Lakers v. Heat: A 4th Quarter Collapse Pushes Miami Over The Top

Phillip Barnett —  February 10, 2013

Tonight, Kobe scored 28 points on 19 shots with nine assists and six rebounds — and he was only the third best basketball player on the court tonight. When your best player has a fantastic game, and two guys from the other team have better nights, it just isn’t in the cards for you to win that basketball game. Dwyane Wade scored 15 of his 30 points in the all-telling fourth quarter. His 30 points came on 12-for-18 shooting with five assists and two rebounds. And then there was LeBron James, who, according to Alias Sports Bureau, James has joined Moses Malone and Adrian Dantley as the only three guys to have five straight games with at least 30 points and shoot at least 60 percent from the field. During Bron’s current five-game stretch, he’s shooting over 70% from the field.

There were lots of good things we saw in today’s game outside of Kobe’s brilliance. We can begin with Earl Clark, who was great scoring the ball, passing the ball, and hitting the glass. His box score numbers were outstanding (18 points, nine rebounds, one assist), but his propensity to do things that benefit the team that are outside of the box score are what continue to impress. What he’s been doing on the offensive end throughout this past month and a half haven’t gone without notice, but his range as a defender is what has really stood out to me on this trip. Tonight he saw time guarding Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony. He’s been asked to defend multiple positions with all of the injury issues — and while the results haven’t always been great (both Bron and Wade made light work of him), his willingness to be versatile on that end has been an asset for this team, and was for them again tonight for much of the first three quarters.

Both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard had good shooting performances (3-5 for Nash, 6-9 for Howard) and both recorded 15 points. When he got the ball, Howard was really good a moving fronting defenders up the line and creating space for entry passes. He was a little off to start the game, but got in a groove in the middle quarters finishing around the rim and hitting his free throws. The team collectively shot well from the field. 50 percent overall, 58 percent from three. They were clean with their ball security, at least through three quarters. Heading into the fourth, the Heat only had seven takeaways. However, the Lakers ended with 14 turnovers on the night — and the last seven took scoring opportunities away from a team that desperately needed them. I’ve detailed the Lakers turnovers in the fourth and took a look at what resulted from them below.

————————-

10:18 – Steve Blake and Dwight Howard run a 1-5 P&R. After slipping the screen, Howard receives a pass from Blake and is immediately double teamed. Instead of kicking out and reposting, Howard drives baseline, and spins back toward to middle. As Howard completes his spin, LeBron James reaches in and rips the ball out of Howards hands, begins to fly down the court and is fouled by Steve Blake. Dwyane Wade would hit a jump shot on the ensuing possession. 82-78, Heat.

9:52 – On the Lakers next possession, the set gets disrupted at the top of the key with Norris Cole harassing Steve Blake. Blake eventually gets the ball into Howard on the right block who tries to throw a pass along the baseline. It goes out of bounds. Heat ball. They don’t score, but it’s the 2nd Howard turnover in back-to-back possessions. 82-78, Heat.

7:58 – The Lakers go to their Horns set with Earl Clark and Dwight Howard at the elbows. Steve Blake brings the ball up and receives a screen from Howard. After setting the screen, Howard rolls while Blake swings the ball to Clark who has popped to the top of the perimeter. Howard initially has great position on Chris Bosh, who had been fronting Howard all game. Recognizing where the ball was going, Dwyane Wade comes over from the back side and disrupts the entry pass and recovers the loose ball. Wade misses a jump shot on the other end, but more importantly, the Lakers miss another opportunity to score.

6:15 – Kobe gets the ball on the left wing, isolated against Ray Allen. Kobe faces up, swings through and drives baseline. Chris Bosh helps off of Howard and keeps Kobe from getting a shot up. Kobe tries to feed Howard, but Dwyane Wade steps in, knocks the ball away and saves it before going out of bounds to Norris Cole. Cole pushes the ball up the floor with LeBron James trailing and only Steve Nash back (which has been a trend on this Grammy trip). Cole lobs the ball up for Bron who catches it and obliterates the rim. 91-84, Heat. Their largest lead of the game up until that point.

5:49 – Kobe is in a similar situation in which he’s isolated on the left wing with Ray Allen defending him. He spins and drives baseline and has to pass the ball when Norris Cole slides over to help. Kobe gets in the air to make the pass, which is knocked down by LeBron James. Ray Allen would miss a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, but it’s two turnovers by Kobe on consecutive possessions instead of shot attempts — which is devastating when you’re down by seven against a better team.

