Lakers/Raptors: Sunday Afternoon Blues Continue

Rey Moralde —  January 20, 2013

This is a broken record. And as we get deeper into the season, the losses get more and more alarming.

It was another game by the Lakers where they would get killed in the first 40 minutes or so before they decide that they would get semi-serious. They were down by 19 in the fourth quarter before the Lakers were able to cut it to single digits. Predictably, like much of the season, the Lakers lost again to the score of 108-103.

Dwight Howard got ejected in the second quarter after getting in a minor tie-up with the Raptors’ Alan Anderson. Since Howard got a technical previously, that second technical sent him to the showers and to the locker room, where he probably giggled and played with some Power Ranger action figures. He looked horrid and seemingly uninterested out there. And I get that it’s a Sunday afternoon game, something NBA players aren’t used to, but, at 17-22 (now 17-23), the Lakers have no room for error this deep into the season.

The ejection of Dwight Howard made room for Pau Gasol. Gasol, predictably, had his best offensive game of the season at 25 points but he couldn’t stop anyone defensively. In fact, the entire team really couldn’t stop anyone defensively for most of the game as they were being beaten by backdoor cuts (PRINCETON OFFENSE, OH MY GOD) and surgically dissected by Jose Calderon (who had six of his nine assists in that all-important third quarter).

The 50-50 balls were mostly going to the Raptors. Landry Fields had a fantastic game, shooting 8 for 11 and getting 18 points, 10 boards, and 4 steals. At times, it seemed like the Lakers were just completely hung over from a fun Saturday night in Canada. No energy to start the game (down 19-4 early) and, sometimes, acting like trees on defense with the dinosaurs running around them.

Kobe Bryant came to life in the fourth quarter but was just off the entire game, finishing 10 of 32 with 26 points. His back-to-back threes in the fourth got the Lakers back into the game but, again, the Lakers have been a bigger tease than Kate Upton in a staring contest (I’m not putting the link here; I might get in trouble). Earl Clark, for stretches, was the best Laker on the court, ending with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Steve Nash had a good game, too, with 16 points and 9 assists but was countered by Calderon’s wizardry (22 points, 9 assists) throughout the game. Miraculously, the Lakers only turned the ball over 13 times.

The Lakers couldn’t stop guys like Ed Davis (18 points, 8 rebounds), Alan Anderson (14 points, 8 assists, 3 steals, and helping Dwight get ejected), and even Aaron Gray early on, who outplayed Dwight Howard for a bit. Again, it’s a broken record at this point. What else is there to say? Yes, they looked good against Miami but once again, the Lakers have taken three steps back.

This is sad. Try to enjoy another sport. Like football. The NFC title game is going on at the moment.

Enjoy your extended weekend, everyone.

Rey Moralde


to Lakers/Raptors: Sunday Afternoon Blues Continue

  1. I think trades are necessary just to jump start these underachievers. They just mail in every game. No sense of urgency or pride.

    Pau makes too much money to come off the bench but that’s where he belongs. He needs to post to score because he’s too slow on D to get back after his long misses. He’s terrible against the pick and roll. He has no lateral movement. Too slow.

    Kobe is too old to try and play like Kobe of old. Stop jacking up shots and run the offense.

    The tem misses Jordan Hill.


  2. Dont blame fish January 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Dont panic people, a new season starts tomorrow.


  3. As I mentioned on Laker talk I feel Pau is starting to increase his trade value. Teams need to see the guy can still play. Love to see Caldron or Lowery here. I put my big mouth on the line and promise u all a major move by all star game.


  4. The NY Laker was lucky enough to take in today’s game live at Air Canada Center.

    Simply put, I came away disappointed. In terms of the ejection, the Lakers appeared better off without Dwight. He looked like he was sleep walking, not impacting the game at all in any area. Earl Clark was fantastic, Pau was good offensively and Kobe, although struggling to score, played with great spirit.

    The overall performance was lethargic. The Lakers play with little urgency. Toronto played hungry and inspired. Assuming the defensive effort continues to be minimal it may be time to sit in a zone. At least that may limit lay ups…..Toronto had a field day shooting lay ups.


  5. I guess tearing my eyes out would be futile… at least I got to see the game live here in Europe. Thank you Lakers!


  6. harvey M from prior thread: “Bottom line, the sum needs to be greater than the parts.”
    Exactly what I have been saying all along. We are less than the sum of our parts. We pay a guy to specifically maximize the sum of or parts. No it is not all his fault, but this is his primary responsibility.

    We have the leading scorer and leading rebounder in the league – this is unprecedented.

    And rr: If you want to respond with regard to the middle of the roster – well there is a guy responsible for that as well.


  7. Robert,

    It’s a combination of things, but the biggest issue is still the defense. That is partly a personnel problem and partly a coaching problem.

    It doesn’t matter if you have the “leading scorer and the leading rebounder in the league” if your team is 20th in defensive rating and 26th in PPG allowed. Toronto shot 54% from the field today.


  8. 13 more losses guys and we’re done.


  9. since the theme of the post is broken record, it must again be said that Pau or D12 has to go. they are totally ineffective on the floor together and the chemistry on the team is awful. I really hope Mitch is exploring deals and pulls the trigger soon. obviously, the reason Pau is always mentioned is that the Lakers want to build around D12, but he doesn’t seem to have a championship mentality at all. if no trade is made there is 100% chance they will miss the playoffs, which is already at about 85%.


  10. Laker fan since 1969. This is the most uninspired team in my memory. The whole thing with Dwight is a bust, you can’t dump the ball into the post and expect anything, no matter how much they try, see Miami game. Slow or not, Pau is a center, and can produce points.

    Management wise, you don’t get better by getting older. Draft picks are gone with not much to show for them. Jamison is a shell of his former self, at least he’s playing for (I believe) the minimum. Poor Meeks can’t get any time after having some good games. Earl Clark is buried on the bench, and turns out to be a decent player. Artest? Nash? Ebanks? What happened to him, you’re telling me he can’t defend and board for 10-12 minutes a night? Solid efforts, but the miles are piling up. Poor decisions all around, who’s running this circus?

    Hindsight is perfect of course, but should have given Kobe the option of going to NY/or Philly to end his career – or stay during rebuild- and blown this thing up. Looking at the players they could have drafted and didn’t (or traded) is sickening.

    Anybody else kind of miss Ramon Sessions?

    If season started after the Miami game, I think it ended today. Sad.


