Are The Lakers Playing Too Slow?

Darius Soriano —  May 11, 2012

Yes. Yes, they are.

The way playoff series’ evolve is one of my favorite part of the second season. The way game plans get tweaked with adjustments countering adjustments and both sides playing chess on a 94′ x 50′ piece of hardwood captivates me as a fan. There are few things better than watching the players, in the moment and over the course of every successive contest, react and adjust as the game within the game shifts like the colors in a kaleidoscope.

And this series, while disappointing to me on countless fronts, has provided all the requisite twists to be an entertaining one. The Lakers have gone from clearly in control to the cusp of elimination in a free for all scheduled for Saturday night. How they’ve gotten there has a lot to do with the Nuggets, but the Lakers also have their issues to sort out that are mostly of their own making.

Mainly, the game has slowed too much.

When this series started I was banging the “Lakers must control the tempo” drum as loud as any other person analyzing the match up. Making sure the Lakers played the game at their pace was as important, to me at least, as any statistical output you could name. And, after the first two games, the Lakers played exactly the way I would have wanted them to in that regard while cruising to two wins. They pounded the paint through post ups and offensive rebounding chances, got back in transition while making the Nuggets jump shooters, and worked patiently through most possessions in a precise, clinical manner. I felt validated.

However, as the series has progressed the Nuggets have turned the Lakers’ want to play a half court game against them.

By walking the ball up the court, the Lakers are using precious seconds of the shot clock to set up their half court offense. A half court offense that is increasingly more stagnant due to the Nuggets defensive approach of sagging off all shooters and treating the area inside the three point line like a safe zone from a nuclear blast. The Nuggets have become more than content to let the Lakers initiate their offense with 15 seconds left on the clock and look for post up chances that lead to nothing but a kick out pass after a hard double team or a swing of the ball around the perimeter as post entry angles are cut off. All those passes lead to are jumpers in the half court; jumpers that the Nuggets are more than happy to cede because they lead to run out chances of their own, igniting the open court attack they thrive on to produce points.

Plus, in the process of slowing the game down, Ramon Sessions’ game has been neutered. This walk it up style has turned him into a chained cheetah who only gets to let off the leash to run around in a caged in back yard. He’s relegated to walking the ball up and put into half court possessions 65 times a game where he can’t use his speed or quickness often enough. Sessions has been relegated into a spot up/pull up jump shooter and that’s never been the strength of his game. He’s still good enough to get some baskets at the rim, but can anyone honestly say he’s had an impact on this series?

But accommodating Sessions isn’t exactly the key to winning a series. That, of course, is getting sustained high level production out of the Lakers’ bigs. As mentioned earlier, though, that’s simply not happening right now. Bynum and Gasol no longer get easy baskets. On nearly every possession they’re surrounded by defenders who are looking to disrupt every move they hope to make. Sure, the Lakers can tweak their half court sets (please, please do this Mike Brown) by incorporating more screen actions. Plus, better and quicker ball movement can help get them the ball easier without passing angles being as easily disrupted. The bigs can also help themselves out by making their moves quicker after the catch rather than holding the ball and waiting for the second (and third) defender to interfere. But getting the ball via rim-runs and other quick hitting actions in early offensive sets can only aid them in getting on  track.

This is a point that can’t be stressed enough because Gasol and Bynum need to get on track. At this point it’s more than fair to say that they’ve both had long stretches where they’ve checked out mentally/stopped trying as hard as possible (and that’s putting it nicely). Last night Bynum showed some effort on the glass but close to none when protecting the paint in help situations (where he’s needed just as much as on the glass). Gasol was even worse in that not only did he not rebound well, he didn’t defend well either. When you combined with their “efforts” in transition defense, the Lakers bigs were actively hurting the team.

And while I’m not trying to excuse how they’ve played (re-read that again, please), I do understand that the way the series has evolved must be frustrating for Gasol and Bynum. Pau’s only clean looks come from jumpers and Bynum hasn’t had more than one or two in a single game  since game 2. And while I’m fully of the mind that neither should let their offensive frustrations bleed into the defensive responsibilities, I think we can all agree that it is. Neither are contesting shots the way they need to, rebounding with any sort of physicality (a lot of Bynum’s 16 were stand still rebounds), or running back on D with any sense of urgency.

As much as we’d like it to be, possessions aren’t compartmentalized in an NBA game. What happens on one side of the floor affects what happens the next time down on both sides of the ball. And at this point the Lakers bigs look they’ve been beaten down not just because the Nuggets are working hard and playing them physically, but because the strategy on how to get them going hasn’t really changed with the results, predictably, being the same as well. Again, I make no excuses for the Lakers bigs. But if the wings aren’t making shots and they keep facing the same hard doubles and shaded passing angles every possession for 3 straight games, something is going to give. And, with that frustration reaching a crescendo, it’s been their effort.

There are a lot of things wrong with the way the Lakers are playing right now. And it would be disingenuous for me to claim that one simple fix like speeding up the game is going to turn the series around. But, again, the pace is now too slow and it’s making what should have been a Lakers’ strength – their big man play – neutral at best. Adjustments will need to be made to their half court sets to partially off-set some of the double teaming. The Lakers wings making shots would help a great deal too. But, at this point, the Lakers must also start to take advantage of the Nuggets in the open court and get easier shots.

With only one game left, long term strategy to beat Denver is out the window. The result from this one game will be the difference between advancing and an even longer summer vacation. The Lakers must do everything they can to win. And, from where I sit, that means speeding up the game some.

Darius Soriano

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83 responses to Are The Lakers Playing Too Slow?

  1. I agree we are playing slow, but if we pick up the tempo how is Bynum going to be engaged? Dude lugs around the court so much that if we ran our sets faster, he would never have time to get to the other side of the court.

  2. Yeah, I don’t understand why Sessions isn’t allowed to dictate the offense every once in a while instead of simply throwing the ball into the post. He was brought in for his speed and ability to get to the basket, but I rarely see him use it. Rather, he seems forced to slowly bring the ball up, wait for the bigs to get into position, and then throw them the ball. In the regular season, Sessions has been shown to be a good pick and roll player. I don’t know why that isn’t being incorporated because there are few teams that can defend the pick-and-roll well.

