Lakers/Warriors: A Crazy, Crazy Game

Darius Soriano —  March 28, 2012

On a night that turned exciting for several right and wrong reasons, the Lakers defeated the Warriors 104-101 to move their record to 31-19 on the year. It wasn’t the best played contest from the Lakers and the Warriors – as they’re known to do at home against their divisional rival – rode their fan’s energy to keep it close but in the end they didn’t have enough. A few scattered thoughts on the game:

*Pau Gasol came to play. The big Spaniard finished with 19 points, 17 rebounds (4 offensive), 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block on the night. He worked his post game with deft footwork and great awareness of positioning and hit his jumper as well. On one particular play he got the ball on the right block, went hard to the baseline, but after getting cut off pivoted back to the middle and extended his long left arm and dropped in a nifty lefty hook over his man. Defensively he was also very good, contesting shots without fouling and then cleaning up the boards when the shots he challenged fell off the rim. All in all it was a great night from Gasol, especially after having a poor shooting night against the Grizz on Sunday.

*The Laker small forwards were simply tremendous. Matt Barnes provided his typical energy off the bench, hustling for rebounds and slashing his way to the rim for baskets in the paint. Several times he finished in traffic after a nice dive cut when the defense had their heads turned. When he wasn’t doing work in the paint though, he was hitting his outside jumper. Barnes nailed 3 of his 5 attempts from behind the arc, one of which was a run stopper that pushed the Lakers lead back to 5 after the Dubs had whittled the lead down to only a single basket. Matt’s 17 points (on only 10 shots), 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and two blocks were as stellar as his high revving motor. Ron was also great, though. His boxscore of 11 points on 13 shots with 5 rebounds and 3 assists really don’t do his night justice. He was a menace around the rim on defense by challenging shots without fouling and his typical bully on offense by banging guys in the paint, clearing space for himself and his teammates. His efficiency wasn’t there tonight, but he was plenty effective in ways that affected the game in a positive way.

*The Warriors really did shoot the lights out in the 2nd half. In the final 24 minutes they hit 21 of their 43 field goals (including 4 of their 9 three point attempts) and all 7 of their free throws. Brandon Rush was especially potent, knocking down 9 of his 13 shots in the final two frames and pacing his team with 21 points over those 24 minutes.

*A key to the Warriors great second half was an unconventional lineup they threw at the Lakers. Mark Jackson went with a group of Klay Thompson, Rush, Richard Jefferson, Dominic McGuire, and David Lee to great effectiveness. This lineup’s size and versatility forced the Laker PG (first Blake and later Sessions) to guard a bigger, stronger player and ultimately put the Lakers in help situations that led to open jumpers. Often it was Klay Thompson posting up either Blake or Sessions on the right wing and then using his size advantage to either shoot over the top or read the D to make an easy pass that got the Lakers into a scramble mode. Credit Jackson for finding a grouping that worked.

*Kobe also deserves some kind words after his night. He wasn’t that efficient with his shot (9-24 on the night) but he earned 12 trips to the foul line (making 11) and hit two huge jumpers on back to back possessions that tied the game and then gave them the lead. Both shots were contested baseline jumpers from the left wing but he rattled both home with 1:04 and :32 remaining in the game, ultimately turning the contest in the Lakers’ favor. Add in his 5 rebounds and 5 assists to his 30 points and his final line was a very good one.

*Looking at the offense from a big picture perspective, it looked like the Lakers went away from a lot of their P&R actions and instead focused more on their weak side screen sets and some cross-screen actions to free their big men. It wasn’t that they didn’t run any P&R’s, but when they did they were more subdued with the actions rarely producing anything other than a swing pass around the perimeter. A lot of this was due to Sessions being a bit more tentative off the dribble tonight than he’s been in past games, but it also looked like a concerted effort to try and work the ball to Kobe and big men in the sets they’ve ran for most of the year.

