Preview and Chat: The Houston Rockets

Emile Avanessian —  December 4, 2012

Records: Lakers 8-9 (9th in the West), Rockets 8-8 (7th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.1 (5th in the NBA), Rockets 104.1 (t-7th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 99.4 (8th in the NBA), Rockets 103.4 (21st in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Chris Duhon, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison, Dwight Howard
Rockets: Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, Omer Asik
Injuries: Lakers: Pau Gasol (out), Steve Nash (out), Steve Blake (out); Rockets: Cole Aldrich (questionable)

In fairness to these Lakers, the 2012-13 season has presented a stream of tumult maddening not only in its persistence but also its diversity.

Spend the summer building a quad-HoF juggernaut around an (exhaustingly discussed) offense that risks marginalizing your new all-universe playmaker, watch it do so for precisely one full game before losing said playmaker to a broken leg (and his primary backup to an abdominal injury), while the squad actually thrives offensively but can’t keep the opponent off the scoreboard (or the win column) to the extent that your defensive guru coach is shown the door. Dogmatically pursue the coach with whom you dominated the previous decade before employing one of the great play-fakes in modern HR history and opting for the himself hobbled professional soul mate of your banged up point guard, and win four of five to return to break-even while awaiting his arrival.

The summer’s top get, the generational big man expected to author a new chapter in the franchise’s already glorious tome, months after undergoing major (I don’t believe there’s any other kind) back surgery, has, in mere weeks, allayed any lingering concerns about his ability to regain his characteristic dominance. The bench has (as it is wont to do) frustrated, though recent flashes of competence (no longer, mind you, from last spring’s surprise find, the backup center who’s now been buried on an NBA bench twice by the same coach) are certainly fodder for optimism.

The team’s since found firm-enough footing to rank in the league’s top third in efficiency at both ends of the floor, with Kobe Bean not only continuing to dominate on a nightly basis, but doing so in as efficient and mature a manner as we’ve ever seen.

And yet, the Lakers continue to drop more games than they win.

Now? Big boy pants.

Seriously, it’s never nothing with this crew.

To paraphrase ex-NFL coach/exec Bill Parcells, at some point, you simply are what your record says you are. Set aside payroll, prestige, raw talent and past achievement. 8-9 is 8-9. Yes, there have been injuries and upheaval, and yes, continuity cannot be achieved overnight, but – if I may once again channel my inner Tuna – don’t tell about the labor pains, show me the baby. The Lakers have certainly encountered some bumps in the road, and there can be little doubt that this team’s best is yet to come. It’s worth noting, however, that no team featuring peak-Kobe and well-on-his-way Dwight Howard – two players whose mere presence all but ensures 50 wins and the playoffs – never mind one that’s played 12 of the its first 17 games at home (not counting a “road” game against the Clippers), ought to be struggling (and, at present, failing) to keep its head above water more than 20% of the way through a season.

This is certainly not meant to suggest that the Lakers will be spectators come playoff time, but to continue to shoehorn this team – this turnover-plagued atrocity at the free throw line, yet again (for now) lacking at the point – into the ranks of the NBA’s contender is to invite more disappointment into a season that’s been defined by just that.

Tonight, in the absence of Pau Gasol (knee tendinitis), the Lakers travel to Houston, to square off against the team to which they last December actually traded their embattled scapegoat extraordinaire.

I have never shared the unflattering view of Gasol that – almost from the moment he was acquired, and in spite of his vital role in three conference titles and two banners – permeates Laker Nation. The unshakable “soft” label that has adhered itself to him (even after 19 and 18 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the team that had tormented him two years earlier) is nothing short of absurd. That he, one of the most gifted big men in NBA history, has maintained his grace and professionalism despite constantly demeaned as such by his own fans (never mind violently threatened on a regular basis by a disgusting but high-decibel minority), incessantly involved in trade speculation and actually traded a year ago is as impressive as anything he’s managed on the floor.

That said, at this moment, Pau is frankly not a good NBA player. That he’s struggling to define a niche for himself in a new system is well documented, as is the discomfort in his knees that will keep out of action tonight. What’s bothersome, however (as we discussed on the Silver Screen and Roll podcast, recorded prior to Sunday night’s game), is the extremity of his passiveness and failure to execute certain basic, system-neutral basketball plays (like wide open 18-foot jump shots and basic pick-and-roll defense) that have twice led to his watching the final moments of a Laker defeat from the bench.

That said, however, in this, the first of seven road contests in their next eight outings, Gasol’s absence will be absolutely glaring. Much of the attention focused on these Rockets tends to be directed at the high-profile backcourt of Jeremy Lin (11.6 points on 51% FG, 4.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2 steals per game in his last five) and noted Laker antagonist James Harden (24, 6.8 assists, 2.4 steals and 46.4% from 3-point range during the same span), but the front court is where the Rockets have done the bulk of their damage en route victories in four of their last five. The onus tonight will fall squarely on the shoulders of Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison, as their counterparts, Chandler Parsons (21.5 points, 7 rebounds and 57.9% from 3 in Houston’s last four wins) and Patrick Patterson (20 and 6 over his last five, 20+ points four times and 54% from the field) will command their full attention, as offseason steal Omer Asik (15.5 and 14 in his last five, and 25-of-38 from the field) will likely keep Howard occupied and unable to offer as much help as the Lakers might prefer.

Tuesday night’s outing in Houston offers up comprehensive challenge for the Lakers: win a road game (they’ve lost four of five this season), even more short-handed (say what you will about Pau…), despite starting one of the NBA’s most defensively challenged forwards against a hot-handed frontcourt. Because these Lakers are these Lakers, it wouldn’t be at all shocking to see them return to .500 tonight. To do so, however, it will take a massive effort from the front line (both defensively and on the boards), Kobe doin’ more work and, in all likelihood, a trip out of Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse for Jordan Hill.

Rockets Blogs: Check out The Dream Shake and Red94 for some excellent coverage of these Rockets.

Where you can watch: 5:00pm start on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Emile Avanessian


158 responses to Preview and Chat: The Houston Rockets

  1. Thought Duhon was getting the start tonight over Morris.

  2. sometimes labels are true – as it is for Pau. The guy on the court for lakers the last 2+ years is hardly the same guy who plays on the Olympic team for Spain. But Pau is not the problem. There is plenty of blame to go around. Even if the offense hits some dry spells, it’s the defense that is going to kill us, and I hope the coaches can come up with something that can work and improve over time.

