What The Lakers Can Learn From…

Darius Soriano —  April 12, 2012

The Celtics?

Don’t break your computer monitor or gouge your eyes out just yet and hear me out.

Back in the 2007-08 season, the Celtics were a newly constructed team that was supposed to compete for the championship. They had a franchise stalwart (Pierce), two young players who were homegrown in their system (Rondo and Perkins), and had executed two trades to acquire two elite veterans that would solidify their line up with leadership and high-level play (Garnett and Allen). As Lakers fans know all too well, this group ended up doing exactly what they were formed to do by winning the title that season in a six-game playoff series. Their “big three plus one” model got them the championship they sought. They came together quickly, experienced some rocky moments along the way, but finished strong.

Fast forward to today.

Since the trade deadline, the Lakers have been a team remade. The addition of Ramon Sessions has given the Lakers a dimension they sorely lacked – a playmaking point guard whose multifaceted game can fill in the gaps on offense. He can score, he can assist, and – most importantly – he can control the flow of the game as a true floor general. The Lakers no longer have to rely solely on the abilities of Kobe Bryant as a wing operator to dictate how the offense plays out. Sessions can now operate with the ball in his hands during any part of the shot clock and ensure that a quality look at the basket is created.

He pushes the pace when need be and slows it down when nothing is there. He organizes the offense and picks apart defenses by finding teammates in positions where they can succeed. He can make his opponent pay by getting baskets of his own and does a lot of his damage in the paint when the D pays too much attention to his more celebrated teammates.

Teammates like Kobe, Pau, and Bynum. Guys that have been all-stars and all-NBA many times over. Guys that franchises are built around. Guys that still put up elite numbers and are two-way threats. Together, these players now have their own “big three plus one.”  The question is, how far can they take it?

The answer will be entirely dependent on two factors: how they can mesh together and how seriously they play defense.

Wednesday’s game against the Spurs offers hints at the latter. San Antonio possesses the 2nd most efficient offense in the league, but the Lakers held them to 15 points fewer  than their normal output (per 100 possessions). In other words, last night the Lakers defense made the Spurs offense look like the Bobcats’. Andrew Bynum controlled the paint by contesting shots and grabbing nearly every available rebound. Ron Artest played physical and opportunistic defense on the wing. Pau offered a second 7-footer to contest shots and rebound, while Barnes, Blake, and Sessions did above average jobs on the Spurs’ wing threats. The Lakers played hard, smart defense. They dug a hole and proceeded to bury the Spurs in it.

How this team meshes is another matter. Being cobbled together in the manner that they have been reminds me more of the 2008 Lakers than the C’s. While it’s difficult to equate Sessions’ impact to Gasol’s, the Lakers have added – at a relatively late part of the season – a key piece at a position of need that has elevated their play on offense. With that addition, roles are shifting and players are being asked to fit together and perform in ways that they aren’t yet fully comfortable.

But the chemistry is budding. Connections are being made. It’s seen when a mistake occurs and players exchange ideas and knowingly nod in agreement about what should have happened. It’s seen when adjustments are mapped out in the huddle, then executed on the fly on the next possession. It’s seen when players vouch for each other after games in interviews with the media or, on the flip side, provide critique of a performance that will need to be adjusted moving forward. This team is growing together.

The pieces, positions, and personalities may not be the same. The Venn diagram of skill sets and approach may not show as much overlap as it could. But when I look at the 2012 Lakers, I see a bit of the 2008 Celtics and while it makes me a bit nauseous, it’s also a bit exciting. That Celtic team showed that by playing together they could simultaneously harness their individual talent and maximize team success. They showed that by playing for each other on both sides of the floor they could get the stops they needed, while scoring the baskets that were required to win. They traveled a rocky path to the Finals, but once there showed they had the extra gear that every champion needs.

This Lakers team has those same ingredients. Can they find the chemistry? Can they play the defense? Can they overcome their weaknesses, maximize their strengths, and play for each other? Only time will tell, but with the talent, experience, and burgeoning abilities of key players I wouldn’t count them out yet.

Darius Soriano

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69 responses to What The Lakers Can Learn From…

  1. You crazy.

  2. Yes, we did control the mighty Spurs, and if we keep playing like last night, there is a good chance to win the chip this season. The only thing is that I did not get a chance to get three-peat gear, but I will take a Championship again, after all, 3 out of 4 years is not bad at all.