3:36 – Steve Nash misguided entry pass is picked off by LeBron James who takes it the length of the court and obliterates the rim. 97-88, Heat.

2:34 – Steve Nash brings the ball up, and hits Kobe on the left wing after Howard sets a pin down screen for him. Howard rolls immediately after the screen and is wide open. However, Kobe isn’t able to make the pass over the top with a hard double from both Wade (defending Kobe) and Bosh (defending Howard). Instead, Kobe tries to get the ball to him with a behind-the-back pass which was picked off by a lurking Shane Battier. Both Kobe and Nash had been forced into making behind-the-back passes out of double teams early in the 1st quarter. I tweeted that it would be something that could potentially come back to haunt them, it did. Battier would go on to miss a 3-point attempt on the other end, but again, it was more about the lost possession rather than the result of it.

————————-

Overall, it was one of the Lakers better played basketball games of the season. Heading into that fourth quarter, the Lakers had been going blow-for-blow with the defending champions. Unfortunately, to beat a team like the Miami Heat, you can’t just engage in a slugfest, you need a more calculated approach. The better team usually prevails in closely contested battles, and that’s what ended up happening today. The Lakers could have been better on the boards, they could have gotten to a few more loose balls, they could have rotated a bit better on the defensive end — but there was no underling flaw that the Lakers had last night outside not being as good as the Heat. The Grammy trip is over and will head back to Los Angeles for some home cooking and a home game against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

Phillip Barnett

Posts

62 responses to Lakers v. Heat: A 4th Quarter Collapse Pushes Miami Over The Top

  1. well, certainly KB24 and Clark were high points, but not a word of D12 loafing around and the Lakers (handily) losing the rebound battle to a bad rebounding team?

  2. Here is the truth as I see it.

    A-This current version of Dwight, factoring in his TOs, missed free throws and offensive problems ismire tore then a top 8 to 10 center.
    B-this version of Nash factoring in his TOs, defensive liabilities and lack of speed(age) is a top 20 PG.
    C-This version of Metta, shooting 25%, ball stopping and poor to average defense is a top 30 or bottom 3 SF.
    D-This bench with wasted space from Duhon, Morris, Eubanks, no back up big is a top 25 or bottom 5 bench
    F-This coach with his wrong offense, inability to adjust or use his bench and clear lack of respect from his team is a top 25 or bottom 5 coach.

    Add it up and you have a top 20 team, below ,500 and only a small chance of being in one of the 16 playoff teams.

    That being said, I must rate this current front office with a non-basketball guy in Jim running personal and mostly new or different scouts and no 1st round choices for 2 years as a bottom 10 FO in the league.

    Seems that the smartest guy around was Magic way back in October who said “Blow this thing up”.

    Sad, but they are what their record says they are. No longer an elite team and maybe no longer a elite franchise moving forward.

  3. Tviper,

    He is playing hurt. That is what happens when guys play through injuries. They don’t play up to par. That is no excuse. But it is what it is. Dwight hasn’t looked like DPOY Dwight since suiting up in a Laker uniform. By his own admission, his back is in pain every day. There is no way he going to be a true difference maker down low if his back is out of whack. Maybe that means the Lakers should let him walk in the off season or try trading him.

    I actually think the Lakers played a good game. We have to be honest with ourselves. They were not going to beat Miami at home. LeBron is just too good. This game was at the end of the trip. Their front line is thin and their back court is old. Seeing them wear down in the fourth was not a surprise. This loss wasn’t bad. It’s the loss to the Suns that hurt.

  4. This was an away game against the Heat and we are without Pau. Not even the most optimistic of us, would have had us favored in this game if we had forecast it – even in the pre-season. That said, while this game is forgivable, this is our 28th loss and many of the other 27 are not. We are 4 full games out of the last playoff spot. We are playing at 46% while the 2 teams in spots 7 + 8 are playing at 54%. If they continue at that pace, they will finish with approximately 45 wins. We must play 700 ball over the next 30 games to get there We have what “should be” a gimme against Phoenix coming up, but then this is followed by the Clips, the C’s, and then what could be a literal do/die game against the Trailblazers (then again almost every game is that way now). How did we get here?

