Lakers/76ers: Lakers End their Road Trip in Style

Darius Soriano —  December 16, 2012

In a battle of two depleted teams, the Lakers were able to beat the Sixers, 111-98. With this win, the Lakers salvaged their road trip by going 2-2 and won their second consecutive game for the first time since November 20th when they beat the Nets. This game, while having several outlier performances that aren’t likely to be duplicated too often, still give the Lakers what the they’ve lacked for much of the year — a bit of momentum. They now get to go back to Los Angeles and play only two games in the next six days, with the hope that both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash rejoin them soon.

But that’s a discussion for later. Tonight, the Lakers showed that a few standout performances can make all the difference in the world on offense while also showing that, when focused and committed, the defense could also hold up for longer stretches. Here are some takeaways from the game…

MWP = most wonderful player. Ron really brought his “A” game tonight and was the Lakers’ best player against the Sixers. Kobe may have had more points, but Ron’s 19 on 6-10 shooting was quite impressive and really helped keep the team in the game early. Ron scored 11 of his 19 in the first period and were it not for his efforts on that side of the ball, the Lakers surely would have found themselves behind after 12 minutes. Instead, they led by four.

Even more impressive than his raw point total, was how he scored them. His outside shooting (3-4 from behind the arc) was a key component of the team’s offensive attack. He also had a very nice drive and finish where he started from the right shoulder and beat Thad Young with a power drive to the middle where he used his left hand to put in the scoop. His work on the glass was also excellent with this 16 total rebounds (5 offensive) a career high. Add his stellar defensive work — his 4 steals were a game high and his off ball rotations were especially crisp — and Ron was simply fantastic in this game.

Dwight Howard had a really good game, even if the numbers don’t stand out. After the first quarter Howard had missed all three of his shots and hadn’t scored a single point. Kwame Brown was bothering him in the post and his offensive attack looked awkward at best. As the game wore on, Dwight started to find his stride and his 17 points on 7-13 shooting (and 3-3 from the FT line) reflect that. In the 2nd half, Doug Collins played Spencer Hawes more and that led to Dwight being able to establish deeper post position and get off the types of shots that he converts with regularity.

One of the reasons that Hawes saw more time, however, was due to Dwight essentially ignoring Kwame on defense in order to be a terror in the defensive paint. Dwight was rarely late in responding to dribble penetration and he changed countless shots on the evening simply by showing up early and elevating as a Sixer tried to get a quick shot off. His 3 steals and 2 blocked shots speak to some of the disruption Dwight caused to Philly offense, but they don’t do his night nearly enough justice. Howard was everywhere defensively and, simply from the standpoint of equity, I’m glad he got some offensive touches down the stretch as a reward for all the work he did on the other side of the ball.

The point guards were excellent. I’ll let commenter RR take it from here because I think he did an excellent job of putting Chris Duhon and Darius Morris’ nights in the proper perspective:

Duhon and Morris: 29 points, 6 assists, 1 turnover, 7-15 from three. For people who think Nash will not make much of a difference, or a better backup 1 would not make a difference, or who think that D’Antoni, Kobe, or Howard is the biggest problem, this is Exhibit A. Yes, the Lakers caught a big break with Holiday being out, but those numbers (which are obviously not sustainable) are great for those two guys in any context. And look what happened–a 13-point win on the road.

Morris hit his first five shots, including three from behind the arc before an ankle sprain towards the end of the half helped sap him of his effectiveness the rest of the night. Duhon, meanwhile, went 4-10 from behind the arc and was a solid floor spacer all night, mostly getting shots on the weak side and playing one pass away from the P&R action being run opposite of him. Again, you can’t expect these numbers nightly, but when both the PG’s play well, the Lakers will be very difficult to beat.

