Lakers/Thunder: A Class Below

Darius Soriano —  March 29, 2012

Boxscore: Lakers 93, Thunder 102
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 108.1, Thunder 118.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 52.2%, Thunder 53.8%

The Good:
After wondering how Bynum would play after having a string of performances that were newsworthy for the wrong reasons, he came out ready to play against the Thunder. He had 25 points (on only 15 shots), grabbed 13 rebounds (7 offensive), and blocked 4 shots in 41 minutes of action (more on the minutes later). He was a presence on both ends of the floor in the paint, establishing the post on one end and protecting the rim against penetration on the other. Per NBA.com the Thunder only shot 48.8% in the restricted area on the night and a lot of that had to do with Bynum’s long arms and intent to defend the paint with authority.

On offense he flashed the moves that made him an all-star this season. He powered into hooks to the middle of the floor and displayed solid footwork when working the baseline. He made himself available for post catches by doing his work early and kept his hands ready when working off the ball, finishing multiple plays by keeping the ball high in traffic when he made difficult catches. All in all, Bynum was excellent on offense and disruptive on defense. It would have been nice if he could have grabbed more than 6 defensive rebounds (more on this later as well) but considering how often he was forced to help on dribble penetration and in showing help on the cuts and curls that help fuel OKC’s halfcourt sets, he deserves some reprieve in this area.

Also very good was the Lakers performance in the 1st period. The ball moved on offense, players were quick to make smart decisions, and it all led to good shots that were converted at a high rate. The defense was also very good as the Lakers kept the Thunder mostly on the perimeter and contested nearly every shot that went up. The Lakers played a controlled, disciplined style that proved they’re capable of hanging (and beating, if only for 12 minutes) one of the best teams in the league. If they could have bottled that effort for the rest of the game, things may have been different. However….

The Bad:
Let’s make a list, shall we?

  • The Thunder grabbed 19 offensive rebounds on the night and scored 23 second chance points.
  • The Lakers showed a complete inability to slow Russell Westbrook in the open court as he pushed the ball down their throats on multiple occasions. Westbrook ended up with 36 points on the night, including 27 in the 2nd half.
  • Kobe shot 7-25 on the night, missing some makable shots in the process but also relying on too many jumpers against tight defense in trying to get his baskets.
  • Kobe and Bynum played 41 minutes a piece in a game that was a late game (and mostly meaningless) run from being a double digit loss.
  • The Lakers gave up an offensive efficiency of 118 on the night, a mark that is 8 points (per 100 possessions) higher than the Thunder’s league leading mark on the season.
  • Gasol played 32 minutes. If you wonder why that’s bad, it’s because he was needed for more minutes but couldn’t play them because he picked up 3 fouls in the first 2 minutes of the 3rd quarter and had to go to the bench with 4. He sat the rest of that frame and by the time he got back into the game the game was already heavily tilted in the Thunder’s favor with momentum fully swung in their direction.
  • To rub salt in the wounds of this night, Fisher played well for his new team in hitting 3 of his 5 shots and ended up stopping the bleeding for the Thunder with 3 straight makes when their offense was flailing. The rest of his game was mostly forgettable but those shots, in the moment, were huge for the Thunder.

Ultimately, it was the Lakers’ defense that did them in tonight, though. As mentioned OKC’s offensive efficiency was off the charts good. The Lakers lack of floor balance made OKC’s transition offense even better than normal and the inability to close possessions with defensive rebounds was nightmarish most of the night.

The Ugly:
On a more general note, this game proved that the Lakers are a class below the Thunder right now. OKC couldn’t have played much worse in the first half (Durant was 5-16 for only 10 points, they were sloppy on O and D, etc, etc) but only trailed by 5 after 24 minutes. When Westbrook went nova in the 2nd half, the Lakers had little ability to keep pace and the game got out of hand to the point that the home crowd booed the team. Worse yet, the Lakers looked like a defeated team with no answers on how to solve the Thunder once the game started to turn. OKC’s D tightened and the Lakers couldn’t find a way to attack them with any success, ultimately relying on fading and leaning jumpers.

Said another way, OKC showed that they’re much better than the Lakers and considering it was a home game for the Lakers and that the season only has 15 games left that’s a bad sign. I mentioned before the game that this was a measuring stick game and the Lakers showed that they don’t measure up in falling way short of competing over the final two and a half quarters. Time is running short for this team to get it together and while Mike Brown searches for rotations that work, his big three are playing heavy minutes and wearing down. The formula is a bad one right now and the Lakers must find a way to get it together. And soon.

Darius Soriano

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74 responses to Lakers/Thunder: A Class Below

  1. Just Fire Mike Brown.

  2. The Kobe shoots and the other watch offense didn’t work during the brief Rudy T days. And Zkobe was really good back then.

    He is a below average shooter now at 42% yet still shoots tbe most times in the league.

    And we need Mime Brown for this offense? Might as well save tbe money and go with no coach.

    There are only 3 teams averaging over 100 points a game yet the Lakers the past 2 weeks are giving up over 100 every game.

    Hum mm. Kobecentric offense and a sieve for defense.

    Perhaps Mike Brown will win coach of the year this year. Your either a good offensive or a good defensive coach. If you are neither that’s a problem.

  3. Never: his offense is terrible. I’m losing faith in him as a coach. He can’t motivate the players and kills chemistry by switching lineups.

    The bench sucks Lakers crowd sucks too. Sessions made both of those better instantly. I’m just saying. It’s a total moral boost knowing you don’t have to do as much because the bench will carry some of the weight.

    Someone should ask Mike Brown the difference he sees when Sessions was on the bench to when he starts. It’s very drastic.

    Someone should ask Mike Brown the difference when Sessions starts to when he was on the bench. It’s very drastic.

  4. this game was lost after the 1st quarter, which has become the norm. I’m definitely starting to turn on Mike Brown, he just doesn’t seem to be able to motivate or manage a game. not that he has much to work with as this team has zero depth. even so he’s running everyone that does contribute in to the ground, unless he’s benching them. then there’s hardly any team chemistry with fish and LO gone, not that I think it’d matter with this crew. I don’t have any answers. right now, but I do have frustration with how this season is shaping up. Cancun!

