Lakers/Nuggets: Dwight and the Bench Detonate Denver

Darius Soriano —  November 30, 2012

You know those wild swings of play we’ve been talking about? Well, tonight we saw an example of the good kind. In a 122-103 victory over the Nuggets, the Lakers once again looked like world beaters that we last saw in Dallas.

Here are some takeaways from the game:

The bench played huge. When the Lakers signed Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks, I’m sure games like this were imagined, but never really considered possible. Jamison was on fire all night, hitting 12 of his 19 shots for a team high (yes, team high) 33 points off the bench. The last time a player came off the bench to score 30 or more points was in 1998 when Shaq came off the pine to drop in 33 points. Jamison canned 5 of his 9 three pointers, but also worked the interior with smart cuts and quick finishes off spoon-fed passes from penetrating guards. To say he was in a groove would be an understatement.

Jodie Meeks was also on fire, hitting 7 of his 9 shots with all of his makes coming from behind the arc for 21 points. Meeks started out hitting catch and shoot threes, but that evolved into him coming off screens as the ball handler and hitting pull up triples and even some heat check threes in transition. The purity of his jumper was on full display and with each make you could see his confidence increase.

Chris Duhon also played pretty well off the pine. His 2-6 shooting is nothing to write home about, but he had 8 assists on the night while tacking on 3 steals. He was a team high +27 and while that wasn’t necessarily because of his play alone, he didn’t take anything off the table tonight and did a good job orchestrating the offense when he initiated sets and seemed to be in the right place on both sides of the ball all night.

Dwight Howard is pretty good. A lot has been made of Dwight’s up and down start to the season, especially his recent play where he’s not gotten a lot of opportunities on offense. That changed tonight as he was the foundation this win was built on. In the first quarter he had 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots. He dominated the game from the opening tip and put the Nuggets on their heels from the outset. He worked the low post with a nifty running hook, provided major effort on the offensive glass, and simply owned the Lakers’ defensive paint.

There wasn’t a dribble drive into the key or a shot taken at the rim that Howard wasn’t challenging and that effort set the tone. Before the game Dave McMenamin tweeted that assistant coach Dan D’Antoni wrote a message on the Lakers’ white board for Dwight to “win the damn game” and he came out and did just that. Tonight, he looked like Dwight Howard; he looked like the player the Lakers traded for. He was as dominant as his 28 point, 20 rebound statline would indicate. Oh, and right before the final buzzer, he also looked like Ray Allen.

When the Lakers are making shots, they’re really difficult to beat. Tonight the Lakers were 17-33 behind the arc. Early in the game when Dwight got going the defense adjusted by clogging the middle and surrendering open jumpers. The Lakers, to their credit, knocked them down. And once they started to hit them, the defense really had no answers for how to slow down L.A.’s offense. If they let Howard roll unimpeded he’d have scored 40 points. Instead, they let the outside shooters find their groove and they let the Lakers go for 51 from behind the arc. The more the shots went down the more the Nuggets looked unsure of how to play defense. And, before you knew it, the Lakers were up double digits with a lead that was pretty much safe the rest of the night. The Lakers won’t shoot this well often, but when they even come close to percentages like these while getting Dwight going inside, they are a terror.

Kobe and Pau weren’t at their best and the Lakers still rolled. This may be the biggest takeaway from the night. Kobe was great as a distributor (8 assists) and towards the end of the 1st half he put on a mini show with some made jumpers that extended the Lakers lead. But as the game went on, his shot betrayed him as he seemed to go for the knockout blow with three pointers early in the shot clock, only to miss them. Again, he was fantastic as a set up man, but his 5-15 shooting for 14 points isn’t the type of performance we’ve come to expect from Kobe this year.

As for Pau, he clearly doesn’t have his legs under him and it’s showing in nearly every facet of his game. He has little lift on his rebounds, his defensive stance is too upright, and he’s depending on his arms too much when shooting from anywhere on the floor. Like Kobe, his playmaking was tremendous tonight as he made great pass after great pass to set up wide open looks for his teammates. His 8 assists don’t even tell the entire story for how well he moved the ball and how easy the shots were that came off his passes. And the fact that he chipped in with 7 rebounds (4 offensive) was also positive. But he’s getting by right now on smarts and know how rather than any sort of physical ability. It’d be nice to continue to find times to rest him like D’Antoni did tonight.

The thing is, I say all this about Kobe and Pau and the Lakers still won by nearly 20. I can’t remember the last time those two could combine for 20 points on 22 shots and the Lakers won, much less blew out their opponent.

The defense still needs work. During the game Mike D’Antoni mentioned in his sideline interview and in the huddle that his team seemed to be caught up in how easy they were scoring and it was leading to suspect defensive effort. The Lakers wings seemed to allow penetration almost purposefully to let their bigs clean up behind them and it led to multiple defensive breakdowns on the back end. Too many times the bigs would rotate to help only to find that no one was helping them. This led to the Nuggets getting countless easy baskets right at the rim as the bigs challenged the ball only to see a drop pass off to their man lurking on the baseline. Secondary rotations were also slow back to the perimeter on drive and kicks that led to several open jumpers. Early in the 3rd quarter the Nuggets were still shooting well over 50% and it was not so much because they were hot, but because the Lakers’ D was not doing it’s job on plays with multiple passes. This game could of been over much earlier had the team defended with more urgency.

Darius Soriano

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78 responses to Lakers/Nuggets: Dwight and the Bench Detonate Denver

  1. It’s scary to think that even when M33ks was lights out today, Kobe still played the most minutes today again. To date, Kobe leads the team with 37.0 minutes per contest.

    Given his age and mileage, that’s waaaayyy too many minutes for a player whose asked to score, facilitate and just about do everything besides mop the floor.

    Just ask Popovich how important managing minutes of your aging superstars are.

  2. Watched the replay. MVP was Mike D. Getting Jamison in early in for Pau spread the floor. Set the feel for the game. Also realizing that Duhon is a real PG and Morris isn’t. This is is the turn around game iof the season. This is the right rotation. 30 minutes for Jamison and 25ish for Pau is where it needs to be.

    I will go out on a limb here. Lakers will be 1st in the Pacific by Xmas. Add Nash to this rotation and Lakers are a top 3 team in the West.