  5. There will always be issues in a game. you rarely play a perfect game and coming off this very pressure packed year, and all these injuries and coaching changes and this long road trip, there was a real concern, that they could get blown out by the best team in the league, who are at home and on a huge roll. Lebron, imho, is playing the best ball anyone has ever played in the NBA, ever…so that is really hard to beat as even if he doesn’t produce that game, you need to respect him, so much, that it almost a self fullfiling prophecy. Maybe the fear of humiliation is what pushed them so hard.

    But for most of the game, they played very well, and shared the ball with multiple contributors. And one thing that really hurts with Pau gone, is that the team is just much different with Dwight in there, so I think they made a huge adjustment, in a short time to an effective team even without Pau on the floor.

    My only fear is that they blow this up, as I still think that would be a mistake. JVG hit it right on the head…this team was not built to withstand this many injuries, and tumult, and given the drama, and the coaching changes, they are playing quite well considering that XMAS was the first game, where everybody was together, and there has been a ton of injuries since then. I am not sure this team can beat OKC or Miami as constructed, but I fear no one else, (not over a 7 game series). Even with all of this, the lakers are ranked in 11th in point differential, and are now all the way up to 16th in defensive efficiency which is a big accomplishment after the horrid start (means they are probably top 8 for the last 6 weeks or so). With closing out games better, less injuries and a real training camp, I see them as top 5 in the league, behind OKC and Miami but on par with the clips, spurs and anyone else (at least in a playoff series). So with some tweaks they can get there, I think, or can at least get into contention, but I fear that the bad vibes and the bad start, and given the market, this season will result in a mini blow up at the end of the year. Think that would be a mistake. So I am cheering hard for them to make the playoffs, as symbolically, this will say to the FO, the fans and the players, to stick with it for one more year.

  6. Howard bring hurt I think is crap, because even in his current state he is athletically and physically superior to opponents maybe except maybe (javele McGee, Ibaka, dandre Jordan athletically). The problem is Howard doesn’t have the skill or mindset to make opponents pay. Howard has that sweeping hook and that’s about it.

  7. I think the Lakers are a team better built for the playoffs. The way they’ve played vs Miami and Okc since this new offense has been great. They’ve played at their pace and at an elite level. The last 4-5 minutes is when things fall apart. They have no one outside of Kobe that can make a play. Dwight will get sent to the line for 2, by the way when is the last time the guy got an and-1, and Nash may get a good shot but I’d rather have the ball in Kobe’s hands. Then you couple the lack of options late with no 3 pt shooters teams have to respect. The offense becomes one dimensional and Kobe or bust. Once Pau comes back he and Kobe have to play their two man game. Kobe post up, Pau post up, Kobe/pau PnR to give the team others options other than the only great one they have is a kobe post up.

    If Dwight is going to play hurt then he has to decide to expend the most amount of energy on defense and it’s the opposite right now. He wants to score instead of defend and Lakers won’t win that way. Chalmers shot over him got the offensive rebound over him and put it back over him. Dwight is not playing with fire and no hustle or intensity. Aside from a few lay ins he was invisible. No game changing plays. The situation is probably affecting him too much and if Mitch is smart he’d look to deal him. Arguing with Nash and two straight years of diva behavior. Let him become another team’s problem that’s what’ll happen because he’s not as good as he thinks he is offensively. And if he can’t consistently generate points of post ups or PnR with Nash, Kobe and Pau on the team he is nothing but a glorified role player. he shouldn’t have to be in a system surronded by 3 pt players to thrive. Not one superstar needs a system to be successful. Paul, Irving, Westbrook, Kobe, Wade, Harden, LeBron, Melo, Durant, Love, Dirk, Lopez or Gasol’s. Dwight is proving to be the best role player of all time.

    Lakers can probably beat anyone other than Okc, Sa in the playoffs. Clipper, Denver would be a toss up. Convinced lakers make the playoffs now but only Dwight can make the team championship contenders.

  8. Watching Lebron reminds me of when I was a kid, watching Jordan. For so long I denied that he was better than my beloved Magic. But the sheer force of his performances, over and over again, brought me to grudgingly accept him as a better all-time player than my favorite Laker ever.

    Lebron is reaching that point for me. He’s putting himself in position to displace my 2nd favorite Laker ever. His athleticism, bball IQ, and skill level are all off the charts. He’s on pace to pass Kobe in practically every statistical and awards category. And like Jordan, I will be rooting against him until the end of his career, but man – he is a special player to watch.

