Lakers/Heat: Rounding Into Form

Darius Soriano —  March 4, 2012

Some games just mean more. Rivalry games. Games versus potential playoff opponents. Measuring stick games.

The Lakers/Heat tilt this afternoon represented the latter and, today at least, the Lakers showed that they do measure up. Yes, Chris Bosh was absent. And that left the Heat with big man depth issues. But with LeBron playing out of his mind and Dwyane Wade still one of the truly elite players in this league, the Heat don’t lack talent. But today that talent didn’t matter. Today, the Lakers were the better team.

It started with Kobe Bryant. Maybe the broken nose and concussion was on his mind. Or maybe he simply saw this game as an opportunity for the Lakers to show their mettle. Or, maybe this was just Kobe being Kobe. Whatever it was, though, #24 came out on mission to control this game and did a very good job of it.

From the outset he had a bounce in his step, taking it to the Heat and Wade at every opportunity. Kobe did most of his early work in the post, bullying Wade down low with power back downs while using his shoulder to create separation to shoot his turnaround jumper. After two such shots from the right block, Kobe took Wade to the left side, froze him with a shoulder fake, pump faked to get him in the air, then buried a jumper after taking the hit for the and-1. And on his day went, consistently attacking the paint and working expertly off the ball to free himself up for clean jumpers. Kobe’s terrorizing of Wade got to the point that the Heat moved Shane Battier onto him in order to slow him down (which, to Shane’s credit, he did). But by the time that Battier started to defend Kobe better, the damage was already mostly done. Kobe dropped 18 points in that first period and the Lakers seized control of the contest in the early going.

As the game went on, though, it wasn’t just Kobe that was playing well but the entire team that brought that same energy and intensity. Especially Ron-Ron and Andrew Bynum.

As has been the case in the prior two games since the all-star break, Bynum showed that he’s fully healthy and ready to raise his game to levels not yet seen. His work in the post was both brutish and tactical. He bullied Joel Anthony to earn deep position on the left block and patiently worked the middle of the floor with his righty jump hook. When the Heat decided that they wanted to send a second defender in his direction to disrupt his rhythm, Bynum showed great patience by kicking the ball out and then reposting with power. When the hard double came, Bynum showed his comfort level in this offense by directing traffic from the block by pointing teammates to spots on the floor to not only give himself better passing angles but to open up spots on the floor that would better enable him to get off good shots. On several possessions, you could tell that Bynum was playing chess by manipulating the defense to get the result that he wanted. Considering where he was early in the season in regards to this aspect of his game, Bynum’s growth as a passer may impress me as much (if not more) than his raw numbers.

And then, of course, there was Ron. Intensity. Energy. Activity. Defensive presence. Offensive production. Ron was all this and more today for the Lakers and, despite Kobe’s tremendous scoring outburst in the 1st quarter, he was probably the first half MVP (and deserves a game ball too). He pestered LeBron all over the floor on defense by bodying him up and denying easy entry passes. On some possessions, James was forced to 5 feet beyond the three point line to make a simple catch of the ball and once the catch was made, Ron used his instincts and quick hands to vary his looks and disrupt James’ game. And while LeBron still got his 25 points, it took him 26 shots to get there while only taking 3 free throws. Stopping LeBron really isn’t possible but making him work hard while denting his efficiency is the goal, and that’s exactly what Ron did today. I really can’t say enough about his effort on D and when you add in his 17 points on 6-10 shooting (including 2-4 from deep) the only word to describe his day was special.

Of course, this game didn’t come without its issues. After the Lakers brought a 12 point lead into the 3rd quarter, the Heat switched up their lineup by replacing an ineffective Udonis Haslem with Shane Battier. This smaller lineup gave the Lakers issues by putting Shane on Kobe defensively and while leaving Pau to cover him on offense. Battier’s effort in defending Kobe was superb, as he used all his old tricks to get Kobe out of rhythm. On some possessions he fully denied him the ball. On others he half fronted and then forced Kobe to his left hand off the catch. Then he’d front the post and hold him on the weak side in order to avoid Kobe shaking free in the Lakers’ screen game. On offense, his ability to stretch the floor and occupy Gasol meant the Lakers either had less resistance at the rim on LeBron and Wade’s drives, or a wide open Battier taking rhythm jumpers.

The other issue was how LeBron was able to lock in on defense and essentially erase Gasol as a viable post option. LeBron – who, by the way, is likely the league’s defensive player of the year so far – sat in Pau’s lap by fronting the post and throwing off the timing of the Lakers’ sets. And while Pau was still able to get a couple of offensive rebounds with LeBron giving up angles to the hoop when shots went up, Pau was clearly frustrated in dealing with James’ athleticism and quickness (even picking up an offensive foul when battling for position).

However, despite these issues, the Lakers still worked their game on both sides of the ball to come out on top. Their pressure defense bothered LeBron and Wade into tough shots (and for Wade, offensive fouls) that changed the tenor of the game in the 4th period. When Wade fouled out trying to deflect a lob pass to Bynum, the Lakers simply clamped down on LeBron further, got the ball to Kobe on offense (where Kobe hit some shots that still make me get out of my seat after all these years) and took the game.

