Lakers/Magic: Second Half Surge Sinks Orlando (Or How Andrew Bynum Continues His Beast Mode)

Darius Soriano —  March 14, 2011

There’s no denying it now, the Lakers are rounding into championship form. They’re looking stronger by the game and continue to find ways to put the clamps on their opponents and pull out impressive victories. Tonight it was the Magic that stepped in front of the Laker buzz saw, falling 97-84, allowing the Lakers to up their post all-star record to 10-1.

Early on, though, it didn’t look like the Lakers would be on the right side of the scoreboard when the final whistle blew. The home team simply couldn’t make enough baskets. The Lakers worked their game plan by going inside to Gasol and working Kobe in his sweet spots, but neither could do any damage. Pau had multiple chances in the post against Ryan Anderson but allowed the Magic PF to root him out from the post to make his looks less effective. Seemingly every sweeping hook or turnaround jumper fell harmlessly off the rim as the big Spaniard struggled to score in what looked to be the biggest mismatch of the game.

Meanwhile Kobe, who decided he was good enough to go on his sprained ankle, was no better as he tried to work Jason Richardson in post and wing isolations. Even though his stride and ability to get up and down the floor looked fine, his jumper did not as shot after shot missed short or right with Richardson using his strength to keep Kobe from getting the clean looks he typically can when bodying opposing shooting guards.

On the other end, though, Orlando was working their offense to get the exact types of shots they thrive off of. Ryan Anderson found himself wide open several times outside the arc and made the Lakers pay as they collapsed down low hoping to protect the paint. Jameer Nelson also found gaps in the Lakers D off P&R’s and in the open court to get shots at the rim as the Lakers switched on the perimeter trying not to get beat on big man dives. And then there was Dwight Howard who showed the growth in his offensive game by hitting several wing jumpers as Bynum gave him space not wanting to get beat by the quick first step of the Magic big man.

But even with Orlando getting what it wanted, the Lakers kept the game close by sticking with their game plan to a tee. While Dwight Howard attempted to intimidate and control the paint by attacking Laker shots inside, Andrew Bynum continued his stellar work on the glass by cleaning up on the offensive glass (grabbing several of his 9! O-rebounds on the night) to earn the Lakers extra possessions. And with those extra shots, the Lakers made some timely jumpers (especially Derek Fisher) to ensure that the Magic wouldn’t run away and hide and turn this game into a rout in the 1st half. When you add Pau finally getting a couple of baskets to fall, Odom doing the same, and the Lakers forcing several turnovers, the Magic were only able to take a 5 point cushion into the 2nd half.

A cushion that wouldn’t nearly be enough, as it turns out.

In the 2nd half, the Lakers simply dominated Orlando and turned the game on its head. After not being able to find any traction in the first half, Pau and Kobe found their offensive stride. Rather than relying strictly on isolations, Kobe worked more off the ball and fought for post position to earn real estate closer to the hoop resulting in easier shots that he knocked down. #24 scored 12 of his 16 points in the 2nd half and picked up his D too, forcing a turnover and drawing a charge that kept the momentum swinging in the Lakers’ direction. Gasol, meanwhile, started to go at Anderson quicker and more decisively rather than jab stepping or trying to back his way into the post from 15 feet out. It also helped that the Lakers ran more cross screen actions to get Pau moving the ball and closer to hoop but it all resulted in Gasol getting the types of looks that he thrives off and getting the Orlando D off balance. Even when Gasol found Howard as his primary defender it didn’t really matter as Pau simply moved away from the hoop and knocked down his mid-range jumper as Howard backed off so as to not give up quick drives to the hoop. Simply put, Orlando just couldn’t get a stop when they needed it.

And where Orlando’s D struggled, the Lakers D excelled. Full court ball pressure, traps at the mid line and on the wing, and double teams in the post forced countless Magic turnovers that the Lakers took the other way for easy baskets. The open shots that the Magic had available to them in the first half vanished in the second as the Lakers ran their shooters off the three point line and forced them into the mid-range shots the D is designed to yield. And every time Howard got the ball in the post the Lakers swarmed with dig downs and double teams that Howard had trouble dealing with all night to the tune of 9 turnovers committed.

