Discussing Pacers-Lakers

J.M. Poulard —  January 22, 2012

With the Los Angeles Lakers hosting the Indiana Pacers tonight, Forum Blue & Gold reached out to Jared Wade of 8 points 9 seconds to discuss the game.

J.M. Poulard, Forum Blue & Gold: Although most would not necessarily call them the frontline of the future, I am a big fan of the Pacers starting frontcourt. The combination of Roy Hibbert and David West may be a little slow in their rotations, but they get there just in time to bother their opponents’ shot attempts at the rim which translates into a 58 percent field goal shooting allowed right at the basket according to Hoopdata (fourth best mark in the league).

Thus I’m anxious to see how both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum play against these big men; and if they are able to convert at the rim against them.

With that said, my biggest question is reserved for the offense: with a frontcourt that features Danny Granger, David West and Roy Hibbert; how come the Indiana Pacers can’t score??

Jared Wade, 8 points 9 seconds: That’s the $64,000 question. A lot of it is about stagnation. These guys need good ball movement and cutting to score and there is too often little of either. With the addition of George Hill and David West, who is just now really getting back into game shape after offseason knee surgery, and the introduction of Paul George as a bigger part of Frank Vogel’s revamped system, there is also still a feeling-things-out process going on. Guys, particularly the reserves, are trying to learn their roles and figure out how they can mesh together.

And then there’s just the fact that everybody aside from Hill — and especially Granger and West — is missing makable shots. All are way below their career norm shooting percentages around the rim. You have to think this will improve as the sample size does. This offense looks really good at times, and the starters are actually producing as a 5-man unit. It’s just when they incorporate the bench guys and start mixing and matching lineups that everything goes downhill.

J.M. Poulard: I’m glad you touched on it because so far this season Danny Granger’s shooting has baffled me. Initially I figured that he was settling for tough shots, but after watching the Pacers a few times, I liked what I saw from their offense.

Oddly enough, the Lakers run some of the same misdirection plays for Kobe Bryant that the Pacers run for Danny Granger. The idea is often to get the defense to think that the ball is going to one of the big men inside as Kobe sets a cross screen for his center, and then he gets screened by his power forward and pops out at the top of the key for either a jump shot or an isolation.

The Lakers so far have found ways to execute but have had trouble converting their shots. The Pacers seem to have the same issue but they offer enough variety for things to progressively get better during the rest of the season.

In the matchup tonight, I think the big men cancel each other out (starters and bench) and thus the wing scorers will play a huge part in this one. Darren Collison should be able to turn the corner against Fisher and get into the lane for some opportunities in the paint.

The great equalizer may be Matt Barnes getting out in transition for some easy scoring chances as well as his ability to play off Kobe to get open 3-pointers.

Ultimately though, I think the contest comes down to whether Kobe (versus George) or Granger performs better (versus Barnes and MWP).

Who do you think performs better and leads his team to victory?

Jared Wade: There are two things I was thinking about perhaps happening when I was looking at the Lakers schedule. One the one hand, I could see the Lakers really coming out aggressively and dominating Indy after back-to-back losses down in Florida. On the other hand, I could see them sort of taking the night off mentally as they are now back home after a road trip and have a rare (in this season) one game in four nights stretch here before playing another Battle of Los Angeles game on Wednesday.

In the former, seemingly more probable scenario, I can see Kobe really going nuts. Paul George has shown his defensive prowess against Derrick Rose in the playoffs and Dwayne Wade last February, but checking Mamba right now may be an even more daunting challenge. I could easily see Kobe, with his array of jab steps, shot fakes, spin moves and up-and-unders, getting George into early foul trouble and grinning at the lanky Fresno product as he walks to the bench three minutes in like “Nice try, kid.” And while George Hill is certainly familiar with #24, his size probably won’t cut it against the 2012 Kobe incarnation who backs guards down into the torture chamber. So, yeah, I’m not betting against Kobe right now.

