Lakers v. Celtics: Everything Burns

Phillip Barnett —  February 7, 2013

This season, the Lakers are paying $100,087,153 to the various players on their roster and the Boston Celtics pretty much took all of that money, set it on fire and let everyone in the TD Garden know that “everything burns.” The Lakers walked out of the Garden with a 21-point loss, but the game wasn’t really that close — which is a testament to how awful the Lakers played on the night.

There really isn’t much to say in a huge loss to what is the organizations biggest rival. Their collective energy level was low, they were poor rotating defensively, they had trouble initiating sets offensively, and were garbage on the boards.

Defensively, the Lakers couldn’t stay in front of a painting. Paul Pierce was getting to his spots at will, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee were able to repeatedly get to the rim, and Kevin Garnett was able to hit his turn around fade away over defenders who failed to get their hands up. Foul trouble for Dwight compounded these problems, especially considering he didn’t have the best night of his career on either end of the floor. There was a period where the Lakers had a line up of Steve Blake, Chris Duhon, Kobe, Ron, and Earl Clark. Ron was guarding Garnett and just wasn’t able to do anything with his jump shot. Darius left a few words about the defense in a comment on the last thread:

Mostly, this game was about defensive failures. The big men (mostly Dwight) were awful in helping on screens and Pierce got free for his mid-range jumper early and found his rhythm by knocking down some easy (for him) shots. The Lakers wings also were not prepared to guard the quick ball movement the C’s brought to the game. With the ball moving, the C’s generated good looks and the Lakers got down on themselves and it snowballed from there.

On the offensive end of the floor, both Kobe and Nash actively looked for teammates despite their assist numbers, but there was very little movement off the ball. Darius also mentioned that Nash struggled a bit with Avery Bradley’s on ball defense. I also noticed this, and it seemed to take away from the Lakers ability to run actual sets. There was a lot of dribbling going on from a lot of guys, and very little actions leading to opportunities for high percentage shots. You can give a lot of credit to the Celtics perimeter defenders for disrupting the initiation of the Lakers offense, but a lot of the blame also falls on the other four guys without the ball for pretty much watching the ball handler.

This also led to Kobe taking (and making) a lot of shots in the third quarter. He found a rhythm in the third, and was aggressively looking to score, but he was still a willing passer. Bean finished with no assists, but he hit a lot of wide open guys who just simply couldn’t knock down shots. The combination of guys not moving and not hitting open shots led to the Lakers only recording nine assists as a team after three quarters. They finished with 16 for the game, but a lot of those came in garbage time in the last seven or so minutes when the intensity of the game completely died.

Lastly, Howard just didn’t look himself at all. They went to him early, and he was able to draw a few fouls on the Celtics defenders, but he was never ever able to find any rhythm as the game progressed and ultimately hurt the team on the floor more than he helped. He fouled out in the fourth, albeit during a time when the game was already decided. He also led the team in turnovers, shot one-for-six from the free throw line and didn’t recored double-digets in either points or assists. His struggles were expected as it’s been over a week since he’s seen the floor and he’s still recovering from his shoulder injury.

Tonight was just a bad loss that they’re just going to have to forget even happened as they head to Charlotte tomorrow for what is a very winnable game, even on the road on a second of a back-to-back.

Phillip Barnett

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50 responses to Lakers v. Celtics: Everything Burns

  1. What a mess. Can’t imagine what Sunday will be like. Hard to believe there is not a forward out there better then Metta Meess 2 for 13 and Meeks 6 3 point bricks in a row. Eubanks can’t be worse. My 8 your own son can shoot better then these guys.

