Lakers/Grizzlies: Well, That Was Awful Viewing

Darius Soriano —  January 2, 2011

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Not sure if the Lakers should have even shown up for this game if they were going to put forward the type of effort they displayed against the Grizzlies.  Sloppy play, suspect effort and decision making, and Memphis’ ability to take advantage of it all led to the Lakers getting mauled 104-85.  They’ve now lost 3 of 4 at home and the “best” loss was the 16 point loss on Christmas.

The game started out well enough with Pau Gasol going to work against Zach Randolph all over the court.  Pau hit his first three shots (two jumpers and a running hook) and things were looking much like the past two Lakers games where inside play and controlled offense would rule the day.

However, it just wasn’t meant to be.  Soon after the Lakers showed that they could control the interior with their big men, they decided to shift their offensive focus to the outside and get lax with their passes while doing it.  Turnovers and inattentiveness all while the Grizz played to their strengths meant that the Lakers found themselves in a dog fight with a hungry team that wanted this game badly.

Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay consistently attacked and scored easily against a Lakers defense that was step slow in their rotations both on the interior and perimeter.  The only Laker that looked in tune with what the team wanted to accomplish on defense was Andrew Bynum who contested shots and rebounded well, but he alone (even with his 5 blocked shots) couldn’t stop an entire Grizzlies group.  So as Memphis continued to attack and Bynum went to the bench to rest, the Lakers deficit only grew and ultimately the home team trailed by 9 at the half.

In the 3rd quarter the hope was that the Lakers lackadaisical play would cease and they’d finally make a push.  However, the opposite occurred.  In their first three possessions the Lakers had a turnover, a missed Kobe jumper early in the clock, and another turnover.  The Grizzlies pushed the lead to 13 and ultimately seized control.

Kobe tried to combat Memphis’ lead by getting aggressive and to a certain extent he was successful.  Working mostly in isolations, Kobe hit an array of shots that reminded everyone of how great a scorer he can be.  But that fantastic work by #24 came with the price of his teammates falling out of the rhythm of the game and ultimately losing their feel for contributing.  It’s difficult to really blame Kobe for looking to score in the manner that he did, but at the same time it was easy to see that his approach wasn’t necessarily getting the team anywhere in the big picture.  Even though the Lakers were able to cut into the Grizz lead, the success wasn’t sustainable as Kobe started to miss shots and the Lakers’ defense never found a way to get the stops that they really needed.  By the time the third period ended, the Lakers found their deficit had ballooned to 17 and the game was essentially over.

So, down the Lakers went again.  The frustrations that we thought were mostly behind the team reared their ugly heads again.  That said, at this point, I’m still not panicking.  What ails the Lakers aren’t unfixable, fatal flaws but rather issues that can be addressed and worked through.  It won’t be easy, but with better focus and commitment this team can find their stride.  We saw it against the Hornets and for most of the game against the 76ers.  And with a favorable home schedule coming up, this team definitely has it in them to make a push.  I understand that losses like this are frustrating, but I actually don’t see this game as part of the bigger set of issues that was bothering the team in it’s really poor stretch but really the case of the Lakers taking the Grizzlies lightly.  Maybe that’s a false assumption on my part, but for the entire first half I felt like the Lakers were still right in the game even though they mostly trailed.  It wasn’t until the team couldn’t find it’s stride in the third that I was even slightly concerned and even 4 minutes into the 4th period I thought a run was eminent.  In the end, it wasn’t their night but that’s a different feeling than the one of utter frustration that I felt just a couple of weeks ago.  I think it’s going to take some time but I still feel very good about the team.

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers/Grizzlies: Well, That Was Awful Viewing

  1. TO:

    LAKERS 20


    LAKERS 6
    MEMPHIS 12


  2. I think Bynum has a futare as a commentator. From ESPNLA:

    “We can’t turn the basketball over,” Andrew Bynum said. “Out of the triangle, we have three guys on the baseline, so when we turn the basketball over, it puts us at a super big disadvantage… Especially with that first unit that’s in there, with Pau and myself, kind of slow-footed getting back. It’s causing a lot of problems, so we’ve just got to take care of the basketball so that doesn’t happen. We have to sit these teams down and make them play 20 seconds of defense. Really work the ball, so that it fuels our defense.”


