Lakers/Thunder: The Most We Can Get is a Moral Victory

Zephid —  December 7, 2012

Let’s look at some of the facts:

  1. The Lakers were coming in a sub-.500 team at 9-10
  2. The Thunder were on a 6 game winning-streak, by an average of 18+ points.
  3. The game was in Oklahoma City.
  4. The Lakers were missing 2 of their top 4 players.

Needless to say, winning this game would’ve been highly unexpected.  As was said in the preview, the Lakers were going to need a near perfect game from almost everyone in order to keep the game close, let alone win.  Such was not the case, and the result was a much closer than it should have been, 114-108 loss.

The Lakers two remaining stars, Kobe and Dwight, needed to have monster games for the Lakers to have a chance.  Both played pretty well, Dwight shooting 9-17 (including 5-7 from the free throw line) for 23 points and 18 rebounds, including 6 offensive.  However, Dwight had 10 rebounds after the 1st Quarter, so finishing with only 18 seems like a disappointing follow-through to a terrific first quarter effort that saw the Lakers holding a slim, 27-26 lead.  Kobe tried to keep the Lakers in the game, shooting 11-24 for 35 points and 7 assists, running the offense almost completely as he had for the past few games.  However, he often got himself into trouble in the lane, having to put up a number of difficult shots and giving up the ball for 5 turnovers.

The real story of the game, however, was the Thunder stars.  Kevin Durant was solid and efficient as he has been this entire season, going for 36 points on 10-19 shooting, including 14-16 from the line and 2-4 from three.  Russell Westbrook also went supernova in the 1st half, making his first 4 threes, with 27 points on 10-16 in the 1st half alone.  The Thunder role players were also efficient in their contributions, with Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Martin shooting 5-7, 7-14, and 4-8 respectively. While the Lakers did manage to make it close in the end, this game was lost in the 2nd quarter when the Lakers had absolutely no answer for Westbrook, pulling up and making threes off the dribble.  And really, no one does.

The Lakers also needed at least one or two more players to have good nights to have a chance.  While Jodie Meeks finished with 17 points on 4-8 shooting, most of it came too late when the came was already mostly decided.  The Thunder did let what was once a 19 point lead down to a 4 point lead late in the 4th, but they had basically checked out of the game by the 6 minute mark.  But Jamison and MWP, the other two guys the Lakers needed to have decent nights, were fairly poor, only making 1 out of 9 threes, a combined 6-17 for 17 points.  On a night when the Lakers needed to be perfect, these two were very much below average.

Overall, there weren’t too many positives or negatives to take away from this game.  The Thunder showed that as of now, with all the circumstances surrounding the Lakers roster and health, that they were simply a much, much better team.  The Lakers defense was still porous, allowing the Thunder to shoot almost 49% from the field and almost 53% from 3, which made it even more of a miracle that the Lakers were anywhere close in the end.  Yes, the Lakers looked like they were outclassed by a superior team, but that’s just the truth at this moment.  Whether it will be in the future is a different story, but this game unfolded exactly in the way many expected it would.  The Lakers fought to the very end, closing to within 4 with seconds left in the game, showing some heart and fight that we hadn’t seen in previous games.  But in the end, the Lakers are now 9-11, and are still looking for answers to several questions:

  1. Even when Steve Nash returns, how are they going to improve on defense?  Smite-a-Dwight will always remain a threat, and so long as the Laker defense remains horrible in the clutch, they will always be vulnerable.
  2. What sort of defensive system can be put in place?  The Lakers are getting destroyed by simply PNR and curl actions into the lane, and their help rotations have been terrible in covering Dwight’s man when Dwight leaves to help.  The Lakers seem to be genuinely trying on defense, they’re just out of position a lot of the time.  This speaks to a lack of system.
  3. The Lakers are extremely vulnerable in transition, so should they sacrifice offensive rebound opportunities to get back on defense?
  4. Will the bench ever be a consistent force?  Jamison and Meeks are keys, but until we get consistent production from one or both of them, the Lakers will be a team haunted by depth issues.

Many of these questions probably won’t be answered for at least another month.  In the mean time, the Lakers are only slipping further down the slope.

-Zephid

Follow me @ZephidFB_G on Twitter.

Zephid

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70 responses to Lakers/Thunder: The Most We Can Get is a Moral Victory

  1. Forwarding what I said in the other post.

    Although a loss is a loss, I thought we played well in this game.

    We were playing an OKC team full of confidence whom all play as a team. D is still something that will have to be worked on throughout the season. i.e. getting accustomed to playing with D12.

    Kobe was Kobe, D12 was good and Meeks did some good things. Quite evident though is the TO’s and lack of a 2nd playmaker on this team (while Nash is injured). One more point I’d like to make is players constantly looking for Kobe during the 4th Q, we become a predictable team when everyone on the floor knows what’s going to happen.

    Hopefully Nash fixes that when he returns, 2 of the best playmakers during the end of games.

  2. Lakers have lost to mem, okc, sa, lac. There wasn’t any mistaking who the better team on the floor was those games. Currently lakers are looking at no higher than a 5 seed. And there’s no way the fo stands idle with a $100 million dollar payroll team as it continues to rack up losses. Lakers need to replace pau with an impact player somehow. Starting him won’t work and bringing him off the bench he won’t see many minutes. This year is probably the last chance to win a ring they’ve done so much already time to do more and deal the spainard. May be time to bench duhon and start meeks lakers need to play the best players.