    Thank you Mike for having the guts to put the right guys for your system on the court. Something Brown would never have done.

    We are BACK!

  3. What an incredible difference from the last game. More ball movement, less iso’s. Dwight having the type of game all smart Laker fans envisioned him having when he became a a Laker.. A Laker bench scoring more than 50 points…50+ points!!! It’s nice to know your team can win a game vs a quality foe when your aging superstar has an off game shooting.

    Gives you hope for the now…and the future.

  4. A delightful, but totally bizarre victory. Players that earn almost $50 million (Pau and Kobe) spend the night handing out 16 assists, while players earning a bit more than $3 million (Antawn and Jodie) scored 54 points. If Meeks had a night when he misses all of his threes (and he has), the Lakers would have lost by 2 points. True to the emerging D’Antoni era, there were no free tacos for the Staples crowd: the Nuggets scored 103.

    Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

  5. I wonder what Andrew Bynum was thinking when Dwight made that three at the end of the game.

  6. Jamison scored 33pts not 31 pts.
    When was the last time that the Laker bench scored 61pts? Bright future for this team if this new bench mob becomes consistent. This team has no place to go but to get better specially when the two “Steves” commes back!

  7. “Guys are too happy, I gotta bring them back to earth tomorrow” -Kobe

    I agree with Bean, Last night was a great win probably are best game of the season, But being 8-8 is unacceptable. Still lots of work to do.

  8. Hard to believe this is the same Pau we saw a few months ago in the Olympics. Short minutes won`t help much unless he can take care of his medical issues. Don`t like the big minutes being played by Kobe,MWP, Howard. MDA says the team sometimes plays tired,because he doesn`t go deeper in the bench for Hill and Ebanks. Hope the Lakers can build on games like Dallas and Denver,and Dwight can get his FT% to 60%+.

  9. What last night illustrates is the problem teams will have facing us. What they will do is try to take away our inside game and, perhaps one of our perimeter shooters. They will then live with what the other outside shooters do. On most nights this can result in a win for them. If more than one of our outside shooters is on (Kobe, Jamison, Meeks, Duhon, Nash, MWP), then they most likely lose.

    This is our Lakers this year. Loved the game, but only if the role players become more consistent – as opposed to last night, when they were all on – will we win consistently.

  10. How satisfying is it to see our Lakers play like this?! YES!!! Still, Darius´s final commentary `The defense still needs work´ is so true; to borrow a `mantra´ from Riles ¨don´t practice mistakes¨
    @drrayeye – Chick still rules! :-)

  11. MD said that Pau is not Shawn Marion of Phoenix Sun, so now he has Jamison, if Jamison continues to play like that then it will improve Lakers’s scoring, give MD credit, we all know the weakness of this team, and all we ask is the coach who can do the best job to put this team is on the position to win , if Lakers still have Gouldlock, man, it is much better. The bad thing no Nash right now, but the good thing Lakers can learn to win without Nash, in the playoffs if opponents trying to shut down Nash, hey we still can have a chance to win.

  12. George Karl says:

    On Antawn Jamison:
    “I think Jamison is going to play a lot of minutes for them. I think the way Mike likes to play he needs a shooting forward out there and I think Jamison has done that for many years…He knows how to get open and when he is making shots he is tough to cover.”

    If Pau continues his uninspired play, his days are numbered with the Lakers.

  13. This game will be noteworthy less for the performance of the bench, and more because this is the first entirely positive comment I’ve seen Ko write since … ever.

    While we can’t expect bench performances like this regularly, it sure is nice when it happens. D’Antoni’s talked about starting Jamison in order to space the floor – and there’s an argument for that – but I’d also like to see Jamison and Pau share the floor, because Jamison’s ability to move without the ball approximates Odom’s cutting and movement, and that was when Pau was at his best.

  14. Couple of points to make:

    As a few have said, I think it is wise not to overreact at this point, to bad games or good ones, other than to say that until

    1. We actually see Steve Nash on the basketball floor.
    2. We see some consistency

    It is not a good idea to talk about this team as a serious contender or to speculate much. Right now, the Lakers are just another team, like Denver.

    As to player usage, D’Antoni, like all successful coaches, has certain things he wants to do and he needs certain kinds of guys to do them. MD wants to have Steve Nash, he wants to have a mobile, elite big that he can P/R all day with, he wants to run an 8-man rotation, and he wants secondary players who can shoot the basketball. So, it is not surprising Meeks and Jamison have bigger roles now and have had some better games under him, including last night’s blow-the-roof-off statistical outlier. The other side of that is Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks don’t fit anything he wants to do, so he isn’t using them. Given the Lakers’ age and health concerns, I don’t think that is a great idea, so if Mickael Pietrus is still unsigned, I think the Lakers need to look at bringing him in as a backup for MWP. Hill I think will need to be kept as injury insurance although he is likely to complain soon and probably has already.
    As to Pau, I don’t think he is going anywhere, given his contract and the fact that if something happens to Howard, Pau can take over as the starting 5. It will be up to Pau himself, to D’Antoni, and to the training staff to try to get more from him–and they are going to need more from him to have a real chance against OKC, SA. MEM, and LAC.

  15. Great game last night. Can’t get too excited until we see some real consistency. I’m not just talking wins. But some consistency in style of play, production from the bench, production from Howard, etc. are needed. Kudos to Jamison and Meeks for making the most of their burn. Kudos to Howard for looking like “Dwight Howard” last night.

    I hope the team’s arrow is really pointing up this time.

  16. Pau’s physical decline is sad to see.
    He can’t finish, rebound, or block shots at his previous all star level.

    Darius’ assesmment
    “…he’s getting by right now on smarts and know how rather than any sort of physical ability”

    So true.

  17. When players do not want to listen to the coach they play uninspired in practice, thus they get no game time…even in blowouts. See: Jordan Hill and Devin Ebanks. I’m not sure why Ebanks is not getting time other than the assessment that he is not giving his all in practice. Jordan Hill has appeared to be in a funk ever since the hiring of D’Antoni. Hill obviously has a pre-Laker history with D’Antoni that is not easily reconciled with the changing of uniforms. Jordan needs to look at the opportunity the Lakers have given him and utilize it to the fullest, as he owes the Lakers for the confidence they had in him; whether he starts, comes in off the bench or plays spot minutes as a reserve.