  3. The problems are obvious. It’s talent. It always is. Pau Gasol just isn’t good this year. Dwight isn’t Dwight yet And Steve Nash hasn’t played. The Lakers right now are a less talented team than last years addition. This team is last years team without a big man who can can score in the post and without an All Star PF. I’m actually shocked people can’t figure out what’s wrong with this team.

  4. I won’t panic until we lose to the New Orleans Pelicans. Then I lose my mind.

  5. Not happy ably the report from espn stating that if pau can’t fit in dantonis system we will trade him

    (edited for trade speculation)

    Mike needs to learn to work with what he has – much more like team USA rarer than the phoenix years

    Ps phil Jackson won with both gasol and bynum playing

  6. Great write up. I will admit to being mightily disappointed in D’Antoni’s lack of burn for Jordan Hill — not because Hill is a game changer — but because the move reeks of self-serving ego at a time when Coach needs to sell us, we, team.

    Lead by example.

  7. “Dwight isn’t Dwight yet”

    What part of Dwight isn’t Dwight yet?

    He’s on his career avg for FGA.

    His FG% is the highest its been since 09-10 (when he took a paltry 10.2 FGA per game).

    His boards are down by 3, but he’s playing with folks who rebound better.

    His blocks are above his career average (2.6 this season, 2.1 last year and 2.4 the season before, and the career average is 2.1).

    His FTA per game is 11.0, which is the 2nd highest of his career.

    He’s 18.7 PPG, while his career average is 18.4.

    So, again, what part of Dwight isn’t Dwight yet?

    Seems like he’s back to normal to me:

    “I want to do it the best that I can and I’m going to take everything in I can to get what I can out of the NBA. Which, for me, is winning a championship. So if I have to play on another team or do whatever I have to do to get one, that’s my goal. This is my passion, so I’ll continue to fight.”

  8. Emile, you’ve got a great grasp of the art that is blog-writing. First paragraph was gold.

    I’m finally over the disappointment that was Sunday night. On to the next one… But really, we better take this by a large margin. Pumped to see what starter Jamison + bench can do; would love to see them deliver a punch again.

  9. Kobe is in bad Kobe mode to play the game, not playing D and forcing bad shots.

  10. You guys see what I mean. Just 3 straight wasted possessions. 4 he just forced another shot. Need team rhythm.

  11. Too much Kobe…

  12. Not just Mike D, How about Kobe leading by example! Stop gambiling/roaming on D and do your job. (Go REwatch his terrible D VS Orlando.)

  13. Like Kobe is the only guy on this team that wastes possessions. Every possession Dwight is fouled on is wasted.

    I’ll call out Kobe when he does bad Kobe, but too many haters don’t get that at times the rest of the team just doesn’t want the pressure so they defer to Kobe.

  14. Whoa! Was that a postup? Yay!

  15. Shaun, I think Mike D would do a lot better if he had a Kobe Bryant that was 3 years younger and a Pau Gasol that was the unanimous “most skilled big man in the NBA” instead of the shell of Pau that now occupies his body.

  16. Earl Clark? Are you serious, someone needs to smack MD

  17. I am with Scorchee, J. Hill being dead, or a 30 point lead is the only justification for Earl Clark over him.

  18. slow-break offense? I think Kobe wants to light up a bearded someone tonight, after Aflalo.

  19. Don’t sleep on Earl Clark. Obviously Coach D is looking to run Hill exclusively as the back-up 5 tonight.

  20. Morris, Clark and Hill are all sucking, hard.

  21. Aggressive Kobe… but what happens when he starts missing or not getting calls?

  22. lots of empty seats too

  23. That last play where Meeks put in on th floor and didn’t shoot the relatively open 3 is exhibit A for why Kobe sometimes has no desire to pass.

  24. @joe

    How can you say Clark and Hill sucking hard? Kobe keeps on shooting and you’re blaming others how they sucks. Clark just hit 2 shots, MD yelling on him when he made that shot that’s what they need, hit their shots.

  25. Clark plays OK, especially on D. He had one mistake – that outlet pass into the crowd.

    Morris – not so much.

  26. Tra, but if Dwight is out there I’d still rather have Hill with him than Earl Clark

  27. @vhanz. Is Kobe preventing Clark and Hill from keeping Asik from getting multiple offensive boards over them?

    They are there to defend and board not have offensive plays run for them.

  28. @ Joe and Vhanz

    It’s Pau’s fault (did I get it right?)

  29. Asik got the ball because of long shots from the perimeter, the ball bouncers right to him. Asik is a hard nose player also like Hill don’t ever underestimate him. Clark just get his first minutes as a Laker but he’ll get a lesson, Box-Out. We just need to trust them, nothing we can do.

  30. Gee, I wish we had another 7 footer with good rebounding skills to prevent Offensive Rebounds…

  31. Scorchee

    Do remember that we’ll be in NO tomorrow night up against a fresh Hornets team. Energy needs to be preserved.

  32. TRA, No way, you do what it takes to preserve a win. And how is having Hill play 30ish minutes going to wear Hill out?

  33. Nice effort tonight. Not everything is about talent.

    Houston did miss some open threes though.

  34. Pau hasn’t exactly been great this year at preventing offensive boards. What we need are fundamentals. When was the last time a Laker boxed out?

    I would rather the Lakers sit Pau until he is healthy. Once healthy he either helps us immensely, or at least he looks good enough that another team may actually take on his 19 mil.

    For the record I am not a proponent of trading Pau. But we should if we are not going to use him to his strengths.

  35. Lol joe, I was saying that for the people saying we should trade Pau. Once the steve’s come back we should have plenty of shooters to surround Dwight and Pau at C

    PF: MWP and Jamison
    Wings: Kobe, MWP, Meeks and Blake
    PG: Nash Duhon and Blake

    (Oh, and Pau has had no problem boxing out, it’s been his mobility defensively and the fact that he is shooting 18 footers all game long)

  36. When Howard doesn’t get the rock, he just refuses to defend the paint. Guys don’t seem to be familiar with each others tendencies.

  37. Nice first half by the Lakers but one glaring stat sticks out, Houston has 15 offensive rebounds. Control the boards, Lakers.

