Lakers/Spurs: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

Darius Soriano —  April 20, 2012

For the second time in four days, the Lakers faced the Spurs and were throttled, this time by the count 121-97. The game leaves the Lakers even in the loss column with the Clippers and reeling with the Thunder coming to Staples on Sunday. The game offered a glimpse into what’s been an all too common theme of late for the team we cheer, a collapse on defense with lots of questions that need answering.

Some observations from the defeat:

  • The Spurs are one of the simpler teams in terms of offensive scheme. They run high P&R’s with Parker (and some with Ginobili), space the floor with shooters, and use Duncan as an outlet at the high post if initial actions don’t lead to a compromised defense. When not running the P&R, they use simple screen actions off the ball to free up their wings to put them into positions where they can attack off the dribble or shoot open jumpers while mixing in simple post up actions for Duncan. But, within this simplicity is a profound discipline that, when teamed with familiarity and comfort, can be devastating. Tonight, the Lakers took the full brunt of this attack on the chin, consistently finding themselves spread thin and unable to cover all the options the Spurs opened up through expert ball movement.
  • The Lakers inability to cover all these options mostly stemmed from the way they covered the Spurs initial P&R. Basically, if you rewind almost a year, you’d find that the way the Lakers tried to contain the Spurs tonight looked eerily similar to how they tried to guard the Mavs’ same action. The Lakers bigs (and primarily Andrew Bynum) sat well below the screen inviting the guard to turn the corner while attempting to deter him from advancing all the way to the rim. This technique gave the ball handler (mostly Tony Parker) room to either pull up for a mid-range jumper or pick out a teammate (sometimes Duncan, sometimes the man in the corner spacing behind the three point line) for an open jumper. Parker consistently made the right pass/shoot decision and torched the Lakers with this action all night. Sometimes that meant pulling up for the J himself and knocking that down. Sometimes it meant passing it back to Duncan who was wide open in the 16 to 18 foot range who also knocked the shot down. Or, he’d hit Danny Green or Kawhi Leonard in the corner and they’d knock down the jumper. In any event, what this action produced was wide open shots more often than not and the Spurs hit them.
  • Once these shots started to fall with consistency, the Lakers defense was put in positions where they started to scramble. They’d charge at Duncan and he’d put the ball on the floor and shoot a little flip shot. They’d rush to the corner and Green or Leonard (or Ginobili) would put the ball on the ground and further compromise the D. Or, Parker would use the threat of his jumper and drive deeper into the paint and either get a shot at the rim or collapse the D further. And against a collapsed D, the Spurs would just make the next shoot/pass decision correctly. Again and again and again.
  • This was the Lakers’ night on defense. They’d scramble, someone would help, a pass was made, someone would help again, and sooner or later someone would not help the helper and an open shot was created. The Spurs did this all night in nearly every half court set and slowly bled the Lakers to death.
  • The Spurs, though, also ran. They pushed the ball after makes and misses. Outlet passes were tossed over the heads of Lakers and Paker et al were off to the races, looking for the best good shot they could find against a defense that wasn’t ready to defend. This often meant shots right at the rim as Parker pushed down broadway only to find himself flanked by at least one teammate (and usually more). And when it wasn’t Parker running a traditional break, it was Leonard or Green leaking out. Or Stephen Jackson. Or Gary Neal. Or…you get the point.
  • Kobe Bryant played tonight and he looked good. He played a controlled game in the first half before asserting himself in the 3rd quarter by looking for his own shot more. It will take a bit of time for him to find his comfort zone back with a group that found theirs without him, but I’m not concerned about it. Kobe looked to make the extra pass even when the initial action was run for him. He looked to shoot when he had advantageous position to do so. The offense looked clunky at times as Kobe sometimes found himself jockeying for position close to where Bynum was set up or when he didn’t see Ron or Barnes breaking open into the post, but, again, that’s going to happen at times.
  • Ramon Sessions is in a funk. I’m not going to guess at what the root of it is but I’d imagine his bum shoulder and making an adjustment to playing at a pace that’s slower than his ideal one are part of the issue. In any event, he’s not looked right for several games in this recent stretch of contests and that needs to be rectified sooner than later. Against the Spurs, he seemed to have trouble with a defensive scheme that either allowed him his jumper or invited him all the way to the rim to try and finish over a contesting big man. His shots never seemed to be in rhythm or come comfortably. I would have liked to have seen him go to his in between game more by taking more floaters but it just didn’t happen tonight. I have a feeling he’ll see the same type of defense on Sunday so maybe we’ll see an adjustment then.
  • In the third quarter – where the Lakers gave up 35 points and were outscored by 14 – they hung their heads and looked defeated. I can understand the feeling as the Spurs operated with Borg-like (the Star Trek villain or Swedish tennis player – you choose) precision and hammered them. But I must say it was disconcerting seeing them with no answers and little fight. I’m not saying they quit (far from it, actually) it was just a sense that they’d resigned themselves to the loss after the Spurs made their push. Again, I can understand it.

After the game, Kobe spoke of the adjustments that would need to be made and that they would, indeed, be made. On twitter, in the midst of the rout, I said something similar. The Lakers problems in this game were mostly about helping the helper in the half court and floor balance issues that led to poor transition defense in the open court. These are fixable issues. They’ll need study, to be addressed in practice, and to be drilled repeatedly but they can be fixed. That said, they will need to be fixed. This game looked too much like the games we saw in the Mavericks’ sweep last year. And, since that was nearly a year ago and involved an entirely different coaching staff, that’s worrisome.

There are two games left in the regular season and then the playoff will be here. A week from today, the Lakers will have a first round opponent primed to try and pick at the scabs of the wounds from losses just like this one. Here’s hoping the Lakers defense is up to stopping them.

 

Darius Soriano

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89 responses to Lakers/Spurs: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

  1. I don’t understand the defensive philosophy. At the beginning of the season I thought it they changed their strategy so that they would always show hard on high screen rolls, and it seemed to be working well. What happened to that strategy? Has someone told Bynum to stop showing because he can’t show and recover? I thought he was doing okay the times I saw him do it. And is it just me or does it seem like Bynum is always blaming someone else whenever the opposition puts in another layup off a defensive breakdown. I don’t recall ever seeing him point to himself and say my bad. I wouldn’t mind if he was a little less Kobe and a little more Tim Duncan when it comes to owning up to mistakes.