  2. OK – can somebody let me know what the plan is? And please don’t tell me we are building around Earl Clark : )

  3. Brought over from the game (if that’s what you want to call it) thread.

    Kobe stepped over a line with Howard. Questioning the severity of his injury is not how you inspire a teammate. It is how you sever trust .. You have to take somebody’s word when they say they are injured and need more healing time. The only reason he is playing is because Kobe used the media to make him look like less than a man.
    ______

    Well said James, and you just may be right. It’s always a risky proposition when an individual questions the integrity of a teammate. I’ve said it before and I’m still of the belief that Dwight doesn’t like Kobe, can’t stand playing with him and the losing will only exasperate those feelings. This latest back and forth episode between the two might be the final straw for Dwight.

  4. Robert,

    “The plan” is the same as it was yesterday, and last week: Wait to see what Howard does. That is all there is right now, and all there will be until July.

  5. Howard played because the team doctors cleared him. Also, Nash said some stuff about Howard needing to play with “discomfort and pain”, so I guess he was questioning Howard’s manhood, too.

    As I have said: emotions and analysis don’t mix well. If you are mad at Kobe (and Nash) for calling out Howard, that’s OK. But the Lakers lost this game because of the reasons Darius and Philip explained, and because Boston is hot–6-0 without Rondo.

  6. rr: Of couse I know that. And as you do – I still want to sign him. That said, I asked the question partially due to the onlsaught of posts that state we do not want him or that he does not want us. As you probably realize, we will not have a happy summer if he walks on us.

    What is Kobe thinking right now?

  7. Robert,

    I hope he is thinking, “We need to beat Charlotte.” Kobe and Howard obviously don’t like each other, and that is a drag, but I am of the belief that winning leads to chemistry more than the other way around.

    My own opinions:

    1. Howard came back too soon.
    2. The main problem is still the perimeter D, and Howard’s ailments further expose it.

    Phil might have been the guy to bring Kobe and Howard to detente, or he might not have.

  8. rr
    Bigger problem that. Worst small forwards in the league. Terrible defense for PGs. Offense and defense that doesn’t fit the team. No Pau or Hilll to fall back on when your center is pouting. Coach who appears clueless to make adjustments.

    By far the most overrated, underperforming, overpaid Lakers team in memory. Almost looked like the issues between Kobe and Baby
    Dwight infected the entire team.

    If this same team takes the floor after the all-star game then Robert and others were right. This front office is unable to build a winner.

    This is not a playoff team. Mean while, like I warned, well coached teams like Denver have won 9 of 10.

    Bad year to be a passionate Laker fan. But life goes on.

    Metta, Meeks, Duhon, Eubanks and Howard need to be moved. Nowadays,

  9. I am also not sure that Howard leaving–and unless something changes, I think he is going to–will be a disaster.

    But I would try to bring him back.

  10. I’d rather have Kevin Love be my franchise player rather this baby Dwight.

    Man, we really need some miracle coming from the FO before the trade deadline.

  11. The Celtics came prepared for a typical knock down drag out struggle. The Lakers failed to show up. It was humiliating, revealing too clearly what we already knew.

    Beating the Celtics requires defense and defensive intensity. The Lakers neither had the philosophy, the execution, or the effort. The Celtics had all three. Adrenaline and talent kept the Lakers closer than they should have been in the first quarter, but even Kobe couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again, fell into iso mode, and the writing was on the wall.

    Dwight showed great courage to even be on the floor, but was awarded far too much responsibility and on court time for his condition. This was exacerbated as D’Antoni stubbornly clung to his 8 man rotation against the Doc Rivers 10, wearing the L:akers down.

    The D’Antoni spread offense was a nightmare against a team that disrupted the pg’s timing, protected the paint, and closed out against the 3 point shooters. Ultimately, Kobe was forced to iso against the usual stacked defense that the Celts effectively implement. To his credit, Kobe had one of his better games against Baston ever, making shot after shot in the humiliating third quarter–a totally wasted effort.

    D’Antoni might well be a great coach, but playing his brand of basketball with this team against a defensively minded, grind it out team like the Leps, is more like suicide than basketball.

    Perhaps the worst takehome from this game is that this blowout was no fluke. Without the facilitation of Pau, assist oriented basketball we’ve recently seen could vanish, and we will be back to iso oriented basketball and virtually no chemistry–and even worse defense than was played tonight.

