Preview and Chat: The Houston Rockets

Darius Soriano —  February 1, 2011

Records: Lakers 33-15 (2nd in West), Rockets 22-27 (11th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.5 (2nd in NBA), Rockets (110.1 (5th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.1 (10th in NBA), Rockets 109.9 (24th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Rockets: Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Shane Battier, Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes
Injuries: Lakers: Matt Barnes and Andrew Bynum (both out); Rockets:Yao Ming (out), Jared Jeffries & Courtney Lee & Brad Miller (all questionable)

The Lakers Coming in: Two straight losses (especially when one is to the Celtics) has a lot of fans panicking and has GM Mitch Kupchak talking about exploring trade options. My brief take on this is that a trade is doubtful for several reasons:

  • The Lakers have few trade-able assets that aren’t core players that the team doesn’t want to get rid of. I’m sure the Lakers are more than willing to explore trades of guys like Walton, Ebanks, and Caracter. And while Artest and Blake are guys that aren’t performing up to expectations right now, their contracts are problematic AND they’re guys that do have defined roles on the team. Brown and Barnes have low salaries and thus can’t fetch much back unless it’s an equally low paid player that the Lakers trust to play well. That leaves Bynum, Odom, Gasol, Fisher, and Kobe. Raise your hand if you think the Lakers would seriously consider trading any of those guys. (Note: my hand is still down.)
  • Money is still an issue for this team. Besides the Pau Gasol trade, the every Laker trade has been made to cut costs. Radman and Sasha were salary dumps. It’s very unlikely at this point that the team is willing to add to an already league high payroll.
  • Mitch Kupchak typically keeps things quiet. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall any leaks about the trades that brought in Gasol, Ariza, Shannon/Ammo, or Joe Smith. Mitch normally doesn’t let information out easily. The fact that he openly discussed the possibility of a trade actually leads me to believe a trade is less likely, not more.

That last point is the key one to me, though. Kupchak’scomments that a shake up may be in order centered entirely around the performance of the current group. His comments included several references to the team having enough talent and that it’s currently under-performing. That sounds like a man that’s telling his team to get in gear, not one that’s planning a big move. I could be wrong, obviously. But the public nature of this discussion andthe fact that the core players (i.e. players with trade value) are guys the team wants to keep has me thinking no deal is eminent. We’ll see though.

The other major news of the day is that Andrew Bynum has been ruled out of tonight’s game. An MRI exam showed a bone bruise on his left knee andif you noticed him limping or sporting some tape aroundthat leg during the Boston game, that’s why. (As an aside, the right knee is the one with the brace and the one that he had off-season surgery on.) After yesterday’s practice, Phil relayed the fact that Drew hoped to play tonight, but alas he’s been ruled out. I know that the words “Bynum” “hurt” and “knee” often cause panic, but based off reports this isn’t serious. Hopefully he’ll be back by Thursday to face the Spurs. We’ll get you updates as we get them. 

The Rockets Coming in: Honestly, this team has been flying under the radar for me of late. When you look at their schedule, they’re 2-4 in their last 6, but in that stretch they faced Orlando, Dallas, and San Antonio. All of those teams are better than Houston so losses aren’t that big a concern. They’re currently 4 games out of the 8th spot in the playoffs and unless they make a big push after the all-star break, this team may find itself out of the post-season.

One difference of late, though, is that the Rockets have been starting Kyle Lowryat PG rather than Aaron Brooks. For a while that was injury related as Brooks missed many games with a badly sprained ankle. However, upon his return, he’s been relegated to reserve status as the team has preferred Kyle Lowry’s defense and ability to attack off the dribble to Brooks’ long range bombing and lack of D. With the Rocketson the bottom quarter of the league in defensive efficiency, I can understand why.

Rockets Blogs: A few quality spots to get Rockets news and analysis. Red94 is one such site. As is The Dream Shake.

Keys to game: With Bynum out, the Lakers are going back to their LO/Gasol frontline and that means a bit of a different approach on offense. We’re likely a shift from Kobe to Lamar as intitiator in the Lakers’ two guard front of the Triangle. Kobe will probably play much more on the wing andat the weak side elbow with Lamar making the initial pass into the corner or the hub of the Triangle to get the Lakers’ actions going.

