The Breakdown: Screening Their Way to Success

Darius Soriano —  March 11, 2013

In beating the Bulls, the Lakers really showed how they can manipulate very good defenses with screen actions designed to get their best players makable shots. This was especially true late in the game where the Lakers picked on Carlos Boozer on multiple consecutive possessions in order to close out the game.

Of all the plays the Lakers ran against the Bulls, two stood out to me, and not just because they were successful. Both had very good design, but both were also relative simple actions that preyed on the quick reacting Bulls’ scheme in a way that exposed their aggressive help actions.

First, was a great play the Lakers ran out of a timeout. The Lakers started the play with Nash up high with Kobe on the left side of the floor and Dwight near the top of the key:

Kobe Flare 1

Nash goes to his left hand to run a 1/2 pick and roll with Kobe. After Deng hedges on Nash, he actually gets bumped by his own man before starting to chase Kobe who has darted to the right side of the floor. Only, when Deng starts his chase, he’s met by a nice screen from Dwight Howard:

Kobe Flare 2

Dwight gets Deng in a severe trail position with his pick and Kobe is wide open by the time the ball lands in his hands. By the time he raises up to shoot, look how far Deng is away from him:

Kobe Flare 3

The Lakers haven’t run this type of flare screen action a lot this year so it’s not like it was an easy play to scout. Coming out of a timeout, D’Antoni drew up the perfect play and Kobe came through by hitting the shot, resulting in a 15 point lead that really put stress on the Bulls’ offense. Here’s the play in real time:

The second play was another screen action, this time starting out of a Nash/Dwight pick and roll. We start with a similar set up as in the play before, with Nash high, Dwight in position to set a screen for him, and Kobe on the left wing:

Dwight Screen

After coming off a Dwight screen, Nash goes hard to his left to initiate a dribble pitch/hand off with Kobe who is circling back towards him. Notice as well that Dwight is trailing Nash rather than rolling hard to hoop as he would in a normal P&R:

Nash hand off

After giving the ball to Kobe, Nash sets a screen on Deng. And, after having to navigate that screen, Deng has to fight over the top of a second screen from Dwight. That double screen action gives Kobe a lot of daylight to operate, with Joakim Noah having to step up to ensure that Kobe doesn’t get into the paint:

Double screen

This is where Kobe’s smarts come into play. When seeing Noah, Kobe flattens out his dribble and occupies the big man in order to draw him up and away from his original assignment (Dwight). With Nash keeping his spacing high on the floor, Meeks and Ron spacing on the right side, and Dwight beginning a roll to the rim, Kobe patiently accepts Noah’s defense, waits for Deng to recover and has now created a situation where he’s double teamed but still able to make a play for a teammate:

Boozer watching

The purpose of this action isn’t just to make any pass, however. Dwight rolling hard to the rim after setting the screen is the primary target. And with Carlos Boozer still standing outside the right lane line, Kobe correctly picks out Dwight for an easy dunk:

This play really was the Lakers picking on Boozer, who should have helped off Ron and taken away Dwight’s dive by standing in the paint. With Meeks and Nash the other two players on the wing, Boozer’s guarding the non-shooter on the floor and it’s his responsibility to duck in.

But the beauty of the play design is that Boozer really is stuck in no man’s land. If he does slide over to help on Dwight, he leaves a shooter open for the most efficient three point shot there is in the game. And even though he’s guarding a non-threat, the Bulls defensive scheme is one that emphasizes not giving up that corner shot. So while Boozer is at fault here, I think the play design really did a good job of opening up multiple options for a high efficient shot.

Moving forward, it looks like the Lakers really are starting to find more options on offense by adding wrinkles to their traditional actions in order to create good shots. Whether it’s a flare screen for Kobe or a staggered pick and roll action that opens up Dwight for a dunk, Coach D’Antoni is getting more creative. Furthermore, he’s doing so using his three best players and utilizing them in ways that maximize their abilities to be threats on the floor. Continuing to use these types of plays should only make the Lakers more dangerous and an even bigger pain to game plan for.