This is where Bynum and Gasol truly deserve credit. After both picked up some touch fouls jockeying for position in the 1st half, the Laker big men showed great resolve and good physicality in battling Howard for every inch of court space in the 2nd twenty four minutes. Every time Howard dipped his massive shoulder to generate some breathing room to get off his shot, Bynum and Gasol held their ground and allowed their mates to come and disrupt Howard’s handle of the ball. Bynum was especially great as he matched Howard every step of the way building on his ability to block a couple of Howard looks early to discourage those same shots later. Not to mention the fact that Bynum was able to not only keep up, but surpass Howard on the glass. When you compare their numbers (Howard had 22 points, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks; Bynum had 10 points, a career high 18 rebounds, 4 blocks) it’s easy to see that Big Drew rose to the challenge of facing the marquee big man in the game. Sure Bynum was outscored by 12 points, but he was so instrumental in helping to force Howard’s 9 TO’s while also earning LA so many extra possessions that it’s not a stretch to say the match up tilted in favor of Bynum. Considering that this game was a measuring stick contest of sorts, I’d say Bynum showed that his post all-star game surge is very much real and his impact comparable to any big man in the league.

To put the Lakers’ 2nd half dominance in a statistical measure, their offensive efficiency was a whopping 141.5 and their defensive efficiency over that same 24 minute stretch was 92.7. They again held an opponent to a sub 40 point half (Orlando scored only 38 points) and forced 10 turnovers while not coughing the ball up a single time themselves. Every player contributed to the supreme 2nd half with Odom hitting two big three pointers to extend the Laker lead, Barnes contributing his 5 total points in that stretch, and Blake playing great D on Jameer and Duhon by picking up full court and really pressuring the ball. It truly was a total team effort.

And that’s what the Lakers are becoming right before our eyes and right at the right time: a total team. Kobe may not have had it going early but Fisher picked up the scoring slack. When Pau missed shots, Drew cleaned up on the O-glass. When Ron went to the bench for a rest, Barnes came in and played strong D in his stead. And in the 2nd half the guys that didn’t play well early turned it on to generate a wing going away. What we saw all night is exactly what we’ve seen since the team regrouped after all-star weekend and if teams around the league haven’t noticed, I’d be surprised. If Kobe couldn’t use a bit of rest I’d say it’s a shame that the team doesn’t play until Friday because I’d like for nothing more than for them to keep this going with another game tomorrow. It sure is good to watch this team play right now.

Darius Soriano

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46 responses to Lakers/Magic: Second Half Surge Sinks Orlando (Or How Andrew Bynum Continues His Beast Mode)

  1. Bynum: 9 Offensive Rebounds.

    Rest of Lakers: 5 Offensive Rebounds.

    Orlando: 6 Offensive Rebounds.

    Sweet.

  2. This was a good game by the lakers. But over the next two weeks Kobe has to do a better job of not forcing the issue all the time. He needs to get healthy and save the heroics for the playoffs.

    And this is the first I’ve heard Perkins mouthing off about Kobe, Phil and Pau. Perkins did refrain from mouthing off about Bynum because Perkins knows he can’t handle Bynum. I hope the lakers get okc in the WCF so they can beat Perkins and hush the bs the celtics they were talking after they lost last season about not having perkins

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/la-sp-lakers-fyi-20110315,0,7517139.story?track=rss

  3. Ryan* Anderson

  4. Just got back from the game!

    It really was a tale of two halves. The Lakers were stale and unresponsive in the first half. The only saving grace was the exceptional play of Bynum and Fisher. Let me be the last to say, “I love this new defensive scheme.” Time and time I saw how Bynum stayed in the paint and was still contesting jump shots.

    The real reason this defense is so great is because of two factors. 1. Bynum is huge and agile in the paint. 2. Odom is able to expand and contract on the help in the paint and then contesting the outside 3 pt shot. It’s going to be a great playoff season if this defensive play continues.

    In the second half the Magic had a hard time getting the ball to Howard. The Killer B’s were going for the home run ball and finally came through with a Barnes 3 pointer that brought the house down and coincidentally brought the Lakers a 11 pt lead.

    Other observations…

    After halftime Howard was playing one on one with a young ball boy. He tried crossing him twice and the boy was able to steal the ball. However, Howard kept the ball and hit two consecutive 3’s, quite impressively I might add.

    A half court shot was attempted during half time. Let’s just note that if any of us EVER get a chance to attempt this shot, please, PLEASE get a 2 or 3 step running start. The poor guy didn’t even get the ball to the free throw line.

    Kiss cam showed two Lakers fans, a man and woman. The man instantly turned to his left and kissed a man, and left the house slapping our legs for a good 30 seconds.

