Lakers/Bobcats: It Wasn’t Pretty, But Lakers Still Streaking

Darius Soriano —  March 5, 2011

It’s said that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Tonight the Lakers proved that saying true as they got their payback against the Bobcats but did so by shooting only 38% from the field and playing a pretty poor game on offense overall. But that performance was good enough to take down the ‘Cats 92-84 to extend their winning streak to 6 games and remain undefeated since the all-star break. Some notes from this contest:

*This is the 2nd straight game that the Lakers offense struggled and it was more than just shooting poorly. The ball and player movement was choppy all night and the team as a whole didn’t look too interested in running their sets. There was too much one on one play – led by Kobe looking for his shot often in post up situations where he cleared a side and backed his man down – and not enough team play where the guys helped each other get their shots. What was most troublesome about the offensive attack was that the Lakers bigs all had good shooting nights going but didn’t really get the opportunities they should have. Gasol may have ended the night with 14 shots, but Bynum only took 4 FGA’s. Meanwhile Kobe (25), Fisher (6), and Artest (10) combined for 41. If you add LO’s 12 attempts to those of the bigs there’s a bit more balance but I’d still prefer for the Lakers big men to be closer to even in FGA’s with the Lakers’ wings. Especially when the combo of Pau, Bynum, and Odom shoot 53% (16-30) in comparison to Kobe, Fisher, and Artest’s 34% (14-41).

*The story wasn’t completely bad on offense though. I mentioned the big men shooting well, but the guards did do a good job of taking care of the ball. The Lakers only had 7 turnovers on the night and two of those were offensive fouls (one on Kobe and one on Bynum). The passes that the Lakers did make were normally on target and they were careful with how they decided to try and break down the Bobcat defense, leading to 19 assists on the Lakers 34 makes from the field. The Lakers also did a good job attacking the offensive glass, grabbing 13 on the night. I wish more of those second possessions would have turned into chances for the bigs to go to work rather than more jumpers from the perimeter, but I digress as it was just good to see the guys going after the ball hard after the misses.

*Where the Lakers really won this game was on the defensive side. They held the Bobcats to an equally abysmal 39.8% shooting from the field (including 1-10 from three point land), kept them off the FT line (only 9 attempts from the stripe), and forced 12 turnovers that became 16 Laker points. The entire team deserves credit but Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum deserve special recognition here. Artest was brilliant in covering Stephen Jackson, hounding him all over the court and not giving him an inch of space to operate freely. On several occasions Ron simply bottled up Jackson and then either stole the ball from him outright or forced him into a position where he lost the ball off the dribble. Jackson ended the night with more turnovers (4) than made baskets (3) and was a game low -16 in plus/minus. All of that was pretty much Ron’s doing. Meanwhile Bynum was simple a dominant force in the middle. Expertly contesting shots and closing down the paint all night, Bynum tallied 6 blocks to go along with his 12 defensive rebounds (he’d also grab 5 offensive boards for a total of 17 on the night) and didn’t commit a single foul all game. When you combine those tangible numbers with all the altered shots and shots that he deterred the Bobcats from even taking, I’m not sure if we’ve seen a more dominant defensive night from Bynum all year.

*The dark cloud over this game was certainly the injury bug. Before this game, it was reported that Devin Ebanks will miss at least three weeks with a stress fracture in his left tibia. This isn’t the biggest blow to the Lakers as he’s a seldom used rookie, but I’d love to have all the guys available. More troubling, though, is that Matt Barnes “irritated” his knee during pre-game warm ups and didn’t play. He’s now listed as day to day and while the hope is that he’ll be back soon (he’ll travel with the team on their upcoming 4 game road trip), it’s not yet clear if he’ll actually see any game action soon. After the game he did say that his knee felt better as the night went on, but until he gets to test it on the court, we’ll just have to wait and see. But Barnes isn’t the only Laker we have to worry about now. Derek Fisher hurt his elbow during the game when he got tangled up with Kwame Brown battling for a rebound and had his arm wrenched in a direction it’s not supposed to bend. Fisher let out an audible yell and was on the ground clutching his shooting arm in obvious pain only to leave the game and not return. Currently, the diagnosis is a sprained elbow and Fisher is listed as day to day. And while Phil Jackson is concerned about it, he did state that he thinks Fisher will be ready for the Spurs game on Sunday adding that “He’s strong as an ox so I think that he’s got enough strength to probably hold it together.” We’ll just have to see how this plays out on Sunday, though.

