Workmanlike Effort Downs the Bulls

Darius Soriano —  March 10, 2013

Coming into this game I talked about how this game would be decided by which team’s strength won out in the end. Well, it was the Laker offense that handled their business in the 2nd half, leading them to a 90-81 lead that vaulted them into the 8th seed.

For most of this game it was actually the non-Kobe Lakers who carried the team on O. Through three quarters, Kobe and the Lakers were having a bit of trouble cracking the code of the Bulls’ strong side zone scheme with Luol Deng doing a very good job at the point of attack. Wherever Kobe went he had Deng pestering his dribble and a secondary defender (normally Joakim Noah) lurking near the paint to take away any drives to the rim. This left Kobe shooting contested jumpers with not too many of them falling.

Lucky for the Lakers, they have other offensive threats who can help fill that void. And while the first half saw what was mostly a slug fest between two dialed in defenses, the third quarter saw a shift in the form of Steve Nash finding his stride. Nash hit 4 of his 6 shots in the period to score 10 points. He hit a variety of tough shots and in doing so he was able to open up the floor for his teammates in a way that put a lot of stress on the defense. With Nash scoring well, that’s when Kobe was also able to assert himself offensively, scoring 8 points on 2-3 shooting in his own right. Combine that with Earl Clark’s 6 points and Meeks knocking down a three pointer and the Lakers were able to outscore the Bulls by 8 in the period and create the separation they’d use to put their collective foot on the necks of the Bulls in the 4th quarter.

In that final period, everything started to work for the Lakers as they finally figured out how to attack the Bulls’ defense. By picking on Carlos Boozer with P&R actions, the Lakers exposed the Bulls’ worst big man defender and compromised the middle of the defense for easy baskets. The Lakers made a subtle adjustment by using Ron as the screener in the P&R to make Boozer hedge out and try to contain Kobe coming off the pick. Kobe was then able to attack Boozer and create shots for himself and for others, including a lob for Dwight that made the Bulls make another adjustment — a switch of Noah onto Ron. So, on the next play down the Lakers simply ran a P&R with Dwight to once again involve Boozer and that set up a rhythm jumper for Ron when Noah once again had to help. All in all, Kobe had 4 of his game high 9 assists in that 4th quarter, all of them important to closing out the game.

The dismantling of the Bulls down the stretch was as much about execution as it was shot making but it was also the Lakers simply clicking on O in a way we’ve rarely seen against such a disciplined defensive team.

But it wasn’t just the Lakers’ offense that played well, their defense was also very sharp — and for the entire game to boot. It started with Dwight Howard whose activity and effectiveness on that side of the ball is starting to approximate what he was doing before his back surgery. Dwight was excellent in defending the rim by challenging shots, accumulating 4 blocks and altering countless others. But where Howard was also brilliant was in his off ball work, stepping out on the pin down screens and curl actions the Bulls like to run and effectively crowding the paint in the process. Dwight’s movements around the floor gummed up an already challenged Bulls’ scheme and made it so his teammates could recover to their man without being exposed. Furthermore, Dwight was able to do all these things and still recover back to the paint to rebound the ball, grabbing 14 defensive rebounds (21 total) in the process of anchoring the team’s D.

Overall, this may have been the most complete game the Lakers have played since they began to rack up wins. There was no need for a dramatic come back. There was no let down to start the game or to close any quarters. They were strong on both sides of the ball, didn’t commit turnovers in excess, and pretty much controlled the tempo of the game all day. And really, that was what impressed most. The Lakers played their game and dictated to the Bulls the terms of engagement. And, with that, they won fairly easily.

So, now, the Lakers find themselves back into the field of 8. And while the goals will be to move up and gain better seeding, the focus of playing their best ball each game and furthering their chemistry to establish the style they can use to win is what’s most important. As they continue to make strides, they become even more dangerous. It finally looks to be coming together for this team.

UPDATE: In my original post I had a paragraph on Ron’s defensive effort that somehow got deleted when I published. Needless to say, I was quite impressed with the way that Ron played Boozer defensively, battling him for position and limiting his ability to do any damage. Boozer can be a particularly difficult match up when he gets his game going, but Ron effectively pushed him off his spots and was able to disrupt his ability to even make a catch. When Boozer did get the ball, Ron stripped him of the ball multiple times and threw off his rhythm further. And while Ron didn’t have a great night shooting the ball from the outside (0-6 on threes), his defense was instrumental in helping to shut down one of the only good weapons the Bulls had available to them and for that he deserves some recognition.

Darius Soriano

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21 responses to Workmanlike Effort Downs the Bulls

  1. Even though it wasn’t a blowout, I liked everything about this win except for two things: The (terrible) three-point shooting and that the starters all played about 3 minutes too long. Solve one and it solves the other, though: If they go 30% from three (8-for-26 instead of 5 makes), this game becomes a blowout.

    Small nits to pick, really. Good win and officially in the playoffs (if the season ended today, et cetera)!

  2. The Lakers are on a great run. I didn’t think Dwight had it in him this year, but he’s back with a vengeance. To see the latest tweets from Lakers, writers, bloggers, and Lakers wives go to http://www.tweetslosangeles.com/lakers Darius – You’re on the site!

