Lakers vs. Raptors: Another Night, Another Amazing Comeback

Darius Soriano —  March 8, 2013

For one night, I don’t care that the Lakers started out slowly when they needed to come out crisp and with better effort. I don’t care that the defense still has too many holes and that they don’t get the stops that they need over the course of the game. I don’t care about the lack of adjustments, the turnovers, or the missed three pointers by the role players. I don’t care that they were down most of the game to another lottery bound team.

I. Don’t. Care.

The Lakers aren’t a perfect team. Far, far from it. They have countless flaws, are banged up, and are so up and down Six Flags is going to model their next roller coaster after their season. They’re the 9th seed for a reason — actually for many reasons — and the team we all hoped they’d be when they were assembled last July is not the team we see in front of us today.

Right now, though, I don’t care.

What we were witness to against the Raptors was fun. In its own way, it was special. Kobe Bryant stared down another opponent and came up huge with another night where he defied the wear on his body to put up 41 points with 12 assists. He hit so many big shots and had so many big plays, it’s impossible to pick one out as the best.

Dwight Howard affected the game on both sides of the floor and made countless defensive plays and tallied 24 huge points of his own to go along with 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. He screened hard and defended the paint even harder down the stretch. He slipped into open space on O and finished well around the hoop. He was great.

Steve Nash, en route to a 22 point night of his own, hit a gigantic three pointer to put the Lakers in position to even claim a win after falling down in overtime. And while most of his best work was done off the ball as a spot up shooter, he did enough in this game to keep the defense honest helping himself and his teammates in the process.

Most of the game wasn’t pretty. Most of the game it looked like the Lakers would fall flat and not take advantage of having a winnable game on their schedule. But down the stretch, when they needed to rally, they did it. They dug deep, hit some amazing shots, got some key stops, and stole a win.

So, the real analysis can wait a day. It can wait because tonight, I’m just a fan. I’m a fan cheering for Kobe as he made remarkable shot after remarkable shot. I’m a fan cheering for a Dwight Howard who is playing more and more like the guy from Orlando. I’m a fan cheering for Steve Nash as he continues to evolve in his role and hit key shots. I’m a fan cheering on a team that doesn’t always make it easy, but never quits trying until the final buzzer.

Enjoy this one, folks. The night didn’t start out well and it looked like it would stay that way through the end. But this team did the miraculous and pulled out another win when they had no business doing so. The long term analysis can wait until another day, because the short term has my heart pounding and my head buzzing.

Darius Soriano

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89 responses to Lakers vs. Raptors: Another Night, Another Amazing Comeback

  1. And people wonder how ‘true basketball fans’ can be a fan of the Lakers, or Kobe. Hah.

  2. jadande J.A. Adande
    Dwight Howard serenaded Kobe with “Bad to the Bone” when Kobe walked out of the trainer’s room.

  3. Darius even if you did not write anything, your post would still be awesome because of those 2 clips.

    Im pretty sure Vino may get a wine endorsment pretty soon.

  4. Has there been a more captivating regular season for the Lakers in recent memory? I think not

  5. Has there been a more captivating regular season for the Lakers in recent memory?

    No offense, but from my POV, pretty much all of them since 2007. Kobe going off is fun, but I like winning.

  6. Oh my… Kobe should be gettnig mighty close to another trophee with this back from the dead performances. This is just insane. Give the man his MVP.

    Just gotta love moments like this. I get up, the Dutch rain is pouring down, all the windows in the street are still dark, as only the dogs are out… I hook up to my online feed just to see the ending of my strugling Lakers’ attempt to ince into the playoffs… and then Kobe just blows up my world. I think the neighbours are questioning my sanity from behind their blinds. I was parading ’round the livingroom with my arms raised, laughing, half evil, half mad with bliss.

    Damn… Kobe is Bad to the Bone.

    Adande reported how Howard was singing “Bad to the Bone” in Kobe’s honor in the locker room, and in combination with that grabbing-assist holding Gay out of the picture on the last Kobe dunk, I see me some good signs on the Kobe-Dwight front (I mean, a selfish player might even have pushd Gay into Kobe’s way, to force him to give it up for the baseline dump).

  7. This is why we watch basketball and this is why we love the Lakers.

  8. If Kobe needs a new set of knees I’ll gladly donate mine. I”ll throw in a pair of elbows, pinkys and ligaments as well, just so he never retires.

  9. The Dane,

    My neighbor thought I was getting robbed or something because I was running around screaming when Kobe and his german knees sealed it in o.t.

    True story.

  10. @Jayz just gotto love what sports can do to break out the sun.

    I support your ideas of donating to Kobe. He will just keep coming back, like the Terminator.

  11. Thanks for the video, Darius! Due to work, didn’t see the game. This must have been some game to see live. I think about those 3 young fans in the first Kobe video, who were old enough to know what they were seeing, but young enough not to be jaded by the realities and shortcomings of sport. Kobe gave them something tonight that they will remember 50 years from now! I envy them that. Bad to the bone! Indeed!!

  12. Thank you Darius for the great post. I’m primarily a Nash fan but I also have to say.. thank you Mr Kupchak for bringing Nash over so I can follow Lakers and witness the greatness of Kobe. Nothing is more exhilarating than coming back to win a close game. These are the games that really bond the team. Thank you Kobe for being amazing.. Where would the team be without you..

  13. Nice post, Darius as usual.

    Well for those who follow this, Lakers have vaulted past Utah for the lead in Hollinger’s playoff odds 55.1 to 52.2, and are closing in on GSW whose odds of making the playoffs are now down to 79.7. Still thinks this underestimates their chances of both making the playoffs and passing GSW just a little bit.

