Pre-Season Game #2: Preview & Chat

Darius Soriano —  December 21, 2011

The compacted pre-season comes to a close tonight with the Lakers again facing the rejuvinated Clippers. We’ve had plenty to say about the first game so there’s little point in going into a big strategy session about what the Lakers need to do to win this game. In fact, whether they win or lose isn’t even that important.

What is important is that the Lakers escape healthy with no more nicks and bruises accumulated and that they continue to fine tune their comfort level with their offensive and defensive schemes. It’d be nice if they played better – hitting a few more outside shots, playing some better P&R D would be nice first steps – but if that doesn’t lead to a win, it’s not the end of the world. The real games start Sunday and we have a long season – though in a compressed time frame – to get on track.

With that in mind, here are 5 things I’ll be looking at in tonight’s match up:

  1. How does Derek Fisher look? This will be Fish’s lone pre-season work and it will be interesting to see how he fares. PG is the obvious weakness of this team but Brown has made a commitment to Fish as the starter so it’s fairly important that he shows he’s in game shape and is ready to go once the season starts. Normally I wouldn’t worry about Derek’s conditioning (and I’m still not worried, per se, though I am curious), but he spent most of his summer in negotiating sessions and that surely limited how much gym time he could put in.
  2. Can Darius Morris provide an encore? The rookie turned some heads with his ability to push the ball and create shots in the half court. In his 20 odd minutes he certainly showed that he belonged. But what rookies learn quickly is that maintaining a level of performance under the rigors of an NBA schedule is quite difficult. His young legs shouldn’t be too tested by a second game in 3 nights, but I wonder how he’ll respond mentally after receiving some praise in the press and if he’ll show if he’s learned anything in the past couple of days. The kid has promise but turning that into real, consistent production is always the real test.
  3. Will MWP show anything on offense? His oh-fer performance didn’t do much to alleviate the skepticism he could be the “go to guy” for the second unit. His jumper was erratic and he did little, if any, work inside 15 feet all night. Considering he has a history of being a pretty good all court player, I’d like to see some glimmer of that talent. To be fair, I liked that he took mostly good shots in the rhythm of the offense. But, to be a threat some of those shots must fall.
  4. Will Pau rebound better? One of the reasons the Lakers struggled as a defensive rebounding team last year was that they relied more and more on their length to corral caroms, rather than doing the work to secure the ball. Gasol showed those same habits on Monday and they’re ones he’ll need to break against teams with equally long (or athletically superior) front court players like the Clippers. I don’t expet Pau to bully players, but I would like to see the effort to but a body on a man and then go after the ball. It’s the way rebounding is taught from the infant stages of basketball development. Pau knows better. I want to see him show it.
  5. Will sets on both sides of the ball be any more crisp? Monday revealed a team still learning their schemes and each other. Defensive rotations were a step slow. The ball was held for an extra beat before a pass was made. I don’t expect this to go away in one night. After all, comfort levels often increase with time. That said, Sunday will be here soon and even the most incremental progress will be welcomed tonight. Here’s hoping we see some.

With all that, enjoy the game. You can watch, locally on KCAL and listen live at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

Posts

69 responses to Pre-Season Game #2: Preview & Chat

  1. Mike Brown has said he uses preseason games to determine rotations and find out what players can really do. That said, I expect him to use a different combination of players and to test our regulars in different ways. This means a probable loss – assuming the Clips want to win this game. That said I want to see how situations are handled, rather than concentrating on the score.

  2. The more I think about the inexplicable Odom trade then more I come to conclusion that is there is part of the story we don’t know yet. No way the Lakers trade a valuable player for nothing, even if he demanded the trade.

    I have my theories on what happened I think Laker brass shipped him off because of potential player chemistry issues. That would be the ONLY justification for a championship caliber team to significally downgrade their roster like this.

  3. must… type… fast
    #1 for #1 WARREN!

