Preview & Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

Darius Soriano —  January 9, 2013

Records: Lakers 15-19 (11th in the West), Spurs 27-10 (3rd in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 106.4 (6th in the NBA), Spurs 107.0 (5th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.7 (20th in the NBA), Spurs 98.7 (5th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Nash, Darius Morris, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Robert Sacre
Spurs: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter
Injuries: Lakers: Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, and Jordan Hill (all out); Spurs: none

The Lakers Coming in: Before I get into anything else, a huge congratulations to Steve Nash on notching his 10,000th assist last night. The 10K assist club is just as hard to gain entrance to as the 30K points club that Kobe entered earlier this season. Nash’s dime came on a P&R (of course) on a nifty bounce pass to Jamison, leading him right to the rim for an easy two. Nash has done that countless times his career and though he’s mostly been a rival to the team I root for, I’m proud to say he did this deed wearing the forum blue and gold. Like Kobe, Nash is a once in a generation player and watching him play each night has been a pleasure. Not just because of the passes and the tremendous skill he plays with, but the grittiness and competitiveness in which he plays, the toughness he exudes, and the leadership he brings to the table each night.

The Lakers fought hard against the Rockets last night, but still lost their 4th straight game. The injuries to the Lakers’ bigs really exposed light to a few different things. First is that in recent games none of the Lakers bigs (save for Jordan Hill) have played as hard as Robert Sacre played last night. Sacre is a limited athlete and his overall skill level isn’t especially high, but he’s smart and he plays hard for every second he’s in the game. Watching him throw his body around and sprint into his roll after setting a pick was a contrast to how Dwight and Pau have played lately. Some of that is likely health related, but it doesn’t make any less true.

Second, the Lakers’ defense really is substandard and not having those bigs back there to erase some of the drives to the paint showed how bad the situation really is. The Rockets scored 60 points in the paint and did so relatively easily without a lot of fast breaks fueling those numbers. After the game D’Antoni remarked that defensively the Lakers “couldn’t stay in front of anyone”. It really can’t be said better or more succinctly than that. The Lakers wings don’t do a good enough job of guarding players off the dribble and it leads to defensive breakdowns of all sorts on nearly every possession. Some of this is effort related but the other part of it is simply that the Lakers don’t have the defenders to do the job consistently. Even guys like Kobe and Ron can only slide with their man for a dribble or two before they give up the corner that turns into a driving lane.

So, here the Lakers are. Losers of 4 straight with little optimism on hand to make anyone think it will turn around anytime soon. I still believe this team can get it done, but with every loss (though these games with a gutted roster aren’t ones I can get too upset about) the hole only gets deeper and the time to turn it around only lessens.

The Spurs Coming in: You can look at the Spurs recent games two ways. Technically, they’ve lost two of three including their last game against the Hornets. However, the’ve also won 8 of their last 10. That translates to 7 straight wins before these recent hiccups. I’ll save you some trouble, the Spurs are a very good team who had a bad a couple of games recently. That happens to the good teams.

Every time the Lakers play the Spurs I find myself fawning over what they’ve been able to do over the years. Yes, the Lakers have the most recent championships, but the Spurs continue to play tremendous basketball year in and year out and always seem to be near the top of the standings. They do with a fantastic coach leading a group of selfless players who’s only goal seems to be to execute on each possession at the highest level possible. I’ve always had a respect for this team and what they’re doing this year only adds to that feeling.

Before I change gears, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the season that Tim Duncan is having. Did you know he’s right above Kobe in PER with a mark of 25.18? That in only 29 minutes a game he’s averaging over 17 points, nearly 10 rebounds, and a shade over 2 and a half blocks a game? That, for all intents and purposes, he’s playing as well as he has in 5 seasons? I only bring this all up because while we’ve been celebrating Kobe for his great year (and rightfully so), Duncan deserves that same type of recognition. Like our guy, Duncan is having a season for the ages at the tail end of his career. He’s out here showing why he’s one of the best to ever play the game. He may be a rival, but you have to respect and appreciate that.