    Pau is hurt and maybe it would behoove the Lakers to rest him and play Hill in his stead. Let’s face it Pau is not dumb, if the Lakers play Hill and find a nice groove, then there is no need for Pau and he would precipitate his own trade. Every year that Pau’s name comes up in trade rumors he plays poorly until the trade deadline. Look for that trend to continue. The Lakers probably value Pau more today than when they traded Lamar, as it is difficult to replicate the skills that Pau and Lamar possess as big men.

    Morris is a 2nd round draft pick that did not play his first year, he is literally learning how to play while on the job. He is doing a fantastic job considering the situation. I would rather develop Morris and use Duhon in the 4th quarter than to give Steve Blake any more playing time.

    It cannot be discounted enough that the development of Morris and Ebanks is severely delayed by the Lakers system of three different coaches in as many years. While fans would love to think that there is no effect to the players that they are payed to play, thus they must adapt to anything that is thrown at them. It is not so simplistic. Both of these players have worked on their games in the off season and are in need to floor time to adapt to the speed and skill of NBA players.

    Lastly, do not get overly excited about Howard’s stats against the Nuggets, he’ll have a few more games of inconsistency as he regains his form. But, regain he WILL. Look for Dwight to resort to the mean stats of his career by Christmas. After-all, he has been ahead of schedule for recovery his entire Lakers career.

    Why aren’t more fans happy that Howard is actually on the court when he could have waited until January and not resorted to game shape until March or April. If that thought does not make you happy, just think we could be waiting for Andrew Bynum to be ready in January.

  18. So sad to see Pau accept the fact small players lays-up on him easily, perpetually. No lift. he’s just raising his hand as a token of defense everytime. Not going for the block at all. And its not bothering the opponents a bit. Hope he comes off the bench with limited minutes until he can show he’s back.

  19. That’s OK, Aaron. Gasol was great last night and showed to management and fans why Lakers needs him. He’s a good passer and perhaps the 6th man who will lead the bench. He and Hill can complement int he 2nd unit with Meeks and Twan. Hill and MWP are the poster players for defense. You can’t go on deep in the playoffs without defense. Eventually, Pau will be traded not because he has no use in D’Antoni’s offense but more of his large contract. Lakers has to exhaust the Gasol juice before going to that path.

  20. SomethIng not being noted is how the pg position has not been a defensive problem with Morris or Duhon playing – other teams can’t game plan to attack our PGs which will change when Nash gets back – our defense will be worse

    I agree that hill should play and pau should take some needed rest – just looking at the bags under his eyes he looks exhausted

    Pietrus just signed with Toronto for the minimum – which means we never offered it – Howard also would have been good but now he is with Minnesota – outside of maybe Michael redd there is really no one left to look at – maybe donte green or Terrance Williams but i doubt we cut and double pay for someone like them or cdr

  21. This talk about Pau’s days being numbered is still pretty premature. I don’t know what the prognosis is for his tendonitis, but if every injured star player was traded for his value when injured, then I guess you would have some version of NBA egalitarianism. What the hell was Charlotte doing with Kevin Love out there with a broken hand. Maybe an offer of Mullins and Diop should have gotten it done, right? Maybe Orlando can offer up McRobs and Big Baby for Rubio.

    Pau won us two championships and his skill has not deteriorated. He simply has had to go away from his many strengths down low and instead is asked to work where he is only slightly better then average. Pau showed he can still do his job over the summer with Spain and now, while working from a less efficient spot of the floor, one requiring greater mobility (which is limited by his knee issues), there are folk ready to claim he is near worthless. Give the coaches some time to figure out how to best weave all the talents together in a manner that works consistently.

    While I think the return of the Steves will be a major infusion for the team in general, this team’s ceiling will be defined by Dwight. If he can get fully healthy and the team improves it’s ability to get him the ball quickly, I think we will go pretty damn far. If Pau is only going to play 25-30 minutes a game, I’d like to see something like 10-15 minutes of that as a primary low post option. It would be nice if some of that Steve Nash leadership magic gives Pau some confidence in putting up his shot. Right now he looks a little tentative with that and I think it has led to him giving up open shots close to the basket. That play where he tried a pass to Dwight for an oop, and instead made a hook shot for 2pts looks like a guy caught between two options. His current role is a bit in his head and his knees are a problem, but that doesn’t mean we can get equal value, or a better fit for him.

    All that said, the team needs to figure out how to get Pau off those islands he gets on with the opposing PGs. We’ve seen teams do this to him since CP3 did it with regularity in the ’11 playoffs. There needs to be a method in place to get him help when Pau is isolated as a defender on the perimeter. Those switches are happening far too often in endgame situations and the 4th quarter D of close games is going to look average until a good solution is worked out. In a related note, even if the team integrates Pau in an effective manner, there will still be the issue of how to maintain offensive spacing for the team in late game situations. The offense just works better with either Pau or Howard on the floor. The numbers that Zephid brought up in his last post were borne out last night too. Howard needs space to work and passing lanes to get it to open shooters when he’s doubled or tripled. I don’t think the Lakers need to hold to that pattern in the same way as the Magic did, as we have better facilitators then the Magic had. Kobe, Nash and Pau are just better creators then Hedo and Nelson were. As I said before, Howard being Howard is the key to maximizing this team.

    I liked what we saw last night and it looks to me like the team is getting more consistent. The ups are coming more often. Players are finding their roles, and we still have a significant infusion of talent to count on.

  22. I think some folks, including media “experts” are losing their perspective on Pau. It’s like they feel that this is going to be the Pau we see forever. He is suffering from tendonitis in both knees so yes he is not moving well. The good news is it’s not career threatening and very treatable. I am hoping that we can find a way to rest him completely for a week or two because rest is the best cure.

    A healthy Pau will find a way to fit in. He is too smart not too. Even hurt he had 8 dimes last night, thats a good thing. He is also a major insurance policy. If something happened to Dwight, we would still have a punchers chance at a title with Pau at the 5. You can’t say the same thing about Hill or Sacre. And lest we forget, Dwight proved to be a bit of a head case. What if he doesn’t resign with L.A? Who plays center next year? I would never trade Pau until Dwight signs on the dotted line.

