Lakers/Celtics: Lack Of Execution Dooms Lakers

Darius Soriano —  January 30, 2011

Team brilliance will always trump individual brilliance. The Lakers learned that lesson (again) when they fell to the Celtics 109-96.

Really the key to this game was the fact that down the stretch the Celtics pounded away with their deliberate offensive sets and smothering D while the Lakers’ offense stagnated into a Kobe-centric attack while their defense completely abandoned them. And while Kobe was tremendous and did his best by knocking down increasingly more difficult shots in the 2nd half, his 41 points just weren’t enough to keep the team in the game.

And mostly that brings us back to the fact that the Lakers defense was not up to standard. In the 2nd half the Lakers were outscored 59-42 as the C’s were able to get too many good looks by simply executing their sets and riding the hot hand of Paul Pierce (who we’ll get to in a second). On countless possessions the C’s got the ball into the spots that they wanted by using their screen actions and by going into the post to KG. This led to the Lakers losing their defensive integrity as they consistently over-helped and ball watched to the point that other C’s were able to get open shots against scrambling defenders. One play that repeatedly hurt the team was the baseline screen action to free shooters that could either run strong side off a double screen or to the weak side off a single screen to receive the pass. Ray Allen and Nate Robinson consistently got free on this set as Kobe, Shannon, and Blake kept trying to go top side on the screen only to get beat on the fade to the corner where the shooter would get up his attempt without a good contest. At one point early in the 4th quarter the Celtics ran this set on back to back plays, with both three point shots falling and the lead subsequently being extended from 3 to 9 in the blink of an eye.

But the real key to the C’s offensive attack and the Lakers’ defensive breakdowns was the fact that Paul Pierce just refused to be guarded effectively all game. Ron Artest was completely outclassed by Pierce, who got quality shot after quality shot all night against him. It wasn’t so much that Ron wasn’t contesting Pierce’s shot, it was the fact that he surrendered position so easily and allowed Pierce to get to his favorite spots on the floor. Pierce brilliantly worked the shallow wing and the elbow area all game and found relatively easy 12-15 foot jumpers as his reward for beating defenders off the dribble. And when Pierce wasn’t working in isolation, he was floating around the perimeter, using screens and losing defenders to get up uncontested three pointers. On the day, Pierce scored 32 points on only 18 shots and did an excellent job of carrying the C’s offense when they needed a boost and then deferring to others when his mates finally found their groove.

But while I give full credit to the Celtics for taking this game (especially in the 2nd half), I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the Lakers didn’t aid their cause with their lack of assertiveness. Outside of Kobe, you’d be hard pressed to find more than one or two Lakers that played well or brought the requisite aggressiveness for more than short stretches. Lamar Odom had a good first half and ended the game with good numbers (15 points, 5 rebounds) but receded from the action for a lot of the 2nd half when the C’s pulled away. Bynum seemed to be hampered by a sore knee (it looked like the left rather than the braced up right) and didn’t have the explosion or the want to contest shots around the rim that he’s shown in recent weeks. I mentioned that Ron didn’t do a very good job on Pierce, but he also struggled mightily on offense, shooting 1-10 from the floor for 3 points. And Pau Gasol simply had an awful all around game, only making 5 of his 13 FGA’s and grabbing more offensive rebounds (4) than defensive ones (3).

You’ll notice, that I listed every Laker big man as a player that had below average impact on the game and that led to the Lakers getting out-rebounded 43-30 and them doing a poor job of controlling both the offensive and defensive paint.

I know it will be easy to look at this game and think it was 2008 all over again, but actually this game reminded me more of game 5 of last year’s Finals (here is the boxscore – see the similarities?). If you recall, in that game, Kobe went off for 38 points but the Lakers ultimately lost as their offensive and defensive execution failed them down the stretch. This game mirrored that one to these eyes because as the Lakers as a team struggled to put together complete possessions, the game then became one in which the Lakers became overly dependent on Kobe doing too much on both sides of the ball to try and pull out the win.