    Great game to go to, wish you all could have been there.

  5. #3. Thanks for that, I’ve fixed it. I think.

  6. This is crazy, and I’ve got a lot of time on my hands tonight, but I went back over ESPN’s play-by-play to calculate Dwight’s vs Drew’s stats when Drew was in the game. Here is their head-to-head:

    AB 27:37 MIN, 10 PTS, 3-10 FG, 4-5 FT, 18 REB, 1 AST, 4 BLK, 0 TO
    DH 27:37 MIN, 9 PTS, 4-8 FG, 1-2 FT, 9 REB, 1 AST, 2 BLK, 4 TO

    I’d say our guy is coming along nicely :D

    In 15:19 minutes against Pau, Dwight’s stats were:
    13 PTS, 4-6 FG, 5-9 FT, 6 REB, 1 AST, 0 BLK, 5 TO

    Pau did a much better job on Dwight in LA than he did in ORL, but the team defended Dwight differently when Pau was on him. A lot more double teams, resulting in five turnovers for Dwight in only 15 minutes! Just a masterful second half for the Laker defense.

    Edit – Drew had as many offensive rebounds (9) when he was matched up against Dwight as Dwight had total rebounds. BEAST

  7. Great recap Darius. I think kobe should learn that to score points all he has to do is to move off the ball just like what he did in the 2nd half. When kobe stopped backing Richardson down and started playing off ball he easily scored 12 points. This would not only conserve his energy but would make the defense in a disarray and let the team play with all its offensive weapons.

  8. How does one play 19 minutes, go 0-5, with 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block and be +19 for the game? OJ Mayo did it for Memphis tonight against the Clips. That is so Steve Blake-ish.

  9. @8. LOL – intangibles!

  10. Regarding Drew: people don’t realize how tall he actually is when they just call him a 7-footer. He measured 7-0 1/4″ in his bare feet at the pre-2005 draft camp. He gave an interview several months later at the start of his rookie season when he mentioned that he had already grown another 3/4 inch. So he’s at least 7-1 in his bare feet, and possibly a fraction taller. He also had a 7-6 wingspan at the draft camp, so it’s probably closer to 7-7 now if his wingspan grew proportionate to his subsequent height growth.

  11. I’m as happy with the win as the next guy, but as much as I love KB24, he is really really starting to try my patience.

    I’ve followed him his entire career, so I personally give him a ton of leeway.

    But man, I can’t believe after everything he’s been through, he STILL hasn’t figured it out. At least 3-4 times a game he takes some of the most boneheaded shots. And lately, he hasn’t made very many.

    Just curious anyone gets as irked as I do, or if everyone just turns the other cheek since it’s Kobe Bryant.

  12. Busboys4me,
    All I can say is “if you haven’t watched the game don’t comment about the statistics.”

    The stat game is so inaccurate in basketball that it doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned unless the person has actually seen what has gone on.

  13. I’ve got Mayo on my fantasy team. those numbers are for $#!+ no matter how you slice them.

  14. Drew does look taller than Pau when they’re both on the court; considering Drew has a shaved head while Pau does not…

  15. 10,

    I was wondering about that cuz after the game when drew was talking to dwight he was bending over to talk to him. AB has to be 3 inches taller than Howard.

  16. 4.

    I think that kid was Ron’s son. I forget who tweeted it, may have been McMenamin.

    8.

    Clearly the +19 stems from the fact that the Grizz were blowing out the Clippers even with Mayo on the floor. Plus also, how does good defense play into the box score? There is no true measure of defensive contributions such as rotations, close-outs, good PnR defense, and playing generally good team defense.

  17. Drew played great. If there’s one critique, it’s that he got beat down the floor by D12 a lot in the first half, which lead to some defensive breakdowns and open 3’s for the Magic. If Drew can stay healthy long enough to get his cardio on the same level as a Dwight Howard, I see no reason why he can’t match the 2 time DPOY. Awesome play from Drew lately.

  18. A lot of times, teams (or media) exaggerate players’ heights, too. For instance, Odom is frequently referred to as a 7 footer. Then you have someone like Bynum who is a real 7 footer, and Odom looks small in comparison.

  19. I too saw the tweet regarding Ron Ron’s kid going 1v1 with Dwight. Nice to see he has some defensive skillz.

    It seemed like the Laker rattled the hell out of the Magic with their trapping defense, resulting in transition buckets. I was almost shocked at the level of intensity displayed in second half.