  4. I’ll be definitely looking at Fish and Morris, and hoping for more dunkage from McBobs. I noticed that MWP was just a touch long on every shot… he kept back-rimming it so I think it’s just a matter of finding his range. Also want to see if Troy gets more minutes… would really like to see him get into game shape.

  5. 6. Will Kobe be a little more careful when airborne making sure to land on both feet!

  6. Every team is experimenting during preseason, it is a preview of what is about to take place in the regular season. The regular season is a process of elimination to determine the playoff bound teams. Lakers could not make excuses that they did not have enough practices with the new guys or the long lockout period, I think Clippers are also in the same state of preparation.

    Whether it is a game in the park or a game under glaring lights, it best to win games with rookies or vets. Winning boosts one’s attitude and confidence. Frequent victories develop good habits and create close camaraderie among players. Nobody in this city will praise a loser.

    I suggest that they follow what Magic J said, focus on Gasol and Bynum they’re the great difference between two teams.

  7. Great, Kobe’s “sprained wrist” upgraded to a ligament tear: http://twitter.com/#!/ESPNSteinLine/status/149584238944063488

  8. John Ireland reported last evening that Howard to the Nets is a done deal. If this does go down do the Lakers have another blue print to follow?

    Would they sit tight with Bryant, Gasol and Bynum? Or would they trade Gasol (or Bynum) for secondary targets?

    No trade speculation here, however, Gasol would fit nicely as a low post scorer in OK City. The Thunder have a wealth of tradable assets (including a young stud PF) that could be packaged back.

    I guess long story short – would the Lakers risk making Bynum the next star to build around?

  9. More on the Kobe wrist injury

    According to Dr. Robert Klapper, of Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Bryant could need three to four weeks of rest to properly heal.

    Klapper, speaking with local radio (710 ESPN) indicated depending on the severity of the injury, Kobe may just miss a few days

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/kobe-bryant-day-to-day-with-torn-wrist-ligament

  10. Wow. We just can’t catch a goddamn break, can we?

  11. got a bad haircut. came home. kobe injured. :|

  12. Wish he just take a break instead of trying to get back early…..Ligament is scary when torn multiple times…

  13. I have been resisting the idea of bringing in Arenas because I am not sold on the health of his knees. But now with Kobe’s wrist issue unsettled he maybe worth the gamble at the min.

  14. Wow. What did Jim Buss do to the NBA gods this offseason?

    If the injury is as bad as advertised, we’re looking at possibly an 0-5 start, which in a compressed season is a killer. The lack of a true shooting guard is a killer. I suppose Kapono is in tonight or gasp, we have a Fisher and Blake backcourt?

    I really hate to say it, but if it is the FO who is not returning Arenas’s calls, it’s time to go for it. Or maybe Deshawn. Man. We’ve sunk to new lows.

  15. @7 JB

    Technically, a “sprain” is a term used to describe trauma to a ligament (including tears), so it has not necessarily been upgraded. Sprains are graded by severity of damage to the ligament. Of course, it can be written to sound way worse than it really is…and with Kobe, it sounds more dramatic when he plays through a “tear” than a “sprain”…adds to the badassness persona. In this case, I think ESPN just wanted a bunch of people to click on the article :-)

  16. This Kobe news sucks. The lakers need to sign Arenas. He can’t be any worse than Gerald Green.Right?!?

  17. I agree with Joe A on the Kobe “injury news.” I’m sure that whatever it is doesn’t feel good, but I’m equally sure that the words “ligament tear” are there to drive web traffic, not to demonstrate journalistic accuracy.

  18. Well welcome to a preview of life without Kobe. If Bynum thinks he’s capable of being the ‘man’ then now is the time to put up or shut up.

    I am no longer sold on Bynum like I used to be, and the game against the Clippers is why.