In the end, frustration is sure to be at a high after a game like this. They led the game after 24 minutes and several times in the 2nd half the Lakers were well within striking distance and couldn’t get over the hump because their execution failed them. They allowed the C’s to push them off their spots while granting them the courtesy not doing the same in return. Considering those facts, this game should have been a loss. But when actually watching the game there were so many times that one rebound or one or one defensive stop could have made it so the outcome was different. And in a way, that’s encouraging for me rather than discouraging because, as we’ve mentioned a lot around these parts, building towards the playoffs is a process. This team is not there yet (obviously) but as Phil Jackson said after the game I think they’ll get there.

Darius Soriano

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41 responses to Lakers/Celtics: Lack Of Execution Dooms Lakers

  1. As a die-hard Lakers fan, you have to give credit where credit’s due. The Celts are just a disciplined team and for the most part, execute their sets impeccably.

    I’m really not putting too much worth into these games, although this one hurts, but now I’m really beginning to understand the grind and toll of being in the Finals three consecutive years. The team is trying (sometimes) to muster up whatever’s left, but at some point, they’re running on fumes. This team has that look. And tonight we really missed Matt “Matt Barnes Will Kill You” Barnes. When Ron went cold defensively, we could have used Barnes.

    Not too happy but it’s time to move on to the Spurs.

  2. well let’s re-group and focus on D for the next match which is on Feb. 10. Need contribution from other starting 4 and of course with the help of bench guys. It’s not yet the playoffs so nothing to worry about. GO Lakers. =)

  3. When will people realize that this team is not going to turn on some magical switch and start executing and playing great ball!!! Something is really amiss with Pau. He has reverted back to his Gasoft ways. WHATever his problem is he needs to fix it fast. The Lakers themselves are playing soft. They have no thugs, bullies, or protectors. Mbenga was our tough guy. No he’s gone and now we look like the soft ass 2008 Lakers who had no enforcer. Ron Ron is our only tough guy and he’s on Prozac.

    Speaking of Ron Ron, he lost his edge when he won his title. The bad thing about making a crazy person sane is that they lose their edge. The same thing can be said of Mike Tyson. Once he became comfortable with being a champion, he lost that eye of the tiger. When he lost that, he began to lose fights.

    Ron should have taken exception to PP lighting his ass up and knocked the (crap) out of him. Get a tech, so what. Play the game like Boston does and throw people off rythm. He did it last year on Ray Allen why not against PP today. When needed to send a message to Boston today. The message was that we are ready to meet you anywhere, anytime. We sent the wrong message today. We aren’t ready. Anyone trying to sell that “regular season” (crap) needs to really think about the message being sent. Every other team is getting a blue print on how to beat us. (edited for profanity)

  4. For everyone who is blaming Kobe for being selfish or ruining the offense or ballhogging or losing this game, you have zero knowledge of basketball.

    Kobe gave our team – and especially our bigs, Bynum and Gasol – 3 and a half quarters to try and do something with our offense. Time and time again they gave up terrible shots, threw up weak prayers, or settled for tough toss ups. Not to mention they did almost nothing on the rebounding side of things.

    So when our team fails for 3 and a half quarters like that, Kobe says, “Look, I’ll handle the offense then, you guys just worry about defense.” And Kobe went off. He was on fire. Made well over half his shots and time and time again put us over the hump. Want to know what made us lose our ground every possession? Our bigs. Again. They didn’t defend. Slow running back, slow switching, slow screening, and slow rebounding to the ball.

    The Celtics didn’t win this game. Kobe kept it close, and the the Laker bigs lost it for us. Period.

    I hope KB and PJ light them up in practice like never before after this pathetic showing. You can’t win a playoff series playing like this, let alone a Finals vs. Boston.

  5. As sour a taste as this leaves in our collective mouth, I’ll gladly give them every regular season game if it motivates our team to win the games where the entire season is on the line.. in June.

  6. Reign on Parades January 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    People think that the Triangle demands ball movement for the sake of ball movement, when in reality it demands ball movement predicated on what the other 4 players (and five defenders) are doing

    When the other guys aren’t doing jack, the ball doesn’t move

    By the way has anyone seen Pau Gasol?