  11. The Lakers have 2 starters in the All Star game for a league leading 26th time. Further, this is not 2 fluke all stars. We are talking about the league wide leading guys at their respective positions (and deservedly so). Of the previous 25 times we did this, we made the Finals 19 times, or 76% of the time (winning 10 titles). The other 7 times, we made the playoffs. The number of times we had 2 all star starters and missed the playoffs in our entire history = Zero. Since 1978, there have been 51 teams who have had 2 All star starters, and only one of those had a losing record (that was the Yao Rockets which was an internet special – Shaq should have been the starter). Like all statistics, this does not absolutely “prove” anything. However, if this is not a decent piece of supporting evidence that our sum is less than our parts, I don’t know what is. We have 2 big parts and throughout the history of the NBA, this has been a winning formula. Blame could be placed in many places: The FO, Kobe, DH, Pau, SN, Coaching (my favorite), or a blend of all of these; one thing can’t be argued: we have found a way to lose with a combination at the top of the roster, that has almost always won throughout the history of the league.


  12. Robert,
    We get it buddy–you hate D’Antoni. But he is not going anywhere, at least until after the season. Repeating/implying it every day doesn’t really help much, conceding that we all repeat ourselves.

    And the fact that the fans voted Kobe and Howard into the ASG again really has nothing to do with the team’s issues. The Lakers have too many guys with defense/athleticism issues, they have system/personnel issues, and they have skill/weakness overlap problems. All of these issues have lead to chemistry issues. Focusing on who the guys in the ASG are is sort of like saying you have a great poker hand because you have an Ace and a King like you did the other times you won.

    I have already said what I think MDA should do–run a 10-man rotation with a Nash/Howard unit and a Kobe/Pau unit and have Howard and Pau on the floor together only about 10-15 min a game. Since he isn’t going to do that, tviper is right: either Howard or Pau has to go.


  13. Robert

    It’s a combination of all them plus having too many useless pieces and perinial losers on the team. They lack the heart of a champion. Matt Barnes is missed, Jordan Hill will be missed, and not getting a good back-up for Nash and Kobe kicks our butts. Hungry players win championships, not entitled ones.


  14. rr: Please re-read my post. Yes – I say that coaching is my favorite thing to blame, just like the “middle of the roster” is yours. My stats (geez – you could have at least given me credit for the incredible stats that you will not find easily), merely say that this is a combo that has always won and we are not winning. With regard to your poker hand example: Ace/King is a winning hand, and most people win money with it over the long run. If a poker player told me he was consistently losing with that hand – my conclusion would be that he was not a very good player and was not playing the hand very well. So – I agree – good example : )


  15. Before we make any trades – you must ask yourself – are we able to salvage the year, and how much can a trade help us – this year. Can we still win it all? If your answer is no, then why not wait. Are we going to get a better deal now for some reason? Also, do we know what next year’s team looks like until we see what happens with DH?


  16. Well. Howard shouldn’t be an all-star anyway.


  17. RR – No see we all hate dantoni and after his stint in LA he may be out of the league as a coach because he has now completely lost 2 teams and has alienated top talet in both LA and New York – if u own a team hiring dantoni now becomes a knock against the franchise if they are looking to sign a top guy in the offseason which will include us – would you really be surprised if Howard made a dantoni firing a condition of his resigning if that is what he just did in Orlando – if Howard and the rest of the team is complaining about the lack of defensive ability on the team wouldn’t DA do something – he’s garbage


  18. Robert

    I agree it is the front office. They hugely overrated:
    Dwights basketball IQ.
    Nash’s age vs talent in a league of very talented PGs.l
    Metta current D(replay Miami game)
    Pau’s ability to have the speed/strength to play PF
    Both coaches ability to adjust and gain respect.

    This was all caused by a FO that based their team completely off of stats. This team is a top 3 team in fantasy basketball. That is how
    Jimmy must have chosen the moves. Heart does not translate to fantasy teams. You can’t measure IQ and a winners mentality. Guts like Barnes, Fisher, LO etc don’t look great on paper. Paper never
    wins. No way Jerry West puts this team togeather. That’s why scouts and guys who understand the making of a team matter

    The keague has changed. It’s faster, younger and more athletic.
    None of these describe this team. Sure a Pop or a Chicago like coach
    Or even a Sloan would make a difference but can Kobe and Dwight play for those controlling style coaches! No I feel. The only answer in my opinion is to start all over. New GM, new coach who knows how
    to win. I feel Pau goes, Metta goes, Dwight is not resigned, Nash becomes a tutor and a 25 minute guy and every bench player but Clark is gone. Otherwise this team will remain a .500 team the
    next few years. Not that I am a genius but after going to 5 preseason games and sitting on the floor with former NBA player friends I declared this was a ,500 team. Clearly even I was over predicting their ability.

    The current front office should go back tobplaying fantasy basketball and leave building winners to professionals.


  19. IT,

    I agree, with your analysis more or less. But overall, the rotation is not that far from what you suggest. i.e. Pau and DH are not on the floor that much together, and you can’t just run those 2 units, as what does that mean minute wise? Nash, kobe, Pau and DH playing 26 mins each? that would be a disaster. (i.e. not enough PT for the better players). So there needs to be mixing and matching.

    I think we are on the way to Pau at around 28 mins= 14-15 mins when DH is on the bench and 12-15 mins together. The only thing different about the rotation is that Nash and Kobe are closely linked in substitution patterns as presumably he wants to run the two together more, than we might like. Pau/Nash did seem to be pretty good offensively as Pau is a more willing roll man and passer and Nash is ok if the big also is just flat out effective in the post, which is less of the case with DH. So to me the way I would look at the rotation is that the substitution between Nash and Kobe should be tweaked to get more skill on the floor with the second unit, so that there is at least some time where Nash is with the second unit, and maybe Pau, but no Kobe to save Kobe for other situations.