    It’s depressing.

  12. Dwight is a bigger baby than I thought..He is not worthy of wearing the purple and gold and carrying the torch. The desire to be the best and dominate is not there, I dont want to hear anything about his back being an issue. Even with his back issue he is still athletically better than the guys guarding him night in night out; which leaves him to depend on skill level or lack there of. Skill wise he is below average, go back and take a look at the Magic Celtic series from a few years ago. Howard was single covered and rarely if ever doubled by Perk or Big Baby Davis. His lets all be friends, hold hands, koombayah, stop saying such means things about me, be more positive media mentality is NOT going to cut it in LA. He is not cut out to be the guy and lead us into the future.

  13. Like i said before..if nobody wants your players…your players suck.

    There is no trade to make..nobody wants any of these guys…maybe earl clark has helped his cause.

    Dwight without his athleticism is just a shorter version of jason collins

  14. I didn’t see the first 10 mins or so, so its hard to get a sense if Darius’s analysis was right, but there seemed to be a bad feeling eminating from the team, when there was none of that on Tuesday, and in fact we saw the opposite of that, a cohesive whole and some very good vibes…so to see that fall apart so quickly is kind of depressing, and tends to make one feel that the very public squable re Dwight’s playing and calling him out in public was an issue.

    Having said that, I am open to the ideas proposed by rr and Darius, that the stench was more a matter of a badly played game against a team on the top of their game and seemingly with some real desire to just crush us. And that often chemistry just comes from winning more than anything else.

    I will say that when I watched the Brooklyn game, my impression was that was not a super defensive effort but rather a very bad team and/or a good team playing/shooting exceptionally poorly on the other side of the ball. And if as has been said that the lakers did come with a move the ball mentality initially then I am ok to accept that provisionally. There was some better ball movement in the second quarter when Nash was on the floor with mostly the bench, to be sure. Nash can be disrupted somewhat by a very aggressive defender, so that is also part of it. I do note that that did not seem to be Steve Kerr’s take and he has a pretty good feel for Dantoni/Nash.

    But when the game is falling apart as it did at the end of the 3rd quarter, I still on balance, feel it is better to go down with the ship, by moving the ball a bit more, than by really grinding the offence to a halt, even if, as was the case, you are hitting a bunch of shots, as Kobe was.

  15. At this rate, I wonder if Dwight re-signing after this season reduces the odds of Kobe re-signing after next. Frankly, I’d rather have Kobe for two more years than Dwight for 5.

    Just can’t see this guy as someone to build a franchise around. Mental toughness is a component to greatness, and there are too many signs of weakness in Howard. If he and his teammates are to be believed, Dwight knocks down his free throws with regularity in practice, but come game time his weak mind gets the better of him and he’s awful.

    No low post game, bad hands, poor foul shooting, and now a back surgery behind him. It’s hard to imagine that his best days aren’t behind him, and his best wasn’t good enough. This season is beyond recovery. Why not start the rebuilding now?

  16. Funky,

    You can’t rebuild with Kobe on your roster. There is no point him hanging around for a rebuilding process at this point in his career. Rebuilding means starting over with a new system, new franchise player, reset expectations, etc. It’s means completely closing the book on one era to start writing a new one. Kobe, like Phil, casts a long shadow. As long as he is around the team can’t truly start over. That is why this season was so important. It was one of only a few chances left to win in the Kobe era. Because in order to rebuild, the Kobe era has to formally end.

    Wishing Dwight away is fine. But who is the next franchise player in waiting? We Laker fans sometimes act like once in a generation players like Magic, Shaq, and Kobe just grow on trees. If Howard does bail this Summer the Lakers could be looking at the start of the dark ages.

  17. I don’ think Howard is Shaq or KAJ. But I would still try to keep him. The reason not to is the back.

  18. T. Rogers — Your point that superstars don’t grow on trees is valid. But those who believe that if Howard stays, that would leave the Lakers with a superstar, well that just isn’t correct at all.

