Lakers/Celtics: Pau Gasol Does It All

Emile Avanessian —  February 10, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 88, Celtics 87
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 91.9, Celtics 90.4
True Shooting %: Lakers 44.1%, Celtics 43.9%

The Good:
First and foremost, any win on the Parquet is sweet. That the Lakers, coming off a tough loss in Philadelphia, have now won four straight regular season contests in Boston, this one on the heels of yet another crushing Patriots’ Super Bowl defeat… brings a little extra something to the table, no?

As far as the actual game is concerned, the most praiseworthy performance, on either side, was turned in Pau Gasol. Consistent throughout, Gasol connected on 12 of his 20 (!!) field goal attempts (3 in the first quarter, 3 in the second, 4 in the third and two in the fourth), 10 times converting from inside the lane, en route to 25 points. Additionally, he was a force on the glass, collecting 14 rebounds, four on the offensive end (more on this in a minute), handed out three assists, blocked a pair of shots (more on this in a minute) and made every play the team needed from him down the stretch.

A mere 13 seconds after reentering the game in the fourth quarter (at the 7:13 mark) Pau hit a 17-footer to put the Lakers up by two points. A quiet six minutes later, with the Lakers down a bucket, on a play in which Steve Blake’s hustling offensive rebound netted the Lakers a second shot, Pau followed up a 10-foot jumper from Kobe, tipping in the rebound to tie the game at 82. It was his fantastic closeout on a beyond-the-arc Ray Allen that derailed the ensuing Celtics possession, forcing overtime. In OT, despite missing his only field goal attempt, Pau continued to make his presence felt, grabbing four defensive rebounds and, most important of all, swatted away a point blank, potentially game-winning put-back attempt by Ray Allen to secure the Lakers’ 15th win of the season.

Tonight, Pau eats first.

Deserving of an honorable mention here is the effort of the entire Laker team on the boards. In addition to Gasol’s 14 rebounds, Andrew Bynum was a monster on the glass, with 17 of his own, including a massive seven offensive rebounds. Also deserving a shout are Troy Murphy (9 in 24 minutes), Matt Barnes (4, 3 ORB, in 17), Kobe Bryant (5) and Steve Blake (3), all of whom helped the Lakers to a 55-45 rebounding edge on the night.

The Bad:
As this is the first Laker victory I have recapped for FB&G, I’d like to keep the negativity to a minimum.

With that said, I would remiss if I didn’t mention the Lakers’ work from downtown on Thursday, which I will generously describe as “putrid,” only because a sincere assessment might result in Darius amnestying me from the site. I realize that at this stage of the season, having gotten to know our personnel and watched them fight tooth and nail to barely escape the 3-point shooting cellar (at a blistering 29.4%, just edging out Utah, at 28.9%), having any expectation of a potent attack from the perimeter is an invitation to disappointment, but seriously guys? 1-for-15? 1-for-f*$^ing-15?? That’s 6.7%.

For those of you keeping score at home, Metta World Peace has now made nine of his 53 3-point attempts on the season (17%), Derek Fisher is 11-for-41 (26.7%), Matt Barnes is 8-for-37 (21.6%) and Kobe Bryant, raising the team’s percentage, is 38-of-129 (29.5%). Ugh.

The Lakers’ stalwarts on the perimeter are Steve Blake (18-52; 34.6%), Andrew Goudelock (12-30; 40%) and Troy Murphy (13-32; 40.6%), all of whom are hitting at rates ranging from “respectable” to “pretty good,” but do not yet inspire confidence in crunch time.

The Ugly:
By and large, Kobe Bryant enjoyed an efficient and productive game on Thursday night – 27 points, on 11-24 FG and 5-5 FT, five rebounds and four assists. At halftime he’d attempted just six shots, making four, and had 11 points. He added another 10 points in the third (on 4-of-9 FG, plus a pair of free throws) in third, including an extremely contested fadeaway – a harbinger of things to come. After making one of three in the fourth quarter, we moved to overtime, where Bean produced a pair of possessions, one actually successful, that are best described as “cringe-worthy.”

A minute and a half into OT, Kobe received the ball on the left wing with ~15 (don’t remember exactly) seconds remaining on the shot clock. At this point he proceeded to pound a dead spot into this Garden floor, attempting a couple of times to probe the defense, before (in a move I deemed “aggressive Usage”) letting go of a contested 20-footer… which found the bottom of the net.

Net result? Good. Process? Not so much.

Three minutes later, after an Andrew Bynum putback had given the Lakers an 88-87 lead, Kobe brought the ball up the floor, and with a four-second difference between shot and game clock, had an opportunity to time his attempt in such a way that the Celtics would be lucky to gain possession with more than three seconds remaining. Rather than doing this, however, Kobe began to back down his man on the left wing with about seven second left on the shot clock and, in a move diametrically opposed to the off-the-charts basketball IQ we’ve come to expect from him, launched a 17-foot turnaround that was off the mark, and recovered by the Celtics with six seconds remaining. Now, all’s well that ends well, but…

I love Kobe Bryant. With the exception of Magic Johnson, no player has meant more to my basketball life. Having Kobe as a member of the Lakers for 15+ years, and having the opportunity to watch 75%+ of his career games has been nothing short of a gift.

However, this season, and seemingly increasingly with the passage of time, Kobe has stretched the role that he’s defined for himself – “I eat first” – to obscene lengths. That he’s earned his free rein on the floor is, in my mind, beyond question, but there is something a problem festering. What is at times troubling is not the fact that Kobe is clearly unwilling to subjugate his role on the team, but the fact that he is becoming increasingly brazen in reminding the world, and I mean the world – fans opponents, his teammates, coach Mike Brown – of this fact.