As for Danny, Granger has now played three good games (including his two best of the year) in his last five outings. He dropped 26 on 16 shots in just 32 minutes Friday in Oakland, including 6 points in the final 4 minutes. He wasn’t missing bad shots per se earlier in the year but he was pressing and struggling to take on-balance looks in the lane. And he has just been missing a lot of open jumpers he would normally make, shooting a disastrous 26% on long twos. The Lakers wings are certainly not the easiest to exploit, but if Granger can keep trending more towards the positive and not fall back into his early-season bad habits, there’s no reason he can’t light up LA for 20-plus.

J.M. Poulard: After playing 44 minutes on the back end of a back-to-back on Friday night in Orlando, one has to think that Kobe Bryant will once again play heavy minutes tonight since the Lakers only play again on Wednesday.

This means that Pacers will see plenty of the Black Mamba tonight, and he should have a very good scoring night. Mind you, if Indiana decides to double-team Bryant and trap him coming off screens, much like the Magic and Heat did, Kobe will probably score in the early 30s but will be awfully dependent of the shot making ability of his teammates.

Nonetheless, as you mentioned, Bryant will probably put defenders in his dungeon and torture them with his array of moves. He should get several free throw attempts and will his team to victory as the Pacers fall to 1-2 on the Cali road trip.

One small note though: Indiana has brought the energy and relentlessly pounded their opponents on the glass so far this season, which may not bode well for a Lakers team that has consistently been outrebounded as of late.

When FB&G needed to talk Lakers-Pacers…

We…went…to…Jared.

Thanks again.

J.M. Poulard

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21 responses to Discussing Pacers-Lakers

  1. I am going to be a little over dramatic and call this game a must win. Take a look at the upcoming schedule to see why : )

    Hey Warren: I would really be interested in your scenarios. Especially the part about next summer. I fear that if it gets to that point, we will be a bloated payroll team, iced out of most of the FA market. The value of our assets will not go up, so trading them this year is better than waiting until next summer, so please enlighten me : )

  2. Thanks Robert. I censored that post to get rid of the speculative parts. You know, where we all get carried away.

  3. Isn’t Sasha Vujacic a free agent now? (He’s not even in the NBA!)
    If we need a good back-up 2, he could be our answer –he’s currently better than any of our backup 2s, and can run the point fairly well (he did it for a while when Jordan Farmar was hurt)

  4. @ Robert,

    Just sent you an email re. Matt KMart Abbott Moore, in the other thread. According to Moore’s ‘source’, Kobe’s selfishness came through in the phone conversations and is taking away any chance the Lakers might have to land D12.

    As to the game, the Lakers’ schedule is very tough over the next 13 games. Indiana has a pretty good team, and the next two after this are the Clippers and @ Minnesota. The Lakers could win all three or lose all three. That is where they are right now.

    Two other issues i wanted to address:

    3-pt shooting:

    A few people have talked about how low the % is and how the team may “progress” to the mean, so to speak. This is possible, but I think it also likely that it will not get back to career norms because of:

    lack of drive/kick skills on the roster
    Age of the players involved
    Bynum’s still needing work on passing out of doubles

    Rotation:

    Phil’s rotations, as we all recall, were very rigid, while Brown seems to go the other way. IMO there should be flexibility re. matchups, but you should have some idea of that BEFORE the game, if your prep is solid, as Brown’s supposedly is. Changes I think Brown should make–numbers approximate:

    Play Pau and Andrew about 32 minutes each and Brown should focus on getting more energy from them. McRoberts gets 20 minutes and Murphy 12.

    Barnes 25, Ebanks 15, MWP 8. Barnes is an energy guy; he needs a little less burn. Ebanks should get a chance. MWP should be a spot player.

    The backcourt is such a mess it is hard to know what to do. When Blake gets back, though, he should start and go 32. Kobe should go 35. Fisher should go 20, and Kapono about 10, or use Ebanks at the 2. Morris and Goudelock need to be in the DLeague learning how to play, and I think the Lakers should consider calling up Elijah Millsap.

  5. Sasha is playing in Turkey, I believe.

    Farmar is playing well in NJ, stuck behind Deron Williams.

  6. Robinred – don’t worry about Farmar. In the off season if not sooner Deron Williams will leave via free agency or otherwise, giving Farmar the PG slot all to himself.

    Hmmmm, wonder where D Williams is going? I guess I know where I WANT him to end up.