  3. Why Bench Duhon? Meeks isnt a pg, i think Duhon has done ok, he is steady and know when to take his shots he is a younger version of Fish, when Nash comes back he should be the back up, this was a tough game to begin with, depleted as we are, but what i see is s team that will have a decent bench when healthy, duhon, jamison meeks , hill and even morris can help, i think this game was a step foward cohesion wise, we saw the team try really hard to make a comeback, thats a first this season, im positive thos team will be another animal in a month or so when everyone is finally healthy

  4. I feel all right about this game, actually. Down 2 starters and on the road, I liked the effort, and the Lakers generally played with purpose and determination, they just ran into a blowtorch tonight in the second quarter, which is going to happen against OKC. I recall healthy, Phil Jackson-coached Laker teams looking a lot worse in that building.

    I just want this team to show signs of improvement from month to month. Clearly, grabbing a top seed is not in the cards, and I can live with that after the ridiculous upheaval at the start of the season. Coming together and playing better each month, and getting to be a scary team come playoff team, is still a possibility, and that’s what I’m looking for this team to do.

  5. hmmm – what to say

    Defensively we cannot allow for simple PnR around the 3pt line that allow for westbrook or Durant to move to their spots – especially westbrook at the top of the FT line – this used to be the shot that teams wanted to give to him and now it is his dagger.

    Either a direct double team at the set of the pick or a hard effective hedge needs to be done here to help and I agree that we need to be helping the helper.

    I thought things kind of got out of sorts in the 2nd qtr when we had all subs out there and the =/- shows that with ebanks being -9 and sadly hill at -14 – this is where having gasol or nash could have helped as they would have been able to stabilize the 2nd unit when 2 other stars are out – OKC had Durant or Westbrook as their main shot creator for almost the entire night with both playing 40+ minutes similar to Kobe and Howard

    The difference here is that they can both create their own shots while only Kobe can for us – this could be one of the things that is shown to change when nash or even gasol comes back if gasol is able to get some time leading the 2nd unit.

    There is really no one available via trades that would help this team – Unless Love pulls a Howard in minnesota both the packages that have been discussed from minnesota and toronto (they have been out there so hopefully this does not get moderated) – suck and no one else is in a cap situation where they can take a contract of this size – we all need to accept that this will be our team for the next 2 years and that we will need to work around the edges to get better which may happen after buyout season in may.

    Meeks showed great heart tonight and was actually able to get to the rim which is something we havent seen of him with a bit better handle tonight which was nice

    Maybe our starters played too much but in looking at who was available there really wasnt anything MD could do.

    Personally I think if Phil was coaching we would have a shot against them – if we end up playing them in the playoffs I have a feeling that it will be like when we played pheonix in 2006 – Phil had a plan – played his guys to their strengths – took away the obvious from the other team who had much better talent and we almost took that series if not for a single offensive rebound/3 by tim thomas … we need to start seeing us play well against good team or like Ko says a 6-7 seed is not out of the question but who knows maybe we could pull off a 94 knicks :)

  6. Kevin,

    Duhon has been rock solid this past few games. His stats today 14pts 3reb 3ast 2stl. I don’t know what else would you expect from a back up pg.

    But I do agree that M33ks needs to play more. Sliding Kobe at the 3 would work to give M33ks more minutes.

  7. Long time lurker just can’t take how so many fans ignore the obvious. The expectations of our fans are nothing short of absurd. If we played the Thunder missing Westbrook/Maynor/Ibaka while we were at full strength I wonder if their fans would be nearly as chicken little as ours. I find myself avoiding all my favorite sites like FBG and LakersGround because I just can’t take it. You can’t expect a team with our holes (ie: missing its best two point guards, top PF, with a new coach(no training camp), and 4 new players getting major PT) to have a top record. THIS IS WHAT WE SHOULD BE. We’re gonna make the playoffs. The bottom half of the West is pathetic. I can’t help but feel the intelligent fans understand that WERE GONNA MAKE THE PLAYOFFS and getting healthy and looking for progress are reasonable expectations right now. The only thing I’m allowing to annoy me till we get Nash back is our slow progress on D and lack of energy at times. Just win the games we should and get healthy guys. This fan knows post all-star break is what matters. I have REASONABLE expectations for this time of year.

  8. “May be time to bench duhon and start meeks lakers need to play the best players.”
    ____________

    Then who runs the point? Obviously, it can’t be Meeks because ball handling isn’t one of his strengths and his decision making is questionable @ best. Bottom line is that Meeks is a shooter. Not a facilitator. That leaves Kobe, who, as I’ve mentioned previously, is doing an admiral job as the de facto PG – more so when Morris was starting – but there’s a reason why Kobe just eclisped the 30,000 pt platue. He’s a Scorer. You’ve been one of the main individuals within the FB&G Community stressing the need for Kobe to take less shots and to distribute the wealth, so unless your philosophy has changed, I think Kobe handling the ball the majority of the time is the last thing that you would want.

    In your defense, as I’ve mentioned before, I would agree that Kobe and Meeks should share court time, but only when a True PG – preferebly Nash – is on the floor with them. Relegating Kobe as the 3, but only against certain opposition.

