Lakers/Suns: Is This Offense I See?

Rey Moralde —  February 17, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 111, Suns 99
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 106.7, Suns 95.2
True Shooting %: Lakers 62.9%, Suns 53.3%

It is always fun to watch Steve Nash play. Too bad, the Suns haven’t been as talented as in years past. But, of course, that’s also good news for Laker fans for that it’s an “easier” game for L.A.

THE GOOD
Kobe Bean Bryant. 36 points (18 in the 3rd!), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals. 14/25 shooting. Efficient!

Kobe took what the Suns defense gave him and capitalized. The Suns couldn’t stop him. Grant Hill? Jared Dudley? Shannon Brown? No problem. Kobe brought it all out. Left-handed hook shots. Midrange jumpers. Three-pointer on the break. Reverse lay-ups. And the great thing about this? It was all within the flow of the offense.

The ball movement was crisp (26 assists) in today’s game (yes, I get that Phoenix is not a defensive juggernaut), even if it got a little sloppy at times. But, at least, the idea was there to keep the ball moving (I saw cutting! Amazing!). The Lakers were decidedly more patient today and got away with good shots more often than not. As a result of all of this, the Lakers finished with 111 points in tonight’s game, a season high. It is their fourth time hitting 100 (in 30 games) but we hope to see more of this kind of offense from the Lakers. Like I said, it may have been against the Suns… but practice makes perfect and, hopefully, they can do this against tougher defensive squads.

Yes, the big guys (Bynum with 17 and 14) got theirs but it was SO nice to see the Laker bench do something good for a change. Matt Barnes scored a season-high 17 points and snatched 7 caroms. The Laker bench scored 34 points overall and they looked very confident in the second quarter when they sparked an 11-0 run.

The Lakers easily killed the Suns on the boards, 52-36. And the Lakers were better in their shot selection. They only put up 11 three-pointers but they made 5 of them.

This is easily the best I’ve seen the Lakers offense this season (even if they did have a bit of a lull in the fourth quarter). Every player on the court usually touched the basketball in possessions. They attacked the inside with much gusto tonight (whether it’s the bigs bullying or Kobe making his way through… season-high 54 points in the paint!).

The Suns had a hard time scoring in the 3rd, even though they scored 25 points. They missed eight straight shots (mostly jumpshots) as the Lakers packed it in the paint in a key 14-0 3rd quarter run (Suns didn’t score for nearly five minutes). Good to see them give Phoenix a hard time on the defensive end (they also subdued Steve Nash’s scoring: 11 points… even though he did get 17 assists). Most importantly, fans in Staples Center got tacos and Internet L.A. got virtual tacos!

THE BAD
Pau Gasol looked like a sad panda out there. Gasol couldn’t get anything going in the offense and was even missing bunnies out there. He still got his eighth consecutive double double but he got his last few points (he finished with 10 points and 13 boards) when the game was pretty much decided. Gasol looked weary for the most part and I wonder if the trade rumors are starting to take a toll on him.

I would definitely like to see better pick-and-roll play. Our fearless leader, Darius, brought up the fact that the guards are giving up their dribble too early on the pick-and-roll. It pretty much stops the offense and it gives the defense a chance to swarm on the guards.

We saw some of that in the fourth quarter and the Lakers, notorious for blowing leads, gave up a 20-point lead that they built in the 3rd quarter. The Suns managed to cut it down to 5 (with a spectacular Shannon Brown putback slam… hey, remember him?!) before the starters came back to put away the mess. As much as the bench played well, they can’t give up big leads like this. They looked more hesitant in the fourth quarter, quite the opposite from what we saw in the second quarter. Put it away next time, bench, since the starters need as much as rest as they can in this compressed season.

Before the Suns hit that wall in the 3rd quarter, the Lakers couldn’t stop Marcin Gortat. Gortat eventually ended up with 21 points and 16 rebounds but he was less effective in the second half (he had 14 by halftime).

