The Good, The Bad, And the Missed Shots

Phillip Barnett —  February 24, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 85, Thunder 100
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 81.7, Thunder 96.2
True Shooting %: Lakers 51.2%, Thunder 60.6%

THE GOOD
The Lakers came out with a concerted effort on the defensive end of the floor, rotating well and defending the pick and roll as good as I’ve seen them in the last few seasons. Guards were fighting through screens while bigs were hedging and recovering back to their men before Russell Westbrook could turn the corner or hit the cutting big. Westbrook struggled early, shooting three-for-eight in the first half with the credit going to the team working together as a cohesive unit instead of allowing Derek Fisher and Steve Blake to try and defend them on an island. Also, the Lakers were ending their defensive possessions with rebounds, not giving up second chance points (only two in the first half). On the offensive end, they had some nice moments with Kobe playing off the ball, but didn’t really put in an effort to maintain that strategy (more on this later).

THE BAD
It looked as if the Lakers were going into the half with all the momentum, they were on a 7-1 run before Russell Westbrook knocked down a three pointer with eight-tenths of a second left to play. On the ensuing inbound, Andrew Bynum carelessly threw it in to Kevin Durant, who knocked down a jumper on the baseline as the time expired. Five points in .08 seconds gave the Thunder the lead and a huge momentum boost aided by the ruckus crowd. The third quarter saw the Thunder getting out on the run as the Lakers turned the ball over and missed four three-pointers, which led to long rebounds and open floor for the spry Thunder legs. Also, they had no answer for Kevin Durant for much of the game. Durant finished with 33 points on 54 percent shooting and six assists, and four rebounds.

THE MISSED SHOTS
The Lakers missed a lot of shots, and a lot of them that didn’t need to be taken. For the second straight night, Kobe took some ill-advised shots. Tonight, Bean shot seven-for-24, with a lot of those shots being off of contested jumpers and shots off the dribble. Kobe looked his best, as he has for much of the season, catching and shooting off of curls and screens or driving to the basket and finishing around the rim. Kobe had a little success on coming off the ball early in the first, but went away from trusting other ball handlers and took it upon himself to create his own shot. Granted, there were at least three possessions that saw Kobe with his head up looking for a teammate with no one else on the offense moving — forcing him to throw up a jump shot. But for the most part, Kobe was trying to force the issue himself, and it’s a huge reason why the Lakers struggled so much in the 2nd half. Kobe wasn’t the only one who struggled to shoot the ball, though. Andrew Bynum’s legs looked dead from the start of this game. He had a lot of good looks, but he didn’t have any lift on those little jump hooks he hit regularly against Dallas just a night ago. All in all, the Lakers just didn’t shoot the ball well. They weren’t horrible on the defensive end, per se, but their inability to put the ball through the hoop really took some of the wind out of their intensity of that end of the ball.

The Lakers will go into the All-Star break with a 20-14 record and 2nd in the Pacific Division.

Phillip Barnett

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18 responses to The Good, The Bad, And the Missed Shots

  1. Not Charlie Rosen February 24, 2012 at 1:10 am

    For me, this feels like a Jekyll and Hyde performance, compared to last night. Against Dallas, the guys did everything right, performing at their best (absent some free throws there at the end). Against OKC, especially in the second half, all of the worst possible parts of the team came out.

    Lackadasical defense, poor spacing, needing 20 seconds just to set up a post-entry pass, tired legs giving up the worst kind of plays (two points on a contested jumper don’t count nearly as much as two points on a well-run fast break off a horrid offensive possesion, especially with a crowd like OKC’s).

    And is it just me, or have the last two games been among the worst you can remember Kobe playing? Not just bad/missed shots, but a somewhat dazed/distracted look on his face…definitely not dialed in the way he usually is. I hate to speculate too much, but I wonder if it’s related to the reports that he’s getting back together with his wife; on a couple of possessions, the expression on his face reminded me of friends just after they get a new girlfriend and aren’t getting enough sleep. For the last two games, it’s just been Kobe, not the Mamba.