    My overall take, is that this is still a philisophical divide. Nash/Dantoni representing pure offensive efficiency, with no (EVER) forced shots (and generally stellar chemistry where poorer skilled players over-acheive) and the old lakers representing less offensive efificiency being compensated by better rebounding/defence, more of a power ball orientation and more steals, leading to run outs. In theory, the hope was we would have the best of both worlds, with the offensive efficiency, chemistry and shooting charachterized by the Nash/dantoni complex, AND the better defence of DH, and the old laker regime, with some added ISO ball to help particularly in the closing of games, when defences tighten and the PNR is shut down. So far its been a little like the worst of both worlds. Above average but not stellar offensive efficiency and poor defence in general. While some despair is probably appropriate, I do think that best of both worlds could be out there, especially with some roster tweaks


  20. Are we going to get a better deal now for some reason?

    Sure–because other teams’ needs change over time and because Pau may decline further. For example, Houston and Minnesota don’t need Pau nearly as much now as they did last year. There is no guarantee of a better deal either now, or later.

    Also, you can’t base every move on “winning it all.” You need to base every move on “Does this make the team better without compromising long-term plans.” If they can trade Pau for some workable pieces without materially damaging the cap space in 2014, then they should probably do it. If they think Howard is leaving, they should consider trading him, although I personally wouldn’t.


    Venting about D’Antoni is fine if it makes you feel better, but like Darius said–he isn’t going anywhere just yet, so it is sort of a moot point.

    People who think D’Antoni has to go no matter what should hope for the scenario Shaun suggests–Howard’s saying “me or him” when Howard hits FA.


  21. Lakers needs to go 33-9 to get the magic number of 50 wins and make the playoffs. If Dwight was Shaq and we still have the young Kobe coached by Phil Jackson I wont push the panic button.
    I have to accept the fact that the chances of this team making the playoffs is very very slim unless a miracle happens.


  22. rr: There is no guarantee either way, you are correct. However if we wait until the end of 14 we are “guaranteed” to have $19 free up. There are many trades that would not be as good as that. And as I said in e-mail, MD is not going anywhere, neither is KB, neither is Jim, Mitch, or DH (yet), so most of this entire board’s venting is moot : ) and by the way – we are not supposed to talk about trades so what was that you were saying about Pau? : )


  23. Can we a trade Pau AND Dwight by the deadline?

    And, please, D’Antoni might be limited, but this is not just a coaching thing. Players play, and ours don’t play very hard, very smart, or very well.


  24. rr, I do understand your point that D’Antoni isn’t going anywhere, but I disagree that we can’t win with this team. D’Antoni WAS the problem in New York, and he’s the problem here. I’ve been watching the Lakers for over 30 years, and I can’t remember a time when we had as many lapses in coaching decisions(worse than when Rambis was coach).

    For instance, in this game, he should have started Earl Clark, NOT Gasol. Kobe starting on Calderon was ok, but why put Nash back on him? Calderon controlled the tempo of the game, and a good coach would have done something to disrupt that. There were a couple of plays when MWP was on Calderon, and Calderon couldn’t do anything. He should have kept him on Calderon. When Toronto went to the zone, how about bring in Meeks??? When Howard had that first T, how about telling him to be careful for the rest of the game? Isn’t that what a coach is supposed to do???

    In terms of more global issues with D’Antoni, if your team is old and slow, the solution isn’t try to force them to push the pace. If you were a skilled older slower boxer, and you were going up against a quicker younger less skilled boxer, shouldn’t your strategy be to use your skills, slow things down, defend, and wear down your opponent, go for the points.

    So in terms of global strategy and in game decisions, D’Antoni fails completely.

    At the very least, even if he has zero clue on how to coach(which seems obvious so far), at the very least, he should know how to properly motivate his players, make tough decisions, etc., but he can’t even do that.

    D’Antoni is like the total opposite of the baseball player who can hit for average and power, run the bases well, and throw and field well.

    If he were a baseball player, he’s hitting sub .100, no home runs, no steals, and leads the league in errors
    This hire will stink up the Lakers for a generation.


  25. rr: D’Antoni letting the raptors build the double digit lead by letting calderon get wide open off pnr is the Mitch’s role players fault. Him not being able to convince Kobe to stay on his man off ball and having to put him on ball full time jeporadizing late season success is also guys like Duhon, Morris and Clark’s fault. Or that he ruffled Pau’s feathers a few interviews in for no reason could also be attributed to Mitch’s failure to buid the back end of the roster. D’Antoni and Kobe have nothing to do with the problems of the team.


  26. Robert–responded to your emails.

    And, yes, I am opposed to POVs that try to place all of this on ONE guy, be it D’Antoni, Kobe, Howard, Pau, Nash, or Buss. That is why I keep “picking on you”, so to speak–I think MD deserves some blame for sure, but not as much as you are giving him.


    Have fun with the Trade Machine, dude. 😉


  27. Good write-up, this post made me laugh.

    Haven’t seen it discussed here yet, but the law firm that was conducting an independent investigation into Billy Hunter’s practices has released its reporting, and – short of outright illegal activity – it’s pretty damning:–investigation-questions-whether-nbpa-should-break-ties-with-billy-hunter-210909926.html


  28. The starting line up of the championship Bulls teams and the recent Celtics team(which pushed the World Champs to 7 games) and the Spurs show that old teams CAN win. You just have to know how to use the players you have. Instead of trying to ram square pegs into round holes, how about use the talents that your team has??? D’Antoni is worse than having no coach. His ‘system’ has destroyed the Lakers chemistry, and season is toast.


  29. Kevin,

    Table the sarcasm. If you have a case for the way the bench was constructed, make it with specifics.

    As I have said in more or less every post, this team is 17-23 for many different reasons. What is going on is that fans are venting at the biggest targets, which is what fans do.

    I would put it this way: I think the Lakers having the worst roster in the league 5-12 is a bigger issue than Kobe and Howard and Nash and Pau not being as great as they used to be, but both issues are part of the same problem.


  30. rr:Even though i’d welcome a trade i’ve said this roster is the roster so they’ve got to find a way to win with this team. And if Pau is having his best game in a month you call plays for him not bench him until Howard gets ejected. Or if Calderon his carving the defense up you have to give him a different look not stand with your arms crossed doing nothing. And if Kobe is hurting the team (10-32 fg 6 to’s) and doesn’t have a conscious you bench him, like Brown did.

    The problems start with d’antoni and kobe they can fix some of the issues. Putting most blame on role players who can’t solve problems isn’t the place to start it’s coach and kobe.


  31. However if we wait until the end of 14 we are “guaranteed” to have $19 free up.

    Like I said, no Pau deals should be made that materially damage the cap space for 2014. At the same time, though, most teams that have hoarded cap space, with the obvious outlier/exception of Miami, have not really gotten that much out of it. What tends to happen is that teams wind up overpaying for second and third-tier players. Perhaps the market and brand will change this calculus somewhat for the Lakers, but the brand is not what it once was, as you have made a point of implying on many occasions.