Also, Shannon Brown exploded for 15 points in limited time. I’m sure the Lakers miss his production. Even if he took questionable shots. Right? No? Let’s move on.

THE UGLY
Lakers had 19 turnovers (Suns had 17). Most of this sloppiness occurred in the first half. Steve Blake threw some careless passes. Andrew Bynum still doesn’t seem to know what to do when he draws a two-team. At least, it was against the Suns… and a helter-skelter Suns team at that. Can’t do that against a disciplined team like the Spurs or the Bulls.

Also, I happen to like Metta World Peace personally but that fastbreak where he missed two lay-ups (including a… no-look shot)? Yeah. Ugly. But it made me laugh. Never change, World Peace.

THE PLAY OF THE GAME
It was very early in the first quarter where everybody (well, at least, four players) touched the ball that ended with an Andrew Bynum alley-oop lay-up from a nice pass by Pau Gasol. That was such beautiful basketball that I KNOW we’re capable of seeing from the Lakers. Ball movement is good! Keep it up!

The Lakers and Suns have a rematch on Sunday but this time around, they’ll be in enemy territory. The Lakers have now won three straight and I’m a little bit encouraged, guys! Hopefully, they can keep it rolling as they have a pretty tough schedule before All-Star Weekend.

Why can’t the Lakers play Phoenix every game for the rest of the season? Or ’til the world ends (I ALMOST inserted Britney Spears lyrics here; good thing that I didn’t)?

Rey Moralde

Posts

48 responses to Lakers/Suns: Is This Offense I See?

  1. Brought over from the end of the last thread:

    Good win, even though it got kind of dicey at the end. Now lets see if we can take care of them on Sunday within their confines … Really starting to look like a team and not only is Coach Brown settling on a rotation, it seems as if the players are starting to get adjusted to their roles within the offense .. Defense (shout out to World Peace) has continued to be solid. Lets go for the Home n Home Sweep on Sunday.

  2. Lakers did what they were supposed to do HANDLE BUSINESS.

    Players seem to be finding their roles and look more sure of themselves out there. Ball movement is there since Boston.

    These games vs Dallas, Portland, OKC will be huge going into ASB.

  3. Almost a come from behind loss again for the Lakers.

  4. I don’t see a massive, beast game from Gasol anytime soon. He knows he’s our top trade bait and he doesn’t exactly have Kobe’s steel trap block out mentality. He loses a little bit of heart every with game that goes by.

    Only two solutions: A trade happens or the trade deadline passes. Until then, I expect games like these from him more often than not.

    But at least we won. Good to see a little streak happening after such a roller coaster start.

    (Edit: Speak of the devil: http://lakersblog.latimes.com/lakersblog/2012/02/kobe-bryant-trade-speculation-has-made-pau-gasol-emotional.html )

  5. Gortat (season avgs: 15.4 pts/ 10.3 rebs) played like the 2nd best center behind Dwight Howard in the NBA last night. Scoring 21 pts on 9-16 shooting (3-3 from the line) & 16 rebs vs 14 feet of Lakers bigs. Very disappointed in Bynum & Gasol’s “D” at times. Absolutely no excuse for that offensive rebound & putback dunk by Brown last night. Brown ran right between Bynum & Gasol, no block out, no rebound…no excuse.

  6. I am still not convinced by this squad. Phoenix’s defense is TERRIBLE. The next four games heading into the break will be true challenges and will give us a better idea where this Lakers team is.

  7. Mr BigCity,
    [edited] When Steve Nash pick and rolls the Lakers to death resulting in lay ups and dunks for his pick and roll partner that’s not on the Lakers bigs. that’s on the Lakers help defemders. The bigs come over to help on Nash and the wings need to come over and rotate to Gortat. I only saw one play where Gortat blew by Gasol for a dunk. [edited] Also… The Brown put back dunk was on Kobe. Gasol and Bynum were blocking out their men… Kobe did not. You can’t ask Bynum or Gasol to block out two men at the same time.