*Lastly, if you’ve made it this far you’ve noticed that one player I haven’t brought up is Andrew Bynum. That’s because his game (and comments afterwards) were just as crazy as the contest between the two teams. First of all, coming off the Grizzlies game – where he totaled only 4 rebounds and played defense only half heartedly – you’d have thought Bynum would come out assertive on the glass and on D. However, that was not the case. Big Drew totaled only 3 rebounds at halftime and his D was only slightly better. Yes he challenged shots but he was also caught – on more than one occasion – leaking out for a rim run before the ball was secured. So, when the third quarter rolled around, I think the general thought was that Bynum would go a bit harder, brining focus and energy to the game. Yeah, not so much. After about 2 and a half minutes of action in the 3rd period, Bynum decided that he was going to fire up a contested three pointer with 16 seconds left on the shot clock. When his shot predictably missed, he loafed back on defense and while the Warriors didn’t score on ¬†that possession, that really wasn’t the point and at the next time out he was pulled from the game. For the rest of that quarter he didn’t leave the bench and, according to tweets from reporters on site, that included when the team huddled up during timeouts. Bynum did see more game action to start the 4th quarter but after not showing much besides some anger in attacking the basket on post moves (on shots he missed, by the way) Mike Brown pulled him again after 2 minutes and 50 seconds and sat him on the bench. After the game Bynum commented that he’d like to expand his game to include three pointers and that he didn’t think the shot was worthy of a benching. And when asked about why he didn’t leave the bench to join the huddles he said that he just stayed where the coach put him.

Now, I think it’d be a bit small picture to really harp on Bynum for this one shot. People take bad shots all the time and while an all star big man who’s a beast on the block shooting a three pointer (when he’s only taken 8 in his career) seems out of line, lets act like it’s not for a moment. I’m not even that upset about his comments after the game. In fact, to me at least, they’re kind of amusing. In fact, on twitter, I was making jokes about them because I was in that kind of mood.

That said, what does concern me is Bynum’s casual relationship with defense, rebounding, and (essentially) trying on the defensive side of the floor in a couple of recent games. I mean it’s one thing to not be effective or to make some questionable plays. It’s another to barely try. Bynum is still good enough that he can impact the game with barely trying – he contested and altered a shot in his short 4th quarter stint without even leaving his feet while barely showing any effort to even slide his feet – but lets not make this a habit, you know? And in the past couple of games, it has been a habit. Again, I can live with some bad shots or poor decisions. I’ve watched Kobe Bryant his entire career, there’ve been plenty of bad shots and poor decisions. Lack of effort is different though. You can call it a lack of maturity or a young, talented player pushing the envelope but ultimately it will need to stop at some point. It just will.

In the end though, this was a win and I’m happy with that. The fact that after the game Kobe said that he thought Bynum was “testing the limits of his game” and that Ron said he didn’t think Bynum’s shot was a bad one only adds to the drama (while also adding to my own personal laughs) that came after the contest when it was all said and done, but I’m still happy about the win. Several players stepped up and big plays were made down the stretch to secure a win that was very much in doubt. This wasn’t the best game and there’s still plenty to work on but I’ll happily have that be the case after a win rather than have the same be true while lamenting over a loss.

Darius Soriano

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32 responses to Lakers/Warriors: A Crazy, Crazy Game

  1. Tough win, but still a win. As for players defending Bynum’s shot, they’re on the same team so they’ve gotta back up their teammate, right? I just hope this doesn’t start escalating into something bigger and hope that between Brown, Kobe, whoever else, and Andrew, they can get over this bump.

  2. Bynum is a tough nut to crack. On the surface, it seems like he is not happy in his role, and can’t grok that with an undersized unit like the W’s, there wouldn’t be a steady post game.

    There’s obviously some validity to the point. The Lakers seem to resist the easy path of focusing on mismatches, and being a bit more deterministic in their effort.

    At the same time, Bynum has shown a propensity to: A) Be a knucklehead; and B) Not bring it on both sides of the ball nightly.

    One just hopes there is some presence in the locker room that can help him see the bigger picture, and his integral-ness within it.

    He’s way too good, and he’s faced serious injuries multiple times in his career to waste the talent that he’s got with nutty behavior.