Overall this was a solid effort from the Lakers with the result mattering more than how they actually got there. To be perfectly honest, this wasn’t that much of an enjoyable game to watch as both sides missed too many shots and the Lakers, in general, didn’t seem intent on working their offense in a way that would have produced a bigger lead earlier in the game where some of the guys could have gotten some rest. And while the very good defense is always welcomed, I still would have liked to have seen a more complete game on both sides of the ball considering the opponent and also as a springboard going into Sunday. But a win is a win and I’ll certainly take it. Hopefully the Lakers were just saving some of their offense for Sunday. They’ll surely need it in that game.

Darius Soriano

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44 responses to Lakers/Bobcats: It Wasn’t Pretty, But Lakers Still Streaking

  1. A couple comments and questions.

    These are the games the Lakers were losing. A game that the motivation is small. Yes we lost by 20 to Charlotte, but this is not the same team we lost to. Gone are Nazr Mohammed and Gerald Wallace. Those two (along with Kwame) kicked our tails last game. You can tell the team was not quite into the game, but they pulled it off none the less.

    The Laker shooters refuse to pound the ball inside. It’s like they are trying to find their jump shots during the game, but the problem is they are not jump shooters. It’s as if they (Kobe, Ron, Shannon, and even LO) feel that we can score at any time inside so they have to work on their outside shots for the playoffs. Perfecting our interior passing and cutting off the ball will serve us well for the playoffs.

    We are down to a 10 person team with Barnes, Ebanks, and Theo hurt and JS being useless. The questions. Will the injuries force us to pick up Azubuike (who can shoot from the outside and post)? Who else is out there? They mention a big in the ESPN article but who is out there besides Brian Skinner?

  2. Theo Ratliff played in the first 8 games of the season and has not played again since. Is there anything that could have been done to either waive him or replace him as a player who could not perform per NBA rules?

    It seems like we kept him just in case he got healthy, which he never did so we have an open space that we never filled just to pay this guy’s medical bills. Must be nice.

  3. I hope the injuries of D. Fish & M. Barnes would heal soon before the playoffs start. Though I like to see our team catch Dallas at 2nd but I would prefer a healthy and well rested team come playoff time.

  4. Darius,

    your comment reminds me of one apparently anomolous statistic: the Bobcats had beaten the Lakers on 8 out of 10 games although Kobe scored more points against Charlotte than any other NBA team.

    Could the winning strategy against the Lakers be to entice (challenge) Kobe to shoot mano a mano?

    Hopefully none of the other teams were watching . . .

  5. Does the injury on DFish leads to poor execution on offense?. Fish knows and operates the Triangle very well.

  6. Ugh. Kobe was the Bobcats best weapon. Really hoped he would have grown beyond this kind of thing by this point in the season. As has been said before, it is not the number of shots he takes so much as whether he takes them in the flow of the offense.

  7. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but when the Lakers are playing like they did last night we are not, repeat not, running the triangle – we are an iso team.

    The key to getting Kobe to concentrate on jumpers is to put a long and agile defender on him. Hence, more and more teams have long and agile defenders. The fact that when the Lakers shoot jumpers the opponent gets to pack the paint doesn’t help the situation.