  8. @Robert – I’ve always said that we should think of the 1976-77 season as being the first season of the modern NBA, as that was the first season after the NBA-ABA merger, where the Nuggets, Nets, Pacers, and Spurs joined the NBA, giving it 14 teams. Pre-merger, the NBA was arguably the inferior league to the ABA. The supposedly great Celtics and Knicks of the early 1970s were regularly beaten in exhibition games by the Carolina Cougars, who weren’t even the best ABA team.

    So yes, the Lakers have 10 championships since the merger, the league’s #2 franchise Bulls have 6, the #3 franchise Spurs have 4, the #4 franchise Celtics also have 4 (Spurs get higher rank because they have 3 championships this millennium to one for Boston), and the #5 franchise Pistons have 3 titles.

  9. Expanding on #10 above, this is my all-time favorite Sports Illustrated cover (non-swimsuit edition):
    http://tinyurl.com/6ua5lc8

    Danny Ainge looks 13 :D

  10. Thank God we won and I don’t have to scroll through 100+ redundant posts of grown men crying about how the team/MikeB/Jimmy suck at what they do.

    I feel bad for Pau, and will miss him when he’s gone at the trade deadline.

  11. Dude: Nice memory. Lakers 3 Celts 2 in post peach basket era.
    Avidon: You are correct, but if you review #1 from the game thread, we are 1 more win away from the optimists coming out of the woodwork on the other side. Some of us do not pendulum like that – hence we are called repetitive. I personally take it as a compliment.

  12. 11) The Dude,
    A very whiny 13.

  13. Pau will be missed, for all he has done for LA over the past four years. Kobe needs help on the perimeter at this stage of his career. Too many minutes, too much ball handling responsibility, too reliant on him being the sole creator on offense has been a burden that has shown there effects throughout the course of this short season.

  14. exelodrvr: Indeed – nobody was a bigger whiner than DA, however he is not a bad GM. His Red A comments recently were very on target and something the Lakers should pay heed to.

  15. 12) When Pau is gone kiss our championship hopes goodbye. Hope Pau stays he’s the best big in the league.

    Steve Nash shreds everyone just have to hope he’s off his game and he wasn’t last night.

  16. Guys, let’s not talk about Pau in the past tense. It’s way more fun to talk about what a whiny brat Danny Ainge was. That SI cover photo I linked to of him and Kareem is the quintessential Ainge. He was 26 when that photo was taken!

  17. Kevin: You and I are in on board with the #1 priority. However you must ask yourself, what if that deal is not there? If Pau is untouchable, then that means we basically might stand pat, only adding a problem child or two. That would not be good – true? : )

    Dude: The 80′s were phenomenal. Magic had 9 trips to the finals in 12 years, with 5 rings. Incredible.

  18. Dude: I love talking about the 80′s and the 2000′s. However, what the next 10 years will bring is the subject I really like to talk about. How to maximize the chances it is more like the decades we like, and less like that desert of Laker time known as the 1990′s.

  19. Ok – I hope that Darius does not yank this post but I just think that headline on Jeremy Lin was just totally offensive and all the people involved need to be terminated immediately.

    We all have our opinions about this but come on – this is America – we already know that it’s not ok to make racial slurs against certain groups – but Asians have been left out of the equation.

    I am not trying to make this a political blog but am requesting others to email espn if you found the headline to be offensive. Americans cannot just sit idly by and allow this to be acceptable.

    http://espn.go.com/espn/contact

  20. The cost of 2 Sports Illustrated magazines in 85 is shipping and handling today.

    I’m sure Ainge made that face 2010 finals

    Robert: I like our team showing signs of progress. If bench gives us energy I like our chances.

  21. Kevin: You must stay focused my friend : ) The Laker roster is the same one that lost to Milwaukee which is one of the worst days of the year for you, if I remember. We can be the 4th-6th best team in the league, but we are miles from the top, and that is the objective.