Kobe Bryant gave us another one of those nights we too often take for granted. 34 points (12-21 from the field), 6 assists, and four rebounds are fantastic numbers, but still don’t really tell the entire story. His night started out kind of rough as his ball handling issues popped up again with him losing the ball on the dribble or getting stripped as he drove to the rim to get a shot up. But as the night went on, those problems vanished and we were only left with Kobe make quick, sharp decisions on nearly every possession. His shot/pass choices were spot on most of the night, especially in the P&R where he’d either make the cross court pass quickly or engage defenders and attack the creases of the D to get a good look. Oh, and he also had two great shots in this game. The first being a double (triple?) clutch shot that he banked in after avoiding a defender and the second was a fantastic rolling hook that looked a bit like Magic’s game clincher against the Celtics all those years ago. You don’t get to 30K points without having a bunch of different shots in your arsenal and these two epitomized the totality of his repertoire.

Darius Soriano

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37 responses to Lakers/76ers: Lakers End their Road Trip in Style

  1. I seriously can’t believe Metta is dominating people at the 4. I thought he would be getting bopped.

  2. I’ve been wanting to see Ron play at the 4. I’m glad to see D’antoni is doing this instead of giving the defensive sieve that is Antwan Jamison starters minutes.

  3. I love what MWP has been doing at the 4 so far, but what about against the likes of Kevin Love, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitski, Blake Griffin, etc.?

  4. Agreed on Metta but devin can’t play. Try Meeks at 3 next game if Pau is not ready.

  5. Arliepro..

    We have PAU GASOL at the four too :-)

    I would like to see how metta plays against Blake and Love for short stretches (although i expect both too win that battle, mwp does do a great job of taking players out of there rythem)

  6. What about KB at the 3 and Meeks at the 2?

  7. i think metta at the 4 makes a lot of sense except against super athletic players like ibaka or griffin. He’s strong enough to hold his ground against most power forwards, and in today’s game, speed kills. It’s part of the reason why LO was better at PF, and Pau is better at center… they have speed mismatches. And if this cuts down jamison’s minutes, I’m all for it. Jamison at this point seems to be inconsistent offensively, and his (lack of ) defensive reputation is well earned. I like the lineup adjustment, and metta is faster than most PFs. I’d much rather have him bodying up a pf, then getting killed on the perimeter trying to guard a pg. I think he’s gonna have a problem with backdoor lobs to players with a lot of bounce though, so Dantoni will have to tinker with the rotation when playing those kinds of teams. (even against bouncy small forwards like nic batum metta struggles)

    devin ebanks looks terrible to me, frankly. he doesn’t seem gifted athletically… he’s 6 ’9 and on breakaways doesn’t seem to able to dunk often, and his defense is inconsistent. I’m frankly sad that he kept a spot and we let CDR go.

  8. I like the idea of playing metta at the 4 too, obviously it doesn’t work against all lineups, but we have pau, antawn and hill so that shouldn’t be a problem, but I am all for limiting antawn’s minutes. I love the hustle and shooting ability of Meeks, I think he plays with some really positive energy and it seems like everybody looks for him to try to get him the ball. Watching ebanks makes me really wish that we still had barnes, but not much anybody can do about that now. As poor as this team has looked at times, one positive is that they seem to be able to shoot better than any Lakers team in a few years, and once Nash gets back it should only get better. Overall, this win looked much better than that performance against the wiz the other night. When Pau and Nash get back I want to see the lineup of Nash, Kobe, Meeks, Metta and Pau. Anyways, it is good to see the guys out on the court look like they are actually having fun rather than looking like they wish they weren’t there.

  9. The thing that some are discounting about Nash coming back, is that having a more efficient offence that runs really smoothly will a) just flat out give the team more energy, in the same way that you could see a lot more ease and joy against the sixers given the way the guys were scoring the ball and b) allow Kobe and Nash to expend less energy on the offensive side of the ball, thereby helping them defensively, and making for a much more balanced team. Though I am a huge Nash fan, I still don’t think that he is enough to turn this around, and think the key is for the team to just get a lot better, creating excitement and energy for the team and the FO to improve the team this year and next, when I think the lakers will be much better positioned for a chip run. And don’t assume that Nash and Kobe’s age make a chip next year or the following year impossible, because once the team looks better they will suddenly have a plethora of veteran free agents who want to sign on, to augment the talent of the team, and there will be a ton of cap flexibility in 14/15. Also, I think the paradigm for the lakers is more the Mavs run of two years ago, then the Heat run up.