Spurs Blogs: Check out 48 Minutes of Hell for great Spurs coverage.

Keys to game: Rather than exploring a bunch of X’s and O’s and trying to figure out a way the Lakers can win this game, let’s get this out of the way early: the Lakers will be hard pressed to win this game. The Lakers are undermanned at the positions they’d need to be healthy at in order to take advantage of this specific Spurs team who is strong on the wing but not as deep behind Duncan (thought Splitter is having a fine year). Furthermore, the Spurs have only lost 2 of their 16 home games and with the Lakers playing on the 2nd night of a back to back, the odds are really stacked against them.

Are there things the Lakers can do to win the game? Of course there are. They can defend the Spurs P&R game well but pushing the ball handler horizontally rather than giving up direct driving lanes. Then, the Lakers can close out on shooters to run them off the three point line (especially in the corner) and make the Spurs take pull up two-point jumpers against a hard closing defender. After all that, the Lakers can close defensive possessions with rebounds.

On offense, the Lakers could then take care of the ball by not committing turnovers. By playing free but precise basketball, the team would then create easy shots out of their own P&R situations and then move the ball on to open shooters when the defense collapses and rotates. Those open shooters would then hit their jumpers at a high clip, forcing more closeouts which would then cycle back to more ball movement to more open shooters.

All of this sounds great. And, of course, it could all play out that way. However, I bring you back to the point that the Lakers are severely undermanned, coming off a back to back, and facing one of the best teams in the league. So, what I’m really looking for is a team that will come in, play hard, and give the Spurs a fight until the end. If the game is close down the stretch, here’s hoping the collective playmaking and shotmaking of Kobe and Nash can turn what should be a loss into a win.

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

Darius Soriano

Posts

124 responses to Preview & Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

  1. I feel like a trade needs to happen by the end of the week or the season is done…it might be done regardless but they need to make a change because this team just isn’t good (with or without injuries). (edited for trade speculation)

  2. I think it was two seasons ago when the Lakers actually said to the press and the world at large that the team’s defensive procedure would be for the PG to funnel the opposing PG to the left and then pass him on to a wing defender, if need be, to channel the opposing PG down to the right (if facing the basket) baseline corner. And then the team defense would all react from there. I don’t think this team even has something as basic as that in place.

  3. LFL, I agree completely. Part of the reason why it’s so difficult to weigh in on the question of ‘who is most to blame’ for this debacle (MDA or the players) is that it’s difficult even to understand what we are *trying* to achieve on the defensive side of the ball. If I understood the concept or macro- approach, I would feel more comfortable evaluating whether its a system issue (MDA’s fault) or an execution/effort/athleticism issue (the players’ fault).

    Perhaps more basketball-savvy posters than I can help out here or maybe Darius can even devote some future FB&G real estate to the specific issue of the Lakers’ defensive strategy, which perhaps might include a discussion as to whether or they should consider going to a zone.

    They must be trying something… after all, two players leaving the ball-handler on the PNR who then waltzes in for layup could only happen if the players had some kind of larger concept in their head other than ‘stop the ball’, right? This sounds sarcastic, but I’m sincerely mystified. Or is it really as simple as man-to-man D and the Lakers screw up the switches? That’s hard for me to swallow– guys like Kobe, MWP and DH seem too smart for that.

  4. Defense went from 6th to 13th to 21st in the span of 3 years. Not sure how much of it is a system issue and how much is just age. The core is 3 years past the back2back titles and a few steps slower. MWP and Kobe have no real chance at keeping anyone in front of them and Pau gets beat running back pretty regularly now.

