Lakers/Rockets: Not The Prettiest Game, But A Win Nonetheless

Darius Soriano —  February 1, 2011

With trade speculation swirling, the Lakers down their starting Center, and a disheartening loss to Boston still on their minds the Lakers were in a tough situation against Houston. The Rockets always give them a hard time but the Lakers really needed a win going into Thursday’s match up with the Spurs. And while it took overtime to get it, the Lakers achieved what they set out to do by holding after a late rally to beat the Rockets 114-106.

Certainly this wasn’t the Lakers best game. The entire night the Rockets hustled to get to loose balls and really attacked the offensive glass (16 total O-rebounds for the Rockets). And Kevin Martin was his usual efficient self by dropping in 30 points on only 15 shots, including 4-8 on three pointers and 10-11 from the FT line. The Rockets battled all night and stayed in the game with sheer grit and effort for the entire contest. Give them all the credit in the world for how hard they played and their ability to take advantage of every Laker miscue.

But the Lakers were just too big and their best players were just too good over the course of the evening to lose this game. And while there were plenty of times that it looked like the Lakers wouldn’t be able to pull it out – none more so than when Houston took a 4 point lead in overtime – Kobe, Gasol, and Odom just wouldn’t allow it.

The Lakers’ big three on the night were simply outstanding. Kobe started the game in a distributing mode as he tallied 7 first quarter assists and became the youngest player ever to join the 25 thousand point, 5 thousand assist club. He picked out teammates with pin point passes and took advantage of a helping Rocket defense whenever they sent the double team as he maneuvered at the elbow and shallow wing on the weak side. The rest of the game he became more of a scorer by mixing in his mid-range jumper with his work from the foul line and down, using post ups and drives to try and attack the Rockets D. Kobe ended the night with 32 points, 11 assists, and 6 rebounds and shot over 50% for the 7th time in his last 8 games.

Meanwhile Gasol also played a very good game overall. The big Spaniard bounced back from his poor showing against the C’s by pouring in 26 points while grabbing 16 rebounds (6 offensive) and consistently tried to go inside against the under-sized yet physical Chuck Hayes. Pau battled for post position and played through contact pretty effectively to ultimately have his way with the Rockets. It wasn’t his most efficient night (though he shot 50% from the floor) and it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing performance but I was happy with the way he fought in the post and attacked the glass.

But the player that seemingly made the most impact was Lamar Odom. Back in the starting lineup with Bynum out, it took a bit of time for LO to find his offensive rhythm. But when he finally did, it was a sight to see as he rained in jumpers from the mid-range out the three point line and attacked the basket in the open court when given the opportunity. Lamar made 4 of his 5 of his FG’s in the final frame (including a beautiful coast to coast finish) with his only miss coming of the final shot of regulation where the Lakers designed play to get Kobe a shot broke down and LO was forced to fire as the buzzer sounded. But while Odom ended the night with 20 points on 18 shots, his real work came on the glass as he grabbed 20 of the Lakers 54 total rebounds on the night including 8 big offensive boards to get his team extra possessions.

In the end, this was a win the Lakers needed but it bares repeating that they didn’t play that great of a game overall. By allowing Houston to grab as many offensive rebounds that they did and by committing some foolish fouls on Kevin Martin (and not marking him behind the three point line well enough) this game was a nail biter throughout. And when you combine that with the fact that the Lakers bench only scored 16 points total (9 from Blake and 7 from Shannon) while surrendering 33 to the Rockets’ reserves (including 16 alone for Aaron Brooks) this game easily could have gone the other way. Houston had an offensive efficiency of 109.3 on the night, so there were also plenty of defensive miscues on the night – including on the Rockets last offensive possession of the game where they ran a P&R into a hand off sequence at the top of the key that ultimately freed Luis Scola for the game tying basket to force the overtime. But, a win is a win and I’ll happily take it. Hopefully the Lakers can use this game as a springboard into Thursday’s match up with the Spurs (who happened to lost to the Blazers tonight) and gain another game on them in the race for the West’s top seed. But that’s on Thursday. Today, enjoy this win. It was hard fought and could have been better, but the record book showing the W is all that matters.