  5. Is brown making anyone better? Is he putting anyone in position to succeed? Pau is a post player but coach is playing him like he’s Dirk.

    The one screen Kobe came off of at the FT line with Harden guarding him he made in the 4th qtr. Why is he in so many ISO’s if he’s so effective moving off ball? If Kobe doesn’t want to give up the ball Brown should come out in the media and say Sessions needs the ball in his hands to intiate the offense.

    Blake’s performance this year isn’t helping the team may not be hurting but there is a option that has proven to be effective Why isn’t he playing? Just countless decisions that Brown has made that have had a negative affect on the team.

  6. Look at Pop his personnel has changed over the years so he changed his offense to suit his team’s players.

    Same with Thibs he doesn’t just sit Deng in the corner for 3s he gives him picks so he can slash. Brewer had the back door cuts at Utah working Thibs intergrated that too.

    In Doc Rivers offense you can tell when the ball isn’t in Rondo’s hands. There is a package of plays for each player that suits their strengths.

    Spoelstra as much flake as he gets he diagrams great plays. Back door plays, screens, PnP on the baseline for Haslem. He tailors his offense for his personnel.

    Monty Williams his team seems to have a plan they want to execute.

    This team’s offense is effective enough because of the players offensive talents. Not the offense that’s making them effective. Really frustrating trying to figure out why fixable problems aren’t being fixed. Rant Over lol.

  7. long time laker fan March 30, 2012 at 2:03 am

    mike Brown is over his head
    LA is not Ohio,
    Jimmy screwed the pooch with firing fish, lamar
    etc.
    i miss the Zen master….
    oh well the good energy has gone to the dodgers
    i can let go of the new lakers
    and the ravings of his Jerry’s wannabe son.

  8. anti Dwyer Abbott March 30, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Two phantom fouls on Pau,aging team,Russ & co clearly better right now.
    @2 this was not about Kobe.

  9. Thoughts:

    1. It isn’t so much that Blake should start, as it is that Brown should adjust the rotations a bit so that Sessions/Barnes are on the floor together more. Also, he should use Sessions as a way to rest Kobe a bit the last 15 games. Play Barnes as the backup 2 assuming Brown will refuse to play Goudelock.
    2. I hope Hill’s MCL gets better and Brown lets him play.
    3. Sessions is not much of a defensive player–we knew that pre-trade. So it is not surprising that a guy like Westbrook blew up on the Lakers in his usual manner.
    4. I think the workload is clearly affecting Bynum, Pau and Kobe on D.
    5. Kobe’s wrist and finger injuries, and his age and mileage, are affecting him. In tough matchups, he really can’t get it done right now, nad may not be able to again in the future.
    6. I am not enamored with Brown. But…

    I don’t really think Phil or Popovich or whoever else people want to imagine as coach would be able to get the Lakers past Oklahoma City. The Lakers are slow, old, thin, and have skills overlap issues and skills gaps. Sessions helps the O a lot, but he is not Derrick Rose. I agree that Brown has a lot of shortcomings, but Oklahoma City, although they do have a couple of flaws, is just too good for the Lakers. That was clear before the season, and it is clear now.

  10. I saw a team in the Lakers that is still trying to define itself. The Lakers were on a roll in the first Q until Brown started subbing with about 3 mins. left. He broke his own team’s momentum.

    Fish’s stint in the 2nd Q helped turn the game around. Once OKC got traction, they were difficult to deal with. By now, it’s obvious that the 2nd unit can’t compete on a nightly basis. Why not give some of the younger guys some burn?

    Paul’s game got completely sabotaged in the 3rd Q by the 3 quick fouls. Kobe could not get a whistle all night from Danny Crawford and his crew. Kobe has got to get some FT’s to be efficient. He was fouled in the act several times with no calls. Crawford also didn’t have the stones to eject Perkins after the OKC goon came down across Pau’s shoulders with a vicious elbow and then tried to instigate a fight. When I saw Crawford and crew at the beginning of the game, I knew the Lakers, and Kobe in particular, were in for a long night.

    Drew was fantastic. He played with the passion that makes him so hard to deal with on both ends of the floor.

    Bottom line is that Pau’s foul woes resulted in the big 3rd for OKC. The Lakers weren’t completely outplayed. The Thunder beat the buzzer to end the 2nd & 3rd quarters for a total of 5 points in what would ultimately be a 9 point game. A few more Kobe shots or FTA’s and this game is a lot closer.

    Kobe needs to play completely off the ball for a game or two. Let Sessions establish himself. Kobe has to be smart and cede some control of the team to the younger players.

    GO LAKERS!!

  11. For all the doom n’ gloom around here, I would say that everyone just needs to adjust their expectations. This is not the championship team of the past few years. This is a transition year. We have new players, we’ve changed out a lot of pieces, we have a new coach, and a new defensive and offensive system. Plus it’s a lockout so no one can practice. And we’re old (at least a good chunk of our rotation players are) so we can’t practice. It’s not a good situation for winning with this sort of team. They have a puncher’s chance in the playoffs, but really that’s it and I think everyone in Lakerland should just accept that we’ll be an up-and-down team and ‘a class below’ as Darius puts it, until 1) we’re not in a lockout season anymore 2) we have more time to work out the new pieces 3) we upgrade some of our holes with small moves, particularly the bench. These all point to next year, not this year.

  12. Everyone talks about how bad the Lakers offense is, but what about the defense? Seems like since the Allstar break they have never been the same defensively. In the first half of the year the Lakers rarely gave up over a 100 points, and now they are giving up a 100 points almost every game. Yea guys, if the Lakers are going to decide not to defend, they will not get out of the first round of the playoffs.

  13. LA just couldnt get a good bounce last night whether it was loose, tipped, fumbled or whatever crazy scenario the Thunder seemingly ending up with the ball. LA simply got worked over by Westbrook in the second half, dude looked like he was on 2K. Kobe might want to think twice about talking smack to dude unless he can stop him. After jawing with Bean he just couldnt be stopped, creating havoc in the paint, money jumpshots, he went wherever he wanted to on the floor and no one could stop him.
    LA just looks tired to me, first half the whole team played with energy and confidence, second half it seemed like they had just awoke from a nap. If players arent producing on the court what is it going to hurt try something diffferent. Browns rotations are already a toss up, I dont believe a litt shake up would be too out of left field.