And ultimately, that’s what matters here. The Lakers took this game. The Heat didn’t give it to them. There weren’t a bunch of sloppy plays or unforced errors by Miami. LeBron didn’t choke and Wade, despite fouling out, didn’t do anything different than what he’d normally do. Today, the Lakers were just the better team. They took the Heat out of their collective comfort zones and tilted the game in their favor by sticking to their game plan better than the Heat stuck to theirs. What this means for the future is yet unknown, but for today, I don’t care about that. Today, all I care about is that this Lakers team is playing better than they have at any point in the season.

Darius Soriano

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81 responses to Lakers/Heat: Rounding Into Form

  1. Who’s “Ron?”

  2. He’s Ron to me. When I see his brother calling him Ron on twitter, I’m going to follow suit. Plus, I like calling him Ron. So, I call him Ron.

  3. I think I have gone mad. I came to the conclusion finally that Bynum is a better Center right now than Howard. I don’t think his knee will hold up but for the time being he is the better player. How crazy am I?

  4. How crazy am I?

    ______

    Very.

  5. 3

    A few sandwiches short of a picnic. But then I would have said that before your latest statement… :P

  6. Aaron.

    Not crazy at all. He is. It’s not just the blocked shots but he alters more shot them Howard, just because of his length. As for his knee. will see. With Andrew, it’s been bad luck. If Kobe doesn’t crash into it again, leading to 2 surgeries, he may be fine.

  7. This is the kind of potential that needs to be tapped for us to have a puncher’s chance at the championship this year.

    Too bad we don’t have Odom, but I think it kinda worked out to be addition through subtraction in that it forced minutes on Bynum & Pau working together.

    Anyway, good win – with or without Bosh, it’s the kind of stuff that can be built upon.

    Now if only Kobe could get some love from the refs… he’s tough but that doesn’t mean that he should be given the Shaq treatment regarding fouls against him.

  8. Not Charlie Rosen March 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    “Who’s “Ron?””

    —–

    Metta is the old, slow, unproductive guy we’ve seen at the 3 most of the year, generally making Fisher look like a better option on offense than him. Ron is the guy we saw tonight, who helped against Boston in Game 7, and who we need to show up for a chance in the playoffs.

  9. Darius: Tonight he definitely should be referred to as “Ron”
    Aaron: You are crazy, however, perhaps not as crazy as I am for still thinking he is attainable, and both of us are not as crazy as Otis for thinking he is retainable.

  10. Darius, one thing IMHO that you could have mentioned in your recap was that Lebron was less active and less effective in the 4th quarter than he has been in recent games. I think the combination of fighting Ron-Ron when on offense and working hard to front Pau when on defense actually wore him down in the 4th. I think he went 1-5 from the floor in the 4th, and didn’t get to the line.

  11. Regarding LBJ defense on Pau, I think that most of it was achieved thru the “blindness” of the refs. What he did to Pau was a clear foul in many ways, many times but…

  12. Was a fun game.

    The heat tried to play dirty – Pittman and Battier both hit Kobe in the face – but then got frustrated with the physicality.

    I’ve never seen a player of Wade’s caliber get 4 fouls in 5 minutes in the fourth quarter like that. And none of them were dubious calls.

    Both of our 3’s gave good minutes tonight, so that was nice to see as well.

    For as good as LeBron is in a lot of games, he was non-existent tonight. The two fouls he got on Pau while battling Pau in the post were just superstar treatment, not good calls.

  13. Just an observation, but look up the 2005 draft and look at the big men picked ahead of Andrew Bynum: Ike Diogu, Channing Frye, Charlie Villanueva. Andrew Bogut was #1. We, as a fan base, are blessed. :)

  14. The Dude Abides, you can also add that of Lebron’s 12 field goals, only 3 were outside of 9 feet.

  15. Excellent game, which was played with Playoff Intensity throughout. Both teams locked n defensively, with special recognition being given to MWP, LeBron & Battier. Metta stepped up big-time defensively and did more than answer my pre-game question as to whether he could slow LeBron down. What he gave us offensively was the icing on the cake. LeBron’s tenacity n fronting the post against Pau shows why he will b n the discussion for Defensive Player of the year. Battier stifled Kobe, who up til then, was abusing Dwade. And although The Masked Mamba finished with 33, once assigned to him, Battier made him earn every basket he hit. Perfect example of Good D, Better O.

    Speaking of Kobe, games such as this hammers home the point why, when it’s all said and done, he’ll go down, undisputely, as 1 of the Top 5 to ever lace them up and hit the hardwood. Whether it was Wade, Bron or Battier, he just refused to b denied. Even when defended well (and yes, Battier did defend him well), he managed to make shots that had me shaking my head and saying to myself, ’16 in and still making it look easy.’ Still, hands down, the Best 2 Guard n the ..A.

    With all do respect to El Presidente & Blake, we’re a clean bill of health, a locked n Metta and a good starting PG away from getting to the Finals and either defeating the Bulls or giving Miami a run for their money n my opinion.

  16. As many times as I’ve been down on the guy Bynum is making me believe in him each game. First year without a surgery in the offseason and he worked w/ Freddie Roach which shows he wants to improve. He’s out there playing hard with a passion. That is definitely one thing Jim Buss has gotten right.