  9. Lakers lost the game where every one knows its gonna be a playoff atmosphere… But in the end, Lakers came up short..they lost to OKC behind the monstrous duo of KD/RW, until we wait for Nash/Gasol to come back, we laker fans have faith in the LAkers..we all know they want it this year..

  10. “Josh December 7, 2012 at 10:46 pm ”

    He said it all. The Lakers have the potential to be the best team of the NBA. Yeah, doesn’t look like that at all, but the potential will always be there, At any moment, any game, this team can click and then it’s done.

    Will it ever happen? I don’t know. Probably yes.

    Can we win at all being the 8th seed? Crazy as it sounds, yes.

    Nash, Kobe, Dwight…It’s just to much of talent tpo ever write the Lakers off.

    MDA can help a lot. Waiting for his…”coaching”

  11. Solid article. Do agree with a lot of things, but what I like in particular is the idea of sacrificing offensive rebounds to allow for better transition D. Too many times today I saw both Howard, Jamison or Hill fighting for the board surrounded by three OKC players while westbrool raced to the other end for an easy layup passed meeks or duhon. Lack of transition D killed us tonight and I dont see that improving even with nash and gasol.

    Westbrook has always been a threat to us. Bynum struggled to stop him on the P/R.. Id like to see Dwight come over more during the rotations and either jamison or mwp slide over.

  12. What Josh said.

  13. Your 1 to 4 points at the bottom are spot on. Could not have said it better myself. Thanks for your honesty and integrity to be tell it like it really is. Something few in the media tend to do when it comes to the Lakers.

  14. To use the NFL as an analogy… If you lost your best TE(PAU) and your two backup quarterbacks. Do you SERIOUSLY expect your RB(KOBE) to break a stacked box all game? With no QB who the hell gets your star WR (D12) the ball to stretch the D? C’mon man! reasonable expectations…

  15. Kevin

    You are usually right on but missed on Meeks/Duhon. Duhon has been better then Blake and Fisher the last 3 years, he has far less TO per minute then Kobe/Mirris and shows the ability to make shots and steal the ball. Meeks is a spot up shooter. That’s it. His D is terrible and the only one worse then him dribbling the ball is train wreck with a round ball Metta.

    One good thing about this bad start is we now have a quality backup at PG, SG and at the PF in Jamison along with Hill. Been awhile since Lakers had 4 above average guys coming off the bench.

  16. We saw a lot less pnr more straight post ups for dwight I think having meeks out there can benefit more than duhon. Plus meeks showed an ability to get to the rim and finish in traffic. Lots of excuses first brown, princeton, pau now injuries. Lakers are already fighting an uphill battle possibly playing 4 rounds on the road to win it all. Not to mention okc is the better team has won 8 of 10 by 12 pts average. But a 38 yr old pg coming off a broken leg will be able to stop westbrook, parker, conley, paul and get past them in pnr. Chemistry won’t make guys younger.

  17. sometimes, teams can’t miss. we were on the upside of this against den and dal, and the downside of this tonight. For better teams, like okc, with great shooters like KD and, to a lesser degree, RW, that will happen more often. When it happens against you, you lose. With the single (important) exception of our awful PNR defense, I think we played well against a great team that had 2 players on fire; dont understand how this kind of game with 3 of our most important players out ignites this kind of doomsaying / trade talks. This was a good game as a lakers fan in so many ways. So much anti-MDA sentiment around here, but he has liberated Meeks, AJ, and found a role for Diuhon. We’re a new, injured team with a new coach– stop acting we should go 72 and 10!

  18. Duhon’s TOV%, even with lower TO per minute, is still 20.3, even though he has played a little better than he did in Orlando. The problem with Duhon is the same as the problem with Blake: he’s not a threat. He can’t create; he can’t get to the line, and he is mediocre on defense. So, since he doesn’t make hugely visible mistakes, people say nice things about him. But like Blake, Duhon doesn’t do nearly enough.

  19. Thank god someone in the media finally thought of smite-a-dwight, i’ve been waiting for like half a year for that to catch on. Now we just need to wait for it to filter up to SC and all the pregame shows, and we can finally get rid of the unoriginal weakness that is hack-a-dwight

  20. Big Z…
    Good recap! The concerns about the defense are legit and they definitely make me wonder why MD’A didn’t add a defensive minded coach to his staff when he took over. Keeping the previous staff was kind of him and a little nepotism in hiring his brother is understandable, but by not hiring his own staff he has given himself another excuse if the team doesn’t succeed. He already can claim that not having a training camp has lessened his impact.

  21. So, since he doesn’t make hugely visible mistakes, people say nice things about him. But like Blake, Duhon doesn’t do nearly enough.
    ============================
    For a “back up”pg asked to run the show, he’s doing a good job. I don’t know what your complaining about really.

  22. @Kenny T.

    Did MDA make excuses on not having an assistant coach who can provide defense on this team? We fans are the ones who are making many excuses, the only major excuse MDA that he said was not having Nash out there.

