Lakers/Pistons: There Will Be Wins

Phillip Barnett —  November 4, 2012

For the first time this season, preseason included, the Lakers ended the game with more points than their opponents. After jumping out to a tone-setting 34-13 lead after the first quarter, the Lakers were finally victorious with a 108-79 win over the Pistons. With the game pretty much decided coming out of the half, I’ll spare you the details of a normal recap and share a few notes from the game. 

  • The Lakers came out early with a concerted effort to establish an inside game and get Dwight the ball. He was able to get an early bucket and some free throws right out of the gate. However, the Lakers had three turnovers in the first six minutes trying to force the ball inside — twice trying to get the ball to Howard and once trying to get it into Pau. They were also able to push the ball on some misses and get Dwight and Pau running the lane. Dwight took a pass from Artest late in the first after running the lane and getting position on Greg Monroe. Because it was early in the shot clock, the defense didn’t get set with enough time to double him. Howard went baseline and used the rim for protection and ended up with an easy lay up. Howard’s great play would continue throughout the whole game to the tune of 26 points on 11-13 shooting (note: I wrote his stats at the time he sat in the 3rd quarter, not thinking he’d return. I’m taking a stand an not updating the one made shot and two points in hopes that Mike Brown never, ever does that again).
  • The point guard play was much improved tonight. Steve Blake filled in for Nash and played to his strengths. He pushed the ball in transition when he could, found the open man and did his best to limit turnovers. He made sure the offense was run, but rarely forced the issue (had a couple TO’s trying to get the ball in the paint when that option simply wasn’t available). When he was off the ball, he took the open three pointers when it was wise to take them and knocked down two of three. There isn’t any one thing from his line that will scream at you, but he did play a fantastic game and left his finger print all over the boxscore with six points, 6 assists, five rebounds, five steals. 
  • Kobe had yet another efficient basketball game. He scored 15 points on five-for-10 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and eight assists. Kobe, like Blake, came in and stuck with the game plan early. He got the ball into Dwight and Pau early and often and picked his spots wisely. He took a couple of ill-advised jumpers and a questionable layup attempt after some great ball movement early in the third quarter, but out side of that, there was really little to fault from Kobe’s game tonight. He hit a deep, contested three that got some “ooohhs” and received a brilliant pass from Ron while cutting to the basket late in the 2nd quarter that ended with an acrobatic layup that got him some “aaahhhhs”. He also threw a dagger to a wide open Howard that should have ended with his 9th assist, but Howard missed the dunk all by him self (one of Howard’s two misses) and made a great pass to Jamison in transition in garbage time (when he should have been sitting) which got Jamison to the line, but again, another non-assist. It’s not one of those memorable Kobe nights, but it was an efficient, well played game. 
  • Defensively, things still weren’t great, but they did look a lot better, especially limiting dribble penetration and easy looks in the paint. They did a better job of funneling perimeter players to the Lakers bigs and making guys shoot over the collective length of the team instead of getting around them. The Lakers had eight blocks as a team, largely due to the efforts of the perimeter guys putting offensive players in positions outside of their comfort zone. They were also able to get their hands on the ball and deflect some passes, strip guys on their way up for shots, and get some steals to get them out in transition. They caused 15 TOs tonight and scored 21 points off of those turnovers. Even with that, the Pistons had a 9-0 run against the Lakers starting unit by getting in the paint or in transition and the reserves gave up a 12-0 run that forced Mike Brown’s hand as he got the starters back in a rout. Overall, they moved much better as a unit. The rotations looked better than they had all year and they finished possessions with rebounds. 

Yeah, the Lakers’ first win of the season was over the lowly Pistons, but they needed to start somewhere. With the news about Steve Nash being out longer than the one week originally reported it was great for the Lakers to finally get a win, and hopefully it’s something they can build on. We saw some nice things on the court tonight that they can continue to do with success no matter who the opponent is. The Lakers will have a few nights off before a matchup with the Jazz on Wednesday. 

Phillip Barnett

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33 responses to Lakers/Pistons: There Will Be Wins

  1. Wow… what is wrong with Rodney Stuckey?

    Three games for him from the field: 0-7, 1-10, 0-6.