  3. True, we can fast forward to Championship if they will play with that intensity on every game. Unfortunately, we get delirious on both ends in winning and in losing, nothing is predictable, nothing is consistent, it depends on the mood of the day.

    To say that Lakers have the right pieces for a Championship team, Yessss Sir based on what we witnessed last night. Sessions is OK as the PG for the starters, but he’s alone and need a company to jump start the 2nd unit too. Therefore, we need a Sessions Jr. Can we do it for Goudelock and Morris as PG’s? We have not seen Jordan Hill, can he help Troy Murphy as PF too? Why do I recommend to play rookies and a newcomer on Brown’s rotation? Because there are only 7 games left for the season and our standing will be either 2, 3, or 4. We want to enter the playoffs with fresh bodies like Kobe who has been at rest for the last 3 games.

    The other season is coming where Lakers are known to be the masters in every game, giving gifts thru losses or operating on LO switch-on switch-off should no longer the focus but complete annihilation of opponents from Kobe-Bynum-Gasol should be theme at the playoffs. No pity please.

  4. Great write up Darius

  5. A little off-topic here, but this was a neat article: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/40538/andrew-bynum-and-the-dribble-question

    If you have the time/patience to go through the clip at the bottom, I’d say this was a good use of time :)

    Particularly interesting to me was how you had the stat-heads talk about the importance of data, and the guy who actually coached (JVG) saying very clearly that he uses stats to support what his eyes tell him – *not* the other way around. He candidly admits to even making up stats in some cases – because his players would be none the wiser!

  6. Oh, and btw, this was one game. I don’t know if we can/should read too much into it.

    That being said, there’s no doubt that this time as presently constituted can win a chip – the question is whether every one stays on the same page all the time.

    Also, we don’t have a reliable third big behind Pau and Drew.

  7. What I learned is that I need to mute the TV anytime Andrew Bynum is giving a postgame interview.
    My 8 year old daughter was right there watching with me last night.
    Thanks Andrew.

  8. Oh, and wanting to shoot the Three at the end of the game is bush-league crap.
    You are a pro, Andrew
    Act like it.

  9. one thing I’d like to got ya’ll’s opinion on is how our team plays without kobe.

    I’ve kind of been noticing that there is more “team ball” when kobe’s on the bench.

    then when kobe comes back in, there is a tendency for the rest of our team to get him the ball in his position, then stand around and watch him for a while, or get out of the way…

    I would like to see the Lakers sit kobe more often down the stretch of the season, let him see he can trust his teammates to perform, and let the team aspects gel even better.

    imagine kobe on a team that plays solid team bakk, and kobe is the weapon he will be, but plicks his places.

  10. “Unfortunately, we get delirious on both ends in winning and in losing, nothing is predictable, nothing is consistent, it depends on the mood of the day.”

    Edwin, excellent.

    I’ve missed the recent spat of games. I always want this team to win – even when Dunleavy was the coach – but this season is even more schitzo than last year. I haven’t read anyone mention anything about Ebanks’ play during the Kobe-less stretch so I’m concerned that he’s going to return to the pine with a vengeance once KB’s shin is acting right.

  11. @8 – Basketball is a game. Drew was enjoying himself, and my elderly parents and I laughed our heads off when Drew tried to take the ball away from Blake.

  12. Not to beat a dead Fish but …

    D. Fish April FG% is 29. His last 10 game stats are terrible. Against Pacers 27 mins 0 pts. PER rating is among the worst in the league.

    Lakers did right to rid themselves of the D. Fish cancer on the court. Its amazing nobody says Lakers would be better off with D. Fish than Sessions. Fisher was awful.

    Now Steve Blake has the close your eyes & hold your nose title. Blake is a disaster too.

    Blake is marginally better than Fisher? maybe? Pretty Please?

    A bad look is Blake or Sessions defending Aaron Affalo or Wilson Chandler.

  13. Well, Boston lost the rights to Ubuntu when they traded Perkins and shopped Rondo, Allen and Pierce, so maybe we can get some of that Ubuntu on eBay, paint it blue and gold, and give it to the Lakers. ;-)

    Who’s with me?

  14. While I was thoroughly impressed with last night’s performance, I definitely can not use the victory as a barometer for championship potential.