    And my hope is just like the Bulls, the Heat’s time will come and go, and the Lakers will rise again. I just fear with cats like Lebron around, it may be a long time to wait.

  9. No Kevin, this team is not a championship contender period. Dwight is who he is and is not going to change. Unless they get fully healthy, even a team like the Clippers will demolish this team in the playoffs. We need change after this season whether it be the coaching or the players, but probably both. Mr. Pringles will never get a team to the championship because he doesn’t preach defense and teas that don’t play defense don’t win titles. Dwight has proven himself to be a baby daddy’s boy and we don’t need that in LA. He needs to go after this season.

  10. Kevin…agree that the Laker are built for the playoffs. Problem is, because of their weak bench, they may not get there. Every top flight team has at least one bench player that could start on most teams. The Lakers don’t have that luxury. As a result, the Lakers’starters play way too many minutes and are fatigued in the fourth quarter.

    I can’t judge Dwight too harshly. The man is hurt and trying to tough it out. My beef with him is that he doesn’t seem to play with any enthusiasm. The team needs him desperately. If this is all he’s got, then the Lakers are in a bad way.

  11. @vegas unfortunately when the Heat era is over, it will be OKC’s era.

  12. I believe the Lakers were championship but we have the absolutely wrong coach for our roster. WE flat out DO NOT play to our strengths which is a slow down half court type game, that is the reason why the games in the OKC series last year were close. Trianglish offense; thats why we have been playing better lately with Kobe initiating the offense in the half court from the post. I cant believe we laker management thought MDA was THEE long term solution for this franchise. The dumb shots with 20 secs left on the clock by Meeks and company are all MDA; I believe we DO have a roster to compete but not the right coach. The one thing that concerns me is that we dont have the type of guys outside of Kobe (youth) that can force their will defensively in the 4th quarter like OKC and MIA can. Those teams are able to notch up the Defensive intensity like no other late in the 4th and suffocate teams; thats where experienced championship personnel is needed. Outside of Kobe, Pau, MWP, it seems like the other guys and the coach shy away from that kind of pressure.

  13. The Lakers still have periods of trying to rush into their offense although they have been much more patient lately. For example, in the 4th quarter Meeks put up a 3 pointer early in the clock with no one around to rebound. It gave the ball back to the Heat and they were able to attack an unsettled Laker defense. It is difficult but the Lakers need better discipline on offense and really make sure they are getting quality shots later in the clock. Also, I am still not convinced that it is a good thing for Howard to be playing. He has an unusual brace attached to his arm to help keep his shoulder in place. It will absolutely kill any playoff chances the Lakers have but Howard needs to shut it down and get healthy. Otherwise the Lakers showed some pride and stayed in the game longer than expected. They were simply outclassed once the Heat started to take them seriously.

  14. We played good but not good enough.The big two were unstoppable. EC is not a fluke; he’s a baller. Kobe was Kobe. DH & SN played well in spots. The bench was almost non-existent as usual. Not a bad run but now its time to head home & regroup.

  15. Well those sacramento Kings have really stepped up, and done a big favor for the lakers, knocking off Houston and Utah back to back. Lakers only 3 behind Houston in the loss column (with one game left with them, and a chance to win the season series) and only 4 behind Utah. Sacremento can be tough on any given night.

  16. Vegas: I hear you, but I have not succumbed quite as much as you have. LBJ is a great team player I will give him that, but his brand of barreling down the lane and if anyone touches him, it is a foul – is not good for the game. It is like a huge pass receiver being able to completely push off with no such thing as offensive interference. LBJ is an out of control Charles Barkley only he can actually dribble and shoot from range. There is almost no way to stop him under the rules if he is allowed to initiate contact and the foul is on you. Is he the best – yes – no doubt – but I do not have to like it : )
    tony: Interesting post – however I will not respond – as I have pledged not to comment in that area. Perhaps a guy named rr will respond to you.

