Clippers/Lakers: A Preseason Affair

J.M. Poulard —  December 19, 2011

The end result of the game may not have counted in the standings, but the effort and strategy sure will once the season gets started.

With Phil Jackson and Lamar Odom no longer part of the organization, there was a lot of anticipation coming into this game to see what these new Lakers would look like.

On offense, the purple and gold did a good job of keeping the offense flowing and having players move off the ball. Consequently, offensive possessions rarely seemed forced; instead we were treated to a Lakers team that consistently took high percentage shots.

Mike Brown’s offense called for Kobe Bryant to go through a series of screens courtesy of his big men to shake free around the elbow area for open shots; but the offense also used Bryant as a screener on the likes of Bynum and Gasol. With Kobe involved as the man setting the pick, the defense occasionally lost track of him and allowed him to catch the ball at the top of the key and go to work.

The off the ball movement in the offense typically provided the Lakes three main scorers the luxury of single coverage.

As a result, the Lakers managed to score 50 points in the first half on 44.7 percent field goal shooting. Although the shooting figures weren’t impressive, the purple and gold shared the ball to the tune of 11 assists and attempted 20 free throws in the first 24 minutes.

The second half on the other hand brought an entirely different look.

The Clippers ramped up their defensive intensity and dared the Lakers to beat them off the dribble. Lob City’s pressure defense generated nine turnovers in the third quarter and also forced a host of contested shots that had the Lakers looking at a 91-67 deficit after three quarters.

The offense looked better in the fourth, but Brown had some of his starters play against some of the Clippers second and third stringers.

On defense, the home team did a terrific job of guarding the post; thwarting every Blake Griffin post up opportunity by pushing him out of his comfort zone or simply forcing him towards the help.

In pick and roll coverage, Brown’s philosophy for this game was to send his big men out to hedge hard out on ballhandlers and recover back to their initial assignment.

Against most teams, the strategy has the potential to stymie an offense; but against Chris Paul it did little to negate his playmaking ability. Indeed, Paul was able to either split the trap, isolate his man or just find his teammate during the split second he was open for a terrific look at the basket.

Also, the inability to limit the Clippers guard play resulted in several open looks from 3-point range (the Clips converted 13-of-28 from deep), an area in which the Lakers excelled at defensively last season.

Furthermore, the Lakers’ 21 turnovers led to a multitude of transition opportunities for the Clippers; who also happened to be the quicker and more athletic team.

The purple and gold’s interior defense was solid throughout, however it was awfully tough to notice given how the Clippers’ starting backcourt shredded their defenders (40 points, 12 assists, 11-for-17 field goal shooting) and then set up their big people for some sensational finishes.

With that said, this game was a learning opportunity for Mike Brown and his team. The trio of Bryant, Bynum and Gasol probably performed as expected, combining for 53 points and 22 rebounds on 48.4 percent field goal shooting, but some other players turned heads as well.

Darius Morris came off the bench to score 11 points and Josh McRoberts did a good job of running the floor and finding his teammates. The former Duke player did have three turnovers, but once he gets some familiarity with the team, one would expect the amount of miscues to drop.

Coach Brown will have to make a few adjustments to avoid mistakes against ball pressure to ensure his team maximizes their possessions. Indeed, the Lakers still managed to run off 23 fast break points, attempted a total of 41 free throws and won the rebounding battle.

Let’s see if these positives translate into the next preseason game and then the regular season.

J.M. Poulard

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40 responses to Clippers/Lakers: A Preseason Affair

  1. End of game…

    Funny, I’m not THAT mad…Why?

    1) I can say: We have a PG! Not the best in the league, but at least somebody we can call a PG. I’m talking about non-triangle-Blake and Darius Morris. Either one is a better option than Fish. I liked the kid a lot.

    2) McBob passed the first test. Get a pass from Kobe and dunk? He just delivered, as asked.

    3) Kapono was ok, hit his shots

    4) Ebanks was ok too.