    I expected much more fluidity and a surety from Bynum offensively and defensively. Yes, he did rebound but I did not see him go and get rebounds that were contested. However, Bynum has a laborious movement and gate when on the floor. This leads to a sort of lethargic appearance when playing. Bynum hit the floor at least twice during the game on minimum contact plays. I do not recall a guy as big as he is being put on the floor twice in a game without the other team paying for the contact. Additionally, where were Bynum’s soft hands? He received a pass at the rim with his man effectively sealed off and the ball his hands and bounced off like he was an ex-Laker center.

    Contrast Bynum with the movement of D-Ho which is a sort of on the tip of his toes dynamic bounce when on the floor. And, one wonders if the Lakers have the right guy in which to anchor future Laker hopes.

    Going forward, if Bynum and Gasol do not outplay the other teams front court, then there will be additional trades before the trade deadline.

  19. Looks like the Kobe injury update is a result of the MRI and not just an over-hyped restatement of the original diagnosis. Either way you should expect Kobe to play through this, and hopefully not be as careless for the next month. He did look like he was throwing his body around way too much in the first game.

  20. And I was looking forward to seeing a healthy Kobe this season! :(

    This is… annoying.

  21. Well I stand corrected. Both Fox and the Big Four Letter are confirming that Brown has taken advice from Vitti, and is sitting Kobe tonight.

    Interesting question–will Kobe sit the Christmas Day game, in light of rumors that rest is the best thing at this point?

    Next question–assuming that rumors are true, and this is a 2-4 week heal–does it make sense to sit Kobe during Bynum’s 5-game vacation?

    I have no opinion, just curious what the consensus is on this one…

  22. Re: 8

    I would have no problem making Bynum the focal point if we could guarentee his health. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened ever.

    Ok City would be an interesting trading partner as they could protect Durant / Westbrook and still deal Ibaka / Harden among others.

    Point is that if the blockbusters we’d like to see are off the table there are deals that could be done to reshape our future.

  23. Zero chance OKC trades any of their young core to anyone, much less a conference rival. None. They’re set for the next 6 or 8 YEARS if they can keep control of the salaries. Why trade that for 2-3 years of another player?

  24. Re 20

    You are likely correct that the smart thing fo OKC to do is sit tight. However, Gasol would be perfect for them – I mean NBA title perfect.

    My main point was that if the Lakers chose to trade a Gasol, for example, they could still materially change their future for the better. The future just becomes a little less certain without a sure fire superstar in return (ie: Paul or Howard).

  25. do we have our (or any) 1st round draft choice this year? (not that I’m thinkin’ beyond this season, or nothin’..)

  26. Haven’t posted since last season, but wanted to share a piece on PJ and the Triangle from Grantland.

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7346315/what-ever-happened-triangle-offense

    It’s great to see basketball again, and I’m hoping for a successful journey. It’ll be difficult and likely have more “downs” than we’ve experienced in the last few years, but at least we’re able to follow the team/sport that we love. What a tragedy it would’ve been without the NBA this year – even with all the chaos that has ensued since the new CBA.

  27. @25 I believe we have two late firs round picks next year, the Lakers and the one we got for Odom.

  28. I would definitely gamble on Arenas. If Kobe is out for any extended period of time this team is in big trouble. After losing Odom, and reports that Kobe and Pau aren’t very vocal leaders or good pals, I don’t see any great chemistry that Arenas would be ruining. Plus Arenas may be able to lighten the mood in the locker room a bit. Our guard positions are pretty shallow, and like Darius and others have mentioned a combo guard could be useful for depth in this shortened season.

  29. >two late firs[t] round picks next year, the Lakers and the one we got for Odom.

    well, if we’ve got our own, that could be good. :)

  30. Is the Dallas pick Lottery protected? Just asking in case they implode this year…

  31. I gotta say, I do not understand the logic of Kobe spraining his wrist equals “we must sign” Gilbert Arenas. Seriously? In what universe does Arenas suddenly become a must-have for the Lakers? His knees haven’t been right in years, his style and work ethic hardly fit with Brown’s defensive philosophy and beyond that, he’s just not very good anymore.