  5. It is time to face reality. As long as the parameter players are Kobe, MWP and Nash, there will be penetration with little resistance and poor rotation to shooters. Furthermore, Gasol who was always slow to begin with, has lost whatever agility he had and is slow to get back or rotate to the open man also. No matter how much time these guys have together, they physically cannot produce athleticism and speed that is required to be a good defensive team these days. A coaching/system change will help a little bit with these deficiencies, but not nearly enough to reach championship-contending levels.
    MWP is having his best season with the Lakers statistically, so the management should try to gauge what they can get for him, as he was previously untradable with his current contract and poor play. It is unlikely that the Lakers will have any takers for Gasol with his declining production and huge contract plus the trade kicker. The only team that maybe interested in Gasol is probably Toronto, but only because they want to dump Bargnani, who is one of the worst defenders in the league with a bad contract, so I don’t see the Lakers going for that.
    The only other Laker players with any trade value are Meeks and Jamison given their inexpensive contracts, unless the Lakers cut their losses with Howard before he leaves this summer, which is becoming more and more likely as the record gets worse and worse. But, from a PR standpoint, I just can’t see how the Lakers can bring themselves to even think about trading Howard, after months and years of trying to get him. They will probably gamble and see if he walks this summer or not, and if he does, well, that is 19 million off your payroll right there!
    I think the Lakers will use their amnesty option in the offseason, either on Gasol, MWP, or Blake, if they are still in a Laker uniform.
    It looks like we are stuck between a rock and a hard place for the next couple of years!

  6. time like this, I wish Lakers actually know how to play zone defense…..something that can cancel some of their issue with penetration….

  7. Radmd is right. The perimeter defenders are the first line of defense. And they can’t stop anyone. Steve and Kobe’s ages may not show as much on offense. But defensively they are dinosaurs. In today’s NBA there is just too much speed in the backcourt. The Lakers guards get taken off the dribble so quickly the big men are left constantly scrambling to make up for it. Last night Harden and Lin repeatedly get past their primary defenders. It is one thing to need the bigs to help. It is another to basically need them to guard your man for you.

    I don’t mind the Lakers losing tonight. I just want to see them leave it all on the floor. At this point pride may be the only thing left to play for.

  8. OT: Looks like the Sonics are coming back. Too bad its at the expense of the Kings.

    http://nba.si.com/2013/01/09/sacramento-kings-sale-seattle-maloofs-steve-ballmer-chris-hansen/?sct=hp_t2_a3&eref=sihp

  9. @lilPau: hope Darius and the posters pick up on your doubts about defensive startegy as I don´t get what´s going either on in that regard. That said, I´d prefer zone at this point –
    Darius, nice shout-outs to Gatsby, Duncan & Sacre –
    Give `em hell tonight Lakers!

  10. Kobe Alert: At tip off KB will tie D Mutombo for 28th on the games list. Derek Harper is up next on this list. He needs 16 FG’s to catch A English for 8th, so that could be done tonight : ) Chris Webber predicted 45 shots last night. KB only needs 44 tonight to catch Wilt for 6th all time. KB is honing in on Steve Nash for 10th on the 3 pointers list. He trails him by 52 and since Nash is not taking too many : ) Kobes needs 2 Defensive Rebounds to move into 70th on that list. This Laker quandary is not going to help KB’s legacy for a number of reasons. After the last title, it was a forgone conclusion that KB would own many of the playoff records before he was retired. A couple of 2nd round exits, followed by this year, puts a new outlook on that. In any case whether the Laker Kingdom is filled with feast or famine, it is a Kingdom over which KOBE RULES !

  11. I never thought I could tolerate Bruce Bowens’ ESPN podcast but everything he has said about the Lakers I’ve agreed with since the podcast launch. I hope that doesn’t make me some kind of Spur sympathizer. Maybe if the Lakers can can out to a 7 point lead earlier in the 1st, Pop will rest his starters and only play the concession stand workers.