  38. Kobe shot the ball 18 times in the first half.. On pace for 30+ FGA’s.

    While D12 has 5.. Most of the shots he took were contested shots. Could someone inform Kobe that everyone has to eat in this offense?

  39. Became too lazy at the end of the first half. Need to come out with a sense of urgency in the second.

    Earl Clark first real impression:
    + nice d (long, moves his feet);
    + runs the floor;
    + good hands;
    – not a good passer.

    I’m intrigued.

  40. Lakers should easily be up 20, but the Rockets have like a gazillion second chance points.

    The Rockets have more offensive boards (15) than defensive ones (13) at the half. These Lakers just have zero hustle and they will continue to wallow in mediocrity until they realize that victories mean playing all out, all the time.

  41. Scorchee

    Judging from the 1st half, obviously Coach D feels more comfortable inserting Clark as the primary reserve for Jamison at the 4 than Sacre as the primary back-up for Dwight. That’s why, up until this point, Hill is the back-up 5. Tbt, by games end, I don’t believe either will be much of a factor on whether we hold onto this halftime lead and secure the victory or not.

  42. So… how much more negative air can we throw around? We are up 15. There has been plenty of hustle on both ends of the floor. Some of those offensive boards were our being lazy, some were Houston getting lucky positionally, and some were Asik beasting as he has all season. Of note, Dwight is no slouch on our end, though, if we want to compare Centers. Yes, I will agree that it seems as though Kobe has something to prove to Harden, but so far he’s doing alright. How about let’s support our team’s overall better play tonight and hope that we continue to outscore Houston each quarter.

  43. Sorry, skipped some logic there…

    -if we trade pau, we have no servicable big to backup Dwight and (as Pau should do) play in place of Dwight in the 4th in close games (hack a dwight), on O. Most importantly we lose a tremedous weapon, that when used correctly will increase our chances at a championship.

    -the issue seems to be knee tendinitis (with pau) which worsens the problems with Pau playing the 4 (lateral quickness)… so a healthy Pau would preform better on D at the 4 amd be his usual self at 5. (Not claiming it would solve all problems, btw)

    -If the steve’s are back, you could slide MWP down to the 4 in some spots which gives you 2 options at the 4 for floor spacers (jamison/MWP). This allows MD to use Pau less at the 4 (32ish minutes, 14ish at center?) (Btw, I am one of those guys that believs that if a player feels involved (ex:pau feeling he is productive) he will become more productive to some extent (call me crazy)

    I think this give us more flexibility and allows us the luxury of keeping Pau and playing him at the spots he is more productive at.

  44. The Lakers can ill afford to just make Dwight rebound and defend. Hopefully, the Lakers have decided to allow Kobe to score in the first half and allow Dwight to score in the second half. However, I don’t like the lack of ball movement. It’s predictable.

  45. Opponents really can’t leave MWP right now, he’s been hitting 3’s like crazy in this MD era.

  46. Here is some positivity: MWP, after a few bad games to start the season, has shown up this year to play. He is in shape and playing D and O like his name was still Artest.

    He hustles on most plays and unless he elbows Harden’s head off again, he has been a major plus this season.

  47. Here’s our old boss Kurt making fun of the Wizards thinking they can beat the Heat today:

    And then there’s the Wizards showing any team can beat another in this league on any given night.

  48. More bad news.

  49. How is that NOT a foul?!

  50. @simonoid

    Because its the regular season, anyone can beat any team. Even the Wizards can beat this Lakers team. Come playoffs? I don’t think so.

  51. Lakers cannot run this lineup for long.

  52. Nice block by Jordan Hill

  53. This offense is ugly. Too much Kobe. The Lakers will not win many games this way.

  54. Hey that kid has a great arm, the Jets should give him a call.

  55. Its just time for LA fans to let Pau go, he has had a great career in LALA land. He will never get his post touches as long as DHoward is in LA(FACT), if he’s waiting on Nash to get him closer to the basket(not going to happen with MD). Nash needs space to operate at an efficient rate, and plugging Pau in the paint with Dwight is not going to work(FACT). The FO went away from the twin tower experiment when they signed MD and left PJ at home. If Pau cant change his game to suit the coaches style then he is writing his own ticket out of town. Dwight is the flavor of the month now, not Pau, 2008 is long gone and not coming back. Speciality players who shoot is what this team needs surrounding Nash, Kobe, and Dwight. MD is not changing, the sooner fans realize this the easier it will be to watch the game. It is not that it is right or wrong, but the way it will be in the future.

  56. Great end to end play from Hill.

    Nice box out and board on the defensive end and nice roll to the basket for the and one on the offensive end.

  57. I really like what we’re seeing from Duhon!

  58. Is Morris really a PG? A PG is a floor general who conducts and makes plays for others.

    He does absolutely NONE of that.. While Duhon is running the team very nicely tonight.

  59. The difference between Duhon and Blake is that Duhon can penetrate in the paint and pass it to shooters or to the weak side while Blake is really a spot up shooter.

  60. Meeks needs to shoot every time – just doesn’t have the handle to put it on the flr at all lol.

    Good distribution of mins this game – 9 players in and every single player has 10+ mins and all have at least 4 pts except Morris

  61. Morris is too young/immature to run the team offensively yet. Duhon has always been a decent guard – he’s just better over small stretches or where he can defer offensively. He ‘s a pro and knows how to run a team – he’s just not starter quality thats all.

  62. Pau taking time off is maybe a blessing in disguise? Jordan Hill is looking really good right now. Hopefully this will get him out of the doghouse.

  63. Good mins here w kobe and howard on the bench. Mike D is finding some good lineups

  64. Duhon and Hill looking like Nash and Dwight out there.

  65. Hill is a low key BEAST even though the refs not giving him the calls

  66. Hack-a-Dwight is coming…

  67. Kobe in attack mode gets two much needed points for the Lakers.

  68. and it begins….

  69. Why doesn’t MDA take Howard out ????

  70. Good point by Rockets announcers – Mike D stating that he would leave Dwight in the game regardless of hack-a-dwight tactics. Dwight needs to learn how to make his free throws and take it seriously. He can’t hide from it the whole season – going to need him on the court all the time at the end of the season. Coaching scared isn’t going to help.