    5) (this is for Otis Smith’s eyes only): Bynum was AWESOME! Did you see those 2 (or 3?) dunks? Those shots he missed 1 (one) feet from the basket, he was…erm…fouled. Yes, that was a foul… The kid is the future, why do you need DH? Dump him to the old Lakers…

    6) (Still for Otis) Artest was a great…erm…player. He shot a lot. Ok, majority were bricks, but at least you should give him credits for being wide open. Besides, the rim is too narrow…(Otis, he’s a great defender. He and Bynum for DH and Hedo is a bargain…)

    7) Guys, wake up: We need to score. Chances for errors are very little now. Byllups hit most of his shots, Butler too…Even Cook. Artest was a disaster; brick after brick. The guy can’t play anymore.

    I expect MB to try different things for the next game. As long as he’s gattering information about the players and how they can play together, I’m good. Actually, by 1/2 time I was already happy. Morris was solid. That’s enough.

    Cheers.

  2. Sure the score means little in a pre-season game but this means lots. Lakers were short on speed and athleticism last year. They give away their two most athletic in LO and Brown. Get zero in return. Bring in McRoberts, Murphy and Kapono to go with Fisher, Blake, Walton, Metta Worlds Worst. This could be the slowest least athletic professional team since the Wahington Generals! I guess the new Jimmy Buss era should be called the Ice Age. Really slow and stiff.

    Sorry Lakers fans but slow teams with terrible point guards and terrible small forwards do not win in the the new faster NBA. Long season ahead!

  3. Morris was good for a rookie, but he needs to stop dribbling. He was like Shannon Brown last year –needs to learn how to pass

  4. Morris still learning the ropes, but our best PG in a long long long long long long long long long time.

    He should get the development he needs, we’ll be fine.

  5. I liked Morris, but with a first name like Darius, we just KNEW he would be good.

    McBob was a pleasant surprise.

    Kobe wasn’t.

    Laker team defense wasn’t.

    Laker enthusiasm wasn’t.

  6. OT, I hate seeing Mike Brown written as MB, mainly because those are the initials of S. Korea’s president that I seriously don’t like… it really makes me shudder to think that he’s leading the Lakers too. But that’s just me, and totally unrelated; just needed to get it off my chest.

    Otherwise, what I’m curious about is the body language and the atmosphere after the loss. I don’t want the players to be nonchalant about it, but I don’t want them pointing fingers… yet. If they went away from the game looking like a TEAM that learned a lesson, I’ll be happy…

  7. 1 thing I noticed from the “new Lakers” is that the effort is there, the fire coming from new players is there, and the physical play of Steve Blake on Cp3 for me was a very good indicator that our guys are indeed willing to work for MB. (Thats for you Harold, MB MB MB MB MB).

    At any rate, its hard to match the Clippers’ energy and enthusiasm because they too had lots of new guys who were hungrier than ours. I thought our game became a little more fluid with a mixed lineup of speed and power rather than a pure beatdown or pure speed one.

    Ron Artest, I refuse to call him the other name, was terrible. If anything he was the most indecisive player on the court. I think he looked heavy and overweight and he needs to get his conditioning back.

    I love Bynum’s hunger to rebound. He also blocked a couple of shots and his mobility was there.

    Pau Gasol did himself justice, although, I would like to see the main-man Gasol more as he asserts himself into redemption. I am the biggest believer of this.

    Darius Morris has ALOT to learn but once he does, he has a game we Laker fans have not seen for a loo0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0ng time. I still think he has a terrible-looking jumper, but atleast he shoots it with confidence unlike Rajon Rondo.

    Also liked Devin Ebanks contribution and would dare that he rotate in as a starter next game in lieu of Barnes. I think he fits well beside Gasol and Bynum and Kobe with Blake better than Barnes.

    A speed 2nd unit would also be beneficial made up of: Morris, Barnes, Peace, McBobs and Murphy.

    Overall, the Clippers had more mojo this game to prove themselves. That was the part we couldn’t match plus the fact that Chauncey was like Reggie Miller reincarnated as well.