    And while there was a lot to quibble about tonight despite the outcome, got to give a little bit to Toronto, who minus Rudy Gay would have won this game, and played a pretty outstanding game, continuing to shoot in the mid 50’s (%) for almost the entire game, which regardless of what we want to say about the Lakers D, was pretty remarkable.

  14. Tonight’s game had a bit of a feel that was reminscent of Game 4 in the 2009 Finals. Kobe’s performance will be a hologram twenty years from now.

  15. Just watched the replay.

    Jody Meeks was still in game and terrible.

    Metta is still a terrible shooter.

    Kobe is still the best player in the world.

    This is the best worst season I can remember.

  16. It would be better to be a championship contender, but I do find myself enjoying this playoff chase and tracking Jazz and Rockets games. Watching the Lakers pull games out and the Jazz blowing games to MIL, CLE, and CHI has been great entertainment.

  17. Meeks was instrumental in the NOLA win. He is streaky and we shouldn’t act like we didn’t know that.

  18. “Bad to the bone,b b b b b bad”

  19. 2 reasons why we almost lost the game

    1. Jodie Meeks

    At the 4 min mark after finally rolling with a “Traditional” line-up from the 8-9min mark of the 4th with jamison at the 4, artest at the 3 and kobe at the 2, which brought us to within 4pts – Dantoni thinks its now wise to bring back in meeks to guard the 2 spot and bring everyone else a level lower to play “small”

    On the ensuing 6 possessions for Toronto either scores on Meeks or meeks man drives past him forcing Dwight to rotate which lead to dunks for amir johnson while overall the smallish line up lead to offensive rebounds and 2nd chances for toronto.

    you could argue that meeks was in there for spacing but jamison offers the same spacing with some rebounding and cutting ability compared to meeks.

    I could live with Meeks not hitting the 10 or so open shots he had because sometimes they go in sometimes they dont but his defense is just so horrible

    and the bigger reason

    #2 – Mike Dantoni

    What a terrible coach …. I havent written much in a while as Ive been kind of disenhearted by the team but in looking at what happens when he makes the choice to go small over a traditional line up when the traditional line up worked so well and brought you into the game before your choices force Kobe to go into God mode to save 2 games in a row I mean come on.

    The majority of Torontos lead came when we played kobe at the 3 with Nash playing with either blake or meeks on the wing and in some cases all 3 of nash,blake,meeks at the same time.

    This lead to multiple drives as all 3 cannot keep their man in front of them which forces dwight to try to help recover but because Metta is playing the 4 and is forced to rotate to centers there are now multiple offensive rebounds available to the other team which is what valencunias did in the 1st half.

    This is not all the players fault as they need to be put in a position to succeed which is not happening with our bench or I would say meeks as they are being forced by dantoni to cover roles which they are not suited while I am sure that this overall strategy has helped create the idea that Dwight is no longer a defensive force … there is only so much the players can do they need to be put into a position to succeed and Dantoni does the exact opposite.

    There was even another spot in the 3rd where when dwight sat we had Jamison at the 5, artest at the 4, and then kobe, meeks, and blake and Toronto went on a run to push the lead back to double digits…… Put Sacre in the game he can much better guard amir johnson to say artest or jamison and because you have a 5 you can still play inside outside because he can be a pivot in the offense and he gives you defense …. you still need defense to win the game

    This game just bring back memories of 2006 when we almost took pheonix out by playing big with KWAME+Odom vs Amare and Marion – a 5+4 vs a 4+3 almost lead pheonix with one of the best line ups they ever had being taken out in the 1st round by a 7or8 seed , in new york when he did not have superior talent dantoni went to the lottery and new york jettisoned Randolph who is now a star 4, now with superior talent again we may not make the playoffs …. has any coach ever done less with so many parts its incredible.

    Hopefully we make the playoffs and then who knows I mean the team has already jettisoned most of Dantonis playbook which has lead to even being in the race but as long as he is able to still manage substitution patterns I am still worried about our chances both to make it in and then once where there who knows how he will screw it up.

    I am really happy that Jackson is starting to get into howards ear and providing him encouragement hopefully we could see phil back in his chair next year and get rid of this bozo

  20. Shaun, let just enjoy this game for the rest of Saturday. You have to sit back and appreciate what just happened. Analyze tomorrow.

  21. Again Wow wow and wow! Love that bounce pass by Nash on the baseline for that quick turn around three by Kobe. Love that Three pointer by Nash that tied the game. Love that block by Howard and that pin down on Gay. And most of all Love how Kobe hisssss like a MAMBA. Three 3point shot in last two minutes to ressurect the Lakers everytime they are burried on the defensive end. Right now I also have aome complaints vs the coaching but that would be for another day. Today is the time to enjoy the meaning of being a FAN.

    And Darius, I have been following your tweets and you are always right on the money in calling those plays. First is the Korver pin down play then last night you called on a Nash and Dwight pick and roll. And guess what ensued later? A Nash and Dwight PNR that resulted in a Nash three pointer. From now on I will call you “Darius Nostradamus”

  22. I wonder if the lakers would consider Kobe as player-coach? I’m only half joking. The man is simply incredible. I think he understands basketball better than MD and surely would do a better job running the team. His biggest issue as a coach would be getting #24 off the court.

  23. It was exciting as hell and as a Kobe watching experience we are vp getting a real treat lately.

    But boy the defense was terrible down the stretch. Derozan was too much for Meeks, and Coach D. Didn’t adjust.