    All in all, it was a schedule loss (4th game in 5 nights, second of a road back-to-back against the prohibitive favorite to make the finals in the west), and from 0.8 left in the 2nd, they looked like an old, tired team playing a regular season game that counts just 1/66 that knew there was a long break coming up and just wanted the game to be over, win or lose.

    I do take comfort in the fact that, in the first half, when they were clearly committing themselves to the effort, they maintained a lead on the team with the best record in the west, in their house…come playoffs, assuming the effort is there, I still like our chances.

  2. From the game thread:

    “The alternative is worse. If we hold onto Pau, he gets older and continues to handcuff the franchise because of what he costs and instead of re-balancing the team towards more youth we wind up with two of the three stars being in their mid thirties and slipping.”

    And who plays backup C if they trade Pau? Some stiff who couldn’t even play last season?

    And you were all for Lamar going as well. Another gross error.

    Kindly refer yourself back to games 1 and 3 of last season’s Western Conference semifinal round. 1 or 2 plays go different in game 1, Lakers win. 3-4 plays go different in game 3, Lakers win. And that was with Pau not in his right mind and Kobe on a bad leg. Seems to me that the team should have been looking for a healthy Kobe and Pau’s right mind as the solution.

    But instead of doing that they decided to dump Pau and Lamar for a PG, which would have left them without the noted backup C and glaring holes at the 3 and 4. Subbing in a glaring hole at 4 for a glaring hole at 1 really isn’t a solution, especially not when you also add the problems of no backup C and the subtraction of far and away your best bench player.

    And they might have kept Lamar and amnestied Ron, if money was the concern, but they need to keep the amnesty since Jimbo’s boy is Andrew and he might blow out his knee once and for all after signing his whopping extension.

    And did I mention Farmar? Sure, not exactly the most coachable type, but unlike Blake, with Farmar, we can actually read on the play by play that Farmar scored on a “driving layup”, whereas Blake is the living definition of timid. His FTA per game is 0.6. He flat out stinks. Only the corpse of Fisher makes him look good by comparison. The man has averaged 1 or more FT per game only 2x in 13 seasons. That’s about as pathetic as pathetic gets for a PG. And we know that because even Derek Fisher has averaged at least 1 FTA per game for every season of his career (yes, even the Corpse is averaging more FTA per game than Blake this season).

    And then there’s Matt Barnes, and somehow one tends to think that if he were in any manner a consistent performer and a valuable soul to have about, that he might have actually stuck with 1 of his 7 prior teams.

    So suffice to say that I don’t have nearly the faith that you do in this team’s management. And the miracle of last year wasn’t that they got swept by the Mavs, but that they were as close as they were in games 1 and 3 with Timid Steve Blake, the Corpse of Derek Fisher, Matt Mr. Inconsistency Barnes, Pau Not In My Right Mind Gasol, and Kobe I’ve A Bad Wheel Bryant. As I said, they might have tried addressing Timid, Corpse and Inconsistent, and then kept Kobe healthy and found Pau’s mind. And not salary dumping Lamar means no need for McStiff and so the mini mid level would have been available to fill the hole at backup 2 with JR Smith, who might have been enticed to play on a team with Kobe, Pau, Andrew and Lamar. And JR would have been extra sweet because he could play the 2 more than the backup stiffs who play it now, thereby solving the 3 problem, in part, with Kobe sliding down to the 3. So when the team makes a good move, please, wake me up.

  3. It’s really time to make a decision…Kobe is a rythym scorer..he makes a few misses a few then makes a lot. This offense makes no sense at all

    This is not 1998, you can’t just dump the ball in the post, they simply won’t let you do it, you need penetration and screens.

    There are no cutters, no cross screens, no down screens, no flares. The high post that Pau and bynum run effectively was ran twice.

    Why try to institute a pick and roll offense with no competent ball handler?????