  8. To the haters: it’s SOOOO early. Usually you have a couple weeks before pre-season games. New Offense, new Defense. New players, new coach. It takes time. Can’t key into too much of that. That said, it sucks losing even in pre-season…

    What I liked: Darius Morris. Dude was a breath of fresh air. His upside this season is likely Mario Chalmers, but you have to like his confidence shooting (especially after starting with an ugly miss). I really liked that he took a couple off the dribble as well as catch and shoot – shows potential as a scorer isn’t as limited as Blake or Fish. His defense was O-K…really had hoped for more of a hawkish presence on the perimeter, but like everyone on the team he’s still learning it all. Mostly I was super-happy with his decision making. He didn’t turn it over or make poor forays to the rim, kept his dribble when he didn’t have better options, but continued to test the defense with occasional fakes at attacking the rim. I thought he missed a few opportunities out there for some easy buckets trying to run the offense – it is pre-season – but I expect him to soon realize that the best plays in the NBA are the ones that end in a score, not necessarily follow the coaches designs. He also protected the ball well against some aggressive defense. I’ll be interested to see if he’s a little more aggressive and decisive with the dribble when he becomes more accustomed to NBA defenses and defenders.

    Devin Ebanks. Only limited burn, but he showed a nice stroke. His D is solid (loved that strip of Griffin!) but he’s still so young and raw. Also looks a bit like deer in headlights. I think as the season wears on he can be a big addition and hopefully start. The reminisence to Ariza is eerie, just minus the experience. Would like to see him get more time on the court though.

    Josh McRoberts. McBob looked very good. Not Odom good, but capable of 15-20 min a night. Solid shot. Decent rebounder (clearly undersized though) and defender. But it was his hustle that stood out most. The fact you noticed him every play was a good thing. And as an earlier poster mentioned, I expect the turnovers to disappear with familiarity.

    Kobe. Knee looks good – he ain’t 23 anymore, so he should stop trying to dunk on DeAndre Jordan, but he’s still a killer out there. I can’t wait to see him start dropping 30+ once he gets the offense down. It would be nice if he would play some defense once in a while though – easily responsible for 15 of the opposition guards points.

    Bynum. Took a couple spills and still kept playing. He’s gonna be a beast this year. He was working the boards and defending the rim well (still in new defense so a few miscues like everyone else), but most impressively was looking to be aggressive offensively the whole game. So many of those post looks will go in once the team starts to synch up. I’m thinking the guy could be 20+10 easy this year.

    Pau. He hit a 3 pointer. ‘Nuff said.

    World Peace. No one wants to say bad things about World Peace…I’ll leave it at I hope his shot selection improves….

    Blake. Should be better in this offense than the triangle. Still sucks on D.

    Coach Brown. I like where the Lakers are going defensively. Trapping on the wing and corner, rotations along the baseline to cover the exit passes. Execution was terrible and late, but the foundations were there; I think it has a ton of potential for this squad. It’s gonna need Kobe and Artest to buy into it though for it to work – and I didn’t see that tonight. I think they may be too used to cheating defensively…Offensively I’ve never been a Brown fan, but there were some nice things. As mentioned by a poster before me, the baseline Kobe screens were nice. As were the off-ball screens for Kobe. I think the pick and roll was pretty bad, but it’s not something this team is that used to yet. It should be effective, but without a premier P+R PG on the team it may not be run much by the end of the year. Kobe’s O-K at it but by no means a CP3.

    Overall, disappointed by the loss, but encouraged by the progress and potential this team has. If we can turn Blake/Artest/Barnes into a starting SF and/or starting PG we’d have one heck of a team…*sigh*…..

  9. @2 – I don’t see McRoberts as slow at all.

  10. Before we read too much into a preseason game, keep in mind some results from preseasons past….

    2007-2008

    Lakers go 3-6 in preseason, featuring back to back losses to the Clippers (by 16) and the Jazz (by 21) late in the preseason

    Lakers go on to lose in finals

    2008-2009

    Lakers go 6-2 in preseason, but lay two early eggs against the Jazz (losing by 9) and the Clippers (again) (by 27!)

    Lakers go on to win the title

    2009-2010

    Lakers go 6-2 in preseason, but along the way get pounded by the warriors by 19, and lose the last preseason game against the Nuggets by 14.

    Lakers go on to win title

    2010-2011

    Lakers go 4-4 in preseason with only one impressive win (by 21 over the Warriors) offset by a stinker against the Timberwolves (lost by 19)

    Swept in second round.

