Lakers/Warriors: Shootout At Staples

Darius Soriano —  April 1, 2012

The Lakers pulled out another game that was a bit closer than expected, beating the Warriors for the second time in a week, this time 120-112. There were some ups and downs, an injury scare, and guys stepping up when their numbers were called. So, while there’s still improvements to be made it’s nice to get a win and move on to the Nets on Tuesday.

The Good:
After a horrid shooting day against the Hornets just 24 hours earlier, Kobe Bryant bounced back in a big way by pouring in 40 points from all over the court. He hit 16 of his 28 shots (including all three(!) of his 3 pointers) with a variety of moves that we’ve seen so many times before but never get old. And while Kobe made a fair amount of jumpers in isolation or off screens in delayed, what I was most impressed with was his movement off the ball and the work he did to make his catches in positions where he could do damage. Early in the game he went into the post against Klay Thompson and showed that he simply wasn’t going to settle for the same shots he’d been missing for several games. He also ran the floor well and made smart cuts in early offense to shake free from his man so he could be rewarded with passes that would lead to baskets right at the rim. Getting easy baskets is key for any scorer to have a good night but considering how few of them he’s gotten recently, it was nice for Bean to get so many tonight.

Kobe wasn’t alone in playing well, though. Ramon Sessions had himself quite the game too by scoring 23 points and handing out 9 assists. It wasn’t just his numbers though, but how efficiently he got them. He made 7 of his 10 shots (including 2 for 3 from three point range) and also got the line 9 times (making 7). And while he totaled 3 turnovers, none were egregious and all were the product of aggressiveness as he was either attacking his man off the dribble or looking for a wide open teammate that he just missed with an errant pass.

Gasol also played very well tonight. With Bynum going down with a sprained ankle (more on that in a second), Pau had more room to operate on the court and took full advantage to the tune of 26 points on 11-17 shooting. He was able to float all over the court – from the post to the wing – and hit shots of every variety against every defender sent his way. His 6 assists also show how integral he was to helping run the Lakers’ sets, dishing dimes to his mates when he drew extra attention and picking them out within the flow of the game. When you add in his 4 offensive rebounds (11 total for the game), Pau was a terror on offense and gave the Warriors little room to breathe with his well rounded attack.

The Bad:
As mentioned Andrew Bynum suffered a “moderate” sprain of his left ankle in the 1st quarter and didn’t return the rest of the night. And while post game reports say that he’s feeling okay now and that x-rays were negative, he’ll be reevaluated tomorrow. The hope is that he’ll be good to go by Tuesday but if not the Lakers will have to make due with McRoberts and Murphy. Speaking of those two, they deserve some words of recognition for their solid play tonight. McRoberts numbers don’t look that great (2 points on 1-3 shooting, 8 rebounds) but he hustled all game, pushed the ball into the front court after securing rebounds, and protected the rim well by challenging shots (even if he mostly gave fouls). Murphy’s numbers were better – 8 points on 3-5 shooting to go with 11 rebounds – and his impact can’t be overstated. He spaced the floor well by knocking down his jumper, hustled on defense, and hit the defensive glass hard. The rebounding was especially key because it allowed the Gasol to get into the front court quickly and set up on offense where he was hurting the Warriors whenever he got a touch. So, while Bynum was missed tonight, the guys that filled in for him did their best to provide solid production and were successful doing so.

The Ugly:
The Lakers defense had a rough night. They surrendered 112 points to the Dubs and their defensive efficiency for the evening was 121.7. The argument could be made that the Warriors just hit shots but that would be more of an excuse than a reason for their effectiveness on O. The Lakers played ball screens poorly, often getting picked off too easily and leaving the ball handler open for rhythm jumpers. Off ball screens weren’t defended much better as Klay Thompson shook free on multiple occasions on simple pin downs where he could either curl for his J or flare into open space when his man tried to cheat on the pick. David Lee was also very effective in isolation against whoever was guarding him, either shooting his jumper or attacking off the dribble and getting to the rim where he was able to finish over the top of the defense with nifty flip shots and strong lay ins. Yes, the Lakers were missing Bynum to protect the paint but his absence had little to do with how often the Lakers wings got caught watching the ball while their man made a smart cut behind them or how poorly they played against simple screen actions. I don’t want to be too harsh here, but as the Lakers’ offense has gotten better their focus on defense has waned and that’s a bad habit to pick up going into the stretch run of the season. The Lakers’ D must play better, it’s as simple as that.