    Throwing ‘stats’ out the window for a minute and just basing my analysis on the old fashioned ‘eye test’, the Lakers are the Spurs worse nightmare. I believe we’re the last team that they would like to meet in a seven game series. They’re too perimeter oriented and they don’t have enough size to challenge us. Nor do any of their Bigs have enough athleticism to score on a consistent basis against our Bigs or to be a detriment to Drew and Pau getting buckets against them. Granted, our Bigs didn’t have a good shooting night, but that should all change once Kobe is back in the fold. His presence alone will allow them the space to operate more freely. Also, with the acquisition of RS7, Parker is going to be held more accountable on the defensive end of the floor. No more free-lancing like he did when we had Fisher. To sum it up, the only chance that the Spurs will have is if they’re shooting lights out or if we were to beat ourselves and I deem both scenarios highly unlikely.

    From my perspective, just looking ahead, if we’re playing Smart, Aggressive Team Ball on Both Ends of the court, the only teams that I feel that we’ll have issues with out West and has a good chance of defeating us in a 7 game series are OKC and Memphis.

    OKC’s big men can’t match our size, but they make up for it with their toughness and defensive presence. Perkins is an exceptional physical on ball defender and Ibaka is one of, if not the best, weak side defenders when it comes to Power Forwards. He’s also extremely athletic. Sefalosa is a premier wing defender in this league and Harden has also stepped up his game defensively. Both have the potential to make life difficult for Kobe. On Offense, Durant is the best scorer and, arguably, the best shooter in the league. Westbrook is a blur. The most athletic Point Guard in the Association in my opinion and it’s not like you can just give him the ‘Rondo Treatment’ anymore. He’s knocking down those mid range jumpers. Harden, easily the 6th Man of the Year. He’ll get you offense from any dimension on the floor and, like I stated earlier, his defense isn’t slacking anymore. Their Home Crowd is insane and they’re Young and Hungry. Also can’t underestimate the ‘Lets beat them for Fish’ motivational aspect of it.

    Memphis is very similar to OKC in that they have potent Bigs. Gasol, while definitely not on Drew’s Level, is a decent scorer, excellent passer and what he lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with a High B-Ball IQ. Zach is rounding into shape after being out the majority of the season due to injury and everyone knows what a prolific scorer he is. Also boards extremely well for someone who’s not the most gifted athlete. Rudy Gay, who besides Durant, is another Small Forward who MWP has trouble keeping up with. Mainly due to his athleticism, but he’s also a good scorer. Tony Allen is probably the best wing/perimeter defender in the league, so Kobe will have to earn everything he gets. Juice Mayo is instant offense off the bench much in the way that Harden is for OKC and their Audience is bananas also.

    That’s just a short analysis of each team, but I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge ahead. The ‘offs are right around the corner and as Bart Scott would say, ‘Can’t Wait.’

  15. 12,

    Treylake, IMO, Blake is an SG and Murphy is an SF. They are snipers in the perimeter, don’t expect Blake to be Mother Hen in feeding his chicks with the ball but ask him to stand in the corner and concentrate…. like an assassin aiming for the target. Similar with Troy, he’s tall but not known to be a hustler in the post, his body mass are slow in reacting so he appears to be clumsier than Pau, lol j/kingly aside, we want him to get a better job description based on his expertise as a spotter.

    Did they play great last night? Great against Spurs, can they do it again against Nuggets and Thunder?

  16. 13,

    Mark, what is our need for Ubuntu when we already have Eyenga? I heard from Cleveland bloggers that Eyenga can compete in high jumping for the Olympics, when it comes to basketball, he could not even excel in the D’League.

  17. I think Artest is the game changer. Just a complete game changer for the NBA. We already had a game changer in Ramon. A quality starting PG on this team was exactly what the doctor ordered. But if the Lakers really do get 2008 Ron Artest from here on out and it really has been a lower back problem that diminished his athletisism…. Watch out. Game changer. It wouldn’t be fair. You would be starting five all star type players. Let’s cross our fingers.

  18. What the “Stat Gurus” Say Does not Correspond with Reality-

    http://20secondtimeout.blogspot.com/

    Great article!

  19. @11
    I’ll bet Duncan and Popavich and the other Spurs were laughing their heads off too, right?

    When the other team has conceded, you pound the ball on the floor and run the clock out.
    Kobe yelled at Sasha for doing taking that shot once.
    It’s little things like that that really piss off veteran opponents. And the lakers have to play the Spurs two more times.