    Similar issues arose in most of the “egg-laying” games–too many turnovers, and giving up too many threes….kind of like last night…

    Lesson–This game, in a vacuum, means nothing. I’m going to be interested to see what adjustments the team makes coming into game two…

    My only real comment–the team needs to pass more (into the post especially, when the bigs get early position–One of Pau or Drew should have had more than 11 shots) and dribble less…that alone would help cut down on the embarassment of turnovers that occurred last night…Morris looks intriguing, but has to stop pounding the rock quite so much…but he’s a rookie, so he gets a pass from me in his first game under the big lights, especially having to go up against Paul.

    Relatedly, Paul’s usual performance isn’t an indictment of our PG’s…he makes nearly all NBA PG’s look bad…

  11. Rusty Shackleford December 20, 2011 at 6:45 am

    I didn’t get to see the game. I was too busy watching the 49ers dismantle the Steelers on MNF.

    I am happy to hear that one of the rookies got some playing time. Hopefully Mike Brown is more open to using them when Russell Westbrook is running circles around Fish and Blake.

  12. I am glad that Morris looked like he could score and be worthy of some playing time this year, but he didn’t appear to be a defensive upgrade at the point. He also didn’t seem to be very comfortable on the dribble or initiating the offense; it’s early and the system is new and he’s a rookie and all of that, but he looked to me like clearly our third best option at the point.

    A glaring hole was at backup SG.

  13. First off: Darius: Thanks for moderating the board – I know it is a lot of work. Next: I did keep my promise. I did not post at all from last Friday until after the Clippers game. This was self imposed, because I was being too realistic (I mean pessimistic).

    Well, since my last post:

    1) We allowed the Sasha TPE to expire worthless, which means we traded Sasha for Joe Smith and a worthless TPE (not that Sasha was an all star, however with the departure of Shannon, we are wishing we had him). It also means that the LO trade was basically for nothing, because now everyone should realize that these TPE’s are worthless (literally in the case of the Sasha one).
    2) We signed a bunch of journeymen, roster fillers. They are steady, they are reliable, and most of all – they are cheap.
    3) Kobe’s wife filed for divorce – no distraction here.
    4) The Dwight Howard deal is fading. As opposed to the Paul deal which flamed out.
    5) The Lakers got crushed by the Clippers.

    Did I miss anything?

    I mean I know I am a “downer”; we shouldn’t panic; let’s let them play the games; etc.

    However, some of us (thanks for keeping up the reality check in my absence robinred), expect titles, and that is the standard by which we measure the Lakers. That is how the Lakers should be measured.

    And right now, the Lakers as they are currently composed have abysmal title hopes, not only this year, but for the next several (several years without a title in LA is a lifetime).

    I realize that Dallas won it from an underdog role last year, however, this is not usually the case in the NBA. If you look at the history of the NBA, one of the pre-season favorites (top 2-3 teams), wins the title 95% of the time. In fact usually it is one of the top 2 teams. If you doubt this, you must have lost a lot of money betting against the Lakers/Celtics/Pistons of the 80’s; Jordan’s Bulls of the 90’s; and the Lakers/Spurs of the 2000’s. More importantly, the Lakers never win coming from an underdog role. They win by being the baddest, most star studded group of players that can be assembled. Wilt/West/Goodrich, The Showtime crew, Shaq/Kobe that’s how we win.

    The FO was unable to complete a trade that gave us such a team. Instead they took us backward with the LO move.

    We are about to enter into the another decade like the 90’s. Some of the posters on this board may have enjoyed that time period. They may have talked about how good Nick Van Exel was or how Del Harris was going to lead us to the title. I did not enjoy that period. Not that I abandoned the Lakers – no I suffered through the decade as a basketball fan. I do not want to do that again.

    So – what do I want (other than to whine on this board)? I want action.

    We could have stood pat (with LO and a non-jilted Pau) and been a decent team, and I would not have been ecstatic, but I would have been content. We did not. Now we must act.

    We must do whatever it takes to get Howard. Problem is we may have blown our chance. Dwight may watch this team from afar and take us off his list.

    OK – enough for now – everyone go back to debating who could win a game of horse between Jason Kapono, Josh McRoberts, and Troy Murphy.

    Peace Out

  14. For me it’s the little stories like a rookie 2nd round draft pick point guard and the continued development of Ebanks that makes following a team through out the year so enjoyable.