  32. Lakers17,

    I have said on several occasions that I am not impressed with D’Antoni, and I have made several specific suggestions about things that I think he should do differently. But some of the problems with this team have more to do with roster construction than with him.


  33. The way Dwight was playing lately it appears that he is not interested in playing here. If that is the case lets try to dangle him and see if there are any takers.


  34. rr: I think your underrating coaching. D’Anotni has to help the players and kobe as well. If players are constantly being put in position to fail it won’t matter what talent level is out there they won’t win. Can’t go 8 straight mins without adjusting on a play that gave you problems the last game. Calderon proved if you lay back off the screen he’ll make the shot and lebron proved you lay back off screens he’ll make you pay. Lakers can’t go whole halfs without adjusting on a play you know the other team is trying to exploit.


  35. I agree with rr that the Lakers must absolutely keep 2014 open. Although it’s true that like the Bulls who ended up with Boozer, or the Knicks who ended up Amare, or the Mavs who ended up with no one, this strategy can backfire. As this team will not win a championship, even if they make the playoffs, and since the Lakers will not fire D’Antoni under no circumstance, unless he turns out to be a serial killer or something bizarre like that, it’s better to keep the cap open to build for the future. You don’t want to get locked in with a bunch of middle to upper level talent like Atlanta. That’s rarely the recipe for a Championship. Probably the last time we’ve seen that was Detroit in 2004.

    What I would do, considering how limited D’Antoni’s coaching abilities are, is to stop focusing on who’s getting touches on offense, since it’s been said over and again that offense isn’t the problem. The players should have a team meeting, and just hash out what they’re going to do on defense, since D’Antoni is clueless. On offense, I wouldn’t run the offense through Howard. I would use Howard like the Knicks use Chandler. Keep him to rebound and finish around the rim with all else running back to help out with transition defense. On defense, instead of having everyone run the other way before the ball is rebounded, since the Lakers are horrible at finishing a break, but have a pretty good half court offense, they should all crash the boards whenever there is a shot.


  36. Not disappointed or suprised we lost

    The team isnt built around anybody or any philosophy…you can make 1000 excuses or give reasons. But the fact is

    Dwight has to be the man or he pouts
    Pau pouts when he feels under utilized
    Kobe will never go back to being a secondary player
    Nash is done..but he never was great as they made him out to be.

    This team is what it is…they suck


  37. If we cant fire MDA at least fire the remnants of the Mike Brown era and hire defensive coaches and assistamts that would help MDA


  38. MD: In my case, I have said numerous times that we should not do anything this year. I am also not one of the people screaming how bad his decisions are during game threads (though I can hardly fault those that are). Saying MD is not going anywhere for the rest of this year is logical and probably correct. However if we are saying that he is definitely our coach starting next year, then that is like saying our ownership will be stubborn and not look at things and make an informed decision at the end of the year. I will take the high road and say that our ownership is better than that : )


  39. rr, again I agree with you that the roster is flawed. They the FO focused too much on generating offense off the bench(AJ, Meeks) rather than focusing on defense. There are no teams that are not flawed. Miami gets exploited by their lack of size. The Spurs and Celtics are old. But there is no way that with the players the Lakers have, that they should be anywhere near 17-23. No way.


  40. Guys all good points. Fact is Mitch and Jim picked this team and this coach. If it’s a bank, a insurance company or a retail chain it starts and ends there. They built it and it failed. Funny how players that have left the past few years seem to be doing good. Everything gets down to ownership. For years it was the best. Now it is not.

    You all tell me what has been the number one change in the FO the past 3 years. Correct and it rhymes with Dim.

    Case closed IMO!


  41. The first few minutes of this game said it all. D’Antoni should have pulled his starters in the first Q and come with 5 bench players. Just a shameful lack of concentration, effort and commitment. Nobody came ready to play


  42. I am a believer in, numbers don’t lie. Lakers are what they are. They are a team with some talented players, most of which are either crybabies, misused, mentally weak, or old. The only guy who has really achieved to his potential on this team is Kobe, but even he can’t do it all anymore as he needs to pick offense or defense. Offense is a problem just like the defense. They score a lot, but they also turn the ball over a lot too, and the scoring is normally not very balanced. Against an elite team like the Heat they could not score very well. Defense….I won’t even go into that. You all should have known what this team would become on defense when Mike D took over. Robert was about the only guy I can recall in this forum who said it was a bad pick, and boy was he right. The bench is also weak, but we kind of knew we weren’t going to have a superb bench when the season started. It was about having a dominate starting lineup with some of the greats, and we just don’t have that because of the reasons I mentioned above. This season is over. The Lakers have shown us time and time again, they just cannot win games consistently. Because simply, they just don’t bring it every night. I have no idea what their deal is, but they are an embarrassment to the NBA, and to all of us as fans of this team. Forget about trades or anything else this season. Its time to start thinking about next season and what can be done to improve this team for next year.


  43. with the next four games, against Chicago, Memphis, Utah, and OKC, the Lakers could be looking at a record of 17-27. If you look at February, and the fact that 10 out of 13 games they are playing against a team with a better record, they may end up at the bottom of the western conference. March is a bit better for the Lakers. If not for March, there’s a chance that the Lakers would finish not only in the bottom of the Western Conference, but possibly the bottom 2-3 teams in the league. All you who think D’Antoni isn’t the problem explain how any team with Kobe and Howard can even come close to finishing in the bottom of the league. They’re barely better than Sacramento.


  44. heat just signed birdman to a 10-day….. sigh..


  45. I m not intending to give an opinion at all.
    Fact: 3 seasons with Gasol playing the C = 3NBA Finals/2NBA titles
    3 seasons with Bynum/Howard playing the C= 3Big Disasters
    The rest is up to you…….


  46. I agree joe. This game shows Gasol’s value. Despite the fact that he’s playing with tendonitis, he’s still one of the best centers in the league. He was never a power player, and he’s no where near the defender Howard is, but on offense, from the post, especially against lesser centers, he still dominates. Even during the Championship years, he didn’t dominate other elite centers.