    This is easily the most unwatchable, least enjoyable Laker team since 2004-05, and it may be the worst overall in the past 25 years that I’ve been a fan. Five more years of seeing Howard pout, miss free throws, look completely clueless in the post, and Hack-A-Dwight whenever it suits the opponent? No thanks. If 1994-95 or 2007-08 proved anything, fans will rally hard around less-talented teams that play hard than they will around overpaid, wannabe stars who half-ass it night in and out.

    It’s no coincidence that the team’s best play in months came the past few games while Dwight was out. Say bye-bye to him, bring in some new pieces and put Pau back at center next season.

    Funky Chicken’s points are all valid, not to mention the fact that Howard has shown no signs that he’d stay in L.A. if given the opportunity.

    Dwight isn’t the next franchise player for the Lakers, whether he’s gone in two weeks or in five years. But he is an albatross, and the sooner he’s chucked overboard, the better off the Lakers will be.

  19. Harvey,
    I certainly think the fact that Kobe and D12 appear to hate each other is a problem, but I prefer to focus on the things that we can see on the floor and in the numbers. For example, the team was 4/21 from the arc tonight, and KB only had one of those misses. As KOOO points out, this team has personnel issues. As Robert and others have pointed out, there are reasons to question MDA.

    As to D12, I think his back is a bigger problem than his attitude.

  20. I only watched three qtrs of this game – couldn’t stand the torture and turned it off at that point. Therefore, perhaps my comments are not valid, but…

    With all the talk about Dwight Howard I decided to concentrate on him on the offensive end and see what happened. What I saw was a black hole, one that insisted on one-on-one basketball with his back to the basket. We have all talked about how his best game is movement and the pick-and-roll dive to the basket. This player simply does not want to play that brand of basketball.

    What he will be next year I have no idea. What he is this year is a ball-stopper and this team simply cannot afford a ball-stopper if they are going to get anything done. MWP frequently fits into this category and when these two are on the floor together the offense just stinks up the joint. I am not talking solutions here, but just making the observation. If these two don’t raise their heads and try to pass the ball when double covered, then we have zero chance of even getting to .500 this year – never mind the playoffs.

  21. C’mon guys, let’s focus on some positives. I know it’s difficult with the way this season is going but all this “Dwight doesn’t like Kobe” and “Dwight isn’t the right fit” talk doesn’t help and it isn’t necessarily true. We’ve won 6 of the last 8, and tomorrow we play a Bobcats team and that should be the focus right now. If we take that game we can walk into Miami with a little momentum and confidence. There will be games that we will walk into unprepared/undermanned or we will run into a team that is just red hot and executing better than we are. We’ve seen some positive signs in the past few weeks, let’s see what we can do with the remainder of this trip

  22. Only watched the highlights… and already there I see several examples of lacking energy. That offensive rebound Garnett snatches between four Lakers players is just ridiculous. Garnett cannot even jump, and Dwight has position on him… if he botherede to actually buckle down and lay some wood on Garnett. But instead he just stands there looking, too close to the rim.

    If the 12 and 13 year old players in my team did this I would sub them. Damn, Dwight Howard, really!? Is this how you sore up our defense?

  23. Kobe is a pro….Dwight is still learning what it takes. Kobe takes Dwight out of his comfort zone and places D12′s feet to the fire to get the best out of him. This makes Dwight uncomfortable. Van Gundy demanded Dwight’s best in Orl. and he and Howard butted heads. I see a pattern with Dwight. He has no idea how hard it is to win a title. I like him. I hope the Lakers can keep him and that he can regain his health. He is redeemable.

  24. Why they did not ride Kobe’s hot hand is beyond me.Feed them and they brick towards Sears Tower.

  25. Can we take Bynum back?

  26. The Lakers are at a crossroads before Dwight and Nash arrived. But we already had a direction to follow. 2014 was the big year to fetch the big names, or atleast try to build a core before signing/trading for one later on.