  22. Robert I’m focused trust me but wiith what we have now I can see Lakers making it out the west. Even being last in league in bench and 3pt fg LA has been in most games this year would’ve won a few of those if kobe doesn’t shoot us out. Seems silly to say but Blake has made a huge difference.

  23. Dude,
    Haha. I’m sorry. You moderate what is written and I make sure we have somewhat knowledgable fans on this site not trolling around. I’ll be the Malcom X to your Martin Luther King :)

  24. Robert,

    Replacing Fisher with a guy like Sessions is not “basically standing pat.” I have explained this several times, but it seems, as with the pre-season optimists who thought this team could be a top-tier contender, that you will need to observe it for yourself.

    As to the rest, through, IMO you are correct. Anyone thinking that the Lakers are “gelling” needs simply to look more closely at the wins on this current little push. One-point wins over 7th place Boston and lottery-bound Toronto, playing w/o Bargnani; home wins against Atlanta, w/o Horford; and Phoenix, a team which cannot matchup with Kobe and is 20th in ORTG and 22nd in DRTG.

    The Lakers are 5 games out of first and 2 1/2 ahead of Utah and Portland, in 9th. I expect, unfortunately that the b2b in DAL and OKC prior to the All-Star Game will be another reality check, like the b2b in ORL and MIA was.

  25. I just ran into Steve Kerr at a volleyball tournament. Very nice guy. Came over and talked basketball with me for a few minutes.

  26. @Aaron – :)

    @rr – I think that this season’s Lakers match up much better with Dallas than last season’s Lakers. No Barea to carve us up on the P&R, and no Chandler to give Drew fits down low. We can hide Fish’s 15-18 minutes on Kidd, while Blake can stay as close as possible to Jason Terry when they’re both in the game, and Kobe can play rover on Kidd. Meanwhile, I believe that Pau would be extremely motivated by his redemption-seeking matchup with Dirk.

  27. Just a note for all you OLD time NBA BB fans. My company will be sponsoring the next NBA Retired Players event in Long Beach on March 14th. Food, drink(our new craft beer) and lots of tall people. Many ex-Lakers will be there.

    I will post info a week before event and put FBG people on a guest list if you like.

  28. Dude,
    You think Chandler gave drew fits down low in the playoffs? Bynum was our only one on one effective player in that series. Having said that… Yes… Without Chandler they have nobody to guard Bynum in the low post. But only Howard can probably guard Drew one on one in the post.

  29. Aaron, Drew had two lousy games and two effective games vs the Mavs in the 2011 playoffs, and Chandler owned him last week in New York. Admittedly, he looked tired at both ends of the floor in the Knick game, and he was handicapped by the Lin vs. Fish matchup. However, I’d much rather have Drew go head to head vs. Haywood than head to head vs. Chandler, and if Haywood gets in early foul trouble I can’t see Mahinmi being effective on D against him.

  30. Dude,
    I agree with everything except your acertion that Chandler had anything to do with the two off games Drew had in the playoffs. His off games had to do with shot attempts and not effectiveness. If we rememener Drew and all Lakers fans were upset about his lack of touches during his “off games.” And against the Knicks he played poorly. Looked like as you said fatigue and double teams more than Chandler. If Chandler was a good one on one post defender NY wouldn’t have sent constant double teams. Chandler is a very good help defender but he isn’t a one on one defender as I’m sure you know. He isn’t strong enough. And Chandler hardly owned Drew in NYC. As I’m sure you would agree it was the Knicks team defense that owned Drew that game. I mean the announcers and Mavs fans were screaming during the playoffs that Tyson couldn’t guard Bynum in the low post. I think Kwame or even Jermain Oneal do a better job on Drew than Tyson Chandler. But I do think Bynum has a conditioning handicap. No matter what shape he is in it doesn’t look like he can sustain high effort through an entire game. Let alone a series of games.