    Sure, small sample size, but at least it’s consistent and it’s a sparkling FG% of 6 percent…

  2. Anyone know why Mike Brown made Kobe and Dwight go back in the 4th quarter to play against the Detroit subs?

  3. Well if the Big Four play in this manner, then they don’t really need Nash even for two weeks. One advantage, Blake get accustomed of being a PG and reduce his TO; 2nd, he transfers this knowledge to 2nd unit when Nash gets back; 3rd, it reduces the wear and tear of Nash and from the sideline, he may found the need of him to get involve than just play ball distributor. See, when Gasol moved aggressively, if frees Howard from sagging double team in the post. Therefore, if Nash is active, Kobe is active, Dwight is active & also Gasol – that’s the topic of Lakers strength we have been talking for all summer. We need burning ass’es not PO.

  4. He had visions of being a assistant coach at the high school in Santa Ana his son go’s to if by some crazy chance his scrubs blew things.

  5. in my our language “sa wakas” in english “finally” a much celebrated win of our team…hoping for 30 consecutive wins from now on hehehe!!! go lakers!!!

  6. Casual Fan, well after three losses Mike Brown wants to be assured of victory. He is not confident with the bench yet. However, he found a solution by mixing the bench and two starters.

    IMO, the 2nd unit will be composed of 5Hill, 3Ebanks, 4Jamison, 1Blake and 2Meeks. Brown should not bench Meeks and interchange him Ebanks. The shooting power of Meeks and Blake in the perimeter should be developed and constantly used during this early part season, It would give them the confidence once to get used to it during playoffs . Right now, they are engaged on those lateral passing conscious of PO thereby committing more TO’s or out of control assist from Morris. They have to developed a tempo, Jamison has to be aggressive and look for his lay ups, he is the guy who could empower the 2nd unit, at present he is reluctant gunner! During practices, try to play the 2nd unit against the starters that’s the only way they become better when they are trusted to play regularly.

  7. The starters came back in the 4th because the 2nd unit looked completely inept out there. Inept enough to blow a 24 pt lead in one quarter? Hey, you never know…

    This being MB, he overreacted & put in nearly all the starters back in, instead of, say, having the 2nd unit anchored by a rotation of starters. My guess is he panicked at the thought of even a remote possibility of losing the game and getting fired on the spot.

  8. The team was in sync tonight had a gameplan and stuck to it. Lakers broke their will in the 2nd quarter. Now that they got the first win hopefully they can settle down get in a groove and get a win streak going.

    Darius just wrote a post saying Lakers should simplify the offense and defense.Can’t say for sure it happened but it looked to be. They ran the same play for a big about 30 times. And it kept working.

    Many asked for Olympic Kobe and we got him. 4 straight games over 50% fg and it’s all been pretty effortless and in the flow of the game. Haven’t seen Kobe start a season this good since his MVP campaign in 08.

    The bench is horrible.

    Mike Brown lives another day and kept his cool the way Spoelstra did 2 years ago. None of the players ever waivered in saying give it time it’ll work out. They bought themselves 15 games from me. Go Lakers!!!

  9. @Scott November 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm, Yes, that is a good guess.

  10. Great to see the Lakers get a win tonight. It was the first time all season that they looked comfortable and what they might look like on both ends of the court when they start to gel.

    About the only criticism I have on the night is Mike Brown inserting the starters back in when up more than 20 in the 4th quarter.

    If you aren’t going to get the starters extra rest on a night like this, then when will you? Mitch needs to have a talk with him about the importance of getting older players extra rest when the opportunity presents itself.

  11. Mike Brown might be a good coach, but he just comes across like a clumsy, fidgeting, slow-witted intern at times:

    “What it does more than anything else, especially winning the way we did, defending the way we did first of all and playing the way we did offensively…”

    So especially defensively and offensively the team was good. I mean, who needs Popovich and Phil Jackson quotes when you have MB to enlighten us.

