Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  February 10, 2012

No need to talk about a zig-zag season this morning, and don’t think I’ll bother with All-Star picks and misses. The OT game last night against the Celtics was a blow-by-blow affair and depending on your POV, either extraordinarily ugly or truly sweet. Personally, I go with the latter. Great outing for Pau Gasol, and now on to an early game tonight in MSG, against a team with a lot to prove and a kid with a red-hot hand in Jeremy Lin (again, depending on perspective, heh). On to the links:

Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’Lakers: Pau Gasol was huge, playing an excellent floor game providing all the scoring, facilitating and rebounding the Lakers need from him. On the night he was officially left off the this season’s All-Star team, Gasol turned in one of his best games of the season. He put the ball on the floor effectively, showed some good footwork in the post, and made some excellent passes as well. Then there were three key second-half putbacks, including one that tied the game at 82 with only 8.2 seconds remaining. Save a couple truly horrible decisions early, leading to turnovers and opportunities for the home team, Gasol was on point. Defensively, Gasol was big against Kevin Garnett, who basically disappeared as the game went on, then saved the game by blocking Allen at the buzzer on what would have been a game-winning putback off a Paul Pierce miss. Gasol finished with 25 points (12-for-20), plus 14 rebounds, three dimes and that one massive swat. 

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports: It’s no accident that Bryant loves to walk the streets of Boston on off days here and commune with the Commonwealth. For all the nastiness inside the arena, he’s always amazed at the way they welcome a Lakers star here. There’s a connection, and they all want to hold onto it as long as they can. “The fans hate your guts when you’re playing here, but very appreciative of the talent,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. “When you see them out on the streets, it’s always a warm reception. ‘Man, I hate you, but … I love watching you. How do you think the Celtics are going to do?’ It’s a running conversation.” Bryant had to stay on the floor a little longer for the postgame interview, and when he finally ran through the tunnel on the way to the Lakers’ locker room, you could see all those Celtics fans leaning down, screaming, taunting, cursing him. Oh, how he loved it. And how he’ll miss it. Kobe Bryant will be back in Boston, but that old-school gang, those most familiar reflections with the Celtics, won’t be waiting for him. “We’ve played against each other so many times, you know what’s coming,” Bryant said. “It’s been a dream come true. I’ve grown up watching it, and here I am, part of it.” For one more night, when it still mattered anyway, when the Celtics-Lakers still commanded the sport’s stage. Next month, next year, it’s all coming fast now. Everyone wanted to hold onto this stage, this night – this long-running fight – a little longer on Thursday. Celtics-Lakers in overtime again, the clock running down. On his way out of Boston a winner one more time, Kobe Bryant made sure to breathe it all in.

Paul Flannery, WEEI Radio: The names on the periphery change, but it’s always the same central cast of characters. The Lakers played their Kobe-zone on Rajon Rondo. The Celtics trapped Bryant, something they rarely do against any player but him. Of course, all that trapping left the rest of the floor open for Gasol and Bynum to do their thing. “Rebounding, they’re big, man,” Garnett said. “Bynum’s come into his own. It’s good to see a big guy like that just kind of reestablish the big man back in our league. He and Pau have a great chemistry. They work really well together. The second-chance points hurt us, but we knew that coming into the game.” These two teams know everything there is to know about each other, and maybe we know everything about them, as well. The Celtics are 14-11 and stuck in the seventh spot in the East. The Lakers are 15-11 and mired in an also-ran logjam in the West. They are the proverbial teams no one wants to face in the playoffs, but they’re also no one’s idea of a true contender “Both teams shot 39 percent, so someone had to win,” Rivers said. “The game looked in slow motion, at times. So, I’m sure all the jokes, two old teams, Jurassic Park.”

Kurt Helin, ProBasketBallTalk: If you are going to impress Kobe Bryant, you’re going to have to do a lot more than have three good games in February. A lot more. Jeremy Lin is a sensation, “Linsanity” is sweeping New York as Kobe Bryant and the Lakers come to town Friday night. Two weeks ago the Knicks looked lost, then Jeremy Lin — the twice cut Harvard grad — burst on the scene with a skill set that fits the Mike D’Antoni offense. Suddenly the Knicks have won three games with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony out of action, and New York is fun to watch.