  71. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    D’Antoni is insane leaving Dwight in.

  72. The NBA needs to put in a rule to prevent this. Its makes the game unwatchable. Its just bad boring basketball.

  73. Most overrated lakers team ever.

  74. gah – stupid fouling by Lakers hurts more than hack-a-dwight. Keeps stopping the clock.

  75. Would like to see an ending other than lakers down by 1 Kobe goes into hero mode… Maybe a play for AJ if we get there?

  76. D’Antoni wants to make Howard overcome it. It’s not playoffs yet.

    And you still have to defend, it’s inexcusable to give them easy buckets.

  77. The worst part about this hack-a-Dwight thing is that ZERO time is running off the clock.

    The Lakers won’t win another game that they are not leading by at least 15 if other teams use this with 4-5 mins left.

  78. @joe – Dwight has to figure it out. Pop invented this tactic – and now every team the lakers play will bury Howard with it until he hits. And they’ll start doing it earlier and earlier in the game to disrupt the Lakers offense. this is where having Pau would’ve helped – coulda spelled Howard a little bit and still had an offensive post presence.

  79. Kobe’s fault here.

  80. Can we get Howard out of there please?

  81. Hack-a-Howard when the game is tied? Not a good tactic even if he misses both.

  82. The one plus is now the Lakers are easily in bonus now

  83. Guess you have to be Harden to get cheap touch foul calls.

  84. So the Lakers blow a 13 4th quarter lead and are about to lose, fitting for this team this year.

  85. I knew D12 was bad at FT’s, didn’t know he was this bad though.

    I have a hard time believing he hits 80% in practice, NBA has to put some rule in place to stop this hack’a’whoever though.. It’s terrible basketball for viewers.

    Are we really going to lose this game? A game which we happened to control for 3 quarters.

    Finding new ways to lose a game!

  86. Fitting Lakers will lose because they couldn’t get a board.

    Story of this game, Rockets now have 21 offensive boards and we dwarf them.

  87. I don’t understand leaving Dwight out there for the hack-a-Dwight show. I also don’t get how the Refs are calling this game. And Kobe’s defense tonight hasn’t been good. They are running him off of screen after screen.

  88. I must say, 33 points in the 4th quarter allowed, a HUGE improvement from last game!

  89. I have no words.

  90. Rockets have 22 more field goal attempts than we do.

    I would expect to lose the game when you have that type of discrepancy.

  91. Kobe with a horrendous decision. Why not try to drive maybe get fouled and go to the FT line. Another 4th quarter collapse.

  92. The Lakers keep one up’ing themselves on their worst lose of the season.

    I am seriously starting to wonder whether this team is going to make the playoffs at all. Nothing appears to be changing with them and you cannot keep giving games away int he Western Conference like this. Too many good teams.

    Somewhere Phil Jackson’s phone is off the hook.

  93. Booze now.

  94. Too bad, another 2 point loss.

  95. yup poor decision by d’antoni or kobe. Why go for the 3? Why not shoot a 2 and tie the game so u can have overtime..unbelievable.

  96. Couldnt watch the game – saw we were up 10 and then 6 with like 2min left – what happened?

  97. Until kobe realizes he’s not the player he once was. Loses will continue to happen. He took 31 shots tonight.

    The bench built the lead by playing together. Kobe’s just trying to score 30.

  98. I will say this, Harden got 11 FT’s by throwing himself into people all night while being otherwise completely hopeless. Kobe got 12 FT’s while being super aggressive, should have easily had 8-10 more FTs. Refs swallowed their whistles in the 2nd half.

    I guarantee if Kobe had driven on that last play, it would have been open season for Houston to clobber him without penalty.

    In all, we only had 3 more FTs then Houston despite the fact that they gave Dwight 8 FTs at the end of the game on purpose. But for that, Houston, who was not aggressive all night, was getting the benefit of the whistle to say the least.

    Still, Lakers lost because our 7 foot tall uber athelete can’t get boards. Hill had 9 in 1/3rd of the time it took Dwight to get 12. This loss is completely on Dwight.

  99. Well another game and I still have the same two choices. Over-rated roster or under achieving due to bad coaching and systems?

  100. thats pretty indicative of too much iso and too many team turnovers. Loss sucks but they have to get ready for tomorrow and keep pushing. If Nash and Pau were healthy, this would be an easy win – but in the 4th q when this team needs defense – can’t hide Dwight on bench because of his free throws. No matter what happened earlier in the game – the lakers know that Hack a dwigt will be in play unless this team is up huge. it’s ugly but part of the game – and the 2:00min cutoff is reasonable. Howard just has to “put his big boy pants on and make shots” as clyde said. Asking him to make 6 out of ten isn’t unreasonable.

  101. Just dumbfounded at how increasingly disappointed I am at the end of each game. Second half is not our friend. Lots of things went wrong. Obviously offensive rebounds, absolutely ridiculous/shameful. Back-to-back poor possessions by Kobe trying to draw fouls but getting no whistle. Atrociously distasteful Hack-a-Dwight yet AGAIN (I agree that MD should have subbed him out; like get over it, man — in a close game you can’t afford to score a maximum of only 2 potential points for 10 straight possessions).

    I will, however, take some good things away from this loss — Jamison continues great play and effort, and I’m glad to see Hill bringing it. On a night like this, though, I have to believe that Pau would have been the difference maker; you always need class acts like him on the floor to keep things real. Missed him dearly tonight.

  102. Blame Kobe for not driving the rim in the last seconds, for playing no defense and switching to wrong rotations?, Blame Dwight for not hitting his free throws? MD for not substituting Dwight during Hack-A-Dwight? and not calling for the right play during the last seconds?. These will never happen if players played hard for 48 minutes, they just played for 3 quarters and a half.

    Play 48 minutes, nt 40, 42 or even 47…

    Goodnight y’all

  103. Man. Nash isn’t going to help this horrible brand of defense that we’re seeing. He isn’t going to help Dwight make free throws either. My hand is hovering over the panic button. 🙁

    Not quite there yet though.

  104. “I have a hard time believing he hits 80% in practice”

    What we are never told is what is the % on the first 2-3 FT in practice. Probably mirrors his in game %. Meaning that bad shooters can put up the 80% if you stand in the same place and repetitively shoot the ball. One’s brain tends to be able to adjust the shot. Can’t really do that when you step away from the line for a while and then come back (in computer terms, would be as if, when you step away, both the RAM and cache are cleared and so it is start from scratch).

