Lakers/Trailblazers: Still Searching For A Win (And An Identity)

Darius Soriano —  November 1, 2012

Coming into the Lakers’ second game of the season we told you that there would be some issues to overcome. The Lakers had lost 17 of their last 21 games when visiting rip city and plenty of those losses were by teams that were pretty good. They simply don’t play well in the Rose Garden and even with a hall-of-fame clad lineup, being on the second night of a back to back combined with this being the home opener for their opponent was bound to cause some issues.

And, issues there were. The Lakers fell 116-106 to the Blazers, starting the season 0-2 in back to back seasons for the first time in 54 (!!) years.

First, we’ll hit on some positives:

  • Dwight Howard looked a lot better tonight physically. He was more explosive in how he elevated for rebounds and when going up for dunks while moving around the floor very well. He also showed a dynamic post game, finishing with both hands around the rim and hitting a variety of running hooks that were a staple of his game in Orlando. Plus he was fantastic showing at the foul line (15-19 from the stripe). All in all the big man scored 33 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, and also chipped in a steal and a block. And he’s not even 100% yet.
  • Kobe Bryant was also very, very good. Still bothered by his sprained foot, Kobe was a delight on offense pouring in 30 points on 20 field goal attempts. After not taking a free throw or a three pointer in the Lakers’ first game, Kobe showed he can still take and make both shots just fine by finishing with four triples (in nine tries) and making six of his seven foul shots. Kobe also had six rebounds and three assists to round out a pretty fine night.
  • The Lakers, as a team, were much better at the foul line and in hitting the boards. Buoyed by Howard’s night at the line, the Lakers made 26 of their 32 foul shots (81.3%) and were a +15 on the glass (45-30). The Lakers were great at pounding the Blazers inside and taking advantage of a center combination that “featured” J.J. Hickson and rookie Meyers Leanord to the point that foul shots and rebounds just piled up.
  • For the second straight night the Lakers shot well from the floor. Overall they hit half their shots and went 8-18 from the three point line. The threes were especially helpful as they opened up space for Howard in the paint where, once he showed he was hitting his FT’s, he got to operate against mostly single coverage where his man didn’t want to simply hack him.

So, with the two Lakers combining for 63 points, the team shooting 50% from the floor while making 8 three pointers, and grabbing 15 more rebounds from the Blazers the natural question is: how did this team lose? And not just lose, but be down by nearly 20 points with five minutes left in the game?

Well, two factors, really.

First, the Lakers couldn’t stop the Blazers from scoring on the other end. A combination of good shot making and spotty defensive effort and execution really did the Lakers in. The Blazers posted an offensive efficiency of nearly 120 in this game, finding their rhythm early and carrying that momentum most of the game. They put up 30 or more points in three of the four quarters (with a 24 point final frame their low mark), running past the Lakers in the open court and slicing through them in the half court to get up good looks.

Further fueling their offensive barrage was the Lakers’ lack of ball security. Twenty-five turnovers were gifted to Portland, many of the live ball variety that allowed the younger, quicker team to get out in transition and get easy baskets. The Blazers totaled 28 points off those miscues so if you’re looking for a difference in the game, there it is. The Lakers sloppiness plagued them all night and every Blazer run had at least one bad pass or careless dribble drive turning a workable margin into a hole the team could not dig their way out of. (Side note: I mentioned Kobe and Dwight having good nights but they had 7 and 3 turnovers respectively. So while both players combined for 60% of the Lakers points, they also combined for 40% of their turnovers. Their offensive play can’t be overshadowed by this but it definitely puts a damper on it somewhat.)

Adding injury to insult was the fact that Steve Nash was limited to only 16 minutes on the night after catching a knee to his shin near the end of the 2nd quarter. Nash tried to gut through the pain and even returned to start the 3rd quarter but had his ginger gait turn into a full blown limp only minutes into second half. He sat the rest of the game and is hopeful he’ll be ready for Friday’s battle of L.A. against the Clippers.

In the end, the Lakers are showing that even with a boat load of talent doing multiple things poorly will get you beat. The defense has been the constant negative two straight nights, but missed FT’s against Dallas morphed into bad turnovers against the Blazers and it totaled L’s in the column no matter how it is added up.

This is the disconcerting thing for this team right now. It’s early in the season, yes, but they are a team in search mode without an identity and nothing to hang their hat on. Their offense is a work in progress but even when they do show signs of putting effective possessions together they find ways to limit how good they can be. Defensively they seem to be even farther behind and are not yet even sniffing the point where they can rely on getting stops to win them games.

So here they are. Zero and two in a young season with all this change is not yet time to panic but it is certainly a time to start to have some concerns about things. After the game Kobe mentioned that there will be more of an uneasiness around this group as the frustration is only building from not playing up to standard. Here’s hoping that edge can translate to a better brand of basketball. This team certainly needs to start playing some.

