Lakers/Mavericks: Derek Fisher? Yes, Derek Fisher!

Darius Soriano —  January 16, 2012

Boxscore: Lakers 73, Mavericks 70
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 83.0, Mavericks 79.5
True Shooting %: Lakers 45.5%, Mavericks 41.9%

The Good:
Derek. Fisher.

The much maligned starting point guard for the Lakers gave us all a bit of crow to eat this night. Many have been wondering how to reduce his role gracefully. After all, the player that’s done so much for this franchise as a clutch shot maker and leader for multiple championship teams deserves respect, but also has deserved less playing time for his play this year. But with Steve Blake on the shelf for a month, any such plan would have to wait and fans, as they’re known to do would complain. And suffer. And complain some more.

Not tonight, though.

Fisher pulled a classic D-Fish performance from his fanny pack and showed everyone that he still has the ability to turn a game in the Lakers’ favor; that he could still impact a game the way that only players comfortable in “the moment” typically do. You see, Fisher didn’t only knock down the game winner on an open three pointer. He got steals and finished in transition too. He dug down on a double team to tip the ball away from Dirk. He hit a PUJIT to push the Lakers’ lead to 7 with only a shade over 4 minutes to go. He didn’t quite take over like it was game 3 of the 2010 Finals, but he put his imprint on the game and led his team to a win. I’m not sure how many more of these Fish has in him, but here’s hoping this isn’t the last time we see this. Because tonight was like turning on the tube and seeing one of your favorite reruns of your favorite shows with about 5 minutes left and knowing that the ending was your favorite part anyway. We all love that feeling and would hate to not have it again.

(Honorable mention #1 goes to the Laker defense and, specifically, the late game D of Pau Gasol on Dirk. Much was made of how Dirk ate Pau’s lunch last spring and those critiques are fair. Dirk was a monster in that series and Pau had front row seats. Tonight though, in the closing minutes, it was different. Pau knew all of Dirk’s pet moves and made his life tremendously difficult. Pau sat on his right shoulder and forced him to his left. Whenever Dirk would step back Pau would read it perfectly and step into his shooting pocket, arms extended, and give the big German no room to get off that deadly jumper. When you look at Dirk’s final line (8-17, 21 points) you’d probably think that the D was only average. You’d be wrong, though. Pau gave an inspired effort down the stretch and deserves his kudos. Without that D, the Lakers may end up losing this game as Dirk definitely had his jumper going after not being able to buy a bucket early.

Honorable mention #2 goes to Andrew Bynum. It’s sort of strange that big Drew can put up a line of 17 points (on 8-13 shooting) with 15 boards and a team high +6 on the night and it kind of be overlooked but that’s where we are with him. He’s not played his best ball lately but tonight his quiet efficiency and strong work on the glass were needed for the Lakers to bring home this win. Late in the game Mike Brown went brought Drew back in for McRoberts and he instantly got a post touch against Lamar Odom (a guy that Drew often sat for in the closing minutes of games in seasons past). Drew went right to work against LO by backing him down on the left block and shooting a little banker right over his extended arms. That bucket was the difference maker in the game, but it did give the Lakers a cushion they’d need considering Fisher’s 3 broke a tie in the closing seconds.)

The Bad:
Sadly, the Lakers’ bench (save for Josh McRoberts) earns this dubious honor. I leave out McRoberts because he played his typical hard nosed, high energy game by giving hard fouls on D and finishing in the paint on O. His 7 points on 3-5 shooting were a nice spark and he played quite well.

The rest of the bench was dreadful, though. MWP went 1-7 and didn’t do much in other aspects of the game to make an impact. Kapono only made 1 of his 3 shots, grabbed only one rebound, and dished a single assist. Meanwhile, Darius Morris didn’t make a shot in his 15 minutes, didn’t hand out a single assist, but committed 3 turnovers. He also over-dribbled a fair amount and insisted on trying to create off the dribble rather than taking the open jumper the defense gave him or simply moving the ball on on quickly and decisively. The young PG has shown in other games that he can be a player in this league but tonight was a contest I’m sure he’d like to forget. And ultimately, the entire bench should join him in simply trying to get this one out of their collective minds as quickly as possible.

The Ugly:
The entire game was ugly. The Lakers may have “won” but their offense didn’t click all night and their defense, while scrappy and effective, left a lot to be desired over long stretches in the first half (a period where I thought the Mavs did well to get good looks that they simply didn’t knock down). In a way, it’s a skill to be able to win games in this manner; to come out on top when Kobe can’t knock down a jumper and Pau misses a bunch of bunnies that are in his wheelhouse. There’s a certain amount of pride a team can take in being able to win a gritty game where so much goes wrong and there’s literally no flow and little momentum to be had. So, in that way, I applaud the Lakers. However, as a fan and a member of the viewing public, this game was mostly horrid save for some big stops and even bigger shots down the stretch.

The Play of the Game:
What else could it be? Derek Fisher does it again and I get goosebumps.