    Since the Lakers will not dump D’Antoni for any reason, this season and next season is lost. Even the Lakers FO will likely admit midway next season that hiring D’Antoni was a mistake when the Lakers are 10-15 games below 500. And since no one will likely take on Gasol’s contract this year, it’s very likely that he will be amnestied at the beginning of next year since the Lakers will not be willing to pay a $75M luxury tax next year. So I’m taking it as if this year and next year is lost, and they can start over in 2014, with or without Howard.


  47. Some can take a rough diamond and turn it into a beautiful ring. D’Antoni just turns that into dust.


  48. All you who think D’Antoni isn’t the problem explain how any team with Kobe and Howard can even come close to finishing in the bottom of the league.

    This is easy enough to turn around. The Lakers have a 39-year-old PG, a 34-year-old SG in his 17th year with the mileage of a 20-year veteran who played in the Olympics and has been in the playoffs almost every year, a 32-year-old PF who was worked very hard by the previous two coaches and has played overseas every summer for years, a 33-year-old SF, a center coming off back surgery and one of the worst benches in the NBA, which is down one of its few decent options and its backup 1. Explain why you think that team should be as good as Miami or OKC,

    As far as Kevin’s picking on the Calderon thing, people were always saying stuff like that during losses when Phil was here, too, and of course that type of stuff intensified when Brown was here. Every loss, there would be people ranting about a substitution that they didn’t like, or about an adjustment that they thought he should have made. This is not to say that some of those specific points aren’t right, but people should also consider the possibility that the Lakers are simply too old and slow to be a good defensive team with Howard’s mobility limited. The Lakers were only 13th in D last year. They are worse this year; part of that is on D’Antoni. Part of it is on the FO. Part of it was unavoidable.

    I am not saying that D’Antoni is not part of the problem; he is. He has not adjusted to the talent very well and does not appear to be connecting with Howard. But all the questions about this team’s roster going in–age, health, and depth–have to this point had negative answers.


  49. rr, if you read my posts, I never ever compared this Lakers team to Miami or OKC. Even with PJ, that would be laughable. Even with Doc and Thibodeau. But are you seriously saying that with PJ we’d have a 17-23(soon to be 17-27) team?


  50. But are you seriously saying that with PJ we’d have a 17-23(soon to be 17-27) team?

    No one knows–not you, not Robert, not Jim Buss. That is one reason why the I-told-you-sos are annoying. As I have said many times, my guess–and that is all it is–is that they would be doing a little better (like 20-20) with Phil, since he

    a) Has always been a pretty good defensive coach
    b) Would slow the pace down

    But as I and others have pointed out, it is not as if Phil went out with a roar, and there were people here every day in 2011 complaining about how dead the team looked and how they were tired of Phil just sitting there phlegmatically, Phil always playing Fisher, etc. Media people who actually dealt with him that year, like the KBros, said that he seemed unmotivated.

    He might have come back at age 67 re-charged–or he might not have.

    I thought MDA was a good idea because I thought he could get some Nash/Howard synergy going and I thought that he would adjust more than he has. I have been wrong to this point, but I am not convinced that Phil Part 3 would have worked all that well.


  51. Really frustrating to see a team lose wgen they should win. @Lakers17 you are on point that Pau is a Center and he is still one of the best if not the best offensive Centers of the game. I wonder why cant MDA use Pau and Dwight at the same time utilizing Pau as the Center when Lakers are playing Offense and use Dwight as the Center when playing Defense. Make some twist on the offensive end and make Dwigth ala Amare who drives and dunks the ball when he gets it 15ft-18ft away from the basket. Let Pau operate as our primary post player and Kobe as pur secondary post player. Clearly, Dwight is not an elit post up player as he has a few arsenal of post up moves but we can still have Pau and Dwight on the same floor by having them switch positions depending on whether we are at offense or defense. In that case Dwight can easily run back to transition if he is playing PF on offense and he can make those easy pur up dunks coming from the blind side if Pau is playing the 5.


  52. And it’s not even just the in game errors. It’s his entire philosophy on baskeball. There’s a reason why Pops, PJ, Riley, etc., have multiple rings. They preach defense and rebounding. And not just defensive rotations, but intensity of defense, getting up in the face of the guy with the ball, off ball defense, and chasing after all loose balls(those 50/50 plays) that Lakers other than Clark seem to not dive after. Yeah the Lakers are old, but hate to sound like a broken record, but so are the Spurs, Celtics, and even New York who has a 40 year old starting PG. Age is just an excuse. You can win with an older team. You just have to play like an older team. Playing with D’Antoni is like the 50 year old guy who wants to meet someone but keeps going to bars where only 20 year old hang out.

    What the Lakers need to do to turn things around is play to their strengths. It’s not that D’Antoni would do this, but this is what needs to be done. Play SLOW ball. On defense, play the same trapping defense that Rambis used to help out Fisher, the worse on ball defender I’ve ever seen. Nash is CP3 compared to Fisher. Especially when Howard isn’t playing. Against teams that do not shoot the 3 well, switch it up with a zone defense.

    On offense, if Nash is in, go to PNR with Howard. That works against most teams. With Kobe and Gasol, go to the high pick and roll. During the PJ years, when the Lakers absolutely needed a basket near the end of games, they’d do that, and it worked.

    Although Kobe or Nash should always be in the game, if both are out, play inside out with Howard surrounded by 3 point shooters. Never do this if Howard is guarded by someone like Perkins or Hibbert who can guard him 1-1.

    If you’re an old and slow team, then play to your strengths, not your opponents strength.


  53. Sparticus, ” I wonder why cant MDA use Pau and Dwight at the same time utilizing Pau as the Center when Lakers are playing Offense and use Dwight as the Center when playing Defense.”

    best comment I’ve read all day. Play to the strengths of your players. Howard could play the role that Chandler plays in New York.

    Does D’Antoni even watch game tapes of other teams???

    rr, I predicted that the Lakers would be crappy with D’Antoni and was shocked that the Lakers hired him. I was really pissed that the Lakers hired him. I’ve been a San Diego Chargers fan for over 30 years, and saw how the offensive genius Norv Turner ran the Chargers into the ground. I knew that this hire was going to be Norv Turner redux.


  54. “No one knows–not you, not Robert, not Jim Buss. That is one reason why the I-told-you-sos are annoying. ”

    I know it’s annoying, but you can’t deny that the critics, like me, were right. We knew. We knew. It’s not true that we didn’t know. I was saying this all along, and he wasn’t the right choice, and that he was going to run the team into the ground. If not PJ, I was hoping for Sloan.