  2. A rule in basketball is that you help the helper on defense. I often see Bynum rotate to help someone else, only to then watch his man cut to the hoop for an open look. That happened a lot tonight, and it’s not Bynum’s fault on those plays.

    I like Sessions a lot on offense, but defensively he leaves a lot to be desired. He goes over the screen when he should go under, and goes under when he should not be giving a shooter an open look outside.

    Parker did the Lakers like they were Brent Barry’s wi…. err, I’ll be nice.

  3. Bynum and Gasol should switch the PF/C position whoever is in PnR. Whoever is involved in the PnR the other big needs to take the involving big’s man tonight it was Duncan he was wide open far too much. While Drew is helping Sessions Pau has to take Duncan on the perimeter then Drew can retreat back to Pau’s man. Or just trap and get the ball out the PG’s hands.

    Sessions has become less effective lately and has not played a playoff games. I’d seriously consider playing Kobe at PG slide Barnes to SG and Ron at SF. If Sessions is ineffective he is useless because he has NO defense. Put Kobe in more pick and rolls.

    I still wonder what Brown is showing on film somebody leak that info. Te only point of emphasis should be defending the PnR. in shootaround, film whatever study pnr defense.

    I’m watching some of the game now. Spurs had a jump on our sets. Lakers missed Kuester tonight too he may be our best coach.

  4. My impression was that the Lakers problems were less strategic/tactical and more effort-based.

    It just seemed like they lacked fight most of the night. Maybe that lack of fight stemmed from the strategic issues (“Damn, I rotated on defense and my man dunked the ball AGAIN.”).

    But whatever the reason, there were just too many plays were the Spurs out-ran, out-hustled, and even out-fought the Lakers.

    Two plays that stick in my mind:

    Blake gets the ball at the top of the circle about midway through the shot clock. He hesitates, then hoists a 3PT that misses two feet right and clangs off the backboard. The Spurs gather the rebound and end up with a 5-on-2 fast break.

    Later, Kobe drives the middle from the top of the key while being guarded by Stephen Jackson. Capt. Jack is pushing and prodding, poking and grabbing. Instead of trying a “rip” move through all the contact to draw a foul, or at least pushing back to let Jackson know Kobe won’t stand for it, Kobe simply tries to dribble through the pressure and coughs up the ball. Another Spurs fast break going the other way.

    I suspect mentally the Lakers know the Clippers can’t catch them, and they can’t move up past the #3 spot, so these last games just don’t matter enough to give full effort . Conversely, the Spurs ***really*** want the #1 seed so they can delay facing the Lakers or the Thunder as long as possible.

    It was still sad to see, though.

  5. Great recap! I haven’t seen the game yet, but after reading this, it feels like I did. You painted a vivid picture.

  6. Great posts Jeremy, Chris J, Kevin, and Anon!!!

    I was using synergy (the free version) to look at pick and roll coverages at the beginning of the season, and as mentioned Bynum and all of our bigs were showing hard.

    Bynum is staying back on screens now (linked in a previous thread to a realgm article) and this is actually by design.

    The mentioned mistakes cannot be fixed without “drilling”/studying the tape and the entire team as a cohesive unit making an all out effort in pursuit of a relentless defensive attack.

    If the Lakers want to win they need to focus every ounce of energy on the defensive end. Teams should not break 90.

    DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE

  7. Can the lakers make Ron Artest guard the guy giving the screen so if he switches to the guard the defensive mismatch would not be that big? And on offense, why does the lakers often use the P&R between Kobe and Pau which would often times result in a lob to Bynum as his man would switch to Pau everytime they do this set. And if the SF on the other team do the switch this would leave Ron Atest or Matt Barnes open and it seems to work for their advantage considering that our SF have been shooting very good on the field lately. Can anyone help me on this? Thanks

  8. Given Sessions speed its surprising he is such terrible defender. He may be as bad as Blake and Fisher. Sessions defense is a huge deficiency and with his offense sputtering you have to question his minutes with Parker on the floor.

    Beating Spurs comes down to controlling Parker on the PnR. Going under screens provides open looks all day long. Lakers need to close harder on jump shots without joining paratroopers club.

    In spite of results. Not scared to play Spurs. All playoff teams will be good. Playoff experience is over stated by media talking heads. Its talent, match ups and adjustments that determine victor. Spurs had “Timmy” and were swept by upstart Memphis. Derrick Fisher had 5 rings, 150+ playoff games and got smoked by Dallas.

    Would rather have Lakers roster than Spurs.

    All is not lost.

    Winning championship is not easy.

  9. Last night was simple.

    The Spurs had the three best players on the floor.

    Parker was the best player on the floor – and was absolutely toying with the lakers.

    When Duncan got the ball – he pretty much did whatever he wanted. He beat our bigs in the high PnR, in the post, and in transition.

    And when Ginobili came in the lakers had no answers – it was like the Spurs were granted super mario “star” power. His shot just looks so sweet every time it leaves his hand – and his shots were almost always wide open.

    Kobe played a decent offensive game, but his defense was “offensive.”

    Andrew Bynum…. sigh… I can’t remember how many plays last night that the Spurs scored (via Duncan or Diaw) before Bynum had even passed half court. Let’s just say our all-star big man had 2 (yes 2) rebounds. That can’t happen.

    And the rest of the team looked like they were confused to what they were doing.

    I didn’t really understand why Murphy was getting minutes again – as McRob is much better at getting up and down the floor.

  10. We can’t beat 3 point shooting teams. simple

  11. We just got Borg’d. Appropriate that a new word had to be created, as few existing words can capture the carnage that happened last night.

    Reminded me so much of the Mavs series last year, like Darius said. Just getting picked apart by disciplined, gorgeous ball movement.

