Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  April 13, 2012

Carried on the broad backs on Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace, the Lakers plowed deep into the trough of a massive breaker in San Antonio, emerging triumphant on the other side and heading for home. It was a perfect storm of a game, and might have been their best one of the season. Yesterday, our Darius wrote this:

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.

Much agreed. It’s been a strange up and down year, and not just for the Lakers. Regardless, they seem to be transforming in front of our eyes. Nobody can guess how far they’ll go, but they’re a team to be reckoned with.

Andy Kamenetzky at the Land O’Lakers, asks if Steve Blake has rediscovered his game.

The Land O’Lakers game preview with Jeremy Wagner from the excellent Roundball Mining Company blog.

Dave McMenamin at ESPN writes about MWP and a matter of tempo

C.A. Clark at Silver Screen and Roll examines the case of Kobe Bryant’s mortality.

SoCalGirl at Silver Screen and Roll takes a look at the home stretch.

Elliott Teaford of the Daily News, brings us Pau Gasol’s thoughts about consistency

Mike Bresnahan at the L.A. Times, reports that Andrew Bynum’s 30-board night, was not a surprise to Elgin Baylor.

Kevin Ding at the OC Register, reveals that Andew Bynum dwelt on shooting woes in the Spurs game, rather than accept credit for his monumental effort on the boards

Kurt Helin at ProBasketballTalk, reports that Lamar Odom is no longer in the running for an Olympics spot.

Ryan Ward at Lakers Nation, writes about MWP’s back issues, which nearly forced him into retirement.

The Denver Nuggets, currently in the west’s eighth playoff slot, visit Staples tonight. Kobe will reportedly sit out again. Let’s hope the Lakers use their victory against the Spurs as motivation to continue crashing the boards, and playing hard without him. On a side note, there’s been a lot of news this week about Lamar leaving the Mavericks, and returning home. He’s been distanced from the game since leaving Los Angeles, and has caught a fair amount of flack in the media very recently. He’s been going through a rough stretch. I hope he finds his game again.

– Dave Murphy

Dave Murphy

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34 responses to Friday Forum

  1. kobe’s out for tonite’s game. hope it’s for the sake of resting more than it is for healing.

  2. Kobe’s missed April games with lower body injuries. In 01 he had the hip avg. 29 pts 46% fg. In 2010 the drained knee avg. 29 pts 45% fg. Even though he’s older both times bounced back in big ways.

  3. @han – thanks for catching that – updated.

  4. 1/2decaf1/2regular,
    Furthermore, not only is Bynum a budding superstar as you said… BUT HE HAS BEEN THE LAKERS BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER THIS SEASON. Something all NBA coaches agree with since they double team him much more than Gasol and Kobe. And to say that’s because Bynum doesn’t handle double teams as well is just flat out wrong since he has passed out of double teams better than every other Center this season save for the first couple weeks of the season.

  5. Kevin,
    Exactly. After Kobe gets a little rest after playing the hardest most condensed season of his life… Throw in the great German procedure…. We will see a very explosive Kobe in the playoffs.

  6. Prediction: Kobe will not return until the Lakers lose a game. No way he returns while Lakers are on a winning streak.

  7. Aaron: I agree. He hasn’t missed as many games as Rose so his timing won’t be as off as his.

    Bigcitysid: I don’t think a 2 game winning streak factors into this. it’s all about being close to 100% for the playoffs

  8. Read Andy K’s article yesterday pertaining to Steve Blake “rediscovering” his game since Kobe’s been out. Commented on it in the last post. Also gives a pretty good opinion on why G-Lock & Darius are not playing. It’s amazing how well teams like the Lakers & Bulls can play w/o their MVP’s.

    Don’t misunderstand, guys like Kobe & D Rose are needed to go all the way. The point is, maybe these teams are actually better than some fans give them credit of being. Or maybe even better than their “I’ve got to take every big shot” MVP’s believe.

    Here’s hoping we continue to see better ball movement when Kobe returns healthy & well rested. Title #17 is there for the taking.

