Around the World (Wide Web): D’Antoni is Undefeated

Phillip Barnett —  November 21, 2012

From Zach Harper, Eye On Basketball: They still have Steve Blake and, more importantly, Steve Nash to add back to this roster. They will have a more well-rounded attack at the point guard slot and that will allow them to push the tempo more often like they did in the first few minutes of the game and spread the floor. Kobe won’t have to force as much of the action at the end of games, and he’ll be able to find his way into easier scoring opportunities to put opponents away. Looking at Tuesday’s game, Dwight shot 36.8 percent from the free-throw line, the players not legally named Metta World Peace shot 2 of 12 from 3-point range, and Deron Williams torched Darius Morris for most of this game. And they still walked away with the victory over a quality team. Dwight won’t always shoot that poorly, the Lakers won’t always be that inept from outside and Steve Nash will still get scored on by the opposing All-Star point guard. However, he’l be Steve Nash on the other end of the floor and not Darius Morris, who will take time to learn his place in the flow of the system.

From Brian Kamenetzky, Lakers Index: He’s not going to stretch a defense beyond the 3-point line, but Pau Gasol’s ability to move the ball out of the high post opposite the high screen was key. On multiple possessions, the Lakers used pick-and-roll action with Bryant and Howard, and Kobe went away from the roll man to Gasol at the opposite elbow. Gasol fed the corner, he fed Howard, he found himself open for jumpers or he skipped a pass over the defense to the weakside corner. Gasol finished the night with a team-high seven assists … and could have had a few more. On a team without top-end 3-point shooting, his ability to make the right pass, grease an offense and perform multiple functions will be huge. On top of the passing, he added 17 points and 11 boards.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: Howard’s struggles from the line were particularly pronounced during the fourth quarter when he connected on just 3-of-10 attempts and the Lakers’ offense seemed to grind to a halt. However, as dicey as things got with Howard turning freebies into anything but free, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he invites other opponents to try the same technique. “The thing with Dwight, I hope you know, if they start Hack-a-Dwight and he’s making one out of two, that’s a possession,” D’Antoni said. “That’s one point per possession. That’s pretty good basketball, especially down the stretch. So that’s fine. If they want to do that, that’s great. I got no problem with it.”

From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen and Roll: Kobe was in the business of crushing souls to start the game, hitting jumper after jumper. He ended the game with 25 points (8-15 from the field) along with an 8-10 free throw effort on a night that the Lakers were living, and dying, at the line. As a whole, the Lakers were 19-37 on free throws for an atrocious 51.4%. The Nets instilled the hack-a-Dwight strategy late in the game, who was having a harder time than Mike Tyson in a spelling bee sinking free throws. While Howard did finish with 23 points, 15 boards, and 4 blocks, his 7-19 from the charity stripe was a huge factor in the Lakers inability to pull away from Brooklyn. And, he airballed a free throw. You just don’t airball free throws.

From Devin Kharpertian, The Brooklyn Game: [Deron Williams] had what I’d call his best game of the season — abused Darius Morris in the way I expected him to abuse Aaron Brooks, hit shots inside and out, pushed the tempo at the right moments, distributed, and clowned. Deron Williams is a phenomenal basketball player, but it hasn’t always been fun watching him since the trade brought him here. Tonight, he was fun. Gets notched one tick down for that last play — with five seconds on the clock, catching and firing from 28 feet off-balance is way too heroball for me. But for 47 minutes and 56 seconds? Well worth it.

From Dan Devine, Ball Don’t Lie: When you’ve got a guy who’s averaging right around one point scored per offensive possession (as Howard is, according to Synergy Sports Technology), who’s shooting 69.5 percent when he gets the ball in the restricted area (as Howard is, according to NBA.com’s stat tool) and who’s been worse than a 50-50 proposition from the line for the better part of the past 66 games, fouling him as much as possible and as early as possible seems like a pretty sound strategy, percentages-wise. Especially when Howard offers the sort of effort he did early in the fourth quarter:

Lastly, Lakers Nation’s Daniel Buerge put together some highlights from last night’s game. You can check out all of the clips here.