  20. Tra, I think you are exactly right. Between the Thunder, Grizzlies, Clippers and Spurs (arguably the four best teams in the west other than the Lakers), I think the Spurs are, by far, the least threatening team for the Lakers.

    It’s one thing not to have any size, but small teams are usually fast teams, and the Spurs big men are, if anything, slower than the Lakers big men. Three point shooting is exciting and sometimes effective as a regular season strategy, but it is not a recipe for playoff success. Last night the Spurs shot over 50% from behind the line, which is an outstanding percentage that they aren’t likely to duplicate on a consistent basis in the playoffs. And, yet, they still got beaten badly by a team lacking its best player because they simply cannot handle size.

    I do not see the Spurs getting past Memphis if they match up with them. At this point, the Lakers’ best path to the finals is to have a 2nd round matchup with the Spurs, and a conference finals matchup against a Grizzlies team that upsets OKC….

  21. The other factor in making the Spurs a good matchup for Lakers is their lack of a good individual defender on Kobe. As Tra pointed out OKC and Memphis both have someone that can be put on Kobe individually and make him work extra hard without the need for double teams.

    That means the rest of the D can stay home. When a team doesn’t have that defender to matchup against Kobe, he creates all kinds of problems by either going wild with the scoring or his penetration opens up lots of looks for Drew and Pau.

  22. @15 Edwin,

    Blake is a marginal PG. Against Memphis, MB played Blake as a SG defending OJ Mayo who roasted him. My point is MB shouldn’t give Blake SG minutes against Denver because Blake can’t defend the Nuggets SG’s.

  23. #8 @Muddywood

    Thanks for the “bush league crap” comment, my 8 year old was reading over my shoulder. nice work, hypocrite.

  24. Lakers can learn from these past 3 games Ron Artest has finally made his debut with the Lakers. For a couple weeks I’ve said I like his confidence and he’s playing well. He’s not thinking out there just post up guys, hitting 3s and locking down chris paul. He says he was injuried when he short armed that layup vs Dallas you couldn’t stick a sheet of paper under his feet. Now you can fit a few yellow pages.

    Lakers can learn from these past 2 games Blake has the most confidence he has since the cartilage injury. And Barnes continues to be a big contributor on the boards. These 2 players have to be the Odom/Brown steady contributors from the bench. If they do that makes 7 players Lakers can count on for sure come playoffs.

    Lakers learned Bynum can still have big scoring and rebounding games with Kobe sidelined. And Pau is in 2008-2010 form. Sessions makes silly turnovers and can make big shots. Not making too big a deal of the game 30 rebound games are a rarity and Neal didn’t play. Next time one of the Spurs vets will have a good game and the game will be much tougher.

    Lakers learned the zen Bynum spoke of still works. Wouldn’t be surprised if yoga mats were in their locker today.

  25. I was pleasantly suprised by the sans KB, Laker performance aganist SA. That said, SA is not and never has been part of the 2012 season’s Big 3 of Miami, OKC, + Chicago. Our Lakers have moved up from “6th” to 5th, and “IF” we continue to look good against the Spurs a “case” could be made for 4th. To win as the 4th best team would still be a long shot. Some examples of teams from the past that were typically ranked in the 4-6 area would be the George Gervin led Spurs, the Dominique led Hawks, or any year that the Phoenix Suns were considered good : )

  26. Hey Robert,
    Could we win against Boston? That is who we will see in the finals. :P

  27. Clippers and Grizz both playing really well, not gonna be easy to keep number 3. Probably gonna have to go 5-2 rest of the way to hold on, with our schedule no easy talk

  28. As of now, the main difference between the 2008 Celtics and this year’s Lakers is chemistry. Every Celtic on that team knew their respective role on offense and was willing to sacrifice their offensive stats for the team. They also collectively prioritized defense above all else.

    Every player on this Laker team seems to know their respective roles ….except Bynum. Once Bynum stops worrying about his offensive stats, and figures out that his main roles should be defense and rebounding, the sky will be the limit for this team. Perhaps he already figured it out last night.

    This team already has three elite playmakers (Kobe, Pau, Sessions). Let the playmakers make plays for Bynum, who is a finisher, not a playmaker (at least not yet). Once these roles are clearly defined, I expect the chemistry on this team to be simlar to the 2008 Celtics, and hopefully, the end result will be similar as well.