  12. Obviously, the Lakers lost the first 3 games on purpose as part of an elaborate prank on Laker fans. The prank was Kobe’s idea, as Dwight Howard’s hilarious sense of humor has rubbed off on him.
    But for real I think the Lakers will look like they did Sunday much more often than they looked like in their first three games. Dwight is the key, if he’s near 100% he can compensate for most of the the laker weaknesses, which are still present and will be in the future especially if Nash misses a lot of time. Stu estimated that Dwight is at 85% right now so he needs to play as much as he can to get in basketball shape. Mike brown should have let Pau and Kobe rest though. i have my own blog post on this subject here:
    http://4hoopsheads.com/articles/lakers-win-their-first-game-of-the-season-will-probably-win-more-at-some-point-hopefully-soon–2#

    Random Note: There’s a lot of great laker analysis here and on Silver Screen and Roll but the best is Stu Lantz, he’s almost always right about everything and he never tries to sugar coat his criticism. During the preseason games Stu was really hard on the lakers and I thought he needed to chill out cuz it was only pre-season and that doesn’t matter and then the Lakers looked terrible in their first three games. They should just make Stu the coach at this point.

  13. Darius,

    How do the advertisers know I’m super excited and interested in Coach handbags? They go perfectly with my leggings and other drag apparel.

  14. On a more Lakers related note, I disagree with a lot of criticism of Mike reinserting the starters. The move was precipitated by a team flaw that Brown’s biggest detractors also consistently harp on. The bench was playing horrible and did not deserve to stay on the floor. Having the second unit squander two-thirds of a lead isn’t a learning opportunity, but pulling a guy who’s playing like trash during garbage time is an appropriate message.

    I still think that problems with the rotations have persisted even in this victory. Meeks barely got burn with the second unit and Ebanks is definitely not the answer at the 2. It seems that Brown wants him to explore his shot creator game and Devin is just not there yet. Fortunately we didn’t see any Dwight and Gasol pairings with the second unit. Mike’s learned that lesson quick (and hopefully permanently). Now if he can get over this infatuation with Jamison at the 3. Moving him to the 4 would improve our spacing on offense and defense! Draws out the opposing power forward on the attack opening lanes for penetration, and keeps him guarding slower players that he can stay behind on the other end. When will these obvious adjustments come?

  15. Kareem,

    I simply don’t think that Mike Brown will do those obvious adjustments anytime soon… First of all, until proven otherwise, I don’t think MB is competent at his job. I don’t care how much film you study, if you fail to adapt your team to the opponent you face or adjust your offensive/defensive plans to better suit the strengths of your own roster, then you’re just not very good.

    Mike Brown didn’t have any success as a head coach before being hired and since this is year 2 in LA, I can honestly say that our coach is probably even worse than our bench. Playing a 68 years old Jamison at SF makes no sense at all, yet he insists on it. Playing Ebanks at SG makes even less sense, yet it keeps happening. Not using a shooter like Meeks is… well, my english isn’t good enough to translate what I’m thinking about.

    Now, about this game, I’ll take the glass half empty approach: we beat the Pistons. The Pistons may well be one of the worst teams in the league and apart from the Celtics (we do own them), we didn’t get a single signature win since Mike Brown was hired. I would like to see us win a couple of games against good teams at full strength before stopping any criticism of Mike Brown…

  16. I’d also like to add a note to say that the 4th Q substitution was justified. The bench unit gave up 12(?) straight points and did not look anything like they could handle what was happening on the floor. I was scared sitting at home. Everyone before the game said it was a must-win and MB knew it.

    I agree that finding a rotation where the stars are spread through the game is important, but it’s not that easy when you also have to find a starter rotation that can set the tone and close out games amid a lot of new faces and injuries. We haven’t seen what Jamison still has in the tank, more than we’ve seen I think. Darius tweeted wanting to see a “Nash/Meeks (if he ever plays)/Ebanks/Jamison/Howard” lineup which can definitely work, but getting a minutes spread that can try out these combinations takes time.

    I often talk about Miami’s experience being instructive for this Lakers squad – it’s not an overnight process to get everyone working together when you don’t have a strong structure in place already. Boston can just throw their new talent in the mix because they are doing what they’ve done for a few years and their PG/wing/interior first options are set on offense and defense. The Lakers do not have a running vehicle in the same way, Kobe and Pau know what each other are doing but Dwight is used to being his own thing (Nash too). Long-held habits will have to change and it will not happen in 5, 20, or even 40 games. If the Lakers work it out by game 60 then that will be a success. Here’s hoping.