  15. Bright spots:

    1) Kobe, Pau, Bynum (the rest of the starting line-up? Well, are they even starters? Maybe we should join a 3 on 3 league)

    2) Darius Morris (only guy with any energy off the bench)

    Dark Spots:

    1) Mike Brown’s offensive system (If the season doesn’t start off great, look for Kobe to hold secret practices using the triangle)

    2) The bench play (The Lakers don’t have one and Brown’s offensive system does less to conceal their weakness then did the triangle.)

    3) Defense, especially from the bench, and the two aforementioned starting non-starters.

    4) Mike Brown (Duh!) (Thanks, Jim. But Shaw was such a poor fit for this team)

  16. Everyone’s regular season record is tied now.

  17. Barnes and MWP look worthless on the offensive end, it might be worth it to give Ebanks a serious look. Give the Clippers some credit, they are athletic and have shooters. It was torture watching Paul torch the Lakers again (and Fischer didn’t play!). If only David Stern was a man of integrity …

    First exibition game, but to be honest, they look a lot like the team that got swept by Dallas last year, LO wouldn’t change that.

  18. Rumors are Dwight to the Nets …

  19. @13 – Nets are after Kirilenko, so I think Howard is packing as we speak. But he’s not coming until the ASG.

  20. Robert, if you watched Dallas last year you would have seen they weren’t an underdog. The team may have had the illusion of being an underdog in terms of lack of attention in the media, but make no mistake about it they were the very best team in the NBA before Caron Butler got hurt. They literally had beaten all of the best NBA teams on the road and at home. After Caron got hurt many people wrote them off but they had one of the deepest benches in the NBA to fill his production, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to see them play so well and win the title because they had the talent. Last year proved that the regular season is not as meaningless as many would like to think, there are many indicators of what is to come (a perfect example is the blowout Dallas win over LA toward the end of the season where Dallas lit them up from 3 point range)

  21. I liked what I saw from Morris (for a rookie). CP3 is definitely a game-changer. What an all-around game! Although it’s disappointing we did not get him, I can see in retrospect why LO and Pau were in play for him.

  22. The Nets are about to get DH as early as tomorrow.

    Great job, Mitch.

  23. Lakers will be OK if they can sustain 48 minutes of intense baseketball. Unfortunately, that 3rd Q meltdown is called a “snowman” in golf, it was un-Lakerlike! We have a gaping hole in the 2nd unit composed of Walton, Peace, PG rookie and slow in defense newcomers.

    Potentials, MB should design double screen offense for Kapono and Murphy, use them as weapons in the perimeter. In the same token, Walton has to retire like Peja for the good of his name, he has no offense nor defense. Darius Morris, lots of potentials for the kid but he has to be interned in NBA first before he could play the role of PG. This is no longer college hoop of dribbling with so much time to waste. His initial assignment is to feed the bigs in the posts or the shooters in the perimeter. Second assignment, get back to defense to stop other PG’s. I think we really have to consider using Kobe as a PG and slide Blake to the 2nd unit. I didn’t see the other D’League applicants, where is Trey johnson? It is just a preseason and the game doesn’t count, but on the first game what I saw was LA Pacers. Asst. Coach Kuester is not worried at all and make a big deal of the first half performance.

  24. Magic Phil, Mitch is doing a great job for the Buss treasury by wasting the TPE and avoiding luxury taxes. OK we lost Dwight, CP3 but where is the help for a PG that the Lakers direly need since Fisher became old and slower.

    Quoting the late Laker fan, Rick Friedman – there is no urgency from the FO to get a PG, he thinks the team is coming around and about to take off.

  25. I can’t stand the denigration of Darius Morris’s play last night. 12 months ago, Darius was playing against Oakland University. Last night he’s battling CP3 and Mo Williams. How many of us, on our first day at the job, completely and flawlessly performed our duties? The kid has moxy, and at this point, we need some of that.

    The logjam at the SF spot is interesting. If Barnes gets the starting nod, and MWP is the 6th man, where does Ebanks play?

  26. My (very) early take on this season.

    1. Bynum and Gasol are going to have to carry this team this year. Kobe is still good, but the Lakers strength is the two big men. Lakers are going as far as they carry them. Not sure Kobe will accept this.