Play of the Game:
In Andrew Bynum’s beautiful, hard-nosed and-1 just before halftime – in which he recovered a loose offensive rebound and flipped the ball back over his head (and in!) while getting hacked – and Pau Gasol’s game saving blocked shot at the end of overtime we have a couple of extremely deserving honorable mentions. However, a play in the dying moments of regulation combined hustle, excellent fundamentals, equisite skill and grace under pressure.

Trailing by two with roughly 15 remaining, Steve Blake, from the left wing, attempted to feed Andrew Bynum in low post. Bynum had the “chair pulled” on him, resulting in a loose ball along the baseline. Rather than a potentially game-sealing turnover, however, the Lakers retained possession, thanks to some fantastic hustle by Steve Blake. At this point, Kobe Bryant made a beautiful cut toward the basket along the left edge of the key. Seeing Kobe, Blake, now on the baseline about 15 feet from the rim, made a slick pass of no more than five feet to Kobe, who elevated for a 10-foot jumper, which rimmed out.

HOWEVAH…

In keeping with the play’s heady/hustle theme, Pau Gasol attacked the offensive glass, skying over a pair of Celtics that had inside position and, avoiding a loose ball foul, tied the game (ultimately forcing overtime) with a left handed tip-in.

If ever a reminder is necessary of Gasol’s sublime combination of grace, body control, otherworldly length and basketball IQ, this is it.

Emile Avanessian

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71 responses to Lakers/Celtics: Pau Gasol Does It All

  1. “Kobe has stretched the role that he’s defined for himself – “I eat first” – to obscene lengths.”

    I thought u were keeping negativity to a minimum?!?!? In any case, I obviously disagree. The offense that everyone is complaining bout is forcing KB into bad situations, and he does better than any1 else in the world could under those circumstances. He “eats first” cause he is the 1 who runs down the gazelle and kills it.

  2. I would stick with Gasol. It’s not like 7 footers with his skill set grow on trees or something. When the guy is motivated, dude’s a handful. Although keeping his motor going sometimes requires serious butt kicking(I find myself wanting sometimes to apply several Zen Master-styled slaps when watching on TV…I mean, C’mon Pau!!!…for a guy of your talent??!!You should at least go 19-10-4 and a block every night..!).Anyways…only for DWill the Lakers should consider an offer.Rondo is great,but a motivated Gasol is better for the Purple n’ Gold as it’s constructed. Three finals a two trophies testify

  3. “there is something a problem festering.”
    For some1 not trying to be negative – u are doing a good job : ) There is a problem festering and that is that KB is having an incredible year, and he does not have a roster around him that will “fully” take advantage of it.

  4. After watching tonight I came to the conclusion that no way do I want the Lakers to trade Pau for Rondo. Rondo is a talented guy but his skill set just doesn’t match our needs. Rondo needs shooters to kick out to and we need, well, shooters. If Rondo was here his man would be yet another defender in the paint helping to surround Andrew. If we are going to make a move it has to be for a guy that can stretch the floor, not shrink it.

  5. Looks like ESPN agrees with me (taken from Daily Dime):

    That Was … Classic: The Celtics-Lakers rivalry is one of the best things about the NBA, as each meeting feels like a playoff game. This one had the characteristic drama at the end but the normal vitriol was conspicuously absent. Lots of public admiration between these two clubs.

  6. Totally agreed Michael H, Rondo is the worst possible PG for this team. Rondo is really just a freakish athlete with great passing, dribbling and defensive skills. Take the big 3 away from him and he is an average NBA player at best.

    I truthfully think the play of the night should have been that 3 pass play where Kobe gave a behind the back pass to Pau who then gave a no look pass to Bynum under the basket for an easy two. It really kind of sums up what this team is, as well as just how gifted all 3 players are (especially how Pau was last night).

  7. Nice write-up. Good to see a glimpse of the Pau of a few years ago. Maybe the all star snub was just what we needed. He played like he wanted to prove the wrong Gasol was selected to go to Orlando. Hopefully this builds the team momentum that we desperately need.

  8. Hey guys,

    Thanks for all of your feedback. For those pointing out that the section on Kobe conflicts with my desire to keep negativity to a minimum, I concede that this is fair criticism.

    One thing I will say in defense of it however, is that this is not knee-jerk, willy-nilly negativity from some longtime Kobe hater, but a frustrated stream of consciousness from as big a Kobe fan/defender/sometimes apologist as there has been for the entirety of his career.

    With that said however, the pointing out of that contradiction is fair. Thanks again guys.

  9. Great writeup.

    Pau Pau Pau

  10. Look, you look to your stars to take the heat and pull out victory. But, it seems like there is a different reason for the Lakers’ less than stellar performances and they always begin with the words Kobe, Pau, or Bynum.

    Here’s the reality:

    The three starters (let’s face it we have a starting three, not a starting five) each played 40 minutes plus. Our main point guard scored 0 points. There were 5 players on the bench listed as DNP. All of this, of course, is due to Kobe shooting too much, right? Don’t think so. Let’s start with the real culprit, Jim Buss. Unless the team is sold, this man is not committed to spending the requestive money and fielding a talented team over the next two or three years before the NBA turns into the NFL where players are shipped from team to team each year, and no team will ever again win consecutive championships.

  11. Kobe needs to take a few weeks off….let Pau and bynum deal with the double teams and defenses geared to stop them….then you can decide what you want Kobe to be.

  12. “there is something a problem festering.”