  17. Lakers went to the team doctor complaining about their winless season. Doctor told them “take two aspirin and play the Piston at home.” On another front: According to Elias Sports Bureau: In the Lakers three losses, Kobe Bryant scored 92 of the team’s 292 points (31.5 percent) In Sunday’s win against the Pistons, Kobe scored 15 of the team’s 108 points (13.9 percent)
    [-]
    Kobe Bryant This Season
    1st 3 Games 0-3 Sunday 1-0

    PPG: 30.7 15
    FGA PG: 19 10
    APG: 1.3 8

    Coincidence? I hope so.

  18. From Dave McMenamin: Pau on the starters going back in the game late: “Sometime Mike gets a little nervous.”

  19. Instead of re-inserting the starters while they still had a 24-point lead, he could have tried throwing in somebody like Meeks at that point to see if he could provide some scoring punch. After all, somebody has to assume that role at some point off of the bench.

    Personally, I thought it was a bush move on Brown’s part re-inserting the starters, indicating his overriding insecurity in his job. Sure, you may not have any confidence in the bench, but this isn’t any way to develop it. And by not waiting until the lead was down to say, 12 or 14, it indicates that he doesn’t have much confidence in the starters to hold a lead either.

  20. I have harped on the Meeks thing several times, so I would echo Darius, Kareem and Renato here. Meeks was signed to a two-year deal at the the mini-mid level to fill a specific role (backing up Kobe) and to do a specific job (shooting 3s and spacing the floor) and his track record indicates that he can do those things adequately. I am not sure what the issue is–maybe the way Meeks is practicing–but Brown is blowing it. It was clear before the season that Jamison’s value, if he has any, would be as a stretch 4 to play with Howard. Ebanks’ future, if he has one, is as a 15 MPG backup 3. Given how weak the Lakers’ bench is, Brown needs to utilize them better.

  21. I’m tired of Brown’s antics. The bench would be fine if it didn’t look so badly mismanaged. This Pistons team was on another level of bad compared to Mavericks/Trailblazers. I won’t expect any positives until they beat a sound playoff team with Kobe/Pau playing only 25 – 30min. I think you gotta manage Pau’s minutes since he burns out by playoffs unless he’s shipped out by trade deadline.

  22. Nothing to be excited for here: the Lakers beat a team that they were supposed to. Detroit is FAR weaker than LA and for the Lakers to win by less than a 30 point margin would have been unacceptable. Hopefully this a start of the dominant season that we were all promised.

  23. BigCitySid,

    I’m not sure what your point is. Kobe played incredibly well in those three loses and did not force his game but for a few instances. The “coincidence” has several easy explanations. Most everyone else was playing poorly and turnovers/terrible defense. Kobe’s offensive success, if anything, helped forestall even bigger blowouts. He can’t win with you, can he? Did you even watch the games?

  24. BigCitySid-

    This is precisely what’s wrong with cherry picking statistics without watching the game. The reason that this team came away with a victory against the Pistons has more to do with the rest of the team playing better than how many points Kobe scored. When you put together stats like you did it makes it seem like you’re argument is that Kobe is trying to score too much, so far this year, when that is completely false.

    Here are some more stats:
    MWP GM 4
    7-11 fg 3-6 3pfg 18 points. 63%

    MWP GM 1-3
    8-28 fg 3-13 3pfg 21 pts 28%

    Metta scored almost as many points in one single game as he had in the previous 3. He made almost as many shots as he had in the previous 3. He made as many 3 pointers as he had in the previous 3. His fg percentage was more than double what it had been in the previous 3. Do you see a trend here? Look, I get that you have an anti-Kobe bias, but come one man! Kobe has been pretty darn magnificent in the first 4 games of this year. Give it a rest.

  25. Pretty obviously, when Metta outscores Kobe, the Lakers win.

  26. When the starters were inserted in the fourth quarter, Dwight’s reaction said it all. He looked confused and annoyed at Mike Brown’s decision. Dwight played for the original Master of Panic in Orlando, but Mike Brown’s level of panic makes Stan Van Gundy look like a meditating monk.

    When a coach is in a constant state of panic, looking at the picture and resting the veterans will not be a priority, or even on the radar. Building confidence for the bench will be an impossible task because the coach has none to begin with. Making solid rotations and game adjustments will be difficult because panic takes over rational thought.