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers/Rockets: Not The Prettiest Game, But A Win Nonetheless

  1. Frustrating game by Lakers, but at least it was a W, even if they didn’t wanna play D with 5 minutes remaining(layup lines.)

    I don’t want to get into trade speculation, but from the last post here are my two cents:

    Lakers don’t have any trade assets, because, well, we still manage to play “turrible” players like Luke Walton every year. That contract at that time was embarrassing, I don’t think he would even be in the league by now if we hadn’t signed him. He literally has no discernible skill.

    And a Bynum trade would net us 70 cents on the dollar every time, because no matter who we got, Gasol would be dead legged by the time the playoffs came, unless we traded for a big, which then wouldn’t yield nearly as good of a rejuvenating wing people are looking for.

    Our best bet is to go waiver wire searching and look for an underrated gem post deadline because of buyouts. But I wouldn’t expect much, unless we can somehow fleece Memphis (or Minnesota) in the same way we got Pau. It is 3 years to the day of that trade.


  2. #1. Thanks for bringing up trade stuff because that talk will need to live in the last thread. If any trade speculation shows up in this thread, it will get moderated. Thanks for everyone’s cooperation on that.


  3. A frustrating game to watch, as so many have been this year. I was glad to see Pau getting angry, even if it was mostly at the refs. After years of calling Lamar “inconsistent” and “the X-factor,” it’s tough to believe the Lakers aren’t chasing a historic record now that he has become such reliable contributor.

    The dearth of reasonable trade scenarios in the last thread attests to the fact that this team is extremely well-constructed. The only trades that are feasible would be a wash at best. Even if you can dream up something brilliant, GM’s are not going to do anything that makes a 2-time champion significantly better. L.A. already played its salary dump with Sasha. This team will not improve until the off-season, when Mitch can sign free agents. For now, we will have to content ourselves with the best and deepest lineup in the NBA…at least, on paper.


  4. Notes on the game:

    1. Seemed like a game to give Joe Smith 5 MP.
    2. Opponent assists/NBA rank:

    Boston 874/1
    Houston 1023/18

    Always need to remember there are two teams on the floor.
    3. 2nd straight game Phil has used Blake and Fisher together. Blake seems to do a little more running with the starters. 29 MP, 9 pts.


  5. @ 3

    I think Boston is deeper and, as of today, better. Don’t like it any more than anyone else around here, but it is what it is.


  6. You know how people say we’re laying it on Pau, but honestly EVERY darn game we lay it on Kobe.

    Pau at least gets some benefit of the doubt, but Kobe doesn’t… and games like this show exactly why he shouldn’t.

    The man is totally capable of playing a perfectly balanced game but he just won’t. He could keep the defenses guessing if he would just accept the fact that it is okay to lose every now and then by over-trusting his teammate.

    I think it’s his only fault that leaves him short of the greatest in the NBA. If he gets that down, I really think Kareem-like longevity and productivity isn’t out of the question.


  7. Although Kobe did put up a few shots that could be deemed questionable in this game, most if not all of them were within the context of the game and primarily to push the lead.

    Note that Kobe came out as a distributor first, dishing 7 assists before scoring and making sure to get his big men in rhythm. The result? 46 points and 36 rebounds. The team’s sloppy execution and lack of communication on defense is what kept it closer than it should have been, along with the bench continuing to be subpar especially compared to the beginning of the season.

    Any trade, no matter how viable or attractive it may seem, would only disrupt the team chemistry that for years has proven to work itself into peak form come playoff time. A stat tonight showed that compared to last year at this time, the Lakers are only 3 losses worse this year.

    The issues on defense can and should be corrected, and also notable is Artest’s (relatively) better game tonight. With Bynum coming back soon, all the Lakers need to do is get back to basics, execute, and get through the road trip and the remaining weeks before Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff return and provide a bit more depth, if only mostly in the form of hustle plays and buying time for bigs. Given this team’s talent and potential, I think it is entirely possible for the Lakers to finish their road trip .500 or better.


  8. Robinred, I couldn’t agree more from 1-15 they are loaded. The scariest thing about them is that they are missing two players that will be huge rotation guys in the playoffs in Delonte West and Jermaine O’Neal. I think the Spurs are talented but nowhere near as deep or talented as the Celtics are.

