More Thoughts On Game 2

Darius Soriano —  April 21, 2011

Last night’s win is still taking up a lot of space in my crowded brain. So with that, I’ve no choice but to spill out random thoughts about the Lakers’ first win of these playoffs…

  • Pau Gasol is taking a lot of heat for his performance so far this series and based off his stat lines and his penchant for shooting turnaround jumpers, I can understand why. Nearly every one expects more from Gasol (myself included) and it’s fair to say that he’s been a disappointment in the first two games. That said, last night I spent nearly the entire final three quarters pleading to my TV for the Lakers to run any sort of action that would put Pau in better position to do damage. Nearly every time the Lakers ran an action for Gasol to get the ball, it involved him moving from weak to strong side without the aid of a screen to make the catch or asked for him to fight for position on the weakside for a post isolation. I’ve come to the conclusion that these plays will not work. Carl Landry and Emeka Okafor are simply stronger than Gasol and are consistently uprooting him and knocking him off his spots. Furthermore, when Pau does make the catch he’s unable to drive by them or back them down without also being bumped off his path (please note, this is not a complaint about the refereeing). All I ask is for someone, anyone, to set a screen for Gasol to give him that extra second to make a catch without a defender draped all over him. Any screen will do. A back screen in Center opposite sets. A cross screen by a cutting wing to bring him to the middle of the key when the strong side post is filled. A rub screen by the guard when Pau makes his catch at the elbow. Any of these actions will work and all of them are basic actions built into the Triangle. I just don’t see the point in telling Pau that the solution to all of his problems are getting lower (to build a stronger base) and working harder. That’s part of the solution, but not all of it. The coaches need to help him help the team.
  • Our old friend Trevor Ariza really hurt the Lakers yesterday. He hit a variety of shots – some unexpected, some not – that really kept the Hornets afloat on offense. And while I understand that a repeat performance isn’t likely, it’s surely possible considering how Trevor did his damage. The Hornets consistently deployed Ariza on the extended wing and had him avoid the short corner. They moved him up high so that in the event that Chris Paul passed him the ball he could either shoot the three in space or attack hard to the middle of the floor to his strong hand. The Lakers wings are going to help off Trevor consistently (as they should) to cut off the lane when Chris Paul drives, but when they recover to Trevor they mustn’t do so in a way that invites the drive. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to surrender open three pointers to Ariza and make him prove he can get hot like it’s 2009. Yesterday he hit 2 of 3 from deep, but can he hit 5 of 7? The Lakers never made him prove it and instead ran out to him only to see him use his dribble to drive right by the close out. In a game of mostly expert defense from the Lakers, this was one area they needed to be better. Hopefully in game 3 and beyond, they will be.
  • Andrew Bynum’s fantastic game was discussed at length in the recap, but one thing I was especially proud of was his singular focus and lack of moping when things didn’t go his way. On one specific play Bynum posted up hard on the ball side only to see the ball swing back the other direction and go into Gasol instead. Pau lost the ball and the Hornets ended up racing the floor the other direction. In season’s past, Bynum – who did not get the post touch he desired earlier in the possession – might have moped back on D and trailed the play. Instead he busted down court in a full sprint and ended up picking off a cross court pass to a man that was in the corner. Big Drew ran nearly baseline to baseline to grab a steal on a pass that the Hornets only made because they thought it was open. Bynum erased that opening with pure hustle and desire. It was a single play in a series of sloppiness from both sides and likely won’t be remembered by anyone when the playoffs are over. But it stood out to me. Our guy has come a long way in the past 18 months.
  • I’m a believer in statistics and how they can be used to further analyze the game. I respect metrics like PER, on/off stats, pace based efficiency numbers, and all the insight that can be gleaned from them. That said, last night a Laker scored 0 points, grabbed 3 rebounds, handed out 5 assists (to 2 turnovers), had no steals or blocks, but had a major impact on the game. Steve Blake may not have given the Lakers much on the stats page (save for the team high in assists that were a strong tangible contribution), but his organization of the Lakers sets, his ability to involve his teammates on offense, his desire to push the ball up court, and his scrappiness on defense were all key ingredients to the win. I know that for many Blake has not been the guy we’d hoped in terms of numbers provided and stats accumulated. But last night he gave his team a shot in the arm. He made a difference. I’m very happy that he’s back.
  • I’m really hopefull that Shannon Brown can find his stride at some point these playoffs. His good to bad possessions ratio has been steadily moving in the wrong direction and I’d love for him to find a way to reverse the trend. His last couple months of action could be perfectly summed up by the sequence where he sunk a three pointer after a great two man game of post entries and kick outs, only to come down the next possession and jack up an extremely suspect long jumper. Maybe I should stop holding out hope, but I have to think he can find some sort of rhythm to his game this post-season. The Lakers will need him.

