The Los Angeles Lakers took the court last night and faced the Clippers for their second game of the exhibition season. With Kobe Bryant nursing an injured wrist, the purple and gold changed up their strategy a little and essentially ran what could be characterized as the twin towers offense.
The Lakers showed a lot in last night’s game; let’s have a look at some observations:
- Andrew Bynum’s activity level in this second exhibition game was quite impressive. With Kobe missing the game, Bynum was probably excited at the prospect of being the focal point of the offense and it showed. The young center was energetic and quick to get to his spots on offense. He displayed good footwork as well as some solid post moves against the Clippers big men. Indeed, even on his misses, it was rather evident that Bynum has the required tools to carry the team on offense for stretches. The majority of his shots came directly at the rim as a result of post ups, put backs or lob passes he caught from his teammates. Although his 26 points and 11 rebounds were impressive, one could not help but notice how invested the Lakers starting center looked in the offense even when he wasn’t directly involved. For instance, the purple and gold repeatedly tried to post up Gasol against Griffin but had Bynum hang around the top of the key; which led to DeAndre Jordan sagging down (Jordan was defending Bynum) in the lane to double team the Spaniard before the ball got there. Instead of simply watching the action unfold, Bynum set screens for perimeter players around the free throw line to help free up shooters since Jordan was down in the lane helping out on Gasol and thus unable to participate in defending against the players coming off screens. When Bryant returns, this screen action may free him up for some easy jumpers should teams continue to defend the Lakers this way.
- There was some trepidation going into last night’s game on how Metta World Peace would perform after failing to contribute in the team’s first game against the Clippers. MWP was active on offense, cutting to the basket and looking for post up opportunities. With that said, he still drifted to the perimeter and took some questionable shots, but was still able to convert a pair of 3-point field goals which could be characterized as fool’s gold. Nonetheless, he was able to produce on offense and give the team some kind of spark from the bench to help out his teammates.
- In recent seasons, fans came to expect that the Lakers would coast during games and only occasionally show some interest in certain regular season match ups; but this year could be different. Although the Lakers lost their second exhibition game, they clearly seemed invested in this contest. There was a bit of trash talk between the teams, a few shoves as well as some hard fouls. If the Lakers are going to give this type of effort prior to the start of the season, one can only hope that it translates to the regular season.
- For the second game in a row, Pau Gasol’s defense gave Blake Griffin fits. Granted, the Clippers power forward scored 30 points, but none of his baskets against Pau came easily; as the Lakers power forward made things hard for Blake by moving his feet and contesting his shots. On offense though, Gasol was limited to a mere seven shot attempts. The Clippers double teamed him and thus forced the Lakers to beat them from deep, where they converted 12-of-24 shots. And although they were able to make the most of their attempts from 3-point range, there still needs to be an adjustment to help Gasol get more scoring opportunities given his efficiency on the low block.
- Steve Blake was assertive on offense last night, looking to create opportunities for himself by running out in transition and taking shots where available within the flow of the offense. The end result was a 20-point night on nine field goal attempts. The back up point guard made five-of-seven 3-point shots and converted all of his free throws for an almost perfect night.
- Although it’s only the preseason, one has to worry about the Lakers chemistry as well as their ability to play together currently. After turning the ball over 21 times on Monday night, they turned the ball over 21 times again last night which essentially completely nullified their 44-27 rebounding advantage. The purple and gold will unquestionably have to address their ball security going forward in order to maintain any type of semblance of efficiency on offense. Also, given their ability to control the boards, as long as they do not give the ball away to the other team, they should be able to score at a high rate.
The Lakers have some work to do but they still managed to hang in a tight (and entertaining) game despite the absence of their closer. Their energy level was much better this time around and this bodes well for the Christmas day game against the Chicago Bulls.