    Wouldn’t it be a trip? Arguably the two best PGs in the league calling a certain high profile city home?

  7. I just read WWL’s Blog regarding the Lakers options. It was a sound assessment of what has quickly become a very challenging situation.

    I won’t go into all of the options that were presented. However, one of them got me thinking a little. What if the Lakers were to blow up the team -could they rebuild sooner than later?

    Disclaimer, I am not advocating this, but as I mentioned, WWL noted it was an option. So please don’t shoot me for what I am about to offer.

    What if the FO wanted both DH and DWill? How would they do it absent trading for them (and we all agree that the Lakers don’t have enough desirable assets to do so)?

    Here’s a plausible plan:
    • Trade Gasol for expiring contracts
    • Amnesty Kobe this off season

    According to my math the savings would allow the Lakers to create enough cap space to sign both DH and DWill to free agent contracts. The other part of this ‘proposal’ is that it allows Jim Buss to keep his favorite player, AB as well.

    Obviously the Lakers would have to have the nerve to allow Kobe to walk and be prepared for the firestorm that would result. The flip side of that is the Lakers would have a new, young and hungry core.

    Is this even possible?

  8. The Lakers backcourt is really the problem. They need a playmaker at the point, thus why GM Mitch tried for Chris Paul. Still upset at how Stern blocked that trade to accomplish his own ends, but it really set the Lakers backcourt back, so to speak. Deron Williams would be a perfrect fit, as he gives the Lakers a scorer, distributor, and defensively capable point guard with the size to defend some two guards in the league. He is also a proven big shot taker, releaving Kobe of some pressure and freeing Kobe up to do some great defensive work on the opposing team’s best player if necessary. Even if the Lakers had to keep Bynum or Gasol, either are good enough to keep the Lakers in contention with a good point guard. Kobe has never really played with a traditional, capable point guard during his career. He has only played with triangle oriented point guards. With Deron Williams, Kobe no longer has to initiate, carry, or direct offense. Also, getting rid of one of the slow seven footers gives the Lakers more speed, thereby giving them more transition buckets and better transition defense.(The Lakers are near last in the nba in both these areas). Lastly, Mike Brown’s system is not fit for the Lakers’ triangle personnel. He will have to adapt his system to fit a personnel group that does not shoot the three well, but can defend and rebound well in the half court set. An upgrade at the point guard position would improve most of the Lakers’ weaknesses, just as Chris Paul has done for the Clippers.
    Oh yeah, as for the Pacers, they don’t have enough talent to beat a Laker team at home with Kobe Bryant, having lost two straight games in terrible fashion. Kobe will be ready to play all night tonight, and the rest of the team will come out with fire in their bellies to end the embarassing losing streak.

  9. Fact check: the Lakers play MIL before they play MIN.

  10. eastcobber33:
    “An upgrade at the point guard position would improve most of the Lakers’ weaknesses, just as Chris Paul has done for the Clippers.”
    the Clippers didn’t really have any PG weakness (chauncy billups + mo williams is as solid as it gets). That said I agree with everything else you said.

  11. Regarding Howard:

    I wouldn’t put too much stock into rumors of talks between him and Kobe. From day one it’s been clear Dwight doesn’t really know what he wants. He’s on the market, he’s off the market. He adds new teams to his “wish list” as he goes along. It seems that any team that is doing well pops up on his list. Oddly enough, Orlando has looked just as good if not better than many of the teams on his list. His situation is looking more like a running joke with each passing day.

    If he has concerns about coming to the Lakers I am not sure Kobe’s “generous” shot attempts should really be the issue. The fact LA doesn’t have the shooters to space the floor like Orlando does should be his real concern. If Gasol is shipped out (along with Bynum) to bring him in teams will simply swarm Dwight in the paint. Those 20/20 games will become a lot more difficult to earn with LA’s current lineup.

    With all that said, I always figured Dwight’s desire to come to LA was based more on the post-Kobe era. He would be the number one guy with an organization that has the reputation for creating winners.

  12. Something is not right. The Pacers have the worst attendance in the league with prices half of the Lakers. Yet they have 2 point guard that would start with us, 3 small forwards that would start with us and 5 guys off their bench that are better then 8 guys off the Laker bench?