Darius Soriano

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43 responses to The Breakdown: Screening Their Way to Success

  1. That first game with the flare screen for Kobe, after he has screened the ball is straight out of Doc Rivers’ playbook… which Spoelstra now uses for Ray Allen in crunch time.

    It is a great play, as it stretches the defense out horisontally, and creates loads of space for Steve Nash and Howard towards the ring.

  2. Great breakdown, i thinks its just a matter of MDA getting a feel of his team, it took a while but now that he starting to get a better grasp of the team he is starting to get more creative on offense and running plays that need chemistry to be effective. MDA bashers in 3,2,1

  3. Thanks Darius for the analysis. The fact that these plays are working is a function of better cohesiveness, willingness to set good screens and more natural movement. There seems to be less thinking about the mechanics which allows basketball instinct to take over.

    On an unrelated note I thought this note from Marc Stein’s latest power rankings was interesting and pretty darn accurate:

    The committee (of one) is feeling pretty good about its stubborn refusal to proclaim the Lakers’ playoffs hopes doomed when they were a season-high five games out of No. 8 on Jan. 11. If they don’t start the playoffs as the most feared No. 8 seed ever, it’s because they went in as No. 6 or 7.

  4. There is no doubt that the offense is progressing very well as the players gain confidence in the system and in each other. That is fun to watch. And the point about better screens is a good one. Early in the season, DH was slipping screens all the time, which proved very ineffective. Now, he’s killing the defender.

    Even without a lot of their guys, the Bulls are a solid defense (unlike the last two opponents, whose weaknesses left me less impressed by the Laker comebacks). Yesterday was more of what I have been waiting for: a wire to wire win against a solid opponent, with strong play on both sides of the ball and more chemistry (on O and D) than we’ve seen for much of the year.

    The previous two wins may have been exciting, but I prefer 48 minutes of good, hard basketball, and yesterday our guys delivered.

  5. Tottally agree funky 48 solid minutes are better for the nerves than 2 spectacular come from behind wins lol. I hope this become the norm or i will get an aneurysm one of these days lol

  6. darius: the beauty of the screen play(s) and matchups is that it slows the game down and plays into laker strengths which is exactly what i got out of your analysis and last night’s victory points to that direction the team is heading offensively. to continue to perfect and improvise using screens will be key as we continue on to the first goal: eventual post season playoffs for this laker team.

    three pivotal away games starting with orlando tomorrow (if howard man’s up we’ll be good) but the team would need to support him and trust they will. the other two being atlanta the following evening and indiana friday. these three games have the appearance of the litmus test for these lakers all challenging in their own way.

    Here’s hoping the dog does not need to scratch the door early and often.

    Go Lakers

  7. In the video, Howard did commit a moving screen. So this is something he needs to work on. He needs to guess where Deng will travel through then stay there (as the rule requires of a screen). If Deng circles around him, then the purpose of the screen has already been achieved (by delaying Deng for a split second). But Howard almost always moves sideway in react to Deng’s movement in that situation, and most referees will call it a moving screen. This happens at least once a game for Howard for many games, and it is at the mercy of the referee (not to call it). So it should be corrected.

  8. david h: “slows the game down and plays into laker strengths ”

    An Interesting Concept : ) No reading between the lines rr : ) david h said it – and I find it interesting. That is all.

  9. Another Great Breakdown. I underrated on court chemistry thinking with 4 elite players things will automatically be great. But we are finally starting to see the cohesiveness we thought we’d see at the beginning of the season. The defense was just as good yesterday. A lot of show and recovers all game and Lakers dictated the overall tempo. This has been a new team since Feb. 1st only losing to Bos, Mia, Den, Okc, Clips with 4 on the road. They’re definitely improving but won’t be seen as a threat until they beat playoff teams on the road. Winning handily at Atl and Indy is a good start.

  10. Kevin_ like you, I am a bit surprised that the chemistry took as long to develop. After watching the Heat struggle early on in their “big 3″ era, I expected some difficulty up front, but I thought that would be mitigated by the presence of Steve Nash. He always seems to make marginal players look great, and hasn’t historically needed much time to get new teammates going.