    Channeling my inner Ken, I’ll repeat my comment from last night: “The pick and roll will be the death of us. I remember Mike Brown’s press conference where he said he watched our defense last year and promised he’d improve our PnR defense first thing. I was so naive and hopeful.”

    Part of me wonders if it’s just personnel. Are we really just too slow to contain the PnR, no matter what the defensive scheme? But then I think back to the 2010 Finals Game 7 and the incredible, cohesive defense we played in that game (albeit with a quicker Odom on the floor instead of Bynum) and I feel like we are capable of great improvement.

    It occurs to me – this is just conjecture on my part – that MB isn’t quite as bad as he’s seemed this year. But unlike Carlisle or Popovich, MB is a “practice” coach. Watching him in Cleveland, it seems like he gets results by drilling good habits over and over again in practice. I do think he’s been hurt by the compressed season more than in-game-adjustment-savvy type coaches.

    I can’t remember where I read or heard this recently – but someone said of Phil Jackson, “You don’t need to be a great X’s and O’s coach if you have assistants who are great at that.” We’ll find out what our coaching staff is made of in the playoffs, when game-to-game adjustments decide series.

  12. I agree that a large part of what went wrong today was effort based.

    And, as has often been the case this season, the place to look first when there is flagging effort on defense is Andrew Bynum.

    30 minutes of play. 2 rebounds. Only 1 defensive.

    Darius touched on his not showing on the high screens, something that (possibly by design?) has almost never does despite all the other bigs on the Lakers doing so, but one rebound on the defensive end over 30 minutes?

    Granted, the Spurs were shooting such a ridiculous percentage so there wasn’t as many opportunities, but I watched him most of the night and he was loafing for the most part up and down the court. Whether it was knowing he was back to being second option offensively or something else, he wasn’t running or playing as hard.

  13. Rather disappointed with the lack of adjustments by the coaching staff. In the last game the Spurs pretty much locked on to our weakness and killed us with the PnR.

    This game, no changes were made and Parker destroyed us again. Sessions does not seem to have a clue how to deal with screens, having the big man fall back is just a recipe for disaster against elite PGs.

  14. Bench loses 60-36: Nobody else wants to talk about this or acknowledge this weakness. Other teams look to the bench for a spark, we just pray the don’t fall on their face + we are happy.
    Sessions: I am sensing that the FBG honetymoon for RS is over? He is an avg PG – never has been anything else, which means he gets torched by Parker/Westbrook – etc.
    AB: Rebounds = 2 – Not a superstar stat.
    SA beats us overall on Rebs 42-29 – if you have two 7 footers – you are going to be slow – if you also lose on the boards – you lose the game.

  15. Bad game for the KB haters. We get the “team” version Kobe – going 7-12, + we get smoked. The haters would have been out in force if Kobe had gone 6-20. Now they don’t know who to blame – so the easiest target is MB. I got news for you – the source of blame is the roster. They are deeper, they smoke us at the PG position, + they are faster. Rotations + schemes can only mask these problems – they can’t solve them.

  16. “This game looked too much like the games we saw in the Mavericks’ sweep last year. And, since that was nearly a year ago and involved an entirely different coaching staff, that’s worrisome.”

    Bingo Darius – that is exactly what it looked like: I think you covered this in an earlier thread where you concluded that the roster had not changed significantly from last year.

  17. My question to this recap are:

    1-Mike brown is suppose to be a “defensive coach” and knows and ran tbe Pop offense when he coached there. Yet it acted clueless on how to stop it. Can this guy coach?
    2-Andrew has not progressed one inch on his PR defense in 7 years. Who fault is that?
    3-If Sessions can not defend and fight through screens why did they sign him? Does the scouts not have tape of Cavs fane or do the scouts not gave the knowledge to see thus.
    4-When you are again getting beat like a drum in the 3rd quarter, dosen’t that suggest the other coaches ate making adjustments while the Lakers are drinking juice pops and tuning out Brownz.
    5- Finally why hasen’t Brown tried guys like Hill or Goug earlier to see if they can help this sad defense or experimented with a zone?

    Answer to all this questions in my opinion is, Brown can’t coach and front office lacks past basketball experience.

    Hard to see how this all dosen’t come full circle back to Jim Buss. It’s 60 games in and way to late to adjust now especially with Brown as coach. Simple truth is 2nd round and out for tbe 2nd year. Back to back 2nds we have become.

  18. Robert on a roll @ 15-17: Yes, these results vs Spurs and Thunder for that matter point more to a talent deficiency rather than effort issues or players suited to the Triangle playing in another offense. (Never, ever bought the last argument …)

    The Lakers are old, unathletic and overpriced. The FO has taken some steps in the right direction by Jettisoning Fisher and Walton and picking up Ram Sessions. It’s not nearly enough, but it’s a start.

  19. We needed a defensive point guard more than an offensive one and now everyone knows why Sessions is a career backup point guard.

    I still like the deal that brought him here. But you get what you pay for and he’s just not the answer we were looking for. Have to go back to plan “A” in the off season which is locate a viable, affordable starting point guard. Which brings me to the other major problem.

    We’re playing with two centers and it’s a major liability. As a result, we have zero ability to play in transition. ZERO!

    Our runs never result in delivering crushing blows to our opponents because we can’t sustain them playing at a snail’s pace all of the time.

    We get no easy baskets and we get get no free points and every opponent plays us close, except when we get blown out like this.

    Fall behind by more than a dozen points and we’re dead. We have no ability to make-up a deficit.

    Gasol is a center. He’s not a power forward. Even in the glory days with three headed monster, he mostly played center with Lamar as power forward for the majority of the minutes and would only play power forward breifly when Bynum saw action.

    When Gasol shoots 20 foot jump shots, opposing coaching staffs are cheering because it’s a victory for the defense. We’re not going anywhere on the back of Pau Gasol shooting ranged jumpers. We’re just not.

    He’s a great player and everyone notices how much more effective he becomes when he’s the only center out there. The problem is he’s not our best center.

    And he’s a max salary guy which means we have two centers who are max salary guys which will never ever sustain in the new CBA anyway.