    A negative from the game is offensive rebounds continue to be a problem. It was glaring during the game how the difference of speed was. And fronting the post Miami did it the whole 2nd half but with surprising ball movement Lakers still got to their spots.

    Impressed with how effective Fisher and Metta were today. Lakers were the more physical team. That’s a product of having Mike Brown

  17. If healthy The lakers will be able to bully their way through the western conference finals. Three to four post up options (if you count Metta) They are a nightmare in half court sets. Their Kryptonite would be turnovers and long misses that lead to run outs. “Pound the Rock”!

  18. Anyone notice how Kobe has been more selective about his shots after the ASB? Small sample size, but the past three games, Kobe’s been shooting more lay-ups and more in the post. Really close to the basket a lot of times. And he’s not settling for jumpers as much, especially three-pointers (2 attempts only vs heat!). probably because he’s been off the ball more, which is a good sign. Hope his efficient play continues.

  19. Robert,
    Okay. So here is the real test. For one game tomorrow and one game only who would you want as your Center. One game that is being played tomorrow.

  20. Great we won today but it’s just one game out game out of the66. Please don’t over analyze on one game. Remember this team is inconsistent on the road especially after a big win, b2b games means back to their switch-mojo. Stay on course by involving the other players in the bench which I call the “third wave”. Lakers should be in constant motion to keep the spirits high. The third group should push the 2nd group while the 2nd push the starters. There should be a reservoir of untapped talents like MacBob, Ebanks, Kapono and Darius who are the forgotten players, of course Luke will always be Luke so don’t expect anything big from him. Lakers still need a PG like Calderon or Ellis or Sessions, a new dynamo to support the new found synergy without trading our pillars. we have seen what the pillars can do which is an amazing advantage, why give it up on something unknown or potential synergy busters like: JR Smith to the Knicks or this K-Mart of the Clippers.

  21. I think a game like this illustrates why it’s been so hard to get a read on the team all season long. One could easily argue that this team really is one piece away from being a heavy contender. Just any kind of a ball handler slasher/shot creator. Doesn’t even need to be a starting PG, even someone that can come off the bench and give a productive 18-20 minutes in that role. The team after struggling through a tough transition period with a new coach, system, new players and trade rumors are starting to understand how to play with one another and playing better.

    OTOH, it could also be argued that this team needed to be firing on all cylinders, a great game by Ron, Kobe being Kobe, role players playing well at home to beat a Miami team that was missing Bosh and a Wade that got into foul trouble. Something that almost never happens.

    So which is the real Laker team? One piece away from a heavy contender or still many pieces and needing to be perfect with no margin of error to beat elite teams?

  22. I was waiting, thinking about the game…before posting after-game opinions…

    Yes, we’re 1 step away to be a contender. Only 1 little thing…

    Could we have won tonight without Artest’s 17 points? This is how close we are to be a contender.

    Steve Blake. Imagine if he can shoot 3-pointers at 50%…He got a bunch of open looks tonight, don’t know why he didn’t fire…

    Tonight was Ron-Ron. His points were the x-factor. Kobe was Kobe; Pau did great, Bynum was good…that’s what we expect from them. But Ron hitting some 3s, or Barnes hitting some 3s…or even Blake hitting some 3s…That’s what we need to get to the top, spread the floor and let the other team deal with Kobe, Pau & Bynum.

    Good luck.

  23. Lakers controlled the pace of this game all the way through. That’s been the case the last 10 games. It’s very tough to gauge the team but they are passing the eye test and they weren’t looking like a good team early on. Chemistry is building they finally seem to be playing for one another.

    The rest of March is very favorable. Lakers roster needs a few tweaks to win it all. And one of our main players is becoming expendable with Bynum seeming to be turning the corner to elite status.

    Do you make a few tweaks and ride it out with this big 3? Or keep 2 and make a huge overhaul while possibly killing chemistry thinking about the future? These next 10 days are a pivotal moment in Lakerland. Boston blinked and traded Perk last year. This has to be one of the most interesting and intriguing Lakers years I can remember from the start it was chaos and drama. Cool stuff as a fan.

  24. I think the concussion really is affecting Kobe…

    He’s been showing more patience since and his recent statement being that the team is more of a low post team is also a good sign, although he probably thought of himself posting up down there when he said it.

    If the team as a whole, led by Kobe, can be more patient and really works inside out, we could seriously exploit our double towers. It would be a very methodical, almost San Antonio type of execution, but it could work.

    Will it work 4 times out of 7 is the million dollar question, but if we get defensive minded Kobe and Artest in the wings to supplement our offense down low… maybe… just maybe…

  25. @: “Anyone notice how Kobe has been more selective about his shots after the ASB? Small sample size, but the past three games, Kobe’s been shooting more lay-ups and more in the post.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this has been part of his plan for the season all along. Started out the year battling closer to the basket, set the tone that way. Then he has been coasting a while on the perimeter, maybe to save them old legs?

    And now he seems poised to go battling again.

