Lakers/Bobcats: It Wasn’t Pretty, But Lakers Hold On for the Win

Darius Soriano —  December 19, 2012

As I said after the Wizards game and again after the Sixers game: any win the Lakers can get right now is a good one. So, in that sense, the Lakers should feel good about being ahead when the final buzzer sounded. Every win means something to a team that dug themselves a big hole in the standings and in winning their 3rd straight game, the Lakers are starting to inch closer to being .500 and turning a corner.

That said, this game also showed there’s a lot to work on.

Defensively the Lakers weren’t rewarded for an early solid effort as the Bobcats found ways to hit contested jumpers. At the start of the game it was Byron Mullens hitting nearly everything he through up and later in the first period he was joined by Kemba Walker. The Lakers were in position to contest these shots but they just happened to fall anyway.

As the game progressed, however, the Lakers’ defensive intensity fell off and the Bobcats took full advantage by hitting the shots that weren’t guarded. In the 2nd quarter the Bobcats scored 33 points, mostly on the type of open looks that any professional basketball player would be poised to hit. Players who are not necessarily known for their jumpers — Gerald Henderson and Ramon Sessions, for example — got free and hit shots. Bismack Biyombo got open under the rim and converted his shots. Kemba Walker continued his early effectiveness by getting into the paint and hitting floaters, blowing by defenders in the process.

Simply put, after the Lakers dug in defensively to end the 1st quarter with a lead, complacency set in. They seemed to believe they’d win this game simply by being on the court. The Bobcats responded by showing that wouldn’t be the case by pushing the ball at them in the open court and moving the ball around the floor to find the open man. Into the 3rd period the Lakers still seemed to think they’d be okay by only defending half heartedly and the Bobcats’ lead swelled to 18 points. Boos rained down and frustration set in. The Lakers looked like they were going to give the Bobcats their first win in 12 games.

Until, of course, the Lakers decided they’d play hard and execute on both sides of the ball again. What was an 18 point deficit turned into an 8 point Laker lead after a 30-4 run. The Lakers clamped down on defense, made smart decisions on offense, and showed they were a class above. Multiple players were key to this run but I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up Darius Morris and his defense on both Ramon Sessions and Kemba Walker. Single game plus/minus isn’t always the best tool but Morris’ +20 in comparison to Duhon’s -21 do tell a story of who was more effective tonight, especially on defense.

Down the stretch of the game, however, the Bobcats continued to scrap and stay in it. What was an 8 point lead would be tied  with only a minute and thirty seconds left in the game. In those last 90 seconds, however, the Lakers were able to pull out the win. Kobe hit a driving lay up to give the Lakers a two point lead. A pull up jumper on the Lakers next possession would push the lead to four. However, on the Bobcats next possession a Ramon Sessions drive turned into a three point play as Dwight Howard goaltended the shot after the whistle blew calling a foul on the Lakers. On the ensuing Laker possession Kobe would miss a forced jumper off the pick and roll and the ‘Cats would have one last chance.

On that final defensive possession the Lakers did many things wrong but not as many as the snake-bitten Bobcats. As you can see in the video below, the Bobcats got multiple good looks at the basket only to miss them all. Most heart breaking for them was Gerald Henderson’s missed lay in that inexplicably rolled out.

In the end, the Lakers dodged a bullet. They’ll take the win, but must also understand that they will need to play better if they want to keep getting the W’s.

Some additional notes:

*Pau’s first game back was a mixed bag in terms of his own offense as he only went 3-10 from the field. Basically, he looked like a guy who hadn’t played in a couple of weeks. That said, he looked good physically. On one sequence he had back to back blocked shots and then hit a turnaround jumper on the ensuing offensive possession. He also showed that despite the layoff he hadn’t lost his feel for passing as he handed out several nice assists, including a lob to Dwight on a fast break where they passed the ball back and forth with Pau delivering the final one to a soaring Howard.

*Ron began this game on the bench and it looks like that will remain the case moving forward, playing power forward almost exclusively. Ron still played 36 minutes and closed the game ahead of Gasol so it’s not like his minutes suffered tonight. Ron also had a high volume shooting night (18 FGA’s in all) so his new role didn’t lead to any offensive passivity. What this shift did do, however, is remove Jamison from the rotation for the night (and for the foreseeable future, it seems) as Ron and Pau got all the PF minutes.

