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Lakers/Timberwolves: A Big Game From The Big Three

Boxscore: Lakers 106, Timberwolves 101
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 117.8, Timberwolves 112.2
True Shooting %: Lakers 63.1%, Timberwolves 46.3%

The Good:
Where to start?

Kobe Bryant having another tremendous game in what is turning into a throwback, vintage season? Check.

Pau Gasol starting out aggressive and sinking shots from everywhere on the floor? Check, again.

Andrew Bynum providing steady scoring throughout the course of the game and scoring late buckets to help thwart a late Minnesota comeback effort? Check this off as well.

When the Lakers’ big three plays this well, they’re not impossible to beat but it’s extremely difficult and the Wolves found this out first hand. It started with Gasol, seemingly upset about his off night against the Bucks the night before and ready to take it out on the T’Wolves. In the first period, Pau scored 14 of the Lakers 22 points hitting shots inside and out, and thoroughly controlling the Lakers offensive sets. He was not content to simply examine the floor and look for his teammates, but rather decided he’d hunt his own shots the way that Kobe and Bynum often do. The result was the above output, but also a tone being set for his game and how he’d not let bad games linger but would rather attack and get back on track quickly. Many criticisms are flung Gasol’s way for not being too cerebral a player, but tonight, in his own efficient and smooth onslaught, Pau turned primal and took the game into his hands to the tune of 28 points while only missing 4 of his 15 shots from the floor and sinking all 6 of his FT’s. It was a beautiful sight to see and I, for one, hope we get more of it.

His partner in the pivot would not be left out of the fun, though. Bynum too worked the paint, moving into the creases of the Wolves D to receive passes that he could finish with ease or setting up at the low block and using his massive frame to earn position to set up his own increasing arsenal of post moves. He showed off his righty hook from the baseline, solid drop steps that earned him trips to the foul line (where he was 5-7, looking more calm in the process), and was even able to show off a few moves from the elbow where he hit a jumper and executed a nice drive and spin move that resulted in an “and 1” finish. Towards the end of the game, Bynum also got a couple of inside finishes off feeds from Pau that finally busted the Wolves zone D (more on this in a second) and allowed the Lakers to regain their hold on the game. It wasn’t Bynum’s best game (he looked lethargic in spots and his work on the boards – along with Pau’s – left a lot to be desired) but his offense was needed tonight and he delivered with 21 big points.

And then, of course, there was Kobe. He grabbed 14 rebounds (one more than Bynum and Pau combined). He hit 5 of his 9 (which, to be fair are too many attempts) three pointers which provided critical spacing for his big men and crucial points that his team would need. He blocked two shots (both jumpers by the man he was guarding) and played good overall D the entire night. His overall line of 35 and 14 with 2 assists and the 2 aforementioned blocks was one that gave the team everything they needed to win the game. Oh, and on the way he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leader in made field goals for the Lakers. Pretty good night for #24.

The Bad:
For several years the Lakers have struggled to play against a zone defense. When the Lakers ran the Triangle, they’d often let the ball stall in the hands of one player, get away from the principles of ball and player movement, and too often simply settle for outside jumpers against the shot clock.

Tonight, under Mike Brown, the Lakers didn’t look much better against the Wolves zone and it nearly cost them the game. Trailing by 18 in the third quarter, the Wolves decided to change up their defensive scheme (it obviously wasn’t working up to that point) and go to a zone. How did the Lakers respond, you ask? About as poorly as possible. Instead of going right to zone busting actions of flashing a big man to the middle of the floor and then attacking the zone from the inside out, the simply decided they only needed the “out” part of that equation by firing up long jumpers. And not only did they shoot long J’s, they did so early in the shot clock and rarely after making more than a single pass. Sometimes they didn’t pass at all!

To make matters worse, those long jumpers led to long rebounds which then led to Wolves run outs and fast break chances that they converted with ease because the Lakers decided after missing long jumpers early in the shot clock that they’d not run back hard in transition. That’s like, what, a triple whammy? The change in tempo to the game clearly played into the Wolves’ hands and by the time the third quarter was over the Lakers lead had been trimmed to 5 and with Minnesota carrying over that momentum into the 4th quarter to actually take the lead. Ultimately the Lakers broke the Wolves’ zone with the Pau/Bynum high-low action I mentioned earlier, but it took entirely too long for the Lakers to figure this out and it nearly lost them the game.

