Around The World (Wide Web): A Win, Finally

Darius Soriano —  November 5, 2012

From Andy Kamenetzky, ESPN Los AngelesI get to keep living in Los Angeles! Sweet!!! After a tortuous start to the season, the Los Angeles Lakers finally recorded their first win. Obviously, the caliber of opponent does matter, and the Detroit Pistons are in fact a horrible team. They’re not particularly good on either side of the ball, nor are they a collectively experienced squad. Thus, beating the snot out of them doesn’t qualify as a sign that all of the kinks have been worked out and the Lakers will be just fine moving forward. I’m guessing Wednesday’s game at the Utah Jazz will be considerably more challenging. However, just because the Lakers are supposed to destroy lousy opponents doesn’t mean it’s a given to happen, especially considering how they’ve looked during the opening trio of contests. Based on the chatter online, Lakers fans were plenty capable of envisioning a loss, or at the very least, a dogfight win. Thus, coming through to meet expectations is a meaningful step forward. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but a small degree of normalcy has been established, and that’s a nice feeling. Here are three takeaways from the game.

From Mike Bresnahan, LA TimesLakers followers had been on edge lately, clamoring for more points, better defense, better coaching — just about everything. They got the Lakers’ most complete game, by far. The offense wasn’t the same cumbersome mess it was while the Lakers went 0-3 for the first time since 1978. The defense actually held Detroit to 35.4% shooting. There were even plays to remember, Kobe Bryant sending a behind-the-back pass to the post, where Pau Gasol quickly lobbed the ball to Howard for a dunk. It gave the Lakers a 79-44 lead, with 4:49 left in the third quarter. “It feels good to see what we’ve been working on come to fruition out there a little bit,” said Bryant, who had 15 points and eight assists. By beating the Pistons (0-3), the Lakers avoided another uncomfortable statistic among their early-season stumbles. They had not lost their first three home games since 1959. Crisis averted.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los AngelesLos Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown thinks it’s possible Steve Nash will only be out a week because of the fracture to his left leg but said the team isn’t putting pressure on him to rush back. “You obviously hope he’s back as soon as possible,” Brown said Sunday after the team’s shoot around. “But the one thing you don’t want to do, you don’t want to compromise his long-term health for him coming back quicker than he should. So, (trainer) Gary Vitti and the staff are on top of it. We’ll just wait and play it out from there.”

From Mark Travis, Silver Screen & Roll: Dwight Howard was the star of this game for Los Angeles, as he played his most complete game as a Laker thus far. Howard still isn’t back to normal, which makes the fact that he put up 28 points on 12-of-14 shooting even more incredible, but it didn’t matter last night. Howard’s only two misses came on a missed chippy and a missed dunk and it was clear on both plays that Howard couldn’t elevate like usual. Dwight also only had seven rebounds, a modest total for him. In games that he played at least 33 minutes in, Dwight has only had seven or fewer rebounds 23 other times in his career, with four of those games coming against Detroit.

From Mark Medina, LA Daily NewsThere’s nothing that leaves Jerry West more anxious than losing. Considering West serves on the Golden State Warriors’ executive board, the former Lakers Hall of Fame player and general manager finds it inappropriate to discuss the team’s play entering Sunday’s game against the Detroit Pistons with an 0-3 record its 108-79 victory Sunday against the Detroit Pistons. But West could relate to the unsettled feelings. The Lakers also lost their first three games when he coached their 1978-79 team.

From Kevin Ding, OC RegisterIf you have cable, you shouldn’t miss any more Lakers games. Cox Communications agreed to terms with Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes on Sunday, becoming the final major cable operator in the Los Angeles market to pick up the Lakers’ new networks.

-Ryan Cole

Darius Soriano

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34 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): A Win, Finally

  1. Steve Blake looks pretty comfortable with the starters. The bench has no flow and very few offensive threats.

    How about having Nash get his minutes with the bench and just letting him do his thing?

  2. I obviously feel a little better about the Lakers team in general after a convincing, resounding, not as close as the final score indicated, win.

    Kobe continues to look totally bought in on the way the team needs him to play this year. Steve Blake seems to be having something of a resurrection on the defensive end with Dwight getting his back instead of Bynum. MWP had his best game of the year. Darius Morris looked like a capable backup. Pau was solid. And, most importantly, Dwight is starting to look like Dwight.

    You can start to see what Mike’s trying to put together on the offensive and defensive side of the ball in terms of the schemes he wants the team to run.