    Mike Brown and Jimmy boy are clowns, scrapping the triangle for no good reason is just plain stupid.

    I can take losing, but losing because of lack of talent is different than losing because you refuse to properly use the talent you have.

  4. All is right in the world…

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/7609569/los-angeles-lakers-coach-mike-brown-says-foul-pau-gasol-was-flagrant-nba-agreed

    I just don’t understand how the refs missed it. Oh yeah I do, it was against the Lakers and our white swan.

  5. To Not Charlie

    Like our chances? Really? Lakers have the 11th best record in the NBA. They ate tied for 5th/6th with Houston? Bench is last in the NBA. Fisher last in the NBA at PG, Metta is last in the NBA shooting of ANY starter. Brown is wearing down Kobe who is shooting 30% last 2 games and under 40 this month. And the guy running the team seldom comes to the office and has not talked to Kobe or Brown this year!(based on reports).

  6. Dave,

    In answering your post in the previous thread, I’m not laying the blaming on anyone for our loss. What I was saying is that our team is not fitted to compete last night. You can see the comparison of the thorough-bred stallions among the Thunder players wherein our defensive transition has no match against marauding Cheetahs. You have to admit defeat call a spade a spade when you see one. I’m a longtime fan but also a realistic homer.

    With regards to coaching, I was looking for some adjustment that PJ employed when he dealt with these Durants, Westbrooks, Hardens including Collison, Green and Selefosha who were starting to surface in 2009 and also ’10, He made some adjustments and discouraged what they loved to do. I didn’t see that effort last night, or if the adjustment was, it was not effective at all. our 2nd team in combination with the starters could not run and shoot well to stay in the ball game. Metta Peace who moves like a turtle was the only one with the courage to squeeze a steal here and there agains WEstbrook and Durant on a constant chase, he could not keep up with the speed. Our advantage in height did not surface well in defense, they poked holes into it and mocked us too with the animated celebration of Harden showing the exuberance of their youth. (Well, Kobe, Harden and Durant were together last summer during their exhibition games in the Philippines and Asia, so they engaged in thrash talk all night but they’re just being friendly competitive with each other.) It is painful to watch but it is what it is. If lakers could improve their PG, retain the big 3 and with added confidence in shooting prowess among our perimeter marksmen, perhaps we can beat the Thunder in LA when we see them again March.

  7. @Garv – The Mavs don’t have Barea or Chandler anymore, so Drew matches up better with them and we can hide Fish and Blake on Kidd. They also don’t have Butler or Stevenson anymore, so Marion guards Kobe all the time. He’s effective at that, but it takes him away from the hoop and opens up offensive rebound opportunities for Drew, Pau, and MWP/Barnes (a smaller Kidd is matched up with the latter two). I believe the team will take out Dallas if they meet in the first round.

    However, I noticed that the Mavs rarely played a zone against us on Wednesday, and I think Carlisle is saving that strategy for the playoffs. The coaching staff will need to be smart and emphasize our zone offense in practice preparation if we do meet the Mavs. This means Pau flashing to the FT line and making plays for his teammates.

  8. Dave, you responded to one of my comments saying that the bench, PG, and SF were “not the issue.”

    Well then let me ask, what is? Sure the Thunder are an elite team, and sure any fool could have seen 3 years ago they would develop into the team they have now, but that doesn’t mean that a team with Kobe, Pau and Bynum couldn’t compete with them if they were surrounded with talent.

    The Lakers issue is plain and simple talent, they lack it other than their big 3. If the Lakers were to add a PG, SF, and any resemblance of a bench then Kobe, Pau and Bynum would all get easier scoring opportunities. I blame the front office for horrible contracts and going after the wrong players. Yes the CP3 deal would have fixed some of the current issues, but even with CP3 he would still have no shooters to pass to, no athletes to run the break with, and an aging Kobe, and inconsistent Bynum in the post. This is all about talent and the Lakers have 2 aging talents and one rising talent that hasn’t released his full potential.