    It’s good to have a half-court offense, but if the Lakers continue to show the Nuggets the same thing, they’re going to get into a groove defensively, and it’s fairly apparent that this is the case with the Nuggets right now. That’s why I feel that it’s good to mix things up every now and then to keep them off balance. That would hopefully result in defensive mistakes, which would then lead to easy baskets or defensive mismatches that could be exploited.

    Granted, this is not the cure-all for the Lakers’ woes, but it would certainly help. It’s certainly stupid to continue to do the same things like the last two games. The end result can only be the same then. The playoffs are about making adjustments. The Nuggets have made theirs. It’s time to see the Lakers do theirs as well.

  3. MannyP:

    I dunno. There would be a perverse sort of entertainment value to us picking up the pace and counting the possessions where Bynum never crosses the freethrow line before the ball is going the other way.

    Watching him disinterestedly meander his way between the two freethrow lines for upwards of ten minutes at a time might be worth the switch in tempo for the unintentional comedy value alone. It would be like a Gameplay Enforced Suicide Drill.

    Upon further reflection, I would love to see Bynum punished like this for long stretches at a time.

  4. “…due to the Nuggets defensive approach of sagging off all shooters and treating the area inside the three point line like a safe zone from a nuclear blast.”

    Can someone explain why Blake and Sessions don’t shoot the ball when this happens? They’re completely unguarded. It’s practically a shootaround shot for them. I know both can make it consistently. Why not shoot and force the defender to play honest D?

  5. Not enough blame is being put on Doodoo Brown. No adjustments what so ever! All brown ever talks about is defense but in my opinion there defense has been ok (in the half court). Whats hurting them is the offense. Brown has not made any significant adjustments offensively leading to very poor shot selecction, leading to easy run outs, leading to 30 point blow out losses and hopefully leading to the firing of doodoo brown this offseason.

  6. Funky Chicken May 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Darius, I completely agree that the tempo needs to be picked up, and share in your plea for Mike Brown to tweak their half court sets.

    However, Brown’s track record for adjustments leaves a lot to be desired. Given that, do you still think that Goudelock should not be getting any minutes?

    He’s a guy who can (and will) shoot from distance, but also put the ball on the floor and has an effective mid-range game. In doing so, he pressures the defense in ways that Blake simply can’t do.

    While AG might have defensive limitations, the Lakers biggest problem right now is their offensive stagnation. For the reasons you explained (but rightly did not use to justify…), the offensive effort is bleeding into the other side of the ball.

    Perhaps by inserting the best shooter on the team, and a guy who can get into the lane and draw Denver’s “bigs” away from the basket to help, he might open things up a little more for our front line guys, and that in turn might give them the boost they need to actually start trying on the defensive end. Thoughts?

  7. Jim C,
    You must actively loathe Bynum to actually write that you’d prefer he fail and/or be embarrassed for your own entertainment value – especially when he plays for a team you root for. I can understand critique, but outright rooting against seems odd.

    Ryan,
    I think these players have lost confidence in their shots and/or are searching for better shots rather than taking the open one quickly.

    Manny P,
    Bynum can play at a quicker pace. He’s been a rim-runner at various points of this season and has done well at it in the past too. Plus, the Lakers have a rotation of bigs now. If he’s tired, he can go to the bench and rest. The way I see it, at least for one game, they can shift to a quicker tempo when the opportunity is there.

  8. We do not want to run with Denver, but we can’t just walk every possession up either. My understanding of what Brown wants to do on offense is pretty simple. He wants the guards to push. Get up the court quickly, giving us more to to run the offense or even take advantage of a transition match up. That is not happening at all. The ball has been walked up nearly every time.

    Of course shooting is still the key. Last night, nobody other then Kobe wanted to take a jumper, instead there was a lot of driving into the already crowed paint. Sessions, Blake, Barnes and now Metta need to hit some shots. They are all capable because that is how we were winning without Kobe. I think Metta will be enough to get us the win in game 7 but if a few shots don’t start to fall it really won’t matter because we will not get past OKC.

  9. The Lakers better start getting their a$$es in gear if their do not want to be known for being eliminated early again in the playoffs.

  10. Darius Soriano:
    I’m not a big fan of Bynum to be sure, but I think you misinterpreted my words a bit.

    If you go back and reread, I think you’ll see that I was being a bit sarcastic and making a comment on Bynum’s lack of effort and nothing I said was hoping that the Lakers fail.

    I think Bynum needs discipline to get his head on straight. I think the Laker organization has pandered to him and coddled him and are, in large part, to blame for his current immaturity issues and acting out.

    Basically, I think he needs to be running suicides in practice to drive home the point that he’s part of a TEAM and will be punished when he actively sabotages the team.

    Do I think it would be in the Lakers’ LONG TERM best interests for Bynum to get a few hard lessons and discipline to reacquaint him with the concept of maturity and the concept of a TEAM? Absolutely. Is Game Seven the time to do it? Not really.

    Was I serious in suggesting that I want Mike Brown to run a game-long suicide drill in a Game Seven?

    Shame on you for assuming that. Obviously not. It’s a sarcastic joke, nothing more.

  11. This is a good post. As I’ve said on many occasions, SLOWTIME doesn’t work. As big as these guys are, they simply are not aggressive enough to make their size an advantage. I think sometimes that they have been over-coached and seem to overthink each possession. What the Lakers need is another fluid scorer-creator to help take the load off of Kobe. Much like what Chris Paul would have brought to the team. And they definitely need better shooters off the bench.

    This reminds me of a football team that wants to pound the ball on the ground all game long but has no receivers to keep the secondary honest. In the Lakers case, Management has done a poor job of adding REAL shooters to this team. There is no true balance and the Nuggets are exploiting this in a major way. I dont think BYnum or Gasol will ever change, they simply play the game at a different speed, you cannot teach the tenacity that Kobe talks about, they just dont POSSESS it! And it can’t be coached. Kupchak and Buss have some major work to do in the soon to be here off-season.

  12. 1 – Simple, just have Drew stay back on the offensive end so that he can cherry pick. You won’t notice much of a difference on defense.