    We need a legitimate power forward. We can’t win with two centers. Jackson knew this. That’s why the majority of minutes went to Odom and Gasol.

    And forget Odom. He clearly wasn’t going to be the answer anymore this year either.

    Regarding the Spurs. We have to figure out how to get the ball out of Parker’s hands more often, but I’m not worried about Tim Duncan beating us from the perimeter anymore than I am a believer that Gasol can beat anybody consistently from the perimeter.

    Over a long, intense post season series, Duncan isn’t going to consistently make 18 to 20 foot jump shots. it’s not his wheelhouse and never has been.

    He’s going to begin to miss them with regularity and when he does a good portion of that effective pick and roll will diminish and become a whole lot easier to defend.

    Sorry the rant. Not all is lost. i don’t see us in the finals unless we get remarkably lucky with the post season match-ups. The team is just too seriously flawed IMO and it’s not the bench and it’s not the coach.

  20. Can’t make too much of this game other than Spurs play PnR and to date Lakers haven’t solved it. There are adjustments Lakers can and will make including putting Kobe on Parker.

    Not sure if Sessions is hurt, but his defense is seriously lacking. Sessions defense was a knock prior to the trade. It would seem correctable with his innate quickness. So far it hasn’t.

  21. If Pop coached the Lakers?

    They would be 10 games better.
    Andrew would be on the bench or suspended(when’s the last time a player loafed on Pop).
    Players would learn to defend or be shipped out.
    Actual game time adjustments would be made.

    You know the old adage “You get what you pay for”. So Lakers wanted a bargain priced head coach and they get one. Always be concerned when your head coach needs tbe largest ass’t coach staff in the NBA around him.

    Duh. As Aaron would say.

  22. #21 Treylake – Natural ability doesn’t translate into great defenders all of the time.

    Scott Skyles couldn’t improve this kid’s defense.

    You can’t possibly think so little of Byron Scott that he couldn’t tell the difference between Sessions being his starting point guard over a rookie even if it was Kyrie Irving?

    I have nothing against Sessions. He’s much better than what we had due to his offensive presence. But he’s still half the player we need.

  23. #16 – Robert Nobody had an impact on the game in the second half including the “team version” of Kobe.

    We all would’ve taken the first half result. It was fine provided the defense could’ve adjusted to the Parker factor which never happened.

    Bynum got 2 rebounds because San Antonio got so many high quality shot opportunities, there weren’t any rebounds to be had.

    You’re right about the roster. But it’s about the starters not the reserves. We’re too darn slow with two centers out there and a point guard that can’t defend anything.

    I thought Barnes and Ron-Ron played decently.

  24. Dave:
    Slow + Lack of D at the PG position – Agreed.
    Bynum: Somehow Pau + Duncan got 8 rebs, and they are older + supposed to be nowhere near as good.
    Team Kobe: That is correct – if ever there was an excuse for “Hero Ball” – this game was it. Without an outburst from KB – we lose this game.

    R@19: Thanks + “old, unathletic and overpriced.” Wow – your accuracy is brutal.

  25. Mojo

    Are you crazy? Who would trade basketballs for Blake and Brown. If it was a sporting good store Brown would drive away customers with his babbling and constant excuses for not knowing his job. As for Blake he would get fired for dropping merchandise and waiting on customers to slowly.

    Sorry Mojo, no deal there.

  26. This battle between Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter is turning ugly.

  27. With this bad roster Lakers are still capable of scoring 100 points every game. Roster issues and offense aren’t the problem.

    Look at Boston roster they are old and slow but their defensive scheme is superb and works. When Thibs, Spo, Doc, Pop, Carlisle (all defense minded coach) get beat with something one game they stop it the next and take away something from the other team. Brown can’t do that.

    No matter how bad we want better players this roster isn’t horrible. And Lakers are still scoring points. The fact is a defensive coach was hired and he hasn’t made the defense better.

    The game was close in 1st half. When Pop made that adjustment in the 3rd Lakers got steamrolled. 3rd quarter the game was lost that’s usually where all lakers leads are blown or get blown out. It’s coaching, schemes not players.

  28. Early on the scheme seemed to be leaving Duncan wide open. Brown was willing to give the greatest PF of all time 5 feet of space to shoot or drive. you can put that on the players.

    Then Pop started Diaw the 2nd half like he did last game and Brown still had no answers. Numbers and notes won’t make up for common sense you don’t leave duncan wide open or put blake on parker.

    Every roster is flawed it’s the coaching who hides them or other coaches expose them.

  29. No team in NBA history who finished the regular season under .500 on the road became champs that same year. There’s been a few teams who finished under .500 on the road that appeared in the Finals, most recently and ironically Mike Brown’s 06-07 Cavs before they were swept by the Spurs.

  30. we should hire stan van gundy…im being serious…that play last nigh before the end of the 1st half was the straw that broke the camels back for me…anybody but brown… man bring westhead back lol

  31. Kevin #29 and #30 – The Celtics are in the same approximate state in the east as the Lakers are in the west. You can call their schemes “superb” if you like but Doc Rivers isn’t going to send that flawed team to the finals and everyone knows it.

    Nobody said the Lakers roster was horrible. Just too seriously flawed to win a title.

    The team scores points but can’t deliver a knock out punch to the worst teams in the league.

    The defense is fine when it can lock-in on the half court. Whenever transition is involved they get destroyed because they are so slow.

    I’m not saying my version is better than yours and it may be that at some point coaching becomes the central issue. It just isn’t an X an O problem right now.

  32. Kevin, I’m glad to see I’m not the only who calling out the coaching staff.

    Batman, I would love to see the Lakers get back Shaw from Indiana. That team is playing really well right now and from what I’ve read and heard, Brian Shaw is an instrumental part because of it.