  7. Darius, how much would you say that Laker’s poor execution on offense affected their D?

  8. Igor, when it matters in June? Are you sure this team will even make it to June? At this point I don’t say it is very likely. While the talk is about this team improving for the playoffs, I don’t see any improvement whatsoever from this team. They play well sometimes and sometimes they don’t, they are a very inconsistent team that normally does not play up to their capabilities.

  9. #6. I’d say some, but not as much as in other games where poor execution on O leads to floor imbalance, run outs by the opposition, and poor transition D. Today I thought a lot of the Lakers breakdowns on D were related to them guessing wrong on the C’s screen actions (trying to jump the pass rather than lock and trailing shooter around picks) and individual failures on Pierce and the C’s bigs. Losing the individual battles led to over helping and teamwide breakdowns. Also, Phil going away fron Ron meant that Kobe spent a lot of time on Pierce (which is fine – though leads to other issues where Kobe works extra hard on both sides of the ball) but also made Shannon/Blake/Fisher guard guys like Rondo/Allen that forced the Lakers out of their preferred match ups.

  10. Joe,

    We’re all watching the same games. Yeah, this team is inconsistent, but that’s pretty much what I expected. This team has won two championships in a row, this regular season stuff bores them to death. It’s hard to find motivation to play your best in all 82 games. This is not to provide an excuse, I actually agree with you. If the team plays like this through the playoffs, it’s hard to envision them making the Finals. All I said was, if these losses in regular season provide the motivation (pre-game tape?) to focus in the playoffs when the games mean so much more, wouldn’t you take them?

  11. everybody just has to calm down a bit.The reason is the fact that these players are all capable of being great. we have seen Pau do it last year along with bynum and artest. Until they fail in the playoffs you cant call this team a failure based on a couple of regular season games. even if the lakers were trying today dont we all agree that pau can play better then his statline as well as bynum and artest. stop talking about this loss as if its the end of the world. maybe this will make the lakers underdogs and they will respond in kind. let the rest of the league give up on the lakers. who really cares what they think.

  12. I am nervous about the playoffs only because i see the lack of desire to attack in everyone but kobe. please oh please Bring in T-mac as a cheap scorer/facilitator that understands the different roles to be filled on a team and can adapt to those roles. I feel like we’ve always been missing one or two pieces that could just make us unstoppable. Not big pieces, just a key element or two, it hasn’t been a problem in the past but teams have been working the last 4 years to find ways to capitalize on our weaknesses. So we just have to have new options to go to. Its a logical concept. And T-mac wit horrible knees is better than Luke any day and Fisher most days.Just think about it. he could be filling in for Barnes now and coming in for Fish early in the !st and 3rd quarter….lol kinda like a change of pace back, just something the other team has to adjust to. I mean that is a major element of our defensive scheme. To keep the other team from getting comfortable and in rhythm. i wanna hear wat people think. Seriously consider it. please!!!!

  13. also, did the celtics win the championship today?. this win ddnt make them better retroactively for game 7 just like us winning in 09 regular season ddnt make us retroactively win in 08. they are better now please stop overreacting to these losses. its disheartening but not a death sentence like some make it out to be.

  14. Anyone else growing tired of the recent gasol?

  15. Hello everybody I have not posted In a while but this loss was frustrating because I know the Lakers can beat any of the so called contenders, but with the exception of Kobe and Fish the Lakers showed no Testicular Fortitude!! It seems like the Big beefy East Coast punish the Lakers by playing streetball and the Lakers always fall Into this trap by not being mentally prepared, and not executing there offense. Once they got the lead via great d, and offensive execution, In the first half they relaxed and against a talented team like the Celtics, or the Spurs they will whip you ass every time. The teams mental approach must change If they are going to defend there title but I still have faith they have regular seasons like this even during the Shaq/Kobe era so what did I expect? I welcome any opinions

  16. Adubb – McGrady signed with the Pistons this season. He’s played all 47 games, gets about 7 ppg in 22 minutes. He won’t be coming to Los Angeles and for that matter, it’s extremely doubtful that we’ll make any more roster changes. Btw, Sasha’s averaging 11.4 ppg in 22.5mpg for the Nets. The Machine’s found himself a nice role there – good for him.