    In retrospect, we could have had Sessions for 5M x 2 and Bynum for his current contract. Bynum FOR SURE would have asked for the extension which we might or might’ve not given him thereby causing another internal stir.

    Sessions would have been playing well enough to support Kobe and Pau, with Metta’s regained form and Jordan Hill getting increasingly gaining the ire of his coach Mike Brown since last season’s acquisition. Antawn Jamison would still be here, Jodie Meeks too.

    PG: Sessions – Blake – Morris
    SG: Bryant – Meeks – DJO
    SF: World Peace – Ebanks – Chris Douglas Roberts
    PF: Gasol – Jamison –
    C: Bynum – Hill – Sacre

    By this time, the Odom TPE would have dissipated. Bynum is still not playing. Hill would become the starting center, and would have sustained the same injury.

  27. rr,

    I agree that there are roster issues, but I did see some signs of something a bit more seamless, with everyone out there, against OKC and with Pau and no Dwight against the nets. My takeaway is that offensive cohesion is the most important part of this team’s unity, and when Dwight is in, and with the combination of his limited post game and his injuries, and the seeming desire of Kobe and Nash to get him the ball a lot, there definitely are bigger issues. I can see that one of the things that was working for Dwight was having Pau to get him the ball as well as with his entry passes there was already pressure on the interior defenders to contend with Pau which tended to create some extra space for Dwight. So I guess part of it is the realization that Pau was more of the glue than I had imagined, but also the hopelessness of trying to run a coherent offence that uses everyones skill set, but also incorporates Dwight. Maybe going back to some post ups for Kobe, and letting him facilitate from there, but also forcing Dwight to run some PNR with Nash, will get Dwight sufficiently engaged.

    Its hard to accept but its a little bit back to the drawing board with Pau out and Dwight in. While they may have been ultimately less effective with no Dwight, it sure feels that it would have been easier to run a coherent offence without him, in the short run.

  28. Time to rebuild. I feel so much for Kobe. What a legend. Dwight should be cherishing the experience of learning from someone with so much desire, disregard for the doubters, and as a result has five rings. All I wanted was for Kobe to get 6 rings to match Jordan, for in my mind he’s just as good.

  29. Andrew, the 5 rings are enough for me. I shall not think of Kobe any less than Jordan with what I’ve seen. If not the word “greater” I have him as “equally great”. Its just the most complete athlete, competitor and warrior I have ever witnessed.

    7 rings would’ve made it an affirmation, but only media needs that. Kobe is just one of a kind, and if not for the risk of his own rep, Jordan would agree. Alot of things Kobe did, Jordan wasn’t able to do. Including the heart he shows playing despite injuries.

    I wouldn’t write off this season and the next just yet. With Kobe, you can employ the poker reference of “all you need is a chip and a chair” to believe.

  30. D12 appears to suck energy away from this team rather than the opposite, which is what one would expect. seemingly impossible to know whether this is only a temporary problem, but that is why Mitch gets paid the big bucks. from my reactionary fan perspective, I agree with others above that D12 should be traded ASAP.

  31. Howard is the biggest baby in the league and this point everyone in the league knows it.

  32. In my opinion, within 48 hours, went from the Best win of the season against BK (No Dwight. No Ron. On the road and lost Pau when it counted most) .. To our Worse loss of the season (Against a Celtics squad who played the night before, while we were off. National TV. No Rondo. 30 pt deficit during the game). Emphasis on CELTICS. Embarrassing performance.

    With that being said, if we wish to salvage this ‘Grammy Trip’ by finishing above 500 while on it, we need to show up tonight against the Bobcats. A team who we always seem to have issues with; who’s also well rested. Obviously, if you’re doing the math, I’ve already counted the Heat game as a loss.