  23. great recap zephid-
    as some have already stated, Josh´s comments are on the money –
    and Magic Phil´s `waiting for (MDA) his caoching´ is spot on too -

  24. meant to say `coaching´ – still half asleep i guess…

  25. I read a preseason review that had the Lakers gasp!!! 4th in the West a lot of Lakers fans including myself were in an uproar about that preview ” how anyone dare to put the Lakers that low in the stadings with the talent they have?” But the reality is thats what we looking at right now, but that review also said that come playoff time this team will be and i quote ” terryfing” and put them to come out of the West and that was with Mike Brown as the coach!!! In my opinion November and December have been about figuring out the roster and the rotations, injuries coach changes and all that jazz, we need to improve our help D especially when Howard goes away from his man to help, everybody knows that this team cant be truly evaluated until they are 100% healthy, but at least we know know that our bench can and will help, we are at least 4 deep in that regard once we get Nash back and take the load of running the offense off Kobe’ s back the Lakers will be more than fine. Im positive this team will win between 50-55 games and this team will be a totally diferent team once Nash gets back, the threat his passing and his scoring represent cannot be stressed enough, there are going to come a point in the season they be nearly unbeatable. Just watch

  26. For a “back up”pg asked to run the show, he’s doing a good job. I don’t know what your complaining about really.

    Duhon is a third-stringer, and yes, for a third-stringer playing starter minutes, he is doing what he can. The Lakers need a second-stringer, one who is a bit better, younger, and quicker than Blake and Duhon, and I am complaining about the fact that they don’t have one. the fact that some people here have taken a liking to Duhon doesn’t change that.

  27. Most of the comments have been spot on. I feel ok with last nights game. When OKC pulled away in 2qrtr it wasnt because of bad shot selection but because the bench waa missing layups and put.backs. Think about it on the floor was Jamison Hill Morris Meeks and Ebanks. The tempo was up pace, floor spacing was nice Morris and Meeks were penetrating but the shots just didnt fall,instead of.being hoisted threes as in prior games. A lot of those fst break pts were because of batted rebounds becoming outlet passes for Westbrook. I see a lot of growth that may came from the bench getting PT which can be a big factor in May.

  28. Let’s put it this way, Lakers lost the game but gain confidence on their bench who could help the team in the long run. Judging from the recent surge of Duhon, Jamison, Hill and Meeks, Lakers are now 9 deep when they “ever” get to the playoffs.

    Some of us totally lost trust on Pau Gasol, I still favor the 7footer Spaniard. He could always help the team if properly used, don’t try to make a finesse player to become a brute defender, he is what he is. Perhaps, the best way to analyze Pau is to watch all his highlights in the past whether with Memphis, Team Spain or the b2b Championship with Lakers. Analyze his upsides and what he loved to do and go from there. The same treatment with Dwight Howard, he needs to participate actively so the plays should be centered on him thereby maximizing his presence in the post. It is a tactical game not just a running offense nor treat this Lakers to produce a Showtime in every game. Whether fast or slow game, people enjoy more if their team wins. Moral losses are good but they don’t contribute seeding in the playoffs, it counts L in the loss column. It is the defense that brings down the best of any team, as you have seen last night even Durant and Westbrook were rattled when Lakers applied a lock down defense.

    Another area where Lakers has to capitalize and dominate would be post plays. Howard and Hill are our biggest asset who could finish the shots only if the other Lakers would penetrate inside rather than living in the perimeter. However, Kobe, Meeks and Duhon made great contributions on those outside shots but I really prefer to attack the inside early and frequently until the opponents bigs are taken out with foul trouble. Secondly, when you go inside, there is a chance being fouled, Kobe realized this play and he really went out of his way of forcing inside and was rewarded with several free throws.

    Ebanks and Morris as well as Clark are the players that need to improved. They are the 10th, 11th and 12th player, Ebanks was frustrating with those brick shots and to’s; Morris dribbles the ball eternally and got plugged down in double teaming; Clark is for cameo appearance only being paid for sitting down on the bench. Sacre and JDO are rookies and wishing that they can help the Lakers on their rookie year.

  29. I like what Josh said about folks being too impatient about this season so far, and what Joe said about a sense of urgency – which, unfortunately, has been a Laker hallmark for some time now….

  30. Oh Kevin your are so mean. Next is there no Santa Claus!

    Joe you are right on. Only difference between Russel shooting 27 times and Kobe is RW has the best shooter in the league next to him. Kobe has Metta, Morris, Pau guys shooting 40% from the field. Also Joe you are right, Dwight went to more two hands on the ball last night and it looked smoother and cut down on long shots.

    Rr Duhon has been a starter most if his career. True the last 2 years he was fighting Blake and Fisher for lowest rated point guard(60 to
    63), I like him much better then Blake and at least he is not scared to
    shoot. This year he is 46% and 43% which are both career highs.

  31. The theory at least as I understood it, was that we would try to get a team together that can win during the last 2 years of Kobe’s contract. I am hoping Kobe extends, but in any case – the team was built to win now. It was not built to get carnaged in the regular season, and make the playoffs as a 5 seed. When you do that – you lose. So to those saying people like me are irrational and impatient, I ask you this: What is the plan? We go get the highest payroll in the league and construct a team and a set of coaches that will take a very long time to blend? We lower expectations and are encouraged when we get soundly beaten by better teams? Then a year or so from now (after a first or second round ouster), when we finally gel, we realize that we are too old, and we may/may not have signed Dwight? Trust me – that is not it. We were built to win now. Being 2 games under 500 at the 25% complete mark of the season is not acceptable. The Nash injury is not a good enough excuse. We have 2 All NBA first team players and I can’t even think of a team who could say they had that, and were under 500. If you have adjusted your expectations to where you will be encouraged by little things – then that is fine – I will not question you, but in my case I expected a title this year, we spent a record payroll trying to get that, and I am not grading these Lakers on a curve. There is a standard they need to be held to and when you have the best roster, and your third best player is injured, the team should not collapse.