  12. lil pau: As I have been saying to rr, the blame game becomes a chicken or egg situation. With the recent injuries, we will never know. Some of us are convinced that we made the wrong coaching move and we think we have the results to back us up. Others are going to point to the fact that we are snake bit, the roster is flawed, and the injuries. However for humor, let’s look at some history. In 1999 the Lakers had what was supposed to be a team that was going to contend for a championship. We had a dynamic duo at the top of the roster (Shaq + KB), we had some old guys (Harper, Rice), we had a lazy forward who just wanted to score and did not really want to play D (Horry), and we had a few guys who people were questioning whether they should be in the league or not (Fisher, Fox, Lue). The team’s motivation was questioned, Shaq and KB were called prima donnas, and the rest of the roster was trashed as old or no good (especially guys like Harper, Rice, and Fox). Then in 2000 we kept our dynamic duo, we kept our old guys and added three more in the form of Shaw, Green, and Salley, everyone got a year older (sans Kobe we were not a young team in 2000 – and we added H Grant later in 2001), Horry got even lazier. All of this, and yet we won the title. We did make one other change which I think you remember : ) Had we not won the title that year, Shaq and Kobe would have been called undisciplined and not tough enough, and the rest would have been called old/washed up. Again chicken or egg? I am sure Del’s agent would have made a good case that none of this was his fault.
    Clearly I think Sacre can waive a towel as well as John Salley if that is what the difference is : )

  13. @Hale

    Even the bench of the Spurs can defeat this lakers.

  14. darius: glad to hear you are back. hope all has been resolved for now.

    same for lakers.

    not likely tonite vs spurs but one can hope.

    Go Lakers

  15. Go Kobe! Score 50 points!

    And Lakers, lets hold them under 120 points, that’s a start!

  16. @Hale – `Maybe if the Lakers can can out to a 7 point lead earlier in the 1st, Pop will rest his starters and only play the concession stand workers.´
    LOL !!

  17. As soon as the Lakers get a rebound they have to look for Nashty. Good defense by Darius, I like his defense. Metta has to get Nash the ball and run the floor.

  18. The Lakers have to slow the game down and pass the ball from side to side. They are offensively challenged, so it does not matter if they shoot SSOL. Lakers misses just mean that the Spurs will score 120 points by games end.

    Pass the ball around, please. Make the defense work, it’s the only way to win. And, then play some doggone defense.

    If they didn’t listen to Mike Brown by the way they played, then they sure are not listening to D’Antoni except everyone thinks they can shoot the ball.

    Bring back Bickerstaff campaign.

  19. So much space nash to survey. Pau has to come off bench when he returns.

  20. Meeks and Jamison probably won’t make the all defensive team.

    Were these guys the best free agents available?

    Blablabla

  21. Every game there’s a run out when Jodie is on the floor. In a three guard lineup with Kobe and Nash the most likely candidate to run back when Nash penetrates or Kobe shoots is Meeks. Jodie is not a player with a high BBIQ, he is not bothering to make hustle plays anymore.

  22. This current lineup cannot hope to compete with anyone, let alone SAS, unless they play at about two notches above the other team from an energy standpoint–not seeing it so far.

  23. Nash is disappointing in general – he tries to play balanced and democratic games

    TO – to Sacre in middle of 3 players
    taking an AIR ball
    another play when he want to FIND Sacre – our offensive prowess!

  24. I am so over Meeks. This guy once started for Philly? How is that possible.

  25. It is a testament to the power of low expectations that I’m pleasantly surprised that LAL is still in this after one. After looking really sieve-like early, the D even looked a little better at times…

  26. the only good play by Meeks is with his own mouthpiece – in out, in out…

    he scores every time he puts it IN

  27. Sad if even Nash is unsure about this season…talking about coming together might take the summer? (reported out of context?) Guess Kobe is the only warrior who actually believes the Lakers can pull this together. That determination and belief is what made him what he is today.

    Come on Mitch – do your magic as this is about to crash and burn!!