  17. Well, I still think it means nothing in the end, but Houston, Portland, Minnesota and Denver all lost too….

  18. re-posted

    I was at a kid’s bday party today at a family fun center; unfortunately, they had a TV, so I saw about 2/3 of the game and the entire 4th anyway. Thoughts:

    1. The main thing that I would fault MDA on is the endless loop of Kobe in the midpost/everyone stand around sequences in the 4th. They need to mix in some different looks, particularly sets that get Howard or Kobe the ball on the move towards the hoop. MDA is wasting Nash late, which is just weird. Even as he is now, Nash is a threat.
    2. But the rest of what I saw was personnel. James is playing as well as anyone ever has in the history of basketball, and the Lakers lack athleticism and quickness in the lineup and on the bench, and with Howard as he is, they don’t have the rim protection to cover it. The team’s primary need remains a ballhawking, athletic perimeter player. Miami had 1 TO in the 4th. A guy like that would really help the Lakers even if he shot 0/5 in 20-25 MPG every game. As noted, stopping James right now is like trying to control the weather, so you have to contain Wade and also make Miami pay for the lack of quality size (Pau would have helped today).The Lakers did neither.

  19. Robert mentioned the upcoming schedule; the next four are at home:

    2/12 PHX
    2/14 LAC
    2/20 BOS
    2/22 POR

    then

    2/24 @DAL
    2/25@DEN
    2/28 MIN
    3/3 ATL

  20. I think the Lakers season will come down to 8 road games, against good and middle of the road teams. They play at Dallas, at NO, at Atlanta at Milwaukee (both as the second night of back to backs) and at Indiana, Portland, Sac and at GSW. I am counting as a loss the game at OKC and at Denver on a back to back and wins in the other 3 easy road games against lesser opponents, and a split of the two games with the clips, one of which is “on the road”. If they can play as they did today they should be able to get 4 to 5 of those and that would go a long way to getting them in the playoffs.

  21. I didn’t see the game, but very happy with the stats of the duke, duke, duke, Duke of Earl. I hope the Lakers find a way to keep him beyond this year, as he is a player that knows how to play in Los Angeles, unlike several of his team mates.

  22. From Yahoo sports Eric Edelman/could not have said it better.

    Meanwhile, the Lakers’ collection of superstars is slouching toward an empty June. Howard is a wreck, Steve Nash is getting bombarded when he gets the ball and receives no help, and Pau Gasol is out for longer than Lakers fans care to fathom. The result is the Heat becoming the new Showtime and the Lakers becoming Slowtime, with players standing around and watching Bryant try to make magic. Improbably, he often does exactly that: He had 28 points, six rebounds and nine assists Sunday, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The Lakers hung with the Heat for three quarters, but it felt as if it were just a matter of time before James and Wade dropped the guillotine.

  23. Oops is was Adelman

  24. I feel really bad for Kobe at this point in his career. He’s had to face numerous changes but none like this ever. I still believe the lakers can still pull it all together. Everybody has to chip in more than they ever had to. No use in bickering about our coach. The lakers have to do what it takes even if sacrifices have to be made.

  25. I still don’t buy the idea that we have seen the whole of what this team can be…not yet, and given the potential deep pockets of the ownership group, think they can buy/trade for one last piece, something along the lines of what RR is proposing (a quick, young defensively astute wing player (or point guard) who can cover the wings and preferably shoot some 3’s, basically Shane Battier, but maybe a Tony Allen type or even Jared Dudley (maybe not athletic enough but with exceptional IQ and a very positive player) or Goran Dragic) to round this out. Don’t know if it is enough to unseat the Heat or the Thunder but I do think a healthy team with all these pieces in place plus Gasol (or a qualified replacement) and Jordan Hill would make things interesting.

  26. I think what we have to do is begin deepening the rotation of this team, even if we don’t have the talent. We do have Nash, who is already playing out of his element. He is, however, a galvanizing kind of player who would do wonders for a second unit looking to prove themselves.

    Since Kobe being a facilitator has effectively eliminated D’antoni’s run and gun offense, why don’t we develop a 10 man rotation, so that players can remain in their own element.

    Here’s an example:

    Kobe -PG
    S. Blake- SG
    Clark – SF
    MWP- SF
    D12 – C

    Then…you have, starting the second quarter.

    Nash-PG
    Meeks-SG
    Jamison-SF
    Ebanks-SF
    Sacre – C

    There is so much ‘individual’ talent on this team I think the only to make everyone happy is to create two lineups. Nash will bring together the four players, and when the second quarter begins (so often when teams are catching a breather) we can bring in a ‘Nash’ smallball lineup. With the lineup above, Nash has three guys who can shoot the three, and he’s got a presence underneath. In a sense, he’d end being a lot like Dragic was for the Suns in 2010, during that playoff run.

