Lakers/Cavs: 40 For 3 In A Row But Another Ugly Game

Rey Moralde —  January 13, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 97, Cavs 92
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 102.1, Cavs 96.8
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.8%, Cavs 50.8%

The Good:
When Kobe Bryant is making shots, it’s a thing of beauty.

Kobe finished with 40 for the third contest in a row (42 points). He was hitting from behind the arc (4/7). He was pretty efficient at 15/31. And when the bigs got touches, they were productive. Pau Gasol had 19 points and 10 boards… while Andrew Bynum (who probably should’ve yelled more to give him the bleepin’ ball) had 15 points and 11 rebounds. It didn’t make sense to me on why they didn’t go back to Bynum more because he got off to quite a great start as he went 5/5 for 10 points after the first. Of course, the Lakers needed every single one of those points from Kobe to put them over the top… but I feel like they could’ve had an easier road to this win.

When Kobe wasn’t chucking shots, their ball movement was fantastic. The Lakers finished with a season-high 30 assists and Derek Fisher had his first 10-assist game in a century (okay, since Jan. 11, 2009). I would’ve loved to see more movement in the fourth quarter, though. That way, we wouldn’t have stressed over this contest in the last half hour or so.

Also, I can’t forget to mention Matt Barnes, who has solidified his position as the starter on the 3 spot. He finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 dimes. This spot will be his for a while.

And lastly, shoutout to Darius Morris for getting some PT with Steve Blake out.

The Bad:
This shouldn’t have finished as a five-point game.

We’d all like it better if they took care of the ball. They turned the ball often in the early parts of the game, which kept the game within striking distance. They finished with 17 turnovers, which is still a pretty high number. But I suppose that’s better than 27.

The Lakers were up as much as 19 points but they let them back into the game in the fourth quarter. And really, while everyone is going to praise Kobe for hitting 40 points for the third straight game, he basically played his own brand of basketball for most of the second half. The game of basketball can be really simple at times; what is wrong with feeding the bigs? Again, Bynum only had four more shots after the first quarter (and I had mentioned that he was being dominant at the early part of the game).

The Cavs also had too many offensive boards (Cavs had 13, Lakers had 7). Box out, Lakers. Shouldn’t be that difficult.

The Ugly:
To whoever watched this game at the fourth quarter? You knew how ugly it was. It seemed like the guards were content to dribble out the shotclock and then pass it to someone like Pau or Matt Barnes to bail them out. They didn’t score in the fourth until 6:31 left when Barnes cherrypicked for a dunk.

The starters played well for the most part, yes… but the bench was atrocious today. Yeah, it would’ve been nice if Metta World Peace (back, achilles) and Steve Blake (ribs) were able to play the game but I thought the bench could produce more than four points. On the other side, the Cavs’ bench scored 36 points. Yeah, that’s a huge disparity.

The Play Of The Game:
I like the back-to-back transition plays that involved both Pau Gasol and Matt Barnes. There was that fastbreak by the Lakers in the third quarter where Barnes lobbed it to Pau for an alley-oop lay-up. And then it was followed by Pau dribbling down the court that ended in an alley-oop dunk by Barnes. They should be BFFs after that little exchange there.

The Lakers are fun to watch when they’re moving the ball and in transition. They will need to do more of that against the Clippers tomorrow night.

But I suppose it’s nice to see Kobe Bryant to get 40 points again. I guess.

Rey Moralde

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36 responses to Lakers/Cavs: 40 For 3 In A Row But Another Ugly Game

  1. I think the Cavs got so many offensive boards because Bynum started checking out of the game. He made some good defensive plays here and there, but certainly wasn’t special throughout tonight.

    Now, attacking with primarily Bynum would be silly – because Andy Varejeo is probably the best Cavs defender – but you can tell he looked bored out there.
    But he should get more that 4 shots after the 1st – and i think three of those came off offensive rebounds.

  2. And this isn’t just a Kobe problem – when he was out of the game and Bynum was with 4 bench guys, they still didn’t run the game through him. The guards are just not running it through the bigs, and thus the non-shot creators that we have don’t get any easy looks if Kobe/Pau aren’t in the game.

  3. Yeah, a tale of two halves. And yes, the 4th quarter was ugly… and long. With about 3 minutes left, I turned on the Heat game, turned if off, wrote a novel, solved mankind’s problems, had a sandwich and returned to watch the parade to the free throw line. Question, with Steve Blake out, can we just fnd some kind of delivery system to get the ball to Andrew? Like one of those tennis ball machines?

