Lakers/Kings: Lack Of Energy, Mental Mistakes Undo The Lakers

Darius Soriano —  November 21, 2012

Well, the first loss of the D’Antoni era has come and it wasn’t pretty. The second night a back to back brought fatigue and all the ills that come with it, resulting in a 113-97 defeat at the hands of the Kings.

The only Laker that really played well — at least for any extended period — in this game was Kobe Bryant, who continued his terrorizing of the league with another efficient night that saw him poor in 38 points on 20 shots with 3 assists and 3 rebounds tacked on. Particularly impressive was Kobe’s barrage of three point field goals that brought the Lakers back from the abyss in the 3rd quarter when the game was slipping away. The only real bad part of Kobe’s night was the return of his ball handling issues and some spotty decisions when trying to hit his teammates that led to 7 turnovers. Most of his miscues were ones of aggression, but they were still too many.

Less consistent with their good play, but still showing some flashes of positive production were Ron and Jodie Meeks. Ron only went 4-10 from the field, but did hit 2 of his 5 three point attempts and was active on the glass and in his defensive work — especially off the ball. Meeks showed some life by hitting some big shots in the 4th quarter that kept the Lakers on life support (including a couple of long jumpers that reminded fans why he was signed). However, in the closing minutes, his shot betrayed him again though I can’t really speak too harshly about that. As one of the only Lakers who showed any semblance of offense all night, he did more good than bad. Which, considering his start to this season, is a step in the right direction.

As for the rest of the team, they simply didn’t have their legs and did not put forth any sort of sustained effort on either side of the ball. Particularly poor play came from Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard who both surrendered position to their men on both sides of the ball for most of the evening. This ceding of territory created poor spacing on offense and limited their ability to get close enough to the basket where they could get the types of easy baskets that really make the offense flow. Howard spent most of his time trying to create off the dribble from 12 feet and out and mostly ended up passing off the dribble to a perimeter player who moved into open space as the Kings collapsed the paint. Pau mostly floated around the elbow area, taking jumpers when he was open but mostly serving as a facilitator of the offense by making quick passes to open teammates. Both players needed to be more aggressive and engaged tonight.

Defensively, the same tired legs led to flatfooted defense by nearly every Laker and once the Kings started to find their rhythm and understood they’d get open shots, their confidence grew. That resulted in shots being taken without hesitation which led to several jumpers getting knocked down against late closeouts. Inside, the Lakers bigs often resembled rooted trees as they were out-jumped for rebounds and beat off the dribble consistently by the likes of Jason Thompson and Chuck Hayes. Worse were their attempts at helping on dribble penetration where they seemed to be late most of the night. And with the initial help so poor, helping the helper was basically out of the question.

In the end, the Lakers were pretty much within shouting distance of the Kings most of the night and if they’d just gotten a key stop or had a shot or two more fall when the momentum was building, they might have escaped with a win. But even a W wouldn’t have covered up that this team simply played poorly tonight nor the fact that they need to find ways to conjure the energy to play better when they’re not at their best physically. Some players found a way to push through, but too many did not.

Darius Soriano

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to Lakers/Kings: Lack Of Energy, Mental Mistakes Undo The Lakers

  1. Team loss to a bad matchup. C’est la vie. Time to learn from it, rest up and get ready for Grizzlies on Friday.


  2. Watch rerun tonight on TW and focus on Pau’s D and effort on boards. You might be surprised.


  3. Mike D’Antoni maybe thinking that he has a run and gun team, however on b2b game, they were sleep walking and gave a free pass on defense. I think Mike D. should first pace his starters while continue developing the 2nd unit, it appears that the bench could not sustain the uptempo of the starters. It takes a while before Lakers can sustain Showtime every night if the 2nd team could not produce the 2nd wave of attack or at least hold on to the lead. In any order of battle whether it is a chess game or in the battle field, there is such thing as the 2nd wave of attack which should be stronger than the first. Clippers are a better team today because they have a two-pronged group. If Lakers have a weak bench, then Mike D has to micromanage the 2nd unit for every ball possession than turning them loose unsupervised, wild and putting up a brick show.


  4. Thank god there are no Back-2-Backs in the playoffs. Even though championships are not won in the regular season, Championship HABITS are! You can’t coach effort…Mike Brown learned that the hard way by implementing a clogged and slow Princeton. Oh well, we get a day off till Friday’s game, hope they have their legs underneath them for a DANGEROUS Grizzleis team.

    -Man the West is stacked. No way Miami’s winning it all this year with how strong and unforgiving the west teams are


  5. Hopefully, the development of the bench continues. It’s really essential for the bench to show up on the 2nd nights of B to B’s. Encouraging signs from Meeks. SMH at the wonder of Kobe.