    However, very little about this game did anything to alleviate my concerns about Brown’s in-game coaching. He did call a good timeout during a mini-Piston run that was a nice sign of improvement on something from last year where he’d wait too long before halting the other team’s momentum and making adjustments.

    But beyond that, the same problems persist with Brown.

    1. Playing players in the wrong positions.

    Ebanks is a three. The way he is picking up fouls and how uncomfortable he looks on the offensive end are both indications that the SG position is not optimal for him. The Front Office opened up their wallets and brought in Meeks, a proven SG backup, specifically to play the role of backup two guard LET HIM DO IT.

    Similarly, Antawn remains a bad choice for the three position. He’s far too slow and old to play that position against athletic threes anymore. On the other hand, he’s a perfect stretch four to play to partner with Dwight.

    2. Managing minutes of the key starters

    For the love of all that’s holy, if you aren’t going to give your starters extra rest up 24 points in the 4th quarter of a blowout, when, exactly, are you going to do it? How safe does a lead need to be before Brown is willing to sit the starters out in a blowout.

    I could see swapping in some different bench players if the ones in the game weren’t getting it done, but bringing in all the starters was a panic driven, idiotic move. Absolutely putrid decision.

    As for Tom’s question of bringing Nash in off the bench…I think it is a very good thought. I’ve had the same one recently and I love it. Blake needs a structured offense to maximize what he brings to the table. Nash is more comfortable pushing the ball and probing around and having the ball in his hands constantly. It would also be a nice way of keeping Nash’s minutes down and a perfect way of fixing the bench.

  3. Tom,

    I was thinking that too, but with Dwight. So basically we’re back to the old suggestions of Kobe + Pau and Nash + Dwight for extended stretches, which rr and others have previously advocated for. Here’s hoping our esteemed coach will give those couplings more chances to play together.

  4. Someone else made this point, but it bears repeating. There are only so many minutes Kobe, Pau, and Nash can play. A good percentage of those minutes needs to be together with Dwight. That only leaves a small number of minutes for all these alternative lineups people want to see. And game to game match ups have to be taken into account. Momentum has to be taken into account as well.

    It is not as easy as some think to just plug x player here and y player there. Achieving a perfect balance of minutes and effectiveness will be a season long endeavor no matter who the who coach is.

  5. I agree with the theory of playing Nash with the bench, he can revert to playing Nashball, probing and getting the guys wide open looks, while Blake plays with the starters, essentially just bringing the ball up the court, dishing it to Kobe/Pau/Dwight then spotting up along the perimeter. However, Brown will not do it. He wouldn’t do it last year with Sessions, he certainly won’t do it with a player of Nash’s caliber.

    This is what I just don’t understand about Brown. He is unconventional with his rotations one minute, then conventional the next. The last couple games he’s played Ebanks and at some points, Metta, at the backup 2, with Jamison at the 3, Hill at the 4 and either Pau/Dwight at the 5, while giving Meeks no playing time. Unconventional. But he wouldn’t even entertain the idea of Sessions coming off the bench, just because he was a bigger name than Blake. He believes the best player at each position should start. Conventional. Apparently he wasn’t paying much attention to his years in San Antonio when Manu (top 3 SG league-wide) came off the bench.

    Now, I’m not whole-heartedly endorsing bringing Nash off of the bench, but we can make the argument as to why it would work, there’s legitimacy in it. Brown’s latest argument? Length = better defense, so he plays Ebanks at the 2, who doesn’t have to guard skills to do so, and Jamison at the 3, a position that he couldn’t defend in his prime, let alone now.

    I’ve been on the patient, wait and see, side of the fence when it comes to Brown, from his hire up to this point. But his rotations and complete lack of in game adjustments are starting to worry me, plain and simple.

  6. Rather than bringing Nash off the bench, what about starting Nash-Kobe-Metta-Hill-Howard and bring Pau off the bench? Let him play more minutes at the 5 (did anyone see him in the Olympics?) and be the anchor/go-to guy in the 2nd unit. I really feel that this year, just like last, he is being put out of position at the high block when he is so much better with his back to the basket. Could you imagine Pau being guarded by backup 5s? He’d be 20/10 off the bench every night.

  7. The Lakers only hit 3 shots outside of the paint and the 3 point line last night. http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/shot-chart/201211040LAL.html

  8. With the Laker’s talent, Vince Lombardi (yes the football coach from the 60′s) could win 60 games. So in other words, when they are motivated and come to play like last night, they will beat most teams, and a good leader (Lombardi – who is not a basketball coach) could get that done. This was a must win, at home, against an inferior opponent. No Princeton needed, no fancy schemes, not even any rotations, – just lace em up and get it done. Where a motivator is needed is on the back end of back to backs on the road, in the long road trips in January or Fenruary, or when there are injuries or adversity. So a good leader could get us 60 games. To get us a title – we need a good leader/motivator, and we need a good strategy guy to beat the top teams. So the question is: Do we have that? And if we slog along at a 50-55 win pace, is that indicative of such? I am willing to stick with the 15 game plan, as long as we have the backup plan ready.