The Play of the Game:
While I was quite fond of Ramon Sessions’ Tyus Edney impersonation to end the 1st half, I liked this other full court attack a bit more. After getting the rebound from Josh McRoberts, Sessions saw a Warrior defense in full retreat mode, turned on his speed, and attacked the rim with reckless abandon for the finish over a contesting defender. This is the added element he brings to the Lakers and is sure is fun to watch:

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers/Warriors: Shootout At Staples

  1. What a great game, I think Session is great addition, I just wish he was more aggressive, when bynum is there. If he scoring 20, kobe scoring 30, bynum scoring 20 and Gasol scoring 20 we would win a lot of games. The best part about session is that he do not actually have to score 10 field goals to make 20 points he can always penetrate to get the easy foul shots.


  2. I thought Mike Brown was all about defense.


  3. Sessions was able to have such an impact because he didn’t have to share the ball with 3 other players just 2. Offense flowed and wasn’t forced feed to keep players happy. Ron is shooting 3s with confidence that’s been obvious I trust he’s rounding into form.

    Mike Brown insists on playing Blake he should park him in the corner 3 area he’s been hot there lately. No way he can mess that up.

    I’m worried for Bynum’s mental state his effort has been manuer last couple weeks. He looks like he just doesn’t give a damn right now. Too many pats on the back not enough constructive criticisms. Someone has to get in his ear to get him on the same page as his team.

    Brown needs to scheme more defenses the ones he has have been countered time for some adjustments. If you have to give up contested outside shots then so be it. But he has to make these guys keep there man in front of them and not the basket.


  4. @Kevin…

    I agree with you about Bynum… have noticed that a lot.. it seems he wants to have his own team and be “the Man”! he get frustrated if doesnt get the ball in every possession… and when he gets it, gets triple teams, doesnt want to pass it and tries to fight it until he losses the damn ball… wish fish or Zen were still here to control this infant


  5. Frank the Tank April 2, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I hardly think it’s a coincidence that without Bynum in there clogging up the lane, our starting guards went off for 63 points on 23-38 shooting. I know Kobe was especially on with his shot tonight, but i think the effect of getting a few easy buckets by getting into the paint cannot be overstated, as mentioned above.


  6. @Frank,

    its not… u r right on the money…. but Brown is preoccupied to utilizing his bigs, which is not a bad thing if u do not have the talent like what we have… i think our backcourt is fine in sessions and kobe.. we just need a solid backup 1 and 2


  7. The Lakers defense has been REALLY bad for like 2 months now.

    That’s not a blip on the screen. It’s who they are. When teams go “iso” the Lakers do an ok job, but the second a team starts running high screens with a big 3 or a stretch four its over. And point guards get penetration so easily its just dumb.

    This is not a good defensive team – which makes no sense because we have a coach who’s main focus is defense.


  8. Bynum looked all too eager to get the night off once he turned that ankle. I am not happy with his attitude or work ethic lately, though it’s possible the playoffs will bring more focus. It’s dangerous to just hope that the defense will pick up when the games count more, though, and I hope we see some improvement in that area over the next couple of weeks. We will get slaughtered by San Antonio (not the mention the Clips and Thunder) over the next few weeks if we don’t start defending.


  9. Darius/Cdog/Kevin/weston: Yes – our defense has some how abandoned us + we are now playing like we are the World B Free Sixers – at least we score like them too : )
    Frank/Nel: Somehow Bynum seems to clog the offensive lane up more than Shaq ever did. How is that possible? : )


  10. R.R. Magellan April 2, 2012 at 7:41 am

    I like how this team went from “hard to watch offensively and won games grinding defensively” to… “looking great offensively (mainly because of Sessions) but can’t stop teams from scoring.”


  11. Robert,
    There was no zone defense when Shaq played. The defense will let you know who your best player is after all. This is the first time since zones were allowed in the NBA I’ve seen a team double a big man off the ball relatively consistently. Andrew Bynum is the real deal dispite everyone’s reluctance to admit since the second half of last year he has been the Lakers best player. This is a quote over the weekend from my good college buddy who is a life long NBA/Bulls fan from Chicago, “Does everyone in LA realize like the rest of us in this country that Andrew Bynum has been your best player this season?” On a side note Andrew Bynum’s slight ankle sprain led off this mornings SportsCenter. The times they are a changing.

    In another side note I am now on twitter. For great Lakers insight and moderate to sever laughter please follow me… @aphillip712


  12. Glad Lakers traded Fisher’s veteran leadership for Sessions’ on court performance. 23 and 9 from the PG position … Sessions maybe Lakers best PG since Nick Van Exel.