  14. @Kevin –
    I agree. Kobe is a superstar past his prime. He’s slower and can’t jump as explosively like he used to. To maximize his scoring and minimize disruptions to the Lakers offensive flow, Brown/Kobe needs to avoid low percentage shots (e.g. dribble-10 seconds-then-turnaround-double-tuck-jumper-while-triple-teamed). Coming off screens or pull-up-pop will minimize wear/tear, keep the flow going, and improve his efficiency.

    http://www.bouncex3.com/2012/01/tell-me-what-you-see-kobe-rorschach-bx3.html

  15. I doubt it has anything to do with him being past his prime, it has more to do with playing in one offense that provides spacing and takes advantage of his skills vice playing in this scatter brained offense where everybody is jumbled and in each others way

    But…why is Blake playing more than sessions? We got him, the least we can do is use him.

  16. All is not lost after a regular season game. Lakers showed in first quarter they can outplay the Thunder. They have to figure it out.

    Biggest Lakers advantage is Bynum.
    He has upside and is getting better.

    Thunder have no Bynum answer.
    Neither does San Antonio.

    Key game statistic during last 2 seasons is
    Kobe’s FGA volume.

    Bynum + Gasol FG attempted are greater than Kobe’s. Lakers win.

    When Kobe shoots more than Bynum and Gasol combined Lakers typically lose.

    Last nite Kobe 25 shots. Bynum & Gasol 26 shots. This is loss recipe.

  17. It has been apparent for many weeks now that this team is not well coached and is not coming together. As other posters have said on … MB really IS over his head. From defensive strategies to set offensive plays … to rotations to playing Steve Blake way more than he should … so many negatives. Keeping Pau on the bench way too long in the second half is typical. The game was slipping away but no Spaniard until momentum had clearly swung to that young and highly skilled team from OKC. Did any of us realize how good Westbrook was going to be when he played for offensively-challenged Ben Howland? I sure didn’t. He has become a Top 10 player in the league. Maybe Top 5.

  18. Game changed on the phantom calls again Pau in the 3rd.

    Although – the Lakers D has been TERRIBLE for weeks now.

    And I didn’t understand why Sessions was so reluctant to shoot the 3 when they went under screens last night.

    Even the announcers were saying – The lakers are good at getting offensive boards – and normally that can lead to wide open 3’s. But the Lakers are so bad at 3’s that they don’t even look for em and the defenses can solely focus on the paint.

    Nick Collison owned our front line last night btw.

  19. darius: you hit the nail directly on the head: A Class Below..

    This comes right out of Management 101 and is meant for the laker organization or any organization currently in disarray:

    Turn Around an Underperforming Team

    Rebuilding an underperforming team or department can be a huge challenge to a manager. The issues he/she will face from their team could include low morale, rapid staff turnover and high absenteeism levels. The manager involved could also have poor leadership skills, which is likely to hinder not help the situation. If employees are uncertain about their own future this might have a further negative affect and could make matters worse. A manager in this situation may feel so overwhelmed by all the problems that they will stick their head in the sand and hope it will go away.

    A team needs to analyse it’s structure – how it works, what it’s strengths and weaknesses are and the role each individual plays within it. The root cause of the problem needs to be identified quickly and remedial measures planned from this. Self awareness plays a huge part in this. People often don’t know how other members of their team see them. One guy might see himself as an assertive leader but in reality he is an autocratic dictator. He in turn might have a low opinion of the quietly spoken back office person. Everyone needs to appreciate that both types of people are essential to the success of the team.

    It relies on three factors:
    Self and team awareness – identifying individual’s strengths and limitations
    Recognise different contributions – teams bring together complementary skills and experience
    Plug the gaps – modifying behaviour brings enhancements to the team.
    One factor that differentiates “dream teams” from “teams from hell” is a strong platform of understanding. Self awareness and an awareness of other people’s style are crucial if a team is going to reach more ambitious performance goals. There needs to be an acceptance that WE have a joint problem and WE need a joint strategy to tackle it. Differences are not good or bad, better or worse

    A High Performance Team will be aware of the work styles of the different profiles and that each contributes to the team in its own way. Each member must recognise their own limitations and recognise that there are people on the team who can do things better then themselves. People need to cover the bases they are good at and concede to others where they are better.

    Teams fail because of mismatched needs, unresolved conflict, personality clashes and lack of trust. All these can be addressed through understanding and recognising how each person in the team behaves and responds in different situations. Self awareness will create a strong platform of understanding from which more ambitious performance goals can be achieved.

    1 Resist firefighting
    When you start a turnaround process, there will be no shortage of people telling you what the problems are and how to fix them. But you need to form your own views, so immerse yourself in the culture of the department, watch it in action, spend time with managers, talk to people and sit in on team meetings.

    The problems of any failing department will involve people, processes and technology. While success depends on addressing all three, people are the most important and HR needs to ensure that all members of the turnaround team recognise this. Highly motivated and skilled people will make poor processes and IT work, but the best technology and processes available will still fail if people lack the appropriate skills or motivation.

    2 Get the buy-in of all involved
    You need to be open and honest with people to get their buy-in. Remember that no one understands a service like the people who actually deliver it. It’s not change agents, managers or consultants who turn things around, but the staff themselves. If you can engage most of them, you’ll have a powerful force for change.

    Try to win employees’ confidence by listening to their concerns, rather than coming in with a one-size-fits-all change methodology. Ensure any action plan you introduce takes account of concerns, as well as performance and service issues. Discuss the action plan with people in the department and monitor progress, ideally through staff opinion surveys. At this stage it is also a good idea to identify internal champions – people with a can-do attitude who will support you in driving through change.

    3 Turn managers into leaders
    You also need to get the department’s management team on side. Retaining and developing existing managers sends out a positive message, whereas replacing them is risky, expensive and time-consuming. But resistant managers can subvert the change process and there are times when you must be prepared to make difficult decisions.

    Managers of failing departments need to accept some responsibility for the past and overcome their resentment at others being brought in to fix the problems. While it is important to learn from the past, you need to get them focused on the future and help them to develop new skills and regain confidence. Identify development needs and use external help where you need specific expertise. Managers can feel swamped by multiple reporting lines and targets and may need help in prioritising what’s important. You should also encourage new habits. Get them out of their offices to engage with staff. With a little support, the changes can be dramatic.

