Lakers/Nuggets Game 1: Getting Defensive

Darius Soriano —  April 29, 2012

If the Lakers are going to go as far as their defense takes them, today they offered a statement that they hope to go very far in this post-season. In beating the Nuggets 103-88, the Lakers held the Nuggs to 35.6% shooting from the floor and an offensive efficiency of 95.7 (or nearly 14 points per 100 possessions lower than their yearly average). The Lakers got back in transition, turned the Nuggets into a perimeter team, and contested all shots both at the rim and on the wing. Simply put, they were dominant on that side of the floor.

And it started with Andrew Bynum:

Yes, Andrew Bynum recorded 10 blocks, tying an NBA playoff record in the process. And when added to his 10 points and 13 rebounds, he put up the first triple double in Lakers’ playoff history since Magic Johnson in the 1991 NBA Finals. The big fella was simply a terror today and his effort to contest, block, and alter shots were the difference for this team on the defensive side of the floor. To put some statistics to the dominance, the Nuggets shot 21-54 in the restricted area in game one (38.9%) and only scored 44 points in the paint. For a team that relies so heavily on getting points in the paint to win games, this was a problem. A big, big problem.

But it wasn’t their only one.

In the first half, the Nuggets tried to double team both Bynum and Gasol in order to force the Lakers’ hand on offense. Recognizing that they wouldn’t be able to guard both LA big men one on one, they resorted to sending the extra defender at them on the catch. When Kobe caught the ball below the FT line and put himself in a threatening position, the Nuggets sent an extra defender at him too. However, this strategy backfired somewhat as the Lakers’ trio made the simple passes out of the double to their role players. And, those role players hit shots.

In the first half, Devin Ebanks hit 5 of his 6 shots for 12 points. Working mostly on the weak side, Ebanks was the recipient of good passes and, seemingly prepared to take them, he knocked them down. But Ebanks wasn’t alone as Steve Blake also benefitted in that first half. When Blake subbed in for Sessions, he too found himself wide open as defenders rotated off him to shift towards the Lakers’ main threats. The result was Blake making 3 of his 6 shots (all from behind the arc) for 9 points. Those 21 points represented nearly have the Lakers halftime total and ensured that the Nuggets would have to re-examine their approach in the 2nd half.

And when they did start to single cover the Lakers’ big three more, they went to work in their match ups. In those final 24 minutes, Pau hit 5 of his 10 shots for 11 points. Working mostly from the elbow area, Gasol flashed great skill and finished in a variety of ways. A pull up jumper after his man gambled for a steal; a right handed dunk after getting a step on his man after a power dribble; a left handed sweeping hook over two defenders that he banked in – all shots initiated from the elbow. He’d even hit a three pointer to show off his range.

Not to be outdone, Kobe also went to work in the final two quarters scoring 23 points on 14 shots after going only 2-10 in the first half. Post game, Kobe acknowledged that he’d taken some bad shots in that first half (he noted that he’d hunted contact and fouls rather than looking for good looks) but in the 2nd half he’d simply gone back to basics to find his rhythm. And, really, that meant working his low post game. Seven of Kobe’s nine second half makes came in the the restricted area, mostly on deft moves involving fantastic footwork that allowed him to shake his defender and get right to the front of the rim. On one possession he’d face up and drive for the finish. On the next two he’d back his man down, spin or step through, and then get a lay in or a short jumper. On another he’d curl off a pick, make the catch, then ball fake before going up for the uncontested shot.

But, in the face of Kobe and Pau’s brilliance of mixing play making for others early with strong scoring later in the game, the key to this game really was the defense. Bynum’s presence emboldened the rest of his teammates to also be more aggressive. The ball was pressured on the wings. Guys played great position D but also used active hands to deflect and disrupt, forcing 6 steals (4 by Barnes). And, as a team, they stuck to the game plan of slowing down the tempo and turning Denver into a half-court team that would have to rely on outside jumpers to win. The result was one of the more disciplined games the Lakers have played on that side of the ball all season with the statistics bearing the fruit of their efforts.