    People calling for Pau to skip the Olympics are being unrealistic. While I’d like a summer of rest for him too, we’re talking about the Olympics. Many of us would be upset if our best players didn’t represent the US on the world’s biggest stage, and that’s in a country that values NBA ball over international ball. To expect Pau to pass up the opportunity to wear his national colors at the Olympics – as one of the best players on the 2nd best team in the world – isn’t realistic. And frankly if MB insists on playing everyone maximum minutes every night, I’m not sure Pau wouldn’t wear down anyway.

    I’d like to see Goudelock as well. But I can understand MB breaking out in a sweat at the thought of GLock guarding Andre Miller. He’ll get torn apart much worse than even Blake. But the contributions he makes on the offensive end could (ideally) balance that out, and more. We don’t have a ton of personnel options left at this point. I’d say it’s a better move than playing Murphy, who’s a reluctant shooter and would take minutes away from Hill.

    If Pau especially continues his struggle in Game 7, I’d like to see Hill play big minutes. If we’re not going to get anything on offense from Pau, Hill’s PnR defense is by far the best among our bigs. Hill at least brings a couple things to the table every single night.

  13. The slow pace is the fault of 2 people – Brown and #17 (he no longer is deserved of name recognition).

    1st – #17 can’t handle playing a fast paced game. He’s not fit enough, doesn’t get up the court enough, and doesn’t have the knees that can handle that type of strain. While he can rim run in stretches (read 3 or 4 plays before he’s exhausted), its his ultimate weakness and why he is not a franchise player. And if he rim runs and doesn’t get the ball – game over. Because he will just give up if perhaps another Laker takes a wide open shot – even when that shot is the right play.

    2nd – Brown was scared of Denver, and he translated that fear to his guards. It is one thing to establish the pace. It is another for all 5 guys to be on the court and the point guard dribbles at the top outside the 3 point line because its too afraid to go too quickly.
    As slow as the Lakers were in their championship years – they never played scared of another team. Some teams are going to be better at skills than you – but to be a true championship contender, you need to be able to play the game on all of the terms. This doesn’t mean make it a 48 minute run and gun, but it means that if it happens, to not freak out, and prove to the other team that its not as effective as they want it to be.
    Denver knows it can run on the Lakers whenever they want. And now they know that when it slows down, they can guard the Lakers and make them rely on Kobe jumpshots.

    How many shots this series ended with Kobe bailouts?
    Why are the Laker guards waiting for the bigs to do something smart?

  14. i cant believe how bad brown has coached and how physically weak gasol is…this is just so disappointing and frustrating…i have nothing to offer besides hopefully the lakers come out like gangbusters MWP better be ready

  15. Jerry West stated several years ago that the Bynum/Gasol duo would be too slow, and would not work.

    With Lamar at PF, the Lakers were able to run back on defense, and were able to produce some easy buckets in transition with Lamar leading the break. This is one of the reasons Phil Jackson continued to prefer Lamar over Bynum in crunch time. Lamar also allowed Pau and Kobe to play to their strengths, allowing them more post up opportunities, opening up the paint for penetration, and allowing the offense to go through the team’s best playmakers.

    Starting from last season, Bynum has become a focal point on offense, and as a result, the entire team has had to sacrifice their game. Pau can no longer play in the post and is relegated to being a floor spreader for Bynum. The beautiful chemistry that Kobe and Pau developed is gone, and when Pau is playing the post with Bynum on the bench, Kobe is usually on the bench as well.

    Kobe’s post up and penetration opportunities have been limited with Bynum and Pau crowding the paint, and as Darius stated, Sessions has also been neutered to accommodate the teams inability to play transition defense and offense….and last but not least, despite the Lakers’ size advantage, they continue to give up offensive boards at an alarming rate, partly due to lack of hustle, but mostly due to their lack of speed and reaction time.

    I believe a fully engaged, all out hustling, defense and team oriented Bynum can make up for the lack of speed and other deficiencies that he is largely responsible for on this team, but with Jim Buss enabling him and placing him on a pedestal that he does not yet deserve, I wonder if Bynum’s immaturity, selfishness, and lack of speed he provides for this team is doing more harm than good. I hope I wrong, but Jerry West seems to right.

  16. Jim C,
    Fair enough. But this is what I read:

    “There would be a perverse sort of entertainment value to us picking up the pace and counting the possessions where Bynum never crosses the freethrow line before the ball is going the other way.”

    Then, this:

    “Watching him disinterestedly meander his way between the two freethrow lines for upwards of ten minutes at a time might be worth the switch in tempo for the unintentional comedy value alone.”

    And finally, this:

    “Upon further reflection, I would love to see Bynum punished like this for long stretches at a time.”

    So, while I may have misinterpreted this or not picked up on the sarcasm, you’ve commented a lot here and this falls in line with your (admitted) dislike of Bynum, only ratcheted up after recent poor play.

    And with that said, yeah, shame on *me* for interpreting it that way.

  17. I hoe I’m wrong, but Jerry West seems to be right.

  18. Pau and Andrew need to stop stealing 35 million dollars from the Buss Family.

    Show up and earn it.

  19. The Lakers are not buying into team defense enough. The rotations to pick up players who break free are slow to nonexistent. Pau keeps playing in no-man’s land: too far from his assignment to stop a jump shot and still giving up drives to the basket. Fortunately, they can make adjustments like playing a more aggressive man to man if Bynum and Gasol can figure out how to protect the rim. That means they need to cover for each other and be able to pick up each others man when one goes for the block. The Lakers are not nearly as bad as they looked last night and can do much to right the ship.