    Oh yea and they have a better record. Do you all realize if Lakers lose today they could be the 9th seed in the West. Go ahead hit tbe books and show us the last year that happened 25% into the season.

    Nice moves FO. I think LO and S. Brown on their own both outscored entire Laker bench last game.

    Phil Jackson should be Kenny Rodgers. “know when to fold them”.

  13. Kobe played with “Nick the Quick”.

    Some would say Phil folded his cards last year and was largely going through the motions. I don’t know if I totally agree with that, but he sure was somewhat distracted last year.

  14. Eastcobber. In all due respect please do your homework.

    Pacers are 10 and 4. They are 5 and 4 on the road which is the most road games in the league. They are coming off a win.

    Lakers 1 and 6 with 10 home games and a 10 and 7 record.

    Hope they win but clearly right now the Pacers
    are a better deeper team and a coach who
    actually has a plan.

    Research!

  15. Mattal –

    My initial reaction to your post was not fit to repeat in mixed company. While it is not likely to happen I believe you are correct the numbers do work.

    I would find it hard to believe that Father Buss would allow Jim the leeway to amnesty Kobe. However, if Jim wanted to make it clear who is in charge a housecleaning like you offered would do the trick.

    It is a shame that the CBA has essentially made the Lakers a prisoner of their own success. There is virtually no way to extend championship level teams without being forced to trade core pieces for younger talent. You have to be willing to do that on a fairly regular basis or face the pain of rebuilding from the ground up (which takes time and a little luck).

  16. For the guy who said Kobe dosen’t look happy.

    He just lost $75 million and 3 very large house’s in Newport Coast. I live in the slums of Newport a mile away.

    Hard to smile right now.

  17. Drew and Pau should dominate pacers frontcourt tonight. i bet we’ll see more post plays being called. hopefully barnes gets back in groove and brown plays ebanks. this should be a easy win the pacers are only shooting 20% FG on the year. expect big numbers across the board

  18. Yes the Lakers are playing without an NBA PG so people are rightfully explaining away the average play… But one could also point to the fact LA is one of just a few teams not to suffer a major injury in this condensed season.

    So while it’s true playing 4 on 5 makes things very difficult on both sides of the ball one can also argue that maybe Kobe, Bynum, and Gasol are not as good as most beleive. After all… There was a point in time where our best players could carry NBA journeymen like Fisher, Harper, AC Green, Horry, Fox, Devon George, and Walker to NBA championships. Maybe Kobe just isn’t great enough to hide the warts of his supporting cast.

  19. @ Aaron

    Before you say LA hasn’t suffered a major injury again, I beg to differ. LA has suffered two.

    First, if the deficiencies at PG are, as you have said repeatedly on this blog, a big key in LA’s difficulties, then the extended loss of Blake, the one experienced traditional PG on the roster (Fish is a “triangle” PG) is devastating (and has been).

    Second, we have become so used to his playing through injuries like this, but imagine what a detriment Kobe’s injury has to be for him (i.e. ball handling and three pt shooting have been affected obviously and visibly). Any other player might be sitting right now.

  20. I think it’s absurd even to make the suggestion that “maybe Kobe just isn’t great enough to hide the warts…” etc.

    No player in modern NBA history has ever been dominant enough to play 1 on 5 and win. Not one. On the other hand, a few players, among whose ranks Kobe can certainly be found, have been great enough to make up for all those deficiencies and scratch out some wins that would otherwise be tallied in the loss column based on the play of the rest of the team. Kobe’s already done that a few times this season with injuries that are unheard of for a baller to play through. Leading the league in scoring with a torn up shooting wrist? Are you kidding me?!?

    Take another look at Pau and Bynum- Bynum’s putting up decent numbers from time to time but still inconsistently. Pau is falling apart as an offensive player before our very eyes. The Lakers should gut their rost of everyone BUT Kobe and start over, which of course they can’t do- but if there is any player that right now, should be exempt from all this bickering and criticism, it’s Kobe. He’s giving his all for a team that is pretty damn bad right now. Other players wouldn’t bother.