  33. As a Spurs fan living in LA, I get to see a lot of both teams.
    The difference between these teams is team offensive execution and game strategy. You see the Spur’s execution in the ball movement and shot selection. Usually, the Lakers don’t need near perfect execution to get a good shot. The Spur’s game strategy in integrated in both the offense and defense. It shows up in an interesting way … we win the vast majority of our games in the late third and early forth quarters.
    Pop plays an enormous number of players (compared tot he rest of the league). Tony, Gary, Manu, Green, Patty and Kawai all push the pace in transition. When you couple that with PnRs and extensive passing on the offensive end, I think that teams that play fewer people get worn out. Bigs tend to dominate the Spurs early and fade at the end of the game.
    I am not sure if this will work in the playoffs but it is really fun to watch.
    Good luck guys. It would be cool to see LAL/SAS in the WCF.

  34. I wouldn’t mind seeing Nate McMillan as the head coach either. Even when the Blazers had all those injuries last year, he was able to right the ship and get them to the playoffs.

  35. Ramon sessions defense has always been horrible. The reason nobody talked about it was because he was on losing teams and did not get the exposure that he has now with the Lakers. We now know why no team held on to him, he cannot guard anyone, period. Check out this post from last year being named (along with Kobe) to the All NBA NO Defense team:
    http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/

    I hope he opts out of his contract, so the Lakers get rid of his salary, and get a PG that has some defensive skills and pride. His severe liability on defense makes his offensive skills worthless. Lakers will never come close to a championship with a set of guards not capable of defending, one because of age and the other one just lacking defensive IQ or pride/effort.
    I can’t believe I am saying this but I actually miss Fish’s defense! At 37, he was 10 times the defender sessions is now!

  36. Never-good calls on the coaching positions i wasnt pleased with the way shaw was handled last year & Nate wouldnt be a bad move either…for the record i wanted adelman

    Radmd-I dont think he can be as bad as fisher was…ramon should take lessons from MWP on defense…either way its better than watching fish get MURDERED (like my parents) every night

  37. Dave: You must not have seen Lakers half court defense last night. PG’s are consistently wide open off screens. Brown’s only way to try and stop/slow down a pg is to put ron on them.

    Lakers consistently lose games in the 3rd quarter. Coaches are adjusting lakers can’t stop them.

    Do you think Brown is getting all he can out this roster?

  38. batman, Fisher was not quick, but he gave effort and played smarter team defense. He fought through screens, got illegal pick calls and took charges more than anyone else on the team. I can’t remember the last time I thought Sessions made a good defensive play, can you?

  39. There are issues with Sessions. He winds up out of position on strong moves, just a bit too much. From what I understand, Brown’s scheme is to have the guards go under screens (I generally see effective defenses work with the on ball defender fighter over screens, but that is besides the point). That scheme of guards going under screens worked best when the bigs showed hard on the hedge and then scrambled back when the guard had recovered. Instead we are seeing a lot of switching with the bigs ending up on the PG. I don’t mind that too much when the big is Metta. Gasol and Bynum, not so much.

    Can anybody with better understanding talk about this issue? I’m going off memory and am wondering if opposing teams have changed how they deal with the bigs hedging or is the hedge just too weak to stop the ball handler enough to give the guards a chance to recover back after going under screens?

  40. radmd- depends on what you’d consider a good defensive play…an intercepted pass comes to mind but i agree sessions is a poor defender… an occasional charge drawn by fish doesnt make up for penetration at will…sessions can be a good defender with dedication and practice… fisher cant, a lot of the memorable moving screen calls you referenced came against boston (the IS kings)

    also bynum is just lazy with that being said i hope he is coasting til the play offs and that Brown stops the switching…my 4 year old knew swithching Bynum on Ginobli made no sense

  41. #39 Kevin – Brown isn’t going to get enough additional juice out of this team with X and O adjustments to overcome 25 point deficits against the leagues best teams – NO!

    And neither could Phil last year trying to perform the same miracle with essentially the same core.

    We can change coaches all we like Kevin but as Dareus said, last night looked an awful lot like Dallas in the finals last year.

    I’m willing to consider that coaching may be the problem when I’m satisfied that we have the horses to play with teams like this. We don’t!

  42. Just a few observations from last night.

    It shouldn’t be a surprise that our defense hasn’t been as good since D-Dish left. There are two reasons for this.

    The first is pace. Sessions plays at a faster pace then D-Fish. A natural by product of that is more transition basketball and our transition defense is not very good. It is no surprise that we actually closed the gap in the 2nd Spurs game with Blake on the floor.

    The second is position. We all know that people blew by D-Fish but he is a smart player and played position D. He directed the opposition into better help situations. This is where Sessions really needs to improve.

    Now it is obvious to me that Sessions has not been the same player since he hurt his shoulder. I believe that Brown should shut him down until the playoffs or at the very least after the OKC game. That would give him a week to heal. It is really hard to fight through screens when your shoulder is hurting.

    One other thing that is amazing to me is what the Spurs have done with their roster. They use to be like us, they would bring in veteran role players to try and stay relevant. But over the last 2 years they have filled in the roster with younger, more athletic role players. I think the Lakers need to learn from this. Especially with the new CBA. We have some young guys with upside. We could use another young scorer for the 2nd unit. Gerald Green is looking like he could have been that guy. (sigh) Hopefully with a full training camp next year we can integrate more youth into our rotations. Oh, one last thought. Did everyone see McBob hit that 3? Why doesn’t he shoot it more often? He shot 38% from 3 last year. If he spreads the floor we can replace Murphy with Hill in the rotation.

  43. dave-we killed san antonio before they killed us twice i dont think there is that wide of a margin in talent (COACHING!)…bynum needs to RUN down court they replayed tim duncan blowing by 24 year old drew last night…inexcusable

    while im venting how can the weakest guy on every team rip the ball from gasols hands with ease? hes not that weak is he?

  44. Thoughts:

    1. I think people are being a little rough on Sessions now, in the same way that the initial reaction was way too positive. Parker and Westbrook torch a lot of people. Seesions does need to improve on D, and I think he can a bit, but a key issue last night was that Sessions didn’t do anything on O. He needs to get 15/10 on Parker. I think Sessions’ shoulder is bothering him.
    2. The Lakers issues on D are improveable, but not totally fixable for a simple reason: a key to good D is lateral quickness. The Lakers don’t have much of that. Garnett even at 35 has more lateral quickness than Pau or Bynum IMO and he anchors the Boston D, along with Rondo.
    3. Brown is a mixed bag. The Lakers are 40-24 with a 36-28 Pythagorean Record. Given the roster, that is about as much as we can hope for. OTOH:

    >He has not improved the team D or the P/R D. Part of that is personnel; part of that is on Brown.
    >His penchant for riding the horses too hard may still burn them.