  4. It must be horribly difficult to give the ball to the best Center/PF tandem in the game, otherwise, they would do it more …. right?

    After all, Drew and Pau “only” hit 64% from the field between them.

    Sigh.

  5. Fools gold.
    Besides the Lakers the 8 best teams in the NBA bsed on records are Philly, Chicago, Miami, Spurs, Portland, Orlando, Dallas and Ok City.

    Lakers have played only two and lost them both.

    Based on teams played Lakers have easiest won-loss schedule in the West. How will that work with a bad bench, no Blake and Kobe going one on five.

    Fools gold will show up tomorrow against Clippers. Mitch wake up before the good teams come to town.

  6. Ken – To be fair, the Chicago loss was 1 point, no Bynum, and Kobe’s first game with the damaged wrist (ie – before he re-configured his shooting motion). LA can only play the teams on the schedule.

    I’m not saying that I don’t think that there are some needs (obviously some PG help, partcularly with Blake out, and some more scoring punch off the bench would be nice), but I don’t think things are quite as dire as some are making out. New coach, a few new players – it’s still a work in progress. Luckily for us, we have Kobe who can paper over some of the cracks while the team works things out (hopefully!).

  7. A few quick take aways about the bench: firstly, Steve Blake off the bench was the correct move, they miss him far more than I would have thought going in and I hope he makes a quick and full recovery. As for the rest, McRoberts and Murphy will probably need a few more games to get back into game shape IMO but Darius Morris really impressed. Morris definitely has nba talent but is still very much a rookie and mistake prone. The silver lining to Blake’s injury may well be if Morris can use the minutes to adapt to nba basketball as most of his shortcomings are readily correctable.

    Regarding the starters, Kobe is playing at an incredible level but I agree with the sentiment that we need to keep our bigs involved throughout the game. I don’t mind the shooting – when Kobe is playing like he is right now I expect him to shoot – but the offense needs to go inside more consistently than it did tonight. A couple possessions here and there is fine but there is just no excuse for going through extended periods of an entire quarter without working the post; at least not with our frontline.

    Hopefully the Lakers use the second half as a tune-up and correct some of the issues we saw for tomorrows matchup.

  8. Good example of a Lakers game in which:

    a) Kobe shot a little too much.
    b) It wasn’t the main problem.

    a) Bynum was 7/9; basically, Kobe should just look at how big the other team’s center is, and that should decide how many times he gives the rock to Bynum. When the other guy is close to Bynum’s size (Kwame Brown, Marc Gasol) Bynum often has trouble. When it’s a guy like Anderson Varejao (who is a pretty good player,actually) Bynum is often just too big and too long in the arms for the other team to keep him from shooting below 60% from the floor on 15-17 shots if he gets the ball in decent spots. But many times he doesn’t get those 15-17 shots. And yeah, I think Kobe wanted 40 and the other guys went along with that.
    b) But the Lakers’ backup SGs are Kapono and Goudelock. Neither of them is a guy you can play more than about 8 minutes. With Blake expected to be out until February, the Lakers PGs are Fisher and Morris. Fisher did about as much he can–he moved the ball well, had 10 assists and no TOs. But he is not a threat to score and doesn’t do much to keep the other team’s PG out of the paint. Morris will have an NBA career, but he is a 20-year-old rookie and not destined for the ASG. Signing Kapono instead of Delonte West, who also signed a one-year deal for the minimum (with Dallas) AFTER the Lakers signed Kapono–looks even worse now.

    Barnes has played pretty well, but that is still a questionable position. Brown, as is his wont, gives different guys DNP-CDs. Tonight it was MWP.

    Ken is putting it more strongly than I would, but he has a point.

  9. The matchup between Jamison and Kobe reminded me of this game I attended in 2000 when they both scored 51. It’s amazing to watch and remember when Kobe was operating as much on raw talent and intuition as repetition. At the end of regulation he actually makes the famous Kobe jaw. All with Chick Hearn narrating:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mR7dG-bE14E

  10. I’m looking at the box scores over the last few games and while I think Pau and Drew getting a few more touches and Kobe shooting a bit less could add balance to offense, this is not the real problem. The real problem is that we have a starting 4 instead of 5 and Fisher + Bench night in and night out are contributing about 10 points of offense. This is not a recipe for long term success even if Drew and Pau get their touches.