The Ugly:
Whenever you play against a team with Kevin Love on it, rebounding can be an issue. He’s simply too good on the offensive glass to ever completely keep him away from the ball and doing some damage. So, in some ways, I can forgive a few of Love’s 7 offensive rebounds. Again, his nose for the ball is too good. What I can’t forgive, though is Nikola Pekovic matching Love’s 7 offensive rebounds. Or Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph combining for 6. Or 8 of the 11 T’Wolves that played grabbing at least one offensive rebound. On the night Minny grabbed 24 O-rebounds in all and 32 second chance points. In a game that was ultimately decided by only 5 points, the Wolves work on the offensive glass and the Lakers allowing them to do so was the difference between this game being comfortable and a nail biter down the stretch.

The Play of the Game:
It happened on a play we’ve seen thousands of times before. Kobe working on the right wing, in a triple threat position, jab stepping his man until he felt he had an advantage. Then, with his back leg he steps forward while simultaneously putting the ball on the ground (to avoid a travel) to get by his man. His reverse lay-in used to be a thunderous dunk (and sometimes still will be) but the two points that result count the same. This time it was a bit more special, though. This time, the bucket moved Kobe into the #1 spot in Lakers’ franchise history in made FG’s. Quite a feat by quite the player.

Reader Interactions


  1. Nice recap, Darius. A good sports night in general, as Shaun White just threw double-cork 1260s on route to a 5-peat. ‘Interesting’ judging aside, that’s a healthy slice of dominance.

    Ken – it’d be really helpful if, as the game progresses, you could keep typing all your angry, venting comments into the comment box, but – and here’s the key – don’t hit “Submit” in between every angry thought. Write down every angry thought, and then click “Submit” only when the game ends. It’s very, very tiring to have to scroll through a game thread where 50% of the comments are Ken’s repetitive rants against Brown, Kupchak, Bynum, and whoever else isn’t living up to Ken’s standards. If you could condense all that into one giant, furious post, it’d be a lot easier to ignore. Thanks.

    Reading back through the last game thread from start to bottom, Ken seems either very unhappy with life in general, or a little unhinged. Everyone is allowed to express their own opinions, but let’s try to keep the quality of comments on FB&G high.

    Darius is a far better man than me for his patience.


  2. Keith, its “Derek” vs “Derrick” so the Lakers will have to include a consonant in the deal to make it work.


  3. Snoopy,

    Agree with your thoughts 100%. I know if I post more than a few comments within an hour, the system blocks me and says something to the effect of, “You are commenting too much – slow down.” Apparently this doesn’t happen to our hyperbolic comrade.

    It’s tiring, and I end up hating myself at the end of the night for even continuing to read the repetitive rants on this otherwise fine blog, but I guess I have my own masochism issues to deal with.

    Thanks for expressing it much nicer than I have been able to.


  4. My life us wonderful. Great family and run a good company.

    My Laker life on the other hand is silly. You would think after 40 yearscI would be more tolerant. That’s why my wife locks me in the celler during games.

    I promise to control myself from this day on. I even bug myself sometimes. Thanks for smacking me down I needed it. I really do enjoy the intelligence of tbe site. But then I don’t even read my silly rants.



  5. I think Ken’s rants come from his passion for the Lakers. I’m sure he wouldn’t bother jumping on the net to vent if he wasn’t passionate about his team.

    I’m happy to see Goudelock producing off the bench the kid is confident in his game. Now if Blake can hurry back so Goudelock can take some of Kobe’s minutes.

    Noticing our 3s falling these past 3 games. Establishing the inside game early every game. Let’s hope we catch our second win for this marathon


  6. I actually find Ken’s repetitive rants to be humorous and funny as it is the repetition that makes it funny. Though I think Ken should do what he says, just don’t rant as much so the Ken haters are treated fairly. Though I got news for you Snoopy, there are many people in this forum, including me, that love the rants. I seriously had trouble sleeping after tough Laker loses last season, but now I can always laugh at a loss because I know there is someone who is much more pissed about it than me lol.