  26. I am with you Darius he will always be Ron Artest in my book. As for Andrew Bynum, this is the guy that I want him to be. Learn how to read the defense and learn how to repost himself. If he can continue to hone his skills I doubt it if Kobe would not relinquish his Alpha Dog status to him in the years to come. I was once on the block who clamour that the FO should trade Andrew but now I am starting to have doubts on such move and would rather see our own big three play together and just add some pieces to the team that would make them a championship caliber team.

  27. IMO Kobe looks tired right now. He picks his spots. I think that the broken nose has made it extremely hard for him to breath (he says it’s extremely hot) and it tires him out. He scores well it the beginning of games and has lulls until the end of the game as was evidenced today. The good thing about that is that we have seen a more productive offense without him jacking up 30-35 shots. I hope he remembers that when his nose completely heals.

  28. Busboys4me,

    He shot less and less productively in the middle quarters because of some pretty stellar work from Battier, the “non-elite” wing defender. It didn’t look like tired legs to my eyes, at least.

  29. @Harold #27 winnig 4 out of 7 is quite a big possibility for this team, especially the way they are playing at home. If we can catch up San Antonio at 2nd place then its highly probable that we will reach the WCF. But still the million dollar question is can we win it all?

  30. Aaron @20: I think you + everyone else on this site know my answer to that question : )
    1/2Decaf @23: Yes – Pau through 14 @$19 is not good. So, if we sign Drew, this will mean ZERO free agents through 14, if we keep the Big 3 (let’s keep hoping for the blockbuster).
    All: Two winnable road games coming up – but they are road games.

  31. 33

    No need for a blockbuster, just young legs on the perimeter in exhange for some old legs in the post. Bynum and Kobe are not going anywhere, the rest can and will be replaced along the way.

  32. Great win against a team that has dominated the last 3 out of 4 but they didn’t have their post player who is also the best PF in his conference. Can’t expect MWP to score 17 points in every big game. I stand by my premise that Pau needs to be traded.

    I can finally give Mike Brown some kudos LeBron will still dominate a game but the defense disguised made him work (12-26) he doesn’t have too many of those.

  33. Does anyone know why Ramon Sessions, a horrible career shooter, suddenly gets good and shot 42% from the 3 (and increased his 3-point shot volume dramatically) this year?

    Also, his FG% is below 40%, which means he’s not a very good finisher at the rim or mid-range jumper/floater right?

  34. *The Lakers still need a PG
    *DWill is still one of the best two PGs in the NBA (with Rose)
    *Gasol should not be able to score on LeBron ever
    *Bynum has become the best passing Center in the NBA
    *Kobe has outlasted a younger Wade
    *Artest is still a freak defender
    *Gasol is no longer good enough to be traded for a very good player

  35. Sessions’ numbers this year:

    restricted area 52/105
    in the paint 22/70
    mid range 23/72
    3 pt 23/54

    TO ratio: 11.75 AST Ratio: 30.1

    Fish:

    restricted area 12/33 (in more minutes)
    mid range 47/103

    Sessions’ value to the Lakers would be his ability to break down opponents off the dribble and play pick/roll. He has never been a great shooter.

  36. “A negative from the game is offensive rebounds continue to be a problem.”

    Absolutely. There was also that other comment made re Lamar and his loss being addition by subtraction, which is rather doubtful. Probably the primary reason why the O boards numbers are higher than usual is the near lack of what I will call a transition offense. Since the Lakers don’t have such a thing, why wouldn’t the other team crash the glass for the O board? They’d be fools not to. This is where the loss of both Lamar and Shannon hurts, since Lamar had his own brand of coast to coast, Shannon was explosive, as it were, and those two combined with Kobe were the three souls presenting the most risk to the opposing team in transition. In other words, for all those who bemoan the lack of easy baskets in transition, such misses the point that the mere credible threat of transition offense affects the way the other team plays and so as I said, with the threat near non-existent, why wouldn’t the opposition crash the glass for the O board?

    For how bad it was, LeBron pulled down 7 O boards. We’d have to go back to 12 March 09 at Phoenix to witness LeBron pull down 6 O boards. His career avg is 1.2. He should never, ever, be pulling down 7 O boards.

    Lastly, re Pau, helps to keep in mind the scheme that they are running, which doesn’t have Pau in his usual spots. As with any shooter, the farther away from the basket he shoots, the lower the FG%. Not otherwise all that much to complain about when his season averages are 16.7, 10.4, and 3.2. To put those numbers in perspective, his by season Lakers averages:

    18.8
    18.9
    18.3
    18.8
    16.7

    7.8
    9.6
    11.3
    10.2
    10.4

    3.5
    3.5
    3.4
    3.3
    3.2

    And you can see that he isn’t in his usual spot(s) from not only watching the game, but checking the season averages. 0.4 3PT attempts per game. Tied for highest in his career (with his last partial season in Memphis). His career 3PT attempt averages, career:

    .1
    .1
    .2
    .1
    .2
    .2
    .4 Memphis
    0 Lakers
    0
    .1
    0
    .4

    And, sorry, but he hasn’t lost it, either, as it were. Look at his above scoring averages again. Last season ties for 2nd with his first partial season with the Lakers and .1 below his Lakers high of 18.9. That’s why some others in the league still covet him, since they know it is scheme and not him that has depressed his scoring by a bucket a game.