  11. I think some people are overlooking something really key with Kobe at the moment and his roll in the offense.

    Kobe is the sole player on the team who can create a shot for others on the team as we all know. But Kobe is also the best 1 on 1 basketball player in the world, with simply far too many moves and too much skill for any defender in the NBA to contain him 1 on 1. What I have seen the last few games is teams attempt to contain Kobe 1 on 1 for the first three quarters and honestly kobe in these situations does exactly what I want an NBA shooting guard and the teams best player to do when covered 1 on 1 — abuse his defender and score. Its the same thing as if someone covers Bynum 1 on 1 in post, you want your center to abuse his defender and force the defense to collapse on him thus freeing someone up. Same with Kobe, if they cover him 1 on 1, he should feel free to shoot if he creates himself a good shot (which the vast majority of his have been) and if they double then he should pass it, which for the most part he has. Thus I really don’t have a problem with how much kobe has been shooting. Over this span he is hitting around 50% from the field which is phenomenal and should keep it up until other teams commit to stopping him.

    On another note, in the first quarter we seem to completely stop running our offense which isn’t all on Kobe. People stop moving off the ball, stop setting picks for Kobe and screens for each other and are content to just stand there (Bynum admittedly stands there holding position but still just stands there). Thus Kobe is forced into hero mode as no one else can create for the team. For example Pau’s three against Utah was a result of Pau standing in the corner and kobe blowing by Bell and forcing a defender to collapse on him, Pau did literally nothing on that play but hit a catch and shoot jumper.

    In conclusion, If Kobe is being covered 1 on 1, he should feel free to abuse his defender until his hearts content.

  12. Fools gold is still better than the craptastic sandwich that losing to the Cavs would be.

    J.D. – Good memories, nice find.

  13. I hate to say this, because Kobe ball can get ugly… But he’s converting at 57.5 true shooting percentage. I mean, that’s phenomenal. While we all want Bynum and Gasol more involved, because it looks nicer, Kobe is getting the job done.

    That’s not to say that some back and forth between him and Bynum would be unappreciated. It would definitely improve both of their production, especially against the Cavs.

    Cleveland would have had to respect Bynum and double if we started feeding him. Bynum throwing it back out to number 24 in those instances would give Kobe enough space to dominate the mid range (more than he has already).

    Unfortunately, I don’t think they have the chemistry, nor does bynum have the passing acumen, to work the two man game. I wonder if there’s any animosity between them. They’re definitely not the most chummy pair on the court.

  14. Quick Question to the forum: I missed a quite a few Lakers game this year for various reasons, but is World Metta Peace now completely out of the picture? I saw the box score of today’s game and he got no playing time (and past few games). Beginning of the season, I thought he was supposed to be the leader of the bench mob? Has his play deteriorated that much that Mike Brown can’t play him?

  15. I caught the game as well and couldn’t help but realize that the main thing the team needs is rest plus a chance to practice. Tomorrow’s game will make 14 games in 21 days for our Lakers. Guys are banged up, guys are exhausted, guys are injured, and guys simply need more practice time to get more comfortable with each other in the offense. Scoring is down all over the league while turnovers are probably up, and nobody has played a more compressed schedule than the Lakers.

  16. @Min #14

    Glove wrote on January 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    According to a Mcten tweet “Now I’m hearing from Lakers PR that Metta World Peace has a sore back and sore Achilles’. It wasn’t listed on the pregame injury report.”

  17. Indeed, our inside out game seems really out of synch. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bynum and Kobe had their differences since the infamous Kidd trade talks.

  18. Kobe: This is just getting to be the type of stuff people are going to read about 30 years from now and be amazed. My dream might be reachable. : )

    Schedule: Not only do we have this tough set of games coming, but they are followed by a stretch where we are on the road for 8 out of 9.

    Fool’s Gold: We will see as we come into this tough schedule. They are way ahead of where I thought they would be, and the reason is KB. However if by fool’s gold, you are afraid that Mitch will quit mining: I do not think so. However getting that stuff out of ground is tough.

  19. Re: Ken, fools gold, and LA’s schedule

    While I agree LA hasn’t played the murderer’s row schedule, they haven’t played a weak schedule either. They have played the seventh-strongest schedule in the league this year (.559 Avg. Opp. Win Pct.) as a result of playing few elite teams, but few absolute bottom feeders as well. Remember, LA’s past two opponents, UTH and CLE have been playing better ball lately.