    As far as Odom, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to L. A. next season…but this time as a Clipper.

  9. http://lakers.ocregister.com/2012/04/11/despite-30-rebounds-bynum-dwells-on-shooting/70979/

    Andrew just needs to change him focus. His mindset.
    Focus on Rebounding and defense.
    He will still get his 20+ points a game on most nights. But you can tell he focuses too much on scoring.
    Scoring is the easy part.
    Defense and rebounding takes actual work and sustained effort.

  10. Muddywood,
    You are missing the point. Everyone agrees Bynum needs to dominate on defense. Everyone including Kobe and Mike Brown also agree Bynum needs to dominate offensivley just as much. He has been our best source for points this season as well as our best player generating open looks for his teammates as he is constantly double teamed. This isn’t rocket science here mud.

  11. bigcitysid: you must not have been watching games since sessions came aboard. the ball is moving everyone is getting more shots. it’s easy to say teams are better w/o kobe or rose when they beat teams like sa or miami. when the lakers got blown out by suns and barely beat a hornets team that wouldn’t be the case. blake is rediscovering his game because he’s making shots not because kobe is not playing.

  12. Darius/Dude,
    As you guys know… I’m not a RPG guy just as I’m not a PPG guy. How has Bynum’s rebounding rate this year compared to Shaq’s best rebounding season in Los Angeles? I just think when Shaq was in LA the pace of the game was probably slower. Also… Bynum’s over 40 percent rebounding rate against the Spurs… Did Shaq ever have a rebounding rate above 40 percent in a regular season game? I’m guessing multiple times… Even though he never grabbed 30 rebounds.

  13. I wonder how much Monty Williams will pay players for a Flagrant 2, now that Tom Benson owns the team?

    I can imagine Chris Kaman or Greivis Vasquez on the bench yelling, “I want my money!” after taking down a player going in for a lay-up.

  14. Fyi, a delay in the game preview today, folks. Will be up around 3, I hope.

  15. Kevin,
    Exactly. Nail on head. The Lakers have been moving the ball perfectly since Ramon entered the starting lineup. The teams efficiency has even risen at all I don’t think with Kobe out. Bryant was already playing a team game and moving the ball like he was playing in a all star game since Ramon joined him in the backcourt. There is not a single way Kobe being out helps the Lakers win games. Except of course that he will be rested when he re enters the lineup.

  16. 14 – Jason Smith clearly has great prescience. Either that, or his takedown of Griffin actually convinced Benson that this was his kind of team.

    Just read that Bynum’s rebound rate is 19.3. Interesting, I wasn’t aware it was that high. That’s 3rd in the league behind Howard and Cousins.

  17. Aaron: too much of lakers problems are his fault deservingly so sometimes. but if you credit him for blake’s new found jumper. you have to credit him for bynum missing more shots since he’s gone.

  18. Not letting me edit so to follow up:

    Shaq had a 18.3 rebound rate in 99-00 and 18.1 in 00-01. His career rebound rate is 17.79.

  19. Aaron,

    I want Bynum to take all the shots that he can handle if he is single covered, but when Bynum gets double/triple teamed, the team offense struggles. That’s been the case ALL YEAR.

    There’s a difference between simply passing out of double teams and creating east shots for teammates. The scouting report is out….double team Bynum and he will struggle, as will the team offense. You can bet Bynum will see a larger dose of double teams come playoff time.

    Now compare the last few years when Kobe or Pau get doubled. They create dunks for Bynum, and the team offense simply runs smoother with the playmakers handling the ball. That is why Phil Jackson insisted on running the offense through Kobe, Pau and Lamar. They were playmakers….Bynum is a finisher.

    Without the team’s number one playmaker, Bynum has struggled on offense for the past few games, and I find it odd that you give Kobe zero credit for enhancing Bynum’s stats. Pau’s FG% jumped up 5 points when he teamed up with Kobe…and Bynum’s FG% has taken a nose dive without Kobe on the floor. This is NOT a coincidence.