    Harold, really Kobe shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt? Didn’t Kobe have 11 assists last night? How many did you want him to have 22? Nobody on this team has a more difficult job than Kobe does, he isn’t perfect but the guy gets the job done and efficiently at that. So let me get this straight Kobe hasn’t been okay with trusting it on his teammates and losing games? How many times in close games this season has Kobe had the ability to take the last second shot and passed it off to someone like Ron Artest? Several times in fact, quite frankly comments like that show how spoiled we are by his great play, you expect the guy to be perfect every game and he can’t no player ever will be. Take a step back and look into the context of what we as fans expect of him and you’ll see you are unrealistic. The only reason people were laying it on Pau is because he hasn’t been performing to his usual standard which is a fair assessment. Kobe has performed on par with previous seasons when you get down to statistics, he just hasn’t had someone to consistently back him up.

    Fun stat for all your people out there that say Kobe has been shooting too much this season. FACT. So far this season Kobe has averaged his FEWEST attempts since the 2003-2004 Season. Look it up


  9. @3 – Exactly! With the current underperforming team I was looking forward to some juicy trade-dream-scenarios… but nobody seems capable of dreaming something like that up! Every piece is either too insignificant, or fits to good to change it with just about anything realistic.


  10. From Daniel’s comment in the previous thread:
    “i am puzzled as to why the lakers dont run kobe off the ball more often”

    I agree totally – with his ability to create shots and pass, Kobe is far more dangerous, and puts much more pressure on the defense, when he and the ball are both moving around.


  11. Remember when we had Kobe and the 4 gremlins on the floor at the same time. Now we have talent, but in big games it seems we still have Kobe and a bunch of gremlins. Last night we had Lamar to back him up.

    Against the really good teams (i.e. San Antonio) it will take more than two good performances by our players.

    I do celebrate the win, but this team doesn’t really scare anyone anymore and these are the ones we are going to the dance with so stop pontificating about trades.


  12. A win is a win in my book. But Thursday’s game looms large in the minds of Lakers fans as this is truly a mid-term examination for this team. If they discount this game and lose, that would be a 1-6 record against contenders, which does not bode well for our chances in June.

    Bear in mind that we went up against a similarly smallish lineup (although Hayes is a nasty post-defender), so of course our bigs would put up monster numbers. But what’s disconcerting is Scola’s rebounding/scoring numbers. Don’t know how he does it, but he finds a way to destroy us in the post.

    I cannot envision our bigs being moved. At best, all I can see is a smaller market team with money woes that are out of the playoffs looking to shed salary via the TPE. That’s about it. Other than that, what we have is what we’ll probably have for the playoffs.


  13. Lakers8884, Kobe *can* play near perfect every time, that’s the problem.

    And by near perfect I don’t mean that he should be getting assists, or that he should be more efficient stat-wise.

    I’m saying that he can and should mix things up instead of this ‘facilitate-first-then-get-mine’ BS that is utterly predictable and have us looking for the other Lakers in the 4th quarter when they have all checked out knowing it’s Kobe’s time to get his.

    Kobe always says that he takes what the defense gives him, and although that’s the right thing to say sometimes, it also just means that he’s perfectly happy to play into the other team’s gameplan if they want Kobe to shoot.

    I understand fully that this isn’t solely Kobe’s fault, but if anyone on the team has the authority to change things for the better, it’s Kobe so it’s not that it isn’t his fault either.


  14. Odom was pissed at the end of the game. It looked to me like he was mad at Pau for the defensive breakdown at the end of regulation and Kobe for his shot on the Lakers’ second-to-last possession when he had three defenders on him while Odom flapped his arms wildly only 6 feet away with no on in his zip code at the 3-point line.


  15. I just want to point out that Kobe had two beautiful curls into the lane late in OT that sealed the game. One led to a quick push shot by Kobe that went in, the other got Gasol an easy basket. Loved that play and hope we use it more in the future.


  16. >the best and deepest lineup in the NBA

    I must say that this (still extant) notion is somewhat mitigated by the seeming lack of tradable assets!

    which leads me to agree more with the latter than the former.


  17. #16. I think the Lakers have plenty of tradeable assets. I think many teams would very much like to have any of the Lakers top 8 players.