    PHI and ORL have to be examined with a critical eye–those two teams have played a far-weaker schedule than LA (both are bottom-5 in that department, in the low .400′s)

    Meanwhile, let’s not forget that, while LA’s schedule has been home friendly, its road games have often been on the second night of a back to back, and no team has played more games in fewer days–to whit–the Lakers’ co-tenants at staples have only played eight (!) games compared to the Lakers’ thirteen.

    I agree with a couple of earlier posters. First, I think Kobe wanted 40 last night and sacrificed some offensive efficiency to do it. That isn’t meant as an indictment, it’s simply part of the Terminator package. Second, I think the Lakers are doing pretty well considering the new systems they are running on both ends of the floor, the lack of a training camp, the number of games they have played, and the number of injuries they have sustained. In light of all of those issues, I think 9-4 is pretty darned good, and the defense has looked pretty dominant at times.

  20. If our current record is fool’s gold – what would the Bulls’ Loss be called? Shiny but fake? I don’t care if its 1-pt win or a 21-pt win, I care for are wins we need to rack up before we face challenges. It helps the youngsters’ acclimatize to the league and for them to have confidence.

    Plus its always good to win.

    The Lakers have 15 guys on the roster and with a compressed schedule its gonna get tougher. League-wide, the lack of conditioning and sudden rigid sked has taken a toll on major players. Luckily for us that guy named Kobe isn’t quite human.

    The Clippers are gonna throw Bynum some double teams tonight coz they are very athletic. We need to be a little careful on how we use Drew. I don’t like the notion that player X has to have his touches, etc. Bynum’s offensive production is cherry on top coz we need him for his D. I like it better that we run our offense and play basketball.

    Except when Kobe decides to go 22-37 tonight, and pours in 50 on the Clippers.

  21. Very encouraged by Morris’ play last night, I think he’ll get better fast. He could have had 10 assists last night, made lots of nice passes to open shooters who kept missing.

    Will Troy Murphy ever get a little arch on his shot, he’s going to get open looks every game…

    Agree that Andrew and Bynum need more touches, would be helpful if they would be more decisive after getting the ball.

    More McRoberts, think he will help in the long run..

    Actually thought most of Kobe’s shots were in the flow, if he would just get rid of the fall away from the corner when double teamed…

  22. In this shortened season, wins are wins. There are two primary goals: 1) make the playoffs, 2) have a healthy and rested team for the playoffs. Remember the last lockout season. The 8th seeded Knicks almost won it all. So, it’s not worth killing the team for a 1 seed or Kobe winning individual accolades. Just get I the playoffs and then anything can happen, even championships.

  23. have a healthy and rested team for the playoffs.

    ___

    Kobe is playing very heavy minutes.

  24. DY and Robinred – I rather not be rested this season coz “rested” only means not playing meaning injured.

    No rest for the wicked boys.

  25. Some great pointson the Laker’s record. 9 home games and 4 away against middle of rge road, not top 8 teams is tbe key.

    Been a major Laker fan for 40 years and played the game in collage. Also have several friends who played in NBA(I own a distilled spirits and Italian Wine Company) and have sponsored several of the retired NBA players events.

    Point is a feel I have guys who played the game to get thoughts from. They all agree you can’t play one on 3 or 4 and beat good teams with no bench. Brown did it with James because their bench and PG were much better then this team.

    Fisher, Metta, Murphy, McRoberts, Walton! Name one you could currently trade! Morris has potential, the rest ———–.

    Final thought! As I said I own a Spirits Distributor and my sales people talk to many club owners and bar tenders in LA. There is much more to the LO store and also the current mystery injury of Meta World Brick.

    I love the Lakers, but just like my 7 year old son I feel being honest is more important then being in denial. Example: Hated Clippers by 8 tonight.

    Based on current roster, bad bench, Blake out for 2 weeks, current offense called Kobe ball and next month of away games against top tier teams———-Lakers will be 3 games over .500 in the 6th spot in the West by March 1st.

    Mitch must improve this team or Kobe will burn out, Andrew will lose his fire, Fisher will set a record for worst 3-point percent in history, Metta will quit and start a band with Walton and Fish called The Bricks and we will have to deal with guys like Clipper Daryl and Billy Crystel.