Darius Soriano

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37 responses to More Thoughts On Game 2

  1. I’m really hopefull that Shannon Brown can find his stride at some point these playoffs. His good to bad possessions ratio has been steadily moving in the wrong direction and I’d love for him to find a way to reverse the trend. His last couple months of action could be perfectly summed up by the sequence where he sunk a three pointer after a great two man game of post entries and kick outs, only to come down the next possession and jack up an extremely suspect long jumper. Maybe I should stop holding out hope, but I have to think he can find some sort of rhythm to his game this post-season. The Lakers will need him.

    —————————-

    Sounds exactly like Sasha’s last months of relevance in a Laker jersey in 2009. Let’s hope the script won’t repeat itself.

  2. Shannon had a great play in the 4th (?) where he threw into Pau in the post, got it back, dumped it back in, got it back, and hit the three. I was very excited for him getting that shot out of the offense.

    Then next play down, he dribbled into a contested 21-footer without passing the ball once. Yeesh.

  3. 2)
    Brown actually threw it to Bynum. Common you should know this!!! Gasol doesn’t get double teamed silly.

  4. @2, flye, I believe that’s the play that’s being referenced in the last bullet point.

    I’ve been pulling hard for Brown the last couple of years. Kind of the same way i was pulling for Sasha through the 08-09 and 09-10 seasons. Sasha seemed to have gotten it right before he got into the doghouse with Shaw.

    Brown still hasn’t gotten it. He’s seems so humble and coachable, I don’t get why he has such frequent brain cramps. Earlier in his career you could argue that he never got the playing time and got bounced from system to system. But this is his 3rd year in the same system and he’s gotten plenty of playing time. Is it too much to hope for a two month run of outlier great performance from him?

  5. What is concerning about shannon’s play is he is making the same mental mistakes again and again. While this makes me question his basketball IQ, I also am not sure why the coaching stuff have not been able to curb his penchant for jump shots off the dribble early in the shot clock and not contesting threes with his HANDS UP. These are not complicated things that has to do with reading the options in the triangle. I am sure I am oversimplifying things but it just boggles my mind

  6. #3 – Touché

  7. Bisho – now now, the hands down thing he learned from Kobe

  8. Is it too soon to go into standard fan overreaction mode and start chanting for Trey Johnson based on the 30 combined minutes he’s played so far? LOL!

    Heck Laker fans loved Shannon after his first couple of games.

  9. my theory is that Shannon is merely doing his best to fulfill the void left by Farmar, in terms of contested jumpers early in the shotclock

  10. Call it far-fetched, but maybe not completely outside the realm of PJ-possibility. What if we’re not showing our hand? Yes, Pau has (without a doubt) played somewhat poorly, but we could do a better job for him. Could it be we don’t want to show our cards too early in the playoffs? I’m thinking we could easily get Pau 14-18pts on an off night if we tried, but the combination of poor play and ‘secrecy’? Any takers?

  11. A number of people spoke about Drew being very vocal yesterday on the court with his teammates, even barking out something to the Shawfather. What got me was the one time he got in Kobe’s face. Not sure what he was doing there, perhaps trying to fire Kobe up on offense, or telling him to pass him the damn ball. What a long way he’s come!