  18. @ Harold

    I have been involved in some on-line nastiness about Kobe the last couple of days, created by the Abbott and Mahoney hatchet jobs.

    There is an element of tuth in what you are saying; Gregg Downer and Tex Winter have said as much.

    OTOH, I think sometimes there is so much focus on Kobe that people on all parts of the Kobe spectrum forget that:

    1. There are two teams on the floor.
    2. There are four other Lakers on the floor.

    Certainly Mahoney and Abbott, seeking attention (Abbott admitted as much WRT attention) and grinding axes, forgot this.

    Like I said in post #4, Boston is #1 in the NBA in preventing opponents’ assists. One of the things they do on D is try to make you go one-on-one. Houston, OTOH, with their uundersized front line, is #18 in this category.

    Also, Andrew, who AST% is only 5.7 (less than a third of Lamar’s) didn’t play last night. This created more ball movement overall, and helped lead to Kobe’s assists.

    Finally, I watched Mahoney’s “A-HA” video clip at the NYT website–“six straight possessions, six straight isolations”–and it is, as one would expect, a mixed bag. Yes, Kobe sometimes jacks up shots he probably shouldn’t have. But if you watch that clip, the Laker bigs are not establishing position or even really trying to. Guys are not cutting or screening sharply or moving into position at the arc to catch and shoot. Boston is shading the paint and stifling the passing lanes.

    So, yes, part of it is Kobe, but he is one of only ten guys on the floor, one of five Lakers, and playing for one of the two coaching staffs who have a game plan.


  19. the rockets have a very thin bench. When the lakers could not put the game way with guys like patterson and hill on the floor, you knew there were problems. it was a nice move by adelman to go small in the 4 q. I was surprised we didn’t see that earlier. Pau had a good game, but he’s going to need to do more. This looks like the theme for the year. I saw a few quotes today about Kobe encouraging Pau to be less passive. If he can’t pick it up, I would not be surprised to see him in a different uniform next year – barring any CBA issues or he’s hiding an injury.


  20. Based on the way Odom is playing, he’s one of the most valuable players in the NBA. In fact once Bynum gets right Odom should still be playing 40 minutes a game even if it means him playing some 3, or even the 1.


  21. @#14 Matt R. heck i was mad at Kobe in that possession. He had been playing such a well balanced great game to that point, I think that’s what made me more mad and frustrated. Games when he’s hot and just taking most shots, I’d expect him to take that shot. Even if it wasn’t the best decision.

    But that situation, Odom was wide open screaming at him and Kobe still double pumped with three guys on him.

    To me, that is one of those situations where you hope the other players go up to Kobe afterwards in the locker room and tell him about it. Fish, Odom or Pau all should have enough clout to be able to walk up to Kobe and discuss it.


  22. @robinred the most frustrating part of this is, of course, that Kobe can impose his will regardless of the teams and teammates on the floor.

    This includes berating, belittling and harassing his teammates to get open, and demanding PJ to draw up a play where Kobe is either a decoy or plays in such a way that he can move without the ball.

    Now this is all easier said than done and I do like the fact that we have Kobe to take the shot if the play breaks down, but I’m seeing very little effort in trying to change this iso-heavy late-game play of the Lakers, and guess what, Kobe is in the best position to change this.

    His knowledge of the game and understanding is deep enough to see the need for such plays even if his competitiveness and desire to prove that he can hit his shot are as beyond comparison.


  23. henry loses credibility every day February 2, 2011 at 9:39 am

    in the end, what is abbot’s point? Kobe is a 5x champ and an all-time great, every player has their quirks and flaws, I really think Henry used to be credible…now, not so much


  24. I am very concerned with our transition D. I know the game slows down in the playoffs but one of the things that turns a playoff game is scoring and preventing easy buckets. We don’t get a lotta of easy ones, and we give up too many. This must change. Pau must get back better, he is a habitual offender


  25. kwame a. (#24) raises a good point. In seasons’ past, the Lakers have been one of the better transition teams in the league and this year they’re not up to their past standard.