This means that the Lakers’ attack will change some as rather than Kobe doing a lot of his work off the dribble, he’ll be off the ball more. Hopefully this creates better ball and player movement for the team and allows others to “activate” themselves in the Lakers’ sets. This also means that Pau will move off the wing and elbow and more into the low post for longer stretches this game. Going up against Chuck Hayes is never a picnic for Pau as Hayes’ low center of gravity and quick feet allows him to push Gasol out further than he’d like on his catches and makes backing down to earn position harder. However, if the Lakers can get Pau to make his catch on the move and coming to the ball, I think tonight can be a night where Pau gets good shots inside using his jump hook (a shot that has been too absent from his arsenal in the past several weeks).

Defensively, the Lakers must be disciplined and understand that they’re in store for a lot of cuts, screens, and misdirection tonight. Rick Adelman’s preference for the Princeton offense means a lot of high post entries to big men with wings like Martin, Battier, and Budinger screening and cutting off those picks to either fade to the corner for open shots or cut hard back door for layups. Every Laker must be aware of what’s going on and communication on D will be crucial to the team’s success in defending these actions.

From an individual standpoint, the Rockets O tries to feature the efficient Kevin Martin on the wing and the crafty Luis Scola on the block. Controlling Martin is always tricky because he moves well off the ball to free himself up for his jumper but also uses the threat of that J to drive the ball hard into contact andearn trips to the foul line. As evidence of this he’s on track to becoming a player that can lead the league in both 3’s and FT’s made which is quite the feat.  So the Lakers must effectively trail him off screens to deny his jumper (you know, the opposite of how they treated Ray Allen) and with the big man supporting that action by stepping up early to deny penetration while giving the wing defender a chance to recover. As for Scola, he’s a very good post scorer but please don’t let him go to his right hand. Every fake, pivot, spin, and step through is designed for him to get back to his right hand for a jump hook or scoop shot. Force him to turn over his right shoulder, sit on his right hand, and you’ve completed 75% of the job.

This isn’t panic time but tonight is a game the Lakers need to win. Even though Phil was in a joking mood after yesterday’s practice, he mentioned that the Lakersneed to do a better job of protecting their home court while also beating the teams that aren’t currently in the playoff mix. Tonight’s opponent fits the bill on both counts. The Lakers surely don’t want to go into Thursday’s game vs. the Spurs on a 3 game skid. Let’s get this win.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start on Fox Sports West. Also listen live on ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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87 responses to Preview and Chat: The Houston Rockets

  1. Channel 9 in LA has cameras at the scene…Pau is holding himself hostage on a beach just south of Mugu Rock…wait, now he’s stating his demands…name it Farmar Field?…what?…no…how disappointing, Sàez.

  2. Agreed… When a GM says he is looking to make a move on a winning team… It’s him trying to motivate his players. When you look around the roster where is their a spot to make an improvent? Back up Center and starting PG. But there aren’t any Centers available and in order to get a starting guard we would be opening up more hole that would then need to be filled. Say what you want about Artest but he is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA (he was hurt vs the Celtics so I don’t wanna hear it). And we all saw Kobe cant guard SF’s last game and in the playoffs before Artest got here. Forget about how it hurts him on the offensive end when he has to gaurd a premier offensive players.

  3. This one is in fact for Warren.

  4. Since the post seems (tacitly) to invite trade speculation, can I throw an idea out there?

    What about Gasol for a first-rate disgruntled PG? I’m thinking DWill or CP3. Now I don’t think the Lakers would do this (especially as defending champs — could be different if we lose this year) — and I know so much is about our quest for size, but given how well AB and LO have been playing and how awful we are at PG (and say what you want about Fish and Blake, but does anyone see them getting *better* next year?), this is a possibility that I think is worth considering.

    I’m not sure I’d want to see it, and I doubt the Lakers would do it, but this does pass the reasonableness test imo.