  3. KEVIN DING @KevinDing
    On Lakers moving into eighth in the West, @kobebryant said: “Yippee.”
    ExpandReplyRetweetFavorite

    @LakersReporter
    Kobe on when Howard gets booed in Orlando: “Boos don’t block dunks.”

  4. This team is building some chemistry but MDA insist too much with small line ups against teams like oklahoma or san antonio they can kill the the lakers with two towers at the ofensive rebounds.

    The lakers need to sign Cris Douglas Roberts for some needed help for the playoffs and get some use of morris and ebanks and even Sacre can help for some screen and some hard fouls to the hot guys of the others teams.

  5. Kevin – You’re on there too in the reporters section

  6. Good win. DH: 1st Team All NBA + Extension; KB: 1st Team All NBA + Extension; Lakers: We will see : )

    May have to go to Kobert – that post above is not me

  7. Aside the poor 3point shooting which happens, that was a workman/ machine like efficient game on bothe ends of the floor. Darius recap said it all. About the starters well the Lakers even in total control of the game could not put the necesary cushion to sit everybody if we hit 3 or of those early missed 3s we might had not seen starters in the 4th but i doubt this was a especially tiresome game for our stars, they looked frest at the end and they have 48+ hours of rest. If we duplicate this against Orl it should be a really easy game, but with this team you never know. A+ effort on this one.

  8. Lakers played like a team that’s bought into an approach…at this rate they might beat my prediction of being at least tied for 7th on March 22nd

  9. That is the kind of win that has been too uncommon this year. Playing a decent team, and not blowing them out, but generally playing solidly, and never feeling like the other team had a chance, even if they kept it within range.

    We used to enjoy dozens of these kinds of wins a year. Hopefully they can string a few of these together–solid yeomanlike efforts.

  10. Solid victory. The chemistry is finally starting to come together. Pretty sure, if not for all the injuries, the cohesion would have been there by now. Looking ahead to this coming week -

    @ Orlando
    @ Atlanta
    @ Indiana
    Sacramento

    At face value, doesn’t look to difficult (taking into account the Magic and Kings). However, Orlando will be motivated for obvious reasons and the Kings always seem to play us tough. While the Hawks game on Wednesday night will be the tail end of a back to back, that factor is canceled out do to the fact that while we’re tangling with the Magic in north Florida on Tuesday night, they’ll be in southern region of the state going up against the Heat. Therefore, both teams should b arriving in the A at around the same time late Tuesday night. The Pacers game should present the most problems. Big, physical team. My prediction is that we should go 3-1 for this upcoming week. With the lone defeat coming at the hands of Indiana.

  11. Kobert

    Abso-friggin-lutely.

  12. Not sure you can underestimate Indiana and Atlanta at home, especially with the Lakers road record. I am expect 2-2 over the next 4, but would be overjoyed if they steal one of those road wins.

  13. Slightly off-topic but the “Latino Nights” alternative names bug me. “Los Bulls” sounds dumb… Why not just go with “Los Toros”? And “Los Lakers” looks like they accidentally dropped “Angeles” from the name.

    You know it was a pretty solid game when I start to complain about non-game issues…

  14. My 12-2 prediction (12-1 if you count out OKC) is stillbin place. We needed miracles to win against NOH and TOR and we finally worked hard on a win against Chicago.

    Seeing flashes of brilliance. Love the swagger we have.

  15. Scott, we don’t translate sports teams names in Spanish, so “Los Bulls” is correct. We say it like that here in Spain and I am pretty sure it is the same for American Spanish. Besides, if you say “Los Toros” some people around Austin are bound to get confused!

  16. Let’s face it, bottom line, yesterday was THE VERY BEST day, tangibly speaking, in the ’12-’13 Lakers season thus far. Now the question is, how much better can it get?

  17. @Robert, March 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm
    yeah, it didn´t seem like the first post was yours; didn´t Ken mention your wonderful spelling on the last thread? :D
    Hope Tra is right, 3-1 this coming stretch would be grand
    In Darius´ recap the two things that stand out to me are Dwight´s improving defense (devastating as it is) and the teams all-around solid play –
    keep it up Lakers! the sky´s the limit!

  18. It saddens me how bad Bynum’s fortune has been, there is even “let’s cut our losses talk” in Philly: http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-bolch-nba-20130310,0,7375719.story

  19. I’m really sad for Andrew Bynum, whether’s his body betraying him or a lack of motivation abut getting in shape and keeping on with his career. Dude played his ass while injured to get rings for LA but maybe (just maybe) he was in basketball mostly for the money rather than from a huge love of the game. Either way we’re robbed of a great young talent. Here’s hope he gets his head and his body straight and we see him dunkin’ and blockin’ again.

  20. I’m not sad for Bynum. He got paid millions to play a game for a living. It sucks for him that things are not currently working out for him, but don’t forget he is getting $16mm this season to sit on his arse. Believe me, he is not sitting in a room crying his troubles away, he is sitting in his mantion playing Call of Duty with some friends.