  17. Haha…. Everyone really has gone off the deep end here. If Bynum and Artest were healthy the Lakers win. Very simple. I wouldn’t be too concerned.

  18. @ 13. Yes. Walking through the motions. Wants one good highlight and that is it.

    Same with Blake. He was supposed to be the answer off the bench. Face guarded Rondo out on the perimeter, which is a big no no.

    Same with Artest. If you’re not contributing on one-on-one defense, find some other way. This doesn’t feel like my Laker team anymore. Aside from Kobe and Shannon, these guys don’t give a shit if they win or lose.

  19. Q – I think Gasol’s the one who’s tired.

  20. Couple of points here:

    1. When a team wins an emotional, cherished, championship, people tend to forget that it is still flawed. Again: the Lakers were 57-25 last year, and won six times on Kobe buzzer beaters. They got three favorable match-ups in post-season, and when they played the Celtics, had to go seven tough games. So, I think we need to realize that while the team can certainly play better, there is no magical focused Laker team out there waiting to emerge. Boston played that card last year, but that was not a typical run. We can’t count on that type of thing here.
    2.Darius’ point about the screens was well-taken, but in terms of D, I still see the overall slowness on the perimeter, and today, getting physically overpowered inside. As I said last spring during the Finals, and again today, the Lakers have played this team 20 times since 2008 and generally score 85-95 points. They didn’t get there the way you want today, but they got there. So they lost on D and on the glass. I know this is not the playoffs, but I question the team’s ability to fix those areas.

    Biggest issues:

    1. Blake. He would have worked REPLACING Fisher, added to him, playng off the bench, he is a minus.
    2. Speed on D.
    3. Gasol. Has not been the same since that stretch when Phil overworked him.
    4. Artest. His limitations seem to be dragging him down more often than his plusses are lifting him up.
    5. Improved competition at the top of the league.

    Biggest reasons for hope:

    1. Playoff pace and format.
    2. Kobe is playing well most of the time.
    3. West is deep but not overpowering–even SA has a few holes.

    But still, losing by 16, 15, 13 and 9 to MIA, SA, BOS and DAL needs to be taken seriously.

  21. Aaron – I dunno about that. I have no love for the Celtics but they’re as banged up as we are. Lakers just didn’t play well today and for that matter, didn’t play well against Sacramento the other night, proud owners of a 12 & 33 record. This isn’t our finest season so far and personally, I think it’s a shame. It would have been nice to see the guys give a more consistent effort for Phil’s last season. IMO.

  22. Dave… Only going by the fact the lakers were in control of the game even with a banged up Bynum and Artest until injuries forced them to the sidelines and to be treated by Viti midway through the third quarter.

  23. I found it very frustrating the Lakers lost, especially in light of their painstaking preparation: their previous defeat by a Kings team they had just absolutely no business losing to.

  24. @23
    that same Kings blasted MVP CP ”advanced stats’3 Hornets on a night of back to backs.
    On general note,you cannot run triangle for the sake of triangle,you have to move and knock down shots..A total of ten assists will not do it,or going 1/10..
    Against all haters, KB is doing tremendous even he has been injured and refraining from lots of usual things.Someone has to back him up and bring some offense and Lakers supporters should be grateful to have him.

  25. I am worried about the possible injuries from this game, we all saw Vitti working hard tonight. I am not sure what to take away from this game, but the journey will be tougher to get W’s from as it continues on, unfortunately. I am still fortunate to be able to root for a team that is at the top, and a good one at that.

    “Expectations are the root of all disappointment”.