  20. It’s a cruel irony, but I believe some of our problems stem from MB emphasizing the *right* message over the course the season, specifically instilling the instinct in all our guards and SFs not named Kobe to try to get the ball into the post before looking for their own shots. It’s the old adage: You can always get those shots at the end of the shot clock, so why not play inside out? And I think this was absolutely the right idea for the regular season. The problem, or rather one of the problems, is that Karl is using that against us. He completely lets Blake, Sessions, and Barnes be undefended at the three point line until late in the possession, when he then runs defenders out at them (when it’s too late for them to dump it inside). Watching Blake in particular is painful– he dribbles to the 3 point line, looks stunned to find himself so wide open, and you can see the wheels turning (‘I’m wide open… but there’s 16 seconds left on the shot clock… and Kobe and Drew haven’t had a touch yet… and what if I miss…?… but then again, I am wide, wide, wide open…). It’s terrible how well this is working, simultaneously frustrating Drew for his lack of touches and the Little Three for their overabundance of good looks. Maybe the response should be letting Kobe bring the ball up court more and initiating high PnR action with RS– perhaps that might force the D out to the perimeter which might open things up for Drew. I use the Shaq-era Lakers by comparison, and know that Horry and Fox and even George would shoot those open jumpers, but Sessions, Blake and Barnes are a different story.

    The worst thing for me is that I can’t find a narrative for the Lakers’ struggles that isn’t compounded in the next round, meaning I don’t see anything that Denver is doing that can’t be done far more successfully by OKC and, worse still, they have a stronger 5 than Comrade Teal Shoes and a dedicated Kobe-annoyer in what must only be thought of as the Michael Jordan of Switzerland.

    Does it make me a terrible person to miss Jason Kapono? How about Tracy Murray? Yeah, it might.

  21. Here’s a stat for all of you to ponder:

    Kobe had more bags of IV fluids than Pau had points.

  22. The Lakers do need to speed up the tempo a little bit, but not necessarily by taking quicker shots (in fact that would probably be a bad idea). However, they do need to get into their sets faster to look for an early shot opportunity (good shot at the rim) and then if thats not there then set up to run the offense. They are getting into their offense so late that a lot of shots end up being a bail out shot against the shot clock.

  23. Sorry to double-post, but I find this quote from Kobe from last night kind of incredible. There’s something heartbreaking about this level of commitment which strikes me as deeply moving for reasons I don’t quite fully understand:

    “It’s one of those things where psychologically you have to put yourself in a predicament, in a position, where you have no other option but to perform. You have to emotionally put your back to the wall and kind of trick yourself, so to speak, to feel that there’s no other option but to perform and to battle, when you have that, when you have that mindset, your performance shines through, your talent shines through. It doesn’t matter what the defense does. It doesn’t matter because you’re emotionally at a level that is above that. That is the mindset that they have to put themselves in.”


    This is from a guy who didn’t go to college? There are times when I quite sincerely believe that Kobe could be the greatest in the world at matters that have nothing to do with athletic performance.

  24. Darius:

    I’ve always made a distinction between POOR play and “not give a ****” play. You’ll notice that I don’t spend a lot of time picking apart Josh McRoberts or Troy Murphy or most of the rest of the Lakers supporting cast that isn’t really that good anymore, no matter how they may have been earlier in their career.

    I definitely understand that I’m very blatant in my opinion on Bynum and not hesitant to state that opinion, but rooting for Bynum to fail would be like rooting for the LAKERS to fail.

    As a fan, I want to be able to root for Lakers that I like and am proud of. Just like I wouldn’t want the Lakers to trade for J.R. Smith, I don’t think Bynum is representing the Lakers well when he openly and repeatedly mails in playoff games and causes issues off the court. It’s particularly frustrating when you see a player who has never really accomplished anything do this.

    As your post to start this thread pointed out, Gasol hasn’t exactly been fantastic either of late. But you’ll notice that I am much lighter in my criticism of him than I am of Bynum.

    This is because:

    1. Gasol is not at the same place of his career as Bynum.

    Specifically, he’s on the downside of his career/leaving his prime. It doesn’t fully excuse his own lack of focus and effort, but that brings us to point #2.

    2. Gasol has got it done in the past and brought it when it counted in previous years. In other words, he’s gotten a bit more credit in the bank to make withdraws and earn himself a little more forgiveness.

    3. More than any other Laker, he’s adjusted his game to be a lesser option. I suspect he’d be doing better if he was able to operate out of the low post more like he was most effective doing.

    There came a time when Walton and Fisher couldn’t do it anymore. They just didn’t have it. But I always thought of them as Lakers because they wanted to be able to do it. I understood why they were traded and accepted it, but always liked them and WILL ALWAYS like them for what they did. They worked hard and maximized the talent that they had. They cared and tried hard to make the Lakers win.

    Looking back at my previous post, I should have worded it a little differently. Words on a screen do not always convey tone of voice.

    But my biggest and main grief with Bynum isn’t playing BADLY. That’s something that most of the entire current Laker roster has done most of the year.

    My issue is with Bynum not playing HARD.

    Everyone’s seen that video of Bynum openly ignoring Lawson racing past him in transition for a layup without even changing expression or speed 1:30 or so into the game yesterday. That’s something that is the result of openly not caring rather than a lack of effort:

    1. That early in the game, it isn’t fatigue driven.

    2. He doesn’t even make the token “let me reach an arm out” or “run faster for a step or two” or “jump half-heartedly” PRETENSE of caring.

    3. It’s been happening for several games now. How many times have we watched Bynum get beat down the court for a LAYUP at the other end after MADE BASKETS?

    I want Bynum to succeed for the Lakers, not being the next

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derrick_Coleman

    Derrick Coleman. But if he IS going to be the next Derrick Coleman, and we’ve been getting “canary in the coal mine” signs of it going back at least the last couple of years, then I want to see him traded NOW before his value plummets.

    If you know a stock is overvalued and is going to drop, you get maximum value while you still can.

    See also: Attempted trade of Gasol/Odom by Laker front office in last offseason

    Think that Gasol would be accepted as the centerpiece of a front office trade for Chris Paul now?

  25. Doing more running would definitely help with 1 big not both on the floor. I think it’s too late to try a different tempo. The starting lineup the second unit should run after every rebound. The right decisions will have to be made as well and I don’t trust Sessions to make them. He’s been most aggressive with his 1 man fast breaks this series. And has had his most success with the bench lineup.

    The Celtics changed the league with the big 3, then the Lakers changed the league with 2 centers now Miami changed the league to perimeter heavy. Now it’s time for Lakers to change.

  26. Everyone keeps talking about what the Lakers need to do differently, but Kobe is right – they need to fight and leave their hearts out there.