    Meanwhile, the first unit won’t have to worry so much about speeding up the tempo. They can play a bit smashmouth. This way, D’antoni gets to at least have some fun coaching Nash the way he wants to, and Kobe and D12 merely figure out how to coexist, which would be the hardest part.

    Just a thought.

  27. Is there post game interview to be seen anywher?

  28. Dwight should expand his arsenal a little bit.Overall a good game but Lebron is unbelievable right now,hard to stop. 4-3 not bad at all.

  29. Nash really does give max effort it’s that of a 39 yr old but he’s working. Slick defender too sucks in iso but plays pnr defense as good as any laker guard which isn’t a good thing. So many opportunities for dwight when kobe posts instead he rather stand still setting up an easy box out. Crazy to think lakers were in this without pau.

  30. I am confused with all the LeBron is unbelievable talk.
    Most of his points came off fastbreak dunks. When he was defended by MWP he had his way because MWP defended him poor. Whenever Clark switched on him he settled for jumpers. The Lakers lost this game when they decided to force feed Howard early in the 4th. Not a loss to sweat over in my opinion, especially since its the last game of the road trip. The Phoenix and Boston games are the games that were disappointing. I will stick to my prediction that LA will be 7th seed by March 20th.

  31. Although we lost, I was impressed by Kobe. Also I don’t know about the author of this piece saying Kobe was the 3rd best player on the court. It’s hard to say anyone was better than Kobe last night. Younger maybe but not better. The heat play a brand of defense that allows themto have many flatbread opportunities, the Lakers have to work real hard for their offense. How can LeBron be the better player because they r operating in a system that gets them breakaway dunks. Go watch the game again and see the number of moves in Kobe’s arsenal compared to that of LeBron and Wade combined. I guess in this authors mind, Shaq is a better than Hakeem Olajunwon and Tim Duncan.

  32. The Lakers are at 10th right now and didn’t change despite the loss because the 3 teams ahead of us all lost too. A 7th seed finish is not impossible.

  33. Haven’t comented in awhile ..I remain true to my team and always will!!But please ,please fire MDA at seasons end..Is there a worse coach in the NBA ?!

  34. Couple of simple observations:

    1. Our inability to secure defensive rebounds in the 1st half, after playing solid defense for the majority of the 24 second clock, was a factor. Pau and J. Hill was missed.

    2. Turnovers, particularly in the 4th, killed us. Seems as if they were all converted into fast break baskets by the Heat.

    3. Too much Kobe Iso’s in the 4th. An ‘Offensive Genius’ should have the ability to diagram a better offensive scheme during Money Time. He didn’t.

    4. LeBron is guaranteed to get his numbers, but just like in the 1st game against the Heat, Wade ‘Showed Out.’ In order for us to have any chance of defeating them, he had to be contained and he definitely wasn’t. Especially in the 4th. To his credit, when his jumper is on, there isn’t much one can do to defend him and unfortunately for us, it was on yesterday.

    Considering the fact that we were more then likely to lose this game (personally, I thought that we would get blown out), I can’t be too upset with the results. Just as in the 1st game against them, we competed, until the better team pulled away when it counted most. In the 4th quarter.

  35. great recap

  36. Rusty Shackleford February 11, 2013 at 7:40 am

    The optimist in me wants to think that if the Lakers didn’t have all those turnovers in the 4th quarter they could have pulled the win out.

    The realist in me is thinking that Lebron had complete control over the game and, had the Lakers built any sort of lead, Lebron could have made it disappear with one simple surge.

  37. FO needs to stop sitting on thier hands and get some damn size. Tired of seeing Delonte and Kenyon sitting at home when they can help this team with depth issues.

  38. @maert No need to be confused, Lebron is the NBA’s cash cow, so the league’s management and media (ESPN & co) are effectively hangers-on of his. Non-stop sycophancy is mandatory.

    Lebron is also obsessed with his stats — he actually does the whole “release the shot a split second after the buzzer, so it doesn’t count against my field goal percentage” routine, as if he were a marginal player worried about the next contract.

  39. rr,

    “The team’s primary need remains a ballhawking, athletic perimeter player. ”

    I’m not trying to drift into trade speculation, I would just like to know your thought a few samples as referenced below the level of a Batum-type.