  20. Yeah, I noticed on a few occasions where Howard and Drew were both going for a rebound and Drew made Howard look small (which is not an easy thing to do). Howard is (only?) 6’11”, but from the looks of it I’d guess that drew is 2 inches taller and with their hands up Drew looked a good 3″ or more longer.

  21. I’m surprised the NBA hasn’t already changed to a shoulder height + wingspan measurement of “height” instead of the generic head to toe height. Being 7 feet tall is way less effective if one has Tyrannosaurus Rex arms. Andrew’s arms are ridiculously long, so he’s not your average 7 footer.

    In terms of contesting shots, shooting over defenders, getting rebounds, blocking shots, measuring shoulder height + wingspan is so much more useful than head-to-toe height.

  22. 21) Zephid,
    yeah – and someone like Chris Bosh has about 2 feet of “wasted height” in his neck.

  23. ex, ouch, don’t make fun of Chris ‘Giraffe’ Bosh like that. It’s not nice.

    but yeah, when i see pics of drew with arms stretched out it makes me wonder if he even has to jump in order to dunk.

  24. I thought one of the best plays of the game, that really showed just how far ‘Drew has come over the past few weeks, was the play in the 2nd half (4th Q?) off of a Laker missed jump shot, ‘Drew was on one side of the paint and tipped the ball up off the glass, beat Howard to the opposite side of the paint (!) and grabbed the O-board for the putback and one. Just a great show of his length and quickness. Lakers will be unbeatable in a 7 game series with that ‘Drew.

  25. @2…

    Perkins is bitter. He better concentrate on getting healthy and how his team is going to fare against this dynamic team than on smack talking the greatest coach of all time with 11 titles, a player who is one of the best ever with five and another who is arguably the best F in the game today with two…and all with one on the way.

    I laughed for a good three minutes straight!! And you are so right about Drew. He would squash Perkins and he knows it.

  26. I like when players talk smack amongst each other, makes for great tv and better games. Having a dislike for a certain player or players probably helps Perk perform. Considering he plays with a I smell something that stinks expression on his face the entire game. Pau does tend to play like charmin, Phil does have a big ego and Kobe is far from a tough guy(just a basketball KILLA). Have to respect dude for saying whats on his mind, it still wont help his team perform any better.

  27. Mitch Kupchak said that Drew had already played like this twice but he got injured both times. Sounds scary, let’s hope Drew can keep up without force things to much before playoffs.

    Besides, this time it seems that Drew & Pau are finding how to complement each other instead of overlapping.

  28. The thing with any Celtic fan/player is that they never have been beaten and have always been the tougher team that’s had worse luck.

    I mean, think about it. They would’ve won in 1985 if Cedric Maxwell had been healthy, would’ve won in 1987 if Magic’s skyhook didn’t go in, would’ve won in 2010 if not for Perkins or the refs or if Luke Skywalker’s proton torpedo had missed the thermal exhaust port. It’s a constant refrain you hear from Celtics past and current and former, particularly from the diehard lifelong Celtic fans who’ve lived and died with the C’s since 2008.

  29. I was very happy with out bench’s play last night, especially in the second half. Bench Mob is back?

  30. kehntangibles wrote “… particularly from the diehard lifelong Celtic fans who’ve lived and died with the C’s since 2008.” <– you are heartless!

  31. @Joel, @DirtySanchez: I think Perkins was talking about Kobe trying to draw out Pau’s toughness (not Kobe’s), but he (Pau) is still soft.

    Hard to argue Kobe’s not tough, especially these days.

  32. Great effort on D by the whole team (I don’t think I’ve seen the Lakers play a real full-court press in 25 years), but I have to believe that much of the 2nd half dominance is due to the fact that Orlando was on the second night of a road back-to-back. It looks like they just ran out of gas.

  33. My favorite part is that time when Pau softly gathered 18 rebounds in the unimportant Game 7 of the Finals while Garnett beasted and snarled his way to pulling down 3 rebounds, dominating the entire Laker front line and leading his team to almost victory and an almost championship. BEAST

  34. I really thought that the late doubles on Howard in the post scrambled their offense. They did a respectable job cutting down on Nelson’s effectiveness too (though the foul trouble helped), but once the ball entered the post, the second phase of the defensive gameplan started. That sequence where they had 4 TOs in a row (Howard stripped, Howard stripped, offensive foul, Kobe strips…someone on the wing) was really where the game was broken open.