  8. 4,6,7 I couldn’t agree more. Everyone has learned
    how to defend Kobe when he goes into his iso
    mode. Sure he can make incredibly difficult shots,
    but opponents are happy with him taking them.
    I am very happy with his energy and the rest of his
    game, but he STUBBORNLY insists he can beat teams
    by himself. That said, I noticed that when he wasn’t
    on the floor the offense still sucked,

  9. I never thought I would say this, but after 63 games, it sure looks like Jordan farmar was actually more effective in the triangle offense than Blake has been. Blake has no penetrating ability, and if he is not shooting the 3 well, he is pretty useless, as he is not much of an assist guy due to his lack of penetration as opposed to Farmar. He is a slightly better defender than Jordan but not enough to make up for his lack of offense. I hope he gets hot in the playoffs or we are in deep trouble with the bench as Shannon Brown has also essentially reverted back to his career average numbers, now shooting 43% from the floor, proving that the hot start early in the season was nothing but a fluke! Our 3-point shooting is getting worse by the minute!
    Is it me, or does it seem like every free agent that joins the Lakers turns out to be a bust, or performs way below his average offensive numbers! When was the last time that the Lakers had a great 3-point shooter? It seems like every team in the league has at least one player that shoots over 40% from 3, except for the Lakers! The only player that I can recall in recent years that overachieved while with the Lakers, was Trevor Ariza, and he only got hot in the playoffs not the regular season! And it is not like these guys aren’t getting open shots. Kobe would easily average over 6 assists per game, if the 3 point shooters would knock down a more decent percentage of their wide open looks. No wonder he is passing the ball less and less!

  10. Guess the Lakers have a choice Sunday. They can continue to free lance and get destroyed by a Spurs teams that’s killing everybody, or play to their supposed strengths and … maybe lose anyway.

  11. Here is my fear. Somewhere in the playoffs a team is going to say, “OK Kobe, we are going to let Gasol or Bynum beat us and be the MVP, but not you.”

    And Kobe will decide he’d rather lose gunning than win with someone else as the team MVP.

  12. one reason, i think, the bobcats do well against us is because they crash the offensive glass.

    when a team does that, they risk giving up transition baskets.

    the lakers aren’t a transition team, so charlotte’s strategy really hasn’t hurt them at all in the recent past.

    However, last night the Lakers seemed intent on pushing the ball and making charlotte pay for their strategy.

    The Lakers need to be wary of good offensive rebounding teams(hello, Portland).

    It’s going to be interesting to see if any playoff opponents change their rebounding/transition defense philosophy to take advantage of our lack of speed.

  13. 11, Boston did that exact thing in Game 7. I think Kobe showed he’s more than willing to go down gunning than to leave the game in anyone else’s hands.

  14. Personally, I’m just relieved Fisher isn’t seriously hurt. I’ve never seen him go down in pain before and that was a pretty scary moment.

  15. there will come a time, in the not too distant future, when we will all chagrin [yes, chagrin can be a verb] the lack of a Laker’s move at this juncture.

    mark it.

  16. I’m OK with Kobe’s gunning under certain conditions, because sometimes his misses are as good as assists.

    If Pau or Drew are being fronted, I’m OK with a deep jumper, because our bigs are in good position to rebound a miss.

    If Kobe is distracting off-ball defenders and forcing teams to rotate and happens to miss, it creates a good opportunity for an easy putback or at least another possession. In these rebounding situations, it’s a 4-against-3 advantage for LA.

    Suffice it to say, there are many instances of Kobe wasting possessions, and I shake my head when that happens, but to be fair we need to ask questions like whether whoever’s being guarded by a help defender has cut to the basket and gotten into position to rebound a miss.

  17. I certainly didn’t like Kobe’s game last night, but let’s not get carried away. He missed a lot of easy shots. Look at the shot chart last night:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/shotchart?gameId=310304013

    It was miss after miss in the paint. Some of those shots were contested, some were off balance attempts to get fouled, but many were makeable. There were at least four misses that made me say, “wow Kobe, you’ve gotta hit that”.

    So, while the Make-Kobe-Gun strategy is a viable concern, it’s a strategy that’ll change very fast if Kobe makes those easy ones. A majority of the time, I will trust Kobe to ensure that happens. And if that occassion arises, we’ll see Kobe create a bunch of efficient points for himself, or he’ll draw the double and make the opponent pay. That’s what we want.