  32. @Josh and lil pau — You guys are spot on.

  33. This game shouldn’t negatively change anyones opinion on the lakers. Does anyone the Thunder without Ibaka, Martin and maynor would come into staples and win? The lakers showed some heart and Meeks seems to have regained his confidence.
    Remember, the 2010 heat were 9-8 17 games into the season and they didn’t have injury issues. These things can take some time.
    However, the lakers do need to get healthy sooner rather than later if they want any chance at a top 4 seed.

  34. Lakers have a sense of urgency they’re trying to win these games. Difference between 08-10 and now is the young teams have grown together and got better while Lakers have grown old together adding better pieces. Lakers aren’t the only team with talent anymore and multiple teams have dominant players now. What denver, spurs, jazz were to lakers during that 3 year run we’re those teams and okc is the lakers. Things may turn around although same thing was said last 2 years that problems will dissappear at season goes on and things will turn around but they never did. The team is 9-11 out of playoffs with same problems for years that won’t magically disappear with time.

  35. Kevin_ said this-
    “The team is 9-11 out of playoffs with same problems for years that won’t magically disappear with time.”

    While I do believe in moral victories, and I do have hope that this team can get it together before the playoffs- I just don’t think that Pau in the lineup will make us better in transition defense and I don’t believe that Nash makes us better defensively. Will these two help us on the offensive side of the ball? Absolutely! Kobe and Dwight will be more efficient when Nash returns. There will be less Kobe iso and more Kobe slashing. We won’t have to see MWP dominating the ball anymore!!

    Now if all goes well, and this team comes together and gets a 3rd seed in the west. I just have a question for you. Do you all see the Lakers winning a series against OKC, Mem, or SAS? I can’t see it at at this time. I’m hopeful, but the realist in me says that our lineup can’t run with those guys and our defense won’t be good enough to slow them down.

  36. @ Paul L — After seeing Indiana beat the Lakers without its best player, and the Magic dropping 40 in a quarter with a roster full of castoffs and never-weres, yes, I absolutely could picture the Thunder coming into Staples and beating the Lakers without those players you cited.

    Their Top Two guys are collectively better than the Lakers’ Top Two guys, since Howard is an overrated farce. Kobe can match Durant, but Westbrook is someone for whom the Lakers have no answer, even if the lineup were 100 percent healthy. Until the Lakers find a semblance of chemistry and more than a passing interest on the defensive end, this team will be a second-tier seed in the West and would be lucky to survive the second round.

    This happy talk and optimism is just not founded in reality. There are major holes in this roster, even when healthy. People can pretend otherwise, but it’s apparent. Jerry West has said so, and others who are objective would say the same.

  37. “that won’t magically disappear with time”: In fact time will make the issues worse (lack of speed and age)
    KenOak: I like your premise of “if all goes well, and this team comes together and gets a 3rd seed in the west”, because if we start the playoffs on the road – we are toast. This is not the NFL or Hockey. It is the NBA and the higher seeded teams win. I also agree that the simple add backs of Nash and Gasol is not enough. What we need is both of them to return, KB to keep his current production, and the rest of the bunch to start playing up to expectations. This means that the coaching staff needs to start doing its job. This is why I am so hard on them, is because I agree with you. If I felt that the coaches were doing well now, then I would be just about ready to throw in the towel as you imply, because what I am seeing is not solved simply by adding Nash. We need that and also a new performance by MD and his staff (I am not hoping for coach #3 this year – so I am stuck pestering coach #2).

  38. For those encouraged after last nights game:

    OKC wasn’t even trying in the 4th quarter. They were just toying around with the lakers. That was as embarassing a loss as when Dallas ousted the Lakers in a sweep.

    Last night there was a significant talent gap issue. OKC had the 2 best players on the floor, and then they had players built to slow down our two best players (Sefalosha and Perkins/Collison). Sefalosha and Perkins/Collison might as well not have existed on the offensive end, and they still did there job because they made Dwight/Kobe work so hard on the offensive end and relieved any defensive pressure from Durant/Westbrook.

    It’s also a problem that the Lakers have nobody at all anymore that can bother either Durant or Westbrook for large periods of time (maybe Kobe on Westbrook, but he will then be gassed offensively). Durant has a jolly good time toying with MWP now, and if he sees a guy like Ebanks, he will abuse him and get to the line.

    Might this change with a healthy Gasol and Nash? Maybe, The only way I could see that happen is Westbrook will have to be honest on defense, which will cut into his efficiency on offense.

    Regardless, the Lakers still have a MAJOR Durant issue (though to be fair, nearly all teams do).

    How long does it take for tendinitis knees and a nerve shin splint to get healthy?

  39. As I’ve been one of the optimists on this thread, let me change gears for one quibble: why is DJO on this team and not CDR? If DJO can’t see 1min with the imProbable situation of out PG AND backup PG out, when might he ever see the floor? By contrast, CDR could see some real minutes right now.

    An earlier poster asked how will Nash help the D? Here’s one way, create more efficient offense that causes teams to have to take the ball out of the basket and also perhaps allow us to deemphasize offensive rebounds and keep another player back to stop transitory hoops. Another way would be to make Kobe’s life easier on O so he can hopefully expend far greater effort on D. There are more of these, but you get the point. our priorities should be PNR D and getting healthy. This team could still come out of the west, absolutely.