    His form is extremely poor. Note the zero leg/knee bend. So he has nothing down low to help give rhythm to and synchronize his FT shot. And so if his arm movement varies slightly, there goes the FT. As I related above, that arm movement can be better controlled if you stand there and shoot 50-100 FT in a row and so the reported 80%. As I said, if they were smart, they’d track his first 2-3 FT in practice, and if, as I am almost certain, he’s mirroring his in game %, then the 80% means nothing. And note here tonight, 0-3 to start on the Hack-A-Dwight, then he makes 1, then 1-2, 1-2, and then he finally made 2-2 there at the end. That’s probably what he does during practice, except there is no interruption in practice. And after getting to 2-2 in practice he puts up the rest over the 50-100 to give him the 80%.

  105. Too many shots by Kobe. He’s making a decent amount, but right now what the team needs is for him to conserve on OFFENSE, and work harder on DEFENSE. Not the other way around. How stubborn and blind can he be? Kobe has to get Dwight involved.

  106. I absolutely HATE our 4th quarter one man show sessions with Kobe, we’ll NEVER win with Kobe taking bone headed shots.

    We actually looked good for 3 1/2 quarters where the ball was moving minus KOBE (when he felt like dishing) Last minutes D12 misses FT’s and Kobe goes into his bone headed mode.

    We gave up 21 OREB’s and 18 TO’s, limited Houston to shooting 37.6% and still lost the ball game. Houston had 19 extra possessions.

    D12 9 FGA’s
    Jamison 11 FGA’s
    Kobe 31 FGA’s


  107. you can’t pull Dwight – if he doesn’t learn to get thru this – it doesn’t matter if you win a game or two now because as soon as the playoffs hit they’ll hack-a-dwight all game and he’ll be useless in the playoffs. Pop did that to ONeal as early as the 2nd/3rd q’s at times – he wouldnt hesitate to use it to destroy Howard early on in a game. Making 60% from the free throw line is a fundamental competency – you almost have to try to miss less than that. Howard needs to get past the mental block and until he does, Lakers will continued to get screwed in close games.

  108. D’Antoni on fans who want Dwight taken out in Hack-A-Dwight situations: “They have no clue what they’re talking about.”

  109. He can’t get Dwight involved if Dwight can’t make free throws. Although, I will say that one play where Kobe completely lost Chandler on a screen which allowed the pass to Douglas for the wide open 3..I wonder if more teams will do that to kobe? It happened with the Spurs too.

  110. I continue to be awe struck by the way in which people refuse to acknowledge that Kobe is NOT a point guard. It is not his job to get people ‘involved’ or to play pick and roll with bigs.

    Here is an idea, when Kobe has the ball, and you know he is likely shooting (as his position would indicate), get in a good position for an offensive board rather than standing around like a towel boy.

    Kobe’s offence this season has been great, and the only reason the Lakers have been in games most nights. His D on the other hand has been iffy as he is gambling way too much.

    That being said, no one on this team has played good D most of the year, so singling out Kobe is rather selective.

  111. Lakers had no business losing that game. kobe said he wanted to show him how to be a laker. Now he knows play sidekick and be tyson chandler.

  112. “Well another game and I still have the same two choices. Over-rated roster or under achieving due to bad coaching and systems?”

    I’d throw a third option in. They lack real chemistry.

    You can’t put a bunch of former and current all stars together from different systems and expect it to work right away. You can’t expect your young players to become quality contributors without time on the floor to make mistakes, a consistent system, and well defined roles.

    I stopped thinking title a while ago. Heck, I’m starting to think they will be fighting for a playoff spot.

  113. Oh and on hack-a-Dwight, even Phil Jackson used to play offence/defence with Shaq when he was shooting 50% on his FTs.

    So to say don’t take out Dwight…I just don’t agree. Guy is at best going to shoot 55-58% on FTs, and right now he is shooting around 45%. It, in fact, is a no brainer to take him out on offence and then get him back in on D when you can. Hill, who is a much better free throw shooter had 3 blocks and a ton of boards in 14 mins – but D’Antoni hates him so we have to lose games instead.

  114. Against lower echelon teams that the Lakers should blowout by 20 the opposing team is well within their rights to get a win by the Hack-4-freethrows scheme. Contrast that with the Lakers and Kobe whom just do not seem to realize that a team wins games. There is no reason for Kobe to shoot 14-31 and for the future franchise player to merely get 9. Kobe is not being wise in distributing the shots to other players on his team, so that they will be willing to dive on the floor for 50/50 balls, play defense and rebound.

    The Lakers need Nash so that he look Kobe off and get everyone involved for better effort from them all.

  115. Over-rated roster or under achieving due to bad coaching and systems?


    False dichotomy. But as Aaron said up in post 3, the main issue is talent. Hill and Jamison both have issues on D; note that Houston’s backup PF, Greg Smith, put up a 21/9 on 7/8 shooting in 24 minutes. The Lakers lost this game even though James Harden was 3/19. That tells you how deep the problems run.

    Kobe did shoot too much late, but the team gets in that position due to other issues.

    At this point, I think it is safe to say that Howard is planning on walking. There is time to change that, but the franchise’s future AND present now more or less rest on Steve Nash.

    And Kupchak needs to make a roster move to help at the margins in the mean time.

  116. The last Kobe 3 that missed was the exact same shot he took on the possession just before it that got us the chance to win or tie the game, so are we just going to criticize when he misses?

  117. Give it a rest, Kevin. We know where you stand, and there are plenty of people who want to hear that stuff at the ESPN boards and elsewhere.

  118. Memo to Coach D’Antoni: Phil Jackson took Shaq out of the games sometimes when they started the hack-a-Shaq… he must also not know anything about basketball. He could have taken Dwight out for the 1:18 which would have been about 4 possessions.

    Pinch- Yup. We can never win with Kobe.

    Give me a break.

  119. @Jerke, I see your point.. but sooo frustrating to watch the game slip away like this AGAIN. And WHAT is up with the “not making the playoffs” talk?? Little too early, friends. As much as I want to rip my insides out at the nagging thought of 4th quarter collapses becoming a regular deal, I still think we should keep our hopes high and continue supporting our team. Lakeshow, all the way.