    Denver’s a punk playground team that can’t win playing a normal offense or defense. The only thing they are doing is showing they want it more. Right now, Denver wants it ALOT more.

  27. Jim C,

    There is no cutting of slack for Gasol. The guy had three points and three rebounds in a close out game. That followed the stinker he threw up the previous game. Had he played to his ability in either of those games this series mostly likely would be over.

    The Lakers are trying to win the title this year. Yesterday’s points don’t count for today’s games. And if we were to go off Pau’s past actions we would have to go off his most recent playoff performance. The one where he was invisible through most of the ten games they played last year.

    If you are going to (rightfully) criticize Bynum you need to take Gasol to task as well. He deserves no pass.

  28. @ Kevin – 25.

    Lakers never had the two center model be successful.

    On those Championship teams #17 was a “role” player at best. Say what you will about his talent, he was always injured, and thus not leaned against to bring it all of the time.

    The Lakers Top three players from 2008-2010 were
    Kobe/Pau/Odom.

    That fit #17 perfectly – because he could try once every 5 games, get noticed, and then be able to disappear again.

    In 2011 when they tried to make it become Kobe/Pau/#17 – the Lakers got swept in the 2nd round.

    Now he’s been exposed as a player that doesn’t just not play well consistently, he doesn’t even try well consistently. He wants his points – not Laker wins.

    He’s a player that I defended for a long time because he seemed to care to get better and just seemed stuck with an injury bug. But now, frankly, its become near impossible to root for him because he’s finally healthy and spitting in Laker fans faces.

    Lets not forget – just this year in the win against OKC – #17 was not on the floor in the 4th quarter – because he wasn’t trying all game in that game either. Instead of celebrating his teammates strong effort, he slouched on the bench and made after game comments how he was bummed he couldn’t play the 4th.

  29. This is the second postseason in a row where when things get tough everyone except Kobe, Barnes “fold”. It’s a disconnect and division that Bynum talked about last year and he had to be talking about himself. He is the cancer on this team.

    Looking at this series which Lakers WILL win some things stand out:

    Max said it earlier on 710espn. Mike Brown may be getting outcoached but he is doing his job as hard as he can. I believe that. I don’t see him as a slacker. He has some defencies that hurts the team but he isn’t not trying to make things work. Just not able to make adjustments. Tough 1st year for him.

    Pau, I thought he would come out strong and wipe out any doubt fans had about his status among the elite. But he’s just assured the doubters that he has lost it. His mojo is gone. He’s getting pushed around and outplayed by a rookie. Some of it has to not being utilized right but Faried is playing at a x10 whatever speed Pau is at. Hurts for me to say maybe one of my favorite players ever has fallen off.

    Everyone else on the team is playing hard. Not being utilized right and adjustments are glaring. Through all that the effort is visible from everyone that steps on the court except for Bynum.

    Bynum is holding this team back. He’s caused so much ruckus this season. And I don’t know how you max this guy. Every GM is watching these games and sees what’s going on his value is down as well his potential is the only thing that may save him. All Bynum has to do is play hard and refuses to. He refused to meet with Mitch and continues to refuse to join team huddles in the playoffs. Send him to Jersey.

  30. This is a good post, but there’s a little too much sympathy for the bigs. This is a team game. When your teammates can’t play how they should, that’s an opportunity for to find other ways to win – something MWP does really well. So, if the bigs are doubled on the offensive end (which makes it harder to rebound the missed jump shots) you still have the defensive end to make a play. And rebound.

    Bynum – what happened to “the note to self” after game 1 on playing defense and rebounding?

    As for the offensive side, it’s always had problems, which I put squarely on Brown and his delegation of it to Kuester (a failure in Detroit(!) and he gets to come to LA to redeem himself???).

  31. “Ryan,
    I think these players have lost confidence in their shots and/or are searching for better shots rather than taking the open one quickly. ”

    I don’t believe that they’ve lost confidence. Blake hit a 3 in G4 to extend a 3-pt lead to 6 and ice the game. He wasn’t tentative. I don’t think he doubts that he can hit open looks. It’s obvious Kobe doesn’t doubt Blake – otherwise, he wouldn’t have passed him the ball. Sessions also hit a big 3 in G5 to draw the Lakers closer. He’s hit 3s and midrange jumpers routinely before.

    My only conclusion is that the coaches have instructed Blake/Sessions *NOT* to shoot. That they’re forced to somehow get the ball inside. Which seems asinine. If the defender is sagging that badly, the correct shot is the outside shot. Make ‘em pay for sagging on D.

  32. colin Coward said it best.

    Kobe saying Metta is the only guy he can count on:

    Is like Spelberg saying the only actor he can count on is Linsey Lohan!

    Enough said!

  33. So it’s come to this.

    Faried: 11.2 PTS 10.0 REB 1.3 BLK 52% FG

    Pau: 11.2 PTS 7.8 REB 2.2 BLK 41% FG

    Pau 2011 playoffs: 13.1 PTS 7.8 REB 1.7 BLK 42%

  34. From Friday Forum:

    I don’t think anyone is giving Pau a pass on his play the past four games, however, Pau at least was the no. 2 factor in the Lakers winning two championships. So, Lakers fans have that to hold back on Pau. Additionally, Pau adds at least another three quarters of an NBA season to his career every summer playing with his buddies for Spain. He is showing the signs of that effect at the close of NBA seasons.

    Bynum, on the other hand, is supposed to be the youngster ready to assume the mantle of alpha for the Lakers. Yet, he’s been disengaged since the second game of this series. Why? That’s the question everyone wants to know…why?

    This years Lakers roster is full of holes and everyone knows that the Lakers can only go as far as Kobe, Bynum and Pau takes them. Sprinkle in a reinvigorated MWP on defense and offense with a healthy dose of Barnes (as a hustle player, not a ball-handler or 3-pt specialist). A dab of Ramon Sessions with the stats and confidence from his first few games with the Lakers and the recipe is there for the Lakers to make a deep playoff run.