    I think some of that is related to the arguing and questioning of the refs that happens on a lot of plays, but the main reason I see the transition D slipping is because of a lack of floor balance and suspect shot selection. I’m hopeful that some of that will be diminished in the playoffs due to – as kwame mentioned – the pace slowing down, but also becuase team specific game plans take hold in the post-season where the Lakers usually find a way to attack certain weaknesses in a defense which leads to quality looks, better floor balance, and thus less transition chances for the opponent. That said, OKC showed us early in last year’s series with them that even the best laid plans will need some tweaking before they can work best.


  26. Sure hope this isn’t true. Ron’s #37 is the only Laker jersey I own.


  27. If only the Hornets would allow us to get Ariza back for Artest…


  28. @27 me too. Though Stein doesn’t typically try to just report out and about rumors, most of his stuff is pretty solid. Ron has been more part of the offense recently, the got guy 10 shots against the Celtics, he just hasn’t been efficient down there. I am not sure what situation would be better for him.


  29. Reign on Parades February 2, 2011 at 10:41 am

    27. I’d rather have the guy the Hornets traded to get Ariza: Darren Collison


  30. I still miss Trevor. Still there is no way I would take him back in exchange for Ron at this point. With possible playoff showdowns against the Spurs (Richard Jefferson) and Celtics (Paul Pierce) we better just grit our teeth and deal with Ron’s antics. The only other defensive player with the size and skill to bother those guys is Shane Battier. And I don’t think Houston wants to give him up. The Lakers will need Ron if they want to win this year.


  31. I think it is almost certainly true, but I also don’t think he will be moved.

    This is one of those things where I think Kobe, Phil and Fisher need to talk to him, let him know he is a big part of the team, etc. We will see.

    Of course, his salary is identical to New Orleans’ 3, who I hear is a young guy with a questionable stroke but a good transition player. 😉


  32. I was a big supporter of the initial Ariza acquisition and mourned his departure. That said, c’mon people, have any of you watched Ariza since he left? I don’t understand all this demand for him to be swapped with Ron.

    Ron is playing better D and shooting better than Ariza. A healthy Matt Barnes gives the team the skill set that Ariza provides. The Barnes/Artest combo can cover just about an SF in the league and gives the team a ton of flexibility.

    Even a slowed down off his game Ron is a better defender than Ariza is currently.


  33. >I think many teams would very much like to have any of the Lakers top 8 players.

    let’s list them:
    1. KB (well, there’s no way, right?)
    2. Pau
    3. LO
    4. Andrew (it’s been mentioned, you can’t get full value for him now)
    5. Ron (he might be in L’s top 8, but who else would want him?)
    6. Shannon
    7. Barnes (injured)
    8. Fish/Blake (is there any market for the league’s worst PG(s)?)
    9. the rookies?

    so, perhaps there are many teams who would very much like to have four(4) of the Laker’s top 8 players.


  34. Artest needs to play with a chip on his shoulder to be effective. The docile Ron 2.0 does not work, I have said it before, LA needs the junk yard dog back and off his meds. The never know what he might do type that wanted to choke Shawne Williams, of the Knicks, in a stand off at Staples. Thats just how the dude is wired and has played his entire career until he came to LA. His unhappiness stems from him having to act a certain way that is not who he truly is. A free spirit that lives in the moment type that you just have to let them deal with things on their own terms. I thought Phil would be perfect for this assignment having dealt with Rodman during his time in Chicago.

    The saying you cant turn a tiger into a rabbit, or vice versa, is a metaphor that describes ole Ron 100%. Its time the leash is taken off and then we can finally see what the real Ron can do.


  35. Darius….Kobe had seven assists in the first quarter. Do you remember I said he should average atleast 7 a game….He can do it. He just doesn’t want to and coincidentally it was our best quarter 8 pt lead. Anyway, what i wanted to ask you was this who do you think would be the best realistic player this team could use. I say Tyson Chandler. I think he would be the perfect center for this team. He doesn’t need touches in the post he is agressive on the boards and he protects the rim as well as any center in the league he is athletic. Also last year people were calling me crazy when I was calling for Bynum for Noah trades. what do you think?


  36. “Me going one-on-three, one-on-four at the end of games … I don’t care how good you are, it’s tough to do,” Bryant said. “So [let Odom] be the playmaker, let me come off the ball. Now I catch it, the defense is not set, now I can make plays I can take a shot or make the defense collapse. I think that’s much better.”