    I followed the Knicks last year(even before Linsanity), and seeing D’Antoni making one bumbling coaching decision after another, I knew this was going to be a disaster. He’s just a terrible coach.


  55. 4-7 in last year’s playoffs. 0-8 in preseason. 17-23 this season.

    In 59 games, the Lakers have won 21 times.

    This goes way beyond the newest coach.


  56. Lakers17,

    Perhaps. But you have zero idea what the team’s record would be if Phil were here, which is what that post was responding to. You should own that, if you are going to brag about your multi-sports insight and get in people’s faces about D’Antoni.

    MDA’s problem is that he appears to be a system coach and these players don’t fit that system, and he has not adapted.

    Also, as I have posted several times, when Phil was asked at his exit presser why he has won so much, he said , “Talent.” When he was asked what the Lakers’ biggest problem was, he said that they were too slow and didn’t get enough easy baskets. Both of those things were true in May of 2011 and they are true now.


  57. Its all on Howard and Pau, huh? Trade those guys for more “shooters,” right? Never mind that 10-32 hoist-fest. This website used to be one of my favorites, now it’s just a place for Kobe fanboys and not Laker fans. I’m out.


  58. Lakers17,

    Also, I and others have said similar things to what you said about how the personnel should be utilized–multiple times. You are not telling us anything new when you say “slow the game down” and “keep Kobe or Nash on the floor at all times.”


  59. JAS,

    Good call. See ya.


    I recall that 0-35 run in the preseason opener against Golden State, and I remember thinking “Something may be wrong here, first preseason game or no.” And it was.


  60. I thought Mike Brown’s smiling press conferences during losing streaks made my temperature rise. Well D’Antoni makes me throw up in my mouth every time he says, “…give the other team credit.” From Mr. Potato Head to Mr. Pringles they are both potatoes.

    The Lakers will win tomorrow and we’ll start our thought process that that game will be the one to start a winning streak. Only to be bamboozled when the Lakers play the next game and look befuddled as ever before.

    DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE and win the game 15-10, I don’t care just play some defense.


  61. Kobe apologists I can understand. 5 rings. GLOAT. D’Antoni apologists?? I just don’t get it. The guy has never done anything to deserve any respect, and there’s no reason to believe that he’s going to turn anything around.


  62. People say Boston and the Knicks are old but they are not the same old as the Lakers. Boston plays Sullinger, Bradley, Courtney Lee, Rondo and Green major minutes. The old guys have limited minutes just like in San Antonio. No one on Boston plays Kobe minutes except for Rondo who is much younger.

    New York has a mixture on youth and the aged. The difference is their old guys can play both ends of the floor. We lack depth, quality, and chemistry.


  63. This year’s Boston team is younger(but playing worse than they were the last 2 years), but I’m talking more about their team the last 2 years. Although San Antonio has some great young role players, both Boston and San Antonio would be bottom dwellers without KG, Pierce, Duncan, Ginobli, etc, even with great coaching. I know the Lakers players have a lot of miles on them, but it’s hard to see that with an upgrade at PG(remember everyone was saying that Fisher was a traffic cone), and center(probably with Howard), and with MWP playing better than last year(at least numbers wise), that the team would be that much worse than last year. There’s got to be some reason for this.

    Youth is good, but I’d rather have an older players that are skilled, than a bunch of young players who can run. History has shown who wins championships. Can’t argue with history. Kareem won into his late 30s. Jordan did as well.

    Age is not an excuse.


  64. Well more good news. Dallas is now tied so Lakers are moving in on the last place slot. Can hardly wait to get the ping pong ball rolling in our favor. Yea number one lottery pick. Aahhhh. What? Huh? Oh I forgot they gave away 2 1st rounders and a lottery pick for Steve.

    Oh well lottery picks are overrated.
    Bla bla bla

    Maybe there are a few more Sacre, DJO, Goudelock, Charactor, Joe Crawford, Sun Yue, Crittendon, Farmer, Sasha’s out there. Got to give it to Mitch, he has been great in picking draft choices. Good thing they don’t have a lottery pick. Might have tried to re-draft Sun Yue.

    I crack myself up. Or I have finally cracked up!


  65. Average age of San Antonio Spurs top 9 players – 29.5
    Average age of Lakers top 9 players – 30.5
    Average age of top 9 Boston Celtics that took the Heat to 7 games last year 30! Starters only was 31.5!!!
    The average age of the starting players plus main reserves of the 1997-98 Bulls 32!!!

    Yeah, with Kobe, Gasol, and Nash in their primes, it would be a different team, but they’re not. But I guess seeing that the Lakers won’t fire their coach, it’s moot because the question isn’t can a coach win with an older team, which is a definite yes, but can the current coach win with an older team, and the answer is a definite NO.


  66. Mitch Kupcake, Jim Buss and Mike Brown are responsible for this roster. Neither Mike Brown nor Mike D could or can coach this team. There are no key back ups in two major areas. It is not a supreme offense team (which would benefit Mike D) nor are they a good defensive team (which WAS supposed to be Brown’s forte but the truth of the matter was that he had LeBrawn flying all over the place in Cleveland so he wasn’t that good as a defensive coach). There is no reason for this team to be this bad. Yes, the team got beat beside the head in Phil’s last year, but the team was in dissention (the Drew and Kobe turf war had begun) and the team had stopped listening. He needed a break and got one. The Laker players realize what they had and would have tuned in from this point forward. They quit on Mike Brown and Mike D quit on New York. He is not that good of a coach. Sorry but Phil or Rick Adelman for that matter would have been better.


  67. Do not run offense through Dwight.It is a major start as he is really listless most times.


  68. IT,

    wow…that graphically shows what we have been saying and seeing…My only reaction since they likely can’t do anything about Pau now is to use Pau for the 15 mins Howard needs to sit, and just limit his mins hugely when Howard is on the floor. Surely 10 mins with the two on the floor would not be awful. That’s around 25 mins for Pau which is passable, for now till they can make a deal.


  69. I think I might have to sue the Lakers. I am unable to concentrate and take care of my work because of them. This is so irrationally, crazilly frustrating, that my mind cannot process it and get over it.


  70. That article on silverscreenandroll is amazing and explains a lot of my feelings. I never wanted DH12 in the first place (yes, I admit, I prefered Bynum over Howard) but maybe we could trade Dwight for a backup/starting SF, some picks and a backup C.