  3. Sadly, Bynum’s misbehavior has become a pattern. Once and for all, the Lakers organization needs to hold Bynum accountable for his continuing — if not increasing — petulance, immaturity, and lack of professionalism. From his dirty and dangerous fouling, to his ref-baiting ejections, to his loafing on defense, to his no-effort lack of rebounding, enough is enough. (And I’m not even referring to his embarrassing, insensitive and arrogant deeds off court, i.e., the handicapped parking.)

  4. People don’t come to Staples to watch Mike Brown yell, stamp his feet, and spit in his cup.

    I predict he’s going to give Drew and Kobe what they want in exchange for effort on the defensive end, or else.

    Who knows, maybe the Brownmaster’s plan all along was to bring Kobe and Drew together.

  5. Andrew Bynum just doesn’t seem to care about winning right now. He’s more focused on being a ASG starter and “I have to get my numbers”. He doesn’t have the drive like Kobe had at 24 to want individual goals as well but the 1st option and end result in that thinking is WINNING. Pau is older he went through a lot so he has his eye on the price. Lamar was all about the team and winning, Fisher has that drive. Ron had the drive won in 2010 and who knows where he sits right now. Bynum just isn’t focused on a championship it’s about himself. Hope it’s just a faze but it’s alarming it’s lasted this long.

    It’s similiar to Ariza, Farmar and Brown where they’re young and WIN early in their career. And afterwards it’s all about playing time and their numbers. Not too many people have the drive Kobe has that’s definitely something to be thankful for in his dwindling days.

    As for the game the veteran players carried the team to victory. Should not have been this close Lakers are far more talented than GSW but few times regardless the opposition has this Lakers team executed down the stretch. They did and the whole starting 5 did it together on offense and defense.

  6. Any victory is great, but this one is bittersweet because of the Bynum situation. Any chance that the Lakers have to win a Chip involves a healthy dose of Andrew. If he’s not all in, the team has very little chance of succeeding.

  7. Bynum knows he’s the 2nd best center in the league and is starting to act like one… in the wrong way.

    He’s had his option picked up and probably thinks that this is the time to fool around, which isn’t wise, but he never struck me as the wise type hoisting a playmate while still recovering from knee injury.

    Still, too much is being made of it, and I’m sure the Lakers can handle Bynum and his antics. Sure he’s as much a nut as Barnes and Peace, but Kobe’s been there done that so he’ll fall in line.

    Also, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise – we got to keep Bynum’s minutes down for one game at least. A game that we won, to boot.

  8. Whoa, slow down the train on the Bynum doesnt have the drive and determination to maximize his talents. If you think back to what Bynum looked like when he was drafted(plus knee injuries and missed time on the court) and now, dude has put in the work not to be labeled as a slacker. Bynum is just trying to find his place in life, as all young people do, by being a little rebellious at times. I dont expect Drew to be perfect and neither should any fan. That three he took probably had about as much chance of going in as Kobe taking one this season(29% or 1.5 for every 5.1 attempts). If anybody should curtail there gunning form behind the arch you migh tbe pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

    Drew is ready and Kobe is standing in his way allah 2004. Bean is the old man now and the up and comer is in the rearview mirror and closing fast. .

    In years past it never was a question about how much Kobe helped his teammates game. The over reliance on one man was a heavy stone to lift. Now Kobe is as equally reliant on his teammates as they are on him. #24 is just not used to being average, he is accustom too being head and shoulders above the rest. Kobe’s body has proven that it can will a team to victory, now lets see if his mind can turn that same trick.

  9. Luiz André March 28, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Jackass move by Bynum, no doubt. Disrespectful. He needs some slapping around, maybe a DNP-CD to come back with a vengeance. He needs adjusting and I think Brown, Pau and Kobe can keep his head in the game. If not, limit Drew’s minutes so we can start relying on a Pau/McRoberts or Hill tandem more often, which wouldn’t be too bad ’cause then Pau would work closer to the basket other than making his living from the elbow.