    This is the reason why Bynum needs to focus on defense and rebounding above all else. He will get his points, but the Lakers cannot win it all IMO without Bynum prioritizing defense and rebounding over his offense.

  20. @#10 Aaron
    My post was about Bynum’s mindset and focus being misplaced.
    I think everybody in the world knows that he needs to dominate on D and on the boards for the lakers to do anything in the playoffs.
    I don’t believe that HIS focus is on that.
    My HS coach once pulled me aside and explained it to me this way.
    “You can rest on offense. You can NEVER rest on defense. And you haven’t played good defense until you get the ball with a turnover or a rebound.” That changed my basketball life.

    Andrew rests on defense because, mentally, his focus is on scoring. Defense is just something you have to do until you go shoot the ball.
    If he would just change his mental focus to “I want to destroy my opponent by playing D and rebounding” then when he gets to the offensive end he could just play his game and get his.

    This one simple thing would be the biggest thing to help him and his team win more games.

  21. Those 30 rebounds is what we’ve wanted to see from Bynum. Key is consistency grab at least 15 tonight

  22. @ Kevin & Aaron,

    No one is saying the Lakers are better w/o Kobe. When I say the ball moves better w/o Kobe I’m saying the ball doesn’t stop when it reaches Kobe. I’m saying guys don’t just stand around and watch Kobe isolate. I’m saying there is no need for Kobe to take more than 23 of the Lakers 80 fga (almost 29%) per game if he’s only shooting 43%.

    For the record, the team’s fga avg is .457. That’s why I say I’m hoping Kobe is willing to keep the ball moving.

  23. Reprint of an earlier post this week, before Bynum’s monster 30 rebound game.

    BigCitySid wrote on April 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    It has become very evident on this site that three (3) camps of Laker fans exist:

    -Kobe worshipers
    -“Bynum is the future” guys
    -team 1st realistic fans

    I’m a longtime Laker fan. Going back to two HOF’s nicknamed Mr Inside & Mr Outside. As great as those two were they could never get the Lakers pass the Celtics for the title. As a matter of fact, the Lakers have never won any of their 16 titles w/o a very productive all-star big man. Five titles with Mikan, one with Chamberlain, five w/ Kareem, three w/ Shaq, & 2 w/ Gasol.

    So as great as Kobe is, neither he nor any other Laker great, has ever won anything (except scoring titles) w/o an all-star big.

    7 foot centers have a lot of responsibilities, much of it dirty work which requires a lot of effort, much of which the less knowledgeable fan appreciates or even recognizes . A 7 footer who has the complete package of rebounding, defense & low post, high percentage scoring is a rarity, an excellent piece to build a team around and a powerful piece on a serious title contender.

    I’m not happy with the way Bynum has been playing of late. And I believe he’s playing that way because he’s not a happy camper. Successful teams know you reward your bigs for their defense & rebounding by getting them the ball for easy shots. Everyone loves to score.

    Personally I believe the Lakers would become a much better all-around team if they incorporated better scoring balance.

    Lakers top 3 scorers currently:

    Kobe, 28.1 ppg, 23.2 fga’s pg, .430 fg%
    Bynum, 18.4 ppg, 12.8 fga’s pg, .570 fg%
    Gasol, 17.3 ppg, 13.9 fga’s pg, .511 fg%

    I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to figure out both Bynum & Gasol could be 20+ scorers with 2 to 2.5 more attempts per game. And let’s face it, does Kobe really need to lead the league in scoring & fga’s with these two teammates? Kobe’s shot selections and thus his fg% would actually improve because he would get much better looks if both of his 7 footers were 20 point scorers.

    Kobe could still average 23-24 ppg, lead his team in scoring, and win another title if…if he allows Sessions to be the point guard we have all been hoping for.

  24. That’s what Bynum has to understand and it is what Phil Jackson was trying to tell him through the media. The most important thing that Bynum brings to the Lakers is defense and rebounding, then finishing at the rim. When Kobe comes back, the shot distribution will tilt back toward Kobe getting nearly 20 shots a game and Pau/Drew getting closer to 15 shots a game. Bynum has to live with that and make the most of his touches. He can’t pout and he can’t loaf around on defense.