    If the Lakers are to win it all this year, they will have to overcome Brown’s toxic nervous energy, fatigue and injuries from getting over played, lack of confidence from being under played, and a whole set of obstacles that stem from either Mike Brown’s constant state of panic or his low basketball IQ. This team has the talent and the veterans to overcome those obstacles, but it won’t be easy.

  27. I am appalled by Mike Brown’s coaching. Complete nonsense this guy. This was the perfect game to work with the bench, build some confidence for Meeks, Ebanks, Jamison and Morris. There’s an art to developing role players…ask Greg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Phil Jackson or even newer successful coaches like Rick Carlisle and Eric Spolstra. Mike Brown is clueless when it comes to developing any semblance of a bench.

    And another very very important thing to look at with Mike Brown..he just doesn’t look or feel like an NBA head coach. I agree with the earlier post from TheDane that Brown just comes across like a clumsy, dim witted intern most of the time AND even the players look at him as such. Case in point, just see Howard’s befuddled expression when he was asked to enter the game in the 4th quarter with the LAKERS UP BY 24!!! I can almost guarantee that the players are scratching their heads and perhaps even laughing at Brown behind closed doors. In the pre-season, I saw an interview with Steve Nash after a 3 hour practice on the DAY OF THE GAME, where he had the same confused, and even slightly amused look in his face as he said something along the lines of, “Well, that was a first. Haven’t seen that in seventeen years in this league.” And even more than the words, were Nash’s confused look about Mike Brown that was very telling. Kobe also had quite a few similarly befuddled moments with Brown since last season.

    Needless to say, you don’t want the head coach of a storied franchise like the Lakers and the ring leader of a group with four future Hall of Famers garner this kind of almost comical attention from his star players. Brown just doesn’t have that “IT” factor you desperately need to be the alpha dog, among a team full of alpha dogs.

    I am a long time, die hard Lakers fan and I hate to be this negative, but it just kills me to see Kobe’s last few years wasted by this moron of a non-head coach.

  28. Very well said LTMitchell. We bloggers surely can’t be only people noticing Mike Brown’s deficiencies. Oh well, lets hope Kupchack & Jimmy Buss come to their senses.

  29. Honestly, I saw the bench ready to give back all of that lead. They let Detroit run off something in the neighborhood of 12 straight points. If the Lakers were 3-0 or even 2-1 I could see letting bench play it out, and taking the loss if necessary. With an 0-3 record they couldn’t let that game slip away.

    If the lead had gotten down to 10 or 12 with 6 minutes left people would be fuming because Brown didn’t insert the starters sooner. With the team having gone so long without a win I can let this slide. Right now a win was more important than teaching a lesson to the subs.

  30. Actually, if Brown had waited till the lead got down to 10-12 points with six minutes left before re-inserting the starters, I’d be singing his praises right now.

    If he burns out his somewhat aged starting crew again this year before the playoffs, the Lakers aren’t going anywhere.

  31. Ken Oak/ Kareem,

    the only reason anyone is “happy” about the Lakers beating the Pistons is because it’s their 1st win…period. For the record, I’ve watched every game and personally I felt the Piston game was one of his better games of the season. No he didn’t score 30 or 40 pts w/ one or two assist while everyone else stood around in a loss. He moved the ball around for 8 assist (he only totaled four in the 1st three losses) and scored 15 point.

    Yes the Lakers are having issues with their new offense, everyone knows Kobe can iso, but recent years have shown the Lakers can’t win like that…unless you guys are ok going out in the 2nd round. Believe it or not, I’m not anti-Kobe, just pro Lakers. I like what’s best for the team, regardless of a players individual numbers, I don’t play fantasy b-ball.

    Kobe has made it known time & time again, this is his team, he eats 1st. He will get the credit when they win, and the blame when they lose, regardless of his individual numbers. Because to me, the most important numbers as of tonight pertaining to this team is 1-3. Everything else is secondary.

  32. RG- I totally agree. We’ll look back on Kobe’s last few years and point to the Mike Brown hire as a complete waste of a very, very productive Kobe Bryant. It also kills me.

    Again, I’d love to be wrong.