  10. Lakers are 2nd in rebounding and 3rd in 3s.

  11. The 3 pt. shooting is proving to be an unexpected strength of this team. However, I’ll caution against the quick 3 in transition. Those can be momentum busting misses in which Dwight doesn’t get invoked at all. Inside-out play and probing the defense looking for something going towards the basket the basket should take priority over a rushed 3.

    I’ve always maintained that it’s the Lakers’ second tier players that will determine how far this team will go. As we’ve seen on more than one occasion, when the bench guys do well, the team is hard to beat. Hopefully, if the starters can all regain their health and the bench can develop a consistent level of play, we’ll see this team move towards its potential.

  12. When your own life is going through some rough patches, it is a great feeling when your team wins.

    Thank you Lakers… and a special thanks to Dwight for grinding it out, even when he isn’t getting the touches he wants etc.

  13. Im sure he got 20 plus touches tonight if you count all the passes he kicked out to the perimeter

  14. http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/12/17/andrew-bynum-has-advice-for-dwight-howard-get-used-to-not-touching-the-ball-with-kobe-around/

    That’s why he’s growing out his hair now. It’s a symbol of being freed from having his growth “stunted.”

  15. Kobe and MWP games stood out yesterday, but others, as you mentioned, also contributed nicely. Team looks a bit different when they are trusted to perform. It’s the only way Lakers are going to be able to win with any type of consistency. Darius, thank you for also pointing out that the 76ers were just about as depleted as the Lakers, always good to keep things in perspective.

    I was very glad to read Kobe agreed with Andrew Bynum’s statement about “stunting” his development in the last year or two. Anyone who actually reads the entire article will find it a fair assessment.

    Two game win streak is a nice, next up is Charlotte at home. A very good chance to win three in a row for the first time in a month (Nov. 16th – Nov 20th vs the Suns, Rockets, & Nets). The Bobcats, for whatever reason, have proved a bit difficult for our Lakers. They are much better than last year, but they are also losers of 11 straight and pretty desperate for a win.

    Lakers are 11-14. 5-5 in the 1st ten games, 4-6 in the 2nd ten games, currently 2-3 halfway thru the 3rd ten game set.

    Let’s go Lakers.

  16. Disagree on the Ebanks comments.

    He played pretty well against the Knicks. No player is going to show consistency without minutes.

    Jordan Hill will rejoin the rotation shortly. Between Hill, Meeks, Ebanks and possibly Morris, we may start to see the nucleus of a decent bench forming with Nash and Gasol soon to return.

  17. Andrew Bynum is just frustrated he can’t play because hes always injured. If anything stunted his growth, its his lazy, lackluster attitude. Did anybody forget that he once told Kareem, a 6 time nba champion, he had nothing left to learn from him?

  18. Andrew Bynum’s knees stunted his development. After his first knee surgery, he has never regained his explosiveness and speed. Let’s see how he does in Philly. I wish him no malice, but in truth his petulance and lack of commitment to the defensive end of the floor left me cold. Drew is totally self-satisfied and is nowhere as good as he thinks he is.

  19. I would be alot worried if I were the 76ers right now. Those comments do not bode well for a guy who has yet to play a single minute this season, hurt himself not doing basketball activities and wanting to get paid the max (which cashes at all banks across the US)… poor guy.

    MWP at the 4. Small Ball. Those things are synonymous. And while we cannot truly praise our team after beating a pretty bad Wiz team and a pretty depleted Philly team, any form of momentum is nice to have at this stage.