    I’d have liked to seen Clark or even Ebanks get a chance to play some d on a guy like that down that stretch.

    And on late defensive possessions, how about Blake instead of Nash. They had two defenders on the floor who couldn’t handle their guy at all. Ad this against the Raptors.

    They need to platoon in late game, timeout heavy situations.

  24. @Ken “This is the best worst season I can remember.”
    Exactly! I was so ticked at this team for 3 1/2 quarters last night, but for half of the 4th quarter, and overtime, they were super exciting to watch.

    @rr This team is like the Lakeshow Lakers to me. I have written off their chances to win a ‘chip and so I just watch to be entertained…and you have to admit that these games are about as entertaining as you get. Having said that, you can feel the chemistry building in this squad. You can see them getting better and starting to trust each other a bit. It’s almost there. The question is if they can put it all together before the playoffs.

    @Darius Great post! It must be difficult to watch the game as a writer/analyst when you have to keep the “inner fan” bottled up a bit.

  25. Now, I know why there are so many Kobe haters out there. Because there are fans of the other 29 teams all wish they can have Kobe on their side. But after 17 years, Kobe is still amazing, and he is still with the Lakers. Hate him all you can, but even MJ or Reggie Miller has admire those three ultra-clutch 3-pointers in last night’s game.

  26. any comment on the timeout that MDA called after the missed FT and Kobe got rebound. it should have been two free throws for Kobe. looks like a mis communciation or bad decision by MDA.

  27. Funky Chicken March 9, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Video #1 shows pure greatness. Video #2 shows pure incompetence by Toronto’s coaches. They apparently didn’t bother to watch film of the Hornet game to see how useful it is to double Kobe above the 3pt line with a slow-footed 7 footer, while having other defenders all just stick to their men. Losing a game on a dunk by a guy who brings the ball up the court and doesn’t pass the ball is just embarrassing.

  28. Kobe “The Warrior” Bryant, is on a rampage right now. He is completely determined to do whatever is possible to have this team make the playoffs. First part of the year, it was the scoring, he was a scoring machine. Then it was the assists, he started to get his teammates involved more. Now, it is both. He is doing it all basically for this team. He is the scoring, the distributor, and is even rebounding well. This is a man possessed, the man completely amazes me. Utah Jazz, here we come!

  29. KT,
    That timeout was called before Kobe even got the rebound. Coaches, in those situations, pretty much tell the referees that they’ll want a timeout once possession is gained. That means if that shot was made, they would have called a timeout but since they missed a timeout was issued to the Lakers right when the ball was secured. Playing that way makes sense since if Dwight gets that rebound instead of Kobe, it allows the Lakers to get a timeout before a bad foul shooter is fouled. Also, the rules state that if even one dribble is taken and then a timeout is called the ball has to be inbounded where the that dribble is made and can not be advanced into the front court to inbound. I don’t see how D’Antoni can even remotely be criticized there.

  30. Also, for all the complaints about Meeks’ defense and how the Raptors were picking on him, lets not act like Clark was some sort of elite stopper on the wing last night. Clark actually got subbed out in the 4th quarter for getting lost on a perimeter play that netted a three pointer for the man he was guarding from the right corner.

    Also, as I tweeted last night, the Nash/Meeks/Kobe/Ron/Dwight lineup posted a defensive efficiency of 101.2 last night in their 19 minutes. The lineup that swaps Clark for Meeks played 10 minutes and had a defensive efficiency of 133.3 in those minutes. D’Antoni rode the lineup that performed better up to that point and the team won. I understand it was a paint to watch Meeks get isolated on the post, but it’s very much possible that playing Clark just means more perimeter actions that lead to equally makable shots while also swapping out the threat of an outside shot by playing Clark over Meeks.

    Coaches make tradeoffs like this all the time and it’s important to remember that the Lakers are pretty limited on the wing with few options to turn to when an opposing coach attacks a defender the way that the Raptors did Meeks. As an aside, calling for Ebanks to play crunch time minutes for a “shot at guarding” one of those Raptor players when he hasn’t played meaningful minutes in months is kind of silly.

  31. Well said Shaun. D’Antoni’s actions last night were inexcusable and he needs to donate his game pay to Kobe’s Youth Homelessness Initiative Foundation. His stubbornness, which was displayed in Phoenix when he decided to quit instead of, at the request of GM Kerr, hiring a Defensive Coach (Thibodeau, at that), reared its gruesome head last night when he continued to allow Meeks to get abused by individuals who he obviously couldn’t match up with. As a coach, as Shaun stated, it’s your responsibility to put your players in a position to succeed. Both DeRozan and Anderson, at 6’7 & 6’6 respectively, have distinct size advantages over Jodie, who is gracetiously listed at 6’4. However, D’Antoni, for reasons that only he would know, didn’t make the necessary adjustments that could have lessened the load of Kobe’s, and for that matter, the entire team down the stretch. Fortunately, in spite of the coach, we were able to walk off the court with a crucial victory and make up ground on the Jazz (who I believe will fall again tonight here in NY against the Knickerbockers).

  32. Darius
    i heard commentators saying “MDA arguing with referees that he called timeout only if second free throw is made”. that is why i was asking.

  33. Can’t understand why people are calling put MDA. I have called him out sometimes but I have realized the folly of my ways. The man made the right substitutions last night. Clark has hit a wall or something, hopefully he doesn’t become Ebanks. Meeks might have been overmatched but he didn’t miss assignments. Having Clark or Eubanks in late would have spelled disaster.