  25. KenOak,
    Read Phil’s email! He never said Drews defense was more important than his offense. He said its great and very important that Drew has taken his offensive game to a dominant level. He said if the Lakers are going to win a championship Bynum needs to take his defensive game to the same level that his offensive game is at.

  26. Will Lakers lose Kobe’s return game?

    Shot distribution will be a problem as Kobe wants to win the scoring title. Kobe needs to average 28 points and hope Durant doesn’t go off the last few games and surpass.

  27. BigCitySid,
    And Kevin and I never said that Kobe should hog the ball. We said that since Ramon came on board Kobe has moved the ball and played perfectly within the offense. Check the stats. Since Ramon entered the starting lineup the Lakers have been by far the best offensive team in the NBA. That’s not happening in spite of Kobe. I would worry about Kobe if he was hogging the ball and taking a lot of ISO jumpers. But that hasn’t been the case since Sessions arrived. So why worry about something that hasn’t been a problem? That’s what Kevin and I are saying.

  28. Aaron-
    I don’t want to quibble here because we are damn near on the same page. Here is Phil’s quote.

    “This year has been a big step for him offensively…nice to see…and when he takes up the mantle as defensive captain the Lakers can get back in the hunt.”

    You’re right that he didn’t quite say that Bynum’s defense is more important, but he intimated that we are a better team- “a team in the hunt” when Bynum applies himself on defense.

    Let me say this. We have shot creators on this team. Kobe. Ramon. Hell, even MWP is stepping up as a creator lately. Pau can get his own shot as well when we get it to him in his spots. Then there is Bynum who needs the ball 15′ and in, preferably closer to the block. All these guys can score and they all make it easier for each other to do so. There is NO one on this team except Bynum who can man the paint and own the offensive and defensive boards. No one else. Pau tries to play defense and he is a little under-appreciated on that end, but he is not on Bynum’s level. Bynum can absolutely dominate on the defensive end and that’s what the Lakers need more than anything else. IMHO

  29. KenOak,
    Haha. Because he is already giving his all on offense. So Phil didn’t need to say he also has to give it his all on that side of the ball. Phil is clearly saying Bynum needs to continue to dominate on offense and also needs to start dominating on defense for the Lakers to win it all. Not either/or.

    The Lakers have guys that can get off their own shots. Yes. Kobe, Gadol, MWP, amd Ramon. That’s not what is important. What’s important are guys that can create shots for their teammates. So far that has mostly only been Ramon on the outside and Bynum via constant double teams on the inside. So Bynum is just as important on offense as he is on defense. Because nobody on the Lakers can duplicate what Bynum does for us on that side of the ball as well, even Gasol can’t create shots for others as much anymore as teams don’t feel they have to double him as much.

  30. KenOak,
    Your side point about nobody besides Bynum on the roster being able to dominate defensively in the paint is exactly that… A side point ;) Nobody disagrees with you there. But again… It’s not an either/or situation. Bynum needs to dominate on defense just as much as he needs to dominate on offense for the Lakers to win a title. It’s really that simple.

  31. So I’m on the same page as Phil.
    I guess that makes me a great thinker. :D

  32. I disagree with you when you say that Bynum “needs to dominate on offense,” for us to win a title. He needs to contribute, but not dominate. He *has to dominate on defense for us to win a title. But, whatever…

  33. bigcitysid: you fail to say since the sessions acquistition Kobe has changed his game. Those 24 FGA per game is over the season. Look at the past 16 games since Sessions Kobe has attempted fewer shots Ron has attempted more, Sessions taken more, Bynum is around the same but that’s not because kobe is shooting it’s because others are given more opportunity to do so.

    Look at these past 3 games and check Bynum’s fg percentage. 21 FGA and 37% FG.

    All I can ask is the box scores aren’t telling you the whole story. Kobe 24 fga isn’t the kobe we’ve seen since lakers got a pg.