  33. I know and realize how D12 looks right now, I don’t consider him a “baby” or any other maligning comment that can be made about him, but I do realize the fit or the non-fit to this current crew. Purely from the salary perspective view, no prejudice to Pau or any other moves the Lakers wish to make, I wouldn’t be opposed if Dwight was traded for better pieces for now and the future.

    My stance is still to pick Dwight at 19 million over Pau at 19 million, but at the risk of injury, fit and other things, the Lakers need to do something. I prefer the deadline, but the offseason is not bad either.

  34. I would still say Kobe is the more talented of the two. Jordan was more like Lebron in that he was more powerful and could get to the basket better. But none of those guys have the fundlementals and foot work of Kobe.

  35. T Rogers, I think Chris articulated my view very well. If you don’t think rebuilding right now is the way to go, what is the alternative?

    This is a bad team. Not a disappointing team or “not a championship” team, but a really, really bad team. Moreover, we have by far the league’s highest payroll and zero upcoming draft picks and, for now, nobody to trade other than Howard. This combination of facts means that expectations of turning this around this season or next are based on hope and faith rather than fact or reality.

    For weeks we have been talking about how this squad can make up ground to qualify for the playoffs. To what end? Is there anyone who seriously thinks this team can beat the top seed in the Western Conference in a 7 game series? This doesn’t mean they should give up trying, but those rinning the team have to have an eye towards the future, and in Lakerland, first round playoff exits are no better than trips to the lottery.

    With virtually nothing to do to change this team this year or next, we have closed the book on Kobe’s Laker career (at least in terms of seeing him or contend for another title). I just don’t see the point of keeping something together that everyone knows isn’t working.

  36. I dont know about Dwights injury but the way he played the game just showed he is not even 70% of his old self. Most of his shots were left handed and even those rebounds and defensive stops/block vs the Celtics were left handed. That being the case, why force the guy to play when he isnt helping the team at all? Nash and Kobe tried to give him the ball early but all he did was missed shots and missed FT’s. Give Ebanks and Sacre some burn and even let Morris play some minutes and see what happens. Anyway “regular” guys cant even make a bucket (see the consecutive missed shots of Meeks aft Kbe penetrated and kick the ball to an open Meeks) As the saying goes “I would rather race a four legged Zebra instead of a 3 legged Stallion”

    This game really showed how we miss Pau Gasol. And with Kobe saying we cant afford to miss Pau for long validates the fact that this team needs Pau more than Dwight right now.

  37. Dwight is hurt and not fully invested mentally. Teammates keep taking shots at gis fragile psyche, it still hasn’t been a year since back surgery, he has no 3 point specialists around him to make him look good, impending free agency and the pressure of la are all things halting his progression this year. He has no post moves and can’t get better post position than kobe. It’s really surprising the size difference between bynum and dwight can even throw pau in there. He doesn’t have the size or lower body strength to play the way he wants to play. And offensive skills are elementary so he’s not effective in PnR. Beyond his limitations on offense he seems mentally weak. Agree with kenny t dwight doesn’t know how hard it,is to win a ring and he doesn’t want to seem to learn either. All the talk early was he was willing to learn and realized kobe was going to be hard on him. Now we know that was nothing but jibberish just like everything else he says. If he can get his base under him he can still be a great defender and rebounder. Like many I don’t think he’s a franchise player but the choices are slim.