  23. Good point on Pau being a potential injury insurance.

    Not good is averaging under 14 a game and shooting a bit over 40% he us by far the highest paid PW not even rated in the top 20 in the NBA. Team seems much better with him getting part time duty at this point. Hope it changes.

  24. Agreed Michael – I just think he could really use a rest the give his knees a break and then get his conditioning back properly. He was a very mobile and relatively agile center with Memphis and when he first came to the Lakers – and I don’t think he’s lost that. If they can reel off a couple games and get a little consistency Dantoni will find some rest for him. And when nash is back to properly orchestrate the offense, Pau will find himself more involved and in scoring position. But for now, staggering him and Howard minutes wise isn’t a bad idea till everyone’s back.

    As for someone commenting on Nash and how the defense will get worse – what he brings to this team offensively is worth double or triple what his presence may give up. The defense will be fine.
    As of this morning, Okc and Lakers were the only two teams both top 5 in off and definitely efficiency – funny enough they both lead the league in turnovers as well. Fix the turnovers and fts and Lakers would be 3-4 games better in the win column at least.

  25. Now that the commentary on this site is solely dedicated to getting rid of Pau, I would just like to point out that the Lakers have enjoyed success with FAR WORSE players than Pau at the power forward.

    Remember the good old Robert Horry, Samaki Walker, and Slava Medvedenko days.

    Opposing bigs could go right at Horry whenever they wanted and, aside from some of the Monster shots he hit in the playoffs, he had more bad nights than good.

    Those other guys shouldn’t have ever seen an NBA game.

    This Pau year just reminds me of the year that Kevin Garnett came back from surgery. Pau is hurting in his knees, so he has less mobility and strength in his lower body.

    When healthy, he is still a very valuable asset to have on the court – if only because then we dont have to watch players like Slava and Samaki.

    Mike Brown is gone. Let this team get into a rhythm, and get off Pau’s back. Pau is the teams 4th option now (with Nash back), people need to stop acting like he is the 2nd or 1st option.

    Not many teams have a 4th player as intelligent and talented as Pau.

  26. Yeah we shouldn’t be so hard on Pau, tendonitus is serious business. It’s like someone casting “Slowga” on your whole party in final fantasy lol.

  27. I think last night was another nail in the coffin for Pau. So far, the primary impetus for the “trade Pau” sentiment was how bad the Lakers were WITH Pau. Last night demonstrated how good they can be W/OUT him.

    The Lakers have shooters, cutters, and the game’s most dominant big man. That ought to lead to more games like last night, but a slow footed 7-footer at PF just clogs up the middle for Howard and for cutters like Jamison. In turn, it limits the number of open perimeter shots when defenses don’t get spread out, and it makes the Lakers worse in transition on offense and defense.

    Last night, Pau was out of the way more than normal, and the results were great. While I’d love to see him move to the bench and be the greatest backup center in history, I would expect the Buss family to have little tolerance for a $19 million backup.

    What games like last night do, in my view, is increase the odds that the Lakers trade Pau–because now a trade need not necessarily bring back some great player. Last night’s game, if repeated often enough, may well motivate the organization to move Pau for lesser talent and cap relief….

  28. Pau has value to the team but so do shooters who would be brought in to replace him. Roles are being defined and once pau’s is if he’s still looks out of place then a move should be made. Until then let’s see if he can keep getting the ball to shooters while nash is out. The chances of pau returning to the 09 pau are as good as nash being as good as he was in 2010 wcf. Great timing for jamison and meeks to show a pulse as kobe and ron are cooling off from hot starts. Not sure lakers would be .500 without the great starts to the year from ron and kobe. Now it’s necessary to limit those two minutes otherwise we’ll have a dominant dwight and a burnt out cast by playoffs.

  29. New to this site, as I am transported Nash fan…Re Pau, I think its key to think of his role as split. With Dwight off the floor, (that is 12-15 mins. a night, and more when he is foul trouble) Pau is an excellent 5 in a Nash/Dantoni lead unit of 5, in exactly, pretty much, the mold of Boris Diaw. I.e. running some PNR and potentially an additional point/center who is also creating additional opportunities for others, while having a wide open lane to function in. So for 12-15 minutes a game, Pau will have a perfect role, as either he will be seemlessly running with Nash or if they run a few more posts up with any of the back up PG”s he will be useful there, too.

    So the only question is what does he do for the 15-20 mins he is on the floor with Dwight? You saw some last night…he can facilitate for Dwight, and others, can hit some mid range jumpers, and can probably get some drives to the hoop, when there is space, when the defence is overplaying Nash/Kobe/Dwight…Less obvious, and requiring some work, but valuable, nonetheless..And of course, the other option is to slightly limit his time, while Dwight is on the floor, so that he is playing 26-29 mins total rather than 32 plus. Maybe not ideal given his salary, and his pedigree, but maybe perfect given his current state of health.

    So overall, and if he can get a bit of rest, he will be a very useful piece. Perhaps not a dominant one, but probably better than anything they can get given his contract. From what I can tell he seems like an excellent teammate, and was a bit doomed, career wise, once Dwight was signed, regardless of who the coach was going to turm out to be.

  30. Feeding off of Ko’s earlier post, I’m doing a lil’ looking ahead to games within this month.

    1. 14 gms in total
    2. 9 as Visitors
    3. 5 as Hosts
    4. 3 sets of Back to Backs

    While the team is inconsistent (up and down like elevators) and definitely needs to fine tune their defense, I’m basing my prediction on the belief that Coach D. is starting to get a feel for his personnel (which, in turn, will allow the players to get more comfortable in their roles) and that somewhere within this month, we’ll see the return of ‘The Steves’. This will give us a bolt of energy and more confidence .. So, in view of the opposition, I’m predicting an 11-3 record for the month of December.

  31. I love the game that Jordan Hill plays, but I dont think he is going to get sufficient playing time in this offense. I was excited that they brought him back and was looking forward to him giving the second unit a good energy boost. As much as I hate to say it, maybe the Lakers should trade Hill, because there are definitely teams out there that would love to add him, as far as the Lakers go, I just dont think he is going to get the minutes or be put into position to make the kind of impact that he has the capability to make.