  18. #11, #13. I don’t think Kobe would ever “rather lose”. Ever. Not to preserve an MVP, to clinch a record, or for any other reason. The analysis lies in whether there are better ways to go about winning. That’s a legitimate question and one that I think speaks to the balance (or lack thereof) that we look for in how the Lakers should play vs. how they actually do in any given game.

  19. Drew needs to get more touches… period.
    when he gets open and doesn’t get noticed, or the ball, he’s cool about it, and doesn’t quit. this is a sign of maturity, as he used to get down about that.

    when he does get the ball in a good position, he finishes quite well.

    and when he gets some touches, and some points, and some blocks and rebounds, he then gets really motivated, and then he becomes a beast.

    we simply need to look for him more often in the sets… period.

  20. Now that we’ve gotten the ‘Cats out of the way, it’s time to get down to serious business. These next 5 gms are pivotal. Whether it’s to make a Statement (Spurs), secure a better Seeding (Mavs), avenging earlier, embarrassing losses (Heat and Magic) or just for the simplicity of continuing our streak and good/solid play since the break. They know what’s in front of them (legit competitors), there are no back 2 back gms during this stretch and therefore, there should be No Excuses.

  21. From a strictly statistical standpoint, the only shots that should ever be taken are attempts at the rim (lay-up and dunks) and corner three pointers.

    All other shots are bad offense.

    Kobe’s triple threat at the corner of the key is pretty to watch, but it is really not a good percentage shot.

    Same for Kobe’s baseline jumpers. Excellent moves, wonderful rhythm and separation, but a low percentage shot none-the-less.

    And, nothing, NOTHING, irritates me more than the constant stream of “Foot on the line” long two pointers… All of the difficulty of a three pointer, but with 2/3 the points! So dumb. I swear that the Lakers take 5-10 of these a game, and it just drives me crazy. If you are in such a hurry that you couldn’t be sure your feet were behind the line, then why did you take the shot to begin with?

    ***
    In related news, if Fisher is out for few games, is Blake starting, or will Odom get the call for a bit, and play the rare Point Forward position?

  22. 18, Darius, the thing is, I don’t think it ever enters Kobe’s head that him not controlling the play is better than him controlling the play. It’s not to say that he’s thinking “I know we have a better chance of losing if I take this shot, but I’m doing it anyway!” It’s him thinking “my taking this shot gives us the best chance to win,” without even considering that running the offense through Gasol or Bynum would or even could be a better decision.

    That’s why I said Kobe is more than willing to go down gunning, because he always thinks that him gunning is the best choice. It’s a double-edged sword because that drive is what makes him great; it also, however, hinders him from making optimal choices at times.

  23. 21, I don’t think players have the time to catch a pass, look down at their feet, then look back up to take the shot. The window of being “open” shuts extremely quickly, so the question is, would you rather have players take an open shot with the possibility of having a foot on the line, or a contested shot with 100% certainty that they’re behind the line? Say what you want about court awareness, but the difference between foot on the line and foot off the line could be millimeters.

  24. Unfortunately, Jackson has not been successful at getting Kobe to buy into the system.

  25. 21)
    I’d like to see Shannon start at PG if Fisher can’t go on Sunday. If we had a back up big man we could afford to play Lamar at PG or SF, but we do not. It would be nice to see if Brown has what it takes to play quality defense at the PG spot. We all know Blake is a back up and Fisher probably will be too old to be a starter after this year.

  26. The basketball season is not a series of individual games, much as we fans may think it is, but it is a process for the team to learn, practice, and make mistakes – all in service to gain an understanding of how this year’s players work together. Each year it is different, even if there is no player movement, because each year players are a year older.

    It is so often true that the team leading the pack burns itself out by playoff time that we don’t even mention it any more. Pop knows this as well as anyone and that is one reason his starters have among the lowest minutes of any team in the NBA. Phil also is well aware of the nature of the regular season process.

    All the ‘always’ and ‘never’ pronouncements only expose our lack of understanding how teams work.