  6. @KO – you made my point for me re: Pau already by saying “he doesn’t appear to be playing close to he did for Spain this summer.”. A guy doesn’t magically lose all of his skill and drive in a period of 2-3 months from end of Olympic tournament to the NBA season. I’ve mentioned this several times in previous posts over the past couple weeks saying that he is capable of playing much better but appears fatigued and rundown. Same thing happened to Dirk after they went to the finals and it took him a couple months to recover and get his game back. I really do think repeat summers of long playoff runs, euro ball, and olympic related tournaments/qualifiers have caught up to him. These euro guys play more ball than the US team does and have to carry a higher load than playing from USAB – even on Team Spain.

    I have no need to write a retraction because I never stated once in my posts that he played well tonight – and I’m not giving him a pass, because he is at times not playing well – but I’m also not saying lets dump him 12 games into the season. Make no mistake – this was a team loss – starting guards gave up 12 turnovers vs 5 assists, Lakers shot 27-39 from the free throw line and were a lot worse than that over the course of the game prior to the last couple mins when it was pretty much out of reach anyways (can’t blame howard there he shot 75%). And no – between Howard being out of shape/in recovery and Pau not on his game – there was pretty much little to no interior defense or help. We both know they played much better against Brooklyn. And we got abused by Evans and Thorton tonight who were supposed to be covered by supposed defensive minded players in Morris, Kobe, and Artest. Pau deserves his share of the blame but not all of it tonight. It was an energy thing tonight – that everyone suffered from (good capsulation of it here).

    Also +- is an extremely flawed stat as it only shows what happened when a certain player was on the floor – but doesn’t take into account lineups/who scored what points/defensive matchups etc… Over the course of a season it can show you a trend – but on a nightly basis its not a great stat to go by. By your logic in your previous post about Pau being outscored by -14, well then Howard was -13 so he was equally bad.

    All I’m saying this team and brand new head coach deserve at least till xmas to figure this out. Mitch isn’t stupid – he’ll make moves if they can – but he also stated last week that he didn’t plan anymore moves for a bit because there was too much upheaval already – so they need to let things settle and go from there. The fact is the Lakers have no assets anyone is going to want and no one is going to gift them any – and you can’t just drop players and resign others – there are still cap space holds and in some cases because the Lakers are so far over the cap, that space may just disappear. The other prob is I don’t see how you get equal value for Pau – who is proving to be an excellent high post facilitator (led team in assists again tonight), and stretches the flr well for Howard. Pau is still good for a double double pretty much every night and plenty of assists – given his skill set – which fits so well with this team – there’s not too many ways to replace that – and getting multiple players back doesn’t work either as they can’t all be on the flr at once. and no one is giving up that much talent and low priced youth to Mitch after the summer he pulled. The only way I see the Lakers getting better through trading Pau would be getting Kevin Love in return – and that ain’t gonna happen.

    I do agree they need to figure out a better rotation that puts Pau w Hill more, prob is that Pau is the best passer on the team (i’d argue on par w kobe) right now and is responsible for setting up Howard – so that necessitates playing them together more. Once Nash is back, Pau can be moved off the flr for a breather and to fortify the bench players coming in.

    Lets keep in mind that its where the Lakers finish the season, not their standing on nov 21st that counts. Sometimes a team has to do things the hard way – Your Kings won it all as an 8th seed and beat my Canucks – and the Lakers aren’t going to be in 8th at the end of the season. I’m pretty sure D’Antoni and Mitch have a good idea what they need to do and they’ll work toward that – and there will be changes if not.

    Again given everything this team has gone thru – you really have to throw out the first 5 games – and focus on the fact that this team is 5-2 since they started anew (coulda been 6-1 if the San Antonio game went out way) and arguebly 7-0 if the whole team was healthy. If we stay at this pace for the rest of the season – thats 58 win pace/.710 which ain’t too shabby. It looks like there could be a lot more parity out west – so it could be a tough year for all concerned and no one looks to be the front runner for sure. Hopefully the Lakers will take their lumps at the start and build from there. Re the other teams I mentioned in last post – was just pointing out how ludicrous it would be for them to dump players as it would us at this juncture, thats all. Lakers are in the same category as those teams – they’ll fall back to us and we’ll catch up to them. Here’s something to remind all the doubters…

    One other thing to mention as this was bothering me but had to confirm it – D’Antoni has never used a “stretch 4” ever in his lineups except for 26 games plus playoffs in 05/06 and that was – you guessed it – Tim Thomas. All other 4’s who played real mins in D’Antonis lineups have been:

    Shawn Marion (horrible outside shooter, much worse than artest, but just has to be a threat to shoot)
    Boris Diaw (did what Pau now does, except Diaw is nowhere near as good)
    Kurt Thomas (6-9 defender to handle guys Amare couldn’t – did 15ft pick and pops w Nash)

    The rest of the 4’s on roster were crap and thats it. People think of Channing Fry but he didn’t show up until 2 years after D’Antoni was gone. His system is about about space and tempo and moving the ball faster than the other team (by passing, not dribbling) therefore Pau fits great.