Darius Soriano

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49 responses to Lakers/Trailblazers: Still Searching For A Win (And An Identity)

  1. I will dare to sound like a broken record and say 60-75 FGA pace is dooming Lakers.Please read this Mike Brown Sir!

  2. Nimble,
    Lakers played this game at a pace of around 97 possessions. Against Dallas their pace was around 93 possessions. For a reference point, the 2007-08 Lakers played at a pace of 95.6.

    The number of field goal attempts is being skewed by how many FT’s the Lakers are taking (and against the Blazers by how many turnovers they had). Basically, I understand what you’re saying but there are factors independent of the speed of the game that are affecting FGA’s much more than pace.

  3. Good recap, Darius. As I was unable to watch the game, I really appreciate your insight. Clearly, cleaning up the TO’s and meshing defensively will go a long way towards curing what ails ‘em.

    The bad news is that they lost. The good news is that Dwight is coming around and that the team’s problems are fixable, IMO.

  4. Thank you for your kind explanation Darius,but I still think something is not right with the offense,kind of bogged down and listless.Maybe awkward MWP moments and AJ and SN seeming really lost.Turnovers on the other hand are another story.

  5. Maybe Andrew Bynum was secretly a defensive genius.

  6. Henry Louis Taylor November 1, 2012 at 4:43 am

    I think Mike Brown needs to set his rotation and go with it, so the bench can get a rhythm and players can get use to each other. He is treating the regular season as if it were the preseason.

  7. Concerned just like everyone else, but I won’t take up nail-biting again unless the defense looks like this 2 months from now. Like everything else, our problems are multifactorial. Familiarity might be some part of it. Howard’s timing/instincts might be another part. And it’s likely that Mike Brown has a large part in it as well. A coach who billed himself as a defensive coach was just handed the 3 time DPOY; if he can’t construct a top shelf defense within 1-2 months, he’ll deservedly get the majority of the blame.

    I do wonder just how much perimeter slowness Howard can compensate for. But when I look at Jameer Nelson, Turkoglu, Lewis and Howard manning a top-flight defense, I really think it can be done if our communication is at a high enough level.

    James Harden isn’t going to pull historical nights every night, but even against better defensive teams loaded up against him, he’ll probably turn out to be the real deal. Lin and Harden looked phenomenal in the open court, in the parts that I saw.

    Damian Lillard is an interesting example of the power of draft workouts. Everything I’ve read – from experienced scouts – usually discounts the importance of these workouts, as they’re usually agent-controlled and not done in real game settings. Lillard was supposedly the best workout the Blazers had seen since Durant. These workouts might especially be helpful in evaluating players like Lillard or Paul George, who play against lower levels of competition in college and therefore are harder to judge against their peers.

  8. I watched some of the first quarter up until halftime. Things that I saw that need immediate improvement:

    – Nash and Gasol defending the PnR. Holy crap. Gasol hedged hard every time and recovered slowly every time. If this goes on, he needs to stop going after the handler and try to zone them out.

    – At times, the team looked like a college/HS team learning an offense on the go. As if they trained 5 sets of plays for 2 days and tried to get them going in a game. Honestly, it was kind of nerve-racking to see how little Nash handled the ball. Individual big games mean close to nothing if a team isn’t on the same page. Sure, there are so many options to go for to make your head spin, but I don’t think starting the season with a chillax attitude that we will make the playoffs no matter what is the right way to go. I think its rather DUMB not to run mixed sets of Princeton and Nash-driven freelancing PnRs. How hard is it for a talented team to run a basic PnR with Nash and Howard with MWP screening for Kobe and Gasol waiting at the top of the key (or cutting baseline or whatever)? This alone is enough to confound many a defense.

    – Mike Brown is supposed to be a defensive-minded coach. This is not showing in any way whatsoever. Defense has been atrocius.

    – Blake is getting a bit better. Still one of the worst backups in the league. Smart enough to run Princeton sets and be a semi-decent spot-up shooter. Also needs to be more assertive. Jamison is… getting old and slow. Seems to be fidgeting around the superstars. Like Blake, needs to be more assertive on the floor. Hill should be getting better as the season progresses.

    All that being said, and it was quite a lot, no need for despair. Chemistry is obviously an issue, but some things you have to nip in the bud and not let it get to the player’s head. If there is a problem, and the players themselves said so, figuring it out now instead of when the playoffs come around could mean a wasted season. As Kobe said, this team needs a little sense of urgency. Other teams already have chemistry, and talent alone doesn’t win a lot of games. At least not enough for a chip.