  38. T Rogers: With regard to not being able to re-build while KB is here: I understand your point, however I have a different perspective : ) Kobe is not casting a shadow. Rather – he is the only significant ray of sunshine that we have, Without him, there would be near complete darkness. Moving forward, as I have asked many times, what is the plan for post 2014? Why would we not want KB for let’s say $12? Who are we going to get for that price, who would be clearly better.? You and I do agree that if Dwight bails, it is the Dark Ages as you state. I would not say the “start” of the Dark Ages, because I think that may have already occurred : )
    rr: I agree of course that we should pursue Dwight, but if he walks, it will be a disaster. Having a contract like that walk with nothing in return is like a bank writing a major item off their balance sheet. Think about the teams who have had this happen to them in the past and what the aftermath was like. No they were not the Lakers, but then again – are we? (your infamous statement). With regard to the Kobe/DH relationship and the “detente” to which you refer: We do not know if Phil or Jerry or even Henry Kissinger could have solved this issue. We do factually know that nobody has solved it to this point however. After the season, the report card of this team, the FO, and coaches, should be based on facts and results – not on speculation of what might have been if different events happened (I think you would agree).
    Funky: “Frankly, I’d rather have Kobe for two more years than Dwight for 5″: In spite of the fact that I would like both, if forced to choose – I completely agree.
    drrayeye: “playing his brand of basketball with this team against a defensively minded, grind it out team like the Leps, is more like suicide than basketball.”: I think this statement says quite a bit (and I will add that this is regular season).

  39. Keep the Jordan/Kobe stuff out of the comments. It’s just two sides baiting each other into worse comments and it drags down the board. Take it somewhere else. Thanks.

  40. I’d love for the Lakers to beat Charlotte, I just haven’t forgotten how many times they’ve gotten beat in that town in the middle of the season with better teams than this.

  41. good morning darius and there you are…

    lakers got beat soundly by them celtics of boston, ma last night.

    this is today. winnable game against the bobcats tonite; back to back no less.

    keep heads squarely on shoulders and we should be alright.

    Go Lakers

  42. If any player can call another player to suck up the pain, it is Kobe. When the Lakers brought in Dwight it was to rebuild around him. But, he is no looking like a centerpiece. I don’t think the Lakers should trade Dwight for just anything but they should be looking. It will be very hard for the Lakers to add anything next year if Dwight walks. The sky is the limit the following year though.

  43. Hey guys, Celtics fan here. I’m actually here to pick the enemy’s brain so-to-speak. First off, I truly believe Dwight HATES playing with Kobe. I know Dwight is not 100% but his body language to me says everything. As laker fans, what do you think? My other question is what do you guys think of Earl Clark and his value? As a C’s fan I would LOOOVE to have him as he has a great skill set for a young player.

  44. I think in looking at Howard’s problems, we need to focus on two things:

    1. His back, as noted, is a big deal.
    2. History. Going back to Chamberlain, narratives about supposedly fatal personality deficiencies have always attached themselves to star players who do not win rings quickly:

    Jordan (too mean and selfish)
    Robinson (too nice)
    Shaq (too goofy)
    Kobe (too mean and selfish)
    Nowitzki (too soft)
    Garnett (chokes in 4th qtr)
    James (no killer instinct, chokes in 4th qtr).

    History teaches us very clearly that these issues tend to suddenly disappear when the talent around the player in question is championship-level, the right coach is there, and the team cataches a break or two and gets to the top. I see no reason to believe that this is not the case with Dwight Howard. He has his faults, but the narratives about him are largely a product of fan frustration.

    So, the issue with Howard to me is simply his back and shoulder. To respond to Robert’s post, the reason I think Howard walking *might* not be a disaster is that I think it is very possible that he will never again be as good as he was pre-injury. It is easy to picture five years of Howard on and off the injured list, wearing heating pads on the bench and dealing with gradually declining athleticism.

    Or, it maybe that he is back, ready to go, and stronger next year. We simply don’t know.

  45. I usually agree with Funky, but the Lakers are not a bad team. They are a middle of the pack team, and as I said last week, teams like this go up and down. Last night was down. The Lakers are a *weird* middle of the pack team because they have four big names and a gargantuan payroll, but that is what they are.

    As to the future, the Lakers have their 1st round pick in 2014 and if 2015 is a disaster, the pick that year is Top 5-protected. They will have some cap space after next year, and they have the brand (a bit tarnished at the moment but still the LAKERS) and the market.

    Obviously, the future is not bright, but it is not 100% dark, either.