  27. Chibi and Craig W. make very good points here.

    The season is about growth and there are more than one way to be successful on a possession, even when it involves missing shot.

    I’d add that I want Kobe to operate under the assumption that he should be controlling the game. He’s proven over the years that he can control it in a variety of ways and I think we should be acknowledging that as well. I’ve seen him pull the ball back and direct Pau and Bynum into the post on possessions where the Lakers need a bucket. Should he do that more? Sure. Should it do it so often that he removes himself as a consistent threat on offense? No.

    I often defend Kobe because he is the catalyst for this team on offense. For all the greatness that Pau/Drew show as being able to generate their own shots, you still need a perimeter player that consistently create a look for himself or teammate as well. Kobe is that guy for the Lakers and I don’t think that should change. The day that Kobe can no longer be a threat against one on one defense is a day that he should take a backseat to others. The fact is, that day isn’t here yet. We can ask for more balance on any given play or in a game, but as Craig W. states this is still about team growth over the course of a year. I think the Lakers are working towards that this year as in years past.

  28. Mohan, the shot chart doesn’t address the issue that bothered me last night. It just seemed that Kobe wasn’t looking for anyone at all last night. It was if he saw Kwame and started having flashbacks or something.

    Darius, it is all conjecture, but I think this post season may be very revealing about Kobe’s ability to do what it takes to win. We saw him defer to Durant in the All Star game when he ran out of steam. He can do it for a game here and there, but I tend to side with Zephid and wonder if he can even concieve of deferring over the course of a whole series if that is the best way to win.

    Anyway, it is a nice problem to have.

  29. interesting article/blog about kobe’s D. I’m not sure I buy it, but I’ve never considered it from this angle before.

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2011/3/3/2027577/in-kobes-lazy-defense

    essentially, the author suggests the main reason kobe plays so far off his man, if his man is not one of the best players on the opposing team, is to deliberately disorient the player and the bait the team into changing it’s strategy. i found it interesting… thoughts?

  30. lil’ pau – that is an interesting article. I’d love to hear what some others think. I’d also like to see a little more statistical analysis to back it up.

    On another note (and no, I am not his agent) – Sasha started again, 7-16 for 25 points in 47 minutes. 6-9 on threes. 5 boards and 3 dimes. I am happy he seems to be getting some run.

  31. I think Sasha has made himself a keeper with the Nets for next year. Whether he starts or not he has made enough noise on both offense and defense – he was on the floor for most of the 3OTs today – to warrant a contract for next year.

  32. Sasha played well. I’m happy for him.

    I feel for Farmar though. He’s in a similar situation as he was with the Lakers – battling Sasha for minutes with little shot at displacing the starting PG for considerable crunch time minutes. The major difference is that a ring isn’t happening this year for him.

  33. 28. VoR

    Another occasion was the recent Blazers game. Kobe told Pau it is on him to take over the game in OT. You can clearly see Kobe deferring to him in OT on crucial consecutive plays.

    This guy isn’t Ricky Davis jacking up shots, he is an intelligent, uber confident, tamed lion that is seeking blood.

    He shot poorly and played inefficiently (refs play role in this?) in a regular season game. Who knows what he was thinking maybe he hated his defender, or maybe he wanted to influence the Spurs’ scouting report/game film (crazy assumption i know).

    One thing is for sure dude wants to win, this can be detrimental at times, but in 7 game series he is hard to beat.

    Jeanie Buss twitter day after Bobcats game:
    “Came 2 office w/Phil @ 9:45 am Practice @ 11 only 1 other car here. Phil says “Kobe’s here before me” & then smiles.”

  34. there will come a time, in the not too distant future, when we will all chagrin [yes, chagrin can be a verb] the lack of a Laker’s move at this juncture.

    mark it.

    ____

    Sasha started again, 7-16 for 25 points in 47 minutes. 6-9 on threes. 5 boards and 3 dimes

    ___

    Carlos Arroyo signed with the Celtics today.