    __This is from Abbott’s new Laker post at TrueHoop.


  37. Ron’s just reacting to the statements by Mitch and Magic. All low self esteem people try to break up with you first, so it doesn’t hurt as much.

    Once the deadline passes without a trade (or the brass emerge and say trades are off the table – more likely), Ron will feel loved again and the Lakers will become a “family” again and then we’ll see Ron play better.

    But I’m still not sure it will be enough this year. They are definitely losing steam each season and that eventually catches up, so we’ll see. I sure would love to see Phil go out with so much symmetry, not to mention tying Boston in titles in his final year would be so sweet.


  38. You hit it on the head Dirty. Let the dog out!!! Let Ron be Ron. Let Pau sip some crazy juice and all else be damned.


  39. People comparing Ariza now to when he was in LA is ridiculous. The guy is asked to be the number 2 or 3 scoring option on that team, what was he here? A solid role player at best but let’s be honest that is all we needed the guy for. He finishes around the rim (Ron doesn’t), his 3 point percentage may be low but how many wide open shots do you think he gets in NOLA compared to being on the Lakers team? Ariza WAS a more consistent shooter than Ron has been when he was on the team. Defensively we lose Ron’s girth, but we add quickness, athleticism and length. PLUS the guy is younger and his contract isn’t as harsh long term. I thank Ron for his contribution last year but if the guy wants to be moved oblige him, we all know the guy can be a cancer when he wants to be and it’s pretty evident he has mentally checked out this season.


  40. 37, those are my thoughts exactly.


  41. #37: Artest is actually shooting the 3 a lot better than Ariza was with the Lakers (~35% last year, ~40% this year), with the exception of the 2009 playoffs (which is likely to be an anomaly).


  42. 39. So is Ariza dunking the ball and finishing around the rim an anomaly? You can take a better 5% 3 Point percentage, I’ll take a better overall offensive game and some who plays within the system and doesn’t complain about their role or secretly want to be traded. How about Ariza’s .46% field goal percentage overall in LA versus Ron’s .409% since he’s been to LA? If anything your Artest 3 point state is an anomaly.


  43. @#37, No Ariza isn’t asked to be a #2 or #3 scorer in NO. He’s asked to be a role player just like he would be in LA.

    He doesn’t get open looks? Wow, I’m sure that’s a big surprise to Chris Paul. You know the guy who’s in the conversation as best PG in the game who racks up a ton of assists and open looks for his teammates?

    Barnes gives the team the length and athleticism along with finishing at the rim. Ariza would get killed by Melo and Pierce. He’s not strong enough.


  44. BTW 39, I don’t know where you got around 40% this year, it’s actually .377% seems like you are skewing the stats to support your argument. His career average with the Lakers in 3 pointers is 36.6%


  45. #24/#25 As far as Transition D goes, we have to remember that the Lakers currently have the highest scoring offense in the league. This means that there will be more possessions per game, hence creating more opportunities for the defense to break down. If our offense were to slow down and we created quality looks for ourselves every possession, leading to a lower score total at the end of the game yet higher Points per possession, this would generate fewer chances for our defense to mess up (yes, I know this is a run on sentence but I just woke up so too bad). So the key points are slowing down the game leading to fewer defensive situations leading to better defense, due to fewer opportunities to mess it up. 😀


  46. 40)
    A better offensive game? Ariza can’t dribble or pass. Ron has the better offensive game in every way. We already have a better version of Ariza in Matt Barnes. The truth is… unlike what Darius said… The Lakers only have one tradable player in Andrew Bynum. What teams want are expiring contracts… Not high priced 30 year old talent.


  47. Oh, as for trade talks, I think it’s just fluff. Unless we were somehow able to do some rediculous trade that would be akin to Grand Theft Player and somehow Shanghaied Dwight Howard and/or Chris Paul using players off our bench plus some money and some draft picks, I can’t really see a trade at this point. Again, the Lakers ARE NOT PLAYING TO THEIR FULL POTENTIAL. This is an important fact that we must look at. At the beginning of the season, I liked this Lakers team more than most other championship Lakers teams simply because of our returning core plus our (what seemed at the time) MUCH improved and deeper bench. The best thing to do right now is to hang on for the ride until the playoffs. Gut wrenching like a rollercoaster? Yes. Worth an ulcer in the end to watch the Lakers hoist #17 and tie the trolls in Boston? TOTALLY!