  13. Treylake,
    Wait… So you’re saying Fisher’s lockeroom presence isn’t worth 23 and 9 on 7 for 10 shooting? How dare you!


  14. Bynum may very well be the next big thing in the NBA, but if he wants to help the Lakers hang another banner, he has to sacrifice some of his scoring to become a feared defender and interior presence. No one else on the team can fill that role.


  15. Mike Brown really needs to avoid the Sessions-less, Kobe-less lineups like the plague.

    Start Sessions if you have to, but sub him out early, sub Kobe out at the bottom of the 1st/beginning of the 2nd as usual and reinsert Sessions as soon as he goes out. Then Sessions can rest for a few minutes when Kobe comes back in the middle of the 2nd and return to finish the quarter. The bench lineups with Blake running the show are brutal.

    Sessions is reduced to too much standing around and watching when he is in with both bigs and Kobe. With Bynum out this game he was able to assert himself a bit more. Playing him with the 2nd unit will really help us not lose leads.


  16. Aaron-
    Shaq won 2 championships alongside Kobe against zone defenses. Let me correct your Chicago Bulls buddy- At times….Andrew Bynum has been the best player on this team. Not all season long. I also disagree with him when he states that the rest of the country knows this. Where were all these people when the rumor was that the Magic would never accept Bynum for Howard straight up? Everyone was saying that Bynum wasn’t good enough for DH12 unless he was packaged with Gasol.

    One of the many reasons that teams double and triple team Bynum is that he is just that good. If he is single covered, then he is going to get opposing bigs in foul trouble and hit 50% of his shots from the low-block. Of course, another reason that teams double and triple team him is that he has often struggled to pass out of those double and triple teams. He will sometimes force a bad shot or turn it over.

    He’s taken some great strides this year to overcome those issues, but they still show up occasionally. I would like to see Drew touching the ball about 20 times a game and getting about 15 shots out of those touches. Give Pau about the same touches, perhaps a little less, and around the same 15 shots. Then give Kobe most of his shots 15-20 from off-the-ball action. Drew does the bulk of his damage from lobs and catches within 5 feet of the basket. He still doesn’t dominate, ala Shaq, from the low box.


  17. Kenny T,
    Half true. If the Lakers want to win a championship it’s true Bynum needs to dominate defensivley (something he does in big games/playoffs) but he is also the only player on the team that consistently gets double teamed and can generate easy looks for teammates simply by being on the floor. So he can’t sacrifice points/touches if we want to win it all.


  18. How about Pau averaging 20 and 12 last 7 games. Stepping up when needed.


  19. @13 Hello Aaron, when you said: “How dare you!”

    That’s where you get into trouble to some posters as if you are challenging them to a gun fight, just kiddin’.

    I think what Treylake was saying, you cannot get that kind of production from D’Fish at this time. the PG torch has to be passed to a younger Ramon maybe, five more seasons from now, Ramon will not be as fast as today so he has to give up the position too to a younger, more energetic, more athletic PG. I think that’s reasonable, don’t you think so?


  20. I just want to know – any maybe somebody out there can tell me – how this Lakers defense has gotten so horrendously bad.

    According to hoopdata, over the last 10 games the lakers have given up defensive efficiencies of:

    119.1 (GSW – team average of 103.7) (15.4 over its average)
    94.4 (NO – 97.4) (3 under )
    114.6 (OKC – 107.8) (6.8 over)
    105.2 (GSW – 103.7) (1.5 over)
    113.3 (MEM – 100.1) (13.2 over)
    102.1 (Portland – 102.9) (.8 over)
    104.5 (Dallas – 100.2) (4.3 over)
    113.8 (Houston – 102.9) (10.9 over)
    98.1 (Utah – 102.9) (4.8 over)
    97.9 (Minnesota – 102.2) (4.3 over)

    That’s 1 game in the last 10 where the Lakers have held their opponent to less than their season average in offensive efficiency.

    And aside from that 1 game, and the 1 portland game (they are tanking) and the 1 GSW game (they are tanking), teams are getting at least 4 points better against the Lakers than their average.

    Taking away the NO, 1 GSW game, and the Porland game
    Thats an AVERAGE increase in offensive efficiency of 8.53.

    Thats – in the words of Barkley – TURRIBLE.


  21. Cdog: To further add to the enigma:
    AB is the best defensive center in the NBA – someone on this board thinks so anyway : )
    KB is 1st team all D: The NBA says so.
    MWP: Is a historic defensive stopper + gets in player’s heads.
    Pau is playing better + is the best PF in basketball.
    RS is an epiphany in the form of a PG, + is faster than anyone else in the NBA.
    MB is a defensive coach.