    4 Empower managers
    Failure fosters a blame culture where managers become fearful of making decisions. This does not make problems disappear. On the other hand, bad decisions, though best avoided, can be great learning experiences. Boost managers’ confidence by giving them a chance to test decisions before taking them. Some will only need a little support and encouragement; others may need help to recognise all the implications of a proposed course of action.

    Encourage courage: managers must learn to make difficult decisions and see them through. Once they have done so and recognise that they have done the right thing, their self-esteem will grow and they will start acting less like the managers of a failing department and more like their successful colleagues.

    5 Communicate, communicate, communicate
    You can’t communicate too much. Use lots of different media to put out clear and consistent messages that relate back to the overall action plan.

    If you are part of a team, all members will have some responsibility for communication, but it is critical for HR to retain a high profile with staff. Face-to-face communication is best. You need to demonstrate that you are making an effort to meet people at times that are appropriate to them – for instance, by fitting in with shift workers rather than expecting them to stay after hours. Complement meetings with newsletters, team briefings, emails and dedicated intranets.

    6 Celebrate success
    A reputation for poor performance can become self-fulfilling. Other departments may have concealed their own failures by blaming yours. Talented people will not want to be associated with a department that is seen to be failing because of the risk to their careers.

    People can’t take too much failure. It is therefore important to break the cycle of bad news and give them something to celebrate. Publicise good news: the first praise in months from a happy client; another department saying “thank you”; a delivery ahead of schedule; or a real change in performance. You can create your own good news by introducing a person or team of the month award. Over time, as the situation improves, you’ll have much more to celebrate – and a department to be proud of.

    Go Lakers !

  20. At the end of the day, Russell Westbrook looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Kendrick Perkins scares children. You have to take pleasure in the little things.

  21. They just pointed this out on ESPN, and I realize this only includes simple stats, but:

    7 pts, 3-6 FGs, 1 assist, 1 TO
    7 pts, 3-6 FGs, 5 assists, 5 TO

    The first is Derek Fisher’s stat line, in half the minutes that Sessions played. The second is Sessions. We’ve got to get more out of the PG position. I’m not making any definitive statements about why those #s exist, because I missed the first half; I’m just pointing them out.

    But from what I saw in the second half, Sessions was a bit underutilized and under-aggressive. I like that he’s patient in setting up the offense, but I said it in the game thread: I want him to take a steeper angle off picks and drive hard to the rim more often. The 2 times he did that in the 2nd half, he got a layup and got swatted by Ibaka (which is fine, he’s getting defenders moving and rotating, and that’s when we can find the open man). He’s our quickest player, our best penetrator, but he doesn’t use that tool enough, preferring to take a wide angle off most picks and swing the ball to set up the offense. When we’re struggling to get the offense going, I want him to get into the teeth of the defense and cause havoc. I don’t know if it’s Brown’s doing or not, but I feel like Sessions has started deferring to Kobe more and has become almost too patient.

    Bring on your wrath, Dude.

  22. Snoopy @20

    Thank you for making me laugh for a minute to forget about this game! :)

  23. If you saw the game you know what the bad aspects were. One bright sign is that in the 1st quarter the Lakers were distributing AND pushing the pace. Against a very young, talented and athletic team. Something that I wasn’t sure they could do for more than a posession or two. I really liked this style of play. Did it go away due to fatigue or MB’s momentum crushing substitution patterns?

    Here’s a thought Mike:

    Play Ramon every second Kobe is on the bench and Bynum too when possible. Let him showcase his skills as a playmaker

    Sessions & Barnes are money. But we don’t play them together as we should. Why???

    Steve Blake needs fewer minutes. Period.

  24. Mike Brown’s rotations are just bad. Especially hate that he brings Blake and Barnes in at same time. Think he should hold off on Blake, and let Sessions and Barnes get a little burn together.

  25. anti Dwyer Abbott March 30, 2012 at 8:03 am

    @11
    Good grasp ,Kobe cannot get a call for a very long time.Strange thing is no one seems to write about it.

  26. Kurt Rambis in large part got fired for trying to force the triangle on a team that had little parts to work it. Here Brown’s “system” didn’t have the personnel so his solution is to burn out his aging superstars and play burn outs to jockey for 3 to 5th seed. Also, where are the good adjustments? As I’ve said before, Brown lacks an appreciation for flow. Simply feeling that Fisher would eat Blake alive in the battle of terrible could have made the game closer.

    30 point first quarter and they play like the game is done thereafter. The Kobe > Pau > Bynum dunks ball movement probably only occurred 1 time after halftime. Media-wise, all I hear from Brown is lack of “effort, hustle plays, etc.” More scurrying on the court isn’t the solution… especially against a team that has cultivated its young talent through the years (admittedly apples/oranges situation).

    This game further displayed that the wrong back up guard was traded and thinking outside of the box can’t occur when you proudly wear that box on your head.

  27. Dude,
    I don’t think we are a class below. It looks like it alright. It def looks like it. The reason I don’t think we are is that the reasons we lost are fixable. They are strategy and rotational issues. You were the first one to point this out but I will pound it into the ground for you… The Lakers need to run more high middle PnR with Ramon Sessions. They did it in the first quarter and jumped all over OKC to build a double digit lead. They cant go away from it the rest of the game . Of course with Ramon off the floor the lead disappeared. That brings me to the next point. Steve Blake (although he played fine) can’t play back up PG. he can shoot. He did shoot. That’s all well and good but he needs to be a PG in this offense. He needs to be a threat in the PnR. He is not cappable of that as Mike Brown said (so why play him there?) The third point is an extension of the second point. You can’t play Troy Murphy (washed up) and/or McBob (washed down). They statistically are D League level players. You have a guy in Jordan Hill who can rebound and play defense and his offensive stats result in a PER of over 15 (that’s an NBA starter). All the Lakrers struggles statistically happened with Blake and Murphy/McBob on the floor. All that can be easily remedied.