  34. Darius, prosing Ebanks probably is silly. I know that. But it was 100% certain that Meeks was a bad matchup, just based on size and results of multiple trips down the floor when the Raptors put Meeks on an island.

    So leaving Meeks out there to fail, not his fault just a bad, bad matchup, was also silly. Ebanks has at least the size and athleticism to have a chance. Ditto Clark. Don’t you you have to try SOMETHINGthat gives you a chance?

  35. kehntangibles March 9, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I do question MDA leaving Dwight in for the situations where we definitively needed a three-pointer or at least five competent free-throw shooters, but let’s not forget that Pau and Hill are both out. And while you can also question why we only ever play the eight-man rotation we’ve been playing, let’s also not forget that we *have* seen, earlier in the season, the guys who haven’t been playing in action and there are damn good reasons why they’re now stapled to the bench.

  36. It was either Meeks or Blake. Both would’ve been undersized for those Anderson post ups. Just have to chalk it up as good coaching by Toronto.

    I think Dwight earned the right to be in the game at the end. He was a force on defense jumping as high in the 4th as he was in the 1st. What’s great is now when he’s going to help, at first, he would be late and the defender would get to the rim before him. Then it was a combination of goaltends and getting beat. Now his timing is down and players are shooting over his out stretched hand. Dwight’s well on his was to becoming a franchise player again. We had our doubts but next year he’ll vie for top 5 player again.

    It sucks that Lakers crap defense is wasting a great year from Kobe. Bionic knees, pregame shots or whatever it is that’s turned him into Lebron lately please give him more. Lakers have a chance to beat anybody with the way he’s playing and a defense that’s playing above average. And we’ll get Pau back soon.

  37. Agree with the rest here about Mike D. LA will never win a championship with this coach. Can’t do an Offense – Defense substitution. Is that not basic? Stephen A. is right. Worst coach you can have. Zero defense idea.

  38. tommythecomicguy March 9, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I think keeping Meeks’ confidence up is a good enough reason to leave him in and to keep the rhythm of the rotation. Also, the more they play together the better the chemistry. Howard was coaching Meeks on D and Meeks was starting to get it. Dwight got a block off Meeks being backed down. I’m guessing Dwight told Meeks where to allow the guy to beat him. Set a trap.

  39. These past couple of games are a microcosm of the season so far. The Lakers get themselves so down that, having made an inordinate number of mistakes, they now can’t afford a single one. And somehow, at the do-or-die point, against all odds, they do. It’s hard to understand, but amazing to watch. I do worry they won’t make it though — if you’re trying to walk a marathon on a tightrope, at some point you’re going to trip.

    Count me in the “this is frustrating, but incredibly entertaining” camp. For those who found the past seasons more entertaining, well … I can forgive you for being a front-runner. After all, you’re a Laker fan.

  40. Loving the idea of playing a guy who has hardly played a meaningful minute all year, in the last 5 mins, and in overtime of a playoff drive game. Aside from the question of how he will play in the few one on one defensive situations, there are like a hundred other situations in a game, where you would not want an untested guy on the floor in crunch time…like out of bounds plays, on the line if fouled, how he will box out, what it does to an offence to switch from a guy who has had a bit of a hot hand from the 3 point line, to a guy that the other team may not even cover……………

    Other thing…Dantoni tends to not make many, if any, situational substitutions..I think its time to just get over that. Those who are still “expecting” that are just waiting to be disappointed/looking for an opportunity to rant. He won’t do that.

    So most of us have grown up with coaches and commentators who preach the importance of that, as that is one of the few cases where an announcer perceives that he can really “add value” without being overly critical of the coaching staff. Whether those substitutions actually work over the course of a game and a season, (i.e. yes you achieved getting a better defender on the court for one possession, but at what other short term or long term costs?) has not really been tested. So rather than just post an obvious criticism of Dantoni for failing to do that, perhaps a more useful question is whether it is really clear that that “move” actually works, short and long term.

    For example, for all the criticism Nash receives for his defence, and for sure, there are quickness and mobility issues which limit his ability on that side of the floor, has there been one possession in the last couple of minutes of the 40 some odd games Nash has played as a Laker, that anyone can remember where Nash made a big defensive mistake that costed the game, or even a key possession? In fact, aren’t there actually a few possessions that come to mind down the stretch where Nash has actually made a really good play on the defensive side? I just find that overall, it is not a really great idea to assume that a guy who has coached for 20 years or so, and has some success at the NBA level is just an idiot?

  41. Speaking of Meeks, any word on him? On the last play of the game, he came up lame and hobbled off the court with what looked like was some kind of lower leg injury.

  42. Tom,
    I guess I just see this as a coach w/ limited options and making tradeoffs. If the Lakers had a bigger wing who could space the floor & I’d be more inclined to critique. But they don’t. Basically I saw this as a choice between Meeks, Clark, or Jamison. All flawed options with the possibility of the same results, just in different ways. And, as I pointed out, the Meeks lineup performed best out of those choices.

  43. Furthermore, I’d argue that most coaching decisions are defensible. Even playing Dwight for those out of bounds plays is defensible if seen through the prism of wanting your best screening big man in the game to help get one of your better FT shooters open to make a clean catch.

    As for the timeout issue, I didn’t hear that discussion about make vs miss. But if the situation is as described, why would MDA deserve blame if he’s arguing that he did NOT want a timeout there? Doesn’t that mean he was doing what you wanted, KT?