    But if the Lakers lose in the 2nd Round to San Antonio or Oklahoma City…well, I think that is about their ceiling. The recent stuff here comparing them to the 2008 Celtics and the 2001 Lakers…not seeing it. That kind of talent just isn’t there.

    That said, Brown does not seem to instill confidence or get it from others.

  45. #44 – RR: agree with you that the way for Sessions to mitigate or offset the damage is to put it back on the competition going the other way on offense, which to be fair, he’s done a decent job with so far, notwithstanding last night.

  46. “I think people are being a little rough on Sessions now, in the same way that the initial reaction was way too positive.”

    This. This this this.

    Darius – what are your thoughts on why Brown started off the year with Bynum hedging hard on screens, and in the 2nd half of the season has pushed Bynum back into a role similar to that in Person’s scheme last year? By the numbers, weren’t the early Lakers one of the more effective defensive teams in the league? Were we giving up too many points in the paint? Was he worried about wearing Drew down? I’m curious about the rationale behind that move.

    While our Twin Towers lineup presents great interior D, sometimes I wonder if it’s just too difficult to guard the PnR with 2 not-particularly-quick 7-footers. There was a reason Phil Jackson continually played Odom at the ends of games, and a big part of this was his defensive versatility (the LO of 2010 and 2011, obviously).

  47. There was a reason Phil Jackson continually played Odom at the ends of games, and a big part of this was his defensive versatility (the LO of 2010 and 2011, obviously).

    ___

    Correct, and I think all those trashing Brown should consider this point, which has been understated all year. 2010-11 Odom, a multi-dimensional player among the Top 40 or so in basketball, has been replaced by Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy. Bynum, Kobe, and Pau have picked up the slack as much as they can, but they have limits. Remember what Odom was always called: the “Glue Guy.” What happens when you run out of glue?

    Given how Odom has imploded, this is not to say that the FO letting him go was necessarily a mistake. But there is simply a huge dropoff, on both O and D, from 2011 Odom to what they have now. This was clear in pre-season, and it is clearer now.

  48. @ Treylake #8 It must be a media creation that would make you want the LAL roster over SA’s. Their depth is why they’ve had one quarter in the past two games vs LA where they’ve exploded on the Lakers, and why Pop can create multiple strategies to attack an opponent every game. I would also argue that playoff experience is important; last season’s more inexperienced teams (OKC, CHI) gave away games in the Conf Finals to more experienced teams that ended up advancing. The eventual champ was one of the oldest teams in the NBA last year. Also, Timmy wasn’t swept by Memphis.

    @ Snoopy #12 Fair point and good observation about MB being more of a practice coach.

    @Dave #20 The 18 to 20 foot jump shot has always been in Duncan’s wheelhouse, even more so the past few seasons as Pop wants him to take less pounding during the reg season.

  49. The fact that Mike Brown repeatedly fails to make any defensive adjustments whatsoever is beyond my comprehension. So much for being a “defensive” coach…

  50. We all agree Lakers can score enough points to win. If that’s the case how can the roster be the problem.

  51. Why, exactly, is the blame being put on Brown? Last year we had the best coach of all time and he couldn’t get these guys to defend the high PnR correctly.

    My bet is that its not the coach – but the players. The Lakers don’t work together on the defensive end, and it shows against good offensive teams.

    However – do notice that when their second unit was in last night during the 2nd quarter – with Pau manning center and McRob playing the 4, the Spurs were having a much harder time scoring. Granted, Parker wasn’t in, but Ginobli was, so its not like the Spurs were playing scraps.

    The Spurs went on their run in the end of the 2nd once Bynum and Kobe came back in. Once they saw those two – it was candy land time. Then – once Parker/Duncan came in for them, everything got easy again.

    If Bynum’s going to be a star in this league – and if Kobe has that star power left – they need to substantially effect the game to make the other team adjust. Kobe shots were largely at the end of the shot clock or a product of isolation against good defenders.

    And for Bynum – 2 rebounds aint going to cut it. And allowing the other teams big to shoot wide open from the top of the key, run up and down the floor unguarded, and shoot uncontested in the lane over you aint gonna cut it either.

    Part of me is hoping that the Lakers are playing a little possum with the Spurs (not trying to show them all the cards before they see them in the Playoffs because Pop is a strategic genius), but I don’t know – the Lakers haven’t had a defensive gear since January. Plus, the Lakers embarrassed the Spurs in the first matchup (Duncan had 2 rebounds) – and now you can tell that both Parker and Duncan are playing inspired ball against them.

  52. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the offense as a big problem that begets bad defense. We took so many bad forced shots that lead to unbalanced positioning and easy transition baskets the other way for the Spurs. It’s like we’re playing a series of one on one games and pass as a last resort. Our mental makeup isn’t right in that each player is trying to makeup for something bad happening by going one on one and forcing it. To me you should play the same way if you’re up by 20 or down by 20. Yet it seems whenever the opposition puts on a run Bynum or Artest or Kobe has to force shoot something or overextend their ability which leads to breaks the other way. Nobody would question the Lakers mental toughness since the players we have are these physical chest pounding brawny players. But I seriously question their mental toughness if they cannot deal with frustration properly.

    I agree that the PNR defense is an issue, but I don’t think it’s as big of an issue as our mental makeup right now. Everyone needs to humble themselves in order to make the most of everyone’s abilities.

  53. Why, exactly, is the blame being put on Brown?

    Because he promised to improve the defense and has repeatedly promoted himself as a defensive coach.