  120. I love Kobe Bryant, but everything James Worthy just said on the postgame is so true. For about the past 2 ½ years now it has become extra obvious that KOBE HERO BALL is killing the Lakers down the stretch of a lot of close games. Why must he turn it into this predictable selfish basketball? Yo-yoing up and down, bricking wild shots!? This is a rerun that I have seen too many times for my liking. This seems to be his undoing that he will never admit, if he wants another championship, at the age of 34, he should finally learn what it means to play team ball. I don’t know if the Lakers came overcome 2 major obstacles; HACK-A-DWIGHT & KOBE HERO MELTDOWN….

    The only hope is that Steve Nash will solve this DISEASE OF STUPIDITY

  121. @kenoak I kno i was yelling at the TV saying take dwight out and put hill in….but since d’antoni is the coach we just have to make do with his sometimes poor decisions.

  122. @Joe Atlanta

    I did watch game, it happens to be 04:06 here in London, UK so I may be a little tired. I certainly stand by what I said though, I didn’t single out his last 3 pointer. I just said he made boneheaded plays throughout the game. Box scores ain’t everything, but they certainly do paint a picture.

    You’ve got to be some sort of Kobe lover to think what he’s doing is not boneheaded, a team is a team when EVERYONE eats. Not a single individual however godly he is or not.

    You realise Kobe is the only one eating on this team? How does D12 get a measly 9 FGA’s while Kobe takes 31 FGA’s?

  123. LakerLord,

    The Lakers have lost 3 games this year by 2 points. But last year, they were 10-4 in games decided by 3 points or less and 6-1 in OT.

  124. Somewhere, Phil Jackson is laughing. Meanwhile, I’m crying.

  125. D12 get a measly 9 FGA’s

    Because they kept fouling him–they put him on the line 16 times. You can’t run plays for a guy who is getting fouled intentionally.

    Kobe shot too much late tonight, but games are won and lost for many reasons.

  126. Not buying the talent argument. No way Orlando has more talent than this incarnation of the Lakers even without Nash and Gasol. No way Houston has more talent. No way Sacramento has more talent. Those teams have more cohesion, and they hustle for 48 minutes. This team could have 5 more wins if they busted their behinds every night and player smarter. They still wouldn’t be contenders, but they would look a whole lot better.

    And throw me in the group lamenting Kobe’s shot total. Anyone who thinks that is not demoralizing to the rest of the team is a homer. His 31 shots equal the total number by the other four starters. You’re just not winning games like that no matter what the apologists say.

  127. Rr: your counterpoint is talent. I realize the roster is what it is right now. And how do lakers win with this roater. And to ignore the ongoing disparity between shot attempts because he’s kobe makes your points nothing more than homer points.

    Lebron, durant could easily shoot 20-25 times a game because of their status. But they realize what’s better for the TEAM.

  128. has nothing to do with stats, it has to do with when the game is in the balance, down the stretch, the last 4-5 minutes… This is something my eyes have seen many times already, that’s the reason many Lakers fans cry out about it, because there is truth too it.

    Kobe is a great player, but down the stretch the past few years, this whole “CLOSER” thing has become a problem. Did you see how Houston was passing the ball around? that’s much harder to defend than 1 on 5 basketball.

  129. Jane: You and me both. I have not stopped crying since the second Veto. First Stern nixed Paul, then a year later, Jimbo nixed Phil. I am not sure the any team can survive two head shots like that. Well if anyone can – the Lakers can. However every time I say that I think back to a statement that rr made last year. It still haunts me at how true it was then and much more true it could be now.

  130. Hang in there Jane – the thought of that evil grin on Phil’s face does give me some relief. I just wish he were grinning on our bench.

  131. Dwight is not a winner. He is a choke and mentally weak. Not only his choking free throws but allowing 21 offense rebounds while he stands around. Lakers won’t make the playoffs with Mike and DH who never won anything. Mike D is just terrible.

  132. If anyone wants to learn about Dwight and FT:

    The 3 December piece is the fitting rebuttal to Ding’s mistaken piece on “mental insecurity”. It isn’t that, it’s his poor form. The 28 November piece speaks to the misleading nature of the 80% in practice. He speaks to Shaq as well in that piece, who also shot well in practice over 50-100 FTA.

    For more:

    As Dennis reports re Dwight, he immediately needs to go back to the some lower bend and shorter arm stroke that he had that rookie season, before the shooting coach(es) messed him up, back when Dwight went for a .671 over that rookie season. Then he can work on a jumper from the field, which he simply doesn’t have, which can then be used as model for a new and improved FT shot.

    By the way, for those who have read Phil’s Last Season, Phil drops Dennis Hans’ name. Dennis communicated with Mitch in some form re Shaq, who communicated with Phil, and part of Shaq’s FT routine was changed. Not all, but some. Helped him up that abysmal 30% or so that Shaq was mired in at the time.

  133. Speaking of lebron, he got a triple double and his team still lost to the wizards. I think it wouldnt have mattered if kobe shot less. The game was lost because the lakers can’t play defense. The only reason why they didn’t lose by more points is because Harden, Parsons was bricking shots they normally make.

  134. The game was lost on the rebounding, TOs, and some bad, late-game communication on switches. Take a look at how many fast breaks Houston scored on in the last 4 minutes. I don’t like hero-ball but I think this is explained, at least in part with our pace.

    This team succeeds when the pace is high. It would be fine if the Lakers could maintain their pace in the 4th but it won’t happen because of Hack-A-Dwight. D-Antoni didn’t have that problem in PHX because Amare was an 80% FT shooter, as was Marion, Barbosa, Johnson, etc… I think Diaw was as well. Tim and Kurt Thomas were adequate or better free-throw shooters. Nash was in the 90s. With our team, there will still be that phase of the game when the Lakers will have to squeeze the other team with defense, weather the slowed pace until 2min are left in the 4th, and then execute on the half court because the other team will be able to slow the pace. This team should be able to weather the Hack-A-Dwight, but until good defensive communication becomes part of this team’s identity, pace in the 4th will be a problem

    I do not remember the Lakers taking Shaq in and out with PJ. I remember the opposite, maybe I’m wrong.