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers/Mavericks: Derek Fisher? Yes, Derek Fisher!

  1. Great recap, Darius.


  2. Super duper analysis, of the game situation, as usual. I have not heard PUJIT in a while, but yes, it happened with Fisher tonight, along with his game winning trey.


  3. This game is obviously about Defense. Both teams have played good defense lately, and have been holding their opponents well on Defense.

    Lakers’ 4Q Defense is a sight to be seen though, as Darius mentioned, especially Pau on Dirk and the help defense when player are collapsing and even switching on pick and roll and somehow find a way to make a help rotation when Mavs’ players shot the ball.

    The only Defensive break down that I think significant enough are when Mahinmi gets offensive rebound of an actually great defense from the Lakers and score tying shot by The Jet of a staggered screen. (which I would say have been patented by the Mavs against the Heat – Great play)

    Aside from Lakers’ overall defense, Fish’s 4th Q performance is exactly the kind of performance, he has known for, unfortunately, this has not been happening consistently.
    Fish is probably one of the best player who can flip the switch instantly and when it’s needed the most.


  4. One the Lamar issue, this is a snippet from the Lamar breakfast interview in L.A.Times:

    “The day you get traded, you walk into the team’s office and you see people walking around and they’re acting like your name is Lazarus instead of Lamar,” he said. “You’re looking to get an insight into somebody and they’re eating food and stuffing their mouth and saying hello and goodbye at the same time. They won’t even look you in your eye. There was a lot of things that some people in business would consider cowardly.”

    This is stuff I am surprised such a top professional organisation isn’t better prepared to dealing with. Small things like the stuff above is very unprofessional, and the staff should have been better instructed on how to behave, and what to say.

    Well, nice to see him get a classy welcome back from the crowd.


  5. I’m as much of a “big picture” guy as anyone but tonight is a good example to remember that, whatever the Lakers do this season, moments like tonight is why being a sports fan is so great, enjoy it until the next game…


  6. I would like to say this is not time to point out the obvious Fisher shortcomings as a basketball player this year… This is one of those I love basketball moments. The “I remember watching that as a kid” kind of moment. Because I did grow up with Fisher making those clutch late plays. It was a vintage Fisher moment and it was a sight for sore eyes.


  7. I am glad the Lakers won because I really would have felt like I wasted my time because of the ugly game. That third quarter was truly painful to watch.

    The ending to the fourth quarter made up for that.

    Pau’s defense on Dirk was much better this time around and hopefully he and the rest learned from that even though that is not the same Dallas team that knocked the Lakers out in the playoffs.



  8. Kobe would have taken that last shot had it been another laker other than fish that was wide open. It takes a winner to know a winner. In a close race I would always bet on a old horse with a big heart rather than the young and inexpirienced stallion!


  9. Darius already said it much better than I can, but Dirk’s final shooting line (8-17) doesn’t do justice to the fantastic work Pau did on defense again him. In addition to the 9 missed shots, I can remember at least two or three times in the fourth quarter, and multiple times in the game, where it was clear that Dirk wanted to shoot, and initially thought he would get a shot, but ended up aborting because Pau was in perfect position to contest or block the shot. This invariably led to a pass to one of Dirk’s teammates who, more often than not, missed. Another great moment was when he forced Dirk into that travelling call late in the game. I complain about Pau’s toughness at times, but I have to give it up to the Spaniard–last night he was anything but soft.


  10. 91601guy/Aaron: Agree – let’s enjoy the moment with Fish. A long time Laker who has had many of these. The PG discussion will wait a couple of days : )

    DH: Unbelievable. Clippers?; Stay in Orlando for the whole season?; My Cuban nightmare is getting close to reality.


  11. I love Fisher, but the inescapable truth is that his awesomely clutch performances tend to mask his consistently mediocre play. Granted, with Blake out, and Morris struggling, Fisher stepped up big time. I suppose we don’t have any other option until Blake returns.

    As for Dwight, the addition of the Clippers sounds like a ploy to get the Lakers to up the offer. Clips aren’t trading CP3 or Griffin. Orlando is not taking Jordan/Mo, and the Clips’ 1st round picks are now worthless. Really curious as to who leaked this info. Was it the Orlando FO, Dwight’s agent who may be frustrated with situation?


  12. The Lakers need to trade Metta World Peace for that Ron Artest guy.


  13. Btw… The “Thanks Einstein” Analaysis of the night on TNT was Kenny Smiths astute observation that “The Lakers are a 6-3 athletic PG away from a championship.” Thanks Kenny… I’m glad they pay you all that money.


  14. Fish – striking a blow for old dudes everywhere. Thanks guy, for helping end the lockout, for taking the charges, for hitting a timely 3 now and then, for laying out Luis Scola a couple years back, and for refusing to retire. The best worst point guard in the league. Respect.