  48. 45, I don’t think your logic is correct. Yes, the Lakers have one of the most efficient offenses in the league; their offensive rating is 2nd at 109.4. However, the Lakers pace is 94.5, which is 16th. Just because a team has a highly rated offense, doesn’t mean there are more possessions per game. Pace, though flawed, is a much better metric for measuring the number of possessions per game. In other words, our offense is relatively slow, and we’re one of the most efficient teams at scoring the ball.

    Even the Lakers defensive rating is 102.2, good for 8th in the league. However, that mark is a whopping 1.4 points below the 7th ranked team (San Antonio), and way behind the East elites (Chicago 96.3, Boston 97.7, Miami, 99.5, Orlando 100).

    So why the perception that the Lakers are so hapless on defense? Well, I would say it is a psychological issue more than an actual statistical issue. The team generally plays fairly good defense for the majority of each game, but it always seems that in the times that matter (like when they’re trying to close out a game) the Lakers’ normally solid defense tends to falter. Since these times are much more salient to fans, they tend to remember these instances and invoke them in any sort of argument about the Lakers defense or lackthereof.

    Keep in mind we’ve lacked Bynum for about half the season, Artest has been dealing with various foot and knee ailments, Kobe takes it pretty easy during the regular season on D (and sometimes in the playoffs), and Barnes is hurt.

    In my opinion, it’s not as though the Lakers are a bad defensive team, as though that were a property of their players. Instead I think they’re simply failing to execute their plans, mostly due to the lack of practice that goes on during the regular season, and the fact that sometimes, shit happens and you can’t do much to stop a really good offensive team.

    In the long run, I believe these Lakers have fixable issues with ample time to do the fixing. Disagree if you want with Phil’s “is it the playoffs yet?” attitude, but that’s the way this team is going to be; We’re just going to have to live with it as fans.


  49. Whoops, was that offensive rating? Haha, apologies, like I said, I just woke up and it was a thought that kinda just clicked while I was reading the posts so I decided to write it. XD

    Also, where do you guys think Kobe will finish in the all time scoring list?


  50. so what does everyone make of the ron artest news, though he has been saying since he got here all here cares about is defense, its clear that his limited role on offense is bothering him


  51. 46, Have you seen Ron recently? He pretty much can’t dribble or pass this season. At least Ariza didn’t jack up terrible shots every now and then; Ron takes at least 1 truly horrible off the dribble three per game.

    And you obviously don’t have a grip on the trade scene, because expiring contracts have zero value in the current NBA market. Huge lunkers like Eddy Curry, Kenyon Martin, and Michael Redd have had almost no trade attention because teams are simply not hurting for money like they were the past two years. While it’s true that nobody wants a high-priced 30 year old, it’s also true that expiring contracts have lost almost all the value they had before the Lebronanza.

    The only things valuable in today’s trade economy are picks and young talent. So our trade assets are pretty much limited to:

    2nd round picks


  52. Chownoir are you serious? Coming into NOLA Ariza was touted as Chris Paul’s running mate, that is a fact. He was brought there to make Chris happy and show they were trying to put talent around him. NOBODY on that team other than Paul is a scoring threat. Yes Ariza would for a fact get more open looks it is common logic, when you have 3 offensive threats (Kobe, Pau, Drew) versus 1 (Paul) you will get more open looks.

    and Aaron, yes Ariza has a better offensive game especially for this Lakers team. Maybe in Ron’s heyday he was more talented but if you think Ron’s offensive game is better than you don’t watch Lakers games. The guy is severely lacking and he is only declining. Your comment holds no logic either because Artest is only getting older and he has no lift. BTW when did Artest get such great ball handling skills? I am pretty sure this is the same guy who dribbles it off his leg in the open court almost every play. At least Ariza can create his own shot and finish plays especially around the rim.