    One guy on the Hornets who would fit in well with the Lakers is Jarrett Jack. I loved the way he got in Landry’s face in the 4th quarter when Kobe got an offensive rebound in transition by beating Landry down the floor. The Hornets may be short on talent, but they have a lot of guys who seem to maximize their potential. Here’s hoping that our guys can continue to limit LeFloppe (Cajun pronunciation) and take Game 3.

  12. A season of coaching has turned Doug Collins into a zombie. Yikes.

    By the way, we need to remember that Ariza and Mbenga are spilling all the details of the Triangle Offense, in addition to player tendencies. We should not be surprised that Gasol has not played well offensively, considering Landry already had Pau’s number without any insider information.

  13. Aaron and I had a little back and forth on Brown and others toward the end of the game chat that some might have missed, including those two possessions mentioned in this post and the comments. Spoiler–I was just as angry as Walter was about Brown’s brick, but he has anger issues and I’m serene.
    ———————————————
    Aaron:
    162. Bynum: Played a great all around game but didn’t get the ball enough

    Odom: Really controlled the game and took charge of the second unit

    Artest: Another great playoff game for him. He just plays as strong as he looks.

    Kobe: Didn’t shoot well but loved his decision making.

    Gasol: Played hard and effective on defense when at PF. For some reason tried to post up with his back to the basket throughout the game which isn’t his forte. Resulted in another bad shooting night.

    Fisher: What can you say?

    Blake: His athleticism really helped get the team up to speed and up the floor quickly with the second unit

    Barnes: Read above. Also moved well off the ball.

    Brown: Barely noticed he was on the floor
    ———————————————
    164. Me:

    @162. Aaron, I’ll expand on your last player.

    Brown: had one great possession on an offensive set, when he fed Drew in the post, got it back, re-fed him, and got it back for a wide open three which he measured and sank. Next possession, forgot everything that worked on the previous possession, chose not to feed Drew, dribbled to his left and shot a contested two-point brick. A brick that my friend Walter wanted to hurl through my big screen, not realizing he was actually hurling his ex-wife’s Pomeranian. Shomer shabbos!
    ———————————————
    165. Aaron:

    Dude,
    Haha. I felt the same way. But I’m worried about Kobe having to guard PGs the whole game. He isn’t 25 anymore. We brought in Artest so he didn’t have to bang against bigger SFs and now he has to chase around little PGs.
    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2011/04/20/game-2-preview-chat-lakers-vs-hornets/#comments
    ————————————————

    Back to right now, I’m also worried that Kobe’s expending too much energy on defense to be Kobe Bryant on offense. He’s not a young pup anymore, so LO, Drew, and Ron will need to maintain their high level of play on offense, and Pau will need to regain his effectiveness. Another solution (Phil are you listening?) would be to give Blake an extra six or seven minutes of playing time when both Kobe and LeFloppe* are on the floor, which would help preserve Kobe’s energy.

    * Cajun pronunciation

  14. Dude, I think Blake needs more minutes period.

  15. @14. Yes, but especially more minutes alongside Kobe. Blake did such a good job defending CP3, really an eye-opener for me.

  16. I agree, Dude. We’ll see how Phil handles things on Sunday. I know he trusts Fish, but if he wants to win another ring, he is going to have to do whatever it takes this year and that probably means cutting way into Fish’s minutes.

  17. Awesome profile on Bynum by Lee Jenkins of SI.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1184609/1/index.htm

    Jim Buss’s apple of his eye, and the maturation of Bynum.

  18. 13) They don’t need him “to be Kobe Bryant on offense.”

    Because of Bynum, Odom, and Gasol’s offensive abilities, Kobe’s energy is better spent on the defensive side than on the offensive side.

  19. I just loved the way the Staples Center fans were cheering for Drew everytime he got the ball, snatched a rebound or altered a shot. With Kobe and Pau struggling to do it on both ends, Drew is becoming the Rajon Rondo of our team: the young guy who has the energy to bring it all game, both ends.

    Barnes proved why we signed him: he’s a playoff gamer.

    Kobe’s best strength might be that he finds a way to get in the head of the other teams best player. He didn’t have the best game, nor was his D on CP3 lockdown quality, but he was smothering him all up and down the floor and really taking him out of his comfort zone. I just hope we don’t have to rely on Kobe guarding the opposing PG all playoffs. It’s a lot to ask of his 32y/o knees.