    Feel free to delete the post without prejudice if you don’t like where this is heading…

  5. Darius, I really believe the other night against Boston it would have been the perfect time to experiment with Ebanks. Think about this, Rondo is not really much of an offensive threat against the Lakers, and quite frankly he is a liability for the Celtics just like he was last year. Plain and simple the guy cannot shoot and as long as you back off 5 feet from him he can’t get by you. Artest was ineffective against Pierce, he wasn’t quick enough or long enough to deter Paul at all. I know Ebanks is a rookie, but he is quick enough to stay in front of Paul and his length would discourage some of his shots. Pierce on the blocks would cause problems given he outweighs Ebanks greatly, however you could have whoever is guarding Rondo shade over or even double team Paul in the post if the problem arose. As long as the rest of the team rotated properly and Pau/Bynum/Lamar protected the rim Rondo would be forced to settle for jumpers. If you rewatch the game there was several double teams on Pierce anyways so just having extra length to contest his jumpers could have done wonders. Plus quite frankly let’s be honest Ebanks couldn’t possibly have played worse on offense than Artest did going 1-10.

    A trade just isn’t happening but I think Phil should wake up and start looking at alternative lineups. Missing Barnes really hurts because I think he should be a starter, and let Artest do what he wants against second string players. Blake needs to be a starter, I don’t know if he’s ready but Fisher is veteran enough just like Lamar to where he should accept a lesser role. Until Barnes returns I think the lineup should be Blake, Kobe, Shannon, Pau/Lamar, and Bynum. Lately these players have had the biggest impact on games. I know Shannon and Blake weren’t dynamite the other day but having them in the starting lineup would do wonders for their confidence as well as interject youth and athleticism into a slow starting lineup. The lineup minus Pau the other night against Sacramento looked athletic, powerful and tenacious at same time, it has the potential to do wonders for an underachieving team.

  6. I can’t believe that I find myself expecting the Lakers to lose tonight. I just have no confidence in this team and it’s pretty sad. Hard-working type teams like Houston pretty much have a field day with the Lackadaisical Lakers. Here’s to hoping that ALL Lakers decide to at least show up to Staples Center tonight.

  7. 2, to me, backup center isn’t an issue because Gasol can play 10-12 minutes a night at center; he just doesn’t hold up for a whole game. But as the Lakers are currently playing, I would add backup PG, backup SG, starting SF, and backup SF to your list of areas that need improvement (either through play or through trade). Blake has been ineffective, but I think he can play through it and be a contributor in the playoffs. Brown needs to get his swagger back and start attacking the basket like he did at the start of the season. Artest’s defense has been noticeably worse this season, and his offense has been just as putrid as last season. Barnes is hurt; he’ll probably bring some much needed energy when he returns.

    But like Darius said, the Lakers have pretty much no tradeable assets (unless you’re willing to trade Bynum or Gasol), so any trade will be a minor one at best. Probably the biggest trade possible could be Artest being shipped out, but I doubt that happens given how well he played in Game 7.

  8. Zephid,
    A back up PG? Anyone better than Blake would then be our starting PG. A back up SG? Brown has beed one of the better back up SG’s in the NBA. A back up SF? Barnes has been an above average back up Sf.

    You want to trade Artest? For who? Nobody we could bring in can play close to the defense he has brought to the team against SF’s. Say what you want about Barnes but his man to man defense isnt close to Artest’s. And I don’t want to hear about one game. He was limping against the Celtics. Look what Artest did to Pierce in the regualr season last year and in the Finals. He frankly outplayed him. And don’t forget what he did to Durant and Carmelo this season. Along with PG’s and SG’s on every other team. Artest plays a huge role. He hides the defensive inefficiencies of Derek Fisher and allows Kobe to play offense.

  9. Darius,
    If Kurt was here, HE would give a one-day moratorium on the trade-talk-ban!

  10. #9. Ha! I never said there wouldn’t/couldn’t be trade speculation. Go ahead and propose crazy deals. Look at the comment I just approved (#4) where we give up Gasol for Deron or CP3 (why not a 3 team deal to get both?!), you know because those teams are anxious to give up their best players for a guy that plays the same position as their next best player(s) (Millsap, Jefferson; West, Okafor).