  9. Seriously, anyone complaining about the offense or the number of FGA didn’t watch the game last night. I love that we are using this offense and last night was proof we need to run this offense. If we allowed Nash to ignore the Princeton offense and do whatever he pleases imagine how that would have affected the team after he go injured? I also think the defense while not the best right now is adequate. The problem still lies with Mike Brown’s game management (or lack thereof) in my humble opinion. Late in the game when Lilard was pressured he wasn’t as effective. Why not employ that approach earlier when the team was getting burned by the kid??? Hill not playing as much was a head “scratcher” too especially considering the type of opponent we were playing. My fear is that as we get more acclimated to this system, our TOs will go down and we will win games which will hid the poor game management skills of Mike brown. If he doesn’t get better at it now, it will hurt us in the playoffs where each series is a chess match.

  10. I hope M.Brown finds a consistent rotation for the team. He just cant use the Pau Gasol and 4 subs line up. Two superstars must always be on the floor i.e. Pau & Kobe or Dwight & Nash/Kobe.In the end half of the 1st quarter up to the early part of the second quarter maybe we can see a line up of Dwight Nash/Blake Kobe/Meeks Ebanks Jamison and a lineup of Pau Kobe/Meeks Nash/Blake Artest J.Hill. With Kobe and Nash splitting minutes to conserve their energy. Then in the closing of the second quarter and fourth quarter a line up of the starting 5. Just have him divide the minutes giving Nash 30-32 min; Kobe 30-35 mins, Artest 35 mins, Pau 35 mins and D12 38-40 mins. With ebanks/jamison/hill alternating minutes at 3&4. With these kind of combinations we dont give up that much in offense and defense to the second unit of the other team.

  11. I would say that Brown has about 15 games before serious re-evaluation; I said 20 earlier, but the team has looked bad enough that I now think 15 is more appropriate. We need to see:

    1. Better defense
    2. More production from Nash
    3. Stabilized rotations, slightly fewer MPG for the stars, and somewhat better bench production

    If we don’t see these things and the team is 6-9, then Brown as well as the personnel Kupchak committed to beyond the starters need to be looked at (and I agreed with the Meeks and Hill moves was OK with Jamison). The Lakers are not on a Miami 2011 timetable for two obvious reasons: Howard’s contract status, and the age of the team. We are also at a moment in which D’Antoni, Phil, and Larry Brown don’t have jobs.

    To be clear, I am not saying “fire Brown after 15 games” but I am saying that changes need to be conisdered at that point if things do not look markedly better than they have so far.

  12. Too early to panic but MB is clearly the issue. His rotations are suspect and if he is, indeed, a defensive minded coach, he sure isn’t showing it. Defense is effort and right now, the Lakers aren’t providing it. Our second unit is such a big drop off, two starters need to remain on court at all times.

  13. D-12 looked like…well, D-12 last night, except from the line (15-19) where he was simply outstanding. Kobe looked good…on offense. Gasol had a double -double. But beyond that, the Lakers looked pretty bad. The new and improved bench doesn’t look like it at this very early stage of the season. As a matter of fact a serious case can be made stating the best bench player on the Lakers thru their first two games is: Steve Blake, ouch.

    Game #3 is Friday vs the Clips. Can anyone say Lakers: 0-3?

  14. Love the revamped site Darius.

    Right now the help defense is too slow in recovering and Howard and Gasol are not boxing out active big men.

    Just like the Phil Jackson years, the better offensive execution the better the transition and set defense will be. Turnovers led to those big runs that got the Blazers and their fans wild.

    Right now players are telegraphing passes and there is not enough dribble penetration. We all know the ball wants to swing to the wings and then they’d like to get it into the post. However, Lakers need to keep the defensive “linebacker” honest and punish them with a pass to the elbow, a pass to the wing, or a cross court pass to the corner three point line.

    Finally, the Lakers are getting a lot of ball pressure and it is deterring the sets of the offense from being initiated. Pushing the pace will help keep defenders from being so pesky.

    Just keep swimming Lakers.

  15. I thought that the Laker offense played very well, even if it didn’t really look much like The Princeton Offense for long stretches with the team kind of defaulting to dumping the ball into the post to Howard, spreading the floor, and letting him go to work on possession after possession.

    And hey, if that gameplan works, then let’s roll with it. Nobody in the league can really guard Howard one-on-one. Although I’d point out, quietly, that this looked an awful lot like an improved version of the offense from last year with Bynum in the post with the exception that Howard was a lot more unstoppable and harder to double team due to his ability to either beat double teams or pass out of them.

    That aside, here are a few things that I noticed:

    1. More odd substitution patterns out of Mike Brown.

    I know, I know. I sound like a dead horse by now and, yes, it’s unreasonable to think that Brown may have his patterns set in stone by now given our injury riddled training camp and preseason. However, there are certain things that just stand out.

    When Ebanks goes from not playing at all one game, to being the first person off the bench at SG instead of SF the next, it’s a head scratcher. Really, it seems like Brown’s efforts to go with big lineups are just making the Lakers slow on the court.

    Ebanks needs to be the backup SF, not the backup SG. Antawn needs to be the backup PF, not the backup SF. Why? Because neither of them is fast enough to guard the smaller position with any consistency and they don’t make up for it enough on the offensive end.

