Wednesday Storylines

Dave Murphy —  January 30, 2013

With three minutes to go last night the Lakers latest reset season almost hit the pilings. Fortunately, they dug down and found enough energy and purpose and a few extra points and held off the Pelicans. The seven-game Grammy trip starts now and regardless of who they’re facing, this team simply can’t afford to take a quarter or an eighth or a sixteenth off. The Lakers are playing for the right to make the playoffs and the margin for error has long since left the building.

One of the obvious storylines last night was the benching of Pau Gasol late in the fourth quarter – the same stretch that saw New Orleans coming perilously close to stealing a win. It’s highly doubtful that Mike D’Antoni intended any slight at all. It’s a telling reminder however, that deeply ingrained habits can be tough to break. D’Antoni’s talking a good game about defense and collaborative efforts but his instinct was to go with Antawm Jamison whose own ingrained habit is to score the ball. It ultimately worked but it was a risky gamble at a time when newly-regained team chemistry is still tenuous.

Dave McMenamin at ESPN Los Angeles writes about the Pau Gasol sit-down. He also takes a look at the upcoming road trip and the need for continuity.

Mark Medina for Inside the Lakers also writes about Pau’s frustration.

Brian Kamenetzky on Sulia, relays Mike D’Antoni’s explanation for Jamison over either Metta or Pau.

Kevin Ding at the OC Register examines Kobe’s latest twist – the playmaker.

Metta World Peace has been all business on the court this season. Off-court is another story – Eric Pincus at the L.A. Times brings the story of MWP’s foray into the world of reality TV.

It’s Steve Nash’s first return to the US Airways Center tonight – Ben Bolch at the L.A. Times speculates about the fans’ reaction.

The Great Mambino at Silver Screen and Roll put together a writers roundtable on the subject of Dwight Howard – franchise or not?

Greg Beacham for AP Sports and Yahoo gives a nice recap of last night’s game.

Rey Moralde at NBA Sports City offers a recap of last night’s slate, including LAL/NO and the late Portland rally against Dallas.

Ernest Tolden for ESPN Stats & Info; Lakers thrive as Bryant lends a helping hand.

***

The Dallas Mavericks somehow managed to blow a 21-point lead in Portland last night. As of right now, the Lakers have moved into 10th place in the west. It sounds fairly ridiculous but it’s better than 12th which is where they were a week ago. Ahead of them though? Portland, whose buzzer-beater win against the Mavs puts them three games up on the Lakers. This is what it’s going to be from here on out – a mind-numbing game of inches for the eighth seed and it’ll get downright ugly not to mention confusing, before it’s done.

Kobe Bryant has worn every hat this season – scoring leader, defensive specialist and now the assist man. He has been emptying the clip so to speak, one way or another. His efforts have not just been on the court. He has pushed the guys and has bolstered them and when things were at their worst, brokered what the coaches had been unable to – a meeting of the minds. It was as it usually is with Bryant – showing by doing. Much has been made of his latest role but make no mistake – Kobe Bryant is a restless and shape-shifting basketball spirit, driven by an all-consuming need to win. One of the best things that Mike D’Antoni can do is to fully buy in from his own end – resist the hunger for instant offense and let Bryant call the game on the floor.

Dave Murphy

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13 responses to Wednesday Storylines

  1. I don’t know the real truth about why Pau and MWP didn’t play last night. Likely, nobody not named Mike D’Antoni really knows – it is all conjecture on our part. However, I do know we have a back-to-back game in Phoenix, where Steve Nash will be under incredible pressure and the Suns fans will really want the Lakers to miss the playoffs – giving them an additional lottery pick in this year’s draft. I am certainly happy we have two of our championship veterans well rested going into the fight tonight. I think we probably will need them to hold up an emotionally and physically drained Steve Nash (he may start well, but I suspect he will run out of gas somewhere in the late 3rd qtr) and a more tired Kobe (his recent antics simply must take some starch out of him on back-to-backs). Earl Clark may also be tired because he isn’t used to so much playing time and so much pressure. Dwight is in his prime and I expect him to hold up his end of the stick tonight.

    I will be interested to see if the comments after the game are talking about strong games from Pau and MWP being one reason for a win.

    Go Lakers!

  2. Wow the gist of the storylines is Kobe being so unselfish and pau is doing the opposite. Pau has played well since moving to the bench but he’s been unhappy and has candidly expressed that. It’s good that he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder, but that is until he becomes a detriment to the teams newfound chemistry. Again, he’s been a huge plus for the lakers on the court, but the constant griping has to strike a nerve sooner or later.

    I do think the benching was just a basketball decision and nothing personal. I think Dantoni went with his gut and I don’t have a problem with it. Clark was having a great game and Antwan brought good energy throughout the game. If davis was in the game i do think pau wouldve been in the game, but it was ryan anplderson who was running down the court and launching 3’s. I understand Pau’s desire to be out there, but this was a situation in which he should’ve just bit his tongue and moved on.

    On to the grammy trip staring tonight,If the lakers go at least 5-2 I think it’s a sign they are really turning the season around. 5-2 (71%) is a lot better than their current record 5-15 (25%).