  28. Even though Lakers were 2-2 with Sessions on the bench his impact was vital.

    Sessions avg. as starter 13 pts 4 reb 6 ast.. Bench avg. 16 points

    Sessions avg. on bench 12 pts 3 reb 6 ast.. Bench avg. 32 points

  29. Interesting how people on here are seeing what I have been repeating wat to much. Mike Brown is a below average coach who can’t adjust.

  30. 1/2 decaf,

    I take it you’ve never watched Travis knight play during his laker days? The guy fouled out playing less then 10 minutes…

  31. Opp. 2nd qtr with Sessions on bench averaged 22 pts.

    Opp. 2nd qtr with Sessions starting average 28.7 (6 point difference)

    Sessions has been shut down these last 2 games. But with the starters it’s harder for him to navigate his way in the paint because there’s no space. Those 1st 4 games there was space and he had room to drive to the basket or drive and kick. Sessions is a PnR PG not a spot up shooter that’s what he’s been relegated to as a starter while Pau has become a perimeter player in that same time frame.

  32. I am not rushing to this judgement. I have seen the second half of last year. I saw the postseason too. I saw pre season and ninety percent of this year as well. This needs to be Kobe’s team… But it has to be Andrew Bynum’s offense.

    Kobe is now a 42 percent shooter who doesmt get doubled (not creating shots for others). Bynum is a 58 percent shooter who consistently attracts help defemders (creating shots for others). If we didn’t see the names on the back of the jersey this would be a no brainer.

    Kevin,
    The only reason we jumped out to a big double digit lead in the first quarter is because we played high PnR with Ramon the first seven minutes straight. We need to start him and keep going through him and Bynum. If we did that the entire game we blow OKC out. And of course we can’t play Murphy/McBob at PF and Blake at PG ever. Statistically those are the areas that KILLED us.

  33. … Btw… Meant to say Kobe never gets doubled against good teams. Occasionally he will still get doubled in the post against bad teams with an awful player on him. But we are talking about playoff teams here.

  34. @#23….

    Most teams have a Thibodeau type philosophy and will frequently foul Kobe, knowing that the refs are loathe to call a lot of fouls and appearing to favor a superstar.

  35. What Westbrook did to Lakers exactly the same as Rondo did to Cleveland 2 years ago, we knew what happened at that time. When you hire the coach who is not expert on offensive or defensive end, this is what you’re. The Chicago Bulls is good defensive team because Thibodeau, Houston was number one defensive team because of Jeff Van Gundy. I don’t believe in not enough time for pratice. I wrote on this blog before, LeBron made Mike Brown a better coach.

  36. And I’m not making excuses for Kobe. I realize his shot selection could use some improvement.

  37. Aaron: Brown should let Ramon play with the 2nd unit. That way he can run PnR every play that’s what he does well. He will NOT dominate the ball as long as Kobe, Pau, Drew are on the floor. Give Sessions the ball with shooters and space 2nd unit offers that.

    Last 8 games Pau has taken 52 paint shots and 54 jumpshots. Too many jumpshots

  38. Whatever the problems are, the season is not completely lost because NBA real season starts during the playoffs. Whether the Lakers won or lost last night, Thunder would still have the home court advantage. What we lost would be bragging rights and struck deeply on confidence dilemma of Lakers surviving the hopes of becoming a Champ. this year. The stakes are high, our veterans are getting older, the talents are not just there and our Coach is no longer the Zen but a “sence” referring to absence in strategies and tactics.

    The dividends in getting Fisher paid well for the Thunders. He gave out the playbook of Mike Brown to the enemy plus all the weakness points of every player. As it is, Lakers were fully scouted and played a high handicap game. And yet, Brown did not adjust, his rotation are so predictable.

    I think rr was spot on but there could be some remedies to it. Ramon Sessions should have been used as a decoy by letting him penetrate the inside game. He has the speed and capability of going in while eyeing for Pau or Drew for easy PnR. Once he penetrates, Kobe would be open on the outside, then that will remove those double teams on him. Last night, I noticed Session was used as a mere fascilitator in bringing the ball, passing ball and a bystander on the perimeter. He was not part of the offense but just for defensive transition purposes. Troy and McRob were wild cards, I don’t know what good they could bring against a very athletic power forwards with Thunder. There is no answer for Ibaka with his activity when our two bigs are not playing together. Finally, Lakers are jump shooting team and our perimeter woes continue with Artest. Every time, he shoots it’s like rolling the dice for Mega Lotto, he has to shoot or forfeit the play. I would bet G-lock on this score however G-lock cannot guard Durant so there is a mismatch. Maybe, if Lakers have the lineup of Sessions, G-lock, Barnes, Bynum and Kobe on the 2nd unit, we have a chance in sustaining the energy. It is like spreading our strength on the floor wherein the 1st and the 2nd team are the same strength-wise. Fisher would not be aware of this strategy.

  39. Positives:
    The Lakers did a good job on Harden and a relatively good job on Durant.

    Kobe started to find his stroke a little at the end of the game – although idk if that’s because OKC let up a little because the game was over.

    Bynum was a general on the floor in the 1st quarter. He was directing the defense, and screaming at guys to get back.

    Josh McRoberts did a good job being an energy player. But, after watching he heat game, I really wish the Lakers would’ve gone after Turiaf instead (that guy was always one of my favorites despite his deficiencies).

    The Negatives:
    Troy Murphy played. I don’t remember the last time he did anything productive (January maybe). He doesn’t take charges, doesn’t box out, doesn’t hit open shots, makes bad passes.

    Kobe let Sefalosha get into his head. Sefalosha’s a good post defender because of his long-long arms. But he’s not has good defending in movement. If the ball’s going to go to Kobe – it needs to come off movement (like they do in Denver). Sefalosha is useless against an offense like denver has, and Gallinari always torches him.

    The Lakers let Russell Westbrook take over the game. He’s a turnover prone point guard who had a career best 1 turnover when scoring over 30 points.

    Bynum was NOT a general in quarters 2/3/4. Kendrick Perkins handled him 1 on 1, and he didn’t adjust. Perkins already had a technical – Bynum has to know when to coax him into foul trouble as well. To be fair – on defense he was paired with Troy Murphy – so he was all alone on an island. But the rotations were not crisp on that end at all and he wasn’t commanding the defensive end in the same way.