  44. Darious your spot on on your obervations, like always, Clark was a disaster last night, Meeks was mismatched but he gave his all and wasnt blowing his assigment, it was either him, Antwan who cant guard to save his life or Clark who was totally clueless last night. I gave a hard time to MDA early in the season but he is finally getting his rotations figured out and i dont have a problem with his coaching, people needs to be reminded that our front line is in shambles, there is no Pau, there is no Jordan Hill and this team deffensive ineptitude its not his fault, its the way the roster was constructed and that nasty injury bug, even his holiness Phil Jackson wasnt a great defensive coach, like Kobe mentioned early in the season that they practiced 2 or maybe 3 defensive sets during his entire tenure thats it. I always figured this team as a scoring machine with subpar defense that was going to rely on key stops during the game to win games. They are not the Bulls they never have, they never will but the defense have just been puttid and i put that on the players not the coach, its basic fundamental stuff that its hurting the Lakers tos and bad defense, i believe MDA is like Phil on defense he let the players figure it out, so far they are failling horribly and its too late to change the identity of this team.

  45. Darius, I assume that D’Antoni was thinking what you were re: using Howard (and MWP) to set screens on he out of bounds play. Against a bad defense, that’ll probably work most of the time, but a better defensive team will have an easy time defending a lineup with only two shooters on the floor for the passer to throw the ball to.

  46. Anyways lets forget about the team deficiencies and focus on the greatness that is Mr. Vino.

  47. The perimeter defensive matchup issues are as much or more a FO failure than a coaching failure IMO. Kupchak was asked about making an add last month, and was briskly dismissive about an “8th or 9th guy” making any difference. But one of the reasons that the Lakers are where they are is that they have too many guys with the same weaknesses, and Kupchak should have focused more on D in filling out the roster, The assumption was that Howard would be Howard and O would be so good that it wouldn’t matter, but that hasn’t been the case. As I said in January, once D’Antoni decided that Ebanks was unplayable, IMO they should have cut him and picked up a young wing out of the free talent pool.

  48. “Phil Jackson wasn’t a great defensive coach”
    In the 1999 season under Del, the Lakers were 23rd ranked on D, In 2000 under Phil they were 1st.
    In the 2005 season under Rudy T/Hamblen the Lakers were 30th on D. The next year under Phil, they were 15th.
    In 2011, which was supposedly an abysmal year for Phil and the Lakers, we had defensive rating of #6. In 2012 this dropped to 20th and this year it is 21st.

    And yes, “results matter”

  49. This really confuses me — the Raptors strategy was attacking Meeks with whoever he was guarding, and they went at him for at least 10 times in a row with nearly 90% success rate (for obvious reason). In the mean time, he couldn’t make a shot to save his life. With Kobe was on a tear, isn’t it time to replace Meeks with a able/taller/better defensive player to stop the bleeding on the defense? Hum… I must be blind or something not seeing what people are seeing in this situation.

  50. Its understandable that this slow and aging team isn’t elite defensively, but with Dwight, even at eighty percent, this team should at least be in the middle of the pack. That’s on the coach.

    TheLakers defense is comparable to a baseball pitcher with only one pitch.The batter knows which pitch is coming every time. There is no curve ball or change up to throw the batter off and keep him guessing.

    The opposition gets open looks seemingly at will against the Lakers, and are in rhythm from the get go. where are the occasional traps, occasional zones, blitzes, and hedging from different angles? when Dwight id on the bench, I’d like to see more traps and zone defense to deny penetration. The coaching staff needs to step up because this current defensive strategy is simply not working.

  51. Phil Jackson has coached 33 members of the annual All Defensive Teams. The number of coaches that exceed that total, would be zero. Kobe Bryant has played for 16 full seasons and made the All Defensive Team 12 times. Of those 12 times, 11 of them were when he played for Phil. He made the team every year he played for Phil. Most interesting is the fact that Kobe made the team from 2000-2004, and then from 2006 through 2012. What happened in 2005? Shaq made the All Defensive team 3 times in his 21 year career. Coincidentally all 3 of these came during the 5 years he played for Phil.

  52. The team individually and as a whole was a good defensively those years. If you have players that are good defensively in the roster the defense is going to be good no matter who is coaching, Phil concentrated on the aforementioned ” stops” during the last 3 trips to the Finals the Lakers werent great defensively, or im the only one that remember how frustrating it was that those teams were masters on letting big leads slip away or how many times they won 120-108? I just refer to Mr Vino comments on the matter about Phil defensive mastery. Those 2000-2002 teams have several excellent defensive players, Harper, Kobe, Shaq, Fox ,Robert a young Fisher, if you have the players you going to be good defensively, we dont and its not the interior defense the main problem its the myriad of open jumpers and 3s the team allows every single game, thats not on the coach im sorry. And the metric ton of turnover every single game, thats not on the coach either. MDA is not a defensive coach, we all knew that from the get go but i was teach sinse i was a little kid that you are responsible of who you guard, that defense comes from the players and to be proud of your defense, he can draw a thousand defensive plays but its up to the players to execute them and they not we know the team is slow and all that jazz but nobody cant tell me they could do better thats on them. I guess MDA is guilty of the sequester, the syrian civil was and that meteorite that hit Russia too.