  29. @edwin, it’s the darnedest thing, but my 9 year old is always asking me when the lakers are going to play eyenga. He is apparently still under the illusion that teams only trade for a player if they want him. :-)

  30. Lt Mitchell: I can see your analogy with regard to the starters, however let’s also consider the respective benches:
    Where they had Eddie House, Tony Allen, and Sam Cassell; we have Blake, Goudelock, + Morris.
    Where they had Glen Davis, PJ Brown, James Posey, and Leon Powe; we have Barnes, McRoberts, Murphy and Ebanks.
    Their bench absolutely killed the Lakers that year in the finals. The line ups that absolutely crushed us were the Boston Big 3, with House, and Posey and then their Big 3 with Cassell and Posey.
    Another difference was that the 2008 Celtics went 66-16 (80.5%) and had home court throughout.
    I will leave a comparison of Doc Rivers vs. Mike Brown for others.
    So in conclusion – I think there is more than a “chemical” difference between the two teams. I believe much of the difference is biological : )

  31. 27,

    LT, Bynum should be an offensive weapon. His posts plays are unstoppable and that makes him a playmaker too when doubled and tripled teamed, it opens the perimeter shooters. What I saw in Bynum last night was Olajuwon in protecting the posts in combination with Bill Russell in timing his blocks against Tony Parket and Manu G. He was the gatekeeper and nobody could enter the post gate without passing thru Bynum. The rebounds were also controlled by Bynum because nobody is taller than Gasol and Bynum, that is the distinct advantage of the Lakers against any team. However, giants could not cope with fast breaks and running game because God gave them that height to reach the ring easily but handicapped them on speed to level the playing field against the little PG.

  32. It will hinge on three things, as always.

    1. Effort

    2. Depth

    3. 3 point shooting

    And probably in this order too. We’ll see if we have enough players that get this… but as long as we clear stage 1, it is not too unthinkable to dream big.

  33. Edwin,
    Agreed. He actually has been our biggest shot creator this season since he has been doubled more than any other NBA player this season.

  34. Why are you guys comparing Celtics of 2008 and Lakers of the present? These two teams are different type of team and different type of players. This is why you can’t move on with the past cause you are always comparing teams at the past and present. The similarities of the two teams are they won championship and they have teamwork and chemistry among the team. You don’t compare Doc Rivers to Mike Brown because that is plain stupid. Doc Rivers is way too far to reach on Mike Brown’s side.

  35. Edwin G,

    I wasn’t suggesting that Bynum should not be utilized on offense….I was suggesting that his defense and rebounding should be his top priorities, like in last nights game. His offensive is not nearly as important on this team as his rebounding and defense.

    Kobe, Pau and Sessions’ ability to create inside shots for Bynum is a much more efficient route than Bynum creating outside shots for a team that has struggled to hit outside shots for most of the season.

    The team has had issues giving up offensive boards all year. If Bynum simply prioritized rebounding over his offense, this problem could be resolved immediately.

  36. LT mitchell-
    Very well-spoken! If Bynum will get over the pouting and keep destroying teams with his defense and rebounding, then we can go pretty darn far. Kobe and Pau will open things up for him and keep his FG% back near his season average instead of 38% like it has been over these last few games Fans have to understand that just because someone hits 8-13 on lobs, drop-off passes, and put-backs that it doesn’t mean that that player will shoot 16-26 when getting all those extra shots in low post isos.

  37. I have been a Lakers fans since the late 1970s and hate Boston. The Lakers are nowhere near as good as the 2008 Celtics.

    Last night was a fun win, and it underscored the facts that:

    a) San Antonio has matchup issues with the Lakers and other teams with big frontcourts, like Memphis.
    b) The Lakers can beat anybody on a good night.

    But the Lakers went into SA when the Spurs were hot and blew them out last year too, getting up by 28 at one point. And that game, like last night, was one game, and last night’s game had three performances–MWP, Bynum, and Parker–that are unlikely to recur.

    Funky Chicken’s #20 has a scenario I put in an email to Robert about four weeks ago, It remains the Lakers’ best shot at the Finals.

  38. 35,

    Again LT, I respectfully disagree with you that we don’t really need the offense of Bynum. The percentage of making his attempt is almost beyond 75%, it’s a sure two. You are right also that he should focus on D and R. Remember in previous years, Bynum does not play the 4th Q after accumulating fouls so he has a tendency to relax on D, because he wants to be around in the last quarter. You said Kobe, Pau and Sessions can create inside plays but the degree of difficulty is higher compared to Bynum’s dunks and attention from so many teams. Because of this attention, it frees up the others to maneuver their inside plays.