    On a side note, looking at the standings, chances are we face Dallas or Memphis in the first round and i’d rather face Dallas. Not only do we get a chance for some payback from the sweep last year, but Memphis is way more dangerous right now. Also Bynum would have a great series on Haywood, not so much on Marc/Speights/Randolph, imo. And the momentum going forward would make this team near unstoppable. Even with all the hiccups.

  10. Kobe won this game for us. 30-5-5; Two clutch shots down the stretch; 11-12 from the line. There is nothing average about the way Kobe played last night.
    Even with a great night from Barnes we still lost 33-26 from the bench.
    Shannon Brown had 32 points last night. And that is a fact.

  11. I think Dexter Fishmore’s headline over on Silver Screen and Roll captured Bynum perfectly:

    “In case you thought Andrew Bynum had grown up…”

    Bynum has been a spoiled child his entire career and I find it no coincidence that he was playing his best basketball of his career on both ends of the floor just prior to the trade deadline, and then returned to being a slacker on defense and an immature brat as a person not long after the trade deadline and the Lakers stating that they were going to pick up the option on his contract.

    I hope the rest of his teammates rip into him in private for this crap.

  12. It’s obvious Bynum is wrong here, no question. The bigger question is what’s causing this? Bynum has played with Kobe his entire career. He entered the NBA as the youngest player ever at 17. Kobe has been both his idol & enemy. Yes enemy, as in backstabber. Who can forget Kobe pushed to have Bynum traded for Kidd once upon a time. Bynum sees how Kobe acts & has acted for the last seven years & knows about the history of the Shaq-Kobe feuds from a player prospective that none of us could come close to claiming.

    Yes, Kobe has five rings, but statements like “I eat first” pertaining to shot selections, could easily cause ruffles with his teammates, especially Gasol & Bynum, who have much better field goal %’s but also rely on Kobe to get them the ball.

    Now Bynum, for the 1st time in his career is healthy & confident in his abilities on the court. At 24, he knows he is considered the future of the Lakers, and that Kobe’s time is nearing it’s end. And Kobe knows it too.

    Bynum is talented, confident, healthy, & yes extremely immature. Kobe is…well Kobe, plenty of positives but which also includes being very selfish & self-centered.

    Coach Brown has his work cut out for him. But let’s not forget, Phil Jackson had his share of issues with Kobe also, so much that he actual wrote a book detailing them. My feelings, this issue can be solved by Kobe & Bynum clearing the air and putting the team 1st.

  13. To add to my other comment, the biggest problem that I have with Bynum’s behavior is, as always, off the floor.

    I’m disgusted by the three point attempt, contested, and early in the shot clock of course. I roll my eyes on his loafing on defense yet again.

    But it’s his open defiance of his coach to the media that makes me want to slap him on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. He does not have the gravitas at this point to be able to basically say, “Coach doesn’t want me shooting threes, but **** him. I’m going to shoot them anyway.”

    I hope Coach Brown yanks Bynum out of the starting lineup for the next game to send a message. I don’t even care that it’s against the Thunder. I’ve not been a big fan of Brown this season, but I support his benchings 100%.

    He’s the coach. Period.

    On a side note, I wonder how much of the recent Laker tension is no longer having Fish in the locker room?

  14. Please see P6: It lists 3 “Scouts” (Buss, West, Chaz). The advanced scout looks at teams for upcoming games. We do have an intl scout, so if you want to add him – ok – I can buy 4. However, I said “3 Scouts”.
    We can all have diff opinions about the FO just like we do about players/coaches.
    http://www.nba.com/lakers/flipbuilderhires/1112mediaguide.html

  15. Robert

    That is fairly average considering that it took 24 shots to put up those 30 points and the refs calling fouls to get to the line. Those same fouls called last night are not called everynight, Kobe’s free throw attempts per game is no where near that number on average. Kobe has to be more efficient on O as Bynum has to be more involved on D. Thats where the divide is with this team, you got one player who is not better than the second best option is presently( Im not talking about 3 or 4 years ago, Im talking now), and the second best option knows it. Bynum will continue to try to put up numbers as long as #24 is seemingly doing the same. Now this is where the departure of LO and Fish hurts this team. The middle men are now gone, those two where able to iron out the wrinkles to make everything nice and neat. Kobe is not a people person and he has to wear that hat now and I dont think it is going to fit on his head easily.