    Then, he came here, broke his leg, endured a coaching and system change, and re-integrated into a nearly dysfunctional offense. I don’t tend to see things through rose-colored glasses, but it seems clear to me that if this team had been blessed with good health and no coaching change (meaning, if they were going to fire Brown, having done so after last season), they would likely have not gotten so far in the hole early in the season, and would be playing at an even higher level now.

    I expect them to make the playoffs and win one or two games in the 1st round (I’m still not sold on anything more than that), but I hope that we don’t sit through an offseason of excuses about injuries as a justification not to make some important roster moves (e.g., moving Pau for some much-needed youth & althleticism on the perimeter) because of the “proof” of how much better they played down the stretch. They are undeniably a much better team now than two months ago; but they are still not championship caliber, and won’t be until they can start consistently beating those top 4 teams in the west.

  11. The Lakers have won one game, total, all year, against:

    SA
    OKC
    LAC
    DEN
    MEM
    MIA
    IND

    Top 5 seeds in the West and the Top 2 in the East. IOW, if one wants to fantasize about a run, the Lakers would almost certainly have to beat four of those teams, four times each.

    They get another shot at IND this week, but it is a road game.

    And over the last 22 games, when they are a very good 16-6, they have lost to LAC by 24, OKC by 17, and DEN by 11, allowing an avg. of 122 PPG in those three games.

    So, that is a long of way saying that Funky is pretty much correct.

    On another note, Miami is 20-1 since they signed Chris Andersen–somewhat the same time period that Pau has been gone. I understand that Andersen may not have wanted to come here, that he would not have been as good a fit here, and there are legit reasons, on and off-court, not to want him, and that it is “not my money.” I still think that it should be noted.

  12. … but I hope that we don’t sit through an offseason of excuses about injuries as a justification not to make some important roster moves (e.g., moving Pau for some much-needed youth & althleticism on the perimeter) because of the “proof” of how much better they played down the stretch.
    ______

    Although some may feel that you’re looking too far ahead, that’s an excellent point Funky.

  13. rr: they beat Denver, Okc and Boston at home. We’re close with Miami until a LeBron takeover, lost on a Green 3 to a fully healthy Spurs team and haven’t played Memphis at Staples. Clippers have really given them problems, but they’ve played many of those games close until the final 6 minutes. I agree with you that a real run at the chip is unlikely until they win games against the elite. But this Lakers team is a different team than earlier in the year, especially since Dwight, Nash and Kobe have upped their level of play.

  14. rr,
    I understand looking at the Lakers’ record against top teams. That said, not mentioning the fact that they’ve not had their full complement of players nearly all those games is a big disingenuous. As you’ve said countless times, this team was built on the premise of 4 stars being the foundation for the entire team. Not having even one of them is a pretty big deal.

    Of course, it’s still not that simple as this team didn’t come together quite as well as many hoped and there are real questions about lineup construction/player usage by MDA. But the injuries still matter a great deal.

  15. “I hope that we don’t sit through an offseason of excuses”
    Funky: I am afraid we may have already seen the prelude to this in Jim Buss’ last interview.

    Yes, Yes – i am enjoying this run. However, as an entitled Laker fan, I enjoy the journey much more, when I know there is a good chance of reaching the destination : ) And I think we do still have a chance – I never gave up, as most of you know. It is just not quite the 35% I was looking for : )

  16. oh well, guess the jazz are not going to do us any favors tonight…

  17. The Nash pass in that first play diagramed above is actually quite remarkable. If Nash throws the ball to where Kobe was when Nash threw it, Deng has a chance to contest the shot. To avoid that possibility, Nash’s pass leads Kobe away from Deng’s pursuit. At the same time, the pass seems to have a little loft on it which allows Kobe to cover the distance to get to the ball. At the same time, the ball gets to the perfect spot for Kobe to shoot the three, not behind or in front of the three point line (making a more difficult shot than it needs to be and/or forcing Kobe to lose time dribbling forward or stepping back to get to the line).

    This just in: Steve Nash is good at passing the basketball.