    Another example is trotting out Robert Sacre at Center. At one point I think MWP was the only starter on the floor with a lineup that featured Sacre at center. That was a legitimate WTF moment, and it showed as Sacre was pulled approximately two seconds later. If you want to rest both Howard and Gasol at the same time (a move not recommended) then go with Hill at the center position and Antawn at PF.

    2. Starters playing heavy minutes in blowouts.

    I can almost excuse this because the starters need additional time on the court together after having so little of it in preseason, but I doubt Coach Brown was consciously keeping them all in on the second night of a back-to-back for that reason.

    Instead, it continues a pattern – like with the inconsistent rotations – that has carried over from last season of running stars into the ground with heavy minutes long after the outcome has already been decided, and with Kobe having a lingering injury to boot! Of all the things that Coach Brown does that the commenters here complain about, this is the one that bothers me the most.

    This. Is. An. OLD. Team. Think strategically and salvage what you can from a loss.

    3. Defensive rebounding has been very poor both games, with Howard and Gasol the primary culprits.

    I threw Gasol’s name in there, and I do think he hasn’t been great on the defensive boards, but in all honesty Howard is the main issue here. In both of the first two games, he has been beaten by sheer hustle to multiple offensive rebounds. I imagine a part of this is rust and game conditioning and so I expect it to improve, along with the defense, over time but it’s a big reason we’re 0-2 right now.

    4. Nash pushed the ball up the court quicker when he was out there this game, and it showed nice results.

    I felt the pace of the game in the first half and Nash’s role was much improved from the first game. Not much more to say here, but it seemed he pushed and probed a bit first and if that didn’t work we settled back into more of a half-court set. Good progress here.

    5. Howard and his free throw stroke

    Damn he looked good. If he can hit them at even close to that level, this team will be unbeatable once the kinks are worked out defensively and on the boards. Teams will have no answer for him.

    6. Howard and his post game

    Who says that Howard is all athleticism and he doesn’t have any post moves? He looked smoother than I’ve ever seen Bynum look last game. What a massive upgrade Howard is over Bynum – who I will casually note is starting the season on injured reserve…again.

    7. Steve Blake looked pretty good out there.

    Maybe it is the knowledge of more consistent and effective help behind him in the form of Howard (hello center upgrade again) but Steve seemed more than comfortable pressing on Lillard. He extended his defense in the second half way out to the perimeter and it showed, particularly in the 4th quarter, where it bogged down nearly everything that the Blazers were trying to do.

    8. God the Blazer home announcers are awful.

    Not really relevant to the team discussion, but I notice this year in and year out. I vote that this be Adam Silver’s first act as commissioner…establish some sort of quality controls over local announcers.

    9. Officiating was pretty uneven

    When I say uneven, I mean things like those three ticky-tack fouls that Ebanks picked up in about twenty seconds of game-time combined with absolute muggings not being declared flagrants later on. It seemed that how tight the game was being called ebbed and flowed, making for a very frustrating experience as a fan. I can only imagine how irritating it must have been for the players.

  16. rr

    I could very easily see this team go 6-9 through the first 15 games. If that happens then I would expect to see a coaching change. A quick question- Would PJ be a good fit for this team. If he brings the triangle back that would seem to be a bad offense for Nash. (At least it wouldn’t be using his skills to their fullest ability.) I claim that Jerry Sloan might be the best option if he still wants to coach.

    I think that this just needs a little time to gel together. Once this team fixes the defensive issues, then we’ll see some better results. That, and the awful turnover numbers.

  17. darius: gotta hand it to you; 1:14am and a reply back at 1:44am last nite or should we say earlier this morning? talk about your diehards. and we love every moment because it keeps us all connected.

    can we all just get along or should we begin to place blame where it really belongs: coach brown’s mama. cause if it wasn’t for her……..

    and of course there’s the other obvious: that a knock on coach brown is a knock on the front office’s choice in the first, second and/or last resort. Gotta be humbling for any organization, albeit the los angeles lakers.

    gotta hand it to him though, staying the course, for now appears to be his mantra. the guy’s not an idiot or else he would not be in the position he’s in now: speaking of which, the position he is in now, ie., head coach of current basketball’s greatest franchise and the direction or lack thereof has the appearance of a man running the team into the ground. or is it too early to say that?

    come on front office, you guys are smart guys. what a revolting predicament to be in and yet you have a fanbase that is becoming restless and somewhat ruthless. to expect perfection is a goal, to expect direction is an obligation. let’s get our obligations in order and then start to work on perfection. Get it together guys and soon cannot be soon enough.

    Go Lakers !