  40. I forget the poster who earlier in the year kept pointing out that the Lakers weren’t gaining ground in the standings. Well, in the Last10 games, Utah is 5-5, Houston is 6-4, Portland is 5-5. Meanwhile the Lakers are 7-3. If the Lakers win 7 out of 10 the rest of the way, they will not only make the playoffs but they will be at least a 7th seed.

  41. In terms of personnel, I am perplexed that Eubanks isn’t being used at all. As poorly as MWP has been playing (offense and defense) any young athletic SF would be an upgrade at the 3.

  42. maert: Yes – 7 out of 10 is a decent goal (certainly no gimme however). Also, as per my post above, if the Lakers win 21 out of the next 30, we will be close if let’s say both Houston and Utah play at that 6-4 type pace. As you point out, Portland is also in the mix. So in the immediate future, 4 games, I would say that the games against Phoenix and Portland are must wins, and we need to split the games with the Clips and the C’s.

  43. Yes TOs killed the Lakers in the 4th but remember this team has a high TO rate and the Heat game plan is to force TOs with defensive pressure leading to easy fast break points. So in a way, the low TO rate the first 3 quarters was an anomaly for the Lakers and the 4th regression to the mean.

    And the above examples show why the complaint that “They need to feed Dwight more” to exploit the size difference with the Heat is simply misguided. The Heat’s quickness make it easy to deny or pick off post passes, and even if Dwight gets the ball, he gets easily stripped.

    I don’t know what the answer is, except maybe with this team there is no answer.

  44. 6th place is actually still possible. would need to go like 23-7, 24-6, 25-5, to do it, (and GSW would need to continue to struggle a bit, and lakers would need to win the 2 games against them), which is not entirely impossible…There are very few guaranteed L’s on the upcoming sched., so its more about seizing the moment, and playing consistently well, than any kind of miracle.

    Biggest enemy is the lakers…can they play for 8 weeks without controversy and with consistent effort?

  45. Harvey, the question is what versions of MWP and Howard are the Lakers gonna have the rest of the way. Everyone else has settled into their roles except those 2. Howard refusal to set picks/move on offense and MWP continued insistence on disrupting the offense are 2 wildcards to watch the rest of the way.

  46. Just a bit of a pet peeve: It’s *Ebanks* not *Eubanks*.

  47. Harvey: Not sure if you posted last year, so you may not get the reference. In any case, I have been waiting a year to say this (albeit not for these reasons).

    We are definitely not “6th”

  48. Yesterday’s game in the 4th quarter was frustrating. I cant stand MIA, i imagine this Is how other fans felt when we were had Shaq and Kobe, it’s almost unfair to have Wade and Lebron on the same team in their primes lol. They just flip a switch and shut it down. On that note, I do believe this Lerbon “tear” is overrated considering the degree of difficulty (lay up and dunk fest) he a very streaky shooter and is slight above avg. Or avg. Jump shooter. But with his athletic ability, why shoot jumpers right.

    I think our roster is fine, but one thing that bugs me is the lack of player development of our young guys. Ebanks and Morris. We initially thought we had something in Ebanks (Ariza clone) last year but I don’t know what happened in the off season. He just sits on the bench and looks fat now. It seems like good coaches develop their talent . Same can be said about Earl Clark, he as riding the pine majority of the season.

  49. Thanks Darius, My phone auto corrects Ebanks to Eubanks. Didn’t even realize it did that until u just pointed it out.

  50. I think the Lakers played about as well as they could against the best team in the league. I had no expectation for them to win and figured it would take a fluke to do so.

    Howard, right now, is not exactly useless. He has a bad back and I think he is uncomfortable on this team. It is quite possible that his condition is making his transition to the Lakers harder then it otherwise would be. It is also making it difficult to gauge how well he will fit into the Lakers culture, aside from his obvious ability to attract drama. The thing is, many people argued that Dwight’s offensive limits and his problem on the line make him difficult to play down the stretch of a game. Right now, with less mobility, less strength, and general problems with his reaction to plays, he does not provide what made his continued late 4th quarter presence on the floor in Orlando debatable. He is not rebounding consistently, he is not altering many shots, he is not keeping guys away from the basket and he is not defending guys away from the rim. So, as it stands, Dwight is a liability.