Of course, the adjustments will now begin but thankfully they’re mostly needed from Denver’s side. After the Lakers claimed game one, it will be on George Karl to find a way to solve the tempo issues his team faced while producing shots inside that aren’t challenged by Bynum. And, from the Lakers side, we’ll see if they can keep up this effort and focus. I’ll say one thing though, I’d much rather be up after one game than behind and the team looking to build on success rather than searching for it. Today, that team – the one in the driver’s seat – is the Lakers.

*Statistical support for this post from NBA.com

Darius Soriano

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90 responses to Lakers/Nuggets Game 1: Getting Defensive

  1. The biggest difference between last year and this year… You guessed it… THE LAKERS HAVE AN NBA PG. It’s been over a decade since the Lakers had an advantage at PG. Ramon badly outplayed Lawson on both ends of the floor. And Ty is supposed to be a star? It’s nice not playing 4 on 5 :)

  2. Denver guards 11 – 35 fg 28 pts

    Kobe 11 – 24 fg 31 pts

    No way Denver wins a game if this keeps happening.

    Pau 8 assists – Denver starters 7 assists

  3. Charles Barkley just said Denver played well except for the 1st quarter and this will be a competitive series. Why does this jerk hate the Lakers?

  4. Steve – you can’t take much of anything Barkley says seriously. He is basically a clown with his comments and a regular on the TNT show as a “personality” rather than because of his astute basketball knowledge. And, yes he does have a thing for the Lakers. Great win and the poise of Eubanks is impressive, not to mention Bynum’s defensive prowness. Let’s keep up the intensity for Game 2.

  5. @ Steve

    Yeah–that’s a little bit like saying “LA played pretty good against SAS except for that stretch of the second quarter where the Spurs scored 16 in a row”–so what? They got smoked. I don’t know what Bark’s problem is–but fortunately–he’s an idiot–so the more he criticizes LA the better–if he starts predicting Laker success, that is when I will get nervous

  6. Great recap, good job of painting a picture of the game for those of us that missed it. Amazing how well the offense works when role players can hit open shots.

    My favorite play from that highlight reel is Bynum’s quickness when he switched onto Lawson. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him move his feet that quickly.

  7. Good summary Darius.

    Lakers fate depends on defense.

    Even though Andrew Bynum is the NBA’s best offensive center, his defensive dominance will lead to Lakers success.

  8. Flashbacks of Shaq ‘turning it on for the playoffs’

    15 more to go.

  9. @3&4: he obviously got that from the box score. The Lakers only outscored the Nuggets by 2 in the last 3 quarters. But, saying what Barkley said is a typical reaction to only looking at the box score.

  10. Jordan Hill will make more of a contribution to Lakers defensive pressure than Derrick Fisher would have. Trading Dead Fish and 1st round for Hill was a good decision.

    Hill’s play is lessening regret from not acquiring Beasley at the deadline.

    Glad Dead Fish is OKC’s problem now.

  11. Awesome recap, as usual.

    Harold, my thoughts exactly.

    The important thing now is to not let go of the gas pedal… the Lakers tend to stop taking their opponents seriously after blowing them out, which is always a recipe for disaster.

  12. Rondo just bumped the referee. Will he get a suspension?

  13. Wow. GameCast watching – did Rondo really just get ejected with 40 seconds left?

  14. Leperchauns are imploding. hahaha

    felipe: by the letter of the law no question.

  15. @Snoopy #13: he got a technical for a call on the floor against the Cs and then chest bumped the ref.

  16. Well the C’s are about to lose game 1 and now Rondo bumps an official. Looks as if Boston will be headed back home down 0-2, since bumping a ref guarantees an individual @ least a 1 game suspension. Meaning more than likely, they’ll lose game 2 … Oh well, it is what it is. Now on to the series that, besides ours, is the 1 I’m looking forward to viewing the most.

  17. Rondo will surely miss at least one, if not more games. Didn’t he chuck a ball at a ref in the past? If NBA suspensions take player history into account (and the lat week has certainly reinforced that they do), I would think that 2 or 3 games would not be a stretch.