  18. david h,
    Ha, last night was a late one. I am paying for it this morning, however. No amount of coffee has helped so far…

  19. The best coach from an offensive standpoint would be Mike d”antonio – he of course coached Nash, would salivate at having mobile bigs in Howard and Gasol who would both thrive in his system, and – the big part – Kobe respects him deeply as a family friend AND D”antonio implmented the offensive plan for the USA mns bball team so he knows how to coach an effective offensive system where he has multiple allstar level players. You’d need a strong defensive assistant coach but Mike would be great fit for the personell. PJ would make a good return as well – but I doubt he’d use the triangle, he’s too smart and coaches to his players strengths. This team is incredibly balanced and has defined roles that complement each other well – whatever PJ’s offense would be would play to all their strengths. Jerry sloan? Meh, I don’t doubt him as a coach – but aside from pnr everything to death, we have no idea about whether he could find a good mix fast enough with this many options. pnr’s work great with dominant big rolling to basket – don’t want to reduce Kobe to being a spot up shooter/decoy for half of the game.

    The defense is going to take some time to come around as that requires the most communication, teamwork, and chemistry. But at least allow your high powered offensive talent to put you in a position to win games in the meantime. It feels like MB wants to make a point – “I’m my own man, not gonna use the triangle/not gonna run ssol fast break ball – I’m gonna do things my way and take an offense suited for a team of lesser talented players and shove it down my guys throats because I want to do it my way”. The thing is, for all the worry about Kobe not being able to defer – he is just fine when he’s surrounded by players he considers to be of high caliber. He knows that he will get his touches if Nash handles the ball more – and that he won’t be turned into a spot up shooter etc… Don’t be surprised if the offense suddenly takes a turn to be more Nash driven.

    One final note – having followed Nash in Phoenix – this is a very similar situation to the Terry Porter hire/fiasco where a supposedly defensive minded coach tried to make his imprint on the offensive side because he thought he knew what was best – regardless of who his best player was. Nash dutifully ran Porters system over and over and over into the ground – exactly like what he is doing here – almost to make a point Until Porter was fired. Nash is in no way a coachkiller – but there is a very short list of guys in the NBA who have the respect of management and wherewithal to go to the gm or ownership and say “this coach is not the guy”. That’s what happened in Phoenix thru back channels and you have two of those guys on this team in Kobe and Nash (the only others in the league that are that well respected by any management would be Duncan, Lebron, and Nowitkzi – maybe Pierce.)

  20. Mike Brown playing his starters major minutes in the back to backs with games virtually decided is the major sign he’s an idiot. This ain’t the playoffs, and we still have a lot of season to go, so cut your losses and get your guys some rest. Don’t roll them out there and keep them out there just to make the final score look more acceptable.

  21. dariius: succint.

    changing gears a little:

    flabbergasted: see astonishment.
    astonishment: see flabbergasted.

    see: mitch kupchak watching the lakers: see flaggergasted: see astonishment.

    because it’s early in the season, flabbergasted and astonishment should not be lingering signs and yet we’re seeing that. why? because it may be early and yet it’s becoming an old and recurring theme: team laker is still in disarray and disarray for a team consisting of veteran players is a bad sign early on. no one knows for sure how to correct the problems except to state the obvious. to say we still have hope is probably the best course to take at this time to maintain some semblance of sanity.

    let’s toast with coffee to sanity and hope.

    Go Lakers !

  22. To the guy who said the Blazers announcers are god-awful. The Blazers announcers are homers, no doubt. But I am happy that they are not smug like the the Lakers announcers. That is worse, imo.

  23. I rather have the water boy coach this team then Mike Brown!

    My points why he should be fired

    1. Random need based rotation? I think this is the sort of rotation he is using? Devin Ebanks who I find to be a decent role player at the SF position did not play the 1st game but was the first bench player brought out. But Jodie Meeks who was used the 1st game didnt get off the bench until the midway 3rd quarter.

    2. Let me ask Lakernation a question. Can Antawn Jamison contain Lebron James or Kevin Durant? We should be developing a rotation that can win long term. Antawn Jamison playing the SF position is developing nothing in the long term, so why is he being used in that position. Dallas Mavericks made this fatal mistake with Lamar Odom, using him as a SF. When LO carved out a championship resume as a solid PF.

    3. Why is Steve Nash and Kobe not being staggered? They are two effective playmakers and one or the other can make the 2nd units more effective. The same can be said for staggering Dwight and Pau’s playing time.

    4. Why is Kobe and Pau playing 38+ minutes? With the Likes of Jodie Meeks, Devin Ebanks, Jamison, and Hill. Kobe and Pau minutes should never go above 32-34 minutes. Potatoe Head might say, “well we need them in to win the ballgame”. Well did we win? and are we gunning to win a title or regular season games?

    5. Potatoe Head, have you ever heard of spacing in offensive? or Have you heard Phil Jackson say “Good offense leads to good defense’????

    FIRE MIKE BROWN. Its not like we have a system working anyways, might as well bring in a better coach and hope by the end of the regular season we have a CHAMPIONSHIP system.