    Almost forgot, but for one more on Pau’s 3s. Was 15 attempts in 39 games that last partial season in Memphis. Is 16 in 37 games to date this season. The 16 is the most attempts in a season in his career (15 was 2x, that last partial season in Memphis and then 15 in 78 games back in 03-04).

  37. The biggest issue with Sessions is that he is owned by Gilbert. He hates us. Then again – this is an issue with all of our moves. See Evil Empire ; )

  38. Yes Lakers need a PG but not at the expense of Gasol at this time. It was also reported that Blake is being considered in exchange of Felton. IMO, That’s not a good idea too. Because these two players are responsible for the Lakers surge in the last three games. Get a PG using the TPE or trading players who are not in play but to sacrifice what’s progressing will hurt the chemistry badly as well as the morale of the team. Having said that, if Lakers would consider a major change do it at the end of the season. What we need now is a minor change or tweak which would mean adding help without any deductions.

  39. Agree with Slappy on Pau. Pau always played a lot of minutes, including crunch time, with Odom. Odom’s size and face-up game complemented Pau well. Now, he is being asked to do different things and play in different spots, and the Triangle, a system that fit him well, is gone. Additionally, his skills overlap some with Bynum’s.

    So, I think Pau’s decline is as much about circumstance as it is about him, although age may have something to do with it as well.

    The Lakers are 21st in opponent OREB–that number has actually improved; they were 26th. But it comes from a combination of being slow-footed, not boxing out, and, as Slappy says, not having threats in transition.

  40. Edwin: If we trade the TPE + picks for players it will take our payroll close to $100 million. We can’t expect Jimbo to do that unless Mitch + MB said that the resultant roster can win it all. I am not seeing that claim even from the optimists here, + Jimbo is not going to pay $100 million for a punchers chance at OKC.

  41. Bosh last 3 games vs Lakers he’s averaged 21-10 27 – 45 on 59% shooting put him in place of Haslem and Howard might be a different story.

    Lakers big 3 are reliable and metta will not score 17 points every big game he’s been inconsistent this year. I’ve always said the 99 Spurs won with this type of team and formula but they weren’t playing LeBron and Wade. It was Spurs and Knicks power vs power. This would be speed vs power. I just don’t see with minor upgrades how this team beats lebron, wade, bosh.

    Losing Pau would be monumental and the floor would look much more open on defense. Mike Brown has proved with less talented players his defense works. With all the ball movement and great offense displayed Lakers still only scored 93 points against an elite defense and had to have metta score 17 to do so. You can’t get back true value replacing a guy interchangeable guy like Pau.

    Parker, Paul, Westbrook, Conley, Lowry have killed the Lakers and will do in postseason. League is changing have to change with it.

  42. Sloppy,
    It’s the eye test, it’s not the numbers. Everyone realizes his FG percentage is down because he is taking more jumpers. What I see is that he isn’t taking more jumpers just because of the new offense. It looks like he can’t score as well in the low post anymore. It looks like he can’t take people off the dribble to the basket as well anymore either. It looks like he can’t finish in traffic in the paint like he used to. It looks like he has lost a step. What’s worse is he looks like a role player. A very good role player but still a roll player. He now scores off of Kobe and Bynum off the ball. Now too often I see his points coming from open dunks in transition and wide open 12 footers. I will say this… I think his defense is still almost as good as it was seven years ago when he was in his prime. Same with his rebounding. I can live with this Gasol… He is a great role player. But we need him to be prime Gasol to compete for a championship. The problem with Gasol this year is not his numbers. GMs go off of scouts, video, and athletic prowess when judging players over stats still. So my problem is I just don’t see another team giving up much to retain Pau and his 31 year old declining body carrying that 50 million dollar inclining contract.

  43. The team is still figuring out best to use the Bynum/Gasol pairing within the context of this offense; expect it to continue to improve as they get more time together.

  44. Wow – I wish I could go back in time and show this board 45+46 (Aaron+1/2D) during pre-season. If you think about it, many teams would not even take Pau for free due to the 3 yrs at $19. So is PG+AB even a better package than AB alone? It was during pre-season. It may not be now.

  45. …The truth is the Lakers traded away two aging star forwards this offseason at the perfect time only to have the trade vetoed. Just three months later both players trade value has dramatically decreased (Odom now is completely untraceable). The Lakers ownership and FO is simply still the jewel of the league. The fore site, the fortitude, and the strength to not fear failure. We can just guess the team will come out ahead once again at the trade deadline.

  46. 46/48,
    We just have to hope some teams will over pay for a skilled seven footer still. But yes… That contract might even scare off those dopes. It just appears our best option will be keeping Gasol. I doubt we can get enough quality back at this point. This offseason as the FO understood was the best time to trade Pau.

  47. Pau is still a top 3 big man in the league and his game will last a long time because of his versatility like Duncan’s has. The problem is Lakers cap situation and he is our only trade chip. With 4 bad contracts on the team it hampers our ability to keep our big 3 together. Lakers need speed and scoring.

    Pau is such a good guy and still an elite player. 2 out of 4 i’ll take every time.