  31. Aaron: your crazy. lol. Chandler owns Drew. Bynum has more problems with lenthy quicker bigs. Although Magloire. Pek, Hibbert were pushing Drew around just to name a few from this year.

  32. Kevin,
    Mavs fans would and do disagree. And the only defender that has and will continue to give Bynum problems is Dwight Howard amd even the Magic send double teams to help on Bynum (but that has more to do with keeping the foul prone Howard out of foul trouble).

  33. rr: Sessions or similar will help us significantly. We are tied for 11th best record in the league now and I think adding a role playing 1+3 can get us to somewhere in the 4-6 range. However, I do not want to pursue a plan that doesn’t result in getting us to the top 3. You are not saying the Sessions plan gets us there : ) Are you?

  34. And no – I do not know if D12 gets us there either, but he might, therefore it gives me hope : )

  35. Aaron: He has troubles vs Howard another lengthy quicker big. Bynum doesn’t get pushed around often because he’s a redwood tree down low. His loss of explosiveness does hurt him he doesn’t sky like he used to. I remember him catching lobs from fisher almost every game a few years back. I thought the Wild Card workouts would vastly improve his stamina and mobility not so yet. But he is improving and is a bright spot on this team.

  36. Bynum vs Dallas 2011 playoffs – games 1 and 4 were poor – poor shooting (relatively few attempts) and poor rebounding. Games 2 and 3 were very good.

  37. And no – I do not know if D12 gets us there either, but he might, therefore it gives me hope : )

    ___

    Same thing as always: no reason to think Howard will stay or that Kupchak can upgrade the roster quickly. I sent you an excerpt from an article that attempts to quantify the issue.

  38. Kevin,
    Howard is not a lengthy big. He is a 6-10 Center. He isn’t even a lengthy PF

  39. … I will take that back. He is a lengthy PF because of his reach.

  40. Most of us were not only delighted by the great turnaround performance of Kobe and repeat excellence of Matt Barnes, but the comeback of Derek Fisher–with 12 points, and one of his closing “daggers” that clinched the win.

    Derek did what Derek does, both on offense and defense, splitting playing time with Steve Blake. It was reversal of fortune defending point guard scoring: Nash had only 11 points–and 7 turnovers to go along with his 17 assists.

    After watching Derek’s performance, a few of us were lined up at El Pollo Loco, a bit disoriented, trying to get a helping of barbequed crow. Others were catatonic at home, with a bad case of Derek Fisher amnesia. One or two were lost in reflective self examination, considering that their critical Fish comments might have strayed a bit too far, and become a bit unfair. . . . . .

  41. rr: Your facts are accurate and your opinions are reasonable. It comes down to objectives. As I have stated, I have no interest in being competitive. I think we are already there, but I want titles. If a gamble might get us to the title, or it might be disaster, I am willing to chance it. I do not want to stay conservative and have 3 yrs of a 2nd tier team followed by a post-Kobe re-building.

  42. drrayeye: I agree that the DF bashing goes too far. I personally refrain from that because I love DF and the memories he has given us. However, one 12 pt game by Fish and a win over the Suns does not change our basic situation. I think there is a role for Fish on this team and maybe even next yr too, but that role is 10-12 min pg, and an opportunity to take big shots.

  43. I dont think fans that bash DFish have forgotten what he has meant to their beloved Lakers. A performance like Friday night is just to far inbetween performances of being overmatched on offense and defense. I agree with sentiments above, one game doesnt change the problems this squad has had all year( especially a matchup against Phoenix). A consistent effort is the only outcome that will change my mind and it hasnt happened so far. Change is coming in some shape or fashion, whether its Pau or the use of the LO TPE.

  44. As I have stated, I have no interest in being competitive.

    —-

    Not much reason to think trading everything for Howard will do any more than that over the next couple of years that I can see.

  45. JR Smith has scored 9 points in his first four minutes as a Knick.