    Sorry for the book everyone – its 3am here in chilly snowy Edmonton and I can’t sleep. Feel free to disagree with me if you want – I just prefer to be patient and see the team as a whole first before throwing players over board – besides which – could be worse – Lakers could still have Bynum and be definetly screwed:P


  7. SkyN3T24: Unfortunately it could be the case that the Western teams murder each other and do most of the job for the Heat, with the surviving team low in the tank come June.


  8. The Lakers just don’t have a bench. They have two and a half viable players Morris, Hill and Meeks are not enough. They need a scorer like Thorton. The better teams all have one. Why isn’t Ebanks playing at all?


  9. Using the back to back for the disgraceful mess witnessed last night is not a good excuse. Believe me, this old Lakers team will be more tired come playoff time. You don’t let one of the worst teams in the league score 71 points in a half under any circumstances. Pau is not the same Pau and our bench is terrible, moves need to be made later for younger better talent.


  10. Didn’t watch the game – I currently have Dish and didn’t want to go to a bar for the 2nd night in a row.

    Looking at the highlights, the box score, and reading comments above says that b-2-b games are going to be a problem for the Lakers if they are going to play all the starters over 31 min/game. Howard is still not 100% and MWP-Kobe-Pau are well into their 30’s. At 38pts Kobe is simply a marvel and, whatever any fan’s problems with him are, all of us should recognize the organization will take a severe step backward when he retires.

    Since Mike D. has a reputation for playing his starters big minutes, there is a real possibility this issue will continue. At some point I don’t care if we lose, we need to put some minutes on members of our bench – only 3 played double digit minutes. Also, if Duhon is going to get 1pt and 2assists in 16 min, perhaps we could try out DJO, because just running up Kobe’s minutes is asking for an injury later in the year.

    All this from someone who didn’t actually watch the game; however, I did listen to almost half of it.


  11. Jordan hill has to play at the end of games for Pau, Players eyes light up when they see Pau guarding them, Everyone on the floor and coach knows thats the easiest 2 points to get.

    Wasn’t Jamison suppose to be our main scorer off the bench? the guy is just here for a free ride to a title, he is terrible.


  12. Hill should have gotten more burn last night over D12.


  13. That was just an ugly outing. No energy. No execution. Dwight clearly not ready for back to back. Kobe having to do too much. delivering the spectacular, along wi a buttload of TOs. I don’t read much into it, just a bad game on a back to back with a team that has not come close to gelling yet.


  14. Ko,
    I wasn’t suprised watching it live. Pau has lost so much mobility he is a giant liability on defense. Teams just attack him over and over. Lowercase aaron is wrong… They should have played Hill over Gasol last night. Howard had a back surgery night but he still could play post defense.


  15. One of my friends is a Celtics fan and he can’t understand why Pau is playing 37 mins per game at this age. He believes the only reason KG is effective at this age is because he plays 28 mins a game. He also realizes where Garnett is at in his career and how much he means to the Celtics. So he expects others to help him out. The coach to make sure he’s most effective and if it means playing him less mins than so be it. And for Green and Bass to step up because he knows what KG can do. Why can’t we realize the same thing goes for Pau?


  16. Jerke and several other. I agree with almost all. part of The problem is Mitch not understanding or the scouts(who are they this year) finding the solution.

    The moment they signed Nash a search for a young, fast sub should have existed. Every night I see those guys coming off the bench for other teams. Nash is 38 and will be injured and looked bad in the pre-season and first few games. He is a 25 minute guy and the plan was to sub a slower guy in Blake who has failed for 2 years.?

    Clearly Pau tired the past two seasons and Lakers get smoked in the 2nd round, Mitch knew it was a Olympic year yet instead of a young athletic PF he got a older sub who plan stinks. Pau as was pointed out above is a 28 to 30 minute guy until they playoffs.

    These errors by management will assure this current team of too many starter minutes and a 4th or 5th in tbe West. This makes it like last 2 years most likely a 2nd round and out to teams younger with home court.

    Can you really imagine playing the Clips in 7 games with Bledsoe and Crawford against Blake and Morris? Or how about Mitch’s gift to clips Barnes who went 19 and 10 last night. Guys like Ronnie, LO or Hollins would clearly help more then Jamison or Clark.