Kobe is still not impressed. Via WEEI in Boston.

“I know who he is, but I don’t really know what’s going on too much with him. I don’t even know what he’s done. Like, I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I’ll take a look at it tonight though.”

[Asked again about Lin] “I don’t even know what the [expletive] is going on. What the [expletive] is going on? Who is this kid? I’ve heard about him and stuff like that, but what’s he been doing? Is he getting like triple doubles or some [expletive]? He’s averaging 28 and eight? No [expletive]. If he’s playing well, I’ll just have to deal with him.”

[Would he consider guarding Lin?] “Jesus Christ. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

First rule of Kobe — the more he cusses in a conversation the closer you get to the truth. That said, Kobe is a guy well aware of what is going on in the NBA — he knows who Lin is and what he’s done. He’s just not impressed.

C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: In what was one of the uglier games you’ll see all season, the Los Angeles Lakers got a much needed road win, by the final score of 88-87 in overtime. They achieved victory by sucking slightly less down the stretch. Kobe Bryant was at his brilliant worst, taking terrible shots throughout the 4th quarter and overtime, hitting just enough impossible looks to keep his strong 1st half looking decent, ending the game with 27 points on 11-24 shooting, and Pau Gasol had one of his best games of the season, possibly in response to being left off the All-Star team, going for 25 and 14 boards, and a key block of Ray Allen on the Celtics final possession of overtime. Andrew Bynum struggled with the Celtics physical defense, but made a few very big plays, including an and one buzzer beating offensive rebound just before the half. Off the bench, Matt Barnes provided great energy, Troy Murphy somehow found ways to contribute while he missed nearly every open shot he took, and Steve Blake played big minutes in his return from injury due to Derek Fisher being Derek Fisher.

***

There’s plenty more good reading to be had today but my laptop has been playing cruel tricks on me all morning and I weary of battling it. Plus, the neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking and I’m about to go over there with a tree branch. Talk amongst yourselves, figure out the next great free agent signing that won’t happen. If it comes down to it, we can always bring Ammo back.

– Dave Murphy

Dave Murphy

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25 responses to Friday Forum

  1. As people are correctly pointing out it is silly to play GLock at the SG spot. Even if you play him with Blake you need to let GLock play PG as he is our only pick and roll threat.

    Oh… and Kobe is the most honest player in the NBA in interviews. He is awesome.

  2. Wow… This is KG… he doesn’t just throw compliments around. We should be listening to what guys like George Karl and KG are saying about our All Star starting Center. “Rebounding, they’re big, man,” Garnett said. “Bynum’s come into his own. It’s good to see a big guy like that just kind of reestablish the big man back in our league.”

  3. I haven’t seen all this kissing since Magic was running the break at the Forum. But seriously… is Bynum that attractive?

    http://www.ocregister.com/sports/gasol-339721-lakers-brown.html

  4. I am not so interested in figuring out who the Lakers need, as I am in thinking about how they can improve with what they have. So putting on my Captain Obvious cape –

    Blake needs to start and Glock should be his back up. It is a no brainer, but I am curious to see if it actually happens. Is the coaching staff willing to lose games to keep Fish in his spot?

    MWP keep starting (he brings enough to the table and his shot is going to start falling eventually). Barnes as high energy off the bench – that is actually working. I think you can switch those two back forth depending on match ups. I don’t think this position is as much a problem as some make it out to be – it just looks bad when neither MWP or Fish bring any O.

    Big man rotation appears mostly set. I think they need Murphy to shoot more if he is going to be on the floor. He needs to be looking to shoot and his teammates need to be looking to get him the ball when he is open. Lord knows he is not out there for his D.

    The one problem I do not know how the Lakers can improve is who backs up Kobe. Fish? Ebanks? Kapon…uh No. It is also pretty clear that Glock is not that person. If Brown would set the rest of his rotation, he could see who fit best here or even do it by committee. Or just play Kobe the whole game – he’ll catch Kareem faster that way. :-)

    Last thing, end game has to be about ball movement and hitting the open man / using the bigs. In the close games the Lakers have won, it has not been all Kobe. In the close games they have lost, it has often been heavy on Kobe isos.