    Help me please front office?

  26. People keep talking about an unsustainable offensive approach and to a certain point, I agree. However, what’s not being discussed is that the Lakers are playing defense at a very high level so far this season and that’s what is carrying them to wins. I think we need to look at both sides of the ball and wonder if the Lakers do have a winning formula even if it’s not one we’re accustomed to watching.

  27. Added note: Road games in next 35 days

    Miami, Orlando, Denver, Utah, Philly, Boston, NY, Portland, Dallas and OKC.

    Can Kobe by himself with the 56th rated point guard, the 27th rated bench scoring and really only 4 quality players win many of those games?

    Be honest now!

  28. people are crying about kobe shooting too much. WHO ELSE can score. pau has NEVER been a 20-10 and that’s not going to start now. bynum needs more touches but he has slowed down CONSIDERABLY the past 4 games. If kobe shoots 18 shots like some people want Lakers will lose every game. kobe is our only above average player on the perimeter he has to do it.

  29. If we could like comments I’d have liked Darius’s on defense. The Lakers have had a DefEff of under 97 in all but 4 or 5 games this year. Mike Brown deserves a lot of credit for being able to install such an effective system in so little time with inconsistent personnel. Pau also deserves more credit than he’s gotten. (Drew’s contribution is obvious. )

  30. On the upcoming games… What wins road games? Defense! – and the Lakers are fairly good in this area. While I don’t expect our offensive production to go up on the road, I do expect us to win our share of games, i.e. 50% to 67% of the games. Since we Laker fans want more like 80%, we will probably be disappointed and scream like little pigs.

    Look at the Laker offense when Kobe goes into the corner and gets double teamed there. Instead of watching Kobe, how about watching his teammates. See if any of them rotate over to be in his passing sight line. While Kobe does shoot “impossible” shots too many times, the rest of the team is also responsible for making themselves available when he is double and triple teamed.

  31. http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2012/01/josh-mcroberts-has-taping-issues.html

    Looks like McRoberts had a limited run because he had to retape his toe and MBrown didn’t realize that. This type of communication break-down is unacceptable, no matter how you spin it. They all earn millions of dollars a year, and are paid to do this. Can’t get any more unprofessional than that.

  32. Whatever are the struggles, it’s still a good win at this maiden season.

    I just noticed a pattern of criticisms viz-a-viz the actual performance of the players being criticised. Luke was the favorite player of an underachiever, yet when he given more playing time, he elevated his game to a decent sf. When Kobe tanked a lot of shots with a L result in Denver b2b game, the succeeding games were record breaking achievement. Yesterday, when Fisher was the topic on this blog, lo & behold Fish made those wonderlust assists that would be a model for all aging PG’s. It doesn’t mean that criticisms are good nor harmful to a player, as long as it within reasons it could be a motivating factor depending on how it is professionally said or read by the player.

    Tonight is another exceptional game. So far Clippers have the advantage in beating the Lakers twice during preseason. However, after 11 games Lakers are getting better & seasoned a little bit, so Lakers would have the advantage in this 3rd encounter since they know the laden skills of their opponents while aware of their 2nd half flaws in previous encounters.

  33. Kenny,
    Have you ever been in an accident? How about combat?

    When there are a thousand things going on around you and you are new to the situation – both Brown on the Lakers and McBob on the team – things get missed. That’s life, so we should get on with things.

    However, to your point, I bet this doesn’t happen again.

  34. Craig,

    I have to agree with Kenny there. I’m sorry but I have no sympathy for people who make millions of dollars a year to do that exact job. When a CEO makes a mistake and investors lose a lot of money, we don’t just say “let’s move on” because he/she is paid to do that exact job. Same with all those BS arguments about athletes being immature –grow up. Back when I was 19 (I’m now 22) i know better than most basketball players –most people who are 18 and above are mature enough (maybe not dumb jocks). I’m not saying this is the end of the world, but it is totally his (and the Lakers staff’s) fault, and we should treat it as such.

  35. Aside from the fact that we won the game…equating the mistake of communication between the coach and an injured player with a CEO decision that loses investors a lot of money just doesn’t seem to be a reasonable comparison.

    P.S. CEOs regularly make decisions that cost investors money – it is only occasionally that they pay for their mistakes with their jobs. Often time it is politics that changes the chairs in a corporation.