Lakers v. Knicks: Mamba Clause Delivers

Phillip Barnett —  December 25, 2012

There was a lot to take in during the Lakers Christmas win over the New York Knicks, but the biggest take away is just the simple fact that they were able to pull out another tough win. This time on Christmas to extend their current win streak to five games, their first Christmas win since 2008. The second biggest take away for me was how well the Lakers mixed things up offensively. It’s becoming increasingly more clear with each minute Steve Nash is on the floor that this Lakers team is a different animal with the Point God running the show. Let’s take a look at the different sets the Lakers ran against the Knicks defense.

  • For the second straight game, D’Antoni decided to utilize the horns sets to get easy buckets for the Lakers. Nash has been bringing the ball down, dumping it into one of the bigs, and setting back screens for wings in the corner. In an early set, this action got Kobe a wide open layup after Nash’s back screen. Pau made a beautiful pass as Kobe cut and Bean threw it down. A similar set also freed up Ron for two of his 2nd quarter threes.
  • There was also an extension of horns that led to a glorious 4-5 between Pau and Dwight. Nash dumped the ball into Pau and cleared through like he had been doing in the other Horns actions. But instead of Howard immediately rolling to the basket or setting a pin down screen for Kobe or Ron, he set a screen for Pau then rolled. Pau threw a gorgeous lob and Howard threw it down.
  • There was a set late in the fourth where D’Antoni brought Howard away from the basket without Pau on the floor. Nash dumped it into Howard at the top of the key and cut off his left shoulder. Kobe came over the top of Howard and received a pass at the top of the perimeter. Howard then set a screen on Kobe’s man which freed Kobe for a wide open 17-footer.
  • We also got to see a few 1-5 P&Rs between Nash and Howard or some 1-4 P&Rs between Nash and Pau — and we were able to see Nash’s pure brilliance. He waited for defenders to fully commit to either himself or the roller and just pick them apart from there. We saw plenty of Nash floaters and a sick fade away when the defense concerned themselves with the bigs. And we saw a few brilliant passes that either led to two points or free throws when defenders decided to step out on Nash. They tried to run this another time, but it ended in a turnover.
  • Lastly, I saw about 3 or 4 1-2 pick and rolls with Nash and Kobe — something that I was hoping we’d see this season after seeing how effective it was with Ramon Sessions last season. The two standing out to me at the moment ended with Jodie Meeks driving baseline after a ball rotation and the other ending with a turnover, but the Kobe-Nash P&Rs did create favorable mismatches for Kobe each time they ran it.

Overall, I was impressed with the Lakers effort on the day. They weathered both Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith having great games — and fantastic third quarters — and gutted out a tough win against a good team. Ron Artest, especially in the second quarter, was fantastic today. Kobe had an efficient shooting night. Steve Nash was point godly. Pau had some great passes. Dwight knocked down free throws when they counted. And, most importantly, the Lakers won. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas gift from the NBA. Enjoy the rest of your Christmas, FB&G. Happy holidays to you and yours.

Phillip Barnett

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32 responses to Lakers v. Knicks: Mamba Clause Delivers

  1. Lakers now 1 game out of 6th. Yea!

  2. Big win in a playoff like atmosphere. Lakers moving in the right direction. Lack of bench scoring is a concern, but Duhon, Meeks and Hill played good D.

  3. Also, The Show only had 11 turnovers. Lots to like in this game. I’d be remiss not to mention Metta’s fine play on both ends of the floor.

  4. So glad we won because we are all out of “moral victories.” This was a great team win! Big moments from everyone that played. One game at a time.

  5. Darius, only a matter of time before someone impersonates me as well. I know you have a way of tracking IP addresses and pls do not hesitate to ban those that deserve to be banned.

  6. My goodness! Clipper might be the best team in the NBA. Barnes and Crawford are unreal off the bench.

  7. The 1-2 PNRs got the Knicks to switch Felton on to Kobe every time, which is one of the desired outcomes. Kobe was just missing shots over Felton that he normally makes. Felton is also a pretty good sized PG; run it against the Clippers and Kobe can just shoot over CP3.