    2. Agree that Ebanks should start and Barnes come off the bench. Luke should not play. I think Barnes has to back up Kobe and Kobe’s minutes need to be limited due to the condensed schedule.

    3. I remain optimistic about the point guards being better this year than last(we’ll see what that looks like when Fish is playing – yikes!), but that is still the biggest hole right now.

    4. Lakers have to grind out wins this year – take care of the ball and play tough D. They will not win many games if the opponent scores 100+.

    5. That five game suspension is going to be brutal for the Lakers. Could start the season 0-5.

    It will be an interesting ride – last year there were a lot of complaints that the Lakers weren’t giving 100% in games. This year they don’t have that luxury. As others have said, there is no margin for error (or injury).

    Robert – you talk about realism – I would say realism is understanding that the team doesn’t win or even contend for a championship every year. Players, age, injuries happen, trades get blocked (!!!), the GM can’t just bring in whoever he wants. To me, that is the fun of supporting a team and that is realism.

  27. I am still gathering my thoughts on last night’s game. Here are my initial impressions:

    -With no dominant PG this team will struggle without the Triangle. Bynum is not a high PNR type center like Chandler. He is better getting the ball on the block and hitting a cutter, passing out to a shooter, or creating a shot. He doesn’t move as fast to the rim as guys like Chandler or Howard.

    -Gasol is better when there players spaced out to give him options. He is an excellent passer. The Triangle took advantage of that. Last night the spacing was pretty bad. He would catch the ball and guys were either clustered up around him or the shooters were on the other side of the box. I know the FO wanted to part ways with the Triangle. Had they pulled in CP3 it would have made sense. But with some very pedestrian PGs on the roster they may need to implement more of the Triangle than originally wanted.

    -Kobe looked like what I expected him to look like. Still an effective ball player, but no longer transcendent. I did notice a stretch were he had some issues handling the ball. Granted, I did not watch the entire game. But I did not see a lot of posting up for Kobe. I am still trying to figure out how Kobe will get time in the post with both Bynum and Gasol on the floor. Usually, when Bynum would go out and LO would come in Kobe would go to the post with Odom floating on the perimeter. That is obviously no longer an option.

    -I was disappointed with both Barnes and Artest. Barnes just didn’t do enough. And Ron looks completely out of shape.

    There is more, but those are the things that immediately jumped out at me.

  28. I just do not understand the criticism of the front office. We traded for Chris Paul, are people forgetting this? What transpired afterwards had nothing to do with the abilities of our management team. Lamar wanted out, he handled it differently than every other player involved in the deal. You guys are acting like we can automatically conjure up demand where there was none. No one was offering a player worth trading for which means we would have just ended up taking on a worse player with a much worse contract. Let’s see what happens with the trade exception. Additonally it was Lamar Freaking Odom! I loved the guy but can we please stop pretending that he all of a sudden became something else. This is the same player a bunch of you whined about 30 times a season because inconsistency!

    Also we may or may not get Howard but please stop acting like we have a right to him and that somehow not getting him is a failure of the FO. Orlando has to want what we offer or there is no deal. We can’t force them to take Bynum only.

    Seriously some of you are acting like petulant spoiled brats. Please hop on over to the clippers bandwagon while there is room and let the rest of us enjoy the season and conversation about the Lakes.

  29. 20 + 21: Could not agree more with regard to Mitch.

    At least he has an excuse: Jim Buss does not want to spend any money.

    I can’t understand why people are defending our FO. The Lakers front office was the best in the league when we had Jerry Buss and Jerry West.

    Now the FO is a total hindrance to our success.

    Mitch has been living off of Jerry West since the day he got here, and Jim Buss has been literally living off of Jerry Buss since the day he was born.

    Jerry West brought us Shaq, Kobe, and Phil Jackson and that is what brought the championships. Mitch’s one big move was Pau and who orchestrated that: Jerry West in Memphis. Mitch can’t do anything without him.

  30. last comment was for Edwin and Magic Phil (got the numbers wrong,

    Jeremy: Hang in there dude: I am rooting for you, but it is going to get tough for the optimists.

    Just don’t accuse us of jumping onto another bandwagon: We are not – that is why we are here :)

  31. Just about all of the things we saw were expected. Luckily, those things (lack of precision, cohesion and fitness) should/will be fixed as the season moves along.