    Btw, I’d like to quote Peace, he’s getting back to us for all the criticisms he has to digest. WMP said: “I work hard. That’s what people should know about me. I work hard. I eat right. I’m in the gym. I lost 20 pounds. So, don’t worry about my game and me not working hard. I’m more athletic as the season came on and I’m playing better. So, you don’t do that by sleeping and playing on the Internet all night.”

  39. Last 5 games Jumpshots

    Sessions 10 – 29 34%

    Ron 16 – 31 51%

    Pau 31 – 65 47% Pau’s taken twice as many jumpers as Ron last 5 games. Good thing or Bad thing.

  40. The Lakers played like the 08 Celtics yesterday (but not the rest of the season), so yeah, it would take performances like yesterday’s for a big run in the playoffs.

  41. “But the chemistry is budding. Connections are being made. It’s seen when a mistake occurs and players exchange ideas and knowingly nod in agreement about what should have happened.”

    Right on, Darius. I’m all in.

  42. @#23ogsuperteam

    Nice try.
    Apples and oranges.
    Quit trying to make excuses for Andrew’s immaturity and lack of respect for his coach, management and the uniform he is wearing.

  43. Muddywood

    You mean either getting double T’s, shooting 3′s, tackling small guys for no reason, using curse words on the air, trying to steal the ball from his own team mate, parking in handicap zone, defying the coach etc etc.

    It’s funny how the media keeps saying how really smart Andrew is yet acts defiant. Based on what I have seen I would question the really smart part. Anyone consider that this high school grad just might not be all the smart. No big deal but something to consider.

  44. Disclaimer: if any young children are reading the FB&G comments along with you, I’d advise you to cover their eyes.

    I just saw the last play of the game and I’ve been laughing my a** off for the last five minutes. I thought people were exaggerating when they said Bynum tried to steal the ball from Blake. He practically dry humped him trying to get the ball from him at the top of the arc.

    Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands and laugh and accept the quirkiness. But whereas Kobe was straight ambitious when he was young, Drew is just weird. I’m sorry, but his antics are sometimes closer to MWP’s than Kobe’s. Hilarious to watch though.

  45. I can cut him some slack as long as we’re winning and he isn’t loafing.

    30 rebounds in a victory?

    Yeah, I’ll let him shoot a three pointer at a meaningless point of the game, although I would probably expect somebody to tell him that such is disrespectful and could earn him a hard shove when the two teams meet again.

  46. Brown should have rested some starters late in the fourth. It sure seemed that he was leaving them in to collect stats (Bynum 30th rebound, Gasol 20 pts)but there was no need. Rest, not rubbing it in. would have helped.

  47. Snoopy,

    I’m with you on that. I too thought it was a pretty funny sight, almost like a giant stallion climbing onto a small mare. One of my favorite sports moments was when TAFKARA pantsed Paul Pierce in a nationally televised game and didn’t receive as much as a foul call. Obviously quirkiness was only one side of his character. But if it wasn’t for Malice at the Palace, I have no doubt that Artest would be remembered as one of the greatest on court pranksters ever.

    Here’s hope to Bynum giving Dwight a Wet Willy then dunking on his face.

  48. @46. That 26-point lead at the 8:00 minute mark was whittled down to 11 points at the 4:00 minute mark. I’d rather ensure the W by leaving the starters in than risk an 11-point lead by taking out the starters with four minutes left. Also, after Drew got his 30th rebound, he still refused to come out of the game with one minute left and the lead back to 16. I guess he really wanted to shoot a three :D

  49. @11, 44, 47 – Drew made my 87-year old mom laugh last night by going all Great Dane on his teammate’s leg. She rarely laughs anymore, so he’s all right in my book.

  50. The Lakers beat a team that they match up well against. Duncan and Blair are great against almost anyone else in the league but they do not match up well against Pau and Drew. We now have a point guard in Sessions that can give us what Parker gives SA. The key to the game was MWP. His offense was out of the world (sorry I had to) and his defense was great. The problem is you will not get that game but twice a month. Hopefully, he can make it four times a month during the playoffs.

  51. There is no depth on this team. With LO they had the interchangeable big man depth. Without LO they don’t. They also lost Shannon who was the back-up point and two. As presently constituted, they don’t have a back-up center, a back-up point guard, or a back-up two. As such, this team has no chance for a chip unless OKC and Memphis get eliminated and we play Boston or Chicago in the Championship.