    This is mostly seen in end game situations. Lately Kobe has not been making the right plays, instead choosing to go “hero mode” (doc voice). That is why they lost at philly and almost tonight. The bigs have actually been winning some of these tight games with their late game tip ins (most likely of kobe misses) and blocks. Kobe needs to trust these guys at end of games, not only to take pressure off himself but to instill confidence in them that might be useful later on down the road.

  13. That was a physical playoff type game and officiated that way throughout. From early on when KG and Metta grabbed each other going for the ball before falling out of bounds to that last Ray Allen attempt blocked by Pau.

    Blake actually had inside position and sealed off Allen pretty well before the shot went up, Allen just threw Blake to the ground. That’s how he got that wide open. Thank goodness for Pau’s hustle.

  14. anti Dwyer Abbott February 10, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Good recap!

    Alas you also don’t seem to get the importance of Kobe drawing such attention make things happen.

  15. Enjoyable game to watch but both of these teams have lots of issues and their records reflect it. The Lakers have the better chance of doing well in the playoffs as the Celtics are too old and slow to outrun those other kids in the East. When they are missing jumpers, they dont even look like a playoff team. Age has caught up to them and Ainge has some tough decisions.

    You dont trade Gasol for Rondo. It would be an overreaction to fix a glaring need that would not necessarily fix it.

    I am not a fan of Jim Buss, but what trade/player options are out there for the Lakers to realistically make that will make a difference that have not been made? Teams are just not going to give us players.

    Obviously I love Dwight Howard, but I dont trade Bynum for him and certainly not unless he is signed to an extension. I dont think getting him if you lose Bynum makes the team a championship contender this year unless a PG is gifted to you. If DH wants to play in LA, he will sign with us in the offseason. I dont think you get him now with the assumption that Deron Williams will just follow him to LA in the summer. Players are too fickle and their so called friendships are overrated. Bynum needs to be kept unless trading him puts you in real position to win a title. He is our foundation when Kobe and Pau’s age start to show. Age gets you quick even if Kobe will fight it as well as anyone.

    Sadly this is a transition year for the Lakers but Kobe is so good that they could make the finals with what they have now if they could just get a halfway decent point guard. Is Arenas a realistic option or is he just not good enough anymore?

    The offseason will be the key and where the FO is judged. We need a massive FA signing or things will get real messy.

    I give Mitch et al a pass this year because they made the trade for CP3 and the league undid it. What can you do about it if you are not willing to litigate the issue? I would have sued the league all day long if I was the Lakers when the league nixed that deal. To me the anger at the FO is the lack of reaction to what the league did.

    I still enjoy watching Kobe and I think he is every bit the all time player MJ is. I hope he sticks around even if he is only averaging 15-17 a game 2-3 years from now.

  16. Kobe being on the court draws attention. Mr. Bean doesnt have to have the ball in his hands to be constructive. Being a decoy once in a while will give opposing teams a change of pace, inturn allowing teammates to gain confidence . As the team stands now everyone knows what is going to happen during crunch time, its no secret. Ball movement and good spacing for three and half quarters, only to resort back to one on three fadeaways is very frustrating at times.

  17. For those of you keeping score at home, Metta World Peace has now made nine of his 53 3-point attempts on the season (17%), Derek Fisher is 11-for-41 (26.7%), Matt Barnes is 8-for-37 (21.6%) and Kobe Bryant, raising the team’s percentage, is 38-of-129 (29.5%). Ugh.

    Yeah, that’s a bit depressing. Wow.

    On a more positive note: Pau! Play-off glares and taking it personally led to a great game with hustle, aggression, and beautiful moments. This Pau can come to play anytime he wants. Especially if he starts to take those wide open jumpers, rather than look to pass. :)

  18. Emile A: No issues from my end. I am a very consistent (some would say repetitive) person, + 2 topics I will always chime in on: Kobe and D12. With regard to Kobe, I have defended him since the beginning of his career as well, so I will admit that I am not totally objective. How can I be when we are talking about the greatest Laker? : )

  19. The Kobe-draw-attention strategy would work a lot better if the other players would hit their outside shots.

  20. I was a Laker fan before Kobe, a Laker fan during Kobe time, & I’ll be a Laker fan after Kobe’s jersey is gathering dust in the rafters. Simply put, the Lakers are a better team when Bynum & Gasol get touches and shots in their sweet spots. And while Kobe averages approx 6 assist per game, he’s not a pg.

    The Lakers are going NOWHERE with Kobe taking more fga’s than A. B. & Gasol combined. We all know the Lakers are weak at the point, but they don’t only need a talented pg, but a talented veteran pg who is comfortable enough in his position to waive off Kobe and pass the ball into his bigs.

    Here’s hoping the Lakers can beat out the Mavs & sign D-Will as a free agent. A guy who can tell Kobe “Bynum had a better shot than you”.

  21. Mimsy, I couldn’t agree with you more. Towards the end of regulation last night, there were multiple possessions in a row where Kobe didn’t even touch the ball. And guess what, none of these possessions ended up in a bucket. So as much as we all sometimes get frustrated with Kobe going into “hero mode” at the end of games, if nobody else on the team is going to step up and make a damn shot, then I’d rather take my chances with him. With that being said, I do think that all the isos at the end of games haven’t been as successful this season, so I wouldn’t mind if Kobe shared some of the load at the end of games with Drew and Pau. But that’s about it. :-)

  22. Great write up Emile. I think you were spot on in your criticism of Kobe. It seems people tend to fall into one of two camps – adoration or hate. His end game execution has not been very good on several occasions.