  9. It is not as easy as some think to just plug x player here and y player there

    I agree that real coaching is much, much, harder than we keyboard GMs sometimes seem to act like it is.

    That said, Phil had stable rotations for years and years and years, and one of his key principles with the Bulls was that either Jordan or Pippen was on the floor at all times until the game was decided. I think applying the same principle here with pairs makes sense, although doing so would require a little more thought.

    Basically, Kobe, Nash, Pau and Howard should all be playing 30-35 minutes a game. It wouldn’t really be that hard to have 10 minutes a game with Nash/Meeks/Ebanks/Jamison/Howard and another 10 minutes with Blake/Kobe/Metta/Hill/Pau. Brown is getting paid $4M a year in part to think about stuff like that, and the Lakers’ roster is weak enough 5-10 that they have a hard time competing with only one of the Core Four out there.

  10. One thing consistent about the rotation is Brown is bringing the starters back in at 7 mins left in 2nd and 4th. He could do a better job mix matching the lineups but it won’t matter because nobody on our bench can score even when paired with the starters. Lakers bench have been doubled up 147 – 73 through 4 games. The fix for this isn’t pairing them with stars.

  11. Nice work, Darius. I see you took my post about Stuckey to heart and converted into a whole article on PBT…

  12. MB has to let the bench get some type of minutes regardless if he is a neurotic control freak who figures he smarter than everyone in the room. If 4 Hall of Fame talents are having trouble getting comfortable with this offense, the 2nd team is definitely going to have a harder time. This is not the bench of last year where it was understood that expectations should be slim to none. LA has players that can contribute if put in the right situation too succeed and not asked to play out of position. For a man who is always preaching patient and a big picture view of things he definitely rules the bench out of any of that thinking. Be it with one star or two stars on the court Brown has to find a way, thats what coaches are paid to do, If he cant then he will burn out the starters and the playoffs will be like a bad horror movie with one too many sequels.

  13. Kevin: “The fix for this isn’t pairing them with stars.”
    Well – certainly that is not the whole fix. It could help, but the fact is that the bench guys must simply play better. Jamison somehow put in 17 ppg just last year. And now? How is that possible? J Hill showed flashes of good play last year that has yet to be displayed this year. Blake made a stride last game, but everyone else on the bench has had their minutes and situations so jerked around that they do not know which end is up. So your implication above – (a roster which is too top heavy) – could be correct, however as I have said, if you are correct = no banner. We can’t win it all with those types of bench stats. I am a little more optimistic albeit in a warped way. I am hoping our problems are fixable as follows: Either Mike Brown transforms into a basketball leader/genius quickly, or – well you know : )

  14. Just math wise…. minutes would be like this:

    1st Q:
    Nash – Kobe – Metta – Pau – Dwight = 5 minutes
    Blake – Kobe(9) – Jamison – Hill – Pau(9) = 4 minutes
    Nash(8) – Ebanks – Metta(8) – Hill(7) – Dwight(8) = 3 minutes

    2nd Q:
    Blake(9) – Kobe(14) – Jamison (9) – Hill(9) – Pau(14) = 5 minutes
    Nash(13)- Ebanks(8) – Metta(13) – Jamison(14) – Dwight (13) = 5 minutes
    Nash(15)-Kobe(16) – Metta (15) – Pau(16) – Dwight(15) = 2 minutes

    Of course I’m not advocating these lineups per se, but it is definitely possible to have at least two to three starters on the court at all times while keeping their minutes to 30-35 each. That of course requires a sixth man playing nearly starters minutes (hopefully) or having the minutes more split… but either way, it is not rocket science to figure out substitution patterns and lineups that allow for at least 2-3 starters at all times and enable them to finish the game while everyone is on the floor.

  15. Find it difficult to be ‘overly’ critical of the bench when it’s quite obvious that they’re not being put in a position to succeed. This falls directly on the Coach and Jim C summed it up perfectly in his 1st Reference Point regarding Coach Brown.