  53. Dwight at 80 percent can somehow lead the league in rebounds, but he can’t play defense.
    Kobe has found the fountain of youth for his scoring, his dimes, and his rebounds, but he can’t play consistent defense.
    MWP came into camp in the best shape of the last 5 years, yet a multiple year member of the All Defensive Team can no longer play defense.
    Pau, Nash, and AJ never really could play defense too well, and that is still true.
    So we do have some consistency, it just happens to be with the wrong three guys : )

    Fern: Read my posts – Nothing about MD in there. Your statements imply coaching does not matter and it is what it is. So – my offer still stands – I will coach for free – since it does not matter – let’s save $3 million per year : )

  54. One last point in my opinion, dont het me wrong im love Phil greatest coach of all time but he didnt developed not one of those defensive players, every single one of those players had sound defensive fundamentals before they were coached by him, Phil was the Zen Master he wasnt the development master. I dont know how many times is been said thru the years that Phil let his players figure it out by themselves in term of defense. Thats a severily beaten dead horse.

  55. Robert i did, coaching matters of course but teams are good or bad defensively despite their coaching, you could put Thibodeau to coach this team and it still would be terrible defensively.

  56. Dwight at 80 percent can somehow lead the league in rebounds, but he can’t play defense.
    Kobe has found the fountain of youth for his scoring, his dimes, and his rebounds, but he can’t play consistent defense.


    We get it–you blame D’Antoni. You made up your mind months ago, and this post is a great example of why analyzing backwards from the answer doesn’t work. One of the first things to go with age, or back surgery, is lateral moverment, and no matter how much gym time someone puts in, it is an almost impossible thing to get back. Also, it is quite clear watching Howard that his explosiveness off the floor is not nearly what it was. This has been talked about by MSM guys, stat guys, fans, Howard himself on many occasions–everybody. These things have nothing to do with D’Antoni.

    Was Phil a good defensive coach? Yes. But recall that in his last series, the Lakers got torched by Dallas, and Kobe had been making the all-D team the last few years on rep more than results. One more time: Kupchak added a 39-year-old PG, who was not a good defensive player even in his prime. He added a 36-year-old PF who has been a bad defensive player his entire career. Meeks is not a good defensive player–undersized and slow. And with the no-handcheck rules, perimeter D is harder than ever.

    Would the D be better under Phil? Probably. I do not think that MDA is much of a defensive coach. But you have said yourself, many times, that speculating about that is pointless now.

  57. @Fern

    If you can find even one quote saying that Phil lets his players figure it out on defense, I’d be very curious to read it. I’ve read a lot of stuff about him, and I’ve never seen such a claim made. Those close to him,like Rosen, say that he was a great defense coach,while on offense he implemented -ingeniously- another coach’s offense. The Bulls became a great defensive team with him, and the same goes for the Lakers. Shaq’s case, already mentioned is a great example.

    And a coach’s job in the NBA is not to develop a player, rather than be able to put players in position to succeed. It’s best if you do both (Stan Van Gundy’s defense in Orlando comes to mind), but examples such as Boston and San Antonio should make you understand that what matters is the way a team is designed to play defense (Allen and Pierce were atrocius before Thibodaux’s coaching, they didn’t develop as players in their 30’s).

  58. Simos,

    Kobe did say (earlier this season) that Phil mostly allowed his players to figure it out defensively, and that they had very few practices centred around defense during his tenures.

    That being said, I don’t doubt that putting his players in a position to succeed defensively is a big part of his coaching style.

  59. The coaching staff needs to step up because this current defensive strategy is simply not working.


    Those are reasonable points, but executing any of those schemes still requires lateral quickness and a ball hawk or two. I agree with the people who think the Lakers should run some zone. I think they would get burned badly if they tried to run traps.

  60. Phil assigned Kurt Rambis to take over the defense after losing to Boston in the finals. Rambis implemented a defensive system similar to Thibedeau, with early traps, and more double teaming. Phil obviously knew that defenses were evolving and the single coverage defense he had been using would need some changes.

    With Heinrich injured, the Bulls are starting Nate Robinson, Boozer and Hamilton….. all below average defenders, yet they are still playing defense at an elite level.

    When it comes to defense, strategy and coaching matter.

  61. rr,

    They don’t have to run traps every time like Miami, just occasionally…anything really, to get the opposition out of rhythm.

  62. This discussion was started when some (not me) criticized MD’s defense. Others then came to his defense, with comments about Phil, comments about how MD will never change, and comments about how MD does not deserve blame. I agree that some of the criticisms are not well founded, however these defenses (ironic word) are not very compelling either. Since my “jury is still out” pending results, please tell me about some positives in these areas. What players are we developing beyond expectations? What defensive schemes are we deploying successfully? Where have we changed match ups and rotations signficantly to improve our defensive results? What Laker players have improved defensively this year beyond their typical norm? Have we improved our pick n roll defense? This is a discussion, and these are valid questions.

  63. Its a little bit of both coaching and the team. When you have a coach who doesn’t preach defense and combine that with a team who’s best defensve players are either old( kobe, MWP) or injured(dwight), you get the 21st ranked defense of the Lakers. Phil could have done a better job but we still wont have the personnel to have a great defense. Similary, if we got the personnel, we will still have d’antoni who values offense over defense. We need both.

  64. Robert,

    You made up your mind about D’Antoni a long time ago, and you were more upset than anyone here about the team’s decision not to hire Phil. When people have made up their minds, they tend to act like lawyers, rather than judges, and lawyers don’t really have “discussions”–they present one side. LT’s Bulls post, which fails to mention Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler, and Taj Gibson–in other words, every really good defensive player the Bulls have–is a good example. Butler has played more minutes than Hamilton, and Noah and Deng are among the league leaders in minutes played.