  32. jordan hill can be used as insurance too.

  33. Formalhault wins for the slowga reference.

  34. @ Formalhault

    Slowga works. But try and go way back to the FFIV days – Tendinitis in the knees is like being 1/3 petrified!

  35. I have been watching Anderson with New Orleans. 6″10″ stretch forward averaging over 18 a game a perfectly suited to Laker offense. He would be top 2 or 3 from 3 and runs the court well.

    No trade speculations here just a observance. Boy seems like Hornets could use a name player and former all-star on their team.

    Just saying———–

  36. It might be over for the rest of the NBA… Wade has either fully recovered or his knee felt better for a day. He was an athletic beast again tonight. It was nice to see again. If Dwight gets his explosiveness back is more important than whatever happens with Pau anyways.

  37. LOL @ Ko’s observation. Not to mention Anderson rebounds very well. ;-)

  38. Agree with rr, LBc, T. Rogers and others that we should not over react to this. It was a great game, but we have been fooled by the wins against GS and Dallas. We need to put together a streak and get a few games over 500 before we get too excited. The great play by Jamison, Meeks, and Howard was especially encouraging however. Pau is here to stay.

  39. On any Pau trade,be assured that after the Bynum deal every GM in the league will look at Pau`s medical records with extra care. Once fooled? The Dec. schedule makes it hard to rest him if that`s what`s required, especially with Nash still out.

  40. Ryan Anderson is averaging 17 a game, shooting 43% from 3 which is better then Pau is avaraging from the field and would lead our team and averaging the same rebounds per game as Pau.

    So what’s so funny Simonid?

    LOL

  41. @Ko

    It sure does make sense, whether it happens or not is purely on seeing how Pau performs with Nash running the show. If he’s still struggling, I see no reason not to trade him.

    This isn’t the 08/09 Pau, sentimental feelings aside.. We’re never going to get equal trade value for someone who earns $19M a year (more than LeBron by the way). Even asking for it seems silly, that ship sailed when we lost out on CP3. The best we can hope for if Mitch & Co decide to pull the trigger is to get pieces which fit the system and the team better.

    Moving forward a player like a Ryan Anderson would suit D’Antoni’s way of playing a whole lot more than Pau currently does and compliment that with further pieces and I believe we’re a better team for it.

    Mitch isn’t one to overreact and pull the trigger, he’s one of the better GM’s in the league for a reason. I’m pretty sure they’ll do something if Pau continues on this funk of his.

  42. Welcome @harvey M, for those asking for a Pau trade I would just ask who would come infor D12, God forbids, something happens to him? Ithink the best way to utilize Pau and Jordan Hill as well is to have them play together with Kobe/Meeks//Morris or Blake While D12/Jamison/Kobe or MWP/Meeks/Nash OR Duhon. Let Pau start then bring Jamison in and then bring back Pau/Hill for Howard & Jamison. Same with Duhon and Meeks coming in for Kobe & Nash then bring back Kobe & Blake for Duhon. That way we can give Nash, Kobe & Pau enough rest. Duhon seems to be a perfect fit for Dwight as well as Jamison. While Pau and Kobe can anchor the other unit when the other starters are resting. This way we will have at least two superstar on the floor every minute of the game.

  43. Ko

    Agreed that its possible that Pau may be moved for a piece or pieces that fit better. I sense that you are high on Anderson. What are your thoughts on Bargnani from Toronto as he may be availbale as well?

    Obviously, there is no way of knowing if any of moves are in the works. Would be nice to get a young stretch four though.

  44. P. Ami and others:
    Pau didn’t win two titles by himself. How soon we forget how well Lamar, Trevor, Derek, and Andrew played during that stretch. I have no idea what you all love so much about a defensive liability on this team that clearly does not need him. Dwight Howard is multitalented and doesn’t need a 7’2″ passer clogging up the middle. Jamison is the best player on the team for this system and you guys keeping trying to fit a square peg (Pau) into a circle . And Steve Blake’s injury has been a blessing in disguise. His defense is horrific and he never ever penetrates the lane. He has done nothing since joining the Lakers however you guys can’t wait till he gets back. Can u name any two worst defenders in the league than Pau and Blake?

  45. Spartacus: Gasol is no superstar. Have you been watching? The gig is up. He has been exposed. I like Pau off the bench as well but who brings 18 million off the bench? The best place for Pau is New Orleans.

  46. Thank God NONE of you runt this team. Bunch of panickers

  47. Matt

    doesn’t seem like an upgrade. Shooting under 40% and 34% from 3 with only about 5 rebounds per game. Pau would fit there due to European influence. Have not seen him play this year so I am not sure. Love Caldron though.

    That $19 mill next year is the issue. Seems like he needs to go to a team that is trying to make a statement(Hornets with new owner) or team that is a center away from being contender. Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago types. Seems like the more he plays the mire his value will go down. Hey maybe Philly will take another over priced, possibly injured center from us. Never mind.

  48. As hard as it is to watch pau struggle we know that he’s brought it when needed. We all fans of the lakers first and players second. I’d rather lakers win a chip than pau average 20-10 if he’s traded then he’s traded. And we’ll remember the way he’s dominated game 7s. Recently vs denver or as far back as 09 vs houston. What we won’t remember is nash’s highlights as a laker because he doesn’t have any. Lakers gave phx two 1st, two 2nd, 3yr 28 mil and odom’s trade exception for nash who has yet to notch a win as a laker. So while pau takes all the heat, some is deserving, some attention should be paid to nash. The guy who our last memory off him is tripping over his own feet and getting stripped by a player who just got benched for derek fisher. lakers gave up as much as houston did for harden and we didn’t receive a franchise player. So the $19 looks ugly next to pau’s stats but it’s 3 players making more than lebron on this team.

  49. I know that when I see a 4th option with knee tendinitis playing as consistently as ever … I overpanic too. (((FG% is down (half of his shots are 18+ footers) but FG% inside is up. … that’s the system’s doing, not PAU’s!!!)))