    Shifting gears, while the rumors of Nash possibly being out up to a month is upsetting, I’m not surprised in the least bit. As I mentioned in a previous post, when the injury occured, it looked much more severe than the initial diagnosis of a ‘leg bruise.’ The knee is not built to buckle inwards to that extent. At his age, just hope that he’s allowed to take his time with it and productive play by Blake & Morris (possibly Duhon) will go a long way in providing Nash that opportunity.

  16. Kevin,

    I see those numbers as an argument for a plan along these lines, not one against it. Simply put, the Lakers don’t have a “second unit” per se; they have four stars and eight guys who are weak/limited/borderline NBA players. That is why they need stars on the court at all times. Also, Nash has only played one game all the way and Meeks has barely played at all.

    Robert has talked about leadership, and one key element of a good leader, in any field, is putting the people working for you in position to succeed. I think most people agree that with the current Lakers means:

    a) Not running the core into the ground.
    b) Not putting the bench out there as a group.
    c) Defining the bench players’ roles.

    The type of rotation Harold demo’d might lose more regular season games than people would like, but the starters mught be a little fresher, and the bench a little more confident, come playoff time. And it is not as if the Lakers are rolling now.

    Finally, I hate to be too negative, but I think Blake, Morris and MWP looked better last night mostly because Detroit is so bad. I hope I am wrong, but I think we will be back here talking about the sme issues and quite possibly another L after the game in Utah.

  17. Simonoid,
    Ha. Not quite. But you can always fall back on that saying about great minds if you like.

  18. Completely agree rr.

    Felt from day one Nash signing could be a season long tease. Back issues coming in, step slower, no BB in off season and pin balling around on D was going to make him “Bend him like Nash”. 38 year old 180 pound point guards are few and far between,

    Should be a 24 minute a game guy until post but Mike not able to comprehend.

  19. Robert: That’s exactly what it is we were expecting big things from Jamison. At least 14 ppg he’s given Lakers nothing.

    rr: Pau or Howard are on the floor at all times same as when Bynum or Pau were. This team has no difference maker off the bench.

    There may be some things to harp on Brown for. But the talent on Lakers bench isn’t one of them. They just aren’t that good.

  20. The bench may be well below average, but Brown is not giving them an opportunity to contribute. He’s playing players out of position. Guys like Meeks and Ebanks have no idea when they will enter or exit the game. His erratic rotations make it difficult for any of the bench players to find a rhythm or gain some confidence. Brown seems unable to see the big picture and unlike Phil Jackson, has no clue about the importance of psychology in this game. Josh McRoberts was getting minutes before and after playing for Brown. Meeks was a starter for a spell under Doug Collins. I see Poppovich, Collins, and other solid coaches do their best to prop up the confidence of their young players. Brown, on the other hand, does his best to kill the confidence of his young guys.

    He coaches like a desperate poker player playing on tilt, trying to win back his rent money. How can anyone defend a coach who plays Kobe for almost the entire game on a bad foot……… puts his starters back in against Detroit, playing at home with a 24 point lead…….has a 3 hour practice on the day of a preseason game? This is not a coach who is coaching for a championship, this is a desperate and nervous coach who is trying to keep his job.

  21. Kevin,

    No, the bench isn’t very good–which is why the Lakers need two stars out there as much as possible, and again, Brown is not putting Ebanks, Jamison and obviously Meeks in position to succeed as much as their limited skills will allow. Also, leaving the bench out of it, there might simply be some value to cutting the Core Four’s MPG.

    I would be fine with a couple of personnel moves–a new backup 3 and a new backup 1. But I don’t see that happening for at least a month, so Brown has to work with what he has, and IMO he is doing a poor job of it.

  22. Detroit did not pressure the ball
    –When teams have pressured the ball vs this team, more turnovers happen and we start our offense later in the shot clock.

    Jordan Hill played great, especially in the 4th quarter
    -Why on earth would you take him out and give Pau more minutes (or Dwight, take your pick)

    Supposedly, MB wants to play Ebanks at the 2 and Jamison at the 3 because he wants length on the floor. But I saw too many turnovers and poor defense when this lineup was on the floor.
    –We know what Jamison did as a 4 last year, why put him at a different position?
    –Why put Ebanks at a position where he is slower and more prone to causing turnovers and inefficiency, offensively?
    –If those two play the 4 and 3, Isn’t Meeks a solid fit at the 2? (Solid from 3, Decisive Offensively, above Average Defender)

    Shouldn’t this have been figured out in the preseason?

  23. Kevin Ding is wrong: Comcast still haven’t signed on. This puts people like me in North SB County SOL in terms of Lakers games. Damn you carriage agreements! Damn you!