  135. @rt – i totally agree. If pau was here and healthy we wouldn’t have to suffer thru the 6:00-2:00 min period every game that is close. Sure PJ swapped shaq for off/def – but remember he did that in the context of having teams that knew how to adjust for his presence not being on the flr. So you put Jordan Hill in – well now next trip down the flr or on a miss you now have no legit post presence and he’s nowhere near the defender that howard is – so many people here act like they know that Hill is this force just waiting to be unleashed if only Mike D would let him. You can’t win unless your best player can stay on the flr and that means Dwight needs to get his stuff together at the line and not be a liability.

    Until everyone is healthy – it’s going to be a rough ride – just the way it is. the ending sucked – but until 4-5 mins left there was a lot of positives to take away. Mike D is finding some decent bench rotations/combos – and he had everyone under 30 mins until the 6th min of the 4thq while still playing a relatively competitive team.

  136. @JoeAtlanta, I am well aware that the Lakers are playing their 3rd and 4th string players. I also know that they are playing to the level to which they are positioned and payed. On the other hand, Kobe is not playing the percentages to win games and we all know that Kobe knows how games are won and lost. This year has been frustrating because Kobe is playing with far superior talent than he has had in the past few years, yet he is unwilling to give up a few shots to win.

    I am a Kobe fan and have been since his second year in the league. But Kobe is not being wise on offense and he is not playing defense. On one play the Rockets ran him through a couple of screens and Harden got off a shot but missed. Kobe could have gotten the rebound but he was pouting because he didn’t get the call which allowed the Rockets to get another valuable possession that ended up putting them ahead.

    As the leader of the team the wins and loses land on Kobe’s head. We would do no less to LeBron or Kevin. NO EXCUSES.

  137. Kevin, read my posts. I said–twice–that he shot too much late. I am not ignoring it at all, because I am here to analyze the team–the whole team–not just one guy.

    As to the question–this roster is not a winning roster. Nash coming back is the only substantive hope at this point.

  138. Wonder how often I have to say this, but geez, Kobe is not going to change. He wants to win, and will do what he thinks is the best move given the circumstance. He made the tying 3, you can’t fault him for trying for the winning 3. Also, shooters are supposed to shoot when given the ball – if you want something else done, you don’t give it to the shooter. People are just forgetting the fact that Kobe is not a point guard – he wasn’t when he had 10 whole fingers, definitely isn’t one now with mangled fingers.

    The fact that the ball found Kobe, borrowing D’Antoni’s words, is because he had the most energy. That’s saying something.

  139. @P.Ami – when phoe got shaq, Pop, rivers and a couple other guys went to hack a shaq right away. Pop even used it at times early in the second q to kill suns runs and stall momentum. Thats my biggest issue w Dwight – other coaches aren’t stupid (they don’tlike the tactic – Vaughn even said so on Sun after game) but if they can kill Laker runs early on and take Dwight out of the game then he’s useless to the Lakers. The prob isn’t just intentiol free throws – teammates stop throwing passings into bigs if they’re afraid the big guy can’t hit free throws if he gets foule don legit plays. Just like Pau needs to get his head in the game, Dwight needs to move beyond this and at least be a threat to hit 60 percent.

  140. As a Rockets fan,I’m thrilled.

    But for all the whining about Dwight’s FTs,he made 4 of 8 in the hacking stretch. That’s the equivalent of 50% shooting on a night when the Lakers shot 46%.
    The hacking started w/ 3:17 left and lasted until 2:09 was left. The Lakers had a 4 pt lead when the hacking started and a 2 pt lead when it ended.
    Bigger issue is in the final two minutes scored the team scored just 3 pts while giving up 7.

  141. rr: Good point on the close games. Close games are another area where coaching makes a big difference. Just saying : )

    Effort, getting the most out of your talent, systems, motivation, close games, rotations, making marginal players better, making players better in areas where they are weak, and intangibles. Those are things I look for in a coach. Someone tell me one of those areas that is working right now.

  142. Oh, and the “Dwight is gone” idea. I didn’t know you were Dwight’s best friend and intimate confidant. Can you ask him a question for me? Ask him if he likes money, cause as far as I know the Lakers will be able to give him more of it then any other team. Ask him again if he likes money, cause there is no other city in the country where he will have the opportunity for endorsements like he will in LA. Also, ask him if he understand that in 2 seasons the Lakers are going to have huge amounts of money to build the team around him that actually complement his game- athletic swings, stretch fours and shooters who play defense. You don’t have to ask him right away. Let him settle into the pad with a nice after-game dinner and perhaps a foot massage. Then ask him and get back to us with his innermost thoughts about his future. Thanks.

  143. Where are all those Dwight lovers who clamored for his addition now? The ones who last year blamed every loss on Bynum, who thought Howard would solve all the Lakers’ problems simply by showing up and booking a parade permit down Figueroa Street?

    I said it last year, I’ll say it again now, and I’ll say it again this summer when (God willing) Howard bolts for some other city, to ruin a third franchise in as many years — the guy is awful and ridiculously overrated. I’ve never seen someone who’s so highly esteemed among fans almost single-handedly cost a team three wins in eight days, as Howard and his inability to make free throws has done this past week+.

    Worse than the losses, his very presence makes the games damn near unwatchable — the hacking strategy is just disgusting to witness, but you can’t get mad at the opponents because it wins them games. I’ve also seen more opposing players score inside this year than any in recent memory. Where’s this former Defensive Player of the Year?

    Those who hold out hope that Nash’s return will fix things are delusional. Dwight’s a loser, flat out, and the sooner he’s no longer in purple and gold the better. This is 2004-05 all over again, and in the next couple of weeks I’m betting Kobe absolutely loses his mind at the ineptitude that’s surrounding him.

  144. If kobe takes 20 shots 10+ ft and dwight takes 20 shots 10+ ft tje game wouldn’t have been close. Your asking a guy who’s a bad ft shooter and taken 9 shots over the course of a game to knock down gw ones. He’s not in rhythm. Shaq got his shots and was in rhythm. Same is the case for dwight.