    Anyone know if Quentin Richardson is hurt or in the doghouse? I was really surprised to see him playing so few minutes, as a Richardson/Richardson lineup at the 2/3 would really cause problems for the La–

    I’ll shut up. Keep Q on the bench, Stan!

  35. @30. R

    But so, so true!

  36. 30) But at least their announcers aren’t biased!

  37. Regarding height:

    I once read that NBA players are measured with their shoes on. I don’t know how true that is, but there seems to be something to it. In an article a few years ago Kobe admitted to being shorter than his listed 6’6″ height. According to him he is about six feet, four and a half inches without shoes. And remember when Kobe used to be listed at 6’7″? No coincidence that listed height disappeared when the afro disappeared.

    While I have nothing to prove this I am sure Dwight Howard is really about 6’10” (if not smaller). He looks small whenever he stands next to another player who is supposed to be of similar height. He is actually small for a center. I often wonder what his game will look like when he loses that explosive athleticism. Hopefully, he can round his post game into form before that happens.

    Andrew has to be at least 7’1″. He is taller than Pau, and Pau is a bona fide seven footer. My guess is Andrew’s listed height was recorded when he was fresh out of the draft at 17 years old. It just hasn’t been updated. Oh, and I don’t believe that 285 pound weight listing either. Andrew Bynum has to be tipping the scales at 300 pounds.

  38. Mavs squaring off against Portland tonight, hopefully the Blazers will put a beat down on Dallas before they face the Alamo on Fri..

  39. @Dude,
    Now, that’s not fair. Everyone knows that if Perkins hadn’t been injured he would have won that game for them! :)

    (Even with the smiley at the end to show sarcasm, I still find myself giggling and smirking as I type that…)

    @T. Rogers
    Andrew was listed as 7’2″ in a pre-game intro-thing lte last season. The only reason I remember it was because I noticed it was the identical height of the center he was matched up against that game (either Perkins or Yao, I think).

  40. Howard looked winded banging down low with the likes of Bynum and Gasol all night. Bear in mind, he has little relief behind him since Gortat is gone. Losing Gortat will really hurt the Magic during the playoffs.

    I wonder what Jack and Howard talked about pre-game. Sounds to me like there was some lobbying going on there…or did Jack warn Dwight about Bynum? Good game.

  41. Drew chasing down a loose ball in the corner, leaping in the air, and firing it back to Lamar at halfcourt to reset the shot clock? Drew jumping over DWIGHT HOWARD and bang-bang rebounding the ball on both sounds of the rim, laying it in for the and-1?

    I don’t know about you, but the Drew I pictured in my mind during his long rehab from surgery wasn’t making plays like that on my imaginary highlight reel.

  42. i thought guys like Fish, Artest, Brown, and Pau did some subtle work defending in transition. They pestered Howard a bit and slowed him enough to allow Drew to get back, while at the same time being mindful of transition 3s.

    I don’t really find fault with Perkins’ comments. I think it’s good that he’s trying to light a fire underneath his team. The Thunder are a bit too nice, and they need that kind of swagger and confidence to energize them a bit more.

    I know it’s disrespectful from our POV, but at the same it’s good leadership.

  43. Of course Drew’s interest is heightened when he plays against the marquee centers. I hope Drew, in his improved play, will start dominating lesser opponents and showing that same killer instinct he has recently demonstrated against Howard. That is the next step I’m looking forward to in terms of Drew’s improvement: consistency.

    I really think that the flurry of trades this year may have awakened the urgency in Drew’s play, because it showed no one is untouchable, including the marvelous Deron Williams.

  44. a select few of us bashed Fish for his ‘Snowjob’ against Dallas, so I guess this is only fair (from Arash Marzaki):

    “With a couple of acrobatic lay-ups in the paint and a pair of big three-pointers, Lakers fans had to be wondering if it was already June. After his backup Steve Blake had his best game as a Laker, Fisher perhaps not-so coincidentally had his best game of the season, scoring 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and adding a pair of steals and assists. “

  45. Drew is deciding to be a man, take the job that the team needs done and do it well instead of wishing he could have the other job. Chasing down the loose ball in the corner and the 4th quarter rebound and put back over Howard really illustrate that fact as jodial said. Very pleasing to see. It takes a year to recover from surgery, and he is only at 9 months now, so expect his physical abilities to continue to improve.

    As for Perkins, he just wants to justify that extension he got. We won’t even be seeing the Thunder this year, but if we do, it will make me very happy cause that means San Antonio is out.