  28. is dantoni trying to put the all star no defense team out there? nash, duhon and jamison all out there at the same time? really? morris doesn’t deserve some more minutes after playing great defense the first quarter? i’m shaking my head at these decisions.

  29. Kobe’s got to stop trying to jump up right in the air trying to intercept the ball right after a turnover. Just get back and play fundamental defense. This consistent gambling is really hurting our transition defense, as he seems to be doing it now more than ever.

  30. Earl Clark is playing like a guy who believes he belongs out there and it’s translating into some success. He’s making a ton of mistakes too, especially on the defensive end, but he isn’t playing tentatively, and he’s hustling.

  31. And how about Earl Clark taking it to Tony Parker on the fast break?

  32. The Lakers are looking good on defense and hustling tonight I like what I’m seeing

  33. I love Sacre. He is so bad, but at least he plays hard every play and plays with passion.

  34. A positive is that in Earl Clark we’ve found another forward to throw in the mix.

  35. Wow Kobe taking charge. I’ve seen that twice in the last 7 years.

  36. Taking a* charge.

  37. Nash is not as smart as we seem to give him credit for. I love the guy but he’s trying to dump hard passes to Sacre. Really?

  38. I wish, Mike would just ask Kobe to lead by example on defense, and then take over in the fourth quarter, like how he was in the Olympic.

  39. @Chearn – that´s right, nice first half Clark´s had as well

  40. Sure seems like worst defenders on the team this year is:

    Jamison
    Meeks
    Kobe

    Where is Sasha and Murphy when you need them?

    Thats a joke of course.

  41. Not a bad half, I saw the same happen last night only for it to vanish though. We’ve got to keep the intensity up for 4 quarters.

  42. not only are the lakers bad…but they have no exciting up and comers…now way of getting better..and generally boring to watch.

    kobe winning the scoring title is the only reason to watch

  43. Earl Clark two games 32 minutes 13 rebounds. This is why wanted this kid all along in a trade. Too bad we could not get Ryan Anderson too when we traded for Dwight.

  44. Remember how Phil’s version of LA always seemed to finish quarters well? Another bad finish to a quarter in the second.

  45. They are making fun of Lakers on ESPN.

    That’s not very nice.

  46. is really Nash making plays for Sacre?

    he is not Amare 2008/2010!

  47. Gosh does Morris stink.

    I am even looking forward to Blake these days.

  48. @KOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    of course it is

    it is laughable:
    Jimmy Buss
    DuhTony
    Nash to Sacre
    Duh OFF!

  49. we have Kobe and nobody else does

  50. Mamba scores buckets like a boss!

  51. Robert

    Your the best!

    If you were the last guy on the titanic you would just say ” great, more food and wine for me!

  52. cant believe we replaced mike brown with mike Antoni….i dont even see strategy….just players standing around

  53. I have ten bucks that says Kobe got T’d up on purpose just to get mad…..

  54. Kobe is pretending to play defense, then going full bore on offense and not looking for teammates.

  55. Kobe would spend the same amount of energy arms length frim his man as when he stands 5 feet from him. At least 12 points off 3s from kobe’s man.

  56. Kobe with an amazing basket.

  57. Some very strange officiating going on right now.

  58. Who is our coach?

    Rashid Wallace?
    Dennis Rodman?

    Lots of discipline on MD team.

    Phil would have pulled Morris on the spot and sent him to the D league the same day.

    They are trying at least.

  59. Might have a chance of winning this game if the refs could grasp that Gino ran into Clark and Sacre stripped him as well. That, and these ridiculous T calls.

  60. Earl Clark. Lakers legend.

  61. Tough kobe 3. Open kawhi 3. Tough kobe 3. Open green 3. Tough kobe shot. Open kawhi 3. Everything cancels out and it’s so frustrating because these mistakes are easily fixable by sticking to his man.

  62. Wow! Earl Clark is playing pretty well. He is exactly the kind of player that Nash loves to play with.

  63. Sacre missing everything and Nash still setting him up! …
    for failure

    does Nash have a BB IQ?