  145. They hired D’Antoni, fine, that’s over with. I think it’s too the point right now, where there is too much talent, and not enough shots to go around. I know when it comes to Pau everyone wants to say “he won you two championships, you can’t trade him!”. But the fact of the matter is, he is nowhere near the same Pau that he was back then. And he needs to be traded before his stock gets way to low. Right now we could Trade Pau and a pick, for 2 solid bench players. Guys that are athletic perimeter defenders, which we desperately are in need of with ALL the great guards in the league. Guys that we can trust to back up our stars, play lock down D, and know their roles on offense. That way you add some depth, and now you insert Jamison into the lineup.

  146. Well, Kobe making bone headed decisions or not. We’ll never win a championship in June giving up 40 points on Sunday and 34 points tonight in the 4th Q.

    It’s like we expect D12 to totally clean up the mess that the other 4 create. Absolutely ZERO communication between players.

  147. This year has been frustrating because Kobe is playing with far superior talent than he has had in the past few years, yet he is unwilling to give up a few shots to win.

    Again: Nash has been out all year, Gasol has been bad and is now out, and the main difference between Howard and Bynum is defense, not offense, and Howard’s defensive range is not what it was. Aaron has this one right. This team is less talented at this moment than last year’s, and is not nearly as good as the 2010 and 2011 teams, either.


    I get it. You wanted Phil, and you still think the roster would be awesome if he were here. Concede that MDA is not impressing me; he needs to adapt. But if I were you, I would start looking at Mitch and Buss. People were so glad to see Pau gone that they are ignoring the fact that the immortal Greg Smith outplayed both Hill and Jamison in this game.

  148. Although the Lakers only lost 2 points through the hack-a-Howard tonight, it completely destroyed their rhythm – this is almost more important than the points. Also no time runs off the clock. It gives team all the time in the world to gain ground while being fairly confident that at worst they are giving up a point per foul.

    Keeping Howard happy so that he will stay, that is the only reason he is not being taken out, pure and simple. Wouldn’t be surprised if that came from the owner himself.

    D’Antoni as much alluded to this in his post game comments.

  149. Chris J: Unlike many on this board, I will own up to my previous statements. I screamed for Dwight all last year. I cheered when we got him. At this point it does not appear that getting Dwight was the solution to everything that I thought it was. I am still not throwing in the towel however. I said a while ago that this was a relay race and the FO ran the first leg. They then gave the baton to the coaching staff. That exchange from FO to Mike Brown, then a head fake to Phil, then a fumbled hand-off to Mike D has left this roster realing. I am not sure there is time to pick up the baton, but I would like to see what the roster can do if they had adequate coaching/systems.

  150. Its fine to let Dwight clean up the mess. thats one of the main reasons we got him and when Nash comes back, Dwight will have to do the same thing. The problem is hes just not 100% right now. Sure he gets blocked shots but hes nowhere close to the Orlando DPOY Dwight.

  151. Inserting Jamison is a good thing for a couple of reasons.

    1.He can stretch the floor and the paint belongs to Dwight.

    2. He’s not a GREAT defender, but he is a capable enough defender to play alongside Dwight. Paint defense isn’t our problem, it’s perimeter.

    3. He doesn’t expect a lot of touches. And from what I’ve seen so far, is extremely effective off the ball. Makes good cuts, hits opened shots. Guy is a 17 ppg guy on his career, he’s no scrub.

    4. Lastly, trading Pau now opens time for Jordan Hill. Who will now be our first big off the bench, and be the spark plug that he’s capable of being.

  152. Zephid is killing it on twitter right now:

    He is bang on, and I made these comments since the 1st quarter. The issue here is NOT Kobe hero ball or whatever other delusions people want to keep harping on, it’s that the Lakers couldn’t get a #@$%!@$ board to save their life tonight and turned the ball over too much. 39 extra possessions for the Rockets, that is a half of basketball worth of possessions. The miracle is not that the Lakers lost this game, but that they lost by only 2!!! Logically they should have been down 15-20 entering the 4th.

    So, to summarize, as long as people think the problem here is on the offensive end of the Court, good luck to you. Wait for Nash and watch us continue to lose games. The problem here is defence and the complete lack of effort there. As bad as Kobe was on D in the 4th Q, Diwght was as bad or worse as he let his FT misses get into his head and render him even later on the help D then he has been all year. I’m not sure how hurt he still is, but I am going to hope a lot, because if this is him at 90%…we have a problem.

    As for Kobe’s D, he has been cheating and gambling way too much, time to play everyone like they are Westbrook, just stay in front of them and get a hand up, not rocket science.

  153. I say trade Pau now while he still has a lot of value. Kobe will be able to still get his shots. Dwight won’t have to share touches with Pau, and will become the most dominant big man in the league again. Distribution just becomes a lot more balanced and we develop an identity. Everyone has a role that they are most effective in. That’s the key

  154. Yea DwIght is a franchise player. A franchise ruining player!

  155. Tyson Chandler NEVER became a franchise player. So, is Dwight a franchise player or not? The Lakers are down to 4-5 months to make that decision. If Howard is a franchise player, he should never shoot less than 15-20 times a game. If he’s not a franchise player, then the Lakers traded away Bynum for a one year rental.

  156. Stephen December 4, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    As a Rockets fan,I’m thrilled.

    But for all the whining about Dwight’s FTs,he made 4 of 8 in the hacking stretch. That’s the equivalent of 50% shooting on a night when the Lakers shot 46%.
    The hacking started w/ 3:17 left and lasted until 2:09 was left. The Lakers had a 4 pt lead when the hacking started and a 2 pt lead when it ended.
    Bigger issue is in the final two minutes scored the team scored just 3 pts while giving up 7.

    You are partly right here… the purpose of hacking was to disrupt the offensive rhythm of the opposing team… at the 2 minute mark.. the Lakers totally lost their team rhythm and Houston was on a roll… hack-a-Dwight has served it purpose…

  157. Chearn: “If he’s not a franchise player, then the Lakers traded away Bynum for a one year rental.”

    Even in the worse case outlined above, not a bad deal, since ‘drew appears to be done as a player.

    Let’s not write Howard off just because he’s missed a bunch of free throws. Give him at least until the all star break to turn it around!

  158. Wow, I saw it and I still don’t believe it. Dwight has got to own the paint and control his defensive board.

    Dwight needs help with his FT’s. Maybe a sports psychologist. He needs to admit to himself that he becomes nervous at the free throw line. Then he needs to admit it publicly. Only when he looks at his nervousness honestly will he be able to overcome it.