  15. I know we don’t have a PG for our new traditional offense… I know all the excuses everyone has built it… But can we finally start panicking about Mike Brown’s offense? He was known coming in as a great defensive coach and a bad offensive one… And it looks like everyone was right. Something needs to change. We have Kobe, Bynum, and Gasol… We should be able to score.


  16. Darius,

    What do you think of this scenario?

    The Lakers with the current team they have go after Jose Calderon. He is a solid starter, players above average D, is a distributor, can hit the three nice!, is relatively young 30, is cheaper then an all star that we don’t really need, and you have the spanish connection with Pau to appease him.

    Or do you think the Lakers are going to trade Bynum for Howard, Gasol for Dwill? with other pieces ofcourse.


  17. Re: Kenny Smith. Haven’t the Lakers always been a “6’3″ athletic point guard” away from a championship when we recently won 2 successive championships without a 6’3″ athletic point guard?

    I am concerned that Howard, and maybe more shrewdly the Magic, will hold up all the trades and mess with teams like the Lakers who are holding moves until a resolution of the Howard issue. At what point do the Lakers make a move with their limited trade pieces, if at all? There has to be a last-compromised position point for the FO to make a move b/f the trade deadline.


  18. Real life issues have intervened today and the post I had planned for today is shelved for now. I hope to have it up at some point today but it may not happen. Sorry, ya’ll.


  19. Also, to every one of us whining about our current situation, read this article about the Celtics.

    Celts may be players in free agency this summer, but if Dwight and Dwill are moved and re-up, Celts will have slim pickings. KG and Ray Allen would be free agents, leaving the volatile Rondo and whiny Paul Pierce (3 years on his contract) as the two returning starters. The Celts situation is described best by the artist formerly known as Prince “this is what it feels like when doves cry.” Lakers are in a good position. We have a good frontcourt and Kobe is still great. So just a little perspective here!


  20. Right now, the Lakers and the Magic are playing chicken.

    Please no mention of switches….

    Defense is far easier to implement on a team with minimum practice time, much more than an offensive scheme.

    Mike Brown is doing fine, he has built a rapport with the players on the team; he has the Lakers playing defense and winning ugly. Until the Lakers get practice time they will have to make changes on the fly.

    After a lockout, during a densely compacted schedule of games, it has always befitted the team that did not make major changes to look more efficient and win games.

    The personnel on this team has not even been fully formed yet, so we do not know what this team will be capable of doing.

    The Lakers are going to be hard pressed to win games on this road trip. Rookies never play well on road games, so we will have to rely on Fisher being super human.

    BTW, Derek Fisher more than any other player in this league could have come to camp out of shape. However, he did not! He came in in shape and ready to play, even after sitting for 8-12 hours a day in negotiations. Thanks, Fisher!


  21. Fisher probably had the electrode stimulation devices that Bruce Lee used to work out his muscles when he was negotiating with Stern. Stern probably mistakenly believed that Fisher was sweating because he was feeling nervous about his position and made increasingly more demanding and ridiculous demands from the players’ union.

    That’s my only explanation of how Fisher stayed in shape while allowing the lockout to continue past the summer.


  22. I’d still prefer to keep Bynum (and Pau) than blow up the whole frontcourt just to get Dwight Howard. I don’t see him as the missing piece for this team, as Bynum is already providing more than adequate defense and rebounding, plus solid scoring from a No. 3 option.

    Not to go Kenny Smith on anyone, but the Lakers’ most-glaring hole is at point, not center. (Props to Fish for last night’s effort, but that was the exception rather than the norm from him anymore.)

    Speaking of the one spot, watching Morris play last night you could rightfully question whether he’d ever played point guard before, at any level.

    At this point I question whether we could hand Morris some bread, lettuce, a tomato and some bacon and expect the guy to be creative enough to form a sandwich. He can’t create his own shot, nor could he set up anyone else, not even on a break.

    I know he’s a rookie and hopefully he’ll develop, but having him get Blake’s minutes the next few weeks is going to cost the team wins.


  23. Mentioned in other thread, but ups to the fans for giving SO to Odom.


  24. Reminded me of the 2010 Finals Gm 3 in Boston. Fish took over scoring 16 pts in the 4Q


  25. I don’t mean to disagree but the Lakers defense wasn’t as great as people are claiming, if you rewatch that game guys like Jason Terry, Jason had their typical wide open corner jumpers/top of the key jumpers etc. and couldn’t knock them down tonight. I think the poor shooting performance inflates the defensive perception last night. If the Mavs shoot even halfway decent that game isn’t close.

    DY, the Celtics are in an even worse position than people think. They have been trying to trade Rondo (the most overrated player in the league) for a reason, they realize that after the big 3 are gone he will struggle to be a mediocre PG in this league.

    Still not sold on Bynum being the guy anchoring this team on both sides of the floor. And can they please get Pau back in the post? His perimeter shooting lately has me just as frustrated as Metta.


  26. As last night was an appalling game until the very end….

    ‘The Fish That Saved Sh*tsburgh.’