    Success is planning and having a plan B. Lakers thought Jamison, Hill, Eubanks, Blake, Morris and Meeks could compete. Hill and Meeks maybe the rest are again the worst in NBA even worse this year due to Nash’s age, Dwight’s injury and Pau’s burnout.

    This team as it is currently constructed will be forced to burn out the starters to try for top 3 seed. We learned the past 2 years it can’t work and they are older and more injury prone this year. Solution? Who are where are your trading chips? Blake, Eubanks, Clark, Duhon the rookie cheerleader? Only chip out there us Pau who us still a 15 and 8 guy with a $18 million expiring contract.

    That’s called plan B.


  17. Ko…relax i know darius cries (just messin) when i put this but pau will be traded…also Matt Barnes was always a terrific hustle guy…remember him going perfect for 20 sum points against beasley and minny? he totally disappears in the post season…not everybody is going 110% like barnes in the regular season us laker fans know that all too well but come playoff time they do and guys like barnes are exposed for what they really are…average ball players


  18. @Ko – Paus contract doesn’t expire till 2014 – nobody is taking him for that reason this year – and the reality is that expiring contract is worth more to the lakers than everyone else as they clear the decks for building the team around Dwight. Can’t trade Pau staight up – won’t get salary/talent match to be reasonable – can’t take 2 or 3 players back for Pau cuz don’t have roster spots unless Duhon is included (that means getting within 25% of $23,000,000 in salary and the Lakers don’t want any contracts besides Nash and Howard on the book for 2014) so yeah, right now Duhon pretty much is the lakers only trading chip. No sense debating it – you can call for him to be traded – but Pau isn’t going anywhere until the trade deadline if at all.

    Yes hill should play more w Dwight – but if Dwight is not on his game (which he wasn’t last night – he played lethargic both ways) and isn’t a force on offense – then Hill clogs things up because he doesn’t stretch the flr like Pau, doesn’t pass well, and can’t create.

    And no, the starters shouldn’t have to play this much – but the plan this year wasn’t also for MB to go 1-4 in the first 5 games – then fire him, then have an interim coach for 5 games – then have a new head coach install a new system that will take some time to adjust to – plus have a the starting allstar caliber pg and his backup both out. So yeah they need to play catch up in the win column a bit, and the extra burn right now isn’t a bad thing to get them in shape for the system they run – if they’re still playing high minutes halfway thru the season then yeah its an issue – but right now not so much. Until this team has all its pieces back – which should hopefully be by the end of next week – Mitch/Jim/Jerry etc… aren’t going to panic. The pieces fit together – we can see that – just we need a real pg that splits time with the starters and the bench to run things so that there isn’t a drop off when the Lakers take startes off the flr.

    Beyond the starters – ideally you want two lines of:
    howard, Jamison, artest, meeks, Nash
    Pau, Hill, Kobe, Morris/Meeks, Blake

    Aside from this board – everywhere else expects the Lakers to be in the thick of it at the end. If the Lakers manage to get the mins under control as the season progresses – benches are neutralized in the playoffs – then the starting 5’s talent wins out if they’re healthy.
    As for Barnes – he played in Phoenix too and disappeared there as well. There is a reason he’s only on year to year deals at this point in his career. Agai, he’s one of those guys you wish you had – till you have him and you’re tearing your hair out in frustration.


  19. What is to become of Ebanks? I’m tired of seeing Jamison at the 3.


  20. @Kevin….

    The Celtics have the luxury of a Jeff Green coming off the bench. The Lakers don’t have a player of that quality in their 2nd unit. Unfortunately, in order to win games, the Lakers’ starters have to play too many minutes. It’s not just Pau, its all of the thirtysomethings on the team. And, it’s it’s D12, too. Dwight doesn’t need to be playing 40 plus minutes on back to back nights less than 15 games after back surgery. The Lakers’ bench has got to step up and ease some of the burden on the starters, or else the Lakers’ championship dreams will go up in a puff of smoke.


  21. Ko….

    I think Mitch did a FANTASTIC job this off season. He turned the petulant, oft- injured Andrew Bynum into the NBA’s best center in Dwight Howard. And he was able to get Steve Nash. We can all see the bench’s shortcomings now. But Jamison and Meeks may very well pan out as they become more and more comfortable with the D’Antoni system and their teammates. Injuries and the coaching change has robbed this team of any chance of easing into the season with any semblence of continuty. And don’t forget, that Mitch has to deal with severe financial constraints when assembling the supporting cast for this team. Even an organization with the deep pockets that the Lakers have does not have unlimited resources.

    If, as you suggest, trading Pau is the best solution for upgrading the roster and the opportunity presents itself in the form of a deal that the Lakers can actually make, I’m sure that the Lakers’ FO will pull the trigger. But, I think that Pau is still a very effective, albeit flawed, player.