  18. Thats ok, the Jazz have to go to OKC on wednesday

  19. I did miss one win against Denver, from very early in the year. Beating Boston is not a big deal.

    As to the idea that I am being “disingenuous” by not talking about the big four’s lack of floor time, Scott Howard-Cooper wrote this of Pau on Feb 8:

    He is not, though, the primary cause of this 23-27 cleanup on Aisle 4.
    The Lakers with Gasol in the lineup: 18-28, a .391 win percentage.
    The Lakers without Gasol in the lineup: 5-9, a 357 win percentage.

    Since then the Lakers are 10-4, meaning that they are now 15-13 without Pau. I am not saying this to knock Pau; he is a personal favorite and I don’t think he is done. And, obviously, they need another big.

    But I have not seen much evidence that the Lakers are especially awesome when all of the big four are there. I am not sure what the team’s record is with all four of them, so maybe I am wrong. But the main issue remains perimeter defense, and Pau is not going to help with that. I don’t see MDA suddenly figuring out ways to use Pau and Howard. Indeed, as I said a couple of weeks ago, one can make an argument that the Pau and Hill injuries have helped MDA, in that they were the two guys he had the hardest time working with. With them gone, and Blake back, he has been able to find an 8-man rotation that is workable and that he has stuck with.

    Maybe it will be different this time. Howard seems to be moving better and seems happier. But the Lakers still look like a fringe playoff team to me.

  20. rr,
    Again, injuries have played a major part in this. Early in the year when both Pau and Howard were in the lineup, neither were close to 100%. Pau was dealing w/ knee tendonitis and wearing bands on his knees by the 6th game of the year. Add in missing games w/ a concussion and then his foot issues and he’s had an injury plagued year. Dwight’s barely started to look healthy after the all-star break and is still playing w/ a bad shoulder. So, even with “all four available” I’m not sure what can be gained from looking at their record beyond to say “these guys had this record with a group of guys who weren’t that healthy”. Not to mention all the other factors that have contributed to their rough season to date.

    That said, in the 8 game sample from the Memphis game (where the players had that meeting) and the Brooklyn game (where Pau got hurt) the Big 4 lineup shared the floor for 45 minutes in 5 games (Dwight missed time w/ his shoulder) and were somewhat healthy (at least it was as healthy as Pau had been all season). In that stretch, when the lineup with those 4 guys shared the floor they had an offensive efficiency of 103.8 and a defensive efficiency of 96.4. This is an incredibly small sample and I’m not trying to extrapolate too much from it. But those numbers do match what the eye test was saying. Mainly that they did look like they were starting to sort things out on both ends of the floor.

    I’m not saying they could lean on that lineup for huge minutes each night, but I am saying they’re a better team with all their players healthy and I don’t know how that can really be argued. What also can’t be argued is that we simply haven’t seen enough of this team when healthy to say how they would have performed against top teams if all players would have been available.

  21. Again, when you are counting on 6 guys 32 or older and a guy coming off major back surgery, injuries are part of the deal. Not everyone is Kobe.

    Certainly, it is possible that:

    Howard is rounding into form and will play his best ball in postseason (if they get there–that cannot be assumed).
    Pau will come back fresher and ready to go, and will play his best ball in postseason.
    Nash will play his best ball in postseason.

    And, I think it is arguable that the playoff schedule patterns will help the Lakers. OTOH, they will be playing teams that are (at least one or two of) faster than they are, teams that generally play better D than they do, teams that shoot the 3 better than they do, and teams that are deeper than they are. That will be true even if they are healthy.

    Sure, I think it is possible that if the Lakers get in, they have a 2010 Celtics-type run in them. But I think that is far more of a hope than something to predict at this point.

  22. rr,
    All of my comments were basically speaking to your point about the Lakers’ record against top teams this season and how you inferred what their quality is based off those games. I’m not inferring anything about how good they can be in the playoffs if they make it there. You are and seem to be doing so based off a logic that, as I’ve pointed out, includes a bunch of games where guys either didn’t play or played at much less than 100%. If you’re going to extrapolate those games to the rest of the season and then basically say “well, when you build a team with old guys, injuries happen” I’m not sure what good that does unless you’re arguing they’ll suffer similar injuries or setbacks in the remaining part of the season to the point that the remaining games mirror the ones that came before.