  18. @ 13 Snoopy2006 Yes, Rondo did not like a foul call when Hawks and Celtics scrambling for the ball, clapped his has in front of the referee, called for a technical foul and bumped him and was tossed from the game. He will likely be suspended for Game 2, just cannot bump the referee.

  19. This was a great start for the Lakers, but let’s not get too giddy (as usual). Keep in mind I predicted Lakers in 6 this series, but I am still saying – let’s not get giddy. One playoff game + I am already seeing predictions for us into the finals? The pendulum swings more wildly on this board than it does in a Edgar Allan Poe movie.

  20. David Stern may finesse by suspending Rondo for regular season games. Playoff game suspensions hurt team, but don’t cost players money.

    If Lakers win Denver playoff series, MWP will have only lost 1/82 salary.

  21. Well if the suspension goes through, the Heat really are going to cakewalk to the Finals. I was hoping to see Boston and Miami beat each other up in the ECF.

  22. Rondo will get suspended for one game. It was a horrible call by the official, but a really stupid reaction by Rondo.

  23. Take in consideration that most of Barks comments are based on the thousands of dollars he bet on that game.

  24. Like AusPhil noted, the previous offense:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8BPf2Bz5uA

    The current one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFsVR08jTTs

    I hope Stern takes into account the fact that he’s a REPEAT OFFENDER. Does that sound familiar, Stern?

  25. Ko: Barkley loses most of his money at blackjack : )

    PS: I am waiting for my response on my prediction : ) I am still with you on being a little reserved relative to many on this board.

  26. Just saw the video (link above, once my post gets out of moderation). I don’t know if it was an awful call by the ref, to be honest. Yes, almost anything goes when they’re scrambling on the floor, but Bass pretty clearly clobbered him in the face. I don’t have a problem with that foul call.

    Looks like he stumbled on the ref’s foot, but I think he had his balance before chest-bumping him. Plus after you just got T’d up, not smart to keep advancing towards the ref.

  27. Clips could get sweep. Griz are by far a better coached, better defenders and have better players.

    Boy fans sure dislike Griff. He may surpass LJ as most hated player in league.

    I expect a fist fight in this series. Glad Lakers don’t have to play these guys. They are tough!

  28. Chris Webber needs more broadcaster training. Comments range from cliche to the obvious.

    Somebody please alley-oop Webber …

    Jalen Rose is much better.

  29. Clippers playing “great” after one quarter (sarcastic, obviously). This younger Gasol sure looks great. Griz more than doubling up on the Clips.

  30. Ahhhh …. I have fond memories of Webber though, of Rick Fox successfully baiting him into a second T (I think it was) not to mention the game winner Horry hit over Webb in the same series.

    Plus, didn’t Webber almost go to the big house behind money he took back in college?

    He’s a loveable fool.

  31. 28

    It could be worse. We could be listening to Reggie Miller. (That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.)

  32. clippers lead the league in comebacks down 10+.

  33. I know Z-Bo is a great offensive player (I’ve been saying this since he was in college) but he definitely isn’t a great defender. Specially challenging shots inside.

  34. We need a sweep in this series by Memphis so they can be ready for SA (who will probably sweep Utah). We can’t afford to have Miami, SA, + OKC with “clear paths” to the Lakers. They will be getting 2 shots plus the ball enough when the refs have MWP on a tight leash.

  35. The Clippers’ defense is abominable.

  36. griffin has had this deer-caught-in-the-headlights expression on his face all game long.

  37. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Clippers can’t win this series with Mike Conley outplaying Chris Paul.

  38. Either Memphis is the best team in the history of the NBA or the Clippers are worse then anyone could believe.

    Can’t imagine Griz will Lose more then one game. See ya Vinnie. Stock in Blake’s car ads we see 30 times a day is slumping faster then World Peace T-Shirts.

    5-game series for Junk City.

  39. 24-1 run – wow

  40. WoW.

    I love the playoffs.

  41. holy schnikes.

  42. Now THAT is not what I was expecting to see happen in the 4th.

    Amazing.

  43. Totally not expecting that. Grizzlies just rolled over. Not once did they go into the post with Gasol in that 28-3 run.

  44. WOW!!

    That’s All I Have To Say.

    WOW!!