  64. It’s not only Kobe leaving his guy to help out. He’s not in the game and I am still seeing wide open 3’s by Spurs shooters.

  65. Despite this clearcut undermatch, I like what I see in Earl Clark. He’s a tougher Ariza less the 3pt range.

  66. Open jackson 3. Comical crap defense. 15 yr vets can’t play fundamental ball.

  67. Big night for Earl Clark fantasy owners.

  68. Kooo: Thanks. I would make sure I was drinking only the top shelf stuff from your warehouse !

  69. does Nash have a BB IQ?

    This is sort of like asking if Einstein had a scientific IQ. Nash is about getting everybody involved; that is what he says and that is what he does. He probably should be looking for his shot more with this team, but he is going to try to set up the other guys, from Kobe to the scrubs.

  70. Lakers give up another wide open 3.

  71. Clark layup. Open jackson 3. Miss. Open jackson 3. WWWWWWTTTTTTTTFFFFFFFF

  72. Earl clark is pretty good. Kobe is not playing defense because hes tired. His shots aren’t going in either.

  73. Spurs hit nearly every one of their open 3’s and the Lakers miss most of theirs. It’s a make or miss league boys and girls. Perhaps if we played a little better defense, then we could run these guys off the line, but they’re just hitting all of their open shots.

  74. Well at least LA made it all the way to the fourth before the “one really horrible quarter” reared its ugly head again….

  75. Spurs getting wide open shots, we’re always challenged offensively. Lots of contested shots.

  76. @rr
    does Nash have a BB IQ? This is sort of like asking if Einstein had a scientific IQ. Nash is about getting everybody involved; that is what he says and that is what he does.
    ——–

    really. that does not mean that is the RIGHT strategy!

    looks like he finds open only the scrubs: sacre and Jamison!

    im sure that is the strategy to WIN

  77. It’s so weird. Every time someone makes a a wide open 3 it’s Kobe’s man. What a weird coincidence!

    Clark who had not payed in 2 months might be the best bench guy. Nice job there Mike Daaaaaaaa.

  78. We need a defensive leader.

  79. Questioning Steve Nash’s BB IQ is like questioning Shaq’s strength…

  80. rr: funny you bring up Einstein. I was just thinking about “chemistry” We of course are not playing with a full table of elements here, but Nash clearly does not appear to be blending well in this Laker testube.

  81. im sure that is the strategy to WIN

    SA is shooting 50% from the floor and 50% from 3. The Lakers simply are far too weak on D to be a good NBA team, even though the offense, with Nash, is quite good.

  82. people who don’t know Kobe, doesn’t know that you have to dive when he stay alone…..not stay there and stand most of the time….thinking he want ISO all the freaking time…

  83. Wow! That was a turn of events…. I’m pleasantly surprised that they are calling T’s on the Spurs, as well.

  84. Coaches, players and Gary Vitti should be talking nothing but DEFENSE, DEFENSE!

  85. Attention Lakers. SAS let down just a wee bit early in this one. If you make up your mind you want to play defense for the last three minutes and thirty-nine seconds of this game, you might just give yourself a chance.

  86. Look at those career FT stats for Nash – no wonder KB fianlly let someone else take a ech

  87. but Nash clearly does not appear to be blending well in this Laker testube.

    Nah. The “chemistry” stuff is way overblown. Here is a piece of information from Zach Lowe at Grantland.com:

    ___

    The Lakers have clearly been more organized since Nash’s return. Their top lineup — the four stars, plus World Peace — is scoring much more efficiently than Oklahoma City’s league-best offense and outscoring teams by nearly 10 points per 100 possessions, despite massive defensive issues.
    —–

    The problem with Nash is that he, like everyone on the team except Howard and in some matchups, Metta, is a slow and/or poor defender. Add that to a bad defensive coach, a bad bench, and injuries, and here we are. But Nash is as good as ever on O and is fitting in fine.