  26. When will anyone understand that in this current makeup it is obvious that the Lakers are no longer a title contenders??? Simply these are the reasons:

    Bynum – how many years will we wait for him to show his potential???
    Gasol – too soft for most NBA teams. Always was always will be!
    Fisher – sorry, just too old…
    Artest – too psychologically complicated, leading to inconsistency.
    Odom – actually a clear improvement from last year but still seems to disappear when the challenge is too high.
    Blake – just pure plain disappointment.
    Luke – is Luke not his father.
    Brown – too inconsistent. Cannot mentally play effectively agaist tough teams.
    Kobe – the really only player that deserves being in the Finals. I feel sorry for him to play with a bunch of softies.
    Phil – go learn from Rivers how to motivate a team. The fact that the Lakers won two championship does not mean anything this season. The competition is too fierce!!!
    The only way the Lakers will make it to the Finals is if a key player like KG or Genobli will get injured…

  27. I think calming down a bit is in order. I didn’t get to watch the game straight because I was stuck in one of those 8 hour CPR classes, but from what I could see on game cast, the Lakers were competitive the whole night, they just allowed 1 too many Boston runs. Over all the freak outs that I see on this site, this game coupled have gone either way at the start of the fourth and Boston took the reins, good for them.

    This happens every year to the Lakers. Last year didn’t the Cavs pretty much kill us in both games. Didnt we lose to the Celts (a struggling team with less depth) in one game and get a Kobe buzzer beater in the other. Didn’t our supposed great foes, Denver, come into our house in January and spank the Lakers because of a crazy hot shooting night.

    These games happen every year, in this era, in the Kobe-Shaquille era (were we “soft”then), in the Magic era, etc. Breathe, lace up, and get ready to play the next game.

  28. As a die hard laker fan losing to the Celtics is FRUSTRATING! But one thing I have noticed in this game and in the other losses this season is the seemingly disappearance of Pau Gasol. In all our losses only one or two games that I have seen Pau played well (not great) and in all the other loss Pau simply shrinks and disappear. Last game against Sacramento the lakers were on a big rally and seems to be on a big comeback but when Pau came in for Bynum the momentum was suddenly lost. Does anyone here know if Pau is injured, having some personal problems which affects his game, or does he have locker room problem with his teamates? If we are going to threepeat we need a Robin to our Batman (kobe), but right now Pau Gasol is playing the role of a Joker instead of Robin to Batman.

  29. For every team out there, playing the Lakers is a big deal. Like, beating the champs kinda big deal. For the Lakers who’ve won the whole thing TWICE, it’s tough to match that intensity even if it is the Celtics.

    Of course Kobe had his 6-24 fresh in his mind so he was set on righting things, but everyone else? They’ve had the opposite of tonight’s game. If this game proved anything is that the rest of our team can carry Kobe, but Kobe can’t carry the rest of our team. Something I think we all knew since 2005 or so.

    All in all, I refuse to be ‘concerned.’ Boston-like excuses aside, the regular season is about getting to the playoffs in good health. Home court? Important, yes, but it isn’t that important if you got the better team. And yes, we’ll have the better team in June when Boston, Miami and Orlando will be pushed by Chicago and have their share of game sevens by the time they emerge out of the east.

  30. Well, another thing to notice is that C’s came in with a great win against the thundersas we rolled in with a defeat where last run against the kings came up short in the fourth quarter.

    C’s for the most part execute their plays flawlessly, probably something most of them benefitted from having Ray. Something lakers wouldn’t benefit much from watching the likes of Kobe since he can create shots all over the court and knock down incredible shots on top.

    Lakers have too many stars that think they are superstars whereas C’s show a good balance of budding stars, aged stars with reduced roles and other role players that focus on their parts.

    I feel like this team needs a break. Hopefully they will come out revitalized.

  31. The issues are as follows:

    1) Artest is just not delivering.

    2) Fish is getting old.

    3) Blake is not picking up the slack for Fish like he was supposed.

    4) Gasol is back to his old soft self.

    I think #4 will resolve itself come playoffs. I am little pessimistic about improvement in areas 1 through 3. But maybe, reversing #4 is enough to win another ring. Let’s hope.