  46. Harvey,

    What I would say there goes back to what I said eaflier: look at the opponent. Boston is 7th in DRTG, and Garnett and Bradley are the perfect guys to disrupt Howard and Nash, and they did. Green and Bass match up well with Clark. That left 3s from the role players and Kobe as the best offensive options, and what happened? The role players went 4/20 on 3s (Kobe missed one). Kobe had a nice night shooting, but it wasn’t enough, since, as it almost always is, the D was bad.

    Clearly, they missed Pau. Boston lacks size, and they are not that fast, so Pau would have helped. But while I get that this is a Lakers board and we look at things from that POV, if people here want to be “analytical” they need to remember two things:

    1. There is another team on the floor.
    2. For the “Dwight is a loser” and “Kobe’s shooting wrecks the defense and the chemistry” crowds, there are also always four other guys on the floor in purple-and-gold.

  47. rr, as usual, your posts are well-reasoned and well-stated. I would place Howard’s back at the top of the list of worries, but it wouldn’t be the only item. My concern is that his back problems (and shoulder, if this is going to be a recurring thing) are exacerbated by my other major issue: his mind.

    With the other players you noted on your list, I think a compelling argument can be made that each of them demonstrated the willingness to work on their games to improve areas of weakness or elevate strengths. Even Shaq, the notoriusly bad foul shooter, developed a low post game that was far more advanced during the Laker title runs than it was during his Orlando days.

    Dwight Howard is an NBA veteran, who has been in this league long enough to have developed some low post skills. Andrew Bynum came into the game later than Howard, with less pre-NBA experience, and in a few short years developed a post game that is radically better than Howard. I find this troubling. It reveals a guy who is content with his abilities, and not one who says “I don’t care how good I am now, I can be better.” Now, as he moves to the middle or later stages of his career, nobody knows if he’ll ever regain his athleticism. Dwight has said several times that he has “lost” the nerves in his legs. I have no idea if this is true, but if so, what is the prognosis for regenerating nerve growth that allows him to be the high fly act that he once was? If his skill level allowed for a loss of athleticism, I might feel differently, but take a way his explosiveness and I can’t see any way he is a max contract player. But Howard is not one of those guys with an “old man’s game” that will age well.

    I’m with you on the 2014-2015 scenario. Losing Howard for nothing would be bad, but not fatal. My issue is simply that the decision on locking Howard up with a max contract will have to be made at a time when we will not know what Howard’s physical abilities will be. In my view, that’s the very definition of a “gamble”. If you max him out for 5 years, you do on on the hope that he becomes a (much) better player than he is today–because I think few people would consider the current-state Dwight Howard a max contract player.

    Moreover, if you plan to max him out, you’re also hoping that he will, in fact, sign with you this summer. At best, that seems like a risky proposition the way this season has gone.

    So, building around DH12 seems to be an exercise in hope. Hope that he wants to return, and hope that if he returns, he will improve physically. It’s not my money, so I’m not terribly worried either way, but as a fan I’d be lying if I didn’t say that planning my favortie team’s future on the basis of hope didn’t concern me. And this, as much as anything, is why I feel like getting something (which would likely be a lot, in terms of picks and other potentially good or tradeble assets) might be the better option for a team that isn’t going anywhere this year or, probably, next.

    Lastly, I’m not sure where “middle of the pack” ends and “bad” begins, but 4 games under .500 after 50 games, with an atrocious record on the road, does qualify as nowhere near good enough. So, if we’re not going to be nearly good enough to warrant this kind of payroll, laying the foundation for the next run seems like the way to go to me….

  48. @Kenny T (12:38am)and Kevin_ (7:46am) : i agree wholeheartedly, still, part of me hopes for D12 to prove us wrong…sigh
    IMO tonight´s game in Charlotte is a must win situation, as much psychologically as record-wise.
    Regarding last night´s `game´, I feel like those dudes in ¨The Hangover¨ when they woke up!

  49. Pretty much every game is a “must win” now. Statistically 70% are, but the Lakers need to play every night as if the games are must win in order to win .700