  88. Earl CLARK!

  89. So Clark has been hiding on the bench all this time. Go figure.

  90. As I said, Earl Clark. Lakers legend.

  91. T., yes, he’s been hiding from three coaches in plain sight. I like his swagger, too.

  92. but Nash clearly does not appear to be blending well in this Laker testube.

    Nah. The “chemistry” stuff is way overblown. Here is a piece of information from Zach Lowe at Grantland.com:

    ___

    The Lakers have clearly been more organized since Nash’s return. Their top lineup — the four stars, plus World Peace — is scoring much more efficiently than Oklahoma City’s league-best offense and outscoring teams by nearly 10 points per 100 possessions, despite massive defensive issues.
    —–

    The problem with Nash is that he, like everyone on the team except Howard and in some matchups, Metta, (and maybe Clark) is a slow and/or poor defender. Add that to a bad defensive coach, a bad bench, and injuries, and here we are. But Nash is as good as ever on O and is fitting in fine.

  93. good effort

  94. I wish Nash had taken that, off a set-up from Kobe, just to cross them up a little.

  95. I’m not normally one for moral victories, but hey….they were a handful of blown defensive rotations from maybe winning this game without their 3 bigs. Man this team is really short on shooters.

  96. Robin: not a whole lot of Earl Clark fantasy owners out there.

  97. Did kobe break that off or was that the play?

  98. no Gasol no Howard

    Lakers play with more heart!

    FO should consider

    no more Nash to scrubs!

  99. agreed rr – we need a little more aggressiveness from Nash for sure

  100. It looked like d’antoni ran the play kobe hit nash for 3 with earlier in game. Bad play call.

  101. So close, nice comeback attempt, almost pulled out the win.

  102. 8 games this season decided by 6 points or less. I can’t remember this many 1 and 2 possession games going against us in seasons combined. This is agonizing. Hope Earl Clark can make a difference, might lead to less bad MWP shots in the last 3 minutes of games.

  103. Undermanned but not without effort, we don’t get any points for effort though. We simply have to start winning games.

    Big shout-out to Earl Clark, on that showing he should be getting game time. I don’t care if this means Gasol getting less play time.

  104. I don’t believe in moral victories, but at least LA didn’t go in the tank–and they played some D down the stretch for the first time in god knows how long.

    Three thoughts.

    1. Artest is starting to convince me he has turned back the clock–especially on offense (he had seven steals tonight too)
    2.I realize that it’s just one game—but I think Earl Clark deserves some serious burn even after the three bigs return.
    3. D12 and Pau need to look at this game and realize—crap—if we all play that hard (warts and all) when we get back in the lineup–we could actually start doing something.

  105. funny how Metta always comments about being balanced

    but when the ball goes to him there r only 2 black hole decisions:
    1. shoot a 3
    2. make some bone headed play

    that fast break and no pass to Kobe
    being blocked by the RIM again!

  106. Unfortunately when Gasol n Howard come back, this hustle n passion will be gone. I know this tho, after this loss, we ain’t gonna hear anything about someone saying “I need touches in the post” or “people gotta help the helper”.
    Clark n Sacre are out there straight hustling and balling to the best of their ability. Props to them two Lakers tonight.

  107. Earl Clarrk can be better than Hill – especially on offense.

    he needs a chance!

  108. Earl Clark. Better defense than Jamison, better offense than Ebanks. Too many useless players on the squad. Duhon, Meeks, Jamison, Sacre, Blake. Can these guys get packaged for someone decent?!

  109. Kevin,

    No way to know, but I would like to see Nash taking some end-of-gamers.

    Simonoid,

    Indeed–hence the joke. There will be more EC Fantasy owners by this time tomorrow.

  110. Lakers don’t come close to winning this game had pau played. Clark and sacre energy make pau expendable.

  111. So lakers have to ask themselves how do we play with the sam intensity and heart when we get back Gasol and Howard.

  112. This proves how much of a better team the Lakers are without Pau, period. Done and over with, no need to discuss it. Pau is just not the guy for this team, plain and simple.