  45. Just goes to show that a team shouldn’t let its guard down until they hear the final buzzer, especially during the playoffs.

  46. How many games did we play with Bynum on this defense-mindset?

    3? Besides tonight, our victory over SAS and I think there was another game like that, where Bynum scores very little but has a bunch of blocks/rebounds.

    That’s the way to go! We always win when Bynum gets his mojo on D.

    Please, please…Just keep doing that, Socks!!!!

  47. Are there any tall bridges in Memphis?

    Never seen anything like that in the playoffs.

    Since that 18 point lead the Lakers lost in the playoffs that is.

    Very bad coaching by Hollins.

  48. I hope Bynum could do this defensive performance vs a pick n roll team like the Spurs!

  49. What Clippers and OKC accomplished in winning a lost game are the Playoffs Surprises? Durant has to play clutch and save a game. It is also premature to celebrate early and dismiss a team after leading big in the first half or winning the first game. Playoffs are about defense, closing and controlling the games, adjustments and peaking at the right moment. Get ready for all contingencies like Bulls having to rally their playoff hopes without their Superstar or the Magic winning against odds of winning w/o Dwight in Indiana.

    I hope the Lakers will not be overconfident on Tuesday after taking the first game. It is not finished until the overcome the Nuggets in Mile High City. One thing I can say about the Nuggets in this playoffs, they get rid of the Thuggets. It was transformed into mini-Knicks led by Gallinari and Harrington.

  50. This was a great start for the Lakers, but let’s not get too giddy (as usual).

    Correct. Karl will make some adjustments, and some of the questions about Brown revolve around adjustments. Afflalo and Lawson can play better.

    Don’t get me wrong–the Lakers will probably win this series, and the additions of Sessions and Hill are helpful. But the Lakers will be definite underdogs if they play OKC in RD 2.

  51. Great discipline shown by the lakers on both ends of the floor. They were quick to react on every man and was always there to hold any transition attempt by the nuggets. On the offensive end the lakers took care of the ball well and they only turned it over only after the offensive foul against kobe. Just hope that they would maintain this intensity and discipline all throughout the playoffs.

  52. Epic choke job by Memphis. Clips bench won them that game and chris paul will win 2 alone himself. Only way Memphis wins is if it goes 7.

  53. West playoffs are going to be unreal. East playoffs not so much. It’s a damn shame D Rose and D Howard are out. Might as well fast forward Lebron back to the finals. I just hope whoever comes out of the west is healthy.

    The West is anybody’s game. OKC got lucky they survived game 1. Clips as well. Scary how good the Grizz looked at first, and amazing how bad they looked losing that lead. Lakers and Spurs both looked solid, but who knows how they’ll respond.

    As far as the Lakers go, great play by the guys who we expected to play great, but I want to point out Jordan Hill. He was a sneaky good pick up, because when Gasol or Bynum go out, we don’t lose much on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, today he came in and rotated better than either guy on the screen/roll and set a standard for those 2 to play with better energy in the paint. Gotta love that. Also, super happy for Ebanks and Blake. If they give us 2 or 3 games like that every series, we will play for a long time.

  54. @38

    Standing by your prediction?

    @47 is realistic …

  55. not sure if anyone noticed but Eyenga could be the sleeper chemist for this team..World class towel waving!

  56. The playoffs are all about the scouting and adjustments the coaching staff has to do, and then the players executing for 48min. Too bad 2 of the best 5 in the game are out after one game. Durant,Kobe, and James remaining

  57. One of the best games I’ve seen the Lakers play all season long. What a difference a little rest makes in getting some strong effort out of this team.

    If Bynum plays like he did yesterday during the entire playoffs, with high energy and looking to help on defense even when he’s not being made the focal point of the offense every time down the court then we are going to be a VERY hard team to beat.

    I get on Bynum a lot, but man when he plays the game HARD and he is engaged and motivated he’s one hell of a big man and kudos to the Lakers, and Jim Buss, for spotting his potential and working to develop it.

    15 more wins remaining.