  52. KenOak@26: I think we “could” beat Boston, however it would be very close. We would have homecourt against them, + this made a big difference in 2010. I agree that the Celts are a threat to get there.
    Busboys: Of course I agree with your bench appraisal. I would not say “no chance”, but rather would say some chance – though certainly not one of the favs. Fortunately, as things “appear” to be lining up, we would not have to play both OKC + Memphis. Perhaps just one of them – but we will see.

  53. We should win the next 2 games for sure, however as everyone knows, we are more than capable of dropping 1 of them. My own take is that the W over SA was great, but does not make us instant contenders. Likewise, if the zombie Lakers show up in one of the next 2 games, that will not mean that the world as we know it, is coming to an end.

  54. Wow, looks like no one has read Andy K’s April 12th article entitled “Has Steve Blake rediscovered his game?”

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers

    Yes it’s a small sample, based on the recent “Kobeless” Lakers, but still it gives hope & reason why Blake plays while G-Lock & Darius does not.

    I’m hoping Kobe has noticed that his teammates are capable of stepping up offensively if given the chance. There were a lot of questions about the Bulls when Derrick Rose, last season’s MVP of the league, went out with a long injury. We were all told no one else could score on that team. Well, the Bulls haven’t lost a beat and continue to have the best record in the league and oh by the way, with everyone else sharing in the scoring.

    Here’s hoping Kobe let’s Session do what what he’s paid to do…keep the ball moving.

  55. Both OKC and Memphis play more inspired basketball than we do. Both teams are also deeper and have legit “Kobe Slowers”. Doc Rivers and Grep Popovich are far better coaches than Mike Brown. So our work is cut out for us. We have to play on all out to beat these teams. What is scary is that Houston’s McHale is also proving to be better than Brown. We may not want to see them either. They are deep, well coached and hungry. That is a dangerous combination. Let’s hope the stars align.

  56. Bynum FG% last three games:
    35-41.2-37
    Pau FG% last three games:
    56-47.6-37.5

    Selfish gunners?!Individual stat seekers?!Not team players?!
    @54 other Kobe dissers,watch and assess first..

  57. I`m still not sold on the ability of the 2nd unit to be effective and give the starters enough rest so that in the 4th quarter the 1st unit has enough left in the tank. In particular,all the backup SG options(10-12mpg) are deficient. Don`t know about Hill`s injury,but would like to see if he could add some defense and rebounding to the 2nd unit. Will be very interested in tonight`s game because the Lakers have followed good games against top teams with stinkers against poorer teams.

  58. Spurs are still a legit threat to the west. Their vets are proven and won’t play as bad next game. 30 rebound games are historic and spurs will have more than 1 off. rebound.

    Looking at this year will the Lakers shoot 11 – 23 3pt every game vs spurs. We know Spurs can shoot 13 – 24 3pt every game.

    This same team w/o kobe lost bad to suns and barely beat the hornets. I do give Lakers the edge vs most teams but this single game everything was clicking that doesn’t happen every game.

    I have no worries about Kobe he’s been a different player since sessions. Look at the high fg games those were the games Bynum didn’t finish.

  59. Also interesting to see if Kobe will play tonight. However I have a feeling we won’t see Kobe after a Laker win…only after a Laker lost.

  60. Andrew has the keys to the city within his grasp. But they only go to someone that deserves them.
    We sports fans like someone that we feel good about when we cheer for them.
    Magic was the whole package. He set the standard. Exceptional talent. Hard worker. Winner. Personality.
    Shaq was almost the Whole package. Exceptional talent. Personality. Winner. Hard worker? That’s debatable.
    Kobe? Exceptional Talent? Without a doubt. Hard worker? No one works harder. Winner? That’s obvious. Personality? Not so much.
    Kareem was pretty much like Kobe.

    Now let’s look at Andrew.
    Is he an exceptional talent? Not really. He’s big and he has long arms. Not quick. He’s not a freak of nature like Shaq was.
    Is he a hard worker? When he chooses to be. He loafs. He pouts. Sometimes he just plain doesn’t put out the effort. But he does work hard and we know this because of how his offensive game has evolved.
    Personality? He WAS likable. Now? Not so much. Disrespecting his coach, management and the team won’t do much to endear him to fans.
    Is he a winner that can carry a team? That has yet to be seen.