    Couldn’t agree more Zephid. I think Aaron is watching highlights of Ron from 5+ years ago


  53. A new post is up. I’m sure you’ll just want to move the current discussion right over there, too.


  54. 52)
    Ariza has never been able to create his own shot. Never. In games where Artest (few a far between) was more of a focal point on offense and had the ball to create plays not only for himself but for teammates he has done so very well. It was just a couple weeks ago where he was doing anything he wanted against Carmelo on offense. Ron isn’t great in the open court… But in the half court he is a much better ball handler than Ariza and a significantly better passer. So who is better in the triangle offense? Well… I’ll take the better passer and shooter… And today… That is still Ron Artest and it’s nit even close.

    Haha… And we haven’t even brought up defense… I mean it’s only half the game… But who’s counting. Anyone who thinks Ariza is better than Artst hasn’t been watching basketball…. Ever. Aside from a 2 mont playoff run Ariza had three years ago


  55. Aaron, Never? Really? That’s a pretty bold word because I saw the guy do it for LA as well in Houston. If you want Artest to be a focal point on offense I’m sorry you are crazy, the guy must first be efficient and actually convert reasonably for him to be a focal point. Oh you mean a Carmelo Anthony that hasn’t given more than 50% effort this entire season? Yeah that really impresses me. . . Not. I’m sorry you are so wrong about Artest being a better passer and ball handler, Artest has averaged more turnovers in LA than Ariza did AND Ariza never tried to play out of the offense like Artest continually does. I’m sorry you continually put up arguments that hold no logic. BTW if you would rather have an old declining Artest on defense than someone who is young and WILL improve in Ariza then it clearly shows you are biased towards Artest because any GM would take Ariza over Artest right now, he simply has more upside.

    Oh and we haven’t even brought up Artest’s crazy side, I mean it’s only half of who he is as a player, but really who is keeping track of all the issues he has caused for teams. I’m pretty sure I saw Ariza beast Artest in their head to head matchups when he was in Houston. You clearly don’t watch Artest, you just watch memories in your head of what he used to be. I understand if you like the guy but you are wrong in every aspect.


  56. What is it with the Rockets, they ALWAYS give us a hard time, and it is never an easy win for the Lakers. It does not matter who is injured or starting on their team, they just seem to have our number, as far as taking us to the limit in the games we play with them. Without Bynum, I thought the Lakers did a good job last night on defense, kind of. They had their lapses in defensive plays though, but anyway. I cannot believe that now his left knee is injured again, what demons have possessed the guys knees.


  57. Lots of venom for Ron in the comments, I see. Not sure why a comparison to Trevor is even worth our time at this point. We have Ron and Trevor is somewhere else. Spilled milk, no?


  58. Darius, I hold no venom for Ron, I was merely stating that long term this team would have been better off with Ariza. Looking at Ron’s contract and declining abilities, and Ariza’s youth and potential I don’t see how anyone can say otherwise.


  59. #58. I understand that point. But, my bigger issue is what does it matter now? The Lakers tried to keep Trevor and it didn’t work out. His agent messed it up (if you believe the reports at the time) and the Lakers had to move on to other options, thus signing Ron.

    It’s not like the Lakers had a choice between the two and completely went away from Trevor. So, at this point, with no way to hop in the Delorean and change the past, what’s it matter who’s better down the road?


  60. I was merely playing devil’s advocate to defend Ariza in people saying he is a horrible player. Because just like in LA in the right system he has the means to be a significant player on an elite team. It had nothing to do with Artest or what did or didn’t happen. Aaron and others brought up Artest being this or that and by doing that I merely had to compare the two to prove my point. As you can see in the next thread Aaron was the one who brought up the Ariza comment again, I was content with letting the debate die here.


  61. #60. I was never on the bandwagon that Ariza was a bad player. I, like many others, thought he was a good fit for this team as a long term role player at SF. I don’t think the Lakers win the title in ’09 without him and I think it’s irresponsible to make claims that he couldn’t improve as a player had he stayed. To me this argument, like nearly all others, has shades of gray that some would rather not acknowledge. For me, though, there’s always the inbetween parts to a discussion that need to be looked at and included in a discussion. But, as I mentioned, he’s gone now. And despite folks desire for that not to be the case or any issues they have with Ron, that’s not going to change now.


  62. Totally agree Darius