  58. Andrew Bynum is pretty good. It was only the second time in NBA playoff history that a player had a triple-double including blocked shots. Hakeem Olajuwon had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocked shots against the Lakers in 1990. Anytime you break a Kareem record and tie Hakeem…

    Travis,
    It wasn’t a sneaky good pick up for those who have seen Jordan Hill play before. He has been a good back up PF his entire career. Everyone who looked at stats and scouting reports or game film knew how big both trades were for the Lakers. Replacing Derek Fisher and Troy Murphy with Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill???? That’s such an incredible upgrade for a team. Removing two D League players with two good players. I mean wow.

  59. Travis,
    Oh… The sneaky pick up was Christian Eyenga. That guy is clearly an NBA SG. This guy is gonna be a bad NBA starting SG and a good back up SG at the very least. Just the way the guy moves and his coordination.

  60. 56 – Chris Paul would like to have a word with you.

    Eyenga has big shoes to fill. Our last true towel-waiver was one of the best in Turiaf. I miss Ronny’s antics on the bench. Can we bring back the Machine from Europe to play that role next year?

  61. towel-waver*

  62. Great recap. A great team victory. Our big 3 came thru very nicely w/ major contributions (Bynum, 10 blocks, Kobe, 31 pts, Gasol 8 assist, ). Ebanks, J Hill, Blake, Sessions all looked cool, calm & collected as they all had their moments. I’m excusing Barnes, since he was just coming back from injury.

    So far, MWP suspension has not hurt Lakers. As a matter of fact, at least for this game, it helped. Ebanks has to be feeling great going forth, based on his 1st big post-season game. Scoring 12 points on 5-6 shooting & grabbing 5 rebounds in 19 minutes.

    I’m so satisfied with the win, I won’t even complain about Kobe’s old habit of taking more fta’s (24) than both his 7 footers combined (21). Guys who block 10 shots & pull down 13 rebounds like touch the ball on the offensive side also.

    Only five more games to go before the NBA once again experiences World Peace. In a related matter James Harden looked pretty good scoring 19 points for the Thunder on Saturday :-).

  63. One of the best Laker towel waivers of all time: John Salley

  64. Apparently Jordan Hill is being charged with felony assault? I hoPe it’s not true

  65. Three words:

    Andrew “Kraken” Bynum!

    After the win against the Spurs, Andrew went into conservation mode during games. No idiot…Bynum having tutored under the great Phil Jackson saved his best for the championship run.

    I criticized Bynum relentlessly, yet I also stated that he might be saving his energy for the playoffs. So, I was wrong to think that I knew what he was doing, and I was right in that I thought he shut it down for the playoffs.

    Only 15 more dominant games on that par and Andrew will hoist the MVP trophy for the finals.

    Noted: NO one in this league wanted the Lakers to get it together, for the very reason of the results of game 1.

    The thing I like about MB this season is that he gave every player on that team an opportunity to play. He even managed to squeeze in a few minutes for Eyenga in the last game of the season.

    Kudos to MB for withstanding all the endless comments about his coaching ideologies.

    MWP hurry back and continue to play like you did the last month of the season. Get your mind right and play under control. The Lakers need you!

  66. Terrible news given his recent performance: Jordan Hill has just been charged with felony assault in the state of Texas for “choking a family member” back in February: http://www.tmz.com/2012/04/30/jordan-hill-felony-choking-family-member-los-angeles-lakers/#.T57EhsRYuUc

    This could really derail the progress made in improving our bench… I just hope he can still contribute this year.

    (To be fair, it is by TMZ – hope it’s false)

  67. Jordan Hill was charged for a 3rd degree felony for choking a family member back in Feb. of this year.

    Probably done for the season.

  68. That’s really a big distraction to the Lakers because Jordan Hill contributes a huge lift in the PF position. The crime is 3rd degree felony involving a family member but he could be out on bail in the next few days. Can he still play after being charged? Do the Laker F/O aware of this problem when they got him? Is this similar to Ron Artest brushed with the law when he was with the Kings? Lots of questions that is not related to basketball but could affect the Lakers in the playoffs with two players out.

  69. Here’s a link with some more comforting reporting: a new Grantland piece (not Simmons) about Bynum’s dominant playoff performance: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7871484/los-angeles-lakers-andrew-bynum

  70. I’m not going to touch on the Hill issue much, but I think it’s too early to tell how this affects his status for the rest of the season.