  3. Craig W.

    I get your point but “a bird in the hand”. I’m not wild for MDA, but haven’t seen a reason to hate either. I’m just curious, if your theory is true, why Mike would put last night’s game in jeopardy for the sake of tonight’s game? Ultimately it would have been an added 4-5 minutes for either Pau of Metta to ensure a win and then expecting them to gut it out tonight against a far inferior team. Gortat is a tough dude to handle. Dragic is a very good PG. Scola is solid. Interesting that have former understudies to our starters at the one and five. Anyway, besides that there are few plus players on that team. Dudley is okay. They have a couple of young players but nobody on the level of Gordon, The Brow, or Anderson. So, again, if MDA was thinking as you suggest, seems a pretty bad idea.

  4. I think D’Antoni is trying to get the right combination and rotation he thinks will work. Meeks was slumping he played Morris, Jamison was out he played Hill and Clark, Morris was hurting the team he went back to Meeks, etc. Clark played 23 mins last game Pauplayed 36 mins finsihed the game because of Ibaka/Perkins frontline. Pau played 21 mins last night Clark played 35 because of Anderson’s shooting. D’Antoni did the right thing last night and the night before letting Pau finish vs okc. Pau is playing well and is benefitting from other teams backup C and PF’s. It does seem the inevitable Allen-Celtics type split is near. Pau is finally fed up and letting it be known.

  5. I’m not saying Mike D. planned this. I suspect he was simply coaching “in the moment” and went with what he thought was the hot hand, rather than players who weren’t shooting well, but I really don’t know any of this.

    What I am saying is that I am glad we have two experienced veterans who are rested and ready to go tonight. I am not trying to make more of it than that.

  6. dave m: in it to win it together as opposed to in it to win it for themselves seems to be the laker way as a result of the recent mini winning streak.

    kind of works similar to coming out of a bad flu – viral infection where the body aches, cold body chills coupled with fever, sore throat, coughing up flem and general foggy head. i’m talking about the lakers and feeling a little better myself, cough cough.

    tonite in phoenix; in greek mythology, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn. associated with the sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. this is our hope for steve nash. start with growing your hair back out. we need that dennis the menace basketball mentality and not so much the GQ appearance you’ve been sporting these past few months. blame it on the grammy trip, blame it on the burning desire to win. just do it, requires little or no effort like staying in bed for a week from a bad flu, unkept and unshaven.

    must be feeling a little better, next week we pick on someone else.

    keep up the good effort.

    Go Lakers

  7. It will be interesting to see how Dwight’s back responds tonight. On the second night of back to backs, Dwight has looked tired and stiff all season. If that’s the case again tonight, I hope to see plenty of minutes from Pau. If Dwight seems unaffected by playing two consecutive nights, it will be a good sign that his back is healing.

  8. There are a lot of new commenters here this season. Welcome. We want to have an intelligent and nuanced discussion about the Lakers at this site. Also, I advise you to read the commenting guidelines that are linked in the header of this site. If you find that your comment has been moderated or deleted, you’ve probably gone against one or more of the guidelines. Hopefully that doesn’t have to happen often. If you have any questions, you can email me by clicking on the picture of the envelope in the upper right hand corner.

  9. These next few games are critical, as most will be for the reminder of the year. Not just for W/L columns, but also, because I believe now that we are 3 games into our “new look”, teams are going to start to adjust. Whenever you change your mode of operation, it throws the opposition a little off-balance, and I believe we have reaped that benefit. Starting about now, teams will have watched the “new look” on film and we can see if it is equally effective when the opposition is expecting it. That said – I like it – as all along I said that a pick up game type offense would work better than whatever we were attempting before.

  10. Darius: The comments have been a bit interesting lately, and I think you have done a good job trying to keep things reasonable. I was amused a few threads back when there was a comment jointly addressed to both of us. I mean – first I started agreeing with you on a regular basis, and then we get a comment addressed to us jointly? These are interesting times indeed : ) Keep us the good work on the site.

  11. Robert, you are correct – teams do change based on what their opponents are currently doing. However, this is more difficult during the season, because you are facing a different opponent 3 or so times a week. Also, very few powerful teams ever change as much as the Lakers have over the first half of this year.

    All that being said, just how are teams going to change to account for the fact that both Kobe and Steve Nash are likely to be distributing the ball and the other may well be a spot-up shooter? Tie that into the – hopefully – contagion of passing the rock and you have a team you can’t really develop a set defense for.

    Anyway, that is my observation and hope for the Lakers going forward.

  12. A week ago, I looked at the Lakers schedule leading into the ASG and was extremely worried. There didn’t seem to be one game that one could clearly pencil in as a win. Now, due to the recent success, I like their chances to go 6-1 or better. They just seem to be more focused on playing as a team on both sides of the ball.

    Despite weaknesses in it’s construction, this team is learning to play to it’s strengths and is getting solid contributions throughout the rotation. Now is time to up the ante by showing they can win on the road.

    MD’A deserves some credit for the turnaround, IMO. He has shown the ability to tweak his rotation by playing the hot hands instead of blindly assigning minutes on a regular basis. His willingness to find ways to reduce Nash’s and Kobe’s minutes is also a good thing. Big, emotional test tonight in Phx. as Gatsby plays his 1st game vs. his old team. Let’s hope the team is up to it.