  40. *Transition* hoops. Blasted iPhone.

  41. you have the best roster,

    ___

    The Lakers might have the best starting 5 when everybody is healthy, but they don’t have the best roster, and never did.

    The Clippers are on TV right now, with a second unit of Bledsoe/Crawford/Barnes/Odom/Turiaf. Bledsoe and Crawford are FAR better than any of the Lakers’ back-up guards. Barnes is still better than Ebanks. Odom and Turiaf are better on D if not O (Odom seems to be finding his legs a little) than Hill and Jamison are.

    I am not saying that Kupchak did everything wrong, but simply put, the roster is not as good as you think it is, and never was. If Kobe were 27 and Howard were Shaq, your position might be correct. As it is, it isn’t.

    That doesn’t mean that MDA should not be criticized, but the Lakers simply have a lot of very limited players and their two big guns each has a weakness (D for Kobe and FTs for Howard).

  42. What is the plan?

    This is a team built on four stars. Two of them are injured. The plan is about as simple as it gets. Antawn Jamison has been a terrible defensive player his whole career and is 36. Chris Duhon has kept a spot in the league because he is a nice guy, but he is 30 and has established his limitations very clearly. MWP is 33 years old; Steve Blake is 32 and was never really good. Jordan Hill is a decent energy guy but no more than that. Jodie Meeks is a pretty good spot-up shooter who can’t handle and is mediocre on D. Those things would not be different under Phil.

    And as I said in the post yesterday, picking up a cheap guy with some athletic ability to play spot minutes at the 3 would be a good idea as would trying to get a better backup 1, but it all comes down to Nash and Pau, or who they get for Pau if they move him. MDA’s #1 issue is figuring out the Pau situation if Pau comes back a little more spry, If he can’t, they will have to move Pau.

  43. Robert:

    Your man seems to think that all is not yet lost:

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/8726059/kobe-bryant-says-believes-los-angeles-lakers-track

    And re the playoff seeding, there’s always a first time for everything. Here, think of the LA Kings being the 8th seed and simply dominating in last season’s NHL playoffs. So there’s hope. And there’s hope because not only the 8th seed dominating in the playoffs, but they too had a new coach in season and their personnel added in season could be construed as tantamount to a healthy Nash and Pau. And as JVG said during the game, three problems, TO, floor balance, and slower. Don’t think that the latter gets fixed with same personnel, but Nash should help both with TO and floor balance, and as someone mentioned, you can be slower so long as the other team has to bring the ball in after a made basket. And, lastly, while I too would like to see some definite defensive improvement, consider your man again. If all goes well, he won’t be the primary ball-handler. Instead, someone with a better career FG%, 3 PT% and FT% will be that ball-handler.

    Oh, and I almost forgot, but there are some simple things that can be done to improve the defense. Even with poor floor balance, one way to slow down transition is to put pressure on their big after he rebounds the ball. Don’t just turn and start to run back, leaving him free to outlet the ball forward in transition, but pressure him. That might easily allow some others to get back on D, and even if they aren’t entirely where they might want to be, at least it stops a transition basket. On that note, I have never emailed the Lakers before, but I’m going to do so now (point out the poor floor balance and note that it might help to have our man pressure their rebounder, so harder to make the outlet pass)(sure, he’ll likely make the pass, sooner or later, but the point isn’t to prevent the pass so much as to buy time, and so we’re looking for a later on the outlet pass).

    And for one more, I was heartened to see Nash and Pau chatting away there on the bench. I had visions in my head of Nash telling Pau, when we run that play, you do this (cue some hand/arm motions). And I bring that up, because the answer of late to the trade Pau screed is that Nash wanted assurances that Pau would be around. So I’m fairly convinced that Nash thinks that he can make good use of Pau. And I tend to think, well, someone mentioned that one series and the Thomas 3 ball after the O-board, so I tend to think that Nash having witnessed Pau on the Lakers, and his interaction with Kobe, he understands just how valuable Pau can be (since he played against the Lakers pre and with Pau). And so for those misguided souls saying that Pau’s been toast for a while, well, since Nash wanted the assurance, apparently he thinks different. Accordingly, some are going to have to forgive and/or indulge, but I’m going with Nash on this one.

  44. Surprise Motherf**ker December 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Aren’t Chuck Person and Steve Clifford both supposed to be excellent defensive coaches? Why doesn’t this team have an effective defensive system in place? If I remember correctly Person installed that defensive scheme in Phil’s last year which helped the Lakers go n that 17-1 streak – and that was with Bynum. Imagine a system like that with Howard instead.

  45. Not taking any moral victories away from this one. They lost to a better team.You can’t get too upset. But I won’t declare this some kind of positive for the Lakers either.

    Now we are using the excuse of them missing two guys. As much as people dismiss Gasol and call him ineffective are we now saying they would have beaten OKC with him? Nash has basically missed the regular season up to this point. It would be different if Nash was there for 15 to 20 games and the team was hitting on all cylinders, and then he went down. We could realistically expect things to return to what they already had. But that is not the case here. They never even got a chance to click with Nash. They will be trying to achieve that for the first time mid season.

    Sure, it could all come together. But with each passing game that Nash doesn’t play those chances drop more and more.