  54. As rr/anonymous @50 points out: The fact that LO fell off the map this year does not change what he was last year. I have posted this mutiple times, but I will again. We lost LO (6th man of the year), we lost Shannon, + Fish. In their place we have RS, TM, + JM. That alone is a downgrade from a team that got swept. This is not MB’s fault. If AB + PG are playing better, then perhaps MB deserves some credit? Again – I am no MB fan, but the results are not bad. You give me a team that got swept and make those moves and expect me to get to the finals – I am not agreeing to that – would you?

  55. “Parker and Westbrook torch a lot of people” – yes rr you are correct – which is why adding an average point guard was not the magic formula for a title that some thought. The contenders will all torch us in this area: Rose, Westbrook, Parker, Wade: We can’t cover them. We need to use MWP in desperation against Parker, but we can’t do that against OKC – he needs to cover KD, so the Session matador performance will continue (if we ever get to face OKC).

  56. Cdog

    Playing possum? You really don’t believe that. Were as I do feel Andrew and Pau may play harder in the playoffs,I doubt it.

    Unless they were playing possum aganist Dallas in the playoffs.

    Truth be told we havethe worst bench in the NBA, Pau has played to many minutes, most of the starters work harder on offense then defense and Mike Brown is far from a coaching genius.

    If you doubt that just listen to his babbling run on sentences of daily excuses after every game.

    The good news is Westbrook and several others have a tendency to go out clubbing in LA and this is a early game after a Saturday night.

    Lakers have zero chance of beating the Spurs due to experience, bench and massive coaching mismatch. They could beat OKC due to Metta on Durant and Westbrook turnovers.

    So maybe we hope for 4th because otherwise it’s 2nd round and out again.

  57. magic formula for a title that some thought.

    True enough, but old ground. There was no sequence of doable non-veto moves that would have gotten the Lakers there this year, in all likelihood, and we don’t even know what the situation would be if the Paul deal had gone through.

    Also, like I said, I think people are being too hard on Sessions. He was not brought in to do the impossible–shut down Parker and Westbrook–but to improve the O, which he has done when healthy. He does not seem to be healthy at the moment. No one on the team is doing much on D except for MWP at times.

  58. I think some people are setting the bar to high as to what a PG can actually do defensively against an elite PG. Even if Sessions was a great defender it is still more about the defensive scheme then it is individual defense. Plus like I stated earlier the banged up shoulder isn’t helping. He really should be rested until the playoffs.

    Stopping Tony Parker really starts on offense. Taking better care of the ball and playing deliberate inside out basketball, without all of the forced passes inside of course.

    Then on defense make Parker beat you with perimeter jumpers, do allow him to beat you with assists.

    when Andrew does show on the P&R our rotations have to be much better then they have been.

  59. Lakers in April

    avg. 102.4 ppg

    47.6% fg

    35.9% 3pt

  60. Lakers defense in April

    opp avg. 103.6 ppg

    47.6% fg

    46.3% 3pt

  61. rr: “There was no sequence of doable non-veto moves that would have gotten the Lakers there this year”

    Well you are saying this, but others are claiming we are an emerging contender, or we have a championship roster, or 5 all stars etc etc

    So they are saying that we not only could have made the moves, but in fact have already made them : )

  62. Players hurting Lakers the most April

    pg 16.7 pts 9.6 ast 49% — 44% from 16 – 23 ft area

    pf 17.9 pts 7.1 reb 50% — 36% from 16 – 23 ft area

  63. Where is that lame Aaron to defend his guy Bynum for getting 2 rebounds

  64. Rest: Michale H is saying correctly that RS needs rest + Ko is pointing out that Pau needs rest.

    Unfortunately we could rest ourselves right into the 5th seed. If we beat OKC – then yes we can rest without significant cost for the SAC game (dropping to 4 is no big deal). Then again if RS watches Westbrook get 35, then the SAC game becomes mandatory. If we lose the last 2 and Memphis and LAC sweep – we are #5. (actually LAC could even drop one)

    So root against Memphis and LAC if you have not been already.

  65. Kevin

    Yesterday he wrote there were no rebounds because Spurs never missed.

    And if you buy that one I have a L. Odom for 2012 6th man if the year t-shirt for sale and I coach if the year trophy with Mike Brown’s name on it.

  66. Ko: i wish that was me who wrote that it was lowercase kevin. I’ve accpeted who bynum is my quall is with defense.

    opp. in April

    sg 27 – 59 45% (16-26 w/o kobe)

    bench 50 – 107 46% laker bench getting killed from deep

  67. Robert #65 – We’ve been on the same page since the trade deadline. No viable deals for Gasol unfolded so the FO elected to stand pat except for the Sessions deal which was there with Cleveland anytime we wanted it. You’re right the roster isn’t decidedly better from last year. I’d argue it’s no worse but that’s not too comforting.

    Kevin #66 – Exactly right! we’re getting killed at point guard defensively for the reason we’ve been beating to death here all day and we’re getting killed at power forward because we’re playing two centers and one is masquerading as a power forward.

  68. i’d like to see the lakers make the spurs’ playmakers–parker and ginobili–work on both ends of the floor. make parker chase sessions through screens. same thing with ginobili. put them in screen-roll. drain their stamina.

  69. Please ponder this statistic. In the 64 games played this year, the Lakers have had fewer TO’s than the opponent only 11 times ! The next worst team in the league is Orlando at 17 times ! Seriously – think about this for a second – it is a commentary on our defense as well as our handles.

  70. Apply for the coach if you want adjustments. Damn..Man, a new coach to a compressed schedule, how can they practice man?. New players with new staffs and a trade deadline acquisition similar to the Pau Gasol deal. Reading your comments made me sick. Look at the other teams. Name teams that had changed the coaches and staffs. DO they look good?.

    Teams like Mia, OKC, SA, Chi, Dal, Bos, they didn’t changed their coaching staffs and look the difference among those teams and this Lakers squad. They look familiar to each other. They have chemistry among the players and coaches. Right from the start we fans should expect this kind of Lakers team that we have right now.

    Come on guys I’m not a relative of any Lakers organization because I’m trying to defend the whole team. But be realistic just don’t blame the coach. Look at the other teams. Nothing is easy, Lakers didn’t won championship in an easy manner.