  113. Kevin, you speak the truth. When Gasol comes back, we’re gonna lose the hustle, rebounds and the fight, part of the player/game that Clark n Sacre bring.

  114. I really enjoyed watching tonight’s game though. I love guys who play with heart and passion, even if they are not good, and that is what we saw tonight. I hope Gasol and Howard were watching closely at tonight’s game.

  115. MO of this team: Fight hard against superior teams for a close loss, don’t try against mediocre teams for a bigger loss.

    If they fought harder against mediocre teams and allowed more blowouts against superior ones, at least they’d be in the standings, instead of heading towards the lottery without a 1st round pick.

  116. Proud of the effort of a lethally decimated Lakers team, once the defense tied up in the4th that made a run, pisses me off to no end that ” analysts” are talking about the Lakers not making the playoffs in freaking January 9, the Lakers have to play with this effort every minute of every game. And for the love of Baal, Earl Clark needs to be on the rotation ASAP. Huge contest against OKC we need to pull that one out somehow. This have to be rock bottom only one way to go, UP. We need hustle

  117. On MWP he make two hugely stupid plays that cost us the game, no question about that

  118. Rr: I agree on nash. D’antoni ran that same play at least 3 times in 2nd half. Same spot too. Should’ve variated a bit. Loss on d’antini.

  119. Great to see the Lakers refuse to quit. But, the lack of defense is mind boggling. In order to play good defense, a team has got to be physical. The Lakers are probably last in the league in hard fouls. That needs to change. Knock somebody down!

    Earl Clark looked good. Hope it was more than just a fluke. Lord knows, the Lakers can use another player off the bench. Would love to see Earl continue to step up.

    Nash doesn’t appear to have the same ability to create his own shot as he had in the past. Of course missing almost 1/3 of the season with a broken leg might have something to do with that. So might his age. Hopefully, as he rounds into shape, we’ll see better results from him.

    I hope Pau and Dwight were watching and saw the effort their teammates gave tonight. They’ve got to bring it like that when they return. The team needs them in the worst way.

  120. Interesting that Clark might have been traded or released on Jan. 15. Makes you wonder who is evaluating talent. Clearly he is much better then Jamison, Meeks, Eubanks, Sacre etc who have gotten more minutes this year.

    Buried at the end of the bunch to to MVP of the game.

  121. I am desperately hoping that Clark can help but as noted–it is ONE game. Jamison put up a 33/12 once this year, too.

  122. I didn’t like the last predictable shot by Bryant, they could have run something better than that, not a good shot at all! It was nice to see something new for a change. I think the play of guys like Earl Clark is a clear sign to management, it’s time for some change! The Lakers need young hungry players who want to play more selfless teamball and don’t constantly worry and talk about their ALPHA-MALE complexes!

  123. gasol is more of facial expression (appearing emotional) and complaining than work and action

  124. “I am desperately hoping that Clark can help but as noted–it is ONE game”

    He was the 14th pick of his draft. He is Lamar Part Deux, i.e., someone who started out as a 6 foot guard then sprouted like Jack’s beanstalk. So like Lamar, his “problem” is that he still has a guard’s mind in a forward’s body. If the team has any sense, they’ll get James out of the studio and find some former stud PF as well, and teach him the SF and PF game (since he can probably play both). He is otherwise, as we’ve seen, a good rebounder, and I have it on reliable authority that he’s a good shot blocker as well. If they do what I suggest, and it works, he’ll be the steal of that trade. Let me leave you with a good piece on Earl:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/6603/what-we-think-we-know-about-earl-clark

    And on that note, Magic too leaves the booth and Dodgersland for a moment here and there, to help hone his passing and instill that fierce desire to compete.

    Or that’s what I would I do if I was team management.