    What I’ve grown to know about trade speculation is that in about 5 minutes we’ll have comments where we’re trading Luke and Blake for Farmar and Sasha. Better yet, we’ll be trading for Carmelo because that’s exactly what this team needs – a high usage wing that’s pretty inefficient. That’ll be perfect.

    I’m not opposed to improving the team. But armchair GMing is perfect because you never have to make deals work under the cap and they never have to make sense to the other side that you’re fleecing. Fire away. We’ve got 4 hours until gametime.

  11. Bynum for Rondo and Perkins!
    Solves the PG question, improves perimeter defense, gives a center who focuses on defense and rebounding. Of course the Celtics will do it – Bynum is all done with his knee injuries, and is being held back by the presence of Gasol.

  12. The thought of Kobe and ‘Melo on the same team is terrifying and hilarious, all at the same time.

  13. It’s hard to find fault with the results (championships, etc.) but it’s frustrating to see Phil giving Ebanks zero burn. There’s something great about seeing a rookie crash&burn or step up to the occasion. With Ron’s mysteriously bad play and Barnes still on the shelf, it would be the perfect time drop dude in the frying pan. I used to scream at Del Harris through the television for keeping KB on the bench. I’m not at the practices, so blah blah armchair blah.

  14. 11)
    Sorry…. I never comment on silly propossed trades… but Bynum for Rondo and Perkins? lol. So we trade for a Center that defends and rebounds worse than Bynum and has a knee injury twice as bad as anything Drew ever has had to go through? And then we bring in a PG who can’t shoot to sit on the perimeter as Kobe dominates in the triangle and fire away bricks? Now dont get me wrong… in a couple seasons when Kobe can’t dominate the ball Rondo will be in his prime and could dominate the ball for us and create for other Lakers… and maybe by then will have an okay jumper. But for the next couple year Rondo would be the only good NBA PG that wouldn’t be a good fit for us. At least come up with outlandish trades that favor the Lakers.

  15. I have a hard time believing that Phil and Mitch would be on the record about making a trade as a means to fire up a veteran team. That seems like a pretty juvenile move and it reeks of desperation. And while Phil is dating the owner’s daughter, he’s not exactly a company guy – so I can’t see him going along with a scare tactic. It seems like they’re open to being creative, but they have limited options unless they’re willing to part with a major player (that people want) and expect to get one that will pick up the triangle quickly.

    With the trade deadline around the corner, it’s probably a lot quicker to tell the press that he’s considering trades than making calls. I’m sure there are quite a few teams/agents that are working the phones, and dangling a juicy piece of news like that has got the Lakers as the headline on every sports page and web site in the country.

  16. 14) It actually would favor the Lakers, but it was done tongue-in-cheek. Rondo would be a significant upgrade overall at PG, and Perkins is a good center.

    Rondo can create his own shot – something the rest of the Lakers wing players can’t do. Excellent at the fast break. Great passer. Excellent defender and rebounder. I would gladly accept a decrease in 3 point shooting in exchange for those.

  17. flip,
    With the CBA ending soon, and the strong possibility of a lockout, there are probably some very good deals available. I seriously doubt that Kupchak is suddenly looking into this; he has almost certainly been considering this all along, putting out feelers, etc. He just took this opportunity to try and light a fire under the team. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, they are no worse off than they are now.

  18. Not being able to create their own shots – with the obvious exception of Kobe.

  19. So with Bynum out and Barnes out I imagine we’re going to see a lot of Luke tonight.

    I like Luke a lot. I just don’t like a lot of Luke.

  20. Bynum (& one of the rookies if PHX pleases) for Nash and Gortat (yes it works under the cap)

    PHX is not so secretly interested in shopping Nash and is clearly in rebuilding mode after their recent trade w/ Orlando. PHX gets a young center and gets cap relief (Gortat has several years left on his deal). Lakers GREATLY improve their PG situation and also replace Bynum w/ a more durable center who plays great defense and rebounds well.