    Kooo, have you had a look at Chris Paul’s line from his game against the Heat? I’ll save you some trouble. He played 20 minutes, went 1-5, had 2 assists and 3 turn overs. The Heat are expert at pressuring the ball-handler. Their length and mobility (not to mention their ability to anticipate) cause problems for even the best point guard in the game today. I would not put Steve Nash in the category of the top 5 PGs in the league today but he is much better then top 20. You think Lillard is better then Nash? Jennings, Nelson, Hill, Walker, Vazquez, Lin, Mo Williams, Knight, Teague, Ridnor, Jack, Stucky, Sessions, Lowry, Kidd, Chalmers? I mean the list only gets more and more absurd as I list guys who are clearly not as good as Nash. There are 6 PGs I would clearly prefer to Nash and maybe another 3-4 that one could argue are worth taking over Nash because of their D and youth. So, at worst Nash is a top 10 PG. There is no PG I would rather have shooting in pressure situations.

    Metta is having issues. Until this month, he was the most consistently good player on the team aside from Kobe. I’m not sure how the rest of the season goes, and it is frustrating to see some of his plays, but dude deserves some benefit of the doubt.

    Finally, the plan for this team was to be top heavy and hope for the best. All three of out top bigs are injured. One had his back cut on in the last year. One is out for the year. One is having significant foot and knee issues that have had him miss a good part of the season. There is no team in the league with the depth to deal with those problems. Not OKC (Imagine Collison, Perkins and Ibaka out for extended periods), not Miami (Imagine their losing Haslem, Bosh and… and… and… uhm?), not the Clippers (Blake, DJ and Lamar), not Utah (Pretty deep down low but I would take a healthy Pau, Howard and Hill over Jefferson, Milsap, Kanter and Favors). The 76ers have a worse record then the Lakers, in a weaker conference, and they only lost one big.

    To continue with your criticism of the FO, they found Hill who is now injured but was a key player for this team and everyone thought of as a throw in. They found Clark, another throw in. If you were to look at this team if injuries were not a factor, here it is in order of playing time at position.

    Nash, Blake
    Kobe, Meeks, Blake
    Metta, Clark, Kobe
    Clark, Pau, Hill
    Dwight, Pau, Hill

    Son, that is a championship contending team that goes 9-deep. As it stands, the Lakers are struggling because Nash was out 2 months, Blake was out the same. Pau will have missed close to 3 months, Hill is out for the season and Dwight is losing games to injury and when he plays is still injured. Not to mention we had a coaching change mid-season (which can be blamed on the FO). That team with average health problems, in my opinion, is right there with OKC and Miami, better then SAS and LAC. The front office did their job.

  51. Can we please stop talking about the playoffs and the need to go like 22-2 to make the playoffs? Right now, with this being a below 500 team, and out of the playoff picture behind some pretty good teams, lets talk about next game. Lets talk about and think about beating the Suns. Thank you.

  52. Personally, I would like to see Eubanks get more PT, but only if he is in a 5 with Bob Barker, Burt Convy, Richard Dawson and Wink Martindale, as I think that takes best advantage of his post up game.

  53. Don’t mean to sound harsh. Point is, lets take 1 game at a time instead of fantacising about 6th place.

  54. Joe M,

    Hear you, its just that I think its the players job to take one game at a time, and our job to fantasize away.

  55. That is another great, and depressing, Ding article, Simonoid. When you’re basically the first player in 17 years that Steve Nash can’t make look good, it’s on YOU.

    I was fully supportive of trading Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard, and as disappointing as Dwight has been, we obviously got a better deal than Philly, but the real winner in that trade seems to be the Denver Nuggets….

  56. P. Ami,

    More or less agreed, though I still think the FO needed to find one more solid perimeter player. Personally, had hoped/expected that Grant Hill would have followed Nash to the Lakers, though he has been out for most of the year as well, and is no spring chicken.

  57. Unreal – last year – I wore everyone out by referring to “6th” (and that was the whole league) as a nightmare. Now “6th” (in our conference) is being referred to as a fantasy : )

    harvey: you left off Monty Hall. However I guess he would not be in the starting 5 – but that is probably the name under which other GM’s store Mitch’s number.

  58. Funky – isn’t that ironic? Who would’ve thought Iggy came out to be the best get in that blockbuster of giants.

  59. Robert, yes understood re 6th…but P. Ami’s post explains pretty well why the underachieving..

    And yes to Monty hall..It was tough to make that cut, and he is kind of an obvious one. Also is a fellow Canadian from my home town of WInnipeg, so, presumably, he would have done well with Nash.

  60. thanks for ding article. not good, but it looks like there is still hope.