  32. This season I’m sure Doc Rivers is telling his players that the ONLY (!!!) reason the C”s don’t have last year’s trophy is simply – home court advantage. Well, the Celtics take it to heart and are making sure each and every night they give their very very best. I just wish the Lakers were a bit that smart. Or that Phil ( with all due respect) would be LESS naive in thinking that the Lakers can pull this out comes playoff time and overcome the Spurs and Celtics HCA. Simply naive, but more emphatically impossible considering the Lakers age and current makeup!!!

  33. Well we gave it our all from 6 rows behind the west basket. You might have seen my friend and I, we were in full uniform (he being Kurt Rambis). We never let up on the C’s, especially the “Big League Minimum.” Even the Boston fans didn’t want any… But it didn’t matter.

    Keys to the loss – we were out worked, plain and simple.

    Pau cannot hold post position getting pushed 10 feet out every set by Perkins or KG. He then gets frustrated and forgets to play D.

    Bynum forgot to be aggressive. Like he was intimidated by the big stage.

    Fish and Ron Ron put in big efforts, but could not throw a pea in the ocean.

    Luke should never ever guard Pierce.

    Everyone pulled a 2008 at the end, no one wanted the ball, Kobe had no choice. He did NOT hog the ball (and I would be the first to criticize if he had).

    We punked out at the end when we knew we had lost and let it slip to blow out status. That is what pissed us off. I stood up and yelled “have some self respect – knock someone on their ass” during the layup drill at the end. LO looked me right in the eye and shrugged in admission of the ultimate sin. He could feel it too.

    The sky is not falling, the season is not over. But this one hurts…

  34. I believe in the notion of basketball “gravity.” That is, no team can perpetually stay “up there” forever. What we are seeing is simply that. I am taking these tough losses this year with the understanding that at some point, the team had to fall. At least for now, it’s the regular season.

    Don’t forget how much we missed Matt Barnes last night. He would have brought the much needed elements of hustle, tough D, intensity, rebounding, and offense. Phil had no choice but to go to Walton and then Kobe at the SF spot last night. I don’t know how Ebanks would have fared in such an atmosphere but Phil seems to stubbornly adhere to his lineups.

    Are we falling? Yes. Has this team completely fallen? No. We are still the champs. And by the way, it’s still January.

  35. @28 – Gasol is a European player playing European style which is much more delicate than American basketball. The last time I checked the rabbit can never be a tiger and visa versa.

  36. To me the lakers current problems begin and end with Pau Gasol. I actually half-jokingly wondered to myself if he was wearing 5 pound ankle weights during the game, that’s how sluggish and slow he looks right now.

    Compared to how Pau played at the beginning of the year his current struggles have me downright mystified to the point that I bet there is something off the court going on with him.

  37. The only positive I can take from yesterday’s debacle is we won’t lose to the C’s in June. As Joe (#7) suggests, we, in our present configuration, are not going to the finals. For us to turn this around we need Pau to wake up, Bynum to get/stay healthy and start MOVING!, and for Blake to miraculously turn into a good player.

  38. I attended last nights game and wanted to point a few things that have not been mentioned.

    1. Pau semi-showed up in the first half. He had a few quick-strong moves to the bucket, which he converted. Pau struggles when he goes to his jab step moves and slow swing throughs. Against a tough D like the C’s you have to be quick and decisive.

    2. Weird lineups, ie: blake and fisher playing at the same time.

    3. A WHOLE LOTTA luke. This can never be good. Bill was at the game so I guess Phil put luke in so Daddy could see him play. i thought Phil should have put some fresh blood out there (Ebanks) instead of tired ass luke. Everytime luke was in game C’s did the right thing and attempted to exploit that match up.

    Lakers could have easily won this game. I agree with other commentator, Lakers gave up 1 too many runs.