  7. It was a bad win.

    Why was it a bad win? Because right now every win is a bad win.

    Every win is one more day that the Lakers management avoids doing what it must do, which is blow this team up and start over.

    Our brilliant lineup shake-up was to play TAFKARA/WMP with the starters, thereby adding one more player who has to post up to be effective, increasing the paint clogging where Pau, Drew and Kobe are all also trying to operate.

    [Dr. Evil voice] Riiiiiiiiiiiight[/Dr. Evil]

    It’s a team with a sputtering offense, an inconsistent defense, sub-par rebounding, no bench, and way too much “dead money” tied up in players who would get NBA-minimum deals anywhere else (if that) were the Lakers to cut them.

    Moreover, 2012 is a rare year where there are both franchise-level free agents available ***and*** an exceptionally deep draft. If there’s anytime to tank for draft picks and cap space, this is the year.

    Blow this noise up. Trade Pau and/or Drew for cap relief & draft picks. If Drew can’t be traded, decline his contract option.

    AMNESTY Kobe!!!! Yes, I ‘m serious. Kobe is a LeBron-level player, but he’s making 2x Lebron money. Under the new CBA, that’s simply unsustainable.

    Do those things and the Lakers go into the 2012 off-season with at least one lottery pick and cap space for two max-contract players.

    Stay the course, and we get to watch Kobe wear himself down into a puddle trying to make up for the shortcomings of the current roster and offensive/defensive schemes.

    I’d rather watch young fresh faces try to build the next Lakers dynasty than watch a repeat of 2005-2007 with older slower players.

    I love my Lakers, but right now I don’t want “fool’s gold” wins.


  8. Appreciate it, Ken. Mature response. I hope I do see some change in your future posts. And I’m glad your wife lets you out of the cellar after games.

    Joe – I didn’t tell Ken not to rant, I just asked that he condense it all into 1 post. You can still get your jollies in at the end of the game.


  9. Love Snoopy’s suggestion. This site wouldn’t be as candid without it. Same with Aaron’s Fish-bash. But yea, do it in a fashionable way that it becomes funny, entertaining and skippable.

    Buzz Lightyear…

    I admire your adventurism in your suggestion. You weren’t the 1st to think about amnestying Kobe and trading Pau and Bynum for scraps however, its been done before and the reply was a nice 5 minutes of silence.

    If you want to be the new Clippers then thats your opinion, but this team has so much pride to give up.

    What I do agree with you is the fact that every win, be it an ugly win, further delays our need for wholesale changes. Either that or no changes at all, one thing is clear: this will be a lo0o0o0o0o0ong Lakers season and its painful.


  10. I wonder though, when we will be allowed to discuss proposals. Mitch Kupchak knows about this blog and he could get ideas from me and drrayeye.


  11. Don’t forget at which point you got your last one and how far you are from your next one.

    Sucks to be a Celtic fan, I know…


  12. Lucky:

    I would normally make a smart-alec comment about Darius needing to keep Bill Simmons off of this site, but I would be insulting Bill Simmons if I suggested he would post something so mundane as a comparison of these respective franchises’ number of championship wins. You should have seasoned your blandness with a little “Russel is better than Shaq and Kareem combined” and then completed the trifecta by claiming that the Laker championships won during the years in the frozen north don’t count because they weren’t won in LA, as green-goblin fans are often wont to do.


  13. Warren,

    I really hope that Darius does NOT allow you to start using that ESPN trade machine and post the results in this blog. I remember the last time that you went into WTS mode and we could barely type anything without seeing a 5 team trade that would net us KG and Kidd for fodder and some coin. Basically you were happier Ken. That is all πŸ™‚


  14. Lucky – all NBA fans of the past 30 or 40 years know that the true, modern NBA began with the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, which netted the NBA four ABA franchises – New Jersey, Denver, Indiana, and San Antonio. The legitimate count of NBA titles starts at that point, as pre-1976 troglodyte championship teams pale in comparison to the post-merger NBA of today in both talent and difficulty. Let’s face it, the years prior to the 1976-77 season were the NBA equivalent of baseball’s Dead Ball Era.