  32. “Zero chance OKC trades any of their young core to anyone, much less a conference rival. None. They’re set for the next 6 or 8 YEARS if they can keep control of the salaries.”
    ————–

    I don’t know about that. They still have to pay Harden and Westbrook. Plus, Ibaka will get plenty of offers in a couple of more years when his contract is up. Keeping really good young teams together for the long haul is extremely difficult. Young guys want to get paid. I am not sure if Bennett is willing to pay the money to keep all those guys together. We will see.

  33. The Dallas pick is top 20 protected. It’s also not necessarily going to come over next year. From what I read, they can choose any of the next 6 years to send it over.

  34. Re: 30

    My thought was similar to yours regarding OKC. I think there is a window in the West for them to take advantage of. Adding a Gasol to go with Durant and Perkins in my opinion puts them over the top for the next 2 or 3 years. Obviously they have to weigh the advantages of making such a move.

    The Lakers could not defend their title last year with a stronger team than currently constructed. If young quality assets, such as what OKC has, were available for a Gasol wouldn’t the Lakers have to listen?

  35. Time to reload … hopeing that a soft Pau to up his rebound numbers by hustling and good positioning doesn’t wash with his overall demeanor. The guy makes nearly $20 million a yr and is yet soooooo warm and fuzzy. I like him but don’t see him suddenly changing his game that much. Let’s start getting some toughness on the team. Magic was showtime for sure, but the guy was as tough as nails when the chips were down and never backed down from anyone. Now Kobe’s injury …. this year looks bleak but you just don’t know for sure. And what is it about the Lakers not being able to get a competent point?

  36. The Dallas pick is top 20 protected. It’s also not necessarily going to come over next year. From what I read, they can choose any of the next 6 years to send it over.

    __

    Correct. This is yet another reason why the Odom trade is indefensible unless it is used to secure a major upgrade.

    I assume that Goudelock is headed for the D-League, but I wonder if they could dress him and let him play tonight with Kobe hurt.

  37. “I don’t know what the h**l the direction is, to be honest with you.”

    “There is no explanation. I mean, you don’t give Lamar to the Mavericks.”

    –Kobe Bryant

    He also said that they handle things upstairs, the team has moved on, etc.

    But I thought it was worth noting.

  38. I’ve been in denial about the Odom transaction.

    It was truly nothing more than a salary dump wasn’t it?

    This season is gonna be a circus.

  39. Has anyone torn a ligament in their shooting hand before?

    I know the Dr. is saying normally 4 weeks of recovery, but what about range of motion after that?

  40. I have my Fantasy League draft in 45 minutes, and now I have moved Kobe down the line a bit, unfortunately. I really hope this time that he lets his injury heal properly. But, do not count the Lakers out of anything just yet, the season has not even begun.

  41. Torn ligament and permanently destroyed index finger suggest A LOT of turnovers for Kobe this year. I suspect we should get used to him coughing the ball up 7 times like he did on Monday night. Not a very positive start to the season….

  42. Ebanks had a nice first quarter and Bynum had some good moves and footwork in the post. Blake was hot from three point range (3-3)

  43. I don’t think MWP touched a basketball at all during the extended off season. Love the guy, but man…

    Say what you want about the Lakers’ bench – Clippers have had B Cook on the floor. Not a single Laker I would swap out for him.

    Bynum looks much better tonight. He is destroying Jordan right now.

  44. I thought the Lakers looked like they had heavy legs during the first game, and that just got worse as the game progressed (3rd qtr disaster). Bynum looks much fresher tonight. Ebanks continues to shoot lights out. Loved Mac challenging that could’ve been Blake throwdown with a good, hard foul. Maybe there’s a reason DFish has 5 rings, offense sure looked smoother with him out there tonight.

    I can’t believe how protected that Mavs pick is. I’d heard some rumors about the 6 yr option and willfully ignored them until now. Sheesh.

  45. I didn’t see the first game, but some comments on the first half:

    1.) Ebanks looked pretty good out there. I don’t think hustle and heart will ever be an issue with him, so I like that he’s adding more skills to his athleticism.