*Ebanks started the game, but Meeks started the 2nd half. D’Antoni continues to search for a capable lineup that can play both ends well enough and Meeks seems to be a key to that. With Ebanks struggling from the floor in the 1st half, Jodie got the call in the 2nd half and delivered relatively well on offense and defense. Moving forward, with Ron on the bench, I would not be surprised to see Meeks start games with Kobe sliding up to SF.

*Don’t look now but Dwight Howard is making his free throws. After going 6-8 against the ‘Cats, he’s made 36 of his last 56 FT’s (64.3%). If he can hover around that 60% mark from the line, he’s a much more dangerous offensive player. Oh, and he also 16 points and 18 rebounds (9 offensive) on the night. Turnovers remain an issue for Dwight (and that goaltend made the game closer than it needed to be) but he’s progressing in some of the areas the team needs him to.

*Kobe scored 30 points for the 7 straight game, the only player over 34 years old to ever achieve the feat. Which also means the Lakers have now won 3 straight games in which he scored over 30 after starting the season 1-10 in those games.

 

Darius Soriano

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35 responses to Lakers/Bobcats: It Wasn’t Pretty, But Lakers Hold On for the Win

  1. 3 for 3 now for Warren as first post.

  2. The way things are going Jamison and J.Hill might be some desirerable trade chips. Sacre can be third string C, and the Lakers might be looking for a backup 3 or a stetch 4.

  3. All I gotta say is that I’m 3-for-3. Lets not overuse this pixie dust ;)

  4. D’Antoni is CLUELESS. He is SO BAD as a coach.

    If Gregg Poppavich was coaching the Lakers they would be instantly a championship team with their current players. He knows how to use two talented big men. He knows defense. He knows how to extract all the talent, desire and intensity from each player. He would have every player on the same page.

    D’Antoni is unable to do this.

    Phil Jackson knows.

  5. Darius,

    It’s not clear that the starting role of Ebanks was much more than proforma. Ebanks played 5 minutes–Meeks played 39–more than any other Laker except Kobe. It’s clear that D’Antoni appreciates the hustle and spacing provided by Meeks and MWP–which may well have won the Lakers this game. We may see much the same combinations of players we’ve seen tonight against Golden State. But it is hard to imagine Kobe at the SF, Dwight at the C, and MWP at the PF facing teams like the Thunder, Heat, Knicks or Grizz.

    I doubt very much that we’ve seen the last of Hill getting substantial minutes at the PF and MWP returning to SF. D’Antoni is continuing to experiment with substitutions and lineup combinations–which is very good.

    As Mike comes to better understand what this Laker team can (and cannot) do, I’d hope to see much more nuanced and balanced versions of his famous uptempo oriented offense, and a longer rotation. But hope can only take us so far, and the future at this point is lost in a mist inside the crystal ball.

  6. @jameskatt

    So your point is that Mike D’Antoni might not be as good as Popovich…

    Popovich is one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, and probably the best active coach in all of basketball… so you are not saying much my friend. Pop would make any team out there better.

  7. Assoc Press piece sums up the way I and many realistic Laker fans feel: “Beating the Charlotte Bobcats by one point isn’t a true barometer of where the slow-starting Los Angeles Lakers are at the moment.

    Neither were the wins they recorded in their previous two games, against the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers and NBA-worst Washington Wizards, following a four-game skid that tested new coach Mike D’Antoni’s patience — and his up-tempo offense.

    All it means is they can beat the worst of the worst. The real test comes in their next two games against a couple of vastly improved clubs, the Golden State Warriors on Saturday and New York Knicks on Christmas Day(next Tuesday).”

    Lakers have a few days to rest & practice before and between those games. Lakers are currently 12-14, what a great Christmas gift it would be for us if they are .500 by the end of Christmas Day.