  21. Ex,

    I would think that the lakers get trade offers like everyone else, except most of the time you can assume that the lakers are not serious about it. It’s in their interest to keep their options open, so you listen, smile, and say no thanks, maybe next time.

    Not any more. In the last week, you’ve had Magic, Jerry West, Phil and Mitch pretty much suggesting a trade. That’s very unusual, no?

  22. “I just don’t think that we’re playing as well as our talent level should allow us …. I’m not convinced it’s lack of talent. I think it’s there ….” – Mitch Kupchak

    “When you don’t get up for your 2 biggest games of the season and you have flat performances …” – Magic

    Now I don’t know what others will take from those comments, but what I will say is this: It’s funny how 11 Rings get’s an individual excluded from any Major criticism when the team is obviously Underachieving.

  23. Rondo probably will never develop a jumpshot, if you see how freakishly big his hands are then you’ll see it’s like Shaq shooting jumpers. He is an incredible athlete no doubt about it but playing in the proper system with 3 all star players has made him look far more impressive as a player than he really is. I have this debate with my blinded Kentucky fans (I’m also a fan). If the Celtics had a guard that could knock down jumpers they beat the Lakers last year, easily. His assists are severly skewed by the easiness of coming down the floor and hitting Pierce or Ray Ray off a flare screen for a jumper, or dumping it down to KG on the block. Take those guys away and Rondo is a marginal PG at best. If he was as good as everyone claims why didn’t he make the USA Fiba roster this summer over guys like Westbrook, Curry, and Rose. He will struggle once the big 3 move forward. He is plain and simple an exceptional athlete blessed with talent around him.

  24. Don’t discount this season being Phil’s “last stand.” I wonder what effect that has on any moves/non-moves this trade deadline. Phil may be asking the front office to keep the core for one “last stand,” and if/when Phil is gone, maybe the FO will blow up some of the core pieces.

  25. I’m not really interested in any deals that don’t include Smush, Robert Swift or Antoine Walker.

  26. Marcus camby might be available. I would love to have him on the lakers, not sure if blazers would want anything we have.

    would this even be possible? who would nix it first?

  28. flip,
    If the right opportunity comes up, I have no doubt that Kupchak would pull the trigger.

    I think that Bynum would really be the only major player that they would trade, though.

    I think they would be willing to go with just Gasol and Odom (assuming the trade brings in a decent backup); I don’t think they trust Bynum’s health enough yet to go with just Bynum and Odom, or Bynum and Gasol (and Odom’s contract is smaller than his value to the team, so he wouldn’t likely bring enough in a trade anyway.)

  29. dave m,
    What about Brian Grant’s contract?

  30. I never cease to be amazed by the people thinking we should trade for CP3 or Deron Williams or Nash. That would be fine if we intended to completely abandon the triangle. The last thing this team needs is a ball dominating PG – no matter how good. Exactly why do people think Fisher has lasted this long with the Lakers?

    P.S. If this is Phil’s last stand – he may be already riding off into the sunset, not screaming for more change.

  31. i don’t think kupchak should tinker with any of our main pieces.

    i’d like to see walton/brown shipped to washington for kirk hinrich.

    in a separate deal, use the trade exception to take yi jianlian off WAS’ books.

    the incentive for the lakers is to add a versatile triangle-style swingman and another hardnosed defender.

    for WAS, the incentive is saving money.

  32. ex,
    Do we still have Grant’s contract on the books? Because if so, I also want to add Shaq’s name to the mix. Whatever we have to do to accomplish it… I want the new-look Smush, ‘Toine, Shaq and the Tractor all on the floor with our centerpiece. Kobe and the Rolling Thunder Revue.

  33. lil pau, that’s a horrible trade to be honest. Without Pau, this whole operation would fall apart. The only real trade asset the Lakers could give up is Bynum, and that would have to include a great PG like Steph Curry and an athletic big man, in order to make it advantageous for the Lakers.

    Basically, i think i would take a Steph Curry plus Brandon Wright for Bynum trade, although i highly doubt the Warriors would make such a deal.