    So there you have it. We are a great defensive team. On paper : )


  22. Darius

    In response to your thoughts yesterday on my repeating displeasure with Mike Brown.

    You claimed this site is held to a higher standard then Laker stalk which I referenced. The host is Dave Miller who coached at USC, the NBA and runs a well respected basketball camp. Those are called qualifications. Which I respect. Just as I respect my retired NBA friends opinions.

    The reason I read and post on this site is that there are a number of passionate and knowledgable fans like Aaron, Robert, Joel, Brian, KenOak and several others. I don’t go on here to read the moderator. Where as I respect your real job as a operations manager, you don’t have the NBA qualifications to talk down to and act better then radio hosts that get paid to know the game.

    This site is like a free dating site where anyone with access to a computer can be anything they want on line. Tall, young, rich, former player you name it. You want to make this a elite site but have no qualification system to deem it that.

    Clearly this is a hobby for you in between calls at your real job. I find it insulting to real experts who talk basketball for a living that you attempt to feel superior to real experts.

    I will miss the passionate fans but not your editing and power trip you put on posters who may know a great deal more or have more contacts then you. When is the last time you have been to a live Laker game? If you did were you in the press room? Are you credentialed.

    No more posts from me. Good luck on the world according to you and this controlled site. Some people feel illusion is more fun then the truth. Other like me would rather deal with reality. Reality: Brown is a below average coach/Lakers will not get out of the West/Darius won’t be writing for ESPN anytime soon. Reality.


  23. Robert, what paper are you looking at there? You need to burn that ASAP =)


  24. Ken,
    It’s unfortunate you took my comment as a knock on Dave Miller and the analysis he provides since that was not my intent. I’ve had several exchanges with him and think he’s a good guy and very capable in what he does.

    My intent was to explain that this site was created as a place for a nuanced discussion about the Lakers to take place – not as a place for the rants of talk radio dial ins like you’ve explained you are. So, while you’ve found it necessary to insult me, I won’t return the favor. Good day to you and I hope you continue to rant on at whatever new site you call your own. But I won’t be sad that that site isn’t this one.


  25. Congratulations to Jamaal “Silk” Wilkes for making the basketball Hall of Fame. Will we see his #52 hanging on the Staples Center wall? I think he met the Lakers requirement for having a number retired.

    Also, Bernard King needs to be in the HOF.


  26. There is trouble brewing with Andrew Bynum. In the last week we have seen him:

    1. Removed from a game for a ridiculous three point shot;

    2. Respond to his benching by sitting on the bench during timeouts and not joining his teammates;

    3. Comment that what he did was not “bench worthy” and state that despite the coach’s position, he’d “keep shooting them”;

    4. Play uninspired and lethargic ball, routinely jogging down the floor and then throwing up his hands in frustration when one of his teammates makes a mistake;

    5. Remove himself from the pregame layup line and “do his own thing” to get ready for the game, by himself, in the tunnel to the locker room; and

    6. Remove himself from the game, and the bench, after a first quarter mild ankle sprain (his words) that will not keep him out of the next game (again, his words).

    All in one week. This cannot be swept under the rug. This is a guy (the only guy) who last year spoke of “trust issues” in the playoffs. I’ve been a longtime Bynum fan and supporter, but I’ve also been very quick to point out his failings.

    When dialed in and focused, AB is probably the best all-around center in the game, who changes the game on both ends of the floor. However, right now Andrew’s attitude is garbage, and a stronger coach would not only sit him but suspend him for conduct detrimental to the team. This is a bad development….


  27. From the very first post when this site was established:

    This blog is also an attempt to be a rational and calm voice in a world of screaming idiots on talk radio. There should be a place Laker fans can read and — through the comment section — discuss things Lakers rationally


  28. @24 + 25: Well said.

    I don’t comment often b/c I’m not a huge basketball junkie, but I definitely appreciate the analysis and level tone that Darius and co. have brought to this site.

    Also, it’s about damn time Jamaal Wilkes got into the HoF. (And – I’ll cop to it – to me, this is a nice respite from what’s been an usually drama-filled season even by Lakerland standards 🙂 )

    It seems like we missed a terrific opportunity yesterday to have his jersey retired since we here hosting Golden State where he won his other title. Also, is it a given that we’ll retire his jersey now that he’s finally made the HoF? I’ll be very disappointed in our FO if we don’t.


  29. KenOak,
    Short and simple. Zone defenses were not allowed when Shaq and Kobe played. I’m suprised you did not know that.

    Every advanced metric shows Andrew Bynum has been better by a somewhat sizable margin this year.