    I think Meeks can backup Kobe properly because of his shooting. I think that Morris/blake (when he returns) can backup Nash. I think MWP needs some help on the wing to give him some rest or allow him to slide to PF. I think Earl Clark is doing great and Jamison can be his backup. I think Gasol would do great at C and Hill could play as his backup but due to his injury we need someone else. That’s a rotation deep enough to give a proper fight in the playoffs.

    Too bad we’ve been makking too many bad decisions over the past 2 to 3 years…


  71. Just like to point out that Kobe is exhausted. This is the result of playing him so much in losing situations. Making the playoffs with a tired Kobe is going to be a mission and a half, and thats all the fault of both Mikes, both stuburnly playing kobe 40+ minutes even in games the lakers were never going to win. Thats stupid stupid STUPID coaching.


  72. I posted a comment in the last thread, but that SSnR piece on Pau and Howard seems to indicate (despite the eye test) that Pau is still an effective center, with a PER of 27+ (limited sample size) at the 5. In that case – if there’s any doubt whether Howard will re-sign, although that’s debatable as S&Ts are impossible and Cuban has pledged to take on money before the deadline, whatever that’s worth – then I can see the Busses holding onto Pau until the offseason, as insurance against a center-less future. It would mean giving up on this season.

    But that piece is a must-read for Lakers fans. The team’s performances with the twin towers vs the 4-out lineup is absolutely staggering; a complete Jekyll-and-Hyde turnaround. It hints that with proper personnel shifting, this team is not as beyond repair as many think. I have to say my eye test doesn’t always match up – Howard’s looked plain unenergetic in half the games, which should be unrelated to Pau’s presence; and Pau hasn’t seemed to show the same low-post touch he once did in the limited opportunities he does get – but going off the numbers indicates some major improvement could happen next year, regardless of which one of them is manning the 5.

    I don’t like MDA, but I don’t think he’s going anywhere, so I do hope the FO spends the offseason retooling with role players that can fit better with what he’s trying to accomplish.


  73. Lakers17: You and I agree on much. However – in fairness to rr, he has acknowledged D’Antoni’s shortcomings. Where rr differs from us, is the degree to which this impacts the team.

    Snoop: “I do hope the FO spends the offseason retooling with role players that can fit better with what he’s trying to accomplish” Is it just the role players or as others have pointed out, do the core players (3 of our top 4 are old/slower) fit MD?

    Coaching: Yes – Phil said “talent” was the reason for his success at his exit press con. What that means to me is that you can’t win without it. There are no miracle, worst to first stories in the NBA. You must, as I have said many times, be one of the top 3 teams or so, to have a true chance at the title. That said, once you have talent, a good coach is what then makes the difference to winning it or not, and Phil has a great track record at winning. And a bad year in 2011 does not negate that record. This discussion really comes down to how much you think coaching means. I think it means quite a bit, but talent is still paramount. For example – if one of us were made the coach of the Heat, would they still win the title this year? I don’t think so. However, would they become the worst team in the league? Don’t think so either.

    Expectations: The press and most fans thought the Lakers had a good shot at the title this year (certainly I did). That may have been wrong – but it wasn’t this wrong, as Lakers17/Busboys/Chearn/Kevin and others are pointing out.

    Future: I have not given up for this year, but where these conversations are relevant, is because this is our future we are discussing (Joe M – thanks – and yes you are correct to be thinking of the future). Is MD the right coach for the Lakers? Is DH going to sign? What are we going to do with the KB contract in 14? Are we going to make a push in 13-14 or are we going to wait until post 14 to make a serious push? These are important discussions, and as this year drifts further away (I saw many of you somewhat gave up on playoffs in the last threads), then these become the most relevant discussions.


  74. Maybe at the end of the season, instead of title banners, the Lakers organization can just hang up entitlement banners. It seems to fit the personality and spirit of this team.

    This team is deeply divided. So many stubborn, childlike egos + different philosophies on how to approach each game. This team is a mess.


  75. I said before Kobe needs to play D but the “on the ball” hounding isn’t what the doctor ordered. He just needs to stick to his man and not roam on defense leaving his guy open.

    I also long ago stated Dwight for Bynum doesn’t solve anything. Bynum and Pau didn’t work well together. Dwight is an improvement but still a bad match of talent. When we got Nash, Pau makes even more sense playing at the center. We should have traded or a stretch PF when we had Bynum. Now we should trade Dwight for a stretch PF.


  76. Dane

    Ok I can handle the suit but we make it a class action law suit against the Lakers and Time Warner for running those daily ads showing the “new” Lakers with Nash and Howard. We claim they enticed us fans to buy extra cable to Watch this championship team. Call it fraud or bait and switch but we fans have SUFFERED from the actions of TW and the Lakers!

    If we win we use the money to buy the team and we become like the Packers, owner fans! Robert head of PR and Kobe alerts, rr
    coach search, Dane head of mental health, Snoopy finance, Lakers 17 Kobe’s agent, Warren VP of Players Personel and me of course General Manager. Problems all solved! Now what do we do with Mike D and Jimbo? Suggestions?


  77. Just as a follow up to that article. Everyone notice how functional and coherent the team looked in the only two recent games where there was at least one big healthy (DH) and no Pau, i.e. in the Cleveland and Milwaukee games, and how dysfunctional they have looked otherwise?


  78. harveyM: Those 2 games are the ones Kobe hasn’t taken 20 shots (and only 2 games Lakers won this year) and focused on team ball and defense. But you knew that wouldn’t last long after the Miami game he said he was a decoy and vowed to be aggressive early.

    Kobe this month

    vs Philly 29 shots for 36 pts L

    vs Clippers 25 shots for 38 pts L. Efficient

    vs Denver 26 shots for 29 pts L

    vs Houston 22 shots for 20 pts L

    Vs Spurs 24 shots for 27 pts L

    vs Okc 23 shots for 28 pts L

    vs Cle 14 shots for 23 pts W. Efficient

    vs Bucks 19 shots for 31 pts W. Efficient

    vs Mia 25 shots for 22 pts L

    vs Toronto 32 shots for 26 pts L

    Kobe’s had 3 efficient games this yea. rLakers won 2 probably 3 if not for Chris paul. He’s also shooting 43% in january and down to 46% on the year. Closer to his career avg. 45% than the 50% which we were praising him for. Historical season no more. Shots becoming a problem.