Phillip Barnett

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36 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): D’Antoni is Undefeated

  1. Gasol totally sucks. Get rid of him.

  2. Duhon is a great fit with Kobe in the backcourt on both sides of the court. He plays under control, plays solid D and can hit the open 3. His lack of playmaking abilities and high turnover rate are no longer issues with Kobe taking over the playmaking duties…and having solid defense from both guard spots is a breath of fresh air. I hope to see more of this combo, even when Nash and Blake return.

  3. Here’s Kelly Dwyer’s take on last night’s game – agree with most of it:

    http://tinyurl.com/agbhdpy

    I find it interesting that opinion is split on Hack-A-Dwight. While D’Antoni is fine with it, neither Dan Devine nor Dwyer think 1 point a possession is acceptable.

  4. By all accounts and statistical measures Kobe at age 34 is having a sensational – dare I say historic – season. And as people like to say, he is an OLD 34 with 51,000+ mins on the odometer. Here are some of his stats so far for the season.

    PPG – 26.3 (leads the league)
    PER – 27.2 (5th in the league; Kareem, who many consider the model of longevity never had a PER above 24 after he turned 34.)
    TS% – 0.638 (best of his career)
    eFG% – 0.575 (best of his career)
    APG – 5.3 (tied for best in his career)
    Win Shares – 2.4 (leads the league)

    Now, it is unlikely Kobe will keep up this torrid pace all season – particularly the shooting efficiency – but he has set himself up to have possibly his most “efficient” year ever while still putting up huge numbers overall.

    Finally, I must admit that I am shocked that I haven’t heard 1 word from Abbott yet about Kobe’s historically efficient year (so efficient that Kobe’s shooting efficiency dwarfs Abbott’s beloved Lebron so far this season). I will continue to look forward to Abbott’s article examining Kobe’s efficient play this season but I won’t hold my breath…

  5. Really worried about the long term success of this team because of the bench. Jordan HIll is the leading scorer at 7.2 pts. Lakers starters have to be almost flawless every night to make up for the bench defiencies. Lakers either have to go deep in Lakers bench to see if they can contribute or go get someone who can. These minutes will pile up.

  6. 9 of 11 games have been blowouts or non competitive after 3. And the big 4 still average 35 min and up. It was impressive how PJ held Kobe to 34 min in 2011. He rarely saw the floor before the TV timeouts in 2nd and 4th quarters. Some of that should be applied this season. Instead of playing guys 19-20 minutes in the 1st half. Play them 15-16 and ride them hard the 2nd because they’ve visibly been gassed the past 3 games late. It’s a double edged sword because of the bench but something has to be done about these minutes.

  7. That game was not close if DH got at FT% @ 60%. Chuck Person’s job is tied up with Dwight’s free throws huh! I think it has something to do with high energy in dunking so his shooting pulse are on high tensed as well. If he lays it with a soft dunk, it may not look good but the count is two as well. However, his muscles would be relaxed on FT line. (That’s what the Cap did in his FT’s and dunks and he lasted to Age 41 without any back surgery.) I compare this repetition to golf, when you hack the ball, it leads to trouble but when muscle memory are relaxed on the swing, the ball goes to where you want to it to be. Therefore, if Howard would tap the ball gently during dunks and practice 500 FT’s per day, I think he would finally get it. It’s all about creating habits through constant repetition as well developing muscle memory on your motor nerves..

  8. Video of MWP giving Coach Avery Johnson a head-rub on the way down court after making a shot is up at Ball Don’t Lie. The story is this is a kind of teasing or belitting gesture. Maybe, though I wonder. (1) MWP doesn’t appear to look directly at the coach, which I’d expect if it there was some kind of personal message intended. (2) MWP’s arms are partly elevated when he begins manuvering through the relatively narrow space between another player and the coach — so rather than lower them and increase the likelihood of bumping somebody as he went past, MWP in his careless way may have been just reaching out to be sure of his range from the coach.

    Or maybe he really was sonnin’ him like everybody’s telling the story. Just a thought.

  9. I think that as a coach, that’s what D’Antoni HAS to say. As a coach you have to appear confident so that your players can believe in you, especially after your first game on the sidelines. I don’t really care whether he meant what he said about Dwight’s free throws or not. They’ll deal with it in their way.