  8. Can Popp make the current Wizards better? Doubt it.

    MDA is finding a “stride” with small ball. Captain Obvious. But I’m referring to PG, Meeks at 2, Kobe at 3, Artest at 4 and then Dwight in the middle. Problem with that lineup is its too small to be effective against the real contenders. But it does give us a sigh of relief against the younger, transition-happy young teams.

    Moving forward, we must be able to play different combinations. From hereonin, I sound like a broken record suggesting once more to trade Pau. This thing cannot work, we need to invest at better depth (at the price of sacrificing quality). Jordan Hill comes back he will become the team’s defacto backup C. Sacre I feel worked very well with Nash so I guess he’s a keeper too. Ebanks and Pau make good trade chips. Lets not prolong the agony.

  9. On the same note, we have particular needs that must be addressed pronto:
    1. Perimeter (transition) defense
    2. Ball distribution (would be better with Nash coming back, but we need a backup)
    3. Shooting and Athleticism at the 3.
    4. Shooting and Athleticism at the 4.

    One team can offer that in 1 fell swoop. Just that we might not like to trade with that team for personal reasons.

  10. I love Pau, he is the best guy and the most skilled big man right now, but I must say he needs to go. Even if he can play at the highest level, the coach can’t simply put him in a position to succeed. Pau is too nice a person and that’s why he has been bearing it all with a smile till now.
    But I feel bad for him. I really don’t want him to go, but he has to be traded. Fellow spaniard Rubio recently said he’s not liking how Pau is being treated. And I feel the same. Give it a last shot when Nash comes back and see to it. I know it’s nothing new, but sometimes I put myself in Pau’s shoes and I kind of feel his agony. He thrives in the post, that’s his first love. He loves using both hands, has a good back facing game and a million ways to score near the basket. What could be the reason that the same Pau who gave team USA fits at the Olympics, seems to be a payroll burden now? I mean knees don’t regress so fast for sure.
    Find a young player who can play perimeter D and shoot on offense, and make it work Lakers…

  11. “Ron began this game on the bench and it looks like that will remain the case moving forward, playing power forward almost exclusively.”
    _____

    If this happens to be the case, it would seem that D’Antoni is trying to channel the success of past Laker teams. Phil convinced LO that, the team as a whole, would be much better with him coming off the bench and it worked to the tune of 2 championships (keeping in mind that the transition was simplified, mins wise, due to Bynums’s health issues). The difference, based on last night’s substitution patterns, is that Pau (like Drew previously) might end up getting the short end of the stick in regards to closing out games due to the fact that Dwight is significantly better on the championship (defensive) end of the court. With that being said, having Pau as a game closing option (whether it’s for certain matchups, personal foul situations or poor free throw shooting by Dwight) has to be viewed as a positive.

  12. typo : “Byron Mullens hitting nearly everything he through up”

  13. For me Kobe should not shoot over 20 shots. I mean I like the idea of doing whatever it takes to win. Especially because Kobe came up in an age where players were not measured as closely. But you guys have played with a Kobe at the gym. He shoots so much you never get into a rythmn. He is one of the greats but maybe 24 a game is enough.

  14. Warren,
    “Lets not overuse this pixie dust ”
    Unfortunately, that’s like trying to limit minutes for Kobe and Dwight right now – for the time being, we need to pull out all the stops!

  15. Dane: So what you are saying is that one of the greatest coaches of all time could definitely make this team better. While on the surface – this may not seem too profound, I think it clearly hits the mark. Others would disagree.
    D’Antoni: The best 2 arguments in his favor are: Injuries – OK so we need to wait until Nash gets back to see. Roster – This is not a very optimistic argument and of course is one I disagree with.
    Effort: Darius correctly pointed out last night when our defensive effort dropped off. The question is why does this happen so often? No – this is not all coaching, it is also on the players of course. However,getting everyone to try hard and play together coherently is by definition what coaching is all about. I am not just venting. I would love to hear alternative explanations, but what I heard so far – they are also not very optimistic in that they involve DH not wanting to be here, issues that people have with KB, and things like that. Any better explanation for the apparent lack of consistent effort and tenacity?
    We need this GS game badly. It is huge !

  16. Robert

    Mike No D has a one tract mind. You know what it is. Not gonna change unless they hire a co-coach who has a defensive mind. We have become the Suns and hopefully not last years Knicks under Mike.