    Ramon refused to shoot the three when Westbrook went under screens. Westbrooks operates in 1 way – if his guy scores, he goes iso mode and tries to score in the same way. When Ramon made a layup, WB drove to the rack (and either made a layup or got fouled.) But when Blake made a 3 – WB pulled up – and disrupted the offense of the Thunder – to try to make a 3. Lakers need to learn to coerce WB into bad shots.

    Momentum breakers – The Lakers came out in the beginning of the 2nd flat and let DEREK FISHER make 3 running layups (and an AND1) on them to get the Thunder back in the game.
    When the Lakers were making a little run to get back in at the end of the 3rd, they let WB hit that backbreaking 3 with 2 seconds left in the Q. Gotta clean that type of crap up.

    The Flagrant by Perkins at the end of the game that wasn’t called because Pau stood his ground. Perkins elbow went into Pau’s neck and wasn’t even close to a play on the ball. If Pau was a little guy like Westbrook who would’ve fallen down and whined and moaned, that would’ve been at least a flagrant 1.

  40. Think about it. The first unit looks awful with Blake. The second unit looks awful with Blake. The first unit looks awesome with Ramon. The second unit looks awesome with Ramon. The obvious key is the PG. This offense needs a true PG on the floor. It’s just simple science at this point. Obvious simple science.

  41. Mike Brown would work best as an assistant coach. Dude delegates too much to his staffers and is apparently incapable of making in-game adjustments. Also, I am noticing a recent trend where the Lakers dominate the first half only to have the game slip away in the 3rd and 4th quarters (particularly in the 3rd). I believe this is because the other coaches are able to pick brown’s offensive and defensive schemes apart and Brown has no clue on how to react other than to leave his starters in for long stretches hoping their skills (like he did with Lebron) override his inefficiency as a coach.

    I don’t doubt Brown is a nice guy and a smooth talker, but he is not the caliber of head coach the Lakers need.

    If this team falters in the first round, we will have a new head coach next year.

  42. Let’s be real guys. Brown could be the second coming of Phil Jackson and Pat Riley rolled into one. The problem is the team simply is not good enough. It doesn’t have enough talent. The Lakers have one player who is truly a threat on any given night against any given team. That player is Andrew Bynum. Due to a combination of injuries, age, and fatigue Kobe is not that guy. At least not right now. He is very pedestrian at this point. Pau is as well. He will have a good game here and there (like the GS game). However, he is now mostly a jump shooting big and no longer the game changer he once was.

    I know someone has to be the target of Laker nation ire. Brown is that guy. But this team’s issues are bigger than Mike Brown’s coaching.

  43. Ramon Sessions has been neutered of everything that makes him special.
    Blake can do what they are asking Ramon to do with the starters.
    Blake can not do what Ramon can do with the 2nd unit.

  44. Kevin,
    Look what happened the only quarter the Lakers played well. In the first quarter the ball was dominated by Ramon via high PnR all quarter long allowing Bynum, Gasol, and Kobe easy shots. It’s very simple. More of that… Except all game long. That’s how the offense is meant to be run. The PG dominates the ball. Everyone sees it. Our coaches, scouts, numbers, amd fans. It will only be a matter of time till Brown can pound that into the players heads.

    T Rogers,
    I agree. But don’t you think with a seven foot giant beast down low who can dunk on you and shoot 16 foot fade always spinning away from double teams, the Lakers can win with a star Kobe who is no longer a superstar and a semi star Gasol who is no longer a star? When you have a good young PG who can create for everyone.

  45. Muddywood: exactly.

    Who is a better backup PG than Sessions?

  46. Kobe is steadily deteriorating and blaming Mike Brown, Steve Blake, Jim Buss or Pau Gasol won’t change that fact. The young superstars have taken over the game and last night was just another painful example.

    The Lakers have had a great run with Kobe, but now the endgame is here and it isn’t pretty. I think Kobe knows this and is focused on his legacy: 5 titles (tied with Magic) and he is soon to pass Wilt and Michael Jordan in scoring.

    Why not just cheer for Kobe and the Lakers and enjoy the end of an era?

  47. Lastly, I don’t know whether this strategy will work but I’ve seen it used before. Of course I’m not a coach but just a wanderer and a dreamer who have watched a lot of basketball games everywhere. If I were MBrown, I would sacrifice Darius Morris last night to shadow Westbrook wherever he goes and whatever he does, don’t let him touch the ball. Just keep on pestering him or make him angry. It is a new idea and a daring experiment. Darius may have a better speed than Blake.

    Unfortunately, we have the notion in treating players in a hierarchical status numbered from 1-12. We eliminate the consideration of youth speed that Darius could bring just because he’s a rookie therefore he has no purpose in playing but mere observer in the bench.

  48. Kevin,
    Who is a better back up SG than Kobe? Haha. That’s not how rotations work. It’s more important to have a better 1st unit than 2nd unit especially in the playoffs where bench players barley play. The first unit was awful when Blake was starting. He is too bad to let him start. If he was a capable starting PG it would be a no brainer. Bring Ramon off the bench with his speed and energy. We do not have that luxury. We do need to find a second PG in this offense That player might be Darius Morris or GLock… But it isn’t Steve Blake. We know that. All we have to do is look at every advanced statistic and watch a game to see that.

  49. Aaron: tell that to Dallas Mavs who’s 2nd unit was just as vital to winning last years title. Or how Lamar came off the bench and finished games in 09,10. Or James Posey off the bench for the 08 Celtics. Alonzo Mourning for the 06 Heat, Ginobli off the bench for the Spurs title runs. Lakers have no impact players off the bench.

    This team can still win it all. If the coaches get players easier shots and make the offense better suited for the personnel Lakers will be fine.

  50. Total +/- for the bench

    w/ Sessions
    +13 vs Minnesota
    +20 vs Utah
    +18 vs Houston
    +52 vs Dallas

    w/o Sessions
    -2 vs Portland
    -39 vs Memphis
    -7 GSW
    -49 vs OKC

    Some numbers are too eye popping to ignore.