    Morris was a nice surprise. He’s raw, and dribbles too much, but has potential. Nice to see him making some shots (scouts didn’t think he could shoot at all).

    The worst thing I saw was Kobe landing on his back hard and hurting his hand in two separate incidents. Seemed to me like he forced the issue with his forays into the paint despite the fact that his body can’t cash those checks anymore. He’s got to accept the fact that he’s older and adjust his play to existing strengths.

  32. That guy, Metta World Peace, is a disgrace to the Lakers franchise. He came to training camp in terrible shape after spending all his off-season drinking and partying.

    The Lakers are paying him millions of dollars to play ball, but he doesn’t appreciate it, and shows no respect to the Lakers. He has no work ethic. He is too focused on other things, and doesn’t care how he plays on the court.

    This guy is an absolute disgrace. He doesn’t even deserve to play on the second unit. I’d say cut that bum.

  33. Observations:

    - Kobe’s knee seemed just fine. It took Amare Stoudemire a year to return to form after his knee procedure. Kobe is on pace to have a big year. It’s hilarious that there are more Kobe doubters on this site than Fish doubters. Aside from Kobe’s sloppy ball handling, I was encouraged with the extra pop in his step.

    - The lack of team speed was a glaring problem last season, and you would have to be naive to think that it won’t be a problem again this season. If anything, it will be a bigger problem. Teams are going to run, run, and run some more against us. Mike Brown’s defense is predicated on quick rotations, with bigs showing on screens and running back to the paint. Unfortunately, our starting unit is one of the slowest in the league, and will continue to have issues guarding fast breaks and pick and rolls, despite the changes in the defensive schemes.

    - The Clippers arguably have FIVE point guards (Paul, Billups, Mo Williams, Foye, Bledsoe) who are better than any PG on the Lakers. This is just sad.

  34. @ Robert

    I mostly agree. I would be fine in a way following a Lakers team like the 1990s teams, and talking about stuff like Morris and Ebanks developing. There was a certain fun aspect to watching those teams, and they were actually pretty good. The last pre-Shaq team went 53-29.

    But everyone, including Jerry West, knew they weren’t winning the title as comprised.

    The problem with that kind of approach right now, however, is that Kobe is 33 and the highest-paid player in the NBA, Pau is 31 and is the fourth-highest paid, and the Lakers have the highest payroll in basketball. Two of the off-season pickups, Murphy and Kapono are 30-year-old guys with specific, limited skills that only make sense as small pieces of a championship puzzle. If this team is not a top-tier contender, there is little point in paying it or assembling like it is one.

    In fairness to Buss, it is clear that he thought landing Paul would draw Howard. Many people in the media agree, and Stern, Cuban, Gilbert et al did as well, and that is a large part of why the deal was blocked. But that is gone now, and it seems likely the team won’t get Howard, either.

    In moving forward from there, it is fine if fans want to take the “enjoy the journey” approach, and focus on micro-issues, Xs and Os, etc. But that should be tempered with the awareness that absent sudden development from Morris and Ebanks, or a big trade involving Howard or someone else, we are watching the highest-paid team in the league probably being a second-tier contender or worse.

    ___

    As to the game, little surprised me. I have always thought that Kobe’s fingers affect him more than his knees, and the 7 TOs indicated that. I expected that Blake would look better out of the Triangle and that Morris would play like a rookie, but a confident one. Kapono and Murphy can hit 3s and do little else. The team is going to have trouble defending–Odom is gone, and the players they have are either old or young, and mostky not that athletic, which creates issues with rotations and close-outs.

    Going forward, Gasol and Bynum have to do more. They were OK last night, but they have to be excellent every night.

    I expect that MWP and Fisher will be phased out as the season goes along and will eventually get some DNP-CDs.

    As to the Clippers, Chris Paul is a true maestro on offense. I think those talking about newness should remember that while the Clippers have the same system, they were playing three new starters last night, two of whom arrived in the last 72 hours. Didn’t hurt them at all; they rolled to 114 points.

  35. #35. “In moving forward from there, it is fine if fans want to take the “enjoy the journey” approach, and focus on micro-issues, Xs and Os, etc.”