  46. Surprise MF,

    Kobe and Ron have old legs. Their starting PF, be it Gasol or Jamison, also has old/slow legs. The rotations can be crisp at times. But they won’t be for an entire game. And Kobe has been especially reckless on defense.

    A new system would help. But it won’t make their legs any younger.

  47. I haven’t seen too many games this season because I don’t have cable, but I did watch it last night. I saw a lot of 1-on-1 being played. This got me thinking that things will be much better when Nash comes back. He’s the distributor and he will get guys the ball and make things run. It’s not ok for the team to be losing so much, but when the players are playing 1-on-1 ball, it’s no longer a team game. The bright side is that when Nash comes back the players will feel a little more comfortable shooting the ball since they’ve developed their game so far. But who really knows if this will be a good thing? Only time will tell.

  48. So much about Nash. Has their every been a 38 year old professional in any sport that has turned a team from a .8th seed with a losing record to a finals candidate?

    My mind is still split. All I know is they were 0 and 10 with Nash in the lineup

  49. Ko,

    Repeating Nash’s age every day is the same thing as talking about Kobe’s shots every day–bad analysis. Nash is one of the greatest offensive PGs in the history of the NBA and was still very, very good last year. Duhon is an 11th man and Morris is a DLeaguer. Nash is playing in the system and with the coach that he loves, with the most dangerous roll man in the NBA.

    Nash won’t solve everything. But if he is himself, he will help quite a bit.

  50. From Marc Stein:

    Eastern Conference scout on Steve Nash’s chances of “fixing” the Lakers:
    “I think he can. It’s a Peyton Manning situation to me. (Manning is) 36, carving up the league and is someone you’re always going to put your poker chips on. That’s how I feel about Nash. There’s some uncertainty there because of (Nash’s) health, but if he can give them a good 25 minutes a game, it’s going to make a big difference because he gets people into the positions they need to be in.”

  51. @Vhanz…

    Mike D hasn’t used that excuse. Yet. And I can imagine that part of his choice of staff may have had something to do with the front office’s unwillingness to pay the remnants of Brown’s staff for doing nothing.

    But, a more cohesive effort on defense is essential to team success. The effort is there, the results are not. A defensive minded assistant may have helped.

  52. There was an interesting article linked a couple of threads back about how some of Kobe’s misses from the field were actually good. And how they could be regarded as “assists” because they set up the Laker bigs for offensive rebound scoring opportunities.

    Anyone who has ever played the game recognizes this as a basic tenet of basketball. You don’t shoot unless one or your teammates is under the basket. You always try to allow your teammates the chance to clean up your misses.

  53. Anybody worried that Nash isn’t running yet 5 weeks later? Or that D’Antoni wants to run and Nash suffered a broken leg. Nash’s biggest asset in the offense is running off screens and running after misses one has to wonder how much this injury affects his ability to run the team. There will be a lot of stress if Nash is running for 30+ mins a game.

    rr: Manning as a QB is mostly stationary Nash needs to be mobile.

  54. T Rogers: Totally agree.
    Slappy: Love the suggestions. Let me know if they respond to the e-mail. I usually just yell directly at the coach, I could never get Phil to look back, but MB would if you struck the right chord. I will report any eye contact with MD as I am overdue for a couple games and that is going to change soon.
    rr: Do me a favor and compare last year’s team with this year’s? Yes we have holes – but we also had holes. Am I to conclude that Derek Fisher was the difference between a 3 seed and a 7 seed?

  55. I’m with T Rogers and Robert on this one. We’ll see how much Pau and Nash will make a difference soon. (hopefully)

    Read somewhere today that the team is thinking of bringing Pau off the bench when he returns…

  56. For the Lakers to beat OKC, they need someone to deal with Ibaka and Collison. Ibaka destroyed Jamison last night and Pau can’t deal with him, either. Durant and Westbrook are going to get theirs. If the Lakers make any moves, I would love to see them acquire a real frontcourt banger.

  57. Is there ANY good news on Nash?

    Anything??

  58. Robert,
    First, they have played 20 games. If they are the 7 seed in April, get back to me. Second, their statistical indicators are those of a 12-8 team. The caveat there is the easy schedule but the data indicate that they are a bit better than 9-11. Third: as I have said, the conference is deeper and better. Fourth, the Lakers beat their Pythagorean indicators last year by five games–they had a point diff of a 36-30 team. Fifth, check Bynum’s stats last year vs. Howard’s now–not that big of a difference and in addition, Howard has made the Lakers one of the worst teams in the NBA at the line. On a team that has lost *three games by two points*, that is a big deal. Sixth, check Pau’s numbers last year vs. this year–he has been worse. Part of that is the system. Part of that is his knees. Part of that is Pau himself.

    If you want to keep insisting that the team has the best roster and this is all about MDA, have at it. But I think you can do better.

    Kevin,
    If you have specialized medical knowledge about Nash, go ahead and share it. It may be that you are right about his situation, but I will wait to hear from the team. In any case, the comp the anon scout was making was obviously not based on “mobility.”

  59. Nash will help a lot and will help Pau a lot…So that is the starting place…To me its one step at a time. The team is playing better than the record indicates, (now around 8th best in the NBA, according to Hollinger) and will be a lot better when the injury’s heal up..

    So the best thing is to take a pill and wait for that. and then re-evaluate.