    It’s funny–If Vujacic had never played here, people would be saying he should be an off-season possibility for the Lakers. Maybe he should be anyway.

  35. To make room for Arroyo, Boston cut Chris Johnson. If the Lakers are actually considering picking up an end-of-bench big…

  36. Kevin Love.

  37. @robinred

    I have said this all along but no one ever answers me. Sometimes not making a move is genius (not trading Bynum for Melo is the perfect example). Other times, it can be the hubris that kills you. The Lakers should have made a move. I don’t care if everyone is tired of hearing about Crittenton but who else has been in our system. Yes the kid only shot 21% from three point range in the Chinese League. So what. Fish and Blake need a change of pace that is actually a point guard. He is our only choice. The other move is Azubuike; he has to be better than playing Luke. Yes Barnes is coming back (eventually) but we lost three players in one night last night, how soon before our luck totally runs out? Why not sign them both as insurance?

    @Darius or anyone who knows.
    Can we freakin’ waive/cut Theo because he will not play this year and has only played 8 games? Can we get an injury exception for him? If so, cover our behinds where we are thin, and get Az in here for next year for $40K.

  38. Is this Kevin Love’s 3rd straight 20-20 game?

  39. Strange that so much talk has picked up about signing someone for insurance. Looks like Fish’s dust-up and Barnes’ no-show has people more aware of the injuries. I’m the biggest fan of Azubuike, but if his injury situation was bad enough for NY to cut him, I doubt he has any impact this year.

    Don’t know much about Chris Johnson other than I’ve heard he’s developed a solid midrange J. Not sure what he’s like on the defensive end.

    At the end of the day, I just don’t see any great prospects out there. Nothing Javaris did in his time here gave any indication that he’s a quality NBA player, or that he has what it takes to do well in the triangle.

    I really wish we had gotten more from trading Sasha. Sad thing was Kupchak probably did the best he could under the circumstances; Sasha’s trade value was almost nonexistent. But many of had a feeling he’d be better off on a weak team, where he could get more PT.

    21 – Late to the party, but I just wanted to chime in here. As a shooter, I can attest to the fact that 90% of the time, making the shot depends on your comfort with the shot. Little things like looking down to check your feet or step back often take shooters out of that rhythm. When I played, a lot of times I’d have a feeling I was just inside the line, but I absolutely knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if I looked down to check or take that step back, that the chances of the shot going down would drop drastically.

    The other thing was – when I took a jumpshot in rhythm, without thinking, instinctively, it almost always went down. Whenever I looked down (even before the pass) and was consciously thinking about getting all 3 of the points, my form tightened up (I started thinking, instead of shooting on muscle memory) and the percentage went way down. Not sure if there’s any other shooters out there that have noticed this as well. Obviously NBA players are on a different level, but to me, shooting is about feel, not statistics.

  40. This is a very, very good article, a highly recommended read:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Tracy-McGrady-freakish-talent-and-the-peril-o;_ylt=Au6D5tBAo84jTnrXyAQhBuS8vLYF?urn=nba-330022

    I’ll be honest, I didn’t think Dan Devine had that kind of article in him. But it was thoughtful, well-articulated, and quite insightful.

  41. Snoopy2006,
    That was a good article and provided counterpoint to the ‘stats’ discussion.

    For us observers there is always an inability to understand context and environment – our current situation is always different, or we wish it was different.

    That is like saying Jerry West was not a HOF player until he won a championship, or that Wilt Chamberlain didn’t completely dominate his era of basketball because he only won once during his heyday (opps – twice if you count his last year).

    ESPN has seriously damaged our ability to actually appreciate the ‘game’ of basketball. We are so inundated with statistics and ‘plays of the day’ that it is hard to understand the function of team in the arena of basketball.

    Gail Sayers only played 6 years before injury forced him into retirement, and never won a championship – oh but what a six years those were! He isn’t less a player because his reign was so short. Give Tracy credit for the career he did have, not wish fulfillment for what he didn’t get done.

  42. Machine make game-tying three with 9 sec left. Send game into second OT.
    #machineclutch