    Jamison at the 4 is still better than Jamison at the 3, all he needs is to develop a consistency is his game. I would prefer to keep him in the rotation but MWP at the 4 as of late has been a thing of beauty. That started at the 2nd half of the Knicks game which we pretty much clawed our way back.

  20. Oh an let me reiterate that our best lineup this year has been: Duhon-Meeks-Bryant-Artest-Howard.

  21. MWP is a key to our future success and his play in this game is very encouraging.
    Jamison on the other hand, is another matter and we need him almost as badly.
    Darius: I agree – a typical KB so-so game that we take for granted. He is just incredible.
    Next 3 Games: We need to win all of them. The Bobcats should be a cakewalk. They are light years below us talent wise. GS is playing great, but we need to put them in their place. This would then set up the Knick game, which would then let us know if we can get a whiff of prime time (literally).

  22. I, personally, don’t worry too much about Jamison – he’s a smart vet, he will find his niche. Once Pau and Hill are back, and with MWP at the 4, we doesn’t really need Antawn, he becomes a bonus. On the other hand, we’re thin at the three. But most teams are playing small-ball, so we can survive with Kobe, Meeks or even Morris at SF.

    That being said, I would love to see Ebanks and/or Clark become decent, dependable players. I think it’s more vital than Jamison issue.

  23. 1/2decaf1/2regular December 17, 2012 at 9:47 am

    “we may start to see the nucleus of a decent bench forming with Nash and Gasol soon to return”
    —————–
    great comment.. d’antoni still working with moving parts and very encouraging to see him give ebanks some burn.. and meeks has finally been freed!.

    with ebanks at 3 and more of ron at 4 with jamison also may mean finally some of gasol at the 5… lakers can be about 10 deep heading into the stretch run which is great news for our aging starters. less than one month and d’antoni already solidifying guys spots in rotation and building lots of different looks.. far cry from old days with brown!

  24. 1/2decaf1/2regular December 17, 2012 at 9:49 am

    and why are people whining about jamison? he’s playing for league minimum and gave up a ton of $$ to play here.

  25. Andrew Bynum’s knees stunted his development.

    _____

    Correct. If you look at the track records of guys who have left LA in the post-Shaq era, guys’ careers don’t take off after they get away from Kobe. Bynum has enough talent that he may be an exception, but there is no reason to believe that at this point.

    As I and others pointed out last year, Bynum’s EFG cratered in the games Kobe missed. The Lakers did go 5-2 in those games, but that was more due to D and the schedule. The guys who really seemed to do better in those games were MWP and Barnes, not Bynum.

  26. I been harping all season long about thru all these struggles we are seeing the nucleus of a solid deep bench, somebody else mention it finally, when this team is fully healthy we are looking at a 10 man deep rotation. This team will be a juggernaut when healthy, all pieces are falling into place.

  27. 1/2 Decaf: In my case – I am not whining : ) I am merely stating that we need production from him. We did apparently get a good deal on him at the time especially based on last year’s stats. This year his production is way off. Some on this board think he is done as a player. I think he is not being utilized properly. There is no way he dropped off this much in one summer.
    Fern: I love it. Where have you been when I was saying “best roster” earlier in the year. My only issue is that we “should be” a juggernaut at full strength, but that means we should be about 70-75% of a juggernaut at current strength, yet we are not. This gives credence to the rr/Kevin theories that the roster is not that good. Myself – I have another theory.

  28. Robert, i like the roster as it is always have, but lets see any team past and present, deal with all the bs, this team has so far i dont care how good you are its going to take a toll, we are finally seeing some sort of stability on the rotations but even that is going to be trown into turmoil once again once Nash and Gasol came back and we are going to need another adjustment period, after that period i expect the team to be truly rolling, from January fwd is what we are going to start seeing what this team truly can and cant do

  29. About Jamison the only way he is efective is by playing, je nmeds more playing time

  30. 1/2decaf1/2regular December 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    @robert… how exactly is d’antoni not utilizing jamison correctly? he is playing the 4 and when given minutes offense hasnt been a problem. main reason hes struggling for minutes is because his defense has been so god awful.. even with that big deficiency in his game d’antoni has still worked him in the rotation based on matchups.

    if you really want to nitpick then just rewind back to his production under brown at the 3.