    I realize all of this is really obvious. What is not so obvious is why some of it is not happening.

  5. I would think the more kisses Bynum gets the better he will play. Positive reinforcement ;)

  6. Great Forum on what I was talking about earlier regarding why Kobe is shooting terribly against one on one coverage down the stretch of games. He just is exhausted from playing PG the entire game.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/26979/the-forum-the-bench-and-other-holes

  7. Yes, Bynum is that attractive.

    We can criticize his injury issues all we want, but the Lakers currently have one of the best big men in the game – and he is young.

    This is still a team game – Wilt Chamberlain proved that – and we need to concentrate less on individual stats and individuals and more on how the team functions together. That is both in support of Kobe and a real criticism of him at the same time.

  8. VOR,
    You’re correct obviously… if Blake starts and GLock backs him up that right away makes the Lakers better. But I think Brown knows this. He isn’t a moron. Fisher has been Mr LA for a long time and has done a lot for this organization. They are finding the right time to bench him. I am sure they want to give LA fans a game to cheer for him and honor him and thank him for anything. I am guessing they will make an announcement before a home game before his last start of his career. So all of Los Angeles can give him a standing ovation and thank him for the last 16 years.

  9. I think we need to give Brown time to sort this out. Blake’s missed as many games as he’s played in (13). When Blake got hurt, Brown knew what he had in both Blake and Fisher but Goudelock was an unknown commodity. Now, Blake is back but Brown has already acknowledged he’ll need to get back in game shape. He’ll also need to see if Goudelock can carry over his success into these new lineups now that Blake is back. Early returns (and my initial thoughts) have been that Goudelock is better off as a PG but that will need to be confirmed over a larger sample size now that this team is back to full health.

    At some point, though, Blake will need to get more run with the starters and Fisher’s minutes will need to decrease. How that happens and when it happens isn’t something that can be determined after one game of having Blake back, though. This too will take a bit of time.

    Remember, the goal is still to be playing the best basketball you can come the playoffs. If nothing has changed in the rotation in time for that to happen, I think we’ll all have serious questions/doubts about the approach of the coaches.

  10. Darius is spot on everybody

  11. I should add that it’s not even about Fisher “not starting”. It’s about finding player combinations that work. What if I said that I thought this was the best substitution pattern and personnel groupings:

    Starters:
    Fisher, Kobe, MWP, Pau, Bynum

    6 minute mark:
    Blake, Kobe, MWP, Pau, Bynum

    10 minute mark:
    Blake, Kobe, Barnes, Murphy, Pau

    2nd quarter:
    Goudelock, Fisher, Barnes, Murphy, Bynum

    8 minute mark:
    Goudelock, Kobe, Barnes, Murphy, Bynum

    6 minute mark
    Goudelock, Kobe, MWP, Murphy, Pau

    4 Minute Mark:
    Blake, Kobe, MWP, Pau, Bynum

    2nd Half, rinse and repeat.

    Obviously, that could be tweaked some. Murphy doesn’t need to play that much and maybe McRoberts makes an appearance. Maybe Barnes and MWP’s minutes aren’t that stable. Maybe Goudelock plays so well he gets more run. Maybe Fisher does. Maybe Blake does. Etc, etc.

    My point is that Fisher can play at the beginning of each half and his minutes can then be limited or expanded accordingly. The same can be said for any non-big 3 member.

  12. Oh, and Aaron, this is from ESPN Stat’s and Info regarding Marc Gasol’s all-star bid:

    “Despite older brother Pau being left off the team, little brother Marc Gasol will be a Western Conference reserve as the only All-Star from the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Gasol has established himself as one of the elite post defenders in the NBA; he’s averaging a career-high 2.2 blocks per game (fourth in the NBA), and among players who’ve defended at least 50 post-up plays, he’s allowing the third-fewest points per play this season (0.58).”