    This is exactly what I plan to focus on at this site. If fans don’t like that, I’m sure other sites will give them content they enjoy more. Discussion will surely drift to how championships are expected and how every Laker (on any given night) is a disgrace – after all, that happened after a pre-season game – and to a certain extent I guess we’ll all have to live with that segment of the fanbase that feels it’s their birthright to have the Lakers be crowned champion every season. But I won’t be happy with that as the guy that runs this site.

  36. VoR @26: Good post; not even I am expecting 0-5 :) However, I understand your point. In general I agree with all of your points, but when I add them up, it is not good. The Lakers have never been and are certainly not in their current form, a group of defensive minded grinders. You are correct that we need to be, but we are not, soooooo.

    With regard to realism: I am. I will support the Lakers no matter what. I am one of the few people who actually make noise during games (not checking my BB like many others). I just don’t want to see them implode.

    When superstars retire, there can be down years true, but our superstar has not retired yet. The Lakers have been in half the NBA Finals in history, so a 2 year drought is huge, a decade like the 90′s is a great depression. So excuse me if I don’t want that, and that is what I see coming.

    Don’t worry, I will still root for them – no matter what.

    robinred: excellent commentary as always. I enjoyed the Lakers in the 90′s as well, just not as much as any other decade of my life :)

    Mojo: Yes – Stern screwed us. Let me give you a poker analogy. Stern was a bad beat, however, then we went on Tilt.

    LT: Point guard comment is so brutal I had to read it a few times for it to sink in. Also the speed comment made me realize I might be too optimistic :) You are right – we got ran out of the building last year and now we are slower :(

    T. Rogers: Your player comments are dead on; The only one that wasn’t was where you said Ron was out of shape. You should have said MWP is OUT of shape.

    As in:

    Peace Out

  37. I actually thought the offensive side of the ball was where we played the best last night. Aside from some bad stretches from our bench (MWP particularly), I liked the positions where Pau and Bynum get the ball, and I liked to see Kobe coming off of screens to catch the ball in the elbow areas where he can go to work.

    Defensively was where this team worries me. Pau and Bynum are good post defenders (Pau did a really good job on Blake Griffin), but both of them are really slow in pick and roll situations. In fact, if there’s a glaring weakness in Bynum’s game, it’s his pick and roll D. He shows way too hard and too soon, and does not have the speed to recover and challenge shots in the paint, or even corral a PG from that distance. All those wide open 3′s and easy layups/dunks remind me painfully of the Mavs series. There’s got to be some serious improvement on that end of the ball if the Lakers want any shot at contending this year.

  38. The dream is over. The Busses should sell the team to Frank McCourt.

  39. to a certain extent I guess we’ll all have to live with that segment of the fanbase that feels it’s their birthright to have the Lakers be crowned champion every season
    ___

    You might watch your tone, particularly as the site mod, and you should focus a little more on content. Step back from your personal irritation and look at what I actually said: nothing wrong with a team in a building phase, and nothing wrong with a re-tool, step- back season in preparation for FA spending as a way to get under the cap, as Dallas is doing. But given Kobe’s age and salary, and Pau’s age and salary, and the team’s payroll, both now and down the line, as well as the team’s ticket prices, this team is not in a place where that is really an acceptable approach. Part of that situation is not the FO’s fault, but part of it is as well. It is not a good situation. Maybe Morris and Ebanks will step up big-time over the next couple of years; maybe a trade will be made. But for now, this looks like a second/third-tier contender–not based on one pre-season game, but on who the players are.

    Your position appears to be that people shouldn’t talk about that because you find it tiresome, and as the site mod, that’s fine. I think it’s a little heavy-handed, but that is up to you. But I would add that there is an overlap between the Xs and Os and the FO that you seem to overlook a lot. Here is Zach Lowe with an observation on the Lakers/Clippers game:

    “Jason Kapono looked sloooowwww running around screens and trying to free himself; watch Kyle Korver in comparison and appreciate the speed differential. The Lakers are going to have to work very hard to create shots outside the post in the half court, and they are going to count a lot on Bynum and Gasol drawing extra defensive attention down low — in both pick-and-rolls and traditional post-ups. ”

    That is where the overlap between you and the negative types is–stuff like that.