  8. Great win, this is the kind of wins the Lakers need, against good teams and to extend streaks.

  9. Love the way Steve Nash is directing this and forcing them to get into more high screening action. And its fun to watch some other offensive formations being used effectively, to allow Gasol and Dwight to have a bit more comfort and familiarity.

    Think the Lakers have entered the top five as I would already put them past the Grizzlies and anyone other than the Heat, OKC, the Clippers or the Spurs, (and feel that they may already be getting to the point where they will be very competative with the Spurs) but in order to get by the other big 3, it feels like they need one or two more (better) glue guys, who are young, athletic can defend and shoot 3′s. A Shane Battier/Jared Dudley/Paul Milsap/Ryan Anderson type, to effectively fill out the bench, and add energy beyond the big 5. The upside is that they are the only team of the top contenders who can really gain by addition, as the other top teams are pretty stacked and more good players will only add issues with chemistry/PT. it will be interesting to see them move forward and to see what they can do if anything to fill out the team.

  10. Look for the Lakers to win 10 or 15 in a row.

  11. Man,if only Jamison didn’t simply vanished literally. It’s a fantastic win but I really really hope Nash don’t have to play near 40 minutes every single game as we move onwards. Those damned injuries must not plague this team again.

  12. yea if there were issues with todays win, its that it seems like Nash and Kobe are going to play 40 minutes every night.

  13. I agree minutes may be the biggest issue with this team now. The starting 5, when healthy, can take on any other starting 5 (counting MWP as a starter), but the lack of depth still forces them to play 40+ min if not a blowout either way.

    Contrast with the Clippers, where during this 14 game win streak I think CP3 & Griffin have averaged less than 30 min. The argument that rotations shorten in the playoffs doesn’t matter if your starters are exhausted/banged up by April.

    Karl emptied his bench at the end tonight meaning the Nuggets starters didn’t play as many minutes as they could have. Still they’ll have short rest before playing again tomorrow and hopefully the Lakers can take advantage with their slightly longer rest.

  14. one good thing for Nash in terms of minutes is that this is a lot easier on him then the minutes he put in with the suns where there were virtually no post ups or ISO plays. he needed to fully “run” the offence on almost every single possession. So I think he can play bigger mins. in this offence. But overall I agree there is an issue with depth. Perhaps, against lesser teams, they won’t need to ride the top 5 quite as extremely and Meeks/Hill/Duhon/Blake can take a few more mins. Hopefully, the big mins the last few games were a product of tougher opponents.

  15. one good thing for Nash in terms of minutes is that this is a lot easier on him then the minutes he put in with the suns where there were virtually no post ups or ISO plays. he needed to fully “run” the offence on almost every single possession. So I think he can play bigger mins. in this offence. But overall I agree there is an issue with depth. Perhaps, against lesser teams, they won’t need to ride the top 5 quite as extremely and Meeks/Hill/Duhon/Blake can take a few more mins. Hopefully, the big mins the last few games were a product of tougher opponents.

  16. Excuse me if this is a bit much, but I did some number crunching of Christmas games involving the Lakers and would like to share it here. Obviously the results need to be taken with a grain of salt, but I feel like Christmas wins are generally a good thing for the Lakeshow in terms of gauging a season, especially since Kobe arrived, as four of the five Christmas wins the Lakers have had since 96 have been followed by the Lakers raising the Larry O’Brien trophy. Anyway,

    Lakers Christmas Games

    Since 1999

    Lakers Win Record
    35.7% (5/14)

    Either team in game makes Finals
    69.2% (9/13) (7 Laker teams)

    Either team in game wins Finals
    46.2%(6/13) (5 Laker teams)

    If Lakers win Game
    100% (4/4) of teams make, and win, Finals

    Since 1974

    Record
    42.9% (9/21)

    Either team in game makes Finals
    65.0% (13/20) (10 Laker teams)

    Either team in game wins Finals
    35.0% (7/20) (6 Laker teams)

    If Lakers win Game

    62.5% (5/8) of Laker teams make, and win, Finals

    Since 1949 (All-Time)

    Record
    53.8% (21/39)

    Either team in game makes Finals
    60.5% (23/38) (19 Laker teams)

    Either team in game wins Finals
    28.9% (11/38) (10 Laker teams)

    If Lakers win Game
    55% (11/20) of Laker teams make Finals
    40% (8/20) of Laker teams win Finals

  17. Teeceezy, that must’ve involved alot of work what you did up there but I would rather see the teams play out the wins rather than bank on odds to make things happen.