  51. Sessions is being completely underutilized by Brown. He is only playing him 29 minutes a game and now most of those minutes are with the starters. He’s playing 33 year old Kobe for 38.6 minutes a night. He is playing 31 year old Pau 37.1 minutes a night. We all know they’ve both logged a crapton of minutes in their careers, between the NBA, the international game and even in the Spanish league for Pau. So why on earth can he not play Sessions more than 29 minutes a game? He is only 25 years old, in his 5th season as a career backup. He is head a shoulders a better PG than Blake. Blake should only be used when Sessions needs a breather.

    Furthermore, playing Sessions with the starters negates his skills. He is quick, can get to the hole, can get out in transition and set up others for easy looks. When he plays with the starters he just dumps the ball into Bynum, Gasol or Kobe and stands around behind the arc. That is NOT why we got this guy. Brown has been saying he needs a “breakdown” guy to run his offensive system, well guess what Mike, you’ve got your breakdown guy and you’re not using him to breakdown the defense at all. We can’t fault Sessions for not attacking and looking for his own points, he’s a smart dude and knows when he’s playing with the starters he has three all world scorers who need to get their touches. It’s his job to get the ball to those three so they can go to work. However, when he’s playing with the bench i.e. Barnes and McRoberts, he can look to attack over and over and when he does so, the defense collapses accordingly and he gets easy buckets for either himself or his teammates. Why is this so painfully obvious to us but not the coaching staff?

    Brown’s rotations are so bad it’s almost comical at this point.

  52. My biggest frustration with last night is it brought me back to an essential truth of the Lakers this year.

    There is no a single game that comes to mind where they played a complete game for all four quarters.

    Some of this is obviously talent related; some of it is poor in-game adjustments and lack of disciple; some of it is simply age + conditioning related.

    But the hardest thing for me personally this year is the knowledge that there just aren’t complete games by delivered by this Lakers team.

    They can show a brilliant quarter or even a great half of basketball, but it’s that lack of continuity that makes this team hard to watch, knowing that the other shoe can drop at any time.

  53. The impact on defense was something we didn’t talk about a lot in the “should Sessions start?” discussion. Pure speed and improvisation will go a long way on offense, but it falls short on defense where you have to work in concert with the players around you.

    It was also mentioned that one of the biggest risks of making big mid-season moves in a compact season was that the team wouldn’t have enough practice time to adjust to changes. For all the hating on Mike Brown’s coaching, this has to be a consideration. (It does seem like he doesn’t have the greatest relationships with his players, but we can’t see everything that goes on.)

  54. MarkSigal: Totally agree more times than not the Lakers haven’t put a full effort on the floor for 48 minutes. But the one stretch starting after the loss to Washington and the Sat. film sessions. Lakers finally started playing like a team and they were 6-2. Down double digits to Memphis they came back to win in OT, the tough win vs New Orleans. When they acquired Sessions the team looked ELITE didn’t skip a beat they lost 2 but the effort was there and improvements were there. As soon as Sessions started everything just plummeted Mike brownm killed the chemistry in that one simple move.

    Anyone else remember when Goudelock and Bynum were on the floor together how Bynum somehow found him for 3s alot.

  55. Mark,

    I think the reason they don’t keep leads is they lack the talent on the bench and two of their main cogs, Kobe and Pau, are showing their age. They simply run out of steam as the game goes on. OKC, on the other hand, actually shifts to another gear. Last night they seemed to go to another level in the 3rd quarter and never looked back. The Lakers simply can’t counter that. It was a similar thing when the two teams met in OKC. The Lakers were right there for most of the game. Then OKC kicked it up a notch in the 4th and the game was over.

  56. 53,

    Totally agree with your observation Mark. For long time watchers of the Lakers, it is very uncomfortable to watch the purple and gold play this season. There is no stability in their games, they could show brilliance but also incompetence within 4 quarters. I don’t know what coaches are doing with this malaise that we all witnessed since the first game against Chicago Bulls. Whether it is lack of talents, aging veterans, greater competition I think we have been accustomed to watch a Laker team that knows how to adjust to predicaments. We have had Smush as PG and scrubs from 05 to 07, at least our team is still the heat of competition in every quarter. Today, we have 3 bigs, a new PG and B&P who can give fruitful minutes in defense, yet we show undisciplined group to know their purpose. It is a helter-skelter do what you best and release them like wild big cats playing at they please. If that is how we are, why do we need a Coach in the first place. Forgive my rant but that is just an observation from day one.

  57. I think MannyP, Sigal, and the others in response to that have nailed an essentail point. Even when the lakers play well, it’s not a full game, and that’s not going to cut it against championship caliber teams. I don’t know how that can be fixed in one month and the causes of that inconsistency are pretty well laid out by everyone above. That inconsistency was an issue last year too. Phil couldn’t fix it. With the CP3 trade getting nixed, that certainly made it tough for the FO and coaching staff to figure out the rest of the season. How they handle it is a reflection of their talents.

  58. T. Rogers, great point @ 57. I was thinking the same thing last night. OKC just has another gear that they can get to. The Lakers actually won both first halves of the two games against the Thunder this year, but the Thunder came out with more energy and effort in both second halves.

    This actually makes me fairly optimistic about our chances against them in the postseason. Our main guys seem to just be fatigued at this point, as evidenced in Kobe and Pau’s poor shooting and overall effort on D. In the postseason, they’ll have more rest between series and between games. Hopefully having rested legs will negate the Thunders youthful energy.

  59. The Lakers make it easy for a coach. Or so one would think. It should  not be hard to come up with a solid 8 man rotation for this team.  It’s not rocket science. The Lakers have only eight players that are NBA players this year according to advanced statistical offensive and defensive  analytics. Bynum, Ramon, Kobe, Gasol, Artest, Barnes, Hill, and GLock. That’s it. There is giant drop off after those eight from every advanced statistical standpoint. The rest of our roster is filled with “d league level pkayers”. 

  60. Kevin,
    With all due respect the Mavs won the championship because they inserted JJ Barea into the starting lineup after falling behind in the series. It always helps to bring good pkayers off your bench but not to the detriment of the most important first unit. That’s one of the reasons the Lakers didn’t advance. They had the sixth man of the year but the worst starting player (Fisher) in the NBA.