    So if one is to count NBA championships starting with the legitimate, modern game, the Los Angeles Lakers have 10 championships, the Chicago Bulls (a worthy runner-up among modern NBA teams) have 6 championships, the San Antonio Spurs have 4 (a franchise worthy of being called the third best of the modern era, as three of its titles occurred this millennium), the Boston Celtics have 4, the Detroit Pistons have 3 (arguably more impressive than Boston, as the latter team has not been good enough to repeat in the modern era), and the Houston Rockets have 2.

    I think this ranking sums up the modern NBA of the past 35 years pretty solidly. Championships won after the merger are much more difficult to achieve and thus orders of magnitude more legitimate than those won in the “dead ball era” where everyone runs in fast motion on funny, archival black-and-white film πŸ˜€


  15. Darius: Suggest you delete #16 as I don’t think Celtic fans should post here. Especially ones that eat sugary marshmellows for breakfast. Nice response Dude. By Celtic standards, Yale is one of the best college football teams of all time ; )


  16. Game: If Big 3 play well, then we “could” be #3-4 in the West. They all have not been, which is why we are #8.

    PS: 2-3 in West is not my standard so we would still need change : )

    R (from last thread): Hoping for 20 years, 7 rings (I dream), and then we can see how far to Kareem πŸ™‚


  17. Renato,

    For the record I never suggested a 5-team deal… might wanna recheck 2007 threads.


  18. Dude – well put.

    Buzz & Warren – two problems with amnestying Kobe 1. He is a money spinner for the Lakers. If you are going to lose him, you better be darn sure you have pieces to replace him with lined up, e.g. Howard and D-Will end up in Dallas, what then?

    2. Lakers are still on the hook for his massive salary. Let’s say a non-cap team picks him up for like 7 million – Lakers are still on the hook for $20+ not for one, but for two years. Tough to watch Kobe playing for another team while you pay the bulk of his salary.

    A couple of positives at the end of last night’s game. Pau hit some clutch free throws. And as Darius pointed out, Andrew stayed active at the end. I’ve been complaining about the Kobe-centric end game failures – Lakers seem to be diversifying.


  19. Until this team can find steady contributions to make up for LO/Shannon’s combined 25 ppg from last year off the bench, we will continually be struggling with close games like this. I expect Kobe/Pau/Bynum to average close to 65-70 ppg, but that’s where LO/Brown’s 25 ppg really helped the team. Right now, our bench is producing paltry numbers, and is very inconsistent.

    That’s why taking a flier on Arenas (would probably have to dump Caracter) is worth it. If he can give us close to 10 points a night, and GLock can get us 7-10 ppg, we are getting some bench production.


  20. Lucky Charms,
    Yes, the Celtics did have that fantastic run in the late 50s and 60s.

    No, I don’t refer to that era as a “dead ball era”, because there were some pretty fantastic athletes in that era, i.e. Wilt, Russell, Jerry, Oscar, Bob Pettit, Hondo, Nate Thermond, Bill Sharman, Bob Cousy, and of course Elgin. I have left out quite a number, so don’t just add to my list. The point is that basketball was an exciting and energetic era then – it just wasn’t nearly as profitable or publicized.

    The Celtics, however, had five all-stars on their team most years. Today, that would be like playing with Dwight, Chris, Kobe, Lebron, and throw in Kevin Love as the 5th starter – with Dwayne Wade on the bench; then throw in Phil Jackson coaching. Let me know when that team would lose to anybody. Still they never won 69 games – perhaps it was the train travel time and all the back-to-back games.

    The 10 championships in the 50s – 60s were really special and, in my mind deserve a special place in the annals of basketball – but they don’t make the modern era more Celtic centric. They are clearly one of the two greatest franchises, but the Lakers have won in almost every decade since the NBA started and do deserve their place with, or slightly above, the Celtics.


  21. Thanks Joe and other for your support of my rants.

    Perhaps FBG will allow me a sister site.

    They could call it the “Winers Laker Blog.” The cool part about it that my company imports Wine from Italy.

    Perfect! Head winer and sponsor!

    Have a nice day.


  22. I don’t see how the mindset of “any further win delays our need for wholesale changes” has taken hold so firmly across the internet.

    I mentioned this yesterday but fans often believe they’re the smart ones, sitting on their couches watching games (or even in the arena) while GM’s and ownership remain clueless about their teams and what the needs are. Take a step back and understand what you’re implying by saying wins hurt the team.