  3. Darius,

    I’m a firm believer in not looking backwards and not looking forwards, either. Right now, the Lakers are not a very good team.


  4. Reign on Parades January 2, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Every player except Bynum (injury) and Artest (Ron being Ron) is having a better season than they were last year. Or in the case of the bench, they’ve been replaced by someone better.

    At least, offensively and health wise.

    But as a team we’ve suffered. I really don’t think this is “the disease of more” by any means, but I don’t know what to say about it.

    Our team defense has been mediocre this year and while I thought that was because of Bynum’s absence… well, I still have hope. I don’t know if we’ll be the top 3 defense we were last year with Bynum but I want to believe we’ll be closer to that than to where we are now.

    Offensively… the execution has been lacking. With three point shooting, we’re collectively better than we were last year but that shooting has tailed off massively. We’re also turning the ball over more, not running triangle sets, playing against better teams, etc. etc. etc.

    Long story short: our offense is trending downwards faster than our defense is trending upwards.

    I just hope Phil’s not lame ducking it. When you look at the sideline he’s actually more animated than I remembered him being but man, I don’t know. I don’t know.


  5. I really can’t say anything that I didn’t put in the recap. I think drrayeye’s mostly correct in that the Lakers aren’t a good team right now. Except for the fact that I actually think the team is close to getting back on track.

    When you look at the boxscore, the difference was the Lakers’ turnovers and their lack of offensive rebounding (something that they normally do quite well). I know we’ve discussed Kobe’s turnovers at length in the comments in recent days, but of the 20 the team had he only had 3. Meanwhile, Gasol had 5 and every other Laker had at least 1 except for Fisher, Barnes, and Joe Smith. I just don’t expect the team to be that careless with the ball on most nights and I also expect them to attack the offensive glass better (which will come naturally when they run the offense better and don’t play so much isolation ball).

    So again, maybe I’m too optimistic but I think they’re close to playing much better. After this game I really do think that it was just one of those nights rather than a night like so many others lately. (If that makes sense.)


  6. “Long story short: our offense is trending downwards faster than our defense is trending upwards.”

    Very good point.


  7. Repost from the previous thread, anyone please feel free to shoot holes in my comment:
    IMO, the Lakers play poorly whenever Pau is not assertive at fighting for position and not aggressive once he gets the ball. When that happens, the team doesn’t go inside-out and either throws up contested long jumpers, or Kobe goes into iso-mode. What should happen when this occurs is that the wings should look for Drew and see if he can wreak havoc down low. However, at this point Drew doesn’t quite have his legs under him, and I would imagine the coaching staff just wants him to concentrate on defense and rebounding.

    The optimist in me thinks that the knee that Drew injured in January 2009 (the Kobe collision) is healthier now than it has been since that injury. Remember, not only did he suffer a moderate tear to his MCL, but he also tore his meniscus, which was never repaired until July 2010. He played the entire ‘09-10 season with a slightly torn meniscus, and aggravated the injury in the first round of the playoffs against OKC. Drew regaining his “beast mode” ability is the one wild card in our favor. Let’s hope it occurs.


  8. In the span of this slump, the event that looms the largest is the Heat game. The team (Lakers) decided they weren’t ready or willing to measure themselves against the Heat at this early stage. So they conceded the game. But then they had to concede a bunch of other games so they could tell themselves and everyone else that they didn’t get clobbered by the Heat, they’re just in a slump. Sounds crazy, but that seems to make as much sense as anything at the moment.


  9. Leave this Pau this Pau that thing,Kobe is the only one trying.Six shot attempts first half,what happens?Shanwow started to think he is Kobe lite but nowhere near.Kobe should play and shoot more,30 mins won’t do it.Bench Pau-Derek,let Lamar-Steve play.


  10. Dude, I think that’s why most of us Laker fans (or Kobe fans) don’t see Pau as the #1 guy or even the #1 option. He needs to involve himself more – right now I agree with Phil Jackson on ‘The Journey to the Ring’ where he says Pau is just too gifted and the game comes too easily for him to really maintain focus.