  30. Aaron – “There was no zone defense when Shaq played.”

    Incorrect. Zone defenses were allowed starting the 2001-2002 season. So yes, Shaq played through them.


  31. Zone defenses have been allowed since the 2001-02 season.

    How often they were used is a whole ‘nother issue, but KenOak is correct in stating that Kobe/Shaq won two titles when zone defense was legal.


  32. chownoir @27, very good to bring the concept of this site up again.
    Is it just that the Warriors are not that bad of a team, why do we struggle to get W’s from them this year? I mean, on paper they do not look that tuff of a team for the Lakers to crush.


  33. FunkyChicken: Agree with everything you said except when dialed in Bynum is the best all round big. He hasn’t shown the consistency of Howard, Love, Pau. But yes he has to play inspired and it’s not looking good.

    I don’t see Bynum as a 1st option making major noise on a team. He plays with 2 HOF players who make it easy for him. Love Bynum’s progression in his career but put him on the Magic they may not make the playoffs.

    You know Deron Williams is licking his chops looking at tape of Lakers defense. Avg. 13 ast last 5 games


  34. Well said Funky Chicken and trust me, you’re not the only 1 whose been witnessing this ‘Transformation’ of AB.

    He’s disengaged and has not been showing any type of Respect towards his teammates nor the Coaching Staff.

    The question that needs to be answered is whether his issues are with Coach Brown’s system, Kobe’s shooting propensity or a combination of both?

    IMO, just to the naked eye, somewhere along those lines is where the problems exist and hopefully, they can be resolved sooner rather than later.


  35. sT, we struggle to get W’s against everybody this year. Seriously, how many times have we beat a team soundly enough to have garbage time in the fourth? I’m struggling to think of more than 1 game. We struggled to beat the Warriors, just like we struggled to beat the Hornets. I think it’s just the nature of this truncated season, with minimal rest, practice time, an old(ish) core and a whole new coaching staff and system.

    All that being said, we have the 5th best record in the league. The teams ahead of us all have the advantage of continuity and youth (with the exception of San Antonio):

    1. Chicago – Almost identical roster as last years, with the addition of Rip. Coach Thibodeau is in his second year. Average age of their big 3 is 26 (Rose, Deng, Boozer).

    2. OKC – Almost identical roster as last year. Coach Brooks is in his fourth year. Average age of their big 3 is 22.6 (Durant, Harden, Westbrook)

    3. Miami – Almost identical roster as last year with the addition of Cole and Battier. Coach Spoelstra is in his fourth year. Average age of their big 3 is 28.3 (James, Wade, Bosh)

    4. San Antonio – old as dirt. Pop’s been there since the 60’s or so, roughly. Continuity through the roof of course, and they always draft well and surround their old core with solid young contributors.

    5. Lakers – Lost two roster cornerstones in Odom and Fisher. Also lost Shannon (period). New rookie guards, new free agent back up bigs. Complete new defensive system. Complete new offensive system, predicated on having a point guard that wasn’t obtained until a couple of weeks ago. Average age of the big 3 is 29.3

    So for as shaky as we’ve looked, with all the doom and gloom being spewed almost daily by some frequent commenters, we’ve actually done pretty well, all things considered. Our problems seem to stem from a lack of effort due to fatigue, and a lack of focus night in and night out.

    Come the postseason, the Lakers will be able to focus in one one opponent at a time, will have much more time to gameplan and rest their weary legs. If I was a fan of any other team in the league, I certainly wouldn’t want to meet up with the Lakers this postseason.


  36. Through all Kobe and Shaq years they bickered but it never affected their play. Shaq may have balloned a bit after the 3peat but he still brought it so did Kobe. Bynum was mentally tough to play on one leg 2010 playoffs he has to show the same resolve now.


  37. sbdunks @36

    Great post! This is why I am taking the wait and see approach with this team. I like the Sessions addition and I am just going to hang on for the ride. I hope we get it together before the Playoffs!


  38. My bad… So for the majority of Shaq’s Lakers career zone defenses were illegal including his best years in the NBA and his lone MVP campaign. I for some reason thought it was a bit later.


  39. #26 Funky Chicken – Never judge an individual’s situation during a time when the team is going through a very bad stretch in terms of their play.

    Players react differently to bad stretches of play. These players are not robots, they’re flesh and blood. They aren’t going to be consistently great all the time.

    A very short time ago (matter of weeks) Bynum was the NBA player of the week with a set of incredible game performances.

    How many were willing to sing his praises then just to turnaround and complain about him now?

    Cut him some slack! He’s having his best season ever.