  48. Aaron: Agreed. As time goes by, it becomes more evident that the CP3 deal was quite simply one of the best trades of all time. Oh what might have been : )

  49. Kevin,
    I don’t even want to make opposing points. I simply am going to restate what you just wrote. You just said Pau Gasol is one of the three best PFs and Centers in the NBA. You just wrote that. I know you on this site. You’re a smart guy. Do you want to maintain that stance? ;)

  50. Those that openly state that Gasol isn’t a key player to the Lakers or no longer that good are showing themselves as not knowing much about basketball. Just putting that out there.

  51. Darius: I do not think you were directing at me, but just to clarify. Gasol is still very valuable to us. He is probably worth more to us, than most other teams. His contract is an issue both for us and any deal. Bottom line for me – keep him – unless he is packaged in a major blockbuster.

  52. Aaron: I do. Dwight, Pau, Love in that order. Can’t knock the guy for his scoring. He averages the most assists as a big man is not soft just not aggressive. He’s the most versitale out there that’s why teams want him

  53. #55. It’s the second part of my comment that’s most important. To claim Pau is no longer that good is, for lack of a better phrase, showing a lack of understanding of how the game of basketball works.

  54. Aaron: Kevin can stick up for himself, however please remember that Pau is his guy. So the fact that Kevin is willing to possibly part with him, would be like me being willing to part with KB or you being willing to part with AB. So give Kevin some credit here.

  55. Darius,
    Nobody is saying Gasol is no longer a good player or key player for us. Where have you read that? I have not seen that written anywhere. We are saying he is no longer the player he once was and is no longer an elite player.

    Robert,
    Well I’m willing to part with my grandmother for a better player. I’m willing to part with Bynum for Howard or LeBron ;) Other than that… It’s true… I don’t see another player I would trade him for. Maybe Derek Rose. Maybe. Probably not though because PGs are everywhere. Centers are nowhere. But Rose is a better player. It’s just that I can find another really good PG. There are no really good Centers besides Howard and Bynum.

  56. Kevin just wrote that Howard is the only big man better than Gasol. Hahaha. In my next comment I will copy and paste the list of big men commonly acknowledged as being better than Gasol.

  57. Robert: Yeah he’s my guy. Pau can make a claim to being the best PF in lakers history in just 4 years with what he’s accomplished in such short time.

    Pau is the only big to get 10 assists in a game this year. His play is steady but if Lakers don’t get howard have to sign bynum long term. Can’t keep all three at such hefty prices. Time to get Bynum some toys he’s deserved it.

  58. #58. Sorry to sound patronizing. But, from where I sit, many people seemingly ignore circumstances, then rattle off things like you just said about “the stats” (when the stats show marginal drops in FG% but an uptick in rebounding with steady production in assists and blocks; with advanced stats showing essentially the same PER) and the “eye ball test” that doesn’t account for where he’s playing on the court.

    Also, the stats I have access to tell me that Pau is more effective in the post this year than last and scores with more efficiency in the post than Kobe or Bynum. So, I’m not buying a lot of arguments built around the stats.

    If I wanted to get long winded with this, I’d also say that the coaches are asking Pau to do all things no other big man on this team can do. Bynum can’t play from the elbow and initiate offense in the Lakers “horns” sets. Bynum can’t consistently hit an 18 foot jumper to space the floor for a post player. Bynum – though improving in this area – isn’t yet the passer to read defenses from the top of the circle. So, Pau does those things within the Lakers sets.

    This makes him extremely valuable to this team (and to any other team in the league, really) but fans want to say that he’s not good. Why, because of his stats? He’s averaging 17 and 11 with 3 assists and a block a game. But he’s not any good?

    So, yeah, sorry for sounding patronizing about a topic where so many people seem to have it so wrong but act like they’re 100% right.

    I’m more than happy to admit that Pau’s game doesn’t have the same “feel” as his game did in ’09 and ’10. I’m also one that’s watching how he’s been asked to move his game from the post to the wing to accommodate the strengths of his teammates. So, I think there are factors that contribute to how his game looks and feels, but some seem to not want to do that. I also think it’s important to point out that his numbers are still right where they’ve always been. He’s down 2 points a game from his absolute peak and he’s trading over two shots a game from 9 feet and in for ones that are from mid-range and further. Tell me one big man that could say that he’d be able to keep up the level of efficiency that Pau’s shown when asked to change his game in this way? Not many. That’s for sure.

    And what does he get for that? Fans saying he’s not very good anymore. Fans openly saying he should be traded. I can live with any trade for a definite upgrade but some folks think the Lakers would just be better without him. That’s crazy. (Again, sorry if this is patronizing.)

  59. I just read Jason whitlocks article on Kobe, it reminded me why I lost respect for so called journalists

  60. List of all players universally known as being better than Gasol….

    Dwight Howard
    Andrew Bynum
    Lamarcus Aldridge
    Blake Griffen
    Kevin Love
    Dirk Nowitzki
    Chris Bosh

    Why is it so bad to be at best the eighth best big man in the NBA? Yes it’s true… Four years ago Pau was the best PF in the NBA in my opinion. This goes for Darius too actually… Just because people on this site are correctly seeing Gasol has declined and is no longer in that elite group… It doesmt mean we think he is no longer a good player.