  23. The other big point to me, is that in the early season games, there was a bit more force feeding of Dantoni’s system, with Pau trying to be a real stretch 4, and since then Dantoni and the team have developed an offence that is better suited to the skill set of the players playing. So again, and you never want to do this too readily, I think a lot of the early season stats need to be just thrown out. Hints of issues and tendencies can be found there, but on masse, I don’t think they can’t be relied on too heavily.

    And Darius’s point about the games post Memphis where the big 4 played some minutes is a cogent one, because when you combine those with the minutes in those games of all line-ups with both Pau and Dwight on the floor, just the eye test says that they were starting to figure it out, and you saw signs of a real transformation from the early season where lineups with both Pau and Dwight had the worst +/-’s on the team.

    I think the reality is, and of course, one can accuse me of looking at this through rose coloured glasses, I think we really need to look at the more recent games for clues. I remember the 2010 Phoenix suns season where they went on a historic 28-7 run to close the season after a very mediocre first 47, and it was very much like this one where their was a benign start to the run and questions all along the way about what the team was and how far they could go. Once chemistry and health kicks in, and here you also are seeing the team transform with new offensive sets being added and a more diversified offence starting to be implemented, and guys who have really had limited time to figure this out, finally getting some court time together, we don’t really know how far that can go. I agree with RR that its hard to imagine this team going that far yet, because they don’t look like they have the kind of outside shooting or the defensive horses to be an explosive offensive or a fierce defensive team yet, but perhaps the story is written in another way, once Pau is back. And it may need one more year for all of this to come together.

  24. A very good analysis on these plays. I have high regards about you Darius but dont get me wrong. Smething just came up tome when you wrote: “The Lakers haven’t run this type of flare screen action a lot this year so it’s not like it was an easy play to scout”
    If these games were hard to scout then why write something about it? If we can help the team in our on way by not showing our cards to the opponents then what is the help of this analysis to the Laker Team? Iknow you were a writer first before a fan, but this team have to keep all their aces under their sleeves so we better help them in any way we can.

  25. Warren Wee Lim March 12, 2013 at 5:47 am

    There will never truly be a good sample to gauge the 2013 Lakers simply because the injuries have decimated our combinations. We are not able to play our “best 8 guys” simply because we weren’t allowed to. I think the biggest hit was Nash’s injury on the 2nd game that spiraled into other injuries, Steve Blake’s absence can also be felt in terms of stability of the 2nd team.

    Against the top teams, the Lakers are at a disadvantage but it does not mean we can’t win against them. Even if we were 0-for-everything against them healthy and complete, there is no basis to say we can’t win against them in the playoffs should we get there.

    The recent success is brought about by familiarity, continuity and overall health. Most notable in the health department is that of Dwight’s. Dwight’s attitude is also at a much better place. Either he realized that just now or he needed to see Kobe more work, whats important is he now has and has been dominating the games defensively. 15 boards, 2 steals, 3 blocks. Thats as good as 25 points from Dwight.

  26. Warren Wee Lim March 12, 2013 at 5:58 am

    On another note, I still wish to discuss Pau’s status more as he nears his comeback. Much like the Knicks finding a stride without Amare to start the season, there is a growing feeling that Pau entering the rotation might mess up chemistry. While I do not particularly agree or disagree fully, I do wish to emphasize that “which kind of Pau Gasol” matters more to me if/when he comes back rather than just have him back at less than 100%. What I mean is that I want to have Pau back 100% in health but also 100% in attitude and outlook towards helping the team. That said, I would still have him run the 2nd unit.

    Moving further into the future, the Lakers have a very big decision to make. No one can predict exactly the variables of the offseason, where teams with cap space can drastically change the future of 1 franchise. Should Dwight choose to remain a Laker, which is looking more and more likely as we win more, the uncertainty of Pau’s future as a Laker becomes darker and darker.

    Hypothetically speaking, the Lakers need perimeter defense so badly. The ideal place for this to come from is the 3 spot wherein MWP is our only legitimate SF.

    Scoring might be a requirement too since the presence of Dwight, Nash and Kobe are enough to attract the defense. IF we could atleast snag someone who is known for good perimeter and transition defense then that would be huge.