    Fans can still like a player if they feel they are watching someone that is very talented at what they do, works extremely hard and plays hard during a game, and is a winner. We can forgive you for not having a Magic Johnson type of personality. Not everybody can be like that.
    But if you are kind of a A-hole AND you don’t give 100% effort during games? I just have a hard time rooting for that person.
    Maybe it’s just me. But I don’ think so.

    Lakers for life!

  61. re Blake

    For what it’s worth, the “eye test” for Blake, at least to these eyes, is that he is playing with more aggression and purpose. When he gets the ball after a defensive rebound, he is looking to push the ball and try to run early offense. He is making more forays toward the rim/lane off the bounce, rather than immediately passing to the next man, and has even taken the ball to the rack a few times. I’m not saying he is playing like an All Star, or even at an average NBA PG level these past few games, but he is at least showing initiative, in contrast to the sleepwalking mode he seemed to be in for awhile.

  62. Busboys/Ed: with regard to other teams being “deeper” and the fact that you are “not sold on the ability of the 2nd unit”:
    I would suggest we petition the league to see if we can barter our TPE for extra timeouts during the playoffs : ) Of course I can’t guarantee the league will go for this, because it takes 2 sides to agree to an exchange like this : )

  63. Well, the Bulls haven’t lost a beat and continue to have the best record in the league and oh by the way, with everyone else sharing in the scoring.

    ___

    Bulls with Rose: 29-7 +8.8
    Bulls without Rose: 16-7 + 6.8

    It takes talent to win games.

  64. The 2008 Celtics, as the Lakers found out the hard way, were one of the elite defensive teams of all time. They had Kevin Garnett, who even now at age 35 is one of the greatest team defenders ever. The D was run by Tom Thibodeau, one of the top defensive coaches of the modern era. Boston was #1 in DRTG, allowing 98.9 points per 100 possessions.

    Bynum is a fine defensive center when he brings it, but he lacks Garnett’s mobility and intensity. The current Lakers have a DRTG of 103.6, 13th in the NBA. In addition, Rondo is a far better defender than Sessions. 2008 Perkins was a tough defender as well.

    We should remember that:

    1. New Orleans in 29th in ORTG.
    2. In the two games prior to the NO and SA games, the Lakers gave up 112 at home and lost to Houston, and gave up 125 and got blown out in Phoenix.

    Hope is fine. I have my hopes, too. But we also need to look at the facts.

  65. Edwin,
    Sometimes you need to learn not to communicate with someone when you know they are wrong. If you hold a position that the sky is blue and someone else says the sky is yellow…. Just let it go. My best advice to you on here. Pick your battles.

  66. rr @ 65 – “Bynum is a fine defensive center when he brings it, but he lacks Garnett’s mobility and intensity.”

    True enough; few can bring KG’s intensity, creepy as it is at times.

  67. rr: good points with regard to the 2008 defensive prowess of the green men.

    2008: Before we compare oursleves to the 08 Celtics, let’s compare ourselves to our own 2008 iteration. I would say KB, Pau, and MWP were better in 08. AB is better now, and RS and DF (08) are a wash. The 08 bench and staff trounce the 12 versions.

    Edit: Being generous to RS calling him a wash with 08 Fish

  68. No disrespect to the 2012 version Boston (which isn’t to say that I have any esteem for those insufferable toolbags), but a Finals matchup with them is a near-best case scenario for us. No one wants to play them right now and justifiably so, but they would be great matchup for us should we make it that far.

    Doc Rivers is a better coach than MB, and Rondo may someday get a jump shot, but Garnett and Bass are not growing 2 inches taller between now and June. Pau and Drew might as well show up wearing volleyball uniforms.

  69. We are nowhere near the 2008 Lakers or Celtics. Our current coach is not close to Doc or PJ (or any of their bench coaches), our benches are not as deep as either, and we have nowhere near the toughness that the Celtics had. Drew and Pau are sulkers not tough guys and Barnes is more of a poser than a fighter.

    What we have now is the same amount of suckness on our bench that the 2008 Lakers had (Vlad, Mihm, Sun Yu, AMMO, Powell, Mbenga, Sasha, and Walton). Wow, I forgot how bad we were!!! But you put Farmar and LO with Vlad, Mihm, and Sasha and you a running bunch of fools (called the Bench Mob).