    With that said, something I liked (well kind of) was in the last two minutes of game (not OT), Pau took two shots and Blake took one. In each case the ball went to the open man with a good look. That is what needs to keep happening. In all three cases, the shot was missed. However, I think giving these guys more chances at taking those shots is what needs to happen.

    Sadly, watching the end of that game was kind of like watching two evenly matched high school teams. A lot of energy and intensity, but not a lot of good offensive execution. But a win is a win – especially in Boston. :-)

  23. Great article by Woj on the Lakers-Celtics rivalry on Yahoo sports, and Kobe’s appreciation of it and of Cs fans. I completely agree with Kobe–I hate the Cs, but it’s a hate based on respect and history. And it seems like a lot of Cs fans feel the same way. It’s ironic yet somehow appropriate that besides Lakers fans, it’s Cs fans who truly appreciate Kobe and what he’s done

    Lakers-Celtics is old school. Nothing will ever replace it as the foundation of NBA championship basketball, no matter how many Superfriends teams LeBron puts together or flashy dunks Griffin does. 

  24. Have to remember Pau was playing against a shell of himself in KG. The block on Allen saved us that was going in. Lakers won with defense this game. Defensive stop last play of game and OT.

    Kobe somewhat hampers his greatness by having no conscious taking ill advised shots late. But I still stick with Kobe. It wouldn’t hurt for Kuester or Brown to call the play when they run Kobe off the double screen get Kobe in motion or the Pau baseline screen play. Coaches keep calling Kobe Iso’s and Kobe PnR when his strong suit isn’t PnR. They don’t call post ups late because teams are for sure double teaming of MWP he’s not a reliable shooter. Need a stretch 3 to punish teams down low. That’s why a Bosh, Hawes, Duncan, Griffin post ups work they have reliable shooters spacing the floor. Lakers need to get one of those guys.

  25. Paul excellent!

    Another then is emerging. Due to the fear of losing every game, Brown is overplaying his big three. Look at the 4th quarter numbers and shooting the last 4 or 5 games. Kobe has been terrible. Every shot seems to come up short and looks forced.

    Popovich us a basketball coach resting his players for the playoffs.

    Brown is a insecure, scared guy dropped into the big city trying to squeeze the energy out of his super star. This is going to result in more losses latter in the season, possible injury and a burned out Kobe assuming we make the playoffs.

    A good coach would have called a time out and run the clock down to 3 seconds instead of Kobe shooting with 8 another tired forced shot.

    I said a good coach. Sorry make that any other NBA coach.

  26. It has been the 4th quater that has LA snake bitten. Late game execution has been the culprit in over half of LA’s loses. Whether said players are missing jumpers doesnt seem to effect the teams performance in the first three quarters with the lead, so what gives in the closing minutes of games giving up the lead. It just goes back to the hero centric offense that finishes games. It is just too predictable making the opposing teams defense work less for better results.

  27. Big City: As much as I love KB, I also root for the franchise 1st. Where we disagree is that “as currently constructed” the Lakers need KB to be huge #8 KB. If we re-loaded then diff story. W/ regard to FA’s such as DW. Not happening. KB, AB, + PG, alone put us over the cap. We can’t sign FA w/o breaking up the Big 3. The DW scenarios involved D12 and AB+PG would be gone.

  28. Always sweet to win in Boston but we better find a way not to get into contested gmes with lesser teams. We should’ve blown them by 20…

    Sorry for being a little biased here!

  29. Pau offensive skills are going through a slow to moderate decline. I have accepted that the Pau from 07-09 isn’t coming back. Having said that he has turned himself into an elite defensive player. He’s one of the best big man in the league at defending the pick-and-roll, he’s hard to post up against, and challenges shots on the perimeter or near the rim.

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see him on an all-defensive team this year, he has been that good.

  30. Unforgivable coaching errors by Mike Brown last night. The recap mentioned Kobe’s decision to shoot with too much time left on the shot clock in OT (which is on KB). But why would the Lakers fail to use their foul to give in both regulation and overtime??? They had an easy opportunity to give up the foul in both situations with Pierce not close to a shooting motion. Really an infuriating break-down that almost cost them the game if Pau hadn’t blocked Allen’s put-back

  31. Kobe’s misses down the stretch were
    within the context of the offense and as a result wound up as good opportunities for offensive rebounds. Not a bad thing. Peace and Fish need to get a piece of the scoring. There ain’t that much defense & veteran leadership in the world to make up for such poor offensive production.

  32. George

    I agree that with peripheral upgrades the Lakers could indeed have a punchers chance this year.

    You are correct that age will be an issue going forward with Kobe and Pau. For Pau the concern is that his trade value will decline at a similar rate to his productivity. So absent any significant moves the Lakers may be in deep trouble until their contracts expire.

    You mention that the FO needs to make a major FA acquisition this offseason. You are aware that the Lakers are way over the cap and have no way to add a player of DWill’s or DH’s stature. Additionally, the new CBA limits the value of the sign and trade for the FA.

    That is why most Laker fans are freaking out. The Lakers may be able to win it all this year if we could improve players 4 -15 on the roster. But the options available while keeping the Big 3 intact will not lay the foundation for the future.

    Moves involving Pau or Andrew may not be possible/advisable. We may be better off keeping the Big 3 together for the next 2.5 years and then rebuilding/reloading when Kobe/Pau come off the books.

  33. I’m not saying we can’t disagree with Darius… But if we are going to do so on here make sure you’re right. Darius was saying the offensive execution amd play calls down the stretch were Kobe ISO after Kobe ISO. He is not saying thisnis a bad play call what he is saying is its probably a good idea to a few times down the court the ball finds someone else for a scoring touch to generate offemse his has been a unsuccessfull pattern so far this year. And for those saying Kobe is drawing attention helping the team down the stretch… Wrong again. He has been single covered the majority of the time in crunch time including at Boston last night. He is being single covered amd he hasn’t been getting off good shots. It’s a problem. The fact it has been fairly obvious and people on here are disagreeing with Darius is upsetting for me.