  9. Dude,
    Why was this outed? If he is having knee pain we def can’t get Howard. This hurts on many levels. This knee was hurt when Kobe submarined him and messed up the cartridge. Those things need to be operated on every four years or so. That’s what happened to Kobe. The knee he originally had cartridge operated in he needed operated on every few years. Man I wish Kobe didn’t side swipe him in Memphis.

  10. “And who plays backup C if they trade Pau? Some stiff who couldn’t even play last season?”

    That depends on the trade we make doesn’t it? And instead of worrying about who would plays backup center after Pau is gone, the first concern should be who is going to start at the 4 in his place. There are no simple solutions to any of this.

    But at some point you either begin to convert your star power players into younger, stronger, more athletic more affordable resources while you can, even if it means you’re going to have some holes that will prevent you from winning championships in the short run; or you become what the Boston Celtics have become this year and while that’s not the choice I would make, it’s certainly one that’s available to us.

    “And you were all for Lamar going as well. Another gross error.”

    Very much so for the reasons mentioned above. I love what Lamar brought to the Lakers for years but this franchise hasn’t reached the stature that it now enjoys by sustaining a sentimental attitude and longing for players to contribute as they have in days gone by.

    IMO, Lamar will never have a season like last season again. And if the FO agrees with that, then this was the right time to move him when his stock was at an all time high. So far, his performance in Dallas would indicate that this is true.

    “Kindly refer yourself back to games 1 and 3 of last season’s Western Conference semifinal round. 1 or 2 plays go different in game 1, Lakers win. 3-4 plays go different in game 3, Lakers win. And that was with Pau not in his right mind and Kobe on a bad leg. Seems to me that the team should have been looking for a healthy Kobe and Pau’s right mind as the solution.”

    Whenever the Lakers are swept in any series against any opponent, I’m not prone to seek out excuses.

    It’d be like Custer arguing that the Little Big Horn was a heckuva lot closer then it appeared,

    “Hey, except for all those Sioux Indians, this was really a close fight.”

    Getting swept in a post season series and trying to claim that it was winnable or explainable just isn’t how I roll.

    And again I’m not sentimental when it comes to the Lakers.

    Everybody has a useful shelf life. This generation of Lakers put us in the finals three times and won us two championships. I’ll never complain about their performances during this period because in my book, these guys are champions despite last year’s debacle.

    But the fact is that the world has moved on and now we’re staring up at the competition just as you saw last night and it’s time to act because we don’t have the horses any longer.

    Pau certainly has value and can add strength to another club. Another year from now he’ll be worth 40% less to us in return trade value when it comes to acquiring another younger star.

    That’s my opinion at least, so i wouldn’t hesitate to move him right now assuming of course the right player is still out there, the way Chris Paul was out there two months ago.

    “But instead of doing that they decided to dump Pau and Lamar for a PG, which would have left them without the noted backup C and glaring holes at the 3 and 4. Subbing in a glaring hole at 4 for a glaring hole at 1 really isn’t a solution, especially not when you also add the problems of no backup C and the subtraction of far and away your best bench player.”

    The problem with your line of thinking IMO is that you can make that case as reason for not taking steps to modernize the ball club for the foreseeable future.

    That’s Danny Ainge kind of thinking and he rolled the dice on that. Except now his former great players are all 35 and 36 years old except for one. There are no options in his case. Let the franchise meltdown and start over.

    In LA we try to avoid that. We try to make sure that if we have to retool we get it done in a two to three year time frame as opposed to taking a decade off which is what you risk when you let it all collapse around you while you rationalize how your old team can still win championships if they would just hold things together and add a retread or two here and there. It doesn’t work.

    “And they might have kept Lamar and amnestied Ron, if money was the concern, but they need to keep the amnesty since Jimbo’s boy is Andrew and he might blow out his knee once and for all after signing his whopping extension.”

    Why all the hate for Bynum? The kid played hurt during two of the championship runs. i don’t think we beat Boston in that close 7 game series without Bynum’s contribution and the kid refused to quit and played through that entire series on one leg.