  24. rr: We agree on playing players out of position. But will playing Ebanks as a sf dramatically increase his production? I’m not sure it will. And Brown tinkering with his already millions of lineups slow down the building chemistry? I think it’s a pro and con to both sides and no easy answers.

  25. Kevin,
    I agree that there are no easy answers, but I don’t think there is any chemistry building; I just think they played what is probably the NBA’s worst team at the moment. As to Ebanks, I am not concerned about Ebanks’ production, such as it is. I simply think that Meeks should be playing 15 minutes a game, for all the reasons listed by many here.

    FWIW, the Clippers have lost back-to-back home games to Golden State and Cleveland since they beat the Lakers.

  26. I could envision Nash playing a lot of minutes with a J.Hill, Jamison/Gasol, Ebanks, Meeks kind of lineup, and just go bonanza in pick and roll with Hill. Might turn Hill into a sixth man of the year candidate. And Nash has the genius to lift everyone to a much higher level.

  27. Scorchee: “Jordan Hill played great, especially in the 4th quarter
    -Why on earth would you take him out and give Pau more minutes (or Dwight, take your pick)”

    What? Are you joking? You guys pile on Brown for running his main rotation into the ground and risking them unnecessary injury, but when he takes Hill out, you don’t think that maybe, just maybe, he was trying to save him from possibly aggravating his back after that awkward fall? Nevermind that this guy already dodged surgery during the preseason after he strained his back. Nevermind that we traded for two players with a history of back problems, and one of them recovering from the exact same kind of back injury right now. No. Brown’s an idiot for playing Pau 32mpg — despite this being a decrease from his team-high 39mpg. Sorry, I can’t go along with this illogic.

  28. Kevin: Talking about the talent level of the bench and whether it is real or whether it is caused by coaching is a catch22. Nobody will know, unless that is we either make a dramatic turn around under MB or he is replaced.

    I do not buy that AJ went from 17 ppg to being completely inept because he is 6 months older. I do not buy that Jordan Hill can go from being a very good back up to being completely inept at random times (and this dates to last year – not just after the back). I do not buy that changing guys minutes dramatically each game and putting them in at completely different times and situations is helpful.

    So if the rotations were changed and the coaching for these guys was changed – they “could” play significantly better.

    On the other hand, you “could” be correct. Our bench may indeed be horrible, but if that is the case – then we are not contenders.

  29. As crazy as it sounds, if MB play the starters together and then, put the entire bench together (Blake, Meeks, Ebanks, Jamison, Hill), we all should agree that it will be an improvement from coaching staff compared to what we’ve seen lately.

  30. Magic Phil, that’s hilarious but not even that crazy. I wonder how 5 bench players would do, without any starters. At least it’d be stable roles, can’t be any worse than what’s already going on…

  31. Cloud,— “he takes Hill out, you don’t think that maybe, just maybe, he was trying to save him from possibly aggravating his back after that awkward fall?”

    I remember Hill getting hit hard, but I couldn’t find it when I rewatched part of the game just now.

    I skipped throgh the 4th quarter… I watched Hill the entire time (looking for hard falls, ect, didn’t see one, but I know there was one) He looked fantastic!!!!! …important notes.
    —–9:52 left in the game (coming back from TV timeout) Laker’s reporter saying Meeks is on the bench because MB wants length on the floor followed by Stu Lantz grilling MB about it in the nicest way possible… shot of Meeks looking depressed on the bench (he’s not in the game)
    —–8:44 Kobe, Dwight, Blake in (Jamison and HILL still in)
    —–8:11 O-Rebound, HILL… PUTBACK… FOULED…AND 1
    —–7:42 Hill gets subbed out
    —–5:30 Hill Subbed Back in

    IF MB WAS SO DESPERATE TO GET HILL OUT BECAUSE OF HIS BACK, WHY WERE THERE 6 POSSESSIONS WITH NO INTENTIONAL FOUL OR TIMEOUT CALLED? WHY WAS HE SUBBED BACK IN

    Can we agree that your statement was more illogical than mine?

  32. Nash & Howard rest for the last 6mins of the 1st qtr. Kobe & Pau rest 1st 6mins of the 2nd. This gets repeated in 2nd half. What’s so hard about that? They will all play at most 36 mins… Less mins in blow outs.. This is soo simple even a cave Man can comprehend this.

    Our starters will increase leads most days against most teams, its the job of the bench to maintain or further increase the lead.
    Bench A: Blake, Kobe, ron, hill, Pau
    Bench B: Nash, Meeks, Ebanks, Jamison, Dwight.

    This is easy