  11. Well don’t panic its just one of those games that they are not hitting good shots and the absence of good defense really hurt them. This is not yet playoffs so nothing to worry, they will come back strong after the all star break and i bet “3-peat scenario” will happen…..go lakers!!!


  12. Doesn’t matter if it’s the turnovers or the offensive rebounds. The point is that we’re getting blown by double digits a bit too often. We have a good roster and a good coach. They have skill and size to win games and yet they don’t. It all comes down to the execution on both sides of the ball and actually playing to win, if you know what I mean.

    This team has been and will always be nerve recking, but I don’t think we will be able to turn the corner this year. Our perimeter players don’t have the athleticism they once had and I think they’re not compensating it properly with their high(er) basketball IQ.

    We will make the playoffs as a 3rd or 4th seed in the West, but I doubt we’ll have the ability to turn it on against the likes of the Spurs or Mavs (nevermind the Celtics).

    They should really listen to Andrew Bynum’s words and control what they can, while they’re still not executing as crisp as they should.


  13. You may all scoff at me ( or laugh your heads off), but
    what the Lakers need is a competent hypnotist. The
    Lakers somewhere along the line, got their minds
    stripped of positive, confident thinking and now are
    crippled as a team. With a good hypnotist ( and some
    good hypnosis cds to go around) they could easily get
    their mojo back. I believe that’s all that’s needed.
    Positive reinforcement. They’ve got everything else. Talent, enough talent to
    where they’re almost dripping w/it. Come on! Are there no hypnotists in L.A. whom are Laker fans??
    Calling all Hypnotherapists!!


  14. Two big problems i see is:

    1. Kobe isn’t demanding double teams like he has in the past. Those are the times that he’d dish out to a teammate for the easy oop. Because he isn’t getting those double teams, he feels he needs to do more to demand them. which, as we saw last night, doesn’t always work. Teams are just letting him be a volume shooter.

    2. Pau has been bad on defense. really flat footed. he’s not moved quick at all on rotations. Last night there were two possessions in which guys came into the paint and he backed himself under the basket instead of holding his ground.


  15. I have said it once and I will say it again, the players and coaching staff are feed up with #24’s stubbornness. From Phil roasting Kobe after the game, to teammates frustration as if they dont know what the problem is(hints in subtle ways through media). Even B. Shaw mentioned it during an in game interview last night about feeding the bigs. I am a firm believer if one person says something about you it might be out of animosity or dislike, but when the choir is humming the same tune its not bashing, its called the truth. Wake up Mr. Bean and realize that you are losing your leadership hold on this team.


  16. i agree with the dude. i think we’ll have a better idea where the team is by jan 24. pau looks awful out there most of the time. it’s got to be grating on kobe and phil. let’s hope pau can turn it around.


  17. You guys are so correct. Pau is just worthless out there and is the sole reason the Lakers look so bad. Bynum is the second coming of Bill Russell and Lamar is the golden child. The Lakers never should have traded for Gasol and should dump him ASAP. I can’t wait to see Kobe fire up 50 shots a game again and making the playoffs be an accomplishment.


  18. Hi guys,

    To get this out of the way so you can potentially ridicule me later (ha) – I am a Spurs fan. That being said I was curious in your comments regarding Pau Gasol, and how it seems that he’s not doing really great on Defense, and with Bryant not commanding double teams.

    Last year the Spurs had the same issue with Duncan, how he wasn’t commanding double teams so the shooters weren’t open a lot, and how he looked tired and gassed as the season went on, starting in January….this was due to him playing an inordinate amount of minutes early in the season due to injuries to just get the team to win, and how opponents are able to finally play off him 1 on 1 due to age, whatnot…. in the limited times I have seen the Lakers play I noticed that early on Gasol was logging a LOT of minutes due to Bynum being out, and this could easily be why he’s not doing it all now – he could be really really tired. I’m wondering if this is a cascading effect – Gasol is very tired, so not doing everything that he usually does, Bryant sees this and tries to take over but cannot due to injury, age, etc. This takes the rest of the team out and thus causes this out of sync issue to be seen with the Lakers. I could be completely incorrect, but the similarities are there with the Spurs of last year/Lakers of this year. Fortunately we had Ginobili go into Superman mode at the end, and maybe Bryant will do that….in the meantime what do you guys think about this and how do you see Jackson fixing it?