    2.) Bynum is playing like how he needs to play. Footwork and fundamentals on display.

    3.) Still not impressed with Blake. Sure, he hit three 3-pointers, which was nice, but the offense seems to slow down when the ball is in his hands.

    4.) Loving the defensive effort. Kapono is glaringly the weakest link. Aside from just being an overall bad defender, his defensive awareness is also horrible. Sneak a peak at your man once in awhile, damn.

    5.) The Lakers are still prone to boneheaded plays and stagnant offense. When we were on a roll, the players didn’t stick to the plays and instead turned the ball over in consecutive possessions with daring passes.

    6.) I like that Ron Artest (sorry, will never call him Metta) was put in positions to succeed. No longer relegated to the corner spot, he can put his bulk and strength to use in the low post.

    But, man, the Clippers are going to be an exciting team.

  46. Another 3rd qtr disaster so far. Thank god it’s preseason…

  47. Weird… these Clippers “fans” remind me of Miami for some reason.

  48. Man, the Lakers looked ugly in the third – can we blame it on Green? :-) They just looked lost out there, weird.

  49. LMAO 20 turnovers over 3 qtrs.

  50. Kurt liked the Clippers as I remember, he will be happy with this season’s run for them. I drafted DeAndre Jordan, thinking him and Paul will mesh.

  51. Who needs Arenas? We have Goudelock!

  52. Pau and Bynum looking aggressive. Blake’s shot look good. Steve Blake. Not Blake Griffin. Tho he looks good too.

  53. lakers can be a much more efficient team if they can consistently utilize their 3pt shooters like this.

    i don’t mean the one-bounce dribble pull up 3s, but the transition 3s and kick-out 3s.

  54. So we pick up Murphy and Kapono for 3-point shooting, but will they make enough from beyond the arc to make up for the points they’re constantly giving up?

  55. Blake Griffin learned the art of the flop from CP3 quickly

  56. Who knew Blake Griffin was the second coming of Vlade Divac? Flop city.

  57. Blake Griffin is the new Vlade.

    edit: You beat me to it, Derek. I love the name flop city.

  58. Funny how referees STILL fall for flops so easily. As Stu Lantz has said many times, the calls are based on reputation. Looks like Griffin is looking to “up his rep” in a hurry.

  59. I hope Brown has the guts to finally admit that Fisher(minus 11) can not compete in the NBA. Blake 20 points and a plus 13, can. Please except the truth. Fisher and Metta hurt thus team.

  60. Bynum looked good. Gasol seemed to step up his game too. Blake was on fire – made some pretty bad decisions a couple of times and I actually think Fisher is a better defender than him, but he is still easily the Laker’s best PG. Ebanks looked alright, too. I think MWP is playing himself into shape – he’ll be ok.

    That Billups pick up was huge for the Clippers. You can’t really double off of any of their starters. I wouldn’t trade the Lakers bench for theirs though.

    It cracked me up that VDN ran four of his starters out there to finish the game. Crowd seemed insanely loud at the end, for a preseason game.

  61. Gotta tell you folks, i stayed up here in dirty Jersey – a die hard Laker fan in the land of the Knicks who have SERIOUSLY improved – and i have to watch this crap? Jeez Jim Buss really F’ckd up this squad, we have NO hope of getting out of the 1st round let alone beating the Clips ( i cant believe i said that).

    Scratch this season folks.

    Pau -still getting bullied,
    Bynum – ehh im not sold on him still, Fisher- good lord we’re in serious trouble
    Ebanks – def a nice showing
    Blake – so good some really crapy plays
    Goud – not bad for a rook
    McBob – wow, a replacement for LO? lol
    Murphy – double wow…lol
    Metta – one word “sh*t” pure and simple.

    I wonder if Kupcakes got a plan, and to think we could have had > Kobe and Melo with Pau at the 5 if dumb(_!_) Jim Buss pulled the trigger on Drew.

    Im ranting i know but this sucks!