    Minutes are going to eat up our health. Dwight needs more as he’s young and recovering, but our dinosaur backcourt needs all the help they can get. Guess where can we find this? Nowhere. Duhon and Morris are sleepwalking through their contracts, then we have excesses in the big man rotation which we are not utilizing properly. That said, why not send out our excesses for big time needs? Why do we try to enjoy a luxury that which isn’t applicable on the team, in lieu of getting the much-needed backcourt depth and support?

    We need to call someone, Mitch. I believe you KAHN do it.

  18. I know that management, per Marc Stein, have already looked at Delonte and concluded that the season has been unstable enough without having to make the moves to bring in Mr. West. But having an athletic ballhandler, who can shoot and defend capably is something we need to prevent Nash being ground into a shell by playoff time. Morris’ primary value is his defense and athleticism, and Duhon’s is in setting up the offense and having a bit more experience than Morris. We can have the best of both of these guys in Delonte, and while he’s lasted this long, he could be picked up at any time by another team. CDR was already someone we may have missed out on, but I think we need Delonte for the sake of Nash’s health. As much as this team is starting to find its groove, its little things like this that could end up being the difference between winning and losing next Spring.

  19. Am i the only one who found it incredibly amusing when Jeff Van Gundy was vocally pondering why they didn’t allow players to keep playing while bleeding – as he was announcing for THE LAKERS?!

    Maybe i just have a sick sense of humor.

  20. I really enjoyed a moment late in the 4th, with the Lakers needing a bucket, they (Nash?) just dropped it to Gasol low on the left block and let him have it at Carmelo. Obviously Gasol just used his body to push Carmelo backwards until he got fouled shooting the jump hook.

    This is the best thing about having Gasol play with Dwight. We can run the offense we want (all described above) and if everything breaks down you can just drop it to Gasol. No one will ever leave Nash and Kobe open and if the double team comes from Dwight’s man, Gasol can get the assist. And I don’t care if his stats are not what they used to be, as long as he’s on court, if the offense breaks down he should be our first option.

    Regarding bench play, I do believe that we need an extra wing defender. The bigs rotation is just fine and I believe that PG rotation is also fine. Remember that Nash will play 32-34 mpg so Duhon and Morris will get 10 mpg combined! As long as Morris keeps improving as a defensive player, I’m fine with that. What we do need is an athletic wing defender who doesn’t compromise the offense when MWP is on the bench. I thought Ebanks could be that guy but I’m having some doubts. Would any team take a combination of Duhon, Blake, Ebanks to give us that extra wing defender? Doubt it but I’m sure Kupchak is looking for it…

    On the downside, we needed a 5 game winning streak to get back to .500. I guess the “trade Gasol” camp must reconsider their stance…

  21. Cayucos,

    It’s not ironic. The basis for that regulation is a flawed understanding of how blood-borne infectious diseases are transmitted. So he reasonably asked why the rule was still in effect. It would be near impossible for diseases like HIV and Hepatitis to spread from MWPs scratch during the game or for him to contract an illness through that scratch. If there’s a deep wound, that might be different. But such wounds are very rare in the NBA.

  22. How about MWP for both 6th man of the year and Most Improved?

  23. Erring on the side of caution is not such a bad thing concerning the “blood” rule. It only takes a few seconds to stem the flow of blood in most cases. I can’t see that the rule hampers the flow of the game in any way.

  24. Saw a lot of good, subtle adjustments from MD’A during the game. He hid Nash on defense late in the game by having him cover Novak or Kidd. Knowing that those two players are mainly 3 pt. threats, he knew that Steve had the discipline to stay with them.

    Mike also abandoned the Morris/Melo matchup pretty quickly. Melo leads the league in first quarter scoring, and his blazing start in NY basically put the game out of reach early. After Metta came in, Carmelo didn’t score again in the first period.