  10. Paul L:

    Abbott actually has an article on ESPN that is about Westbrook’s heroball. You’ll never guess how it starts:

    “Maybe you have heard about Kobe Bryant’s past habit of ball hogging late in games, passing up wide open looks for his teammates, dragging down his team’s offensive efficiency.

    Something like that applies to Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, too.

    That conclusion about Bryant’s crunch-time game was drawn from clear statistical evidence. The early going of this season has been an exception, but in his career, when Bryant dominates the ball late in close games, the Lakers simply don’t perform nearly as well as you’d expect. The “just get it to Kobe” offense results in advantages for the defense and tons of misses.”

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a greater hack in my 20 years of following professional basketball than Abbott.

  11. EX,

    Love your rebuttal to all fans who are advocating to trade Gasol. What is next. go for Morris as permanent 2nd PG? Trade Duhon, trade Jamison and Meeks and once they get to double digit production let’s look for someone to trade. Trade Bickerstaff while he has some value. lol!

  12. Avery may have said that Metta can’t shoot, or rebound the miss while on the sideline. A coach like Avery would definitely say that to his team. Metta looks like he ran by and rubbed his head as if to say…not this time Avery. Avery never even acknowledged Metta’s head rub which leads me to believe that this is the more likely scenario.

  13. Paul:

    You will be more likely to see an article about how kobe almost lost the game by playing “hero ball” instead of (1) making the “right play” by passing the ball to D12, who couldn’t hit the ocean last night; or (2) making the “right play” by passing the ball to Gasol, who treated the round ball like a hot potato every time he got it the last few possess.

    In other words, you won’t see any articles about Kobe unless and until his numbers regress to the mean…they don’t fit the Kobe narrative right now

  14. Metta was just cooling off his hand… look closely
    http://i.imgur.com/vmcn2.gif

    Reminds me of when Kobe hit a jumper and patted Alvin Gentry on the butt a couple years ago in the WCF.

    Paul L: I sure hope you’re not holding your breath while you wait for a positive article from Abbott regarding Kobe’s ridiculously efficient start to the season. RIP Paul L.

    As a matter of fact, in his most recent article about Westbrook, he literally starts off his piece with “Maybe you have heard about Kobe Bryant’s past habit of ball hogging late in games, passing up wide open looks for his teammates, dragging down his team’s offensive efficiency.”, with two Kobe bashing articles linked within the text. I kid you not. Here’s the link http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/51570/russell-westbrook-hero-ballin

    I like Abbott for the most part, he’s a good writer, but he ABSOLUTELY has a bias against Kobe and the Lakers. It’s not about his information or what he writes, but how he goes out of his way to bring up how much Kobe is a ball hog, how Kobe is so inefficient, how Kobe is detrimental to the team, etc. every chance he gets, despite the focus of the article. It’s pretty ridiculous at this point. Bitter, bitter Blazers fan.

  15. Lakers with all of their struggles currently have the 4th highest differential between offensive efficiency & defensive efficiency (7.5).

  16. In spite of a myriad of issues, we are now beating teams due to sheer talent. This makes the 1-4 start all that much more of an enigma. Oh sorry – we solved the cause of that already : ) So now we are basically back at square 1, where we have a great roster (mostly), and we need to play well together and figure out a way to beat OKC, and the Heat. The problem is that we are currently tied for the 6th seed, a full 3 games behind the leaders. We also have made no progress defensively. Pre-season – our mission was to figure out ways to stop LeBron and KD. Now we are trying to figure out how to stop Brook Lopez and Nicholas Batum. I said a great roster – mostly – the big hole of course is the bench, and specifically – A Jamison. He was supposed to be a reasonable scorer off the bench. We do not need him to go nuts, but he needs to be adequate, which he has not been. For those who think AJ is finished, that we are not that good, personnel wise on defense, and that Dwight/Nash will not be the players they have been historically – You might be right. However if even one of those things is right, we are NOT winning it all this year. We can fret over Meeks, Ebanks, and DJO and their playing time. We can also fret over rotations, and strategy, but in order for any of those things to matter, we need to have a 100% Nash, a 100% DH (getting there), a GREAT defense, and Jamison must start to score/contribute. I am encouraged by the 5-1 run and it convinces me that the roster is good. However, all the work that was required pre-season is still there, and MD must complete that work quickly.