  61. Aaron: your just trolling now lol. lebron is averaging more rebounds than Aldridge. He’s just a jump shooter no post moves and only gets 5 defensive rebounds a game. I’ll take Josh Smith over Aldridge every day of the week. Next. Griffin is all athleticism he’s too raw right now let’s see what he does in the post season first. Dirk not this year. Bosh would be my only consideration he was a 20-10 guy in Toronto.

    With that said I’ll go Dwight, Pau, Love, Bosh LOL

  62. Darius,
    Again… Look at the posts on this thread. We are saying we should not trade him because we can’t get as good of a player back at this point. Nobody is saying he is no longer a good player. We are just correctly pointing out Gasol is no longer as good as he used to be and will only get worse. He tanked it in the playoffs last year and the Lakers have been trying to trade him since. Are the Lakers basketball people wrong? We’re they also wrong to try and trade Odom? They have been right too often for me to disagree with them. Amd Gaso is a PF. Last year when Bynum came back and started playing Gasol also was shooting 15 footers amd playing more often than not away from the basket. That’s what PFs do. That’s what Gasol is comfortable doing. That’s what he has done his entire career. They went after him in Memphis because the media said Gasol didn’t want to play in the paint. His spots on the floor haven’t changed much from the second half of last year to this year. When I’ve seen Gasol in the post against average defenders this season I’ve seen a lot of air balls with his back to the basket. He is still better facing up in the high post but no longer is as effective as he has lost some quickness. You said yourself “the feel of Gasol” is different. That’s all we have said. Except we have suggested why that feel is different. It’s because he isn’t as good and has slowed down. This is pretty much universally excepted in basketball. I’m suprised you disagree. Do you even disagree with this?

  63. Kevin,
    Aldridge has no post moves? Just one month ago Kareem said Aldridge has the best post moves in the entire nba. Yes he is a great jump shooter too. So we should penalize him for that?

    Blake Griffen is too raw? He isn’t too raw to to get 20 amd 10. The guy is constantly drawing double teams. Players that are “raw” don’t usually do a good enough job offensively to warrant a constant double team.

    Amd yes Dirk started slow… But he is the best player on a team that has been ahead of the Lakers in the standings for much of the season. And don’t look now but he is again in shape and scoring at will with a high percentage.

    Amd you didn’t even bother to mention Bynum. I guess it was hard to argue against a player on Pau’s team that outplays him most every game.

    All tose players I listed above are all stars. Something Gasol wasn’t this year as voted on by the coaches. Are the coaches always right? No they are not. But usually they are.

    Btw… TE only guy I’m willing to argue with you on is Dirk

  64. One other point about Gasol. He maybe playing the best defense of his life. It wasn’t just Bynum giving the Heat fits at the rim.

  65. Michael H,
    Yes… Exactly. As I said a few comments up… The one thing about Gasol’s game that hasn’t declined is his defense. He has done a great job on that end of the floor the entire season. That amd his rebounding has remained very good.

  66. From Hoopsworld….

    Now ESPN’s Ric Bucher reports that Odom is “desperate” to go back to Los Angeles, but the Lakers aren’t interested in bringing him back, even if the NBA allowed him to be traded there before July 1. Still, Odom asked for the trade, and his play since then has not inspired anyone in LA to want him back . . .at least not on the Lakers’ side of Staples Center. The Clippers, on the other hand, are said to have a great deal of interest, but they lack the expiring contracts required to bargain with Dallas. The Mavericks are squarely focused on making a run at Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams this summer, so taking back long-term contracts is a deal-breaker for Dallas.

    The Clippers would have to send too many pieces back to Dallas to make a deal around ending contracts work.

    Mark Cuban has been clear in saying he won’t buy out Odom, as has been suggested, but it remains to be seen how much longer he will tolerate what he’s seeing out on the court.

  67. Regarding Pau, the issue isn’t whether or not he is a good player. The issue is whether he is better for the Lakers than a player (or combination of players) who he could be traded for.

    Pau is a great player, but for reasons Darius explains, is being asked to do things that aren’t as natural for him and don’t play to his strengths as much as his prior role. So, it is both fair to say that Pau is not as valuable to the Lakers as he once was, and say that he is still a great player.

    Seems to me that the only issue is whether a hypothetical trade of Pau (or any other player) improves the team. It doesn’t seem too far fetched to say that losing Pau and everything he does well might be offset for the right kind of PG who radically improves the team’s offensive flow. There aren’t many PGs who would qualify, but some would.

    I agree that Pau seems different now than he did two years ago. His playoff collapse was obvious, and while he is playing better now than he did in the playoffs, he doesn’t quite seem his old self. Some have attributed that to age, and others to ever-present trade rumors. Whatever the cause, the result does seem obvious. He’s a great player with an awesome skill set, but he’s also playing a role (elbow spot up) that he might not be as well-suited for. That’s why it isn’t crazy to think that he could be traded for a player who makes the Lakers better overall (while almost surely worse at the PF spot…).