  34. Aaron,
    Where did I say anything? Just trying to be clear on what you’re talking about.

  35. Also for those saying Kobe misses opened things up for Bynum offensive rebounds late… That’s an Allen Iverson argument. It doesmt hold water in these situations as Kobe wasn’t getting doubled teased causing the defense to rotate amd he wasn’t goin got the basket causing the defense to rotate. Bynum was getting those boards because he was bigger than the Celtics and jumped over them.

  36. Darius,
    Ha… My bad. I thought you wrote the column today. Emile. My mistake. I’m sticking up for Emile. After I wrote that I thought “wait a minute… What if Darius didn’t write this.” Ha. Oh well. Btw… Please feel free when you write a Tribute to Derek Fisher Post that you include my comments from last night. He deserves to be celebrated as his career winds down.

  37. It’s a problem.

    ___

    FYI, Darius didn’t do this recap.

    Yeah, maybe, but it’s a very small problem, relative to what is going on with the rest of the team. Given that you bag on Fisher 7-10 times a day here, you of all people should be aware of that.

    Also, you, like a lot of people, seem to think that the Lakers could get great shots by dumping the ball into Bynum and Gasol 60 possessions a game. It is not that simple. The Lakers often have trouble making good entry passes due to lack of a PG and opponents packing the paint. There are other factors to consider as well. Looking at numbers, Drew was 6-15 yesterday, and Pau has had several games where he was below 50% from the floor.

    From time to time Kobe takes low-percentage shots; everyone knows that. But Kobe’s shot selection has always been obsessed over more than it should be.

    Finally, if this is really a big deal, then it goes to back to Mike Brown as much as it does to Kobe. Brown has three guaranteed years on his deal and a nice buyout for year four. He is Jim Buss’ guy. If the coaches want to start calling plays for the inside guys down the stretch, I don’t see who is stopping them.

  38. Valid criticisms of Kobe – the Lakers would likely add several points a game if he avoided those plays.

  39. The only reason to trade Pau if you can’t trade him this year your stuck with him. Management doesn’t want to pay both drew and pau big dollars. So we’re likely to lose our biggest advantage SIZE because salaries of mwp, blake, luke. who thinks mwp will pick up his player option?

  40. Giving the starting PG position to Blake and making Goudelock his primary backup would solve some of our problems. I’m curious to see how well Fish and Blake will do defending against Lin tonight, respectively. I remember a home game earlier this season against Phoenix where Nash simply carved up our P&R defense when Fish was defending him, but was ineffective when Blake was defending him. Blake stayed on his back hip around each high screen, while Fish allowed several feet of separation around each screen, and then made things even worse by stopping his movement and flailing his arms in an effort to draw an illegal pick whistle, forcing his teammates to scramble on defense even more than necessary.

    From watching Lin these past three games, it looks like he’s been studying Nash’s and Paul’s P&R generalship on game film, with the primary difference being Lin is far more likely to take the ball all the way to the hoop himself than either Steve or Chris. I would imagine that the Knicks are going to try using both Jefferies and Chandler to set the high screen. Should be interesting.

  41. @ 20, BigCitySid:

    “We all know the Lakers are weak at the point, but they don’t only need a talented pg, but a talented veteran pg who is comfortable enough in his position to waive off Kobe and pass the ball into his bigs.”

    You nailed it. Excellent point.

  42. Aaron is spot on. The predictability of the Lakers’ late game offense is a major factor in them losing leads in the 4th quarter. Other teams have figured out what many Laker fans have not. And that is Kobe is no longer the closer he used to be. It is not a knock against him. It is the reality now. Therefore the Lakers need more offensive creativity late in games.

    How much better would the Lakers record be if they were not chronic losers of 4th quarter leads?

  43. the Lakers would likely add several points a game if he avoided those plays.

    ___

    Doubtful. We have seen games where Kobe has shot less and the O has not been any more productive. The best way for the Lakers to add “several points a game” is to replace Fisher and MWP with reasonably athletic league-average players in their 20s. Unless/until they do that, the Lakers will struggle on O whether Kobe takes 15 shots or 25 shots.

    Pau and Drew are both All-Star caliber players; they’re not Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal, however. I know that you are not saying that they are, but both of them have limits. I think people overlook that at times.

    Another point: Pau’s game complemented Lamar’s better than it does Andrew’s. The Lakers have skill overlap issues among the three good players they do have, in that all of them, even Kobe, need to be pretty close or very close to the basket to be at their most effective.

  44. Other teams have figured out what many Laker fans have not. And that is Kobe is no longer the closer he used to be. It is not a knock against him. It is the reality now. Therefore the Lakers need more offensive creativity late in games.

    ___

    I agree with half of this. I think most Lakers fans have “figured it out”–but Kobe is still the most dangerous offensive player the team has. The problem is that the wrist and finger injuries make it hard for him to turn the corner and to control the ball in traffic, so I do agree with you about the “offensive creativity” idea. But what that means to me is not “getting a PG to wave Kobe off and dump the ball into his bigs” but rather getting a PG who can get the ball to the bigs or get it to KOBE coming off picks, off curls, or setting up on the blocks/mid post.