  39. Was Boston “lucky” Kevin McHale was the Timberwolves’ GM in the summer of 2007? Were the Piston’s “lucky” Karl Malone was injured in 2004? Were the 2003 Spurs “lucky” the East was weak that year? Were the 2006 Heat “lucky” they got Dallas in the Finals instead of the Spurs? Were the Lakers indeed “lucky” because Perkins went down in game six last year? Were the 1989 Pistons “lucky” both Magic Johnson and Byron Scott went down early in that series? Were the 1994 and 1995 Rockets “lucky” Jordan was retired? Were the 1991 Bulls “lucky” to meet a Lakers team that was a shell of its former glory? Where the Spurs lucky David Robinson went down for a big portion of the ’96 – ’97 season giving them a horrible record and therefore allowing them to draft Tim Duncan that year? See how far we can take this?

    Any team that is the last team standing after a grueling six months regular season and two months of intense post-season play is worth of being called champs. There is no need to qualify or diminish the accomplishment. With that said, these Lakers are not playing their best ball. I am not sure if there is another level they can get to. I want to believe they can play like the team from last season’s playoffs. Maybe they still can. I won’t write them off just yet. However, if they can they need to start showing it against top level teams. They need to remind themselves they can still dominate. This year’s team was never going to win 67 games and cruise into the playoffs. They will be doing good to win 57 games and close out the regular season on at least a three game win streak. They will surely have to win at least one series as the road team and probably two if they are to complete the three-peat.

    At this point I am just hoping for good health going into the playoffs and a little momentum. I won’t kid myself and say everything is alright. The Lakers have some very real issues. If they imploded in the conference semis I wouldn’t be surprised. If they pulled off the three-peat I wouldn’t be surprised either. That is where this team is now. We never know what we are going to get.

  40. Let’s assume that the Feb. 24 trade deadline will pass without the Lakers being able/willing to make a trade. What can be done moving forward?

    Darius:

    One thing I’ve noticed is that Phil does a pretty good job of incorporating nearly the entire roster at different stretches of the season, at times incorporating guys after one or even two months of pine riding. I bring this up to pose a simple question: Is it realistic to hope we’re going to get anything out of Caracter and Ebanks this season? I was convinced after the preseason that they’d find time on the court and be minor contributors. Depth and energy were huge issues in my estimation looking back on Sunday. My worst nightmare, that the Celtics’ frontcourt depth would overwhelm us, came to life. I flinched the second I heard that they’d signed Shaq. It’s not about quality, it’s about quantity. Their pitiful weekend showings notwithstanding, I’d take our Big Three against any 3 frontline combo the Celtics or anybody else can muster. The problem is that the Celtics bring 5 legit big men to the party and we are left with nothing but 3. That’s a mismatch on days when the big 3 play well, but it’s a foregone conclusion when they play as soft as they did on Sunday. The beauty is you can have one of your bigs tank (Shaq) and still have plenty to counter. Whether it’s post hoc reasoning or not, the fact is that the overuse of Pau has negated his summer of rest, and he has not been the same player since. Moving forward, is it not practical to consider finding at least 10 minutes a night for Caracter?

    The next issue is energy. Ebanks, if he brings nothing else, brings that. He is a superior defensive option (inexperience notwithstanding) to Walton and given that Pierce was torching everybody, just having him in the game would have meant Kobe goes back to the 2, which means we can boot one of our two colossally deficient defensive guards off the court. Maybe it was too much to ask for Ebanks to hang with that level of competition, but as I say, moving forward, there appears to be time to get him some run so he can contribute in the playoffs. I fear that the Lakers are telling themselves that Barnes coming back will be the panacea. Just as Bynum returning didn’t mean that all the problems were solved, neither will Barnes’ return.

    p.s.: The Lakers missed Sasha last night, for similar reasons. Even as an offensive rumor, he’s a far superior defender than Fisher and Blake. That trade bothered me when it happened as well.

    p.s.s.: Why was it the Lakers’ game plan to avoid Rondo like the plague when Kobe had him, then to suddenly get up in his grill with Blake on him (to a predictable result)?

  41. >It’s hard to find motivation to play your best in all 82 games.

    yeahbut, as mentioned elsewhen, these last two games (sacto, celts) have to tell you something about these Lakers.