    Dwight may also get better as season comes along, and they may still be able to make a deal at the trading deadline, to improve the bench..

    the other thing is that this may take more than one year…Nash is getting older, but next year they will have a whole training camp and will be much more in tune. and in the following year there will be a ton more cap flexibility. yes Nash will be 40/41, but he could still be a decent facilitator at that age, so long as the pieces around him are strong enough and Kobe/Dwight/Nash creates a very strong base.

  60. If Jerry and Jimmy were watching the Laker game against OKC, it was good news and bad news all night. The good news was that they may have seen the best exhibition of Showtime in a long time. The bad news, of course, was that they may have seen seen the best exhibition of Showtime in the second quarter–when the Thunder ran the Lakers off the court. The good news for Laker fans was that Mike D’Antoni showed the ability to coach the kind of balanced basketball that even Phil Jackson would have been proud to coach in the first quarter–and the Lakers were ahead.

    We’ve almost taken it for granted that D’Antoni won’t adapt his coaching to this “triangle” team. Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe D’Antoni will choose winning over Showtime. It might not please Jimmy or Jerry, but I wouldn’t mind.

  61. The key statement in this post is the apparent “lack of a (defensive) system.” Either MDA doesn’t have one or the players aren’t running it.

    Yes I know about injured players, old players, Westbrook unstoppable, etc. That’s no excuse for not having a defensive system. Having players out of rotation and opponents getting passes for easy scores (repeatedly) is inexcusable.

    After the Lakers got torched by Pierce, they installed the SSZ and while they were never a defensive juggernaut, it was “good enough” to win 2 championships. Not saying that would work today, but any system at this point is better than what they’re doing right now.

  62. rr: That was the type of comparison I was looking for, but let me re-summarize: KB 2013 slightly better than 2012; Let’s call AB and DH a wash (DH better overall – but as you point out the FT’s making them even); Pau is worse in 2013; MWP is the same; PG position without Nash – I never received a comment on DF (you did not fall for that), so I am calling it even; and the bench is at slightly better (Jamison certainly being an upgrade from the year Barnes had in 2012. So in summary overall – that is – at worst the same. Keeping in mind that as you well know – 2012 was a dreadful year, with a dreadful coach, and now with similar talent we have regressed. Never thought I would say it – but I long for the days when we had the “6th” best team in the league. So – no – it is not “all” MD’s fault, but most of it is : )

  63. “Either MDA doesn’t have one or the players aren’t running it. ”
    Scott: Keep posting – the numbers of us are growing : )

  64. Too many excuses on this forum.

    Now, it is Nash is out and Pau is hurt. Next, when Nash comes back and the team is still not dominating it will be, “got to give it at least 20 more games with Nash, let them adjust as a group.” Then after 20 more games, Pau is still hurt, but is getting better, just give the team a little more time.” Then, “well its late in the season, a rough one, this team don’t really have anything to play for anymore this regular season, just wait until the playoffs come, they will be ready, it will all come together!” Then 2nd round of the playoffs, “Man, never realized “GREAT TEAM” was this good, guess we will have to make moves after all next season.

  65. Some on this board don’t seem to understand the difference between “excuses” and “context”.

  66. Context is indeed everything.

    I am NOT saying this team is going to accomplish what the Heat have accomplished the past two years (i.e., two finals appearances and one Larry O’Brien) but the first year of the “Heatles” featured a 9 and 8 start and questions abounding as I recall.

    Then they figured things out and went on a tear (like a 12-0 run if I remember right). They didn’t win the title, but they ran into a team that was making “threes” at a legendary pace that series as well.

    I’m willing to wait a spell before panic sets in. There is going to be a “figuring things out” period for the Lakers with multiple new players, three coaches in twenty games, etc…….

  67. Wow some of you really like to get negative. Facts are 1) this was known to be a team with a big 4 and a weak bench, with DH possibly not even making it back for the beginning of the season. One of the 4 has been out for pretty much the entire season, and two of the other 3 have been either a) recovering for a major injury or b) saddled with tendentious…on top of that there was a coaching change, and Dantoni/Nash led teams have been notoriously awful without Nash…So all in all this hasn’t been that bad a stretch. The only really bad moments were the late game meltdowns versus Orlando and Houston.

    Yes the defence could be better, but it is top 8 in defensive efficiency…If they can just maintain that and get to a top 2 offensive team which seems likely with Nash’s return and given how Kobe is playing they will be a force…maybe not championship level yet, but a force…

    What has really hurt them is that they have lost quite a few very close games to bottom tier teams (Houston, Orlando, Sacramento, Dallas, Portland, Indiana). Take back three of those, which would be normal, as their overall record in close games has been bad, and this is a respectable 12-8 record given all the injuries, and no worries. So it is time for a little perspective. Dantroni has not hurt the defence at all.

  68. @mindcrime

    The “Heatles” featured 3 NBA players in the top 10-15 in the league at the very peak of their athletic abilities. They could simply overpower teams with quickness and athletic ability. This Lakers team is no where near that. Kobe is still probably in the top ten, as is DH12, but Pau is not and Nash isn’t either. Then, you look at how much older and slower our players are minus Howard. I hope that the FO and D’Antoni give this some time to see exactly what this team has when fully healthy, but how much time? My claim is that Pau needs to either come off the bench or be moved for lesser pieces that fit a little better. We will see.