    Whatever happens health wise with Andrew, I’m never going to bring into question his character or contribution as a Laker. And he does happen to be only 24 years old playing at a position where there aren’t more two or three true centers in the entire league. There’s a huge risk with his health but it’s almost impossible to replace that style player. There are tons of power forwards. Not too many true centers anymore. That’s just a fact.

    “And did I mention Farmar? Sure, not exactly the most coachable type, but unlike Blake, with Farmar, we can actually read on the play by play that Farmar scored on a “driving layup”, whereas Blake is the living definition of timid. His FTA per game is 0.6. He flat out stinks. Only the corpse of Fisher makes him look good by comparison. The man has averaged 1 or more FT per game only 2x in 13 seasons. That’s about as pathetic as pathetic gets for a PG. And we know that because even Derek Fisher has averaged at least 1 FTA per game for every season of his career (yes, even the Corpse is averaging more FTA per game than Blake this season).”

    How far back do you want to go to search for reasons why the FO hasn’t done their job? You realize we’ve won a championship since Farmar departed don’t you? Maybe we should go revisit the Eddie Jones for Glen Rice trade while we’re at it huh? Give me a break!

    And then there’s Matt Barnes, and somehow one tends to think that if he were in any manner a consistent performer and a valuable soul to have about, that he might have actually stuck with 1 of his 7 prior teams.

    Before you try to make that case, go look at league statistics on Matt Barnes compared to other SF’s and you’ll discover pretty quickly that the Lakers are getting pretty good value out of this guy.

    “So suffice to say that I don’t have nearly the faith that you do in this team’s management.”

    And the question for you is, why not?

    Other than maybe the New York Yankees, this is the most successful sports franchise in the history of professional sports in this country.

    We’re coming off of a decade where we won 5 championships and you’re having trouble having faith in the management of this franchise?

    In the immortal words of John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”

    But in case you are? i would say your standards are maybe just a tad bit high, fella.

    “And the miracle of last year wasn’t that they got swept by the Mavs, but that they were as close as they were in games 1 and 3 with Timid Steve Blake, the Corpse of Derek Fisher, Matt Mr. Inconsistency Barnes, Pau Not In My Right Mind Gasol, and Kobe I’ve A Bad Wheel Bryant. As I said, they might have tried addressing Timid, Corpse and Inconsistent, and then kept Kobe healthy and found Pau’s mind.”

    Let me try this again with you. Rule of thumb. A team has never, ever been swept in a post season series that was close. Okay?

    Those two things are incompatible. Completely at odds with one another.

    And when you demonstrate to others that you fail to grasp that reality, you just look like a silly homer instead of someone to be taken seriously in a sports debate. And it’s universally true whether you’re a Lakers fan or not.

    My advice to you? Don’t ever bother to try and make that case with anyone about last year’s Dallas series again.

    “And not salary dumping Lamar means no need for McStiff and so the mini mid level would have been available to fill the hole at backup 2 with JR Smith, who might have been enticed to play on a team with Kobe, Pau, Andrew and Lamar. And JR would have been extra sweet because he could play the 2 more than the backup stiffs who play it now, thereby solving the 3 problem, in part, with Kobe sliding down to the 3. So when the team makes a good move, please, wake me up.”

    Again you’re trying to piece meal the team by holding it together with rubber bands and paper clips and all the while denying that there is a decision to be made on when to fish and when to cut bait with this aging crew.

    I can’t understand a fan who chooses to ignore the fact that Lamar’s value to the Lakers was compromised due to an unprecedented move by the league commissioner to block a deal that had already gone through.

    Unless you’re trying to say that you didn’t like the deal for Chris Paul costing the Lakers Odom and Gasol in the first place, which is something that could be debated, then you’re blaming the wrong people for Odom’s departure.

    Hello? The FO didn’t want to see him go to Dallas for a TPE and a low draft pick anymore than you did. The destination they had in mind for Lamar was New Orleans. Sheeesh!