    That noted, to address your questions:

    1. Of the Lakers’ Top 10 players, meaning the 8 guys MDA is using now, plus Pau and Hill, 6 of them are 32 or older. Howard is in his 8th year and is coming off back surgery. Hill has short arms for a big man and is not much of a leaper. Meeks is undersized for a 2 and not particularly quick. That leaves Clark, who has, in fact, played beyond expectations. But framing a question in terms of “developing players” or exceeding expectations with this roster doesn’t make much sense.
    2. As to the scheme question, yes, that is a legit point. I have said several times that I think the Lakers should play some zone, or make some other changes, and both MDA and Brown’s staff, which, as people seem to forget, is still here and had the team at only 13th in D last year–should take some responsibility for that. Coaching and strategy certainly do matter on D. But so does personnel, and the Lakers have poor defensive personnel.

  65. Utah down by 17 at the half. Looks like the Lakers will be tied for 8th today.

  66. Meeks or Clark or EBanks? Regarless who is there it just show how much the Lakers miss the services of the Spaniard and Jordan Hill!

  67. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is looking like we are tied for 8th place. Utah down big against the Knicks. Honestly, I rather we stay at 8th place. I rather us face the Spurs than the Thunder or Clippers, anyone else feel the same way? Spurs are deep, but they aren’t too quick, we might have a better chance against them than the two speedy athletic teams.

  68. When D’antoni was coach of Phoenix, they cumulatively ranked 27th in the NBA in defense. How can a guy with zero defensive chops be expected to lead a team to a championship? It ain’t happening.

    One thing that Phil understood was about making a commitment to defense. He he challenged players, and helped them develop a mindset to trust eachother and play for the greater good.

    He also didn’t have an old Nash and old Bryant as his starting guards, but that’s another story.

    D’antoni is not a championship caliber coach because he he is one dimensional.

  69. After reading all the posts I will hedge a bit. On Lakers Line after the game I blasted MD for allowing Toronto to turn it into”who ever” against Meeks. Reading Darius and a few others I considered that perhaps it was not blind foolery but actually a plan. Albeit a bad one. Leave Meeks in so there as only one scoring option and control the other 4 guys. Leave Metta’s brick brother Jody in to space the floor so Kobe can dominate.

    As silly as it sounds it kind of worked. It’s like allowing Chamberlain to score 50 a game in Philly and concentrate on the other 4. I am not convinced but indeed I won’t call him blind, just perhaps misguided. Imagine the outrage if Meeks man scored the final basket and Canada

    It would then be “Off with his head”, I suggest they not try this plan again or Kobe might melt into the court soon.

  70. Kobe did heavy lifting last year just to get the Lakers into the playoffs. He was so fatigued that he made tons of mental mistakes against the Thunder and had nothing left in the tank to propel the Lakers further in the playoffs. This is not a recipe for success. Most teams utilize their underlings to win regular season games and their superstars to win playoff games. Not the Lakers. Can’t wait to hear the comments in the playoffs about Kobe’s inability to take over games because by then everyone will have forgotten these herculean games just to make the post-season.

  71. Kudos Robert,

    Our defensive ratings tanked under brown “the defensive savant” and have continued to tank under dantoni.

    The issue with Dantoni is that he is not progressing as a coach – included in my comment before are some past notes on dantoni and a description of what happened in game – both the trend and the example detail the folly of playing small – overmatched wings, offensive rebounds, and because we have poor perimter defenders we force help all the time exposing Howard where he never gets help with his man – breaking down our defense – all because of dantonis philosophy to play small

    Again looking a yesterday from the 9min to 4min mark of the 4th we played traditional and got back in the game for Kobe to win it

    If we look at the team our problem is defense – we are allowing 70pts by halftime in what the past 3-4 games – maybe this will change if we make the playoffs because things will slowdown but as I mentioned dantoni still manages rotations.

    I can’t understand how u can say he is not terrible – there is overwhelming evidence that he is terrible and hardheaded – he got fired from his last 2 jobs because he wouldn’t listen to FO advice after failing, neglected his core players (melo,johnson, and Dwight), ranked in the bottom 3rd defense every year, no in game substitutions, benches good players (hill, gasol), short rotations in every stint wearing out his team …… And these are not things I’m just saying and i have my opinion blah blah blah … These are facts that have happened multiple times on different places ….. The trend is that he sucks

  72. When D’antoni was coach of Phoenix, they cumulatively ranked 27th in the NBA in defense.

    This is completely wrong if by “cumulatively” you mean “all his years there.” Just check Basketball Reference.

    It is true, as Shaun said, that the Knicks always ranked in the bottom 3rd in D under him, but he didn’t have much to work with on D until Chandler got there. As I said when he got hired, the best piece of evidence in The People of FBG vs. Mike D’Antoni is what has happened the last year and a half in New York.

    As to his “desire to play small” causing all the problems, if your only backup 5 is Robert Sacre, smallball looks pretty good.

    Where I think D’Antoni should be called out most is the Lakers Pace factor. They are 3rd in the NBA; I thought he would adjust more in that area than he has.

  73. Let’s worry about the PO after we make it. Right now, we’re like everyone else in the bottom 3 – one mishap and we’re out.

    If PHX can beat Houston, things will look better (slightly), but it’s not about saving anyone’s legs or knees at this point, it’s playing for pride (especially Kobe).

    As for Meeks… he’ll get better once he learns how to use Howard more and once Howard starts to play up to his potential.

