he drained his knee. His shooting percentate is almost 2 points lower than last year’s, 3 points lower than the year before, and typically Kobe shoots better in the early part of the year, and his percentage drops as he gets fatigued throughout the season, so it will probably get worse; I pointed out before, he has shot over 50% only in one game this year when he as taken over 20 shots.

    Although Kobe’s offensive abilities have declined, I think his decline defensively is even a bigger problem. He gets killed off the dribble like never before and he is very slow to rotate to open shooters, and most of the time does not even bother to run at open jump shooters.
    His response yesterday sums it all up: “I just got to put the ball in the damn hole. It’s my responsibility. It’s my job. I got to do it.”

    Instead of “It is my repsonsibility to do WHATEVER IT TAKES TO WIN”. And that includes playing defense with energy and high level of activity, setting up teammates for easy shots.
    Pau’s loss of actiivity and toughness this year is certainly not helping but Kobe has the ball most of the time and that is where it all begins.

  51. Lakers8884,
    ” you are wrong about Kobe’s handles he is not having anymore issues than last year”

    You’re right; the problem started middle of last year. Teams have started to adjust to it. The Spurs announcers actually commented on that last night during the game, when discussing Ginobili’s defense on Kobe.

  52. Pau is a leader on the team? Clearly one of the better players on the team, and quite high on the pecking order, but I don’t see how Pau is a leader, especially given his play this year. He is a great player with a great mind, but he’s been taken apart pretty often and especially as of late. I have yet to hear one Laker player say they model their work ethic/attitude after Pau. One trait of a leader is trying to make something work when your normal strengths are failing. Does Pau ever do that? If he can’t make a shot, does he dedicate himself to crashing the boards, or playing stellar defense? Considering how Bynum and Kobe were coming off injuries, this was a chance to step it up, especially since he had the summer off. Major disappointment.

  53. First off Kobe is shooting at .440 for the season which is .016 less than last season so you are wrong in saying his shooting is worse, statistically that is not considered significant it is barely different, if he hits one more shot here and there he is shooting better than last year. How does his response prove “sum it up”? He is right normally he hits most of those shots that he took, after he missed he just kept pressing the issue too much, Darius said it best if he even hits 5 or 6 more of those shots people here aren’t bashing him. Hasn’t Kobe always led by scoring? I’m pretty sure he has so why would that be any different now, that’s what the team relies on 65% of the time.

    Saying that do whatever it takes to win crap is bogus, how about you blame the whole team. Instead of worrying about touches why doesn’t Pau play defense or rebound consistently like he should. Guards typically gamble (especially Kobe) but normally he always has a backbone on defense there to support him and lately he hasn’t had one.

    Did you watch Christmas day at Miami? Kobe tried to set everyone up, Jackson and Van Gundy even said it on the telecast that Kobe could have had several more assists had his teammates finished their shots after Kobe put them in great position to score. Does Kobe really have to spoon feed people for them to score? That’s pathetic these guys should take accountability for their own actions and say I’m not carrying my load lately I need to step up. Also fun fact for you only two players account for more of their teams points by either setting up players or scoring themselves, so what do you expect Kobe to do account for even more when he is already 3rd in the league? Give me a break he’s the best in the world but he can’t do it all alone.

    Thank you Flip, finally someone else sees it. Didn’t Phil say he needed Pau to step it up this year? Well at first he did but the past month and a half he has regressed significantly, he should be the one guy stepping up consistently to help Kobe and lately he hasn’t.

  54. Seriously have people here played basketball? What happens when you are the most talented guy on your team and your teammates aren’t playing great especially on offense. What do you typically do? You try to carry the load and put them on your back and you may have a hard time trusting them, but you don’t want to lose so you try to do it your way instead of the way that hasn’t been working lately. I’m not saying this way is right but it is a human condition in playing basketball it happens on every level. Kobe is doing what he has done all of his career.

  55. Lakers8884,
    No, the real question is what happens when the most talented guy on your team doesn’t pass the ball to you, even though you are in position and have shown that you can make shots? After awhile you either stop trying to get into position, because you know you won’t get the ball, or if you are still in position, you stop expecting the ball (because it rarely gets passed to you) and so if it does come to you, your reactions aren’t quite as quick. Which gives the defense an extra split second to react, which is often enough to throw your shot off. ANd as a result, the team doesn’t do as well.

  56. exhelodrvr, your whole principle here states that you “have shown you can make shots” but the fact is nobody has shown consistent capability lately. And quite frankly someone who is a hard worker who isn’t getting passed the ball will go and get it, they will bust their butts on the glass and get after it and prove they deserve their moment to shine instead of being passive and hesistant. You are basically saying that because you don’t get the ball it excuses you to give a half hearted performance, if someone like Pau doesn’t get the ball on the block big deal be a professional work on other aspects of the game. Basketball is dominated by guards, big men rarely get the ball as much as they should, it happens at every level, accept that some nights you wont get as many touches as normal and play basketball. If because you aren’t passed the ball during the game but you finally get it later on and you aren’t able to convert then boo hoo you are a professional player, you are paid to be good at your job if you shrink in the moment you don’t deserve to be on the floor. The person you describe sounds like a pouting drama queen who wants touches, not someone who will do what it takes to help their team win. The guy who is trying to carry the team on his shoulders by shooting more is at least trying to will his team to a win. If anything not getting passed the ball should make that player work harder to show that they can score and that they do belong on the floor.