    The Lakers are missing an athletic big man and a great PG, especially one who can shoot lights out like Steph. The athletic big man i would look for is something like Deandre Jordan from the Clippers. Or Anthony Wrandolph who is rotting on the Knicks bench. I think either of those two could be had since the Clippers have Kaman in the wings and Wrandolph is just sitting on the bench in New York. Of course i wouldn’t give up Bynum for those two, but perhaps giving up Shannon Brown would make sense?

    Overall, I highly doubt any trade would or even could happen. The only real asset the Lakers have is Bynum and perhaps Shannon.

  34. Who would want Bynum and his lengthy contract when he constantly has knee problems?

    It’s the midseason, the Lakers were interested but not inspired to bring their best bball.

    Pau was soft, Bynum was injured, Artest got a charlie horse from a massive giant, and everyone else didn’t develop a rhythm and went into a shell when Kobe had to take over.

    That game was not a chicken vs. the egg argument.

    We needed someone else to step up and no one was able to.

    That is why Kobe went into a shell during that Phoenix game 7 years ago. He knew he couldn’t do it by himself, it’s just a damned if you do damned if you don’t.

    The solution is to get everyone back on the same page, healthy, and refocusing at the task at hand.

    One win at a time.

  35. Just to make sure I’m on top of this, so far we’re comfortable trading Pau OR Bynum, but not both (but we’ll include Artest). And one of those guys will surely nab us some combo of CP3, Deron Williams, Nash AND Gortat, Rondo AND Perkins (tongue in cheek, of course), Steph Curry AND Brandan Wright, a super deal that nets us Turiaf & Nene & Gallo & Eddy Curry’s expiring deal. Or we could work around the edges and just dump Walton and target guys like Hinrich & Yi.

    Or, of course, we can keep the players that we have and hope that a core that’s won back to back titles will get it done in the post season.

    Have I missed anything?

  36. I’d give anything for Deron Williams, I think the guy is the best PG in the league (he dominates CP3 when they play each other) and he could play within the triangle. He can shoot and he could stay within the system but also create when necessary. Isn’t happening though, he is that franchise.

  37. #36. If you recall, the Lakers really wanted to move up in the draft the year that Deron came out. Mitch supposedly worked as hard as possible to move up in the draft to get him and didn’t have enough. At that point the Lakers had Smush at PG and ended up taking Farmar when their pick came up.

  38. I didn’t know that Darius, but I think the guy has every skill necessary at PG, he just hasn’t had the talent around him to beat a loaded team like the Lakers. Too bad we didn’t have enough that year to get the guy.

  39. Is it me or are Joel and Stu obsessed with 3-second violations?

  40. Looks like the Lakers decided to show up tonight. Hope they keep it rolling.

  41. Ah finally my cup of tea.

    The Lakers will not trade Bynum for anyone except Howard and that is not going to happen. I liked the idea of going after Varejao for Sasha and Caracter but that didn’t happen, and the Cavs won’t take on Luke so he’s was out of picture before he went down for the year.

    My other ideas would be as follows:

    1. OJ Mayo and Haseem Thabeet for Walton/Blake and the trade exception. OJ would become the point guard (he doesn’t have to be a traditional point in the triangle) and Thabeet could learn from Theo, Kareem, and Bynum on how to use his size to become a defensive stopper.

    2. Jamario Moon for $3 million trade exception. Another foward to guard Paul Pierce and Miami thrice. He’s not playing in Cleveland.

    3. Ben Wallace for $2 million trade exception works well for defensive purposes against power fowards better than Caracter or Luke.

    4. Gerald Wallace for Ron Artest, the rookies and draft picks. Athletic all around player who can play defense, score from the outside and drive to the basket. He gives LeBrawn fits also.

    Any of these trades or a combination of them would put the Lakers right back where they were. Plus Pau has to get his nads back and Barnes has to come back and play like he played right before he was hurt.

    Idea 1 is the perfect storm #2 (see Pau for #1), 2&3 can happen, and 4 is a pipe dream.

  42. wow, the ATDHE site is displaying the following notice:

    any game links? : /

  43. Can’t we just trade up in the draft and get Jimmer Fredette this offseason? I’m in love with the guys game

    Anyone have any idea what it would take to get Iguodola from the 76ers? I know they have been willing to listen for offers….