    Let’s hope that all the Lakers play the game tomorrow as if it’s there last game as a Laker. Sadly, if the Lakers lose for more than half of them this will be true.
    _______________________________________________
    The Lakers are in this predicament for one reason and one reason only: Lack of identity!

    They don’t know if they’re a low post team with a dose of outside shooters and Kobe; or if they’re a shooting team with a bit of post play; or if they’re a defensive team that grabs every rebound; or if they’re a team anchored by 3 stars; or if they’re a team with Kobe and fillers.

  35. Maybe Blake and Sessions are be told by Brown to not shoot that wide open shot early on the shot clock. But if the nuggets are sitting in Pau and Andrew’s lap and leaving a supposed NBA guard WIDE OPEN, don’t you HAVE TO TAKE THE WIDE OPEN SHOT?
    THAT was the beauty of Phil Jackson’s triangle. It empowered players to TAKE WHAT THE DEFENSES GIVE YOU. And if they GIVE YOU WIDE OPEN SHOTS THEN YOU TAKE THEM.
    GLock should have gotten a little playing time last night with the 2nd team. Other than Kobe, he is the only other true scorer and would not be afraid to take and make an effing open jumper.

  36. Funky Chicken May 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Ryan, I think you’ve got it partially right. The players have clearly been instructed not to shoot, but I think there is a qualification to that command. It’s not a blanket prohibition against shooting; it’s an instruction not to shoot before working the shot clock down to single digits (at which point, they tend to defer to Kobe).

    There has been such an emphasis on not playing at a fast tempo that the Lakers end up passing the ball around the perimeter (passing up open shots along the way) rather than putting up shots earlier in the shot clock. This, I think, has been the problem, and it sort of underscores Darius’ point in this column.

    Slowing the tempo was a sound (and obvious) strategy for a big, slow team against a pack of greyhounds like the Nuggets. However, taken to its extreme, this results in long and unproductive possessions that both frustrate the bigs (because defenders need not worry about any perimeter shots in the first 18 seconds of every possession) and then puts the shooters in the more difficult position of having shots late in the shot clock.

    Increasing the tempo isn’t just about pushing the ball up the court quickly; it can be achieved by taking good, open looks when they present themselves. It does run the risk of rebounds leading to runouts, but at this point it seems like a risk worth taking….

  37. A lot of blame is being thrown around to Pau, Bynum and Brown. Some of it well deserved (and placed) and some perhaps not.

    However, I think what is lost in all of this is the most important question of all:

    how does Kobe feel about the lack of execution by Pau and Bynum and the failure of Brown to make the right matchup changes/in-game adjustments to impact the series?

  38. Brown should change his name to The Enabler.

    He allows Andrew to sit where he wants, say what he wants and refuse to do what he is asked to do one the court.

    The enabler did the exact same thing with James and the result was failure and termination.

    The Enabler.

  39. Ko – I think Brown has been far from perfect. But I’ll give him a pass when it comes to his leash w/ Andrew and LeBron.

    Let’s face it – Odom is gone. If Bynum doesn’t feel like playing, Brown doesn’t have much choice. Heck, *NO* NBA coach has a choice. These guys have guaranteed contracts. And stars like Bynum and LeBron will command top salaries no matter how much they slack off.

    That’s why Phil embarrassed players thru the media. He had no other way to motivate players. I don’t think Brown – and most other coaches – are as savvy as PJ.

  40. MannyP – well his impatience was pretty clear from his quotes after the last game. He pointedly took shots at his bigs, and all his criticisms were fair. He said MWP is the only teammate he can count on to play with passion and fire. He blatantly said his teammates didn’t play with the same fire as him in Game 6. And he told Woj that he was going to tell Bynum to shape up and play the way he’s capable of.

    Frankly Kobe’s coddled them enough, after Fish left. I wouldn’t blame him one bit if he went ballistic on Bynum and Pau.

  41. I fully expect Lakers to win tomorrow because they are the better team. Only thing that scares me is Harrington has not had 1 good game this eries.

  42. I am not sure they are better, actually.

    They are at home, however, and home teams usually win Game 7s.

  43. Coaching is clearly a major issue here. I I like Brown and all, but OMG he has not made any real playoff adjustments! Is that not what good coaching is all about? Here’s what I mean.

    1. Bynum is obviously acting childish… well Instead of “fighting” a grown man that acts like a kid..you (coach) have to use some mind game on him…He won’t produce unless he’s scoring (touching the ball) ..so put him in P&R situations, bring him further away from the basket (I know this one is a stretch for the imagination) but this will allow him to be more active—thus making him more active on defense! Simple. I’d rather see him go 10-25 with 20 boards and 5 blocks than be a fart and go 5-11 with 10 boards and 1 block shot. Phil called it Zen—I call it mind game.

    2. Pau is not soft! The guy is just NOT hard! Lol.. Please utilize him in P&R as well, Please move him away from the basket too, MAKE HIM A DISTRIBUTOR!! He could lead the team in assist nightly.

    3. When we decide to allow opponents to pack the lanes–bring in Glock to hit those 3′s on their arse! He will be a liability on defense but could be no worse than Blake.

    4. Barnes is NOT a shooter—please design plays where this guy can slash and cut to the basket…thank you.

    5. Hill & Ebanks aren’t great but stop removing them the moment they do one thing wrong or miss two shots in a row.. I mean some guys miss 5 in a row and give no effort and give away 15 points by not running back! Do the math coaches.

    6. Sessons–can somone remove the leash and let this guy JUST PLAY!

    7. Blake should only be used as a spot up shooter and removed if he is not going to take and make the spot up open shots,… stop trying to create Blake, just stop.

    8. Kobe: The Great! Kobe has to be told that regardless to how horrible the team is playing he has to spoon feed these guys with the ball like babies to build their confidence. They can’t just turn it on like he does. They can’t just get motivated like he does. Kobe needs to be a motivatior, a babysitter, a nanny to these guys until they man up in a game and produce!

    9. What’s the deal MB with your insistence on playing Blake/Sessions.. You could not be that stubborn.. You don’t look that stubborn…please stop acting like a stubborn brat.