  45. I don’t want to look like a Kobe apologist. But I really think Kobe can still be the best closer in the game. The problem is he is just spent the last five minutes of games because of his minutes and his historic usage rate. Most of this is because we start Derek Fisher and a lot of it is because we are not playing the triangle offense. Kobe would be a great one on one closer if half the times he could take a break on offense a trip or two down the floor in the fourth quarter. Bynum and Gasol are more than capable of late game scoring touches. I think I remember Gasol looking pretty good in the fourth quarter of a certain game seven.

  46. The Dude,
    Yes… I agree. But I think that will happen soon. It’s only a matter of time till Fisher is replaced in the starting lineup.

  47. Good write up by Emile. I would have to concur with some of the others that the “Ugly” parts about Kobe were a little overdone, but whatever.

    I don’t like iso ball at the end of games either, but I will say this- If Kobe is single covered and he takes an 8-17 foot shot, then that is a good shot in my book. I just hate the shots that are bailout shots from 20+ feet away.

    Aaron you’re wrong about Kobe having to be double-teamed to make things easier for Bynum and Gasol. If he beats his man and a defender even takes one or two steps away from a box out then he has made it much easier for those ‘twin towers’ to get offensive rebounds. I saw that at least a handful of times where Kobe drove and pulled up at about 8-15 feet and that second defender rotated over to be in help position which opened up the boards for offensive rebounding.

    Now I want Gasol and Bynum to get at least 30 shots a game between them. At the very least. However, if you take away the lobs, and the behind the back pass from Pau, then Bynum got every other made basket off of a put back. He missed his 9 other shots. He was being guarded by KG, Jermaine O’neal, and Bass. He should eat those guys alive.

    Kobe does have a trust issue with his other teammates and this is a detriment to the team. He doesn’t trust Gasol to put up and make the wide open shot that is created for him. Gasol too often passes these up to other teammates. Kobe doesn’t trust MWP to hit his open shots. He doesn’t trust Fish as much as he used to.(For good reason, right?)

    I honestly think that we would be better off getting a slasher type at the 3 position and rolling with blake/goudelock at the 1. We need another player that can create his own shot and earn Kobe’s trust. Unless we can somehow grab D-Will or maybe Rondo.

  48. Wow!!! Great Win, great write-up, great conversation!!!

    I agree with BigCitySid@21 and Tra@41:

    The Lakers need a veteran point guard who can waive off Kobe and the end of games. Though my take is not because Kobe shoots too much, it’s because two of our players can’t shoot and the other two are too frickin’ tired. We need help. A veteran CAPABLE point guard and a small forward who can score. We need help guys it’s that simple.

    For what we need Mo Williams is perfect!!! OJ Mayo is great!! JR Smith is close enough! I don’t want to hear Jonny Flynn conversations. And, unless he’s bring Anderson Varejao with him, I don’t want to hear Ramon Sessions stories either. Warm up the Kirk Hirnrich machine!!!

    I hate waiting for D12 because even if we get him, we will still have the same problems, plus we will have to take on Hedo. Let’s add the pieces we need and get on with the season shall we!?!

  49. It seems like most of us see the problems. Can we vote on a representative to go have a talk with Mitch? (Tongue in cheek). Can’t dance without a partner guys!!!

  50. A bit off topic, but in the wake of Lakers-Celtics and Kobe’s career piling up milestones, I got to wondering how many players in NBA history have ever won championships a decade or more apart.

    I did a little research. It’s not a long list:

    Abdul-Jabbar, 17 years (71, 88) – that will be tough to beat!
    Havlicek, 13 years (63, 76)
    Horry, 13 years (94, 07)
    Russell, 12 years (57, 69)
    Wilkes, 10 years (75, 85)
    Nelson (ugh), 10 years (66, 76)
    Kobe & Fish, 10 years (00, 10)

    Obviously Kobe & (theoretically) Fish have a chance to move up. Everyone on that list is a good to great player, but only Kobe, Kareem, Russell & Havlicek were driving forces behind all those teams.

    Pretty exclusive company!

  51. T. Rogers

    Creativity is a bi product of a creator on offense which LA has not one player, including Kobe, who can consistently finish at the rim from the perimeter. The only other option is ball movement with this current roster. Almost every late game possession the ball gets stuck in one players hands for too long. Instead of players moving without the ball, there is a bunch of standing around watching. This form of offense my highschool coach called the hot potatoe.Last man that touches the ball has to take some outlandish shot praying for it to go in or get a bail out call. Better ball movement is essential if this team plans on competing in the league with the better teams if no changes are made.

  52. 43) There are still several possessions a game, at least, where Kobe doesn’t involve anyone else, at least in the last 10-15 seconds. Change those to where the rest of the team is involved, and it will result in a higher percentage shot, with at sometimes that higher percentage shot being one that Kobe takes. The result will likely be an extra 1-3 baskets a game. It’s a chicken-egg scenario. Currently too many of the teammates stop moving when Kobe goes into that mode, which makes it less likely that he will get the ball to them. But it is clearly a fixable issue with the current roster.

  53. I don’t think Kobe is willing to play on a team where he is not the primary option on offense.

  54. KenOak,
    Every shot from ten feet out opens up room for offensive rebounds. Bynum got one off a Derek Fisher close range shot. Let’s not give Kobe credit for that. And Bynum is allowed to have one bad offensive game from the post. The guy is t perfect. But what he did was dominate the game in every other area. That’s why he is a starting All Star type player.

  55. One very noticeable thing from last night’s game was just how incredibly hard the Lakers top 3 offensive players have to work to get shots. Boston is a very good defensive team, but the Lakers make it so hard on themselves by trotting out a PG who cannot shoot from distance, beat anyone off the dribble, get into the paint and score or make a lob pass, or threaten the defense in any way whatsoever.