    As for the position that Pau vacates, there will be Jordan Hill whose game I see fitting snugly on MDA’s system. His improving jumpshot and great instincts on rebounding (and his 3.5M salary) make him the ideal backup C. Assuming Jamison is retained for 1 more run, then a frontcourt of Howard/Hill/Clark/Jamison is very much adviseable compared to having a sulking/complaining Pau Gasol.

    Don’t get me wrong, the talent Pau Gasol brings is incomparable. 29 teams would bid for his services any given night. He would probably start for atleast 20 teams too. However, his demand for minutes, touches and too much complaining might be better off on another team.

  27. …and when Gasol returns to full strength, we can move Clark away from center, where he has been killed lately. The Dwight-Pau pairing has also never been tried with the new and improved Dwight. So there is still so much unknown about how this team will play going forward.

  28. Seems to me rr is saying that there is no (or minimal) evidence that the Lakers can beat the top teams, while others challenge the conclusion based on the teams’s inability to field a complete, injury-free big four.

    Both statements are correct, but the argument that the Lakers can’t beat a top 4 team in the playoffs is a lot stronger and better supported than the argument that they can (which is based entirely on conjecture and hope–and something even more elusive this year, health).

  29. Something is strange with Scott Howard-Cooper’s numbers quoted above:

    “He is not, though, the primary cause of this 23-27 cleanup on Aisle 4.
    The Lakers with Gasol in the lineup: 18-28, a .391 win percentage.
    The Lakers without Gasol in the lineup: 5-9, a 357 win percentage.”

    Add the numbers with and without Gasol up and you get 23-37, not 23-27. Am I missing something? Is the record with Pau actually 18-18? I don’t know how to easily check this. But if it is, then at this point in time, they appeared to play better with Pau, which defeats the whole point he was trying to make.

  30. Given all it took to knock the Lakers back down to 9th, was a home win by Utah against Detroit, do ya think all the victory laps yesterday were a bit premature?

  31. Funky & rr,

    No one has seen this team healthy and in full force. There’s conjecture on both sides of the coin as to how the Lakers will fare if/when they reach the playoffs. There is evidence that the Lakes have lost many games to top teams while not at full strength. Yet even without key cogs, they have been competitive multiple times against top teams. I will not be one to say that adding 7 footer with deft passing and a solid post game will not push them over a competitive threshold. Fact is, none of us know! Let’s just enjoy the crow everyone’s having to eat with the Lakers unexpected resurgence.

  32. I think it is true that between guys being fully out due to injury, or guys being less than 100% due to injury, we have never really been at full strength. So if later in the year we get Pau back and everyone else is healthy, will we be better than we have ever been this year? Probably ( I say probably because the big 4 have not shown that they can all effectively play (or be used) together yet. Whether we get good enough to beat top teams in the playoffs is totally unknown, so we will wait and see. I certainly think we can. I have always said we have a great roster. However, many teams have had injuries (SA with Parker, and Boston with Rondo as examples), and they have played reasonably well at partial strength. Yes – perhaps they are built differently than we are, but that is very close to saying that they are better than we are. Further, it is opinion as to “how much” the injuries have impacted us. I think just about everyone is saying that we have been impacted by injuries, but in my case, I am not buying the premise that all of our woes are due to injuries (the Jim Buss theory). The Lakers have dug themselves a hole, much like a student who has not studied all year. Now they are trying to cram for the final exam (the playoffs). Well – OK – let’s see how they do. However, to Funky’s earlier point about excuses: Some of us are not going to give out good grades just for effort.

  33. Robert,

    Fortunately or unfortunately, the millionaires and billionaires don’t care about your grades or mine. Personally, I don’t understand this ‘no-excuses’ mentality. The world functions on empirical realities, facts. How have we reached the conclusion that analysis using facts equals excuse making? The Lakers performance woes have undoubtedly been affected by injuries (and as rr likes to point out, a general lack of depth on the roster) in a big way. The only question becomes how far could the Lakes go without said injuries. I, however, am unprepared to shovel dirt on the coffin of this season. Here’s to a smack down in Orlando.