    10. Maybe these guys (if they move forward to face OKC) need some bonding time together. Skip practice one day and go mountain climbing.. BOND please because I could have sworn some of our guys were rooting for Denver!

    thankyou, any of these adjustments can be made I will be a satisfied fan–win or lose!

  44. rr: Lakers have displayed their peak is higher than denver’s this series. Hustle has won the last 2 games. Talent will win tomorrow. Lakers will need both next series.

  45. #17 isn’t anywhere near the level of a Lebron.

    Nor Should he be.

    Lebron carried those cleveland teams every night. When he left Cleveland he was a 2 time MVP. What more was Brown supposed to do with Lebron?

    #17 plays like a player who wants to be benched. Jim Buss has empowered him – and he doesn’t have anywhere near Lebron’s talent or drive. Despite LeBron’s woes in some series, most the time he’s a gamer. #17 is not a gamer.

  46. Kevin – what do you mean he refused to meet with Mitch, was this recently?

  47. It would be the low point of my 40 years if being a big time Laker fan if:

    The Clippers beat a better Griz team in 6 games.

    And tbe Lakers lose to a less better Denver team in 7.

    I doubt it but the rudderless ship is goofy and unpredictable.

    If so Brown, Gasol and Blake and the entire coaching staff had better disappear!

  48. All this talk and blame on Brown is pure smokescreen. If Bynum gives game 1 and 2 effort, we win this series two games ago. The way he played the last game in particular was completely shameful. His attitude is terrible. If he tanks it tomorrow as well, you can believe he’s on his way out of here.

  49. Boy did we end up with the wrong playoff Gasol.

    Maybe we can get our friend Stern to reverse that old trade.

  50. Shaun: not recently. It was right after the 3 point shot game vs gsw.

    Does anyone know who found Marc Gasol was it Lester or West? I’m thinking same person that found him found Bynum. You can see what the evaluator was looking for in those 2. Similar players.

  51. Josh. You are missing the point. AB has no respect for Brown. He respected Phil and played hard for him.

    You think he would pull thus crap with Pops, Rivers or the Chicago coach?

    Brown lost the Cavs respect for a reason.

    Real coaches would be in his face instead of cuddling him like a baby.

    You have to see the bigger picture.

  52. Lakers evaluators saw something in 2 big men when they were raw teens. Now they are 2 of the top 5 Centers in the NBA. Hope we continue to have great scouting.

  53. rr: Lakers have displayed their peak is higher than denver’s this series.

    Denver has two easy wins; the Lakers have one. Not seeing it.

  54. rr: game 1 is easily the most dominant wire to wire performance this series. game 3 is close game 6 was just a half. When the biggest, brightest light decides to come on I don’t think this is even a question.

  55. Ko,

    Drew is a coach killer. He is trying to pull a Carmelo Anthony and get Mike Brown fired the same way Melo got D’Antoni fired. It justifies why he acts so unprofessional, immature and distant to the team.

  56. Here is the deal, whatever feelings we have with our Lakers, it is again the time to circle the wagon and support the team in the 7th game series. Kobe and Metta cannot do it alone, they need “El Cobarde” (coward) Gasol and “Baby Gerber” Bynum to get involved. By this time, they got the message that the Laker nation are scything in anger to go on 7 games against a measly 7th seed team.That’s unforgivable!

    My proposition is this. Win the 7th game or they lose their Laker job next season except Kobe. This includes Mike Brown and his staff. If MBrown could not produce a W tomorrow, he loses his job as a Laker Coach but he’ll be retained as the team videographer. That’s his forte’. He would be an expensive video guy but it’s worth it than ruining the Laker image and tradition. I think Time Warner and AEG would also demand a better stewardship of the team because their businesses are dragged into this Laker demise.

  57. Kenny Smith calling out Andrew Bynum. I guess we are not the only ones who noticed. Link below:

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

  58. When the biggest, brightest light decides to come on I don’t think this is even a question.

    Overall metrics tell a different story. Plus, Game 1 was with the starters rested. No real rest for tomorrow.

  59. Ko,

    Drew is a coach killer. He is trying to pull a Carmelo Anthony and get Mike Brown fired the same way Melo got D’Antoni fired. It justifies why he acts so unprofessional, immature and distant to the team.

  60. Edwin Gueco, do you remember what the lakers were with fearless dear leader Kobe Bryant before they traded for “the coward” Gasol? Irrelevant 1st round fodder is what they were. With Gasol? 3 finals appearances, 2 championships. Because of that i will never be able to criticize Gasol and neither should any other laker fan.

  61. Thank you Griz. I feel redeemed.

  62. Noticing a lack of Bynum defenders today – and rightfully so.

    The inside the NBA clip was telling – Kenny Smith didn’t just call him out – he said he wouldn’t want to play with a guy like #17. He’s like the most friendly announcer you can possibly find.

    My bet is that the guards are afraid to shoot because of #17. They know he’s got Jim Buss protection – so outside of Kobe they have to acquiesce to him. I can’t imagine if I was a professional basketball player wanting to play with a guy like that.

  63. When we think of criticizing Bynum one important context must be remembered:

    He is one year older than both Kevin Durant and Detek Rose. He has also been in the league 3 more years than these guys.

    So, I’d he really entitled to the benefit of the doubt w re his maturity?

  64. Mike Brown and Vinny Del Negro–time for your close-ups.

  65. What’s all the negative Gasol talk. He scoring, rebounding, clogging up the middle on D and working his but off!

    Ohh, ahh, daa oh you mean Pau. I was talking about Marc!

  66. “Because of that i will never be able to criticize Gasol and neither should any other laker fan.”

    Irrelevant. This isn’t 2008. This is a “what have you done for me lately” league. If it was about past accomplishments Dr. Buss would have never traded Shaq and let Kobe walk.

    Gasol has been a quiet disappointment to Andrew’s loud disappointment. But still a disappointment.

  67. Laker fan we just have to hope we get one of these vintage Pau performances.

    2010 game 7 vs Bos: 19 pts 18 reb 4 ast 2 blk

    2009 game 7 vs Hou: 21 pts 18 reb 1 ast 3 blk

    2008 gold medal game: 21 pts 6 reb 1 ast

  68. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChDpYTGldMY

    This is the Pau we’ve come to know. I hope he returns tomorrow.

    Wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention Bynum 14 pts 6 reb this game.

  69. the other Stephen May 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    maybe relevant to our mindset:

    “‘This one has to hurt,’ [Chris] Paul said. ‘If it doesn’t hurt, it means you don’t care.’”

  70. @70 Kevin – The 2009 Lakers were nothing like this years team. Kobe + Pau in their primes, plus a very strong year from Odom and Ariza. They played like a team, and knew who they could rely upon.

    They didn’t lose 3 games that year one time. And Pau gave Dwight single coverage in the finals so Orl wouldn’t have open shooters all day.

    And that youtube post just makes it clear how fast they used to play. There was no fear of going for early easy offense.

    Farmar/Ariza/Vujajic – young/athletic/erratic players that sometimes brought nothing and sometime brought magic. Exactly what you’d expect out of your bench.

    Maybe not so much your starting center though – who wants to be a primary option on a contender.

  71. #36 Funky Chicken, How do you know the perimeter players have been instructed not to shoot until the clock is in single digits? If true, it would be totally asinine and grounds for discharge of the coach for total incompetence. These guys do not trust their shots and KB glaring at a miss when “he should have gotten the ball” haunts them. (Doesn’t matter that he trusted Blake once.) MB should instruct them to take the open shots in rhythm or ride the pine. If they just can’t make em, new player.

  72. @58 Jayz, yes we can not have that kind of attitude, and win a Championship.

  73. cdog: I agree with your statement weaker team better league this time around. I wasn’t comparing teams.

    I was singling out Pau’s game 7′s where he’s been out of this world good. Not too far removed from those days. Game 1 was a sign he’s still capable of having games like that. When he’s bad though he’s awful and these past 2 games makes you forget how good he was first 2 games I know I have. Pau’s a special player he brings a element of skill, will and teamwork that is rare now a days. Him caring about nothing but winning is the reason Bynum was able to be the player he is this year. Just pisses me and Lakers fans off to see what he’s capable of and to produce the way he is.

  74. Good news. I was able to channel forward to tomorrow’s game. Lakers will actually try. AB will get 20/20, Pau will make some if those 15 foot shots and Metta won’t knockehead anyone head.

    More important Denver won’t shot 60% from 3 and the NBA badly needs Metta/Harding rematch.

    Will be higher ratings then the finals. Lakers will get the calls and go to the line 30 times.

    Lakers by 10 ?

  75. Lakers by 10 ?


    You predicted Lakers by 2 in Game 6, yes?

  76. Thanks for reminding me. Now I am sick to my stomach again.

    The good news is if I am right I am a hero. If I am wrong I can go back to having a normal life for 6 months with my wife and son talking to me again.

    So either way I win.

  77. The good news is if I am right I am a hero.

    You are OK with me no matter what, Ko.

  78. Phil Jackson had an aura that Brown does not have. His greatness demanded an authority that even eclipsed Kobe’s. This present team is literally Kobe’s… and lets be honest, Kobe is not a good motivator. When this team is run by a system and not Kobe, I think then we’ll start seeing progress. And thats truthfully sad to say at this point.

  79. I will be all out for the lakers tomorrow but if they lose then I am all for them blowing up the entire team.

    Even though Kobe makes a ton of money i still feel bad for him in the sense that he deserved better the last two years from his teammates. They wasted his last two years in his quest for another ring.

    I will be glad to see both Bynum and Gasol gone!!! I can’t stand to watch either of them at this point. They are worthless in the playoffs when it counts.

    That’s what this is about. The team that you’re rooting for – do they care? do they go out and give it their all to win? I’m not saying to cheat but to play your heart out and leave it all out on the court. Most fans will not be disappointed or upset if you lose if you gave it your all. We just don’t want to root for a team that seems disinterested. bynum is the epitome of a spoiled brat.

    I definitely do not expect the Lakers to win it every year but I do expect the team to play with enthusiasm and effort.

    Kobe is the ONLY one that gives it his all. Even if he shoots 5-25 I will root for him because he is supremely talented and you know he is doing everything in his power to win.

    Bynum is such a loser!!! He hasn’t done anything do deserve respect. I hope they trade him – he does not deserve to wear the Laker uniform – he is an embarrassment to the entire great organization.

    The sad part is that I believe the season is almost over for this team. Even if the Lakers get past Denver, getting past OKC is nearly impossible. Kobe won’t get another ring this year and he’s not going to be able to play much longer.

  80. The lack of effort from our bigs is due to the coddling of the front office. They are both aware that they are secured as a Laker and they would not be traded. Bynum is thinking that this Laker team will eventually be his team and no matter how he plays lazy the Front Office will pardon him and make him a franchise player. Before the trade deadline expired both Pau and Drew were averaging decent numbers “consistently” but after the deadline their play seems to be an ECG graph result. One game he plays excellent the next game he plays crap. I suggest that the front office should tell the players that no body is secured unless they win it all.

  81. I wonder who loses out on minutes now that Metta is back

    Is it barnes – who hasn’t been the same since his ankle injury?

    Is it e-banks – who’s is having a very hard time stretching the floor because Brown didn’t trust to play him all season?

    It it blake – who only brings floor spacing to the game, but then doesn’t shoot when they leave it open?

    It is #17 – just kidding – the front office wouldn’t let that happen.

    My bet is its e-banks – but honestly, I think e-banks is giving the team good minutes. The most logical result would be to limit some of Barnes’s minutes unless his shot is falling, and eliminate the Ramon/Blake backcourt completely. One successful game over the course of the season with that backcourt is not enough reason to do it again.

    Or – The Lakers Could just play super small with a little more speed to negate Denver’s strength.

    Ramon-Kobe-Artest-Hill-Pau

    That might be the Lakers best defensive lineup as the 2/3/4 would be able to switch off screens because they are all mobile enough, and Denver doesn’t have any truly dominant post men that Pau can’t handle if his head is on straight. McGee is Big, but Pau has handled bigs before as the primary defender with a good amount of success (i.e. 2 championships). And as much as Ramon is being criticized for his D, he’s following the game plan and daring Lawson to shoot the range jumper.