    Throughout the telecast last night (on TNT) the announcers commented on how the Celtics were playing 4 on 5 since Kobe simply refuses to guard Rondo. Even with that, the Celtics tended to get easier shots than the Lakers time after time, and that’s due to their (horrible shooting) PG being able to either push the tempo or break down a defense in the half court.

    There’s a reason why Kobe’s 4th quarter heroics have taken a significant turn for the worse–it’s because he quite literally has no help whatsoever from his backcourt mate. Fish has always been slow, and has rarely been a good penetrator or finisher, but at least he used to be able to hit big shots down the stretch. Take that away, and it is the Lakers (like the Celtics) who are playing 4 on 5 or, with MWP in the game, 3 on 5. Makes it easy to both double Kobe and pack the paint when you can totally disregard 40% of the opponent’s players, and why Goudelock has got to get more 4th quarter burn…..

  56. KenOak,
    That analysis doesn’t fly because when anyone takes a 12 foot shot defense are going to hedge a foot or two to protect the paint a little. Bynum got a put back off a Fisher missed short range shot also. I am not going to give Derek credit either for that put back. That is basketball. The majority of Bynum’s put backs were because he literally just out jumped guys to the ball. If you didn’t notice the Celtics were face guarding Andrew when the Lakers shots went up and pushing him away from the offensive glass. If you want to make a smart statement you can do what Kenny Smith did at halftime and point out that Bynum and Gasol are actually helping Kobe more than the other way around by making teams guard Kobe one on one because they are afraid to leave Bynum and Gasol.

    Also Drew is allowed a bad offensive game. This was his first bad shooting game in a month. And what did he do? Like Kobe he found other ways to dominate the game. He owned the boards and disrupted almost everything the Celtics tried to do on offense. This was the first game as the Kamenetsky Bros pointed out where Bynum finally got it. You can shoot poorly and instead of sulking you can take it up another gear and grind out the game. It was a light bulb moment for the kid. And a great sign of things to come. That is until he tears up his knee.

  57. when blake and goudelock were on the court together, i appreciated blake’s ballhandling up to a point. good job of handling pressure and bringing the ball up; at that point, thought, he needs to pass it to goudelock, a real pick-and-roll threat.

  58. Rover @32: Excellent post. I like ur “punchers chance” analogy for this year’s title hopes. I also like the way you have stated the FO lack of options in the free agent department etc. However, I warn you, people will still be hoping for the big FA signing in the off season. Lastly, I like the “freaking out” statement, cause that is exactly what I am doing. SO: Bingo – U nailed my view. We have a prayer this year (that’s it) as constructed, and I do not like that. I want more than the chance of a late round wild left hook : ) Also, our FA and other options are limited which is why I am hoping for the blockbuster, and lastly, because the chances of the blockbuster (D12) are decreasing, and I recognize the limitations of our other options, I am FREAKING. I wish I didn’t know about our lack of cap space and lack of options, because then I could still be in ignorant bliss. So instead I am just hoping for D12 which is my version of that : )

    George @15 + BigCity@20: Please enlighten us how Mitch is going to sign FA’s now or in the off season. To illustrate, do you realize we could just outright cut AB and we still would not be able to sign FA? This is why some of us are “Freaking”.

  59. Can someone please explain to me why Fisher is getting more than 5 minutes a game when he should be limited to pure garbage time? I think he should start, play for two minutes, and then sit his butt down on the bench until a situation arises where we need his three point shooting. Sort of the way Phil Jackson used Sasha Voujacic in the last finals with the Celtics. I love the guy, but he’s a huge liability on the court. I just don’t get why Brown keeps giving him more burn than is needed.

  60. Viewing the schedule, last night’s victory should be the start of a 7 game winning streak for us. I know that the words ‘7 game winning streak’ will shock some individuals initially, but we’re at a portion of our schedule which is favorable. We also catch a few breaks along the way with the Knicks being without their 2 main cogs, Toronto without Bargnani and Horford missing from the Hawks lineup. Lets see if we can capitalize and build some momentum heading into the break.

  61. While it’s easy to understand that the owners wanted the new CBA to make a more level playing field, it is almost impossible to believe that no one is willing to make a deal with us.

    Atlanta doesn’t want to part with Hinrich even though Teague has proven he is their starter and Atlanta has cheaper back-ups? You would think taking $8.7 million ($5.8 prorated) off of someone’s books would make them happy.

    Cleveland won’t part with Sessions and/or Varejao? (That I can believe, especially not to us).

    Memphis can’t live without OJ Mayo? Hey, you gave us Pau and we gave you an All-Star in return. How’s that working out for you?

    Minnesota doesn’t want to part with Beasley and/or Anthony Randolph? They have a plethora of bigs and, whether we get D12 or not, these two guys would help our athletism and second unit scoring. Heck, Beasley might even start for us.

  62. Glimpses of Lakers offense are great at times. Ball movement early you can see the gameplan from the coaches in the 1st quarter. Establish the bigs early. Kobe usually takes over in the 2nd quarter. Iso’s and PnR.

    2nd half I see no adjustments the team looks lost. If you watch Mike Brown he calls a play then Lakers run the play 5 times in a row. You have to switch it up teams take us out our offense because they know what’s coming. Out of a timeout Kuester draws up a good play then we play free lance ball. Watch Mike Brown he doesn’t call out plays he shouts instructions on defense. I would like our coaches to use our whole playbook and not a few plays.