  17. Joe,
    I’m not judging the result, I’m commenting on the fact he took a contested jumper over a 7 footer with a 7’7″ wingspan. If he made the shot, I’d have written that Kobe “made a forced jumper”.

    Also, your “Kobe can do no wrong” act is old. We’re looking for a nuanced conversation here and folks that can’t let go of their preconceived notions only take away from that.

  18. exhelodrvr December 19, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Warren,
    “Lets not overuse this pixie dust ”
    Unfortunately, that’s like trying to limit minutes for Kobe and Dwight right now – for the time being, we need to pull out all the stops!

    I feel ya. Watching this team barely win against the 2 worst teams + a depleted team was just so damn hard to do. Made me cringe the entire time.

  19. Apparently it looks like Jordan Hill and Antawn are out of the rotation. Mike D’ Antoni is going with a 8 man rotation which means more 40 minute games from Kobe. Sometimes I wonder if the Mike D’ Antoni offense is flawed. Any offense that calls to purposely sit 2 players that can contribute and plays your old superstar 40 minutes has to be.

  20. I for one am just happy to get another win! especially the 3rd straight-
    OF COURSE a prolonged winning streak is ideal [say 8 to 10 games? please oh please pixie dust magic! :D]
    it was good to see D. Morris have a solid defensive outing – keep it up dude!
    @Warren Wee Lim: on a previous thread you mentioned the Phillipine´s outstanding pro bowling world champ (afraid i can´t recall his name) and how Drew could learn from him & i was left wondering if he´s also had knee trouble in his career, thanks

  21. My issue with the last play the Lakers ran is that they had a full clock to use and ended up with a long off-balance shot by a well-guarded Kobe. There was never a threat to attack the basket and it was clear from the start that Kobe would take the shot. Given the success the Bobcats were having attacking the rim, it was critical for the Lakers to get a basket and force the Bobcats into taking a 3. Instead, the Lakers played one on five and gave the Bobcats a golden opportunity to get the win. Only a great help block by Howard saved Kobe the embarrassment of giving up the winning layup.

  22. 1/2decaf1/2regular December 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

    going through some of the post game comments is like reading the morning obituary… if you didnt watch the game you would think they lost by 50 instead of won in a hard fought 18 pt deficit comeback win.

  23. This MWP at the 4 is quite concerning, because judging from MDA’s comments he foresees this as a long term “solution” as opposed to a short term novelty switch-up strategy. I doubt sitting Pau and two key offseason signings in Jamison and Hill is what the FO envisioned when they hoped that MDA would be a better fit for the personnel.

  24. D’Antoni is a stubborn coach he’s not going to change his system to suit pau. And now he’s playing a guy who lost 16 pounds for quickness against probably the 2nd most premier position in the league. Durant, parsons, gay, gallinari are going to wear kobe out on defense. Pau deserves better and will get it once he’s traded to a contender. D’Antoni is an unbelieveable stubborn coach who has yet to validate lakers hiring him.

  25. darius: because that nash guy is coming back and can’t be soon enough, there will again be another transition period whereby we will be able to add our thoughts and ideas as so how the age old question will be accomplished: will and when and how and why the pau gasol; aka big boy pants, white swan/black swan saga will continue in a lakers uniform this season and for how long. should make for good copy.

    the other age old question, pun intended; because that nash guy is coming back; there will again be another transition period whereby we will be able to add our thoughts and ideas as to will and when and how and why the success of this laker season depends so heavily on that nash guy. as built up to be, the interconnection and history between coach d and nash is well chronicled but chapter 2, version 2 is what i’m curious about. why? because until that moment arrives where the announcer says something to the affect: now starting at point guard for the los angeles lakers: steve nash, will chills begin to manifest itself like goose pimples, up the arms, along the spine and down the legs. so it won’t be so much can nash help paul gasol but more can nash help the coach help the lakers. here’s hoping nash stays healthy.

    four days to practice, practice and practice.