  20. Derrick Rose just went 4-18. I want to hear what the unbiased media has to say about that.

  21. @18. But they might need him to be better in NOLA than he was yesterday. Pau’s been stinking it up at the offensive end, and Drew and Ron-Ron are not paragons of consistency on offense, although they’re both quite capable of being so (Drew more than Ron). Not only that, but yesterday’s game was the first in a set of three games in five days. If we can buy a few extra minutes of Blake on Paul, we need to take it.

  22. ex,
    Read your comment in other thread… no idea what the SfS tech issue is but will try and figure it out. Thx.
    D.

  23. If you say Drew Bynum fast enough it kind of sounds like molybdenum

  24. Good stuff. Agree they could be running better stuff for Pau, but it’s clear he’d be much better serving facing up against the Hornets bigs, as I covered here.

    http://sonofsambowie.blogspot.com/2011/04/ph-pau.html

  25. #10 – I think Pau might have been kind of tossed into it, sort of the same way that Phil refuses certain time-outs. Whether coincidental or not, other players stepped into the breech and to good effect – we can survive a bad night by one of our top two options, and in fact, can survive a a bad night by both of them. What we can’t sustain however, is an over-reliance on Kobe and Pau throughout the playoffs. We’ll need elevated play from the pack and an overall level of nastiness.

  26. Got back from the Bulls-Pacers game. Bit underwhelming to say the least, although it did get interesting at the end.

    I think it’s hard to truly have an appreciation for how bad the refs are until you’re at the game. The level of suck tonight from the refereeing crew was astounding.

    The one thing I was really impressed with: Conseco Fieldhouse. In terms of the perks and suites they’re behind other stadiums, but I love the way it was built so that the seats are right on top of the court. When you go to the United Center, if you’re in the cheap seats, you might as well bring binoculars. Today we were pretty high up and I could still see everything perfectly – I could see the plays developing, every touch foul, read players’ facial expressions and everything.

    I feel like more stadiums should take that into account when designing their seating. Conseco is nothing impressive otherwise, but the fan experience was great because of how we’re right on top of the court. Every play was crystal clear; I could watch every offensive set develop far clearer than on TV, which hasn’t been the case in other games I’ve gone to. I’m not sure where Staples ranks in that sense.

  27. 10 – Jack was one of the players I most wanted for the Lakers the last couple years. When everyone was talking about Bynum for Bosh, I had a simpler trade in mind – I would have rather gotten Jack and Bellinelli. Jack was the only PG who sort of seemed cut from the Fisher mold. He’s not the exact same player, but he cut down on his TO problem and he’s turned into a solid leader on the floor.

    Much respect to Blake for coming out and playing so hard after being sick for a week (I think the announcers mentioned he looked 10-15 pounds lighter). Most of all, I just loved the way he fought around screens and stayed glued to Paul. That eliminated a lot of the problems we had in Game 1.

    Shannon’s problems should be easy to fix, because he seems so coachable. I think this might be 1 area where Kobe running off on a player isn’t the best thing. He’s got the coaches in 1 ear telling him to be smarter with the ball, but he’s gotten it fixed in his mind that he’s the Kobe of the 2nd unit – the guy everyone looks to score.

    I’m still holding out hope that he’ll have one of those games at the perfect moment deep in the playoffs, when we really need it. 15-18 points off the bench, momentum-swinging dunks, etc. After Odom, he’s the one bench player who has the potential to swing the momentum of a game.

  28. Dude,
    I couldnt agree more. Shannon Brown to me is better suited in the triangle at least at “PG.” He really has the same ball handling duties however he goes from being smaller and equally athletic to bigger and much more athletic than his competition. Shannon is too small to play adequate defense at SG… But he can use his quickness, strength, and length to really both PGs. Plus offensively he can get wherever he wants and finish more easily in the lane against smaller PGs. If Brown played mostly at PG it would also open up 20 plus minutes a ga,e for Matt Barnes. Barnes could back up both Kobe and Artest at SG and SF.