  61. Goudelock 39% FG 36% 3PT.. 25 – 69 3PT FG
    Blake 36% FG 30% 3PT.. 36 – 117 3PT FG

    Ebanks 1st 4 games 5 PTS 3 REB 1 AST
    MWP on season 6 PTS 3 REB 2 AST

    Sessions has 3 or more TOs in 6 of 8 games w/ Lakers

  62. In watching the game again the other thing I noticed is that other than Metta, we have no one that can guard Durant.
    Matt Barnes is too short and too light in the pocket. As soon as Metta sat down, Durant went to work.

  63. *Dream Lineup

    Glock Kobe MWP Pau Bynum

    Sessions Barnes Ebanks Mcroberts Hill

    If I win the lotto tonight im paying brown for that rotation

  64. I knew the bench was DOOMED when Mike Brown Boldly announced after the HIll trade that it would be hard for him to get minutes. A week later he announced that Goudelock was done for the year, point blank. This coach is a stubborn idiot and he will bring about his own demise with his boneheaded coaching style.

  65. We played 1 of the top 3 teams in the league last light. We are the “6th” best team in the league + we have been all year. When #6 plays 1 of the top 3 they generally lose. If #6 wants to win the title they must first win in rnd 1, + then they must upset three consecutive teams on the road. It doesn’t happen very often. Preseason was the time to have done something about this, + the TD was a 2nd chance. We did not do it. Hence we are #6.

  66. Robert,

    One more time: there was nothing realistic that could have been done to get the team where you want it. Nothing. You need to watch Orlando play a few more times, I think.
    And the Lakers were not the 6th-best team in the league prior to the Sessions deal and may not be now. They were about 10th.

    Kevin,

    Like I said before, check the Lakers’ ORTG with Sessions in the lineup and and on the pine. And, the Lakers have not had trouble scoring. They have had trouble stopping people, and they still have a lot of bad players. Whether Sessions plays with the starters or the bench won’t change that. I showed you those 82games.com numbers before.

    As to the all the “fixes” people are proposing…yes, I think there are some things that could be done, and I detailed most of them in post #11. I agree that either Sessions or Kobe should play almost every minute, and the Sessions/Barnes time should be maximized. I suggested a few days ago that Brown sub out Kobe, Pau and MWP earlier, and get Barnes, Glock, Hill/McRob in there earlier. I think Pau, Kobe and Drew need more rest, and Glock and Hill need a little floor time.

    But all these things will only help at the margins. Think back to 2009 when the Lakers held the winning cards. I am sure Denver and Orlando fans had a lot of “fixes” in mind as well.

    I am noyt giving up on the Lakers; the West has a lot of good teams but they all have flaws. The Lakers can probably beat any of them–except the one they played last night.

  67. I am not totally giving up on this year, although I have about the same hopes that I did in pre-season (“6th”). That said, if we do not make it to the finals, we need to set a 2ndary objective to avoid complete implosion. This is a real possibility. Kobe is seeing his last year’s move by + may witness his buddy Derek eclipse him in rings via another franchise; AB is going to be heading into his big contract yr, + we could have our own soap opera (what demands will he have – could be KB related); MB will hardly feel secure; Pau will be obviously overpaid + aging; Free agents will not be in sight until after 2014 (unless extreme action is taken). Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

  68. @kevin, t. rogers, edwin, we have obviously been tremendously blessed to have a great run, but the reality is that OKC does have another gear, and does have depth, and does have coaching continuity. They have an identity, and are trying to channel that identity to realize a destiny.

    We don’t have an identity, as it’s incredibly difficult to SIMULTANEOUSLY change a coach, change a system and deal with a difficult transition from one Alpha dog to the next (esp. because while Bynum may be ready talent-wise to be the guy, he lacks the maturity, hunger and aggression that Kobe brings), especially given our lack of depth.

    My only point is that it’s easy to blame Mike Brown, it’s easy to blame Jim Buss, it’s easy to blame Kobe, it’s easy to blame Steve Blake and it’s easy to blame Mitch Kupchak, but as Roland Lazenby smartly recognizes, so much change takes a long while and a clarity of purpose to accomplish, and is fraught with peril even under the best of circumstances.

    A lot of the angst from long time Lakers fans comes from knowing that these things rarely end without blood and carnage. The new coach replacing the legend. How often does that work out?

    The emerging superstar replacing the old superstar. How often does that work out?

    The untrained son taking over the company from dad, the legend. How often does that work out?

    FWIW, Ric Bucher referenced a quote on the radio today that Kobe stated post-game last night that “times change, and that used to be us,” (referring to the Thunder), which Bucher took as a bit of a waving of the white flag acknowledgement by Kobe.

    Sorry for the sermon. This season has been tough on a lot of us Lakers diehards, and unfortunately, more turbulence is probably ahead.

  69. rr: Forget D12. You + I agreed in pre-season, that we needed significant change. For many reasons (veto, D12 debacle, etc.) we did not get it. Ditching LO, SB, +DF + picking up RS is not what I was looking for. I stated all along that I did not want the 6th best team, + if I was owner + MK told that was all he could deliver, then I would have started a re-build.

  70. I would have started a re-build.

    ____

    Then Kobe is the first guy out the door.

  71. Robert,

    I have a one-sentence comment stuck in moderation, but my response there is that if you really want to rebuild, then you have to be ready to amnesty Kobe–with or without his permission.
    Also, starting a rebuild from where the Lakers are is a risky business and guarantees nothing. You might come out of it in 2016 with the 17th-best team.

    Historically, the Lakers have never really “rebuilt.” What they have done is land stars through taking advantage of circumstances and at times poor judgment on the part of other owners. Then they have hired the right coaches to lead those stars.

    They pretty much did that again–but Stern stepped in. There is no other way to do that right now.

  72. Please envision last year’s team + coaches after we lost to the Mavs 0-4. Picture them at half court in a group. Then envision PJ, LO, SB, DF + LW walking away from the group. Walking in you have MB, RS, TM, and JM (I left out a few spare parts in both directions). Can anyone on this board honestly tell me that this was going to improve us? Yes – I know AB is better, but everyone else is older + RA became MWP. So how are we better + how are rotations + MB going to change that?

  73. There’s still time consistency from the coach will bring consistent team play. Brown has to quit shuffling and go with a rotation. Players need to know when there playing and for how long. PJ was good at that you knew who was coming out when they were coming out who was coming in and when.