  71. is that your expert legal opinion, travis?

  72. Sorry about the Aaron-style rapid fire posts, but I also wanted to add that Rondo CLEARLY stumbled into the ref after stepping on his heel – Rondo’s story about the ref just stopping randomly and it being accidental seem pretty credible. Marc Davis wasn’t even facing him – he had no idea why he got hit and immediately reacted with the ejection signal. Clearly, the explosive angry reaction by Rondo + other Celtics right before that influenced his thought process (prob for good reason).

    Can we please not have referees with bigger egos than the players? Or at least make them take an eye test and run a few laps.

  73. How often have we seen players miss pkayoff games due to legal troubles. This is a basketba site. If you want to push your morals on others I would go to a different site. We are about basketball on here. Plus… Historically many charges against rich athletes have a tendency to be false.

  74. Aaron – thats true.

    But he’ll have to go to Houston to be arraigned once the paperwork is in – and since its a felony, he will likely be on bail restrictions. The Judge “may” permit him bail with the permission to cross state lines – but he doesn’t “have” to.

    Also – no telling what type of effect this has on Hill’s psyche (just coming off from injury, playing well, then being charged with a felony with a minimum of 2 years jail time.)

    This is not a story to be taken lightly.

  75. somebody on here said they thought bynum was “coasting” till the offs and they may have been correct…aaron dead on about the PG issue WE HAVE ONE!!! Lakers looked dominant and how many times have we said that this year?

  76. >>>Anybody still questioning bynums heart?
    >>>hmmm. i didnt think so.

    I would wait for at least a couple more games. His defense still fluctuates wildly, and more than often he looks lost and disinterested.

  77. what do you guys think about Ebanks? the kid looks legit…like Ron his hands slapping nearly every loose ball, has major hops, a nice 15 foot jumper…too bad it took soooo long to get him into the rotation

  78. I’m torn between being almost giddy over how good the Lakers looked yesterday, and being very grateful that I’m not a Bulls fan. It seems unfair to them.

  79. 1/2decaf1/2regular: Bynum ” On defense it’s always about heart” Seems he’s admitting his heart wasn’t always in it on defense and defense only.

    Don’t think it’s a coincidense this came out today. I’m not worried kobe will have them focused.

  80. “Anybody still questioning bynums heart?”

    Settle down. Loved the performance, but it’s 1 game. If you base conclusions based on 1-game samples, then we can say Bynum has huge heart based on his 30-rebound game against the Spurs, or we can say he has no heart after his lethargic play against the Wizards, or after his PnR defense was so bad against the Thunder that Hill had a greater impact on the game.

  81. Hopefully this situation will not cost Hill time away from these playoffs. If it does, it is the type of hit we can’t afford. Our competitors are getting easier paths to get to us, so we need a break or two as well (not the opposite). Hopefully Hill can clear this up without lost time. Let’s see what happens, but let’s not pretend we can absorb MWP, Hill, + any additional calamity and not miss a beat. I am only cautioning, because we are on a 1 game winning streak, which means almost complete giddy overconfidence for FBG – of course we are also only 1 game away from “we are doomed” : )

  82. Nuggets fan, here. Darius, I was wondering what you think about a couple of things…

    I thought before the game (and even more so now) that the Nuggets best set against the Lakers would be the P&R or P&P with Gallo handling. It seemed to work but we went away from it. Do you think it’s anything the Lakers did to counter it, or did we just blow it by getting away from it?

    It’s my opinion that we should always double Bynum, pick our spots doubling Kobe, and play Gasol straight up (unless we enjoy being picked apart by his double-team passing). What would you do if you were the Nuggets?

    Thanks, and I enjoyed reading your take on the game.

  83. Bynum: Great game; great player, however he is what I would call a front runner. When things go well, they really go well for AB. Let’s see how he responds to foul trouble, missed calls, lack of shots, or the Lakers falling behind.
    Lakers: Let’s not forget the Laker weakness against teams with great PG’s. So the fact that we should handle Denver does not improve our ability to stop Westbrook or Parker.