    Besides, we all know it’s Pau’s fault that MD decided that he disliked Jordan Hill so much that he refused to put Hill in the Lakers/Pacers game (last shot) to guard the pick n roll that everyone knew was going to happen. (A great coach, like, say PJ, may put a mobile 4… say lamar odom, out there in those positions… he won a few championships, btw)

    But hey, why coach to your player’s strengths when you can force a system that highlights role players… yay! I’m just glad we all have level heads here.

  50. uh oh!

    Dwight, about LA:
    “I’m happy here, I’m having a lot of fun. This is a place that I’ve always prayed that I could be a part of something very special. So I want to take advantage of it.”

    take advantage? be a part of something special? Maybe I am paranoid, guys, but it sounds like a 1 year plan to me. Thoughts?

  51. Funky,

    Jamison and Meeks aren’t going to go 20/28 from the field every game. Pau needs to play better if this team is going to do anything, and if he simply can’t, well, then, so be it. Jamison is 36 years old and has always been a bad defender. I like the guy well enough, and they need him, but he will have a lot of bad games along with the good ones and is a part-time player.

    Scorchee,

    Howard is up in the air. D’Antoni and Howard hitting it off (or not) is obviously a huge part of this season.

  52. Even if the bench doesn’t shoot the ball well, it brings it up defensively: the guys were pretty consistent in that department the last four games. And that’s what counts, at least I think it this way.

    We are talking about Pau and his place on the team, but our bench has a chance to become a consistent force, not only offensively, as you might think, but defensively too. The unit of Dwight, Jamison, MWP, Meeks and Duhon (or sometimes Morris instead of MWP) is killing it right now. Let’s see if it holds up. Pau is a smart unselfish player – he will find his place eventually. But other guys stepping up is huge.

    I personally think that back-up SF is a bigger problem in the long run than Pau situation. We can play small-ball with our bench (Meeks-Morris-Duhon), but what if MWP gets in foul trouble. Let’s hope Ebanks can grow into the role and out of the dog-house soon…

  53. Pau has tendinitis and is gutting through that.
    It would get better if Pau was shut down. But he is too competitive for that and the team needs him, especially since nash is out, dwight is recovering and the team is thin. without time and without rest, the tendinitis is not going to get better. He could be excused from practice, but D’antoni needs the team to practice to instill his schemes.
    In 1-2 months when nash is back, and things are more settled down, the team could choose to rest Pau. Or he could gut through the entire season, and hopefully it would be less come playoff time. But for sure he would get rest over the summer, which hasn’t really happened the last few years.
    Just 2 years ago, Pau was universally acclaimed as among the top 5 big men, and outplayed Dwight. He has multiple skills – that don’t fade, anymore than Kobe’s skills faded when he was playing on one leg and a bit. I don’t believe that Father Time has caught up with Pau significantly yet.
    D’Antoni needs time to put the pieces together and he would find a way to make good use of a healthy Pau. – but not necessarily this month
    So let’s not panic and ask for Pau to be traded. To borrow a phrase (Kelly Dwyer?), you won’t get back a $1 player by trading a $1 player (Pau). You may look for getting two 65 cent players. (shooter/guard/small forward?). But even those are hard to come buy, and the team desperately needs big man insurance right now /this year . You also have to be sure that what you are getting is indeed 2 65 cent pieces and not a dime and a quarter. A top draft, All-Star+ quality big man (which pau was and would be on any other team once healthy) would deserve in my opinion All star or near All-star starter and young talent. (keeping $ out of the pic).
    I don’t see the candidates out there …

  54. A lot of people halfway bringing up trade ideas. Please stop. Floating New Orleans as an option and trying to leave people to put two and two together on Anderson so you play footsie under the table about trading Pau in FB&G’s comment sections seems silly. Go to another site and discuss it all you want.

    As an aside, this is what I dislike about trade speculation. Gasol can’t even be traded for Anderson straight up since the salaries don’t match. So, you end up having to add salary to the deal from the Hornets side to make the deal work under the CBA. Only, the Lakers have a full roster so trades either have to in a one-to-one ratio or they have to waive someone. This complicates things a great deal but it seems people just want to say “Anderson would look great here! Pau belongs in New Orleans!” and act like it’s simple. Uh, it’s not.

  55. I agree with Barath and Darius. As I stated above, Pau is not going anywhere. Any deal would not only be complicated to execute, there also has to be another willing party. Why would someone give us a few (that is what it would take) decent players for Pau? What would their motive be? Then the execution of that would be extremely difficult. He is here to stay. Mike D’Antoni needs to figure this out. If Pau needs to be rested, then he needs to do that. There is no loss really, because Pau is playing poorly. Take Hill out of the dog house. After the rest, MD needs to figure out how to maximize Pau’s performance. MD needs to get the most out of this great roster. Players like Pau, Jamison, and Hill are his largest projects. That is what we pay MD for.

  56. @Robert…

    Your last comment about Pau makes a lot of sense, especially the part about resting him if necessary.

    Tonight is a big test for Dwight. Does he have the mental toughness to compartmentalize his emotions and play well against his former team? Or will he let sentiment affect his focus? Dwight’s physical talent is unquestioned, but his ability to get the most out of that talent is not.

    Orlando is going to come in sky high. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Big Gravy, oops I mean Big Baby Davis, drooling all over himself in an emotional lather. D12 and the rest of the team need to match and raise the intensity ante.

    December brings a lot of challenges for The Show. They need to get down to business. The road beckons. If this team doesn’t have the cojones to play well AND WIN in hostile environments, they are not going very far. So far this team has created more questions than answers. That needs to change.

  57. Enough with the inane trade speculation, please!

    We already have new players at the 1 and the 5, plus a whole new cadre of reserves. And a new coach, our third this season already. And our PG hasn’t played much. And he’s the perfect fit for our system.

    none of the options presented here account for Pau’s role as the the backup 5 (and he’s a damn good one). This is only augmented by the fact DH is recovering from back surgery.

    none of the options presented here account for the fact that Pau’s contract fits perfectly into the Lakers’ grand scheme– put together the best team possible for two more years until Kobe’s contract expires, then clear as much cap space as possible.

    none of the options here account for why a potential trading partner would view Pau as an upgrade. New Orleans shipped CP3 for prospects; now we think they’re going to take on Pau?