    Go Lakers

  26. I`m willing to wait until Nash comes back to make final judgements. With Ron back to the starting 3,and Pau 5,Dwight 4. The team looks disorganized with crazy sub patterns. A trade is probable with a SF who can shoot and defend the biggest need.

  27. I shall hold myself responsible for contributing these videos after games, but more notably wins.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dzf-MBsFqyw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  28. I’m not comfortable seeing our big men fall out of favor. I love Hill’s hustle. His intensity is EXACTLY what the Lakers need. Pau’s skill set is still favorable. I’ve been critical of his lack of toughness. But he still brings a lot positives to the table. Jamison still has some juice left. There are not many teams in the league that would have trouble finding minutes for these guys.

    Maybe D’Antoni has a method to his madness. Maybe he’s desperate. I wouldn’t blame him if he was. But the Lakers don’t need bigs who can contribute wasting away on the bench or being under used.

  29. Yeah D’antoni is stubborn for sure. Look at his comments, they pierce like sharp arrows. Like he openly says Hill is not a fit, and he doesn’t hesitate to say that he’s not sure what to do with Pau. I mean these are certainly not encouraging admissions. Smartness is in flexibility and striving to get the most out of a situation. I wonder how Kupchak feels, he has always tried to come up with great moves to nurture the roster. You complain about Kwame he brought you Pau, you asked for Dwight, he’s here now, you didn’t like sessions, he came up with Nash, you tagged Pau soft and he almost changed him to Chris paul. And now you don’t like MB he is fired. I personally don’t think any FO has been so committed to maintaining the championship caliber.
    I really hope it works…My gawd! Too much stress for a spoilt laker fan!

  30. I am not just venting. I would love to hear alternative explanations,

    __

    Yes, you are, actually–just like Ko. The “alternative explanation” is that the Lakers are the slowest, least athletic team in the NBA and have a lot of bad defenders. As many have explained.

    This is not to say that I am thrilled with MDA, but the Lakers are giving away too much athletically and too much at 1 to be a good team right now.

    Against Philly: Duhon/Morris 29 points. And no Jrue Holiday.
    Against Charlotte: Duhon/Morris 9 points, Sessions/Walker 48 points.

    Where the Phil argument holds up is that Phil’s system hides bad PGs.

    Which, again, is why everything spins off of Nash. That is the choice the FO made with the MDA hire. You may not like it, but complaining about it every day won’t change it.

  31. I’m not comfortable seeing our big men fall out of favor. I love Hill’s hustle. His intensity is EXACTLY what the Lakers need. Pau’s skill set is still favorable.

    MDA likes 4s who shoot long-range and run the floor. Pau can’t do either, and Hill can’t do one. Hill is also a poor interior defender.

    The criticism of MDAs lack of adaptability is legit, but some people (not you) are making the mistake of attributing everything that goes bad to him. It is the same mistake some people make with Kobe.

  32. rr,

    I get that. That’s been Mike’s MO since Phoenix. Its just on some nights it seems the Lakers are trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. Not only do they need a stretch 4. They need a younger, more athletic three who can knock down the long ball. They also need a back up point to run the offense.

    The gap between their personnel the offensive ideal of their head coach is pretty large. When multiple players on the roster become “bad fits” due to the coach’s system, then something is wrong. I’m not saying its D’Antoni’s fault, per se. There was never a mystery to what system he would try to run. This team just seems to be mismatched on multiple levels.

  33. I also don’t like that Hill is out of rotation. As for Jamison, it seems that he doesn’t care enough and doesn’t give effort and energy on defense every possession.

    But the small-ball swing (moving MWP to PF) can be understandable in the long run – we should make room for Nash and, eventually, Blake at PG. Duhon may get some minutes as third string PG and Morris can be a back-up for Kobe at SG. And Hill will be a fourth big, and it can be valuable, Pau and MWP can’t play too many minutes every night.

    But I do think that D’Antoni will adjust his rotations depending on the opposition. Right now, though, we have to win some games to get back in playoffs picture.

  34. Is there any argument to be made the Lakers are better off with Pau at the 5 instead of DWH in this system? last nights +/- Pau -4, Dwight -17. I’d be curious to track these numbers from earlier and in going forward. Though the contract situations will dictate who will be playing the most….