  84. #86. DH,
    First off, nice to see a Nuggets fan stop by. We welcome fans from other teams here to discuss the game(s) in a nuanced manner. So, thanks for stopping by.

    As to your questions, Gallo handling in the P&R would be an interesting wrinkle. However, I’d be interested in knowing what position he’s playing and who the screener would be. For example, if he’s playing SF and Ebanks/Barnes are on him, I’m not sure if that’s as big an advantage if, say, he was playing PF and Gasol or Jordan Hill were on him (since they’re not accustomed to dealing with on ball screens while defending the ball handler). I’d also say that who the screener is matters b/c if it’s a small player screening (say, Afflalo or Harrington) the Lakers could simply switch the screen and not give up much defensively. If it’s a big man screening (Koufus, McGee) it could prove more effective as you could potentially have a 4/5 P&R with two bigs trying to defend the action vs a versatile offensive threat in Gallo.

    As for your defensive strategy, doubling will always be tricky because any Laker – including Bynum – can make the right read. I’d say that Kobe and Gasol are a fair amount better than Bynum at making the correct read/pass, however. So, I’d probably continue to double Bynum a lot, though I’d vary my looks. Sometimes I’d double on the catch, sometimes on a dribble; sometimes from the same side wing, sometimes from the baseline, sometimes from the middle. I’d switch up the action to try and make his reads more difficult.

    As for Kobe and Gasol, I’d probably double them less often and only depending on who is defending them. Both should command a double in certain situations (when deep in the post, after taking a dribble) but as with Bynum, the looks should vary and it shouldn’t happen all the time. When both are operating from the foul line and down, I’d probably send same side help just to disrupt their rhythm as much as I could and to make the defensive rotations as easy as possible. Because when you double from the opposite side – especially before they’ve committed their dribble – they’ll pick out the open man and the extra pass will lead to an open shot.

  85. Darius,

    Thanks for the reply. On the Gallo P&R, I would vary it, but my favorite scenario goes like this: Gallo is at the 3, with Ebanks guarding. The screener is Moz (ideally with Bynum guarding him) or Harrington, and it’s actually a pick and pop. Moz can knock down the 15-footer and Harrington can hit either a mid-range shot or a 3. Afflalo is in the far corner and Ty is also spotting up for a 3 (they can both shoot much better than they did yesterday). And the other big is at the far elbow, looking to dive. Gallo is a pretty good decision-maker and is also adept at drawing the foul. At least this would make the entire defense work a little, as it should force good rotations. Of course, it all depends heavily on shooters making their shots.

  86. The Hill thing looks pretty scary, bruises on her legs and upper body, photos, the girlfriend and a friend of hers as witnesses. Maybe they waited to prosecute because she finally agreed to testify ???

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/sports&id=8641977

    Just when I start to feel good about this team … sigh …

  87. #90. DH,
    Basically, what you’re describing is the Orlando set where they run the Hedo/Howard P&R. With the proper spacing, this play can work but Gallo must be a threat to turn the corner or the hedge man’s decision is much easier. Also, if it’s solely a pick and pop, I think the Lakers are fine giving up shots to Mozgov from 15 feet. I also think they’re comfortable with guys taking long two pointers in general.

    The key to Denver’s game, imo, is for them to play at a tempo that forces the Lakers’ D to defend when not completely set. If they become too half court focused, I think scoring will be harder against a dialed in D. We saw this when they made their run to cut the lead to 4 before the Lakers extended it back to double figures. I also think the player that needs to do more is Lawson. But I’m sure you’d agree there.

  88. Thanks again, Darius. I agree with you on both the Lawson statement and the pace statement. I’m only talking about when we are forced into a half-court set. And I’m assuming Lawson will continue to struggle. I think we have enough of a Lawson vs. Lakers sample size now to conclude that he has some work to do on his game before he’s ready for this matchup. So we have to use him in different ways (as a spot-up shooter and fast break weapon, mostly) and/or keep him on a short leash in this series. Of course, I hope I’m completely wrong about him. Anyway, I’m glad I dropped by and I’m looking forward to the game tomorrow.