  17. Robert:

    After yesterday’s game we are now top 5 in Offensive Efficiency and top 8 in Defensive Efficiency.
    Per Hollinger’s team stats, OKC (#10) and Miami (#23!!) will have trouble stopping us as well :)

  18. Robert: I don’t think Nash will be 100% ever again. He looked old before the injury. Best case scenario at pg is Morris becomes a spark of the bench as currently constructed. Or Mitch finds a taker for Blake or Duhon to get the team some help.

    I’m not of the idea Jamison can be saved because of the system. Watching him play there’s no difference between what we saw from Murphy last year.

  19. Robert, I think your assessment is unreasonably harsh. To say that the Lakers have made no progress defensively is not close to accurate. Brooklyn has a lot of very talented offensive players. They shot lights out in the first half, for sure, but then scored only 33 points in the 2nd half and ended with just 90. The Lakers activity level on that end of the floor is markedly higher than it was under Brown, which I believe to be a direct result of a more active offense. We may not like it, but when guys are not involved on offense, they generally don’t play as hard (or as well) on D.

    Current NBA.com team stats have the Lakers defense at #4 overall. Now, I take that stat with a huge grain of salt, particularly given that Miami is currently 2nd to LAST in the league by the same measure, but I think this goes to the second unduly harsh criticism you offer: namely, that the Lakers are currently only in 6th place in the conference.

    This season has 71 more games to go before we see the playoffs. To fret about records at this point is really mindless worry. I don’t believe for one second that Mike Brown was fired because the team was 1-5. I believe Brown was fired because the team was showing zero progress from preseason through 6 regular season games, and the best evidence that the Lakers did the right thing in canning Brown is not that the team is 5-1 ever since but that they are improving (on both ends of the floor).

    I share your concerns about the bench, and in particular Antawn Jamison, but I do think that both Jamison and Meeks will be better when Nash comes back. Jordan Hill is better than ever, and both Morris and Duhon have shown quite an improvement under the new system (which portends good things for Blake, too, upon his return). You are, of course, totally correct in saying that without a 100% Nash & DH, this team’s title chances are pretty slim, but Howard is looking better each game, and while Nash’s injury was clearly worse than first thought, all signs point towards a full return at some point in the next month, giving the team PLENTY of time to jell and get ready for a strong playoff run. Moreover, there’s still the trade deadline, which may be an opportunity to add another key reserve. Don’t forget that last season we turned Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, and Derek Fisher into Ramon Sessons & Jordan Hill….

  20. Looking at this team, I can’t stop thinking that we could’ve gone a tad bit further last year. Getting rid of Brown is like a roster upgrade. Will we have enough to beat true contenders in a 7 game series? I don’t know, but at least this system will give Kobe a shot. It could be an evolved version of the SSOL where our spacing produces nothing but short twos (not even needing threes) for Dwight and Kobe thanks to Gasol passing from within.

    Even without Nash at 100%, I don’t think we’ll be that bad. Even with him at 70%, he’ll be a very good shooter and we’ll just have to ride Kobe a bit harder and have him function as a 1 with Steve acting as a deadeye 2 on offense.

  21. Yes, Nash is old. His athleticism was never elite-level. But his skill set allows him to be effective without being young and athletic. My bet is that under D’Antoni, Nash (if healthy) will look more like his former self than the guy we saw in the first few games this year. He needs the ball and freedom, something he did not get with Mike Brown.

  22. Funky: Thanks for the response. I re-read my post and I don’t think it is harsh : ) I said I was “encouraged” and that the roster was good : ) We are really pretty similar with our comments – except about KB sometimes : ) I think where we differ is due to perspectives.

    Pre-season – I stated that we had the best team and that we would have a great team defensively. At this point, we have not demonstrated either. I still think with a perennial DPOY, a perennial all defensive guard, and MWP, there is no excuse not to excel defensively. We need to develop a good defensive strategy, especially against the top teams. That was what Brown was supposed to do. We are not the worst defensively, but we need to be top 3 (I am not talking statistically – I am talking about getting stops at the right time – like the Riley Showtime Lakers did). It appears we agree that we need to be healthy, and that we need more from the bench. With regard to being 6th in the conference: That is simply where we are right now. Last year I thought that we were the “6th” best team in the league and that is where we finished. This year – I am not saying that (quite the contrary), I am merely pointing out that we are 6th seed right now, and we have dug a bit of a hole.