    Thanks for reading, sorry the post is long.


  19. #18. I’m hoping that’s sarcasm. If it’s not, you’re so far off base that I’m not even sure where to start. I’ll leave it at that unless you confirm that you’re really not joking.


  20. The Lakers problems are mainly defensive. They lack speed and athleticism (not to mention activity and effort) on defense, some related to age, but also due to their emphasis on size as opposed to speed.
    Transition defense and proper rotation to shooters were non-existense last night as they have been most of the season. Except for Kobe who is capable of getting back (but doesn’t consistently), they are built 100% for a half-court game, ie playoff bastketball. They probably have the slowest starting small forward in Artest, and the slowest PG in fisher. Here is where you miss an athletic player like Ariza with speed. The speed at the point guard position is also very slow, but there isn’t much of an option there with Blake.
    I think it is time for a line up change to add some speed to the first unit. I would start with moving Artest to the bench and Barnes to the starting Line up. Alternatively, you can move shannon to the starting guard and Kobe to the small forward position.
    Their rotations are awful. They give up wide open 3’s, especially Kobe. Effort is a huge part of it. Kobe exerts all his energy on offense, even though he keeps talking about defense. He should look in the mirror because he is setting a terrible example.

    I think the team is starting to become resentful of Kobe’s lack of rotation on defense. You can tell from Pau and Lamar’s indirect comments.


  21. Nixiack,
    Phil has started to replace Pau with Lamar, rather than keeping Pau in for the 1st substitution in the 1st qtr. I think this is to give Pau fewer minutes in a continuous stretch – the thing that will tire out an athlete long term. He has also started leaving Barnes in longer in the 4th qtr, rather than bringing in Artest.

    My own thought is that Phil doesn’t want to make too many changes, too quickly. That alters things so much that you can’t identify which change made the difference for the team. He is trying to fix this by the end of the year, not in the next week or two.


  22. When kobe take 25+ shots, the lakers are 137-130 (.513)

    When kobe takes 30+ shots, the lakers are 39-55 (.414)

    Pretty telling, especially the 30+ figure.


  23. This team is getting me sick. Everyone has made very valid points but the main thing is Fish is no longer a starting quality point guard in the NBA. He had some good years and has done big things for us but defense starts from the man guarding the first person who has the ball and fish just can’t anymore. Dribble penetration from the pg kills any team defense. Everybody has to rotate to compensate, thus open 3s and easy buckets for bigs. Which brings me to the next point, pau is killing us. If he’s that tired bring his ass off the bench and let Lamar start. I hoop every day AFTER WORK and most of the cats I hoop with hoop every day and I know there’s more effort put forth at those games than what I’ve been seeing from him the past few weeks. And this is for more than 2 hours and for free. If the millions he’s being paid aren’t keeping him focused and motivated enough maybe he should give that doctor thing a try. He is a paid professional athlete, isn playing his best even through fatigue part of the job description. Isn’t that what makes these guys so special. No big whose getting bullied will get the ball. Especially not from kobe, who only feels others who work on both ends deserve the ball and I can’t argue that. Drew is coming along nicely and kb is kb. Ron however can’t be trusted to do the right thing in the offense. Still looks confused. Phil should give dr sanji a book on the triangle and have her review it with ron during their sessions. Overall I like the idea of adding speed to the starting lineup, starting with puttin blake and barnes in to replace fish and ron just to set a high paced tone.


  24. The Lakers problems are 1) Ron Ron’s lack of concentration, 2) something is wrong with Pau, 3) ShanWow is regressing again (shooting too early in the clock and overdribbling when he’s not quick shooting), and 4) Blake is better than Fisher but he is not the replacement we seek (he’s not aggressive enough).

    As a team, passing is lazy (like Lamar used to do) and telegraphed which leads to the problem that Drew mentioned (they can’t get back so easy buckets for the opposition).

    New blood would be nice.

    (Edited for trade speculation.)