    OH~!!! How did Lebron James deal with this Potatoe head?

  24. I claim that Jerry Sloan might be the best option if he still wants to coach.

    Could be. If it comes to that, my first call would be D’Antoni, probably, which would PO Phil to the max (Jim Buss might see that as a plus-ha).

    As to the Phil and the Triangle–good question, but that is definitely a bridge to cross if we come to it, to use the cliche. I think that if they really do fire MB, Phil’s coming back is unlikely.

  25. Jim I cant stand the Laker announcers! Especially Stu Lantz, SOOO Overrated. What happened to Spiro Dedes the Laker radio annnouncer? I miss Chick

    TWC crew James Worthy and that Coach Miller? are really really annoying characters also. Dont know how to explain it. You would have thought with TWC making people pay so much they would put good entertainment out!

  26. Jerry Sloan coaching the Lakers would be quite funny. Nash is a Laker, and then Sloan a Laker? Next thing we know we’ll land LeBron and Tim Duncan too.

  27. Just checked back in on the 7-30-12 thread where Zephid laid out the Lakers’ just announced 2012-2013 schedule. He predicted 58 wins, including going 8-2 in their first ten games. This was after the Steve Nash acquisition but prior to the Dwight Howard trade.

    Anyone still like those numbers now?

  28. “identity”

    Unfortunately we are establishing an identity and it is a not a good one. Our current identity is lazy, listless, matador defense, and soft. We need to change this right away as it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy after a while. Teams come in confident and jazzed to play us.

    rr: Your thoughts are very realistic of course. 15 games I think is a good number. To be honest, in a universe where I ran things, the number might be lower, but I can live with 15, because it does not give the impression that it was a knee jerk reaction, like a firing after 5-10 games would. On the other hand, if we start out 2-6, the 15 game level may need to be re-evaluated. Also, the process at least internally must start soon. Let’s not wait 15-20 games and then start thinking about how to make this change. Interviews and the transition take time. Risky as it might be (that it would be leaked), that back up plan needs to be made. I might start now, and I certainly would start of we get plastered on Friday.

    On an optimistic note, the Clips could be just what we need right now. We need an emotional win.

  29. Jamison is a true pro and I don’t think would have a problem helping the young guys on the bench, literally . The decision to activate Clark play him and Ebanks over Jamison should come rather soon. Lakers could use their athleticism and energy.

    Two consecutive great games from one of the bigs. The frontcourt is the biggest strength and should have similar production all year. Now if Kobe could get some help on the perimeter.

    It would be really nice to see Brown call a coaching type timeout. Both games teams have gone on runs gained all the momentum and Brown sits there. Next thing you know it’s a 14-2 run with momentum against us.

    Don’t know if this has ever happened but Lakers could have the worst player in the league on their roster 3 years straight. Fisher, Murphy and now Jamison.

  30. I’d rather focus on the positive: Dwight looks as though he will become the most dominant force in the game, (perhaps including Lebron). He still doesn’t have his legs under him or the quick jumping explosion as in the past, but look out when that returns.

    The whole thing about the Princeton is overblown. It is an offense which involves alot of basic basketball, screens, backdoor cuts, player movement and floor balance. Just focusing on Dwight, the offense will create multiple angles for Kobe, Nash and Pau to pass into the low post. It will be nearly impossible to double team Dwight if there is constant player movement.

    Also, about the offense, (I have an article by Eddie Jordan and Pete Carril explaining it), it allows two or three good offensive options within a 24 second period. For example, after running your initial option, you could end up with, say, a Nash/Kobe pick and roll with a few seconds left on the clock. My amateur understanding tells me that once it is run more efficiently, we will have less one-on-one (or more) heaves to beat the shot clock.

    Also, Nash is 38, it is unrealistic to expect him to carry an offense like in his Phoenix glory years. Still, Steve needs to deviate a little more and do his thing, but I think he is holding off to give the overall offensive scheme a chance to develope.

    Defense needs effort and pride. Sometimes veterans take some time to get into the season. Once they get sick of losing to bad teams (sounds like there are already there), they will start playing real ball.

    There are questions about Brown, but he is an experienced coach who has taken a team to the finals.

  31. Major progress last night. The turnovers are an obvious by-product of learning a new system, and of course, that leads to easy buckets on the other end, even more so with an older team.

    Roland Lazenby had a great comment on twitter this morning that turnovers in a new offense become lessons. People tend not to forget them. If they keep repeating them.

    Simply put, the Lakers are making a downpayment that won’t start to yield a return until December or January.

    The bottom line is teaching an old team with high expectations a new system is not a quick fix. The worry is obviously whether it’s the right system for this type of team, whether the players will buy off on the system as it takes its time to play out, and of course, the Mike Brown factor.