    K. Berg had a good column today as well.

  63. Busboys4me: The fact that some of the NBA doesnt want to deal with us is part of it. Given that is not an issue for some, what do we have to offer? We have a TPE, and a couple mediocre at best picks. Oh yea, we also have PG + AB. However, if u do not want to part w them, we could trade picks + the TPE for a mid tier player + then we are spent. This is what always drives me back to D12 : )

  64. Great write-up Emile. Pau killed it. Andrew was menacing on the defensive end, and the Big Green Mens’ knees looked creaky. We were lucky to some extent that we were playing an older team because – as we saw with Philly – their activity was hard for us to handle. Because the Cs are getting older, we got just enough rebounds to counteract Kobe’s ill-advised late-game shots. Again, this team is pretty good when Kobe is unselfish ALL the way through, but we’re only going to be middling if Kobe tries to win games by himself.

  65. Blake and a new 2 who can hit from the outside; move Kobe to the 3 to close out games. Once Kobe sees better spacing and players who can hit open looks he`ll move the ball in the 4th qt,and the offense will function a lot better. I fully expect to see a new shooter on the roster by next week(taking the Caracter slot) to spell Kobe at the 2 in crunch time.

  66. I agree with the commenters who hold Mike Brown/Jim Buss more accountable than Fish. If Brown had the stones to bring DFish off the bench, we wouldn’t be harping on DFish nearly as much. If Jim Buss was a more capable GM, we might have a more competent PG. I truly don’t think this team needs to be blown up. You don’t blow up a team with three excellent players when its record is 15-11. It makes no sense. Those three players should be at the heart of our improvement plan and if we had gotten Mo Williams (as I had hoped we would), he would have been a great threat to have taken some heat off the bigs, thereby opening up the floor more for them. I think I would have preferred Arenas or Sessions to Williams, having said that because they seem to be a bit more willing to pass once the double comes while Williams would be more likely to force the shot.

  67. For me, it’s hard to separate Kobe’s performance (or, for that matter, Pau’s or Bynum’s) from the how the rest of the team plays. What I mean is that the rest of the roster only producing at marginal (if that) levels means that more is needed from the big three each night. That greater burden means a bigger spotlight on their performances and if they happen to not play well, the criticism goes their way. In a lot of ways, this is unfair because one of only reasons the Lakers are even in a lot of their games is because of Kobe, Pau, and Bynum. So, if they mess up late or have a bad game we all point at them but in reality production from other players should give these guys a bit of a cushion. I mean, that’s what happens on other good teams.

    This goes back to Kobe’s statements about this team having a thin margin for error. The big three know this and know they must perform. Most nights they do. Others, they don’t. Other times they don’t make the plays down the stretch and the Lakers still lose even if the big 3’s stats look good.

    Ultimately, I’m not trying to shield these guys from blame….Kobe missed shots late last night and we can critique him for that. Other plays could have been made there that would have been different. But, I also know the Lakers aren’t in a position to win that game unless Kobe goes off in the 3rd (as Emile discussed as well). So, as I said earlier, it’s hard for me to separate what the stars do from what the role players do because everything contributes to wins and losses.

  68. Aaron-
    You almost got there. The difference is that when a player drives to the hoop and shoots a shorter shot- you will typically get shorter rebounds. Now if Kobe drives to the basket and O’neal or KG have to leave Bynum a bit to make sure that he doesn’t drive all the way to the hoop, then they are out of position to box Bynum out for offensive rebounds. They aren’t double teaming Kobe, but they are shading over some to stop any potential penetration. Then Bynum has an easier time grabbing the miss and putting it back.

    Longer shots tend to create longer rebounds and they make it easier on the defending team to box out. They also tend to create fast break opportunities which has killed us after Kobe takes an ill advised long jumper.

    I’ll say this again. I would be thrilled if Kobe were taking 8-17 foot shots all game long if he’s single covered. Even the ones where he drives to the baseline and pulls up for a difficult fade-away because they will create easier offensive rebounding opportunities. Fisher is a different story. He can barely get around the slowest of defenders and no one is afraid of him going to the basket. Kobe is not Fisher.

  69. Darius: Can u either do a post or a thread (maybe on an off day) that explains a summary of the tools that the FO has at their disposal (which is limited)? I know we have the TPE and the miniMLE, but is that it? I think some are hoping that somehow Mitch is going to pull a miracle w/o giving up any of the Big 3. And I for 1, do not think that is possible, but perhaps u could enlighten me as well.

  70. Again, this team is pretty good when Kobe is unselfish ALL the way through, but we’re only going to be middling if Kobe tries to win games by himself.

    ___

    Nah. The Lakers are “middling” because the have the worst roster in the NBA 4-15. The K Bros were talking about this today. I mean, I guess it’s fine if people want to make Kobe’s late-game shot selection the main issue with the team, but even a cursory look at the numbers will tell you that isn’t the case.

    This happens because the media focus on him as well as other things makes people WATCH Kobe, so when he jacks up a 20-footer that bricks it seems like a huge deal. Fisher and Blake going 2/14 sort of gets under the radar. Lack of production at the 1, the 3, inability to shoot the 3, and lack of team speed are a far bigger deal.

    As Darius’ post suggests, it’s a team game.

    But again, if Brown thinks Kobe is hurting the team late, then he needs to deal with it on the team level. But replacing Fisher is a higher priority.

  71. -Anonymous

    Exactly! Great post. The iso-centric offense at the end of the game is a huge problem, but it’s not like every time Kobe plays nothing but facilitator that the Lakers crush their opponents. We need production at the 1 and 3.

    Kobe takes most of the blame when we lose and gets less of the accolades when we win than any other superstar. (Except for poor Lebron. I have actually been feeling sorry for the guy lately!)