  16. I think the benching and the so-called turmoil are just topics that media wants to feed off. The media in sports industry is like roaming sharks, just a drop of blood makes them going into a frenzy, especially with the Lakers.

    However, it is clear Mike Brown is losing the command of this team. The players just don’t respect him. You see the way Bynum giggles and acting to get teammates amused, then you look at Brown, you know he is losing the grip. These players won championships. They don’t buy into his system.

    No one thought it would be easy to replace Phil Jackson, but Brown is just way off. Someone in the Lakers FO must have fantasized being Brett Pitt in that “money ball” movie, and thought it is revolutionary to adopt some kind of advance stat system to win games.

    For lakers, it is not the question of how much you spent per win. The real question is; do you still want to win championships!

  17. NCDon: I totally agree with your DF + LO comments. I don’t know if RS can fill that role, but it will be tough. I liked the KB control that DF provided. In order to be a threat, the Lakers need the Big 3 at top performance, + yes – I will be expecting better performance from KB. AB needs to be focused on D, + Pau needs to be aggressive (last night was good).

  18. Don’t need anymore to go back to the past players to solve today’s problems. Nobody is really indispensable that a team cannot move forward because they lack locker room leadership. Traded players were old and have some sticking issues too why they were separated. They’re now with the new environment, in fact with the same recurring problems of lack of contribution that would put themselves above the level of competition. Today’s Laker problems should be confronted and solved by their players, coaches and FO only.

    Having said that, I think the team should identify their own problems. Lakers could not afford to move forward carrying these baggages. Drew may have showed some petty childish antics while Brown is getting weary in transferring his knowledge of the game……got to move forward together or the season is busted. Kobe and Gasol should ask for team meeting together with the Coaches identify the problems, get some suggestions in solving them then move ahead as professionals under contract with the team.

  19. Sitting in rainy SF thinking about last night game. Somewhere there is a respect issue going on with the team.
    1-Andrew complaining about MB working them to hard.
    2-Metta complaining about playing time and Brown being a stat guy.
    3-Kobe benching for defensive effort.
    4-Andrew taking dumb shot and then laughing and pointing to the scoreboard.
    5- Team call closed door meeting and Fisher suggests they go back to triangle.
    6-Kobe changes last play to AB then makes sure media knows about it after.
    Never saw these kind of things on a Popavich or a Sloan team. Probably only saw a few in Phil days. Is it Brown they disrespect or is it losing long time coaches, LO and Fish.

    Not sure but there is something missing right now. Brown did the right thing on tbe court but one wonders what if anything goes on off? Is anyone taping to players.

  20. Bynum’s actions last night were inexcusable. Worst they seem to fit in a trend this season. There was MWP’s public criticism of Mike Brown. Then there was Derek Fisher calling a players only meeting for the purpose of bringing back elements of the Triangle. Then there was Kobe completely disregarding a crunch time play drawn up by the coach (and actually going public with the fact he did it). Finally, it is Bynum’s most recent antics. The writing is on the wall and the message is not a good one for Mike Brown.

  21. Please disregard my earlier post. Ken basically covered the same points in his post.

  22. It’s all hindsight, but it seems that we actually needed a coach with an OFFENSE.

    One that players can buy into. Players play noticably better when they’re involved in offense, and with a player like Kobe and with the triangle gone, we needed a coach with offense – defense can always be supplemented by an assistant coach.

    Anyway, I hope they straighten things out. Bynum should realize that he has a legit shot at being Finals MVP if he’s willing to do whatever that is necessary.

  23. Bynum was a bit over the board last night….But I don’t blame him. Trying to win a game while the other guy is ball hogging and trying to beat a record?

    That ball on his knees was the last drop.

    Those 2 prima-donnas are getting on my nerves, to be honest. All this while Gasol and Barnes were having an excellent game…until the prima-donnas almost messed up the game.

  24. hey…I just saw…

    LARRY BROWN WANTS TO COACH?