    The best news is that Kobe and Howard seem to have a nice harmony to their play on the floor, and Pau is showing signs of chemistry again with Kobe. Nash is lost (for now), and the bench is a mess, but certainly can’t be expected to be better than the starting core.

    It’s a new system, and we should not be surprised when it’s 0-3 after Clippers. It’s not like CP3 and company don’t sense the blood in the water.

    Patience, patience, patience, although it sucks to watch.

  32. Robert,

    I did’t notice any laziness on defense, I noticed a slow team that has a difficult time running back in transition and rotating quickly in half court sets.

    Orlando was a good defense because every starter surrounding Howard was average to above average in terms of quickness. They were able to run back in transition and rotated quickly on the perimeter. The Lakers are much more talented, but Nash, Artest and Gasol are all slow for their respective positions. Artest is a solid one on one defender, but he lacks the lateral quickness to make quick rotations on defense. Nash is a huge liability and Gasol is awful at hedging and recovering. The defense has plenty of room to improve, but I don’t think the team has the personnel to be an elite defense. They should be fine defending the paint, but when it comes to rotating out to shooters or running back in transition, the players are simply too slow.

  33. I agree with LT; even with Howard, I never saw this as an elite team on D. Jamison and Nash are not adds you make for D. That said, I was hoping for truly elite on O (top 3 if not #1) and pretty good to OK on D (10-12).

    Point about Nash: The opener was the first game since November of 2008 in which he played 30+ minutes and had fewer than five dimes. Like I said, getting Nash to be Nash is #1 priority after the D and before the rotation (all three are interrelated on some level, of course, but still) .

  34. Kevin Pelton breaks down the Lakers in a free piece at BP:

    http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2436

  35. Ridiculous! Pau, Kobe, Howard, all aroubd 40 minutes. Mike Brown strikes again. Let’s hope he doesn’t injure the whole team.

  36. I think Boston announcers are by far the worst. In any case, it’s just frustrating to see the players forgetting to box out, they are not even running out for a potential fast break, but they are just standing around and admiring something, usually followed by the same look as they just their man run past them and grab an offensive rebound. I understand defensively, they are still adjusting to spacing and where other player are, but something as fundamental as boxing out shouldn’t contribute to defensive woes.

    As for offense, maybe we need more time to get adjusted to Princeton offense, but they really did look like D-III level college kids trying to run the Princeton offense, simply by running around without understanding spacing and various strategies at any given point. It reminded me of when we had Malone and Payton, they could’ve ran P&R complementary to the triangle, but for some reason, P&R was just not in the playbook. I wonder if we are running into the same problem here, Nash supposedly is given a reign over how to run the offense, but looks more interested in running the plays by the book rather than him creating shots for others. Then once Nash went out and Blazers were up, we resorted to isolation plays for Howard and Kobe, expecting them to just will the Lakers back in the game.

    I’m sure Lakers staff is working hard to fully realize the potential of this line-up but for now, whether it’s growing pain or not, it’s just really painful to watch how we’ve completely negated abilities of best defensive player and one of the best point guard the league has to offer.

    Let’s go Lakers!

  37. It doesn’t really matter what ails the Lakers.

    If they don’t turn it around soon, MB is done.

    (And in fact he may already be a dead man walking).

  38. Jim, the Blazers announcers are horrible. There is homer, and then there is wishing for an injury for an opposing coach while on the air. There is homer, and then there is blatant lack of observational integrity. Anyhow, I’ll take smug over stupid every time.

    As for the team, and this probably just reiterates many points already expressed, but if Nash just settles into P&R with Howard, which they can both run very well, they will get to the point where they can run it in their sleep. The problem is, teams like OKC, SAS, MIA, BOS, CHI and other well coached teams run defenses that will wake a simple pick and roll up from it’s easy REM scores. The rest of the system needs to be integrated into the psyche of the whole team. It takes real leadership from Nash to have already stated that, and I think the movement and passing will become more fluid, quicker, and on point over time. Lets see how the Prinston works in January before deciding that a two man P&R is the way to go. The 1/5 P&R will always be there.

    Interestingly, Gasol seems to be having some issues to start the season. Two things, I’m noticing him lose the ball he should be securing and (as has been mentioned) he is not recovering to his man off of hard hedges at all. Both seem to me to be an issue of focus and energy. He obviously has good footwork, so perhaps foot speed is really an issue on the defensive end. I’m not sure how best to deal with that but, Pau needs to do a better job of taking a zone away from the penetrating opponent and then hustling back to his man.