  44. But seriously folks, doesn’t Bynum’s contract end the same time Dwight Howard becomes a free agent?

    If so, hmmmmmmm …

  45. I like the energy of our bigs. Let’s keep that effort up.

    Anyone that wants to trade Gasol…I can’t even respond to that.

  46. This is definitely a situation that LA will have to ride with the team that has got them to the dance. I am like every other fan that wants this team to play up to its potential, but this late in the season going outside of the team for solutions will not bring better results. The remaining schedule is too hard to believe new personnel can learn the offense and contribute at a higher level than players already on the roster. All this talk of old age and player moves was only an attempt to motivate a laid back squad during the regular season.

    There is a reason that teams that make major moves in Feb. never tend to have good results come April, May, and June. LA will either do what it needs to do to compete amongst the best in the league or end up with an extended vacation this summer.

  47. I’m just a hillbilly but one thing I did see that made sense to me is Steph Curry. Maybe not this year but at some juncture it would be nice to get a real spot up shooter on this team. He also brings youth and some athletism.

    That . . . and bringing Travis Knight out of retirement.

  48. Link:

    That’s annoying about I was thinking for a minute there I’d have to buy the NBA streaming package. If they had a midseason discount I’d seriously consider it.

  49. Pau is roaring tonight.

  50. Pau dunked it! Pau dunked it! OMG he just went up strong and dunked!

  51. Wilbon threw Rip Hamilton out there. He has a point, Rip is the type of player that would help this team, and he’d have Kobe’s respect out of the gates. Cost is a problem, but Just sayin’

  52. Try same with .me

  53. Wilbon must be on crack. Rip is past it and has $25M left on his contract after this season.

  54. Easy on the trade talk everyone. There’s a game happening.

    The Lakers clearly have no sense of a) what Kevin Martin does and b) where Scola and Hayes are on the court. That last 3 by Martin was tough, but other than that, this is pretty careless and absent-minded defense.

    On offense, once again, there’s a lot of standing around. A couple plays ago, there was a perimeter iso for Fisher. That hurt just to type it.

  55. I like Lamar having the mindset of responding to Scola. What I don’t like is Lamar allowing Scola to get anywhere he wants on the court, with or without the ball.

  56. FINALLY, the Spurs lose a game

  57. Luke Walton should play 0 minutes a game.

  58. Instead of pivoting and fallling away from the rim, Pau needs to pump fake and pivot to the inside. He’s falling away on his shots almost every time, just making things difficult for himself…

  59. Shannon has zero common sense when it comes to guarding three point shooters.

  60. I don’t even know why opponents bother to go inside against us when they can get a wide open 3 every single time down the court. Amazing. And pathetic.

  61. Kevin Martin on Kobe = disaster for Houston

  62. Kobe didn’t really help with that anti-clutch argument right there…

  63. OK Kobe, time to atone.

  64. Wow, this team will never change.

  65. Wow. Nice D. And then they even look confused about calling a timeout! Really??

  66. judgement day

  67. I’d like to see Kobe draw a double and kick to Lamar or Ron here.

  68. We run that sequence far too often in late game situations. Houston read it all the way.

  69. Houston knew exactly what that play was, no way Kobe was getting the ball.

  70. When’s the last time Lakers played OT? Seems forever for some reason. Some dumb mistakes down the stretch but at least there’s been a real effort… let’s see if they can close it out in the extra 5.

  71. This game had no business going to OT. Such disappointing defense on the Rockets last possession (Scola layup). Ugh.

    However, Lamar doing his best Kevin Love impersonation on the boards is a welcomed sight. Love that.