    Instead, we have knee-jerk reactions based solely on FG%.

    If FG% was the only goal, we could easily run out a starting lineup like Nash-Meeks-Kobe-Pau-DH, or even Nash-Meeks-Kobe-AJ-DH. Why don’t we? Because that’s not the only goal.

    The same posters who never mention MWP’s defense are now forgetting Pau’s role as the backup 5 and losing sight of the big picture in terms of how the team’s contracts are structured, which fits perfectly vis a vis Kobe’s contract and also the CBA.

  58. The concern with Pau is his performance on D. Let’s not get it twisted, he brings a lot to the table on the offfensive side of the ball, and we really wouldn’t be that much better off, if at all, with another shooter in his place. However, with his knees ailing him, he’s a step slow in transition, and not explosive enough to cause any difficulty at the rim for opposing guards. That won’t get it done against the Heat & Thunder.

    Suppose he gets some rest and eventually regains his explosiveness, I think we are just fine with Pau considering what he does bring to the table in terms of passing and facilitating. WIthout that, however, we have yet another gaping hole in our defensive makeup and another big problem keeping us from a title. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol will get chewed up in pick n rolls in the playoffs unless Pau’s knees recover.

  59. We may have the best talent in the NBA, but we clearly don’t have the best team. Mike Brown flunked out with Princeton, but he had good defensive roles in mind for Ebanks and Hill. D’Antoni has found ways to unleash Meeks and Jamison, but can’t seem to find a meaningful role for Hill or Ebanks. And then there is Gasol . . . .

    Back in Memphis, Pau was pushed out of a miserable losing existence with the Griz to NBA playoffs and championships with the Lakers–partly by angry fans. If similar fans here in LA force Pau out, one wonders what other team he might help win a championship.

    The formidible challenge facing D’Antoni is to take our existing assortment of players and meld them into a team. The obvious model is San Antonio, where every player has a role, and nearly every player plays.

    Slicing and dicing the current roster to bring back a former miracle in the desert is a mirage. LA is not going to win a championship with some sort of Sunnyside Laker rehash.

  60. Ok Lil Pau you made your point on big Pau. You win the most solid points award. Case closed.

    Back to our season. I see Lakers at 18 and 12 by January 1. That should put them 4th in the West with all hands on deck for the new year. By reducing Pau’s minutes to under 30 and giving more minutes to Jamison and Meeks I believe the team can finish top 3 and beat anyone in the WCF.

  61. Dwight won 55+ games a season with a few boarderline semi-stars, floor spacers and at best average defensive players around him.

    Surprise, surprise, you guys are 100% spot on, I watched for the PG/Meeks/MWP/Jamison/D-12 that you guys were talking about over the last 3 games, and boy did it do well. It looks like MD saw this!

    I know it won’t happen, but I hope that MD incorporates some Bickerstaff O (lol) when the game gets ugly –a.k.a.shooters are missing shots– (that game vs the Pacers would have been a perfect place for MD to run some Bickerstaff stuff for a good 2 or 3 minutes with a PG/Kobe/SF/Hill/Pau lineup

  62. It isn’t necessarily that Pau is broken or is a huge problem and won’t improve even in this system as it is that the Lakers as presently constructed are going to be outmanned by the better teams and Gasol represents the one piece that can bring some valuable pieces in return. Simple as that.

    There’s no longer any particular certainty to Nash’s return from his odd injury or to the level he’ll play at if he returns given his age and the fact that he’s almost never been injured before. If he’s out much longer than Xmas, the team is going to have to start thinking about alternatives for point guard, if they plan to compete deep in the playoffs.

    The idea that a 36 year old Jameson is going to be the consistent answer at 4 for an 82 game regular season plus the playoffs is a gigantic stretch also.

    Two big holes in the starting lineup? Maybe the team can live with one but not both.

    The FO needs to be their usual patient selves looking for the right deal for Pau. Nearing the trade deadline teams will be inclined to move would-be free agents for next year whilst they can get something in return for them.

  63. Posters here are also forgetting that the fo does not want to take on any contracts past 2014 unless they are the perfect fit for this team. Until howard signs, they dont want to be stuck with anyone else unless its agreat talent at a great price. Paus contract expires 2014 – and that is worth way more tothe lakers andto other teamsnext year. With all the penalty tax theyre not taking anyone for pau unless it guarantees a chip.

  64. Also, its not just the luxury tax – being over the salary come w new limitations on use of mid level exception, trades, etc… The moves this summer were as much to set this team up for the long term as well as make ‘chip runs this year and next.

  65. You guys are crackin’ me up. The over-the-top Pau haters and the over-the-top Pau defenders.

    Facts.
    1. Pau never won anything when he was the #1 option. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. He came to the Lakers and was option #2 to Kobe. He absolutely flourished in this new role in which he shouldered a much smaller load. He then helped push the Lakers over the top for 2 championships. I’ll be honest with you though….I don’t think we beat the Celtics in 2010 without Bynum there to do the heavy banging with Perkins. Pau did a great job in 2009 against DH12 though.
    2. Pau can be a good option 2b with this team and he isn’t as bad as he often looks when you consider that he is injured and playing an unnatural role 18 feet from the basket. Having said that, the guy is still getting pretty good stats and keeps the offense moving. It seems like his knees are hindering the most on defense and lift on his jumper.

    How do we maximize Pau’s talents?
    1. Tweak the rotation so that he gets the max amount of time at the 5 while Howard is on the bench. Preferably playing alongside Kobe so that they can run the PnR. Play Pau and Dwight together as little as possible.
    2. Bring Pau off the bench as the 6th man. Would his ego permit this? Would the FO be able to stomach the fact that they are paying him 19 million a year to come off the bench? Not so sure about this one.
    3. Trade em. Accept the fact that you won’t get an equal player(s) back in return, but try to fill in a hole or two somewhere else. Maybe a starting caliber 3 that can hit 3-point shots? Then bring MWP off the bench. Not sure. I also believe, like most on this board, that this is not very likely because of his contract and waning production.

    My personal preference would be to rest him as much as possible, and then go with either option 1 or 2. Tweak the rotations or make him the next 6th man of the year.