    That’s a no brainer, Jimbo!!!!!

  25. You cant put the blame of players being immature on the coach. They get paid more than him, will get chosen over him in the end, and the most important fact is they are adults. Everybody on the team does not have to get along for a matter of fact, but everyone must have one common goal and thats to win a championship. Kobe and Shaq did it for years and it resulted in three chips, so it can be done. Its just the case of an old dog trying to rule the yard when the pups are getting bigger and stronger. No longer is #24 head and shoulders above every person on the team. No longer are the egg shells laid across the room scared to be stepped on. I am in no way condoning what Bynum did last night by any means. But if anybody can step to #24 at this stage it is him, not M. Brown, Gasol or anybody else on the team or asst. coaches.

  26. For those saying Kobe was at his old ways again. He took 11 shots the 1st quarter finished with 24 meaning he took 13 his last 24 minutes in the game. Bynum had 13 shots in 23 mins so he was well on his way to leading the team in FGA.

    Just have to call it like it is Bynum is immature and is hurting this team. Started getting suspended the first 5 games this year. Recently he said “I have to get my numbers”. He’s more focused on getting his than winning games.

    thedcdon: Bynum is just getting good and feels entitled and I don’t know why. It’s been Pau and Lamar that have carried Lakers frontcourt to 2 rings. They were the ones who finished games for those championship teams. Bynum has had a great 45 games stretch he’s is no top dog and he needs to fall in line. Kobe isn’t chastising Bynum in the media like him and Shaq he’s been all supportive of Drew this year. Bynum is the malcontent right now. Needs to check his ego.

  27. @BigCitySid -
    Nicely put. Bynum’s behavior is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. There could be several factors:
    1) Bynum is finally injury-free & playing to his potential
    2) He is arguably the team MVP (see http://wagesofwins.com/2012/03/28/why-calling-kobe-an-mvp-candidate-is-insane/) but isn’t treated like it
    3) He’s never really “failed” before (injuries were “beyond his control”)
    4) He has a limited life experience (only knows the warped world of the NBA)

    Yes, Bynum has maturity issues, but that can be overcome. Being benched for the last 9:30 is a good first step. Brown needs to continue doing this until Bynum gets the message.

    @T Rogers –
    Good leaders do three things:
    1) Establish expectations
    2) Enforce expectations
    3) Show mutual respect
    If one or more of these are missing, teams will have problems. Flip Saunders was fired because he couldn’t figure out what was more important: winning or enforcing hard work (not necessarily the same thing). D’Antoni lost control of Knicks because he couldn’t do #2. Sloan resigned partially because he stubbornly refused to acknowledge D-Will’s opinions.

    It’s too early to judge Brown’s performance. He’s trying to do all three things right now. If the Lakers want him to succeed, they need to completely support Brown and send the same message. Otherwise, Brown will fail.

  28. Magic Phil @ 24 – I hope you are joking! :0)

  29. Lakers defense last 7 games giving up 28 pts. per 4th qtr.

    Minnesota 31 pts. 10-23 FG

    Utah 28 pts 9-18 FG

    Houston 34 pts 11-21 FG

    Dallas 21 pts 6-19 FG

    Portland 26 pts 9-19 FG

    Memphis 29 pts 12-18 FG

    Warriors 29 pts 12-21 FG

  30. FGA a game since Sessions acquired

    Pau- 14

    Kobe- 20

    Drew- 13

    Barnes- 8

    MWP- 7

    Sessions- 7

  31. Seems like a pretty reasonable distribution of shot attempts to me.

  32. @ #8 TheNCDon
    “Bynum is just trying to find his place in life, as all young people do, by being a little rebellious at times.”

    People keep calling him young and give him a free pass. No. I am younger than him (22), and most people from my high school are more mature than he is. Yes, he is a star and whatnot, but he is getting paid more than most executive CEOs for shooting a ball. He needs to learn how to at least be as mature as most people his age. There is no free pass to be given, and no justification. Anyone who thinks we shouldn’t bash him for being immature and looks for excuses for him is just out of touch with reality.