  72. Lamar’s stat line tonight shows why I’d vote him as an all-star over Pau, he’s been more consistent all season

  73. Scola has hit the same shot from the top of the key at least four times now.

  74. Henry, how you like me now?

  75. i am puzzled as to why the lakers dont run k obe off the ball more often. instead of him getting the ball then holding and getting the defense to zero in on him just have run curl screens that way he woudl be on the move in the paint with the option of taking it all the way or passing it out if bith defenders collapse on him.sounds much better then hold it for 20 seconds and then go 1 on 3

  76. Haha, Joel Myers says “breathe…”

  77. 76 – You’re absolutely right. That final sequence with Kobe coming off the Pau screen at the pinch post was brilliant. It puts Kobe, Pau, and Lamar all in scoring positions and, if run a few times, will draw in the D to open up the perimeter for our “shooters”.

  78. The Lakers got he W, I can now breath a sigh of relief.

  79. I disagree that we have no tradeable assets – character and ebanks are both awesome everytime i see them on the court but it would be a terrible mistake to let either of them go so early.

    To me character is our version of paul milsap and could potentially be better just because of his aggressivenes.

    I see Ebanks as being Ariza’s superior just based on his shooting and extra length.

    If these guys got time to be meshed in with our vets it could pay extra dividends later as we look to reload our core in the next 2-3 years.

    It may just be time for us to give these guys the playing time they need to grow within the system.

    I still think the blake move was the bad move of the offseason. Other guys like Foye, Lowry or Lee from houston, and if we would of taken a chance on Livingston

  80. The next five are killers. SA, @NO, @MEM, @Boston, @NY!!! 3-2 would be good, 4-1 great!!!

  81. Congrats on K27 5 5 Kobe,well deserved hard earned.
    Now it is Manu time,demolish them!

  82. Shaun,
    Like most fans, you think that we should add a different player to help get us over the top. First, the triangle doesn’t lend itself to new players, especially role players. Second, we are an old team and I see no reason to trade two young assets we will need in 1-2 years to get marginally better now.

    Our front line players and even most of our bench are 30 or above. Caracter and Ebanks are at least our future bench.

    This franchise always has an eye to the future and doesn’t trade everything away for only this year – particularly when it won’t definitively help.

  83. 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.

  84. I agree that Lakers don’t have trade assets. They don’t even have big enough contracts to go after somebody like Lewis (I know it’s a bad idea even if they have).

    I don’t think Kupchak will move any of the C/PF rotation. This is the strength of the Lakers, weakening there would be counterproductive. Also Bryant is, of course, untouchable. Nobody will want Fisher. Barnes and Brown have too small contract, they could be used as sweetener though. Blake is needed as a PG backup, Fisher shouldn’t play 30+ minutes. Any trade with Blake in it would need to give us a PG back. Ratliff/Smith have no trade value.
    Which leaves us with Artest, Walton and rookies.

    I think we could agree the weakest area of Lakers is SF. All we have to do is find a SF player with bad contract playing for bad team.

    Somebody has already mentioned Hamilton. I don’t think Rip is any good, he never was as good as people think. But he has bad contract. Pistons have another player able to play at SF, which would be an upgrade over Artest/Walton. I think about McGrady. So maybe, MAYBE, Hamilton+McGrady for Artest+Walton is a trade Lakers could try to run.

    Frankly, I don’t know why Pistons would agree for such deal. It would give Pistons some $2M financial easening this season, but through the next 3 seasons they would pay Artest and Walton the same money they are paying Hamilton. They could be interested in just moving Hamilton though. And maybe they are impressed with Caracter or Ebanks, who knows?

    Of course I’d love to see Ariza back, but I don’t see Hornets taking Walton or Artest for him, and only then the salaries fit.

    Another player which would, IMO, help Lakers – Battier. But he is in the last season of his contract, Houston won’t take Artest/Walton for him.

    It’s very difficult to construct a trade which would help Lakers and give the other team a fair value. Of course unless Kupchak is willing to break Bynum/Gasol/Odom trio. But it would look like a panic. Lakers are top 4 team even without full season of Bynum and with injured Barnes. I don’t care about HCA, I care about health and freshness. Rest stars, will be all right. The favourites are of course Heat, but panic won’t help Lakers to beat them.

  85. This is THE TRADE we need. MAKE IT HAPPEN MITCH! >:D

    May as well get crazy with these trade speculations and go all out while we’re at it, right? >:D