  62. Much better overall effort…two thoughts.

    First, Lakers have to cut down on the turnovers. Sloppy. But for that statistical disparity, lakers would have won this one easily.

    Second—still cannot read much into this one. Green and Goudelock will likely not make the roster (Goudelock may have saved himself with some big 3′s—Green…meh) and got extended minutes tonight…pau didn’t play the last five minutes of the game…kobe didn’t play at all…just a mildly-encouraging preseason game….

    P.S.–If I was the ad exec who paid blake all of the money to jump over the car, i would call him up after his flop tonight and tell him if he does that hit the floor like he was shot by a sniper routine in a game again, i want my money back—i paid for blake griffin not vlade

  63. Did Artest look as bad tonight as he did last night? I don’t mean to start the season so negatively but from watching every game last year, he by far hurt the team the most offensively while taking a step back on defense as well. Looking at his contract I find it so difficult to stomach that management was willing to let LO walk out the door for essentially nothing and yet they didn’t use the amnesty clause on Artest.

    Also why did Darius Morris not play tonight?

    I know some people want him here and others don’t but honestly with Kobe being the fearsome leader of this team what is the trouble with bringing Arenas (and his guns) to LA. Kobe won’t let him get out of line, and this second unit is going to need as much offensive help as possible. The guy doesn’t need money at all so at a discounted rate there is no harm in trying (I would trust him over a D-Leaguer or Kapono at SG)

  64. I was at the game tonight (only chance whilst in the US), and there was definitely a buzz in the air. Most of what people are mentioning is accurate from my perspective. One positive I felt was that the bigs jumped out on the p&r better than on Monday. Still not perfect, but the D overall was improved I felt. Our backup bigs have very little chance against quality like Griffin though. McRoberts seemed terribly slow laterally, and too weak in the upper body.

    But many more positives to take from tonight.

  65. Where are the moves Mitch???

  66. Lakers 8884

    Although the bar wasn’t high, Ron (can’t get myself to call him Metta or an acronym yet) did play better last night. Let me qualify that. He started out where he left off, and improved as the game went along. In the fourth quarter in particular, he seemed to start to find his groove, and made a couple of key plays to keep things competitive (I seem to remember him hitting a big three near the end) although his shot-selection and shot-making still left much to be desired.

    I too was initially hoping that Morris would get some time, but after watching how the offense ran more smoothly with Fisher in the game last night, I understand why Fisher might get the minutes instead of Morris. The rookie showed a ton of panache and athleticism, but the ball moved much more freely and found its way into the post much earlier in possessions with Fisher on the floor. Hopefully the staff can find a way to get Morris some time during games to learn to initiate the offense earlier in the clock and pound the ball out on the perimeter less.

    Regarding Arenas…meh. I’m not talent scout, but it strikes me that that other teams that hire people who are haven’t convinced anyone else to take a flyer on the guy. I assume there is a reason. Maybe the Lakers are smart to do the same.

    I was encouraged by Ebanks’ play early in the game. Maybe if he had been in there in the third instead of Green or Barnes, things would have shaken out differently, but it was a preseason game, and the staff has to evaluate what they have to work with.

    Goudelock looked super-raw at times, and got taken to school by Mo…that said, he hit some big shots too. He’s intriguing.

  67. How about claiming Mickael Pietrus off the waivers? There’s absolutely no other SG other than Kobe on this roster. Chuck Hayes is also worth a look for a legit back up big

  68. Here’s a surgeons take on Kobe’s injury. Hope it’s just a small tear, and knowing the Black Mamba, he will play through the pain. Him being able to go through full practice the day after the injury occurred bodes well for us Laker fans. Kobe might just be taking precaution and getting rest for at least 3-4 days to get the swelling down.

    http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2011/12/doctor-.html

  69. @68, kswagger, thanks for the link, if Kobe was practicing the day after, he will not miss any court time, imo. This is what makes this blog so great, it is a one stop place for all Lakers information, and analysis.