  71. Sorry for the double post.

    Man, what I’ve wanted to state that teams such Mia, OKC, SA, Chi, Dal, Bos have been consistent in their offensive and defensive for couple of years right now. Players know their roles and where they should be on the court because they’ve been practicing that over and over again. They were familiar with the plays they were practicing.

  72. I want success for the team like everyone else. And have remained consistent throughout. Lakers can win it all in a half court game. And with better PnR defense. The latter is the reason lakers are losing fix that problems solved.

  73. Here is some more info on Lakers turnovers through 64 games

    Opponents are scoring 4.27 points more per game off of turnovers than the Lakers.

    Opponents are averaging 16.30 points per game off of Lakers turnovers for 1043 points.

    Lakers are averaging 12.03 points per game off of opponents turnovers for 770 points.

    If the Lakers can reduce their turnovers they might be able to pick up 1-2+ points a game which could make a difference especially since the Lakers have had many close games and in the playoffs every possession has more importance on it.

  74. @74/75 – I don’t want to blame the coach or Kobe or whatever… I don’t want to blame anyone…

    But 5 turnovers and no time out looks like we have a weakness on the coaching staff…

    You see, it’s the basics that drives me crazy…Guys get the ball and have no idea what to do with that…

    Actually, I remember watching Lakers game, even if we were losing, but watching until the end. Now, I don’t watch the end of games anymore, because we’re not playing good bball. It’s a pain to watch all that talent without any guidance from the bench.

    So yes, MB is the problem. I don’t blame him, rather whoever hire him.

    A mistake is a mistake…Gotta live with it.

    But it hurts…

  75. The Lakers have had the TO issue all year. They don’t force TOs because they are slow, and they commit/ed TOs because the primary ballhandler much of the year was a guy with severe finger and wrist issues who is an SG, and because they changed to an offensive system that did not fit their personnel.

    Chris Paul would not have solved everything, but he would have solved that problem:

    TOV/ORTG

    2011 CLIPPERS 22/29
    2012 CLIPPERS 3/3

    Brown has not impressed me, but the Lakers have had obvious and intractable roster issues all year. Adding Sessions helped with one of about four key issues, but the others remain.

    Would more practice time have helped? Maybe a bit. But that is speculative.

  76. It’s weird how math gets in the way sometimes. If a player only okay three quarters and is standing around the three point line half the game where the opposition shoots sixty percent from the field there aren’t many rebounds to be had. Go through the game film and check how many rebounds Andrew Bynum gave to the Spurs. The answer is zero. Bynum has been one of the rebounding leaders for the entire season. Bynum has been the best Center in the NBA this year. Bynum has been the best Laker. It’s a sign when the guy getting twice most criticism switches from Kobe to Bynum.

  77. A lot of that is true, Aaron, but I watched the game, and Bynum, like most of the rest of the team, played like crap in a pretty big game. The center bears a lot of responsibility for team defense, and the Lakers team defense got shredded. Bynum deserves to take his share of the criticism for that.

    If he delivers tomorrow and helps the team hold the 3rd seed (Memphis won again tonight; the Lakers could still drop to 5th) it will be largely forgotten.

  78. Haha. I never said he played good defense. I just said there was a reason one of the top rebounders in the NBA grabbed only 2 rebounds. On offense though as usual he was ungaurdable, attracting all of the defenses attention and over powering all comers.

  79. Haha. I never said he played good defense

    _____

    No, you didn’t. But you did complain about how much criticism he took, and not all of it was for his two rebounds. And much of it was deserved.

  80. rr,
    Umm… He was the Lakers best player. Let’s keep things in perspective here. He commanded double teams most of the night and punished the Spurs defense the few times he wasn’t doubled hard.

  81. vhanz@74-75: You are clearly outnumbered as most of this board wants MB’s head. That said, I am the closest thing you have to an ally in that I have consistently said (16 + 58 above being the most recent) that it is not MB’s fault. However, there must be accountability somewhere. There are three points to the “triangle”. Players, coaches, + FO. I think everyone knows where I stand as far as which part of this triad has thus far, let us down. How bout you?

  82. Dave: Yes – we are on the same page: Now with regard to your “it’s the starters” comment: I started saying that very early in the yr. KB is supposed to one of the top 5 players in the league; AB is supposed to be the #2 center; + Pau is supposed to be a 3rd team all NBA PF. I agree that Barnes and MWP are doing their jobs (now anyway), + then we add the epiphany known as Ramon Sessions, + we should be on our way to a 34 game winning streak : ) However we are far from that, so I think some of these components are over-rated. Then again of course there is my favorite – the horrendous bench (but I agree even with that bench if we had the starting 5 bomb squad that some think we have, we would be fine).

  83. How can Bynum be the best center of the league if he can’t play defense huh Aaron? DH has better numbers then Bynum and definitely can play defense. So, you’re wrong.

  84. Aaron,
    Bynum wasn’t playing good offensively either. He failed to establish good post positioning early (because he loafing up and down the court) and when he did get the ball he would allow the double to come and then not pass out of it.

    He had some good plays – some dribble drives – when Duncan left the game. But when Duncan came back – he was pretty much a non factor.

    The point is – the Lakers got manhandled – nobody played well – and excuses are for chumps.

    Lets move on to the next game.

  85. Let’s keep things in perspective here

    _______

    Sure. Like CDog said, the Lakers got smoked in a game they could have really used. Bynum needs to take a hit for that, particularly if you are seeing him as the fulcrum of the team.

  86. It is incredibly unlikely that Brown will get fired. He has three years and 10M with they buyout left on his deal, and any losses can be explained away publicly with the “practice time” meme. People need to get used to him. = )

    The only way that his seat will get really hot is if the Lakers lose in the first round, particularly if they lose to Dallas. Beating Cuban and JET et al would help Brown a lot–a little payback for last year and a little poke in Cuban’s eye for his public support of The Veto.

    A loss in that series, or a loss to Memphis or the Clippers, though…and the fans will want a big change. But even then that change will be Pau, not Brown.

    A 2nd round loss to the Spurs or Thunder would mean the team had about as good a year as they had last year under Phil.