    Final point on defense. In ten games now there has been a small sample size of a Dwight/Jamison/Artest/Meeks/Blake lineup. I’m of the mind that, while he isn’t in the class of the other starters, Ron can be one of the 5 players that we should have 2 of in the game at all times… certainly until the team gets through this rudimentary portion of the learning curve. The above lineup provides defense from Dwight, Artest and Meeks. These players can make up for Jamison’s and Blake’s issues on that side of the ball. Meanwhile there are some floor spacers mixed in giving Dwight room to work down low. That could be an interesting lineup that could come in to spell three starters. I’d bring Pau and Kobe in and let them work their 2/5 magic or run the Princeton with Ebanks, Blake and Hill. That lineup should still be able to play D if Ebanks can handle the best perimeter scorers. Those are two lineups that make sense to me for their ability to play some D and might let the big names get used to playing their game. As has been suggested, it looks like guys are differing too much to the riches in talent we have in the starting lineup. It makes no sense to make Pau a 6th man, or Ron for that matter. I do think we need to find a way to hold back the talent so the team comes at people in waves and staggering in this manner might be a way to do this.

  39. Wow…. happy to see a discussion board that talks basketball…and Laker basketball! Never knew this site existed, grown so tired of the smack talking, insults, arguments, name calling ect. on the other blogs.
    My take on last nights game was a real bad defensive effort. Howard and Gasol were having a tough time communicating defensively and both fell asleep at times on blocking their man off the boards. So many open looks for Batum and Matthews…rotations were at least a step slow. That has to get cleaned up, and I’m sure it will. They all watch film and plainly see the problems.This problem on defense was bound to happen with two new starters and many new bench players.I’ll give it a couple of weeks and expect a much different look to their games.

  40. My issue with MB isn’t the offense or even necessarily the defense right now. It’s the fact that he constantly plays his starters heavy minutes and appears to panic when things aren’t going well. Splitting minutes between ebanks and Meeks at the 2 is foolish, he needs to find a rotation and stick with it so guys can build chemistry. To play an older core 40 minutes on the second night of a back to back is just pore coaching smh. These are the same issues from last year and my fear is he will wear kobe, Pau, and Steve down!

  41. Let’s stop pretending we can even judge this team until Howard is 100% — and if he never does fully recover, then let’s stop pretending there should be much more of expectation than this being just an above average NBA team. Right now Howard seems to be at about 50%, can barely jump and move, and nobody is even double teaming him, challenging him to show he is back to form. Last year Bynum was getting double teamed mostly every time he touched the ball, so as of right now, until Howard is recovered, we should expect to be worse than last year’s team. All other analysis is well and good, but none of it really matters unless Howard is back to being Howard. Back being the operative word.

  42. Please Direct Tv get an agreement soon…I just moved up here to Oregon from So Cal and after listening to the game last night with the Blazer announcers I’m going to turn down the sound and talk to my wife as I watch the game.

  43. i’m with lorenzo! i got 20 bucks off for the next 6 mos from directtv, but i’d give that back in a minute to watch the games.

  44. How can you even judge a defense when you turn the ball over 25 times leading to 28 points? I will withhold judgement on D until we can have a handle on our offense and take better care of the basketball.

    Like I posted before the season started, Miami went 9 and 8 two years ago and everyone was calling for the coaches head. I am going to give this some time to develop before I begin to worry to much about it.

  45. as a true blooded laker fan sinc the three-peat era of the most formidable duo in the nba history,,,we can see what the mistakes commited..The coach again does what he does last season, giving Kobe,Pau heavy minutes, you have guys that are talented in the bench,,let them play..He is always relaying on starter minutes…His rotation is awful..How can you bring in the larry Obrien trophy if you are following last season’s style of substitution, we laker fans believe that this mega laker team can bring the championship this season…however, the coach must consider a lot of suggestions from anybody specifically fans,,because fans are always there to support this team,,,LAKER FOR LIfE..KOBE for Number 6, LAL for no.17

  46. The biggest problem the Lakers have is that they are not playing well on defense.

    Defense wins championships. But they aren’t playing as a team on defense.

    More than the offense, defense requires even more teamwork and constant dedication and desire. The Lakers have to work together more to improve their defense.

  47. snowmassdave-

    I totally agree. Mike Brown MAY be a good coach in practices, etc, etc. But being a good coach also means reacting well to the ebbs and flows of the game. His move is to pretty much panic and start throwing every guy 1-11 out there and hoping someone bails him out. Preseason is over bro.

    Anyway, MB may be a good coach, but I just have never thought he was head coach material. Maybe he’s the greatest assistant known to man.

    Another PG comes to this team and falls off? Somewhere Ramon Sessions is smiling.

  48. The most meaningful data points so far for the Lakers season are these:

    26-20 v. Dallas
    30-19 v. Portland

    Those are the third quarter splits in the two losses with the Lakers on the losing end both times. Which is to say they’re losing games, in part, because they’re not performing well to begin the second half.

    Yes, the offense will require time to master.

    Yes, the defense simply needs to be more hungry and more focused.

    And, yes, the bench players must perform better.

    But those third quarter splits really bear watching. If those two data points turn into a larger trend, the answer to the question of why the Lakers are under-performing will become fairly obvious.

    And it will rhyme with Yike Drown.