  66. Another point some people are missing with this whole Pau conversation is that the Nuggest are an ultra small ball type of team. Their whole game is to run, run, run and hope that any size advantage is negated by their speed and depth. Based on that, Jamison is a better matchup for Denver than an ailing Pau.

    Against many teams, Pau is still a matchup problem, even with bad knees. However, without Pau getting up and down the floor and being effective protecting the paint, getting past OKC is unlikely. I’m not familiar with tendenitis, but hopefully it’s something he can manage throughout the season and peak for the stretch run. Based on recent hamstring injury history with Pau, he knows how to listen to his body and monitor his effort in the early part of the season.

    Positive notes? At least Morris and Duhon are getting some solid mintues and producting well. I wouldn’t be surpised to see Steve Blake go somewhere in a salary dump this season, and not a day too soon.

    But, the writing is on the wall, this is an OLD team and hopefully DAntoni can find a way to limit starter’s minutes in games where we put up 110+ points.

  67. Old pau isn’t coming back neither is mvp nash or indiana ron or one man wrecking crew kobe. All 4 of those guys are out of their prime and old, even Dwight has said as much. You can include blake, duhon and jamison in that group if you like. Plenty of things have to go right for lakers to win a chip. One of them being nash actually seeing the floor this season. Nash doesn’t sound confident on when he’ll see the floor. Some real mystery to his injury no timetable and no progress has been made reading espnla. Lots of variables at play and trading away one player won’t fix everything.

  68. rr,

    Meeks and Jamison will clearly not shoot that well on a consistent basis–but they don’t have to for this team to be better than it has been.

    I don’t think it is a coincidence that when they play alongside Dwight, and get solid minutes, they play more like the guys they have always been. That’s my point. I don’t see any reason to believe that the Lakers can be as effective with Pau and Dwight on the floor together than they have shown so far, or what Pau and Andrew showed together. Pau is not a PF and in this system he is even more out of position than normal.

    Much has been made of Jamison’s defense, but compared to what? To Pau’s D? I hardly see a big difference between those two guys when defending power forwards. Jamison is a very good rebounder, and his offense is radically better than Pau’s in this offense (when has Pau ever scored 33 as a PF?).

    The organization made its choice. They traded the slow footed Bynum for the more athletic Howard. They added Steve Nash, and they canned the Princeton offense for Mike D. It was arguable that Pau didn’t fit well last year; but it is undeniable that he doesn’t fit THIS year.

  69. Funny that the players, coach, and FO are asking everyone to be patient while they wait to get their team healthy and have a chance to get everyone on the same page and see what they have before they make changes – yet certain portions of the fan base insist that they know better and basically demand trades etc.. regardless of the practical and financial realities and the fact that not even a quarter of the season has been played.

  70. Sometimes I think people on this blog enjoy discussing trades more than actually watching the Lakers play…

  71. Funky,

    I was among many pushing the Meeks/Jamison with Howard thing in preseason, so I get that. But Jamison is 36 years old and has never played D. He will have big games in this system–and he will have Indiana games, since he is 36. Pau is still an important part of the team and he and the coaches/training staff need to get him going if the team is to make a real run.

  72. rr, Jamison was very effective on a far less talented Cleveland team last year, so while his age is undeniable, so too is the fact that he is a very talented player.

    If Pau is going to be a part of this team, then there is no doubt he needs to be a bigger part of this team and they need to get him going. However, it is looking more and more to me that Pau should NOT be a part of this team if they have a way of bringing in some shooters and bench support in a trade.

  73. Jerke-
    With all due respect… you weren’t around last year when FO, coaches, and players were saying the same thing and it never happened. As it is, I am just hopeful that the team will get Nash back before the end of the year and see what this coaching staff can do for a few weeks before having to make a decision about shaking things up somehow.

  74. Well stated KenOak with regard to last year. There were many preaching patience then as well.

    This is also about perspective. If you want a decent team, that will make the playoffs, and put on a little bit of a show. We have that. However if you truly want and think we have a chance at a title, then there is a little more urgency involved. I said urgency, not panic. We need to start racking up major streaks of wins pronto, MD needs to start implementing his systems fully, and we need Nash back. All urgently. We can preach patience, finish with 45 wins, and spend our third year on the outside of the finals. For some teams this is OK – but we are the Lakers, and this is simply not acceptable. And with that the FO definitely agrees. They did not break the bank and pay all of the taxes for a 5 seed.

  75. @kenoaks – fair enough – but your FO then went out and got a top 5 pt guard, the best centre in the game (while avoiding the calamity that bynum has physically become), two decent bench players in jamison and meeks, and arguably best coach system wise to run this team. I think would qualify as Laker FO making a decent attempt. I get that Laker fans feel entitled to try and win every season – but the bandwagon jumping on/off regardless of the context etc.. Is a little ridiculous.

    The Lakers are the only team in the league that has the financial ability and the basketball brains to make a serious run every year (knicks lack brains). Coming from the outside after following phoenix, toronto, vancouver, dallas pre-cuban (though hes penny pinching now too) – yes it comes off pretty poor the lack of patience barely 15 games in. Im not saying there isn’t issues that may notbe fixable with this team – but it could be a lot worse.

    Lakers will always be in the hunt because of their resources – you’re lucky. Phoenix is gonna hurt for a long time And even san antonio once duncan and parker are gone – that team won’t be the same either Because their ownership will never pay what the Lakers will to field a winning team. I really want to see this team win as this year will be Nashes only for certain chance (as howard isn’t a for certain resign) so I’m in until they’re out. Throw out the mike brown fiasco and this team is 7-4 w games that coulda easily gone our way w spurs/indy. Things aren’t so bad-rough spots yes- but as the team gels, and Mike D figures stuff out -its only going to get better. Mike D has repeatedly said – even today – that he will move lines around – so that should deal w Pau as best as possible. And he’s shown that already. FO isn’t doing anything till after xmas and for good reason.

  76. I am of the idea that PaU and D12 should play less together…

    Our front court line up should be this,

    1. D12, AJ, MWP with Kobe, PG
    2. PAU, Hill,Kobe with Meeks, with a defensive PG

    I am sure, Mike D is already looking at this and trying it out on practice…