  34. I don’t think it is injuries alone, that have caused the issues, and it is correct to note that other teams have dealt with injuries without as many issues. It’s more that the team was not built to withstand this many injuries because depth was an issue from the outset, that injuries happened at the same spots (so that, for instance, almost 20 games were played with a D league PG starting, in what had always been a PG centered offence), and early in the year as the team was just taking its first steps at forming an identity, and because there was a lot to work out in a year where there is a bunch of new superstars, and a new coach, who did bring quite a new challenging philosophy of how to play, and had to implement that mid season. Then I think all of those problems begat further troubles as the team psyche was not yet strong enough to withstand many losses and the pain just snowballed.

    I think the fact that Boston (and Miami after 2 years) were eventually able to succeed with a formula based on building through free agency, also glossed over the fact that building through free agency has rarely resulted in immediate success, and that by far the rule is that it takes at least a couple of years for a newly formed team to fully come together. And so, I do think there is enough extenuating circumstances to refute the idea that just because San Antonio and Boston seemed to survive injuries, and the Lakers didn’t handle that as well, that the Lakers are clearly flawed as a result.

  35. San Antonio has a lot more depth than the Lakers, and Boston does too, as well as playing in the Eastern Conference.

    Harvey, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Half the season we’ve had a D-league (point guard) and backups (4/5) playing major minutes in 3 of 5 positions on the court. If the Heat lose Chris Bosh or the Thunder lost Ibaka, I am fairly confident that their teams would be much less consistent (though probably still perform better than us). We are a top heavy team. If we’re missing one of our top four, we will struggle.

  36. My goodness… an entire thread without someone mentioning Phil Jackson? Could this be true!?!?!?!?

  37. Kareeme: With regard to Billionaires: Well – I did force him to get D12 : ) However on this subject – I think you are correct. He probably does not care what we say. He may have already partially made up his mind up about what he is going to say in his post season “state of the union speech”. As to your facts statement: Fact is we have not beaten more than 1 good team. Fact is we had injuries and that contributed to this. How much it contributed and what we would have done at full strength – that is not fact – but opinion – and there are certainly at least 2 of those here : ) As to the dirt and the coffin, let’s postpone that as long as possible and do the post mortem after the season as needed, rather than preemptively identifying injuries as our cause of death. I remain hopeful and I am sticking to my personal pipe dream of a full series at Staples in the first round. It appears this means that I will have to root for the Clippers in a couple of games in order for this to happen : ) The smack down in Orlando sounds good !!

  38. darius: we’re loitering here. time for preview and chat – orlando magic?

  39. david h,
    I don’t take offense to much, but asking for a new post is one way to get me moving in that direction. We all have responsibilities in life and running this site is only one of many for me. The posts will get up in a timely manner when I have the time to get them up. I appreciate your and everyone else’s understanding on this topic.

  40. darius: message received loud and clear. apologies for the misunderstanding.

  41. When you win games, there is less pressure. When you play less talented, injured teams then things are easier. I am not buying into this Lakers team yet.

    They beat an injury ravaged Bulls team that has a very limited offense. They were without Rose, Heinrich, Taj Gibson, and Hamilton.

    They beat the awful Toronto Raptors and it took a miraculous comeback + overtime.

    They beat the awful New Orleans Hornets.

    The last 4 strong teams that they faced (Clippers, Thunder, Heat, and even Nuggets), they were smoked by a total of 62 points.

    The Lakers are simply beating the teams that they absolutely should be beating lately.

  42. James,
    Using that logic, I can only assume you were giving the Lakers a pass for losing games when they were the injury ravaged team in turmoil.

  43. I think they deserved a break at certain points when they played against the best teams. Some of the teams they played, when they were had players out with injury, also had stars missing from their lineups, however. This also has to be factored in.

    I also think that some of those games, against sub-par teams, were lost for a lack of heart and commitment to defense, and sometimes selfishness.

    If I see the Lakers start to do things with consistency, and beat good teams then I will get excited. But for now, I am kind of scoffing at this idea that they are pulling it together.
    They have been beating non-playoff or injured teams for the most part.