    Fans aren’t the only ones that see holes in this roster, I can guarantee it. GM’s are paid to execute double speak. The best GM’s – especially ones that run good teams – put on a veneer of confidence while consistently looking to improve their roster. Mitch said as much pre-season saying “I think we’re good enough to win” with one side of his mouth and then “We’re looking to improve our roster and will make trades if need be” with the other side.

    I don’t know why it’s so hard to believe that just because something hasn’t happened yet that it means nothing is going on behind the scenes to make it happen.


  23. Also, to Warren’s question of “when will we allow proposals?” the answer is, we won’t. Commenters that have been around a long while know the guidelines, so I’m not sure why this would be question.

    As an aside, I see you linking to your site every few days in the comments and you seem to have a good thing going there. I’d suggest you keep writing, build up your following, and discuss all the fictional deals you want over there.


  24. Unbelievable results in this recent road trip, the big fish travel to another ocean and ready to swallow the small fish. Well, the small fish fought back with determination and applied guerilla tactics hit and run against the big fish, eventually the former just run out of energy chasing them. So the next adventure went on the frigid area. They are supposed to rest and fold for they can’t handle the new environment plus that impression that they were known as road losers. Lo and behold, they held back and won a big chunk plus hit the three digit mark from the big three fins. So going back home with a record of 1-1, its fans are still in quandary what to say about this Lakers?

    I think the Coaching is trying hardest, but the players remain confused in digesting the new strategies. The new gamesmanship being implored needs speed, 3 pt perimeter accuracy and active post rebounding, as a result the tortoise (Lakers) don’t possess those traits anymore, they are being ridiculed by the hare (Youthful teams) because they are now so methodical, so scientific but remains so slow.


  25. People…the Laker’s Bench hasn’t been good since sasha and farmar left…Not only that, the bench are so dependent on Kobe to create, unless they have an open shot, the always give the ball right back to him because he’s the only one to beat the shot clock with creativity. We need some players off the bench with some creativity….On another subject….Funny how the Hornets now don’t want Kaman…I wonder if hornet’s management (stern) is behind that? demps acts like he has the “authority” to put players up for trade….what a laugh!!


  26. 25,

    I heard Arenas is in town and doing some light practices at UCLA, don’t know whether it’s Lakers sponsored or just personal upkeep.
    Agent Zero is known to be skillful in perimeter shooting however why was he scratched by Magic if the skills to carry a team are still there. Is his defense against youthful PG’s is another suspect? Maybe, he is at the point of diminishing returns with his fat contract. I’m sure Agent Zero is willing to take a low salary with side agreement of fat contract on long term basis at the end of the season. He could be another Metta too! On the other hand, he’s the only qualified PG available right now @ a price of $1M. Supposing the Lakers wait till ASG, will there be another opportunity for a better recruit?


  27. #34. Exhelodrvr,
    Last I heard (a month or so ago) he was in good health. I saw a twitter update where he spoke of feeling good. Also, I think his recent appointment as a “global ambassador” that will lead to travel around the world implies that he’s probably in good health overall.


  28. To back up Darius on #29: I have been a critic of Mitch and the FO. They could have done a number of things better, but they are not oblivious to what is going on. They tried to fix PG and were nixed by Stern. They tried and are trying to get D12. The irony is that many people weren’t ecstatic about CP3 at the time (now they are), and they are still questioning how much we should give up for D12. The TD is a ways away and whether you covet D12 or not, the whole NBA awaits what happens. Many deals are multi team, and until the big domino falls, everything else is on hold. We have 3 tradable items: AB, PG, + TPE. All of them could be involved in a D12 deal, so therefore we are stuck, until then. As a few posters have said – some of our roster is unsettled, because their names are on the blocks, but there is nothing we can do about that until the TD. We can thank David Stern for that, else we would be all laughing it up now with Kobe/D12/CP3 and Mitch and Jim would be geniuses. Further, many of us have brought up the “blow it up” or “amnesty” option. Of course the FO is thinking about this as well. Mitch wants titles. You can criticize him on execution, but not motive. I agree that the jury is out on Jim, but let’s wait and see. So what is needed between now and the TD is for the Lakers to play well and rack up wins. This keeps interest in people wanting to come here, and also keeps the value of our tradable players high. If we lose too many and AB/PG play poorly, this will be disaster. The Magic and other teams will have too much leverage. I have told you about my Lakers nightmare, as well as my Laker dream. Every game I root strongly for the Lakers, because wins take us closer to the dream and losses take us closer to the nightmare.


