Lakers/Suns: Defense Is A Foreign Word

Rey Moralde —  April 7, 2012

Box Score: Lakers 105, Suns 125
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.5, Suns 131.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 52.0%, Suns 63.4%

The outlook went from bad to worse with Kobe becoming a late scratch in this game due to… uh… tenosynovitis. In other words, his shin is bothering him. Meanwhile, the Suns are fighting for a playoff spot. And the last time the Lakers were in Phoenix? The Suns absolutely plastered them. And no Kobe? Definitely an opportunity for the Suns.

In the meantime, it was up to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to hold down the fort. Meanwhile, Mike Brown surprised everybody by starting Devin Ebanks. Remember him? The guy hasn’t had meaningful minutes in months. What about Andrew Goudelock? Hello? Anybody there?

This may seem all over the place. I apologize in advance for this.

The Good
I had some fantastic fried chicken.

The Bad
The Suns scored 125 points. It may very well have been 125,000.

Phoenix did everything to them. The Lakers got beat by penetration. The Lakers couldn’t defend the pick-and-roll. They didn’t close on the shooters. The Suns killed them in transition. And to show how inept the defense was, the Suns only turned the ball over three times. THREE TIMES. In this frenetic pace. Unbelievable. The Lakers tonight were like a bunch of drunk girls in a bar. It was a score every time for Phoenix.

Andrew Bynum didn’t have the legs tonight. Most of his shots were short. He got blocked multiple times early. I thought he seriously was going to shoot 50 times after a 4/14 first quarter (he ended at 10 for 27 with 23 points). He did have 18 boards, at least, but it was really noticeable that he looked out of it.

Pau Gasol had 30 and 13. He knocked down pretty much every jumper in the 4th in a late run. He did what he could on the offensive end. But just like every other Laker, he had trouble rotating and contesting shots.

Ramon Sessions has to be bothered by that shoulder injury. He played only 29 minutes, when he had been getting 35+ as of late. I did notice that he had trouble going left again, which is supposed to be a strength of his. He did have 11 and 9 but he got beat on D, too (which is not his strength).

I mentioned closing out on shooters. The Suns were 14 for 29 from deep. The Lakers only made 1 out of 9. That’s a 39-point difference from behind the arc.

Shannon Brown (20 out of his 24 points in the 3rd) and Michael Redd (23 points) went crazy from the perimeter. I suppose there wasn’t much you can do about that. But I would still like to see more effort on the defensive end.

If there’s any silver lining to this, those names are Devin Ebanks and Metta World Peace. Devin Ebanks did well in his starting role as he hustled for offensive boards and cut to the basket hard. He had 12 points. MWP could’ve been more of a factor if he didn’t get into foul trouble. He was killing in the post. Peace had 19 points from 8/10 shooting.

But once again, this was just a classic SSOL show by the Suns. Hell, if Bassy Telfair is scoring 13 points, you definitely deserve to lose. And I didn’t even mention Steve Nash yet (13 points and 11 assists)!

The Ugly
BENCH POINTS. Suns 58, Lakers 10. Suns had 40 bench points by halftime.

I’m not even going to bother with the play of the game because this was just a horrid, horrid loss. It started out sloppy to begin with to the point you thought you were watching a glorified pick-up game. And you know that this helter-skelter kind of play favors the Suns. When it eventually, uh, settled down, the Suns played that chaotic ball like only they can. Yes, the Lakers were leading at the end of 1, 32-24. But that tempo favored the Suns right from the get-go.

I’ve defended Coach Brown all year and most people have clamored for Andrew Goudelock. I am not the Laker coach and I don’t know the method to his madness (his rotations seem more random/worse than the “auto” substitution mode in NBA2K12). He may have to go to Goudelock at some point but I’m not sure if that necessarily “changes” the game. But what I do hope is that he drills into the heads of his players that they have to play defense. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Kobe or no Kobe, they can make up the lack of offense (which didn’t seem to trouble them tonight) by playing good, hard-nosed defense. And they haven’t either given as much effort as they should have or they’re not making smart plays on the defensive end.

At least, Andrew Bynum didn’t get thrown out of the game?

Well, guys and gals, it’s Saturday night. Move along, knock back a few, and hope they get it together on Monday.

Rey Moralde