    I am very consistent (some would say redundant) with my posts, however just to be clear, let’s summarize my current view: We have the best roster (I am not budging yet – and many others on this site are questioning everything).We had a horrible coach who needed to be fired. We chose the second best guy for the job – but that is not all bad (and I will get over it in 10 years). We MUST get one of the top 2 seeds to have a good chance (don’t make me post those stats again- peaking at he right time from the 3rd seed usually means a 2nd round exit). We have Kobe and nobody else does. We have the best center in the league (finally). Our owner is better than I thought (because he does spend, but he still needs to learn how to dress, and learn how to get along with the Laker NBA community). Lastly, We Are The Lakers which means we are “entitled” to win a championship every 3-4 years. I am hoping this is going to be #17. I am not looking for a journey, entertainment, or for signs that could bode well for the future. I do not question or mock those who enjoy those things. However there is only one thing that will satisfy me – this year of all years. We are all in (I do give Jimbo credit for this), and we must win.

  23. Kevin: You could be correct – but I am hoping you are not. The Nash comment is one that many seem to be making. The comparison of Jamison to Murphy is cold and I hope AJ does not read this site : )

  24. Robert, pardon me for chiming in… though your assessment were mostly right… to complain that our team is 4th and 6th defensive and offensive rating is quite absurd don’t you think? We are 4th and 6th man, what are you thinking?

  25. And…Reggie Evans is the first NBA player to get fined for flopping. I’m sure it was the play last night where MWP “shoved” him. Second offense for Evans, so he gets fined 5K.
    http://tinyurl.com/bfc5hgh

  26. Having watched all teems several times I feel lakers based on big advantage at the 2 and 5 can beat OKC and Spurs in 7 series.

    Front line of Memphis is a toss up but my biggest concern is huge advantage Clips have with 3 guards the 4 and massive advantage on the bench.

    Lakers would have a tough time winning in 7 playing 5 guys against 9
    and need to find better players then Blake, Meeks and Jamison to beat Clips.

  27. The nash comment is ridiculous – he didnt magically age 20 yrs over the summer nor was his injury due to age. His skills aren’t predicated on physical traits that degrade over time. His shooting, passing, court vision and playmaking ability will remain the same – he’ll have some rust and need some conditioning but (No lasting injury complications aside) by xmas he should be in full gear. He intentionally slowed his pace and deferred to MB’s system before he got hurt in an effort to fit in – he admitted this. His stats will be fine given that this is his system – and the offense will look totally different w him in charge. What is being run right now w Kobe or Darius or Duhon or even Blake won’t resemble how Nash runs things.

    I think we can throw out the 1-4 start under MB and say that going 5-1 as the Lakers have is more representative of this team going forward. That being said – people need to relax a little and chill -its been one game under our new head coach and we don’t have our starting pg who is going to play w the bench and help them get theirs. Its one thing to have a constructive conversation about lineups/how a certain player could be used etc.. But given the sample size, lets wait till after xmas before throwing players under the bus and give everyone a fair chance to prove themselves for better or worse.

  28. I agree with Robert on Nash and Howard and how that fits into the big picture, and have said as much.

    That said, even if Howard and Nash are Howard and Nash at money time, I think the team needs one more decent bench player (a point or a wing) to actually win the title. No idea who it might be or how they would get him.

  29. If that is true about Andrew I would assume that Aaron is also done for the season. Bowling for dollars it is not for Philly.

  30. Jerke:
    I completely agree with you -

  31. Genius move letting Barnes go for Jamasion. Matt has 19 point and 9 rbs tonIght. He would be best bench player. Not well thought out.

  32. Lakers looking terrible so far. Kobe playing zero defense.

  33. Ko -
    Mamba´s got those 2 fouls, has to be careful on both ends not to pick up another one too early

  34. A few post touches would be nice. Just countless passes around the 3 pt line so far.

  35. Is D’Antoni trying to honor Brown by constantly putting this pathetic lineup out there?