  29. It looks like Goudelock has shown that he can be effective in his role as b/u PG. I like the kids moxie. He doesn’t need to be CP3 or Deron Williams. Just get the ball into the frontcourt, Get the ball to the scorers and if you get it back, make something happen. And don’t turn over the ball.
    Lakers REALLY need an athletic 6’4″ slasher to back up Kobe. Someone that can break down their man, get to hole, AND FINISH. There has to be someone out there that Mitch could pick up.
    An upgrade at PG would be nice, but we really need to get Kobe’s minutes down.
    That should be the quickest and easiest fix to make.


  30. It is clear that improving any team on the fly is difficult. As we have all realized the Lakers combination of age/lack of talent/high price tags on those players that are talented virtually makes it impossible to do so. With AB earmarked for a possible DH trade – moving Pau continues to be the key to improving the team this year.

    (edited for trade speculation)


  31. All FOs make good moves and make mistakes. Kupchak/Busses have gotten the big things right; that is why the 2009 and 2010 banners are up on the wall. On the little things–contracts to role players, filling out the bench–his/their track record is not as strong.

    That pattern has mostly continued, with the Paul trade. OTOH, I think and said at the time that Kapono was a mistake.

    I agree with Robert, in that we can’t really judge Jim Buss until we see:

    1. If there is any truth to these rumors that Mitch may leave.
    2. What happens with Howard.
    3. What he does if they don’t get Howard.
    4. What he does with the TPE. Trading Odom to Dallas was a bold gamble; a long-term chess move that could backfire badly and looks questionable now, but could also turn into a positive.


  32. The reason I am a champion of the “blow it all up” meme is because I see the big picture.

    Just for poop and giggles, I pulled out a DVD of the Lakers Game 3 victory over Denver in the 2009 WCF.

    I saw ALL of the same problems we’re seeing today. Except Kobe was two years younger, Pau was mentally tougher coming off the 2008 Celtics thrashing, LO covered for some sins, Farmar & Sasha & Ariza provided some athleticism, and a few Lakers could actually hit a 3-pointer.

    The Lakers have done nothing but go downhill from there. None of the problems (inability to defend perimeter esp. PGs, inability to consistently hit 3s, over-dependence on Kobe, weak rebounding, offensive stagnation, lack of easy/fast break points) have been addressed. They’ve only become worse.

    And in the salary-cap hell the Lakers find themselves, there is no way to address them.

    Kobe is a max-contract player making double-max money.

    Pau is making max-contract money when he should probably be getting Marcus Camby money.

    Drew is making max-contract money when he should probably be making Sam Dalembert money.

    WMP + Luke Walton combined make max-contract money when they should probably both retire.

    There’s no way out of this salary-cap hell prior to 2015 short of blowing up the roster.

    And what’s the downside of blowing up the roster? No, really! What is the downside?

    Is watching Pau get bullied by Drew Gooden, AB17 getting ZERO rebounds through 3 quarters, Kobe jacking up off-balance 27-footers over double teams, and the collection of crap that constitutes players 4-15 on the Lakers squad really worth watching?

    At best, they win a favorable 1st-round playoff matchup before a real team squashes them in Round 2.

    You want to repeat last year’s Dallas series for 3 more years, along with all the finger-pointing and mental tuning-out (already seeing it with AB17) that goes with it?

    Is preserving the current setup worth forgoing the chance to get Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, and at least one lottery pick in a very deep draft?

    And let’s suppose the worst happens. DH12 and Dwill go elsewhere. Is watching Ray Felton throw lob passes to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for a couple of 25-win seasons really that much worse than watching the current old slow can’t-shoot can’t-defend can’t-rebound crew try to hang on for 2 or 3 more years?

    If I can’t have championships, I at least need hope that we’re building towards contention. I don’t see that with the current Lakers crew.