  31. You can praise this bench all you want, the reality is, If you added Delonte West today he would be the best player off the bench, that says a lot.

  32. The Lakers dont need a nut like west period, and west could be a starter on almost any other team and would be earning more than the vet minimum if he wasnt so stupid, our bench talent could be solid not spectacular and honestly we dont need a super bench what we have is enough for this team Meeks,Jamison, Hill, Morris,Duhon and Blake will help the team im sure of that. Outside of Blake this recent trouble have allowed for the bench to improve.

  33. Robert,

    The key difference between our theories is that mine is based on specific aspects of the players’ performance records, ages, skillsets, and statistical profiles, and has been backed by high-profile analysts.

    I think the best evidence in support of your MDA attacks is what has happened in New York, rather than what is going on with the Lakers. There are certainly major caveats with that, as Jerke pointed out, but as I said a few days ago, I do think that MDA needs to look in the mirror.

    As to Jamison specifically, you need to look at his numbers on Basketball Reference. Some of his rate stats are actually up from last year and his stat pack is actually better in many ways than it was last year. Those numbers are inflated by a couple of big games, but I don’t see any specific evidence he is not being utilized properly, given that

    a) This team has had huge defensive issues.
    b) Jamison is 36 years old and a terrible defensive player.

    Jamison’s role here is 15-20 MPG, stretch 4, playing mostly with Nash and Howard. With Nash out and Howard not 100%, Jamison’s utility is reduced.

    Some people here do not seem to grasp that most guys 6-10 on NBA rosters are not going to be consistently good. If they were. they would be starters. Given Jamison’s age and his shot-reliant game, he is going to have games where he simply does very little–that is one reason among many why he was signed to a one-year deal for the minimum. Since you are working backwards from the conclusion that you have already reached (almost everything is D’Antoni’s fault) you are ignoring all these other factors.

    Finally, I am about 90% sure that Phil would have buried Jamison entirely since he can’t defend.

  34. 1/2decaf1/2regular December 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    @joe.. you can say the same about a lot of other benches in this league.. but you’ve been ripping on coach, FO, dwight and now our bench… actually anybody and everybody not named kobe. but nice to find some consistency with your posts! =)

  35. 1/2decaf1/2regular December 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I think the best evidence in support of your MDA attacks is what has happened in New York
    ————–
    the other very big difference going overlooked in NY is the change in PG position.. jason kidd/felton have replaced lin. actually felton is listed as PG but we all know kidd is runnning the offense there. so FWIW upgrading from duhon to nash will hopefully serve as more evidence to expect a huge improvement to our offense.

    also to note, NY is using elements of d’antonis system and running a slower version of small ball and NY is leading the league in 3 pts attempts this year at 29.4..

  36. 1/2 decaf…

    Felton is playing an All-Star quality PG for the Knicks. On both sides of the ball. JKidd is basically a defacto SG in that offense, spotting up for the 3 more than anything else. The decision not to re-sign Lin was due to economics as the Knicks didn’t feel he was worth matching the exorbitant Houston offer. Plus, the Knicks felt that Felton was a better player. As a NYC resident, I am very familiar with the Knicks. Felton’s poor conditioning and resultant poor play in Portland turned a lot of teams off. He had played well with the Knicks in a previous stint, so the Knicks took a chance on him and are now being rewarded.

    D’Antoni’s failure in NY came in large part as a result of a personality clash with Carmelo Anthony. His tenure in NY was marred by injuries and with the Knicks dumping players and payroll to make a run at LBJ in free agency. I’m no great fan of Mike, but it’s hard to judge him on his time with NY.

  37. Kobe has played 40+ minutes each of last 6 games. That is a problem. Or at least it will become one.