    Mike’s utilization of Pau was also good. Pau opened up the floor early by taking a few threes, making one. His high post passing was rewarded with his being credited with 6 assists. And, being at the free throw line extended on offense allowed Pau the option of driving more. Of course, we all saw a few plays where Pau’s lack of aggression made him unable to finish at the rim, but c’est la vie. If Pau can develop just a little mean streak, it would serve him and his team well. There is no shame in giving a good hard foul or clearing space when double-teamed. It’s part of the game.

    Lastly, for the second game in a row, Nash was the primary ball handler down the stretch. Kobe did not force the action and it allowed him more energy on D. Most of Smith’s points came when Kobe was not on him.After starting 6 for 9 in the first half, JR only shot 4-14 in the second. That was in large part to Kobe dogging his trail. Kobe also stuck with Melo pretty well after Metta fouled out. Combined with an efficient 34 points, that was an All-NBA performance by the Mamba.

    All in all, a very good showing by The Show. No rest for the weary, though…the Nuggets await tonight. Hopefully, there will be no letdown as the Lakers attempt to climb above the .500 mark.

  25. Teeceezy: nice breakdown. Thanks.

    Bottom line, recent Lakers suck on Xmas, partly because they always play another marquee team, partly Xmas, partly they can’t handle noon games.

    Bottom line, any time Lakers win on Xmas, it’s like Xmas in my house!

  26. Kareem, Cayucos, Kenny T,
    You all have a point, but it is also true that the U.S. is full of regulations – like much of airport security – that make people feel better, but don’t have a lot of fact behind them.

    I.e. at the airport; there are European countries that have seen a lot more external terrorism than the U.S., but their security provisions a much less obvious and intrusive, while still being very effective.

    We seem to like big flourishes, not necessarily flourishes based in fact.

  27. Great win!!
    Thorough breakdown Phillip, thanks
    @KennyT: nice post dude

  28. They say that repetition breeds success. It worked for Robert in his constant urgings to sign Howard. Perhaps it will have the same effect for WWL who has not lost a recent opportunity to demand sending Pau out. Based on the last few performances though it is easy to see why he feels that way. But I am willing to see how Pau does after having more time on the floor with Nash & Co. Gasol’s authoritative drive down the lane and a beautiful dunk was long overdue and maybe a harbinger of positive things to come.

  29. @DieTryin’ : hope you´re right; i´m one of those who don´t favor trading away Pau – it´s hard to believe that he´s `done´ as a top performer (my apologies to all who´d disagree) and he´s a stand-up, class act; the kind of player our Lakers have always had –
    that timely dunk must´ve felt soooo good to him -
    bien hecho Pau, que sigas así!

  30. Die Tryin’: I am on your side as well. We spent a fortune putting this great roster together, and we must now make the most of it, which includes Pau. You can get younger or you can get better. You can’t do both at the same time, so trading Pau is code language for giving up on the title this year.

  31. I’m glad to see the Lakers pull out a quality win down the stretch against a good team. I loved the Steve Nash/Dwight Howard PNR action late in the 4th. The five game win streak has allowed them to get back to .500. I really hope they can build on it. Imagine a 10 game win streak…okay I’m getting ahead of myself.

    I can’t see trading Pau mid-season. The pieces coming back won’t have enough time to gel with the remaining players. The Lakers already have enough to figure out. Adding two new players who need a place in the rotation and defined roles is more trouble than they need.

  32. If the Lakers could move Pau in one of the long-rumored Minnesota deals, I think MDA would like it. Don’t know if Buss and Kupchak would want to do it, and I am not sure that Minnesota would.

    And I disagree that trading Pau is “giving up on the title,” Robert–not in this system with his current role and production with Nash and Howard. You need to pay attention to your own words–”stars win titles.” Nash and Howard are here now; Pau is the fourth-best guy on the team. But I am fine with just keeping him if they add another bench player.

    As is pointed out in the new thread, the Lakers’ schedule is both heavy and difficult over the next 30 days. Right now, we know that 4 teams will make the playoffs:

    Clippers, Spurs, Thunder, Grizzlies

    And that four teams won’t:

    Suns, Blazers, Kings, Hornets

    In between that are seven teams:

    Warriors. Wolves, Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, Lakers, Macvericks

    fighting for four spots.