  68. I happen to think that Pau has done himself a tremendous disservice by not committing to weight training earlier in his career. Pau has said he only began lifting in recent years. Yesterday, Pau, despite having inside position, gave up numerous offensive rebounds. In fairness, I felt that the refs allowed the Heat to go over his back on several occasions. But, Pau has got to do a better job rebounding in traffic. For a team with 2 seven footers, the Lakers give up too many offensive rebounds.

    I think Pau is very good. I’d love to see the team do upgrades at the 1 & 3 by the trading deadline and go for the gusto. Pau is a big part of what makes the Lakers a dangerous team. He just needs to be a little more physical on the defensive glass, IMO.

  69. @ Aaron re “universally accepted”–

    Other than Bynum and Howard, there isn’t a person on that list that is as good as Pau on defense, or even an average defender, and I would posit that Griffin and Love are definitely below-average in that respect. You have often mentioned that half of the game is defense in supporting Ron Ron’s continued presence (which I agree with by the way). Until Blake and Kevin start showing they can play a lick of defense, and start showing they possess a multi-dimensional offensive skill set, they rank below Pau. Alridge doesn’t rebound or defend as well as Pau–not even close on either count. YOu can even make a case that Pau is better than Drew at this point. My list of “arguably and probably better” is Howard, Dirk, and Bosh. The other people on the list are “arguably as good, but won’t convince me…”

  70. Aaron: when those players prove they can compete at the highest level then they’ll be better than Pau. I’m not sure why he wasn’t an All-Star because in consecutive games he outplayed Aldridge, Dirk, Love. Pau’s stats don’t justify his impact on the game. Agree to disagree

    As it pertains to trading Pau you never get back fair value when trading a star player. Have to lose something to gain something.

  71. Folks, this Laker team is a very good team that wins at home when it plays it starters for many minutes night in and night out. Not a recipe for a champiopnship. We already saw this last year when Gasol burned out from all the minutes he was playing during the Lakers’ fast start. As the playoffs approach, we will need a quality bench that Brown trusts enough to rest his starters on some games and keep them fresh for the playoffs. A point guard wouldn’t hurt either.

  72. Kevin,
    Gasol was not an All Star because all those players I said were better than him in fact made the All Star team over him. So the coaches agree with me. Unfortunately it’s also possible he didn’t make it over those guys because the Lakers have no PG and no SF. So our record hurt him. I mean now Artest has lost weight and has gotten in shape so he is producing. But that wasn’t the case the first half of the season. But the biggest reason he didn’t make the squad is because all those guys as I pointed out already made it over Pau as Gasol just isn’t as good as they are anymore.

  73. Kevin,
    And I never agree to disagree. I want to discuss until you change my mind or I change yours. That’s how people evolve and grow :)

  74. Aaron: Answer me this who can do more as a BIG MAN than Pau can? Pass, Shoot from Range, Back to the basket, Face Up Game, Ampadextrius (and has rubbed off on Drew he has a left hook now), Defense. He can do it all. Name one big man that can do all of that?

    Aldridge avg. 8 rebounds he should be disqualified automatically. lol

  75. Kevin,
    One could be above average at every facet of the game. That player can do it all. Unfortunately it’s better to have a Shaq that can simply back down his man on dunk on him 10 times out of 10. That one offensive ability is better than being above average at every different aspect of offense. Gasol has a well rounded game and is a well rounded player. He is still the 6th best PF in the entire league. That’s not bad at all.

  76. Over the weekend ESPN had a column where writers mused about potential moves. JA Adande had proposed an Al Horford trade for a PG (can’t remember who). His comment was that the Hawks had played so well without him that he was now expendable.

    Does anyone know if Horford is realy available? I had heard that Josh Smith was (I would love to have him as my SF) but Horford was news to me.

    I think AH would be a good fit alongside Bynum and he’s 6 year’s younger than Gasol. Would the Lakers consider making a move that potentially upgrades the same position they just traded?

    I realize that the deal would need to be larger than a straight up. Anyone with inside insight know if the Lakers have looked at the Hawks as a trading partner?

    Just curious?

  77. Aaron: Pau has one weakness one would say his “weakness”. All those other guys have a weakness in their games. Can’t overrated a guy like Aldridge just to get him on Pau’s level. He may be there someday but not now.

    *gladiator crowd chants* “Spainard, Spainard”

  78. Good win, but as Edwin pointed out, it’s just one game in a season where:

    – Kobe played like his old self. As we all know too well, KB24 is not this efficient every night anymore.
    – We played at home, where our bench is comfortable and plays much better.
    – The Heat were without Bosh, possibly the second best big man in his conference.
    – Most importantly, this was a game where Ron Artest showed up.

    How often will the stars align to create such a favorable scenario for our team? Exactly.

    Re: Pau,

    He has transformed into a hybrid of his old self and Lamar Odom in terms of his role. As Darius mentioned, he now plays more outside of the paint just to accommodate his teammates and help his team win. He’s not flashy and he’s not dominating, but he’s still tremendously valuable both on and off the court.

    Having said that, I’m in the camp that says Pau should be traded – for future flexibility and depth. As constructed now, this team is NOT a contender, and Pau is our only movable chip with real value. His contract is very fair, given that his numbers would shoot back up on any team that needs him for what he does best (play in the paint).