    Mike D’Antoni says the team isn’t playing winning basketball. Cites bad shots and the ball sticking as the main problems. Nash said the gameplan isn’t being followed. Both statements seem to be aimed at the direction of Kobe. Can’t defend Kobe’s season anymore by saying he’s being efficient he has to start playing team ball.


  79. Brown and D’Antoni the two ‘spuds’ in press conferences were/are afraid to talk forcefully about the team’s effort in games. While Phil Jackson and Doc Rivers speak with venom about the team as a whole and are not afraid to call them out, veterans, rookies, the water-boy. About the Celtics losing games Doc Rivers said, “I think this team wants everything easy,” Rivers said. “They want the easy way out. They want to win easy. And I told them the only way you’re going to win easy is you’re going to have to play hard. The harder you play, the easier the games become. We’re taking the wrong approach. I’ve got to either find the right combination, the right guys, or we’re going to get some guys out of here. It’s the bottom line. Because this group right now, they are not playing right. It’s in them to play right. But right now they haven’t been — either because I’m not getting to them, or they are not getting to each other. But at the end of the day, either we’ve got to do that, or we’ve got to make changes.”

    Brown and D’Antoni are not solid NBA coaches with a background that commands respect from management, the players, referees or the press. Thus they are reticent to speak what’s on their mind, as their position as head coach is tenuous at best.

    We can talk about Pau as an efficient center until cob webs develop in the corner of your office, but the truth is that Pau wants to play on the offensive end of the floor; with some success. But, rebounding, defense, PNR defense, helping the helper, manning the paint, running end to end, and putting fear into opponents driving to the basket; are all areas that he is woefully ineffectual. Yes, he occasionally gets a block and rebounds. Yet, he does not do it enough of the time to alter the outcome of the game. Yesterday was a perfect example. In the waning minutes of the game he got the ball on the block with an opportunity to pull the Lakers within four points of a tie. Gasol was pushed out further than he wanted to be and doubled, so he threw up a weak shot that glanced off the backboard. He then got walked under the basket on a defensive rebound that was crucial for the Lakers in the last minute and a half of the game. All of these aspects of Pau’s game have been evident for years, even when he did not have the itis’s; tendinitis, plantar fasciitis.

    On the other hand, Dwight Howard is more difficult to discern, as this is his first year with the Lakers and his first year not being the focal point of the offense, becoming acclimated to the players (Kobe) and the revolving door of the coaches. Add to his continued recovery from back surgery which may or may not ever heal to the point that he will return to the dominant player he was in Orlando. Yet, his dominant games have equaled Pau’s very best games to this point. Positives: Howard leads the league in rebounds (something Pau has never done). Dwight was slated to return to the Lakers at this juncture in the season, yet he’s been on the floor since the first couple of games in 2012. He is 26 years old and could learn to be a winner with the Lakers. If he can never get back the pop he needs athletically to be the player he was with the Magic, he has the opportunity to become a Bill Russell/Tyson Chandler type center. Dwight has played more games than Andrew Bynum.

    The Lakers win today. There are no other options.


  80. Putting most blame on role players who can’t solve problems isn’t the place to start it’s coach and kobe.

    It isn’t a question of “blame.” One of the problems with this discussion is that a lot of guys are IMO too concerned with who is to blame and who is right and who is wrong. The question is “What can realistically be done to improve the team?”

    Also, I have advocated replacing a couple of the role players and using the ones they have in different patterns. I am not “blaming” Chris Duhon for the fact that he can’t function as an NBA PG anymore; I am saying that the FO should get somebody else.


    As to the age thing, it is a lot more complicated than just putting up a few averages and saying: Look! I was right! D’Antoni is an idiot! As I have said several times, you have to look at how hard Pau and Kobe have been worked, how the minutes and opportunities are distributed, and at the fact that the Lakers have old role players (Jamison, Metta, Duhon, Blake) and the younger guys (Hill, Morris, Ebanks, Sacre) are not particularly athletic on top of an old and banged-up core. Clark is a pretty good athlete and therefore he really stands out.

    Also, you and other people keep bringing up Boston, but:

    a) They weren’t any better than the Lakers last year. If Derrick Rose and Al Horford had been healthy, Boston almost certainly would not have advanced to the conference finals.
    b) They are 20-20 right now with a worse point differential than the Lakers.

    As to the Spurs and the Knicks, Popovich has made a point of keeping Ginobili’s and Duncan’s minutes low for years, and the Spurs are great at adding and developing role players. And Parker is eight years younger than Nash is. The Knicks have several older guys, but most of them are in secondary roles, and, again, they have depth and have added somewhat useful role players off the scrap heap (Novak, Copeland, Prigioni). Those teams actually draw a line under the problems Kupchak has had with the bench, and undermine your argument as much as supporting it. One key issue there is that the Lakers have not done a good job with international talent.

    The thing about the Knicks that supports your argument isn’t the personnel–it’s the fact that they got better after D’Antoni left.

    Robert is correct. I am not a huge D’Antoni fan, and there are many things about him I don’t like. But taking the position that this whole mess is about D’Antoni (or Kobe) is just sloppy analysis.


  81. harveyM: Those 2 games are the ones Kobe hasn’t taken 20 shots (and only 2 games Lakers won this year) and focused on team ball and defense

    And they played Cleveland (without Varejao) and Milwaukee. And Pau was out. This is another example of working backwards from the conclusion, working off emotions and personal biases, and what you get when you do that. You leave out key facts that anybody can see.

    Kobe did shoot too many long shots yesterday, and that was a big reason they lost to Toronto. But an equally big problem was that Toronto shot 54% from the floor. Kobe deserves as much blame for that as he does for the 10/32.


  82. rr: your admitting Kobe’s long two’s lead to fast break points has happened all year. And that his defense is as much to blame as his shot selection. Then when I mention he burdens responsibility and can change the outcome of the multiple categories he’s affecting (shot selection, fast break points, team moral, chemistry) you say it’s sloppy analysis. There is a certain way to play that wins ball games consistently with the Lakers we’ve seen it. So when you mention “Who we can realistically improve the team” this can happen by playing together with the current roster. Two of the best passers ever at their positions, one of the most devastating finishers ever and one of the best shot makers ever. One is getting a chance to display his full game the others are suffering because Kobe wants to be “the guy”.


  83. you say it’s sloppy analysis.


    It is. Because all you focus on is him, because you don’t like him.

    Own it.

    And read what Darius says about the games and the team.