  74. Utah and Houston loss their games tonight!

  75. Uh, we’re not “tied” for the eighth spot. Utah owns the tiebreaker, so we are still behind a game.

  76. i loved Jayz´s post about his neighbor thinking he was getting robbed!
    I´ve been through that myself once, `cept my neighbor called the cops!
    this board has been very interesting to follow, nice posting folks –
    oh, &..
    GOOOOOO LAKERS!!! what a game….

  77. Robert,

    RR already covered it, but your “fact” that Dantoni’s phoenix teams were 27th in defence “cumulatively” is completely and utterly untrue, and the very type of bizarre mistruth that has dogged that guy his entire career. I don’t quite know what it is, but no other bball personality seems to bring out the level of inflamed macho falsehoods that that guy does, but maybe its something about his smell.

    Here are the facts…1) the Suns were generally middle of the pack in defensive efficiency during Dantoni’s years. there was always some confusion because they always played with a very high pace factor, which also inflated the scoring of their opponents, but adjusted for pace factor and per 100 possession they were, again, middle of the pack (13-16).

    2) This occurred despite the fact that they had one of the acknowledged worst defensive centres of his era in Amare.

    3) In the year Amare was injured, I believe 2005-2006, (the year that they made the comeback against the lakers after being down 3-1) they were 4th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, through around the first 50 games, which numbers dropped quickly when Kurt Thomas their defensive anchor, went down with a season ending injury.

  78. Warren Wee Lim March 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Lakers Playoff Chase alert: Utah lost to NY and Houston lost one of its “expected wins” against Phoenix. Those teams aren’t really better than us esp with our newfound groove and Dwight’s acceptance to his role defensively. His improving health would be much to credit for but his improvement in attitude would be our biggest advantage.

    Dwight had difficulties adjusting to Kobe, simply because Kobe is such a tough love kinda guy. But he has finally realized and seen that Kobe is simply the best at what he does and he can take lots of pages off Kobe’s book to be a great player himself. More than what he already is.

    It will be beautiful to see this transition. Kobe and Shaq never loved each other like Peanut Butter and Jelly, but they sure respected each other’s craft well enough to dominate together.

  79. Once again, even on off days, we win .. As noted, both Utah and Houston lost, but so did Golden State.

  80. GSW also going down, wow with the possible exception of the Rockets, the key opponents seem to be imploding a bit. Only 2 behind GSW in the loss column with 2 left against them…Win those 2 and then its just about playing even with them, as the Lakers would hold the tie break.

    Houston has a pretty favourable sched. so they still are unlikely to be past, but you never know. Only one game down in the loss column with one game left and the opportunity to win the tie breaker.

  81. Harvey,

    It was James, not Robert, who made the erroneous statement about MDA and PHX.

  82. rr,

    Ok, ya I see that now. Thanks for the clarification.

  83. We should not let facts get in the way of a good D’Antoni bashing.

  84. im having fun…kobes performance literally converted my best friend of 15 years…. who is a casual basketball fan, knows teams, knows players, called me in 08 to laugh during game 6 of the finals, called me as dallas swept LA….into a laker fan…he was angry nash missed that freethrow towards the end…id rather them be number 1 in the west but for this team of stars a waltz thru the league would be boring…clawing for a playoff spot was never in a million years where any of us expected to be, but its fun doing this together…its inspirational to me but ive always taken this game too seriously

  85. rr: Thanks for the clarification.
    Harvey M: Oh – so you address me as being completely untrue, then rr corrects you, then you thank rr. No retraction, no statement to me. Interesting. The “fact” is your post was incorrect.

  86. rr: I appreciate your setting the record straight above. However if you re-read the posts – in 2 of them – I am stating facts about Phil, in response to statements made about him. Nothing about MD. Then in the third I questioned our defense, but again said nothing about MD. D12 is leading the league in rebounding, he is at 80%, and you yourself have said his defense is suspect. In my opinion, it is odd to pin the defensive decline all on injury, while there has been no such decline in rebounding. Quickness off the floor and explosiveness would impact both. What is causing this decline is another matter. Whether it is MD’s coaching or D12’s desire, or other – I am not stating above. To end on a lighter note:: Earlier in the year I did bash MD, but you do not need to remind the board that I was on that bandwagon way ahead of many of them : )

  87. Robert,

    The implications of your posts are pretty clear. If such implications are not what you intend, then IMO you should consider changing the way you word them, and by saying “I am not talking about MD”, you are, in fact, doing just that.

    It is OK to talk about him, of course, but I think you should balance the presentation more.

    As to rebounding, here are Howard’s ORB and DRB percentages in 2011, 2012 and 2013

    ORB 12.6, 11.0, 10.8
    DRB 30.6, 33.1, 27.1

    I don’t think it is necessarily true that his rebound numbers would go down due to the back. He is still big and strong, but he is not as quick laterally. He still gets his boards and blocks, but he is not quick on help or on second and third jumps as he used to be. That is the difference.

    Also, again–this is not just me saying this. Analysts like Zach Lowe, Kevin Pelton, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, and other guys have all said similar things.

  88. rr: If I want to bash MD I will do that directly (I think I have demonstrated that I am capable of doing that). I will not imply it. I will also not infer or try to decipher what you are implying or thinking and that is all I am asking in return. Read the lines – not between them. I do not start posts out with: rr – we get it – you think Mitch did a terrible job with the middle of the roster. I could – because you have said this at least 2-3 dozen times : ) What I am saying is we are not good on defense. I think we should be better, and I do not think that is too controversial. Where I think we agee is that if Mitch did a perfect job and MD was doing a perfect job, then we would not be here.