    The team did make a good move. A bold move to get a player with extraordinary star power and our wonderful commissioner in his infinite wisdom decided to strike it down.

    That was our move! Not JR Smith but Chris Paul.

  11. Not Charlie Rosen February 24, 2012 at 10:56 am

    6 – I like our chances because when I see the team fully committed and bringing the effort and intent, we play as well or better than any team in the league, even with our shortcomings. Contained one of the hottest teams in the league (Dallas) on their home floor, winning even while making barely 1/3 of our free throws in the fourth. And again, until the last 0.8 of the first half last night, we were the better team, on their home floor.

    The Lakers’ biggest stumbling block–as it almost always is–is their will, intent, and commitment to doing what works: aggressive rotations and challenges on defense, and working the high-low with good spacing on offense. When we do that, the wins come with various amounts of ease, even in some of the most difficult situations. When we get lazy on defense, assuming the miss/rebound is coming rather than fighting for it, and dribbling around for 20 seconds on offense before tossing up a 20-footer, we get beat, and badly.

    I would definitely like an upgrade at the point, and more production from the 3, and a bench where I’m excited about how they could change the flow of the game (rather than just praying they don’t screw things up too badly before the starters get back in, which is what I do now)…but we can and have won without those. There’s just a lot less margin for error right now.

  12. This season should have been dedicated to letting the youth gain experience. Morris and Goudelock should be playing a ton of minutes, along with Ebanks. This way Kobe and Pau don’t get burned out and we can still look to the deadline/off season for remedy. brown is trying to save his job and not doing the organization a service by squeezing out a few more games just to please the bandwagon fans. You can’t win every year and have to reload. Oaklahoma, heat, bulls, mavs and spurs are the strongest teams now. We need to be smart and look at the long haul. Don’t tell me the celts aren’t playing for the lottery, and we should not kill our future by burning out our aging players. If byunum could finish the year injury free that would make the year.

  13. “The Lakers issue is plain and simple talent, they lack it other than their big 3. If the Lakers were to add a PG, SF, and any resemblance of a bench then Kobe, Pau and Bynum would all get easier scoring opportunities.”

    And if it was two or three years ago again we wouldn’t have to worry about getting a major contribution out of the supporting cast in order to win because we weren’t getting it on a reliable basis at that time either.

    With the exception of Odom’s departure, the only thing that has demonstratively changed is that the team is older and the competition has dramatically improved.

    Well guess what? That has a tendency to happen every few years in this sport.

    “I blame the front office for horrible contracts and going after the wrong players. Yes the CP3 deal would have fixed some of the current issues, but even with CP3 he would still have no shooters to pass to, no athletes to run the break with, and an aging Kobe, and inconsistent Bynum in the post. This is all about talent and the Lakers have 2 aging talents and one rising talent that hasn’t released his full potential.”

    Chris Paul can generate scoring all by himself anywhere on the court, just like Kobe. Our problem would have been how to manufacture some forwards to play with the other three.

  14. Dave,
    You’re a nicer man than I am. I wouldn’t waste that much time trying to educate a less than knowledgable fan. But good for you.

  15. @ 14, DOC4DaLakeShow, I have been thinking the same thing, Brown is trying to get maybe an extra 5-7 games won this season, why not? If I truely thought that we were going to the Finals, and had a decent chance of winning it, then fine. I am just not so sure anymore, and to have our big three playing 40 minutes a game in this compressed season, is just not good. I hope that I am wrong, and we get there and take the trophy.

  16. Even though our talent level is garbage..We could still win games.

    Why is coach Mike ” I do it my way” Brown not being held accountable for his trash offense.

    It was trash when Cleveland used it…does the late game failures, stagnation and turnovers look familiar…it should.

  17. And then there’s the newest rumor….Rashed “F###in” Wallace. Way to go front office!!! I think even he will jilt us for Boston who also needs a back-up big.