  13. Darius,
    Really? Really Darius? We all know there are only three back to the basket Centers in the game. Bynum, Howard, and Roy Hibbert. You can’t base Centers defense on those stats now a days. Did you see Bynum destroy Gasol earlier this year? Gasol plays worse one on one defense than fifty year old Jermain Oneal. Besides that obvious fact Marc Gasol is one of the slowest players in the leagues and can’t jump. This is why he is an awful and I stress awful team defender. And team defense is the most important part of the game for a Center. That’s why Tyson Chandler is so effective on that side of the ball. Chandler is not a good one on one low post defender as we will see again tonight. But he is a great help/team defender and with only three back to the basket Centers in the league one on one defense isn’t important. I know you agree with me.

  14. Fisher’s time should be limited to approximately 12 minutes a game, whether it is a starter or reserve. My thought would be to give him the first 6 minutes of the game and the last 2 minutes of the 3rd quarter and the first 4 minutes of the 4th quarter.

  15. And Darius,
    What if I said the best lineup combinations would be to insert Blake or Morris into that starting group instead of Fisher? I think that combination would be better as we need a traditional PG (Morris and GLock are our only traditional style PGs) on the floor even with the first unit to take pressure off of Kobe. Because right now Kobe is spending so much energy playing PG with the first unit. He isn’t 23 anymore. Blake is a okay defender and pretty good spot up shooter. But he isn’t a threat in pick and roll actions. To be honest I would try Morris with the starting unit and have GLock back him up with the second unit as we like to have guys that spread the floor with Bynum in that second unit. I would have Blake play back up SG with the second unit unless Morris can’t cut it. Then I would have Blake start and have Fisher Kapono play that back up SG spot with the second unit. What are your thoughts on those combinations?

  16. Oh… Darius… Regarding Marc Gasol’s block statistics. I’ll quote Bill Walton “Some big guys get a lot of blocks because the other team attacks the paint all night against them not fearing for a second getting their shot blocked.” A better block shot stat would be blocks per shot attempt. Like does it matter if a Center gets 2 blocks a game if the other team gets fifty lay ups over or around that Center? It’s the difference between Bynum and Pau Gasol. Bynum doesmt have that many more blocks than Pau, especially considering Pau is on the perimter a lot. the reason is because guys don’t even challenge Bynum that often. Guys go after Pau as Stu Lanz often says because teams aren’t afraid of Pau blocking their shot. Again… I not saying Marc isn’t a decent one on one defender due to his bulk… I am simply saying he isn’t a good enough one on one defender to make up for his atrocious help/team defense.

  17. This is why he is an awful and I stress awful team defender. And team defense is the most important part of the game for a Center.

    Aaron,

    How many Memphis games have you seen start to finish this year? Memphis is currently 5th in the NBA in DRTG; the Lakers are 11th. Now, if your position is that Bynum is awesome and MGasol is terrible, but Memphis is still doing well on D because of the other guys, like Tony Allen, fine. Let’s hear the argument. But pretty much all the metrics show that Marc Gasol is having a fine season.

  18. Robinred,
    You’re talking to the wrong guy. Haha. I am an NBA junkie if you haven’t noticed. I have NBA league pass and watch A LOT of games. My gf doesn’t like me very much. Haha. The Lakers had a top ranked offense last season… Was that because of Derek Fisher? Memphis has loaded with great defenders. Mike Connely, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, OJ Mayo etc. Those guys are super talented NBA defenders on the perimter. Those guys are the reason Memphis is a good defensive team. They have those defensive stats inspite of Gasol and Randolf who are very bad team defenders.

  19. Rotation changes: One reason that the Lakers “might” not be changing the rotation and sets significantly, is that they are anticipating a shuffling of the deck soon. Why change everything now, and then again in March?

  20. Robinred,
    Haha. Sorry. I didn’t read your whole post. My bad. Exactly. So you’re pretty smart. Yes. Memphis is good defensively because of the other very good defenders they have at the PG, SG, and SF spots on the floor. Exactly. This is why everyone agrees there are no good individual defensive metrics when trying to gage an individual defemders effectiveness.

  21. Robert,
    That’s a possibility. A very strong possibility.

  22. Once Blake rounds into shape, the only rationale for playing Derek Fisher 12 minutes a game is loyalty….

  23. This is a perfect game for Brown to play Ebanks and McRoberts after OT in Boston. Starters have heavy legs but I bet he plays Kobe & Pau 40 mins.

  24. 19) Robert…exactly. Also, some players play or don’t play because they are up for trade.