  29. Having said all that…

    …this would mean removing Fisher from the rotation… A guy that is a leader on this team. What makes Phil Jackson such a great coach is he doesn’t disrupt continuity or harmony in the lockeroom. He wouldn’t even bench the handicapped Luke Walton two years ago. Luke had to ask to be benched in favor of Ariza. I don’t think Fisher is as un selfish. It’s part of what has kept him in the NBA for so long. As Matt Money Smith said a few weeks ago… “It’s amazing how a 39 percent career shooter that could never play lick of defense has played fifteen years and earned over fifty million dollars in the NBA. It’s just an example of how far dressing well, speaking well, acting well, and making a few clutch shots can take you.” Fisher is more than that though. There is no doubt he is a winner. If you thought the Celtics tanked after losing Perkins I wonder how the Lakers morale would drop if Fisher was benched. He would need to ask for a demotion. And the only reason I like Derek is because I know he would never let those words come out of his mouth. But how long will Kobe last chasing around PGs all postseason?

  30. Aaron, if we get through the first round, I expect Dallas will be the opponent. Since Kidd can’t post anyone up anymore, I wonder if Fish will defend him. He could also try and chase Terry around screens. Either option is better than having him guard the Pauls and Westbrooks of the league.

  31. 28 – I used to think that way too. There’s a problem with that. Shannon CAN use his length, strength, and quickness to bother PGs. That doesn’t mean he actually does it. Physically, he’s perfect for defending both quick and big PGs. But can you imagine Shannon’s awful close-outs mixed with Kidd’s hot shooting right now? It’s a recipe for disaster. Shannon also loses focus defensively. He’ll start off a game playing energized, but as the game wears on he starts drifting further and further away from his man. He gets stuck ball-watching and doesn’t even help effectively. His low bball IQ isn’t only on the offensive end.

    The other problem that I’ve noticed – when Phil puts Shannon in at PG, it seems to my eye he starts playing differently. He thinks the coaches want him to play a vastly different role. He starts ball-handling beyond his capabilities, and generally forcing the issue even more so than normal.

    Shannon at the PG can definitely work in stretches, and I’m sure Phil will try him on Kidd. But I don’t think we’ll see more than 5 minutes a game of it, because Shannon doesn’t fit that role well. Phil’s tried it in the past.

  32. i’ve kvetched as much as anyone about how Shannon B. never raises a hand to contest 3 pt shots. but you do all realize that, with our luck, the first time he does, he’ll get whistled for fouling in the act of shooting, right?

  33. Gonna have to disagree with the Steve Blake remarks. Sure, he helped some, but his on-court leadership was rather poor. Because of him attempting to push the pace, he made several poor decisions that led to either a bad shot or a turnover. At best, his time on the court was a wash.

    Drew, on the other hand, is playing great. Love his effort and serious approach. As you pointed out, his whining is down from years past and he’s concentrating on bringing it every night. That’s the Drew we need to even dream of a threepeat.

  34. #33. I think you’re underselling the value he brought to a bench unit that played a huge role in getting that win. Obviously Bynum, Odom, and even Ron deserve loads of credit. Those guys came up huge. But Blake’s +10 on the night wasn’t a fluke. He was part of a unit that really made a key push in the 2nd quarter to open up LA’s first lead of the game. You must admit, the organization of that unit was worlds ahead of where it was in game one.

  35. Your analysis is pure gold. You gave me insights on Pau I hadn’t noticed. He’s always better when he has some space or turns and faces the defender than he is in pure ‘backing down’ situations. I totally agree on Ariza and especially Blake. I think next year Laker fans will see why they paid him like they did. Meanwhile, he’s still doing all the little things.
    Finally, as far as I’m concerned they can easily replace Shannon with one of next year’s multiple second round picks. They should cut him even though they would have to pay him. He’s had his chance. The two plays you point out show he knows how to play right and chooses not to.

  36. 35,
    Only becuase I love getting credit I must saythat I was the first person on this site a couple years ago to say that Gasolmis a face up player not a back to the basket player.

  37. Gasol has been a damn good post-up player in the past. He needs to fight for position and not get discouraged when pushed.