Lakers vs. Kings: No Kobe, No Pau, No Problem

Darius Soriano —  March 17, 2013

Since Pau Gasol was traded to the Lakers in February 2008, the Lakers have never won a game where both players didn’t play. Against the Kings that changed with a 113-102 victory that offered a lot of highlights and some big performances from nearly every player who got onto the floor.

This win really was a team effort. Nearly every player — basically everyone except Jodie Meeks — gave close to a peak performance and, more specifically, were able to play to their strengths in a way that really accentuated their value to the team. Consider the following:

  • Steve Nash racked up 12 assists and added 19 points on efficient shooting.
  • Dwight Howard totaled 17 rebounds along with 5 blocks while doing a good job of establishing the post on offense.
  • Antawn Jamison came off the bench providing an excellent scoring punch, scoring a team high 27 points on a variety of inside and outside shots.
  • Steve Blake was the consummate floor general in running the 2nd unit, but also added very good production with 16 points and a very impressive 8 assists.
  • Earl Clark was energetic and provided a little bit of everything from a stats standpoint with 11 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a blocked shot.

Only Ron with his 22 points on 10-13 shooting really stepped outside his normal role (defense first) to provide a real offensive spark and a creator of offense in isolation and in hitting his spot up jumpers. Don’t get me wrong, Ron is capable of this type of performance, but he actually played more of a Kobe-lite role than the one he typically plays for the Lakers.

But every other player essentially played his normal role but did so at a level that was at or very close to their peak level play for the team. When you get that type of play from nearly every player who sees the floor, the expectation is that a win would follow. That was exactly the case for the Lakers tonight, even though the Kings were a very game opponent (as we mentioned they would be in the preview).

Really, that total team effort is what made this game so fun to watch. These guys were having fun out there and were really playing for each other, producing results in the process. You could see it in every extra pass (which there were plenty), in every high five, in every smile when a teammate did something great.

And, there were plenty of great moments. Steve Blake and Antawn Jamison were stunning in their ability to hit shots and, more simply, just execute the play in front of them by being better than their man. Jamison was not just hot from the outside, but he timed his cuts perfectly and did a great job of finishing on the move. Blake was not just hitting shots as a spot up shooter, but was creating looks for himself and his teammates off the dribble. On one memorable play, Blake dribbled along the baseline and underneath the hoop, took a b-line up the side of the paint, and then threw a nifty lob to Dwight who laid the ball in for an easy deuce. The play looked so much like one the other Steve would make that you had to double take to make sure it actually wasn’t Nash.

And the night was filled with moments like that from every player. Whether it was Nash hitting leaning jumpers coming out of the pick and roll or Dwight protecting the paint for the entire 2nd half (while playing 20 of the 24 minutes) to make sure that the Kings would have to win this game from the outside, there were just countless big plays from so many different guys that it’s hard to single anyone out.

Everyone was good; everyone helped get this win. Even Meeks and Clark — who weren’t nearly as sharp as the rest of their teammates — soaked up some valuable minutes and played hard when they were on the floor. And even though they didn’t have the same positive results, they were right there trying their best and cheering on their mates who were producing.

That’s what this game was about. The Kings aren’t a world beater and the Lakers, though short handed, were favored to win this game for a reason. But the way they went about their business — not letting the Kings’ shot making get them down; never giving in — was just a great sight to see. The ball moved, guys were cutting hard off the ball, and no one seemed to worry about anything besides making a good play. Efforts like this not only make you smile while you’re watching it, but make you proud too. Just a very good team win for the Lakers.

Darius Soriano

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22 responses to Lakers vs. Kings: No Kobe, No Pau, No Problem

  1. I hope they will face the spurs in the first round. Not that im afraid against Oklahoma and the other LA team, but they would definitely stand no chance against those teams. Coming from a Laker fan tho. :-)

  2. Title should be No Kobe, No Pau, No Hill. That third guy is just as important to this team than any other piece. Imagine if we started a season with a Healthy Dwight, a healthy Pau, Kobe Ron, Nash, Blake, Meeks, Hill, Clark and Jamison. This team could be contending for the best NBA record right now.

  3. Great as always Darius, its nice to finally see the Steve Blake i saw for years in Portland and the Clippers that had all those great games against the Lakers finally show up on a Lakers uniform, this team is getting it togheter and i cant say enough on how not having Kobe and Pau playing, the cornerstones of the franchise for years available have done wonders for this team in cohesion and chemistry, once we het Kobe and Pau back, this team will be really really dangerous, i dare to say this team could and should end up with around 47 wins with this shedule. We need to get healthy.

  4. from last thread:

    Robert, there’s a little more context than you’re providing. AJ was in the ‘dog house’, because we had a rotation of Hill, Gasol, and Howard. With Howard and Gasol playing 35 minutes each, that left 26 minutes to Jordan, minutes he earned with solid play in last year’s playoffs and at season’s start. In fact, Antawn entering the ‘dog house’ in mid-December corresponded precisely with Pau Gasol working his way back into the lineup from injury.

    I think that we all agree playing Jamison at the 3 is not ideal on defense or offense. The fact is that we need more depth at small forward, and we have too many bigs, save for our misfortune with injuries.

  5. My favorite combo is Steve Nash and Steve Blake on the floor at the same time. It gives the offense a degree of dynamism that keeps the defense on their heels, and as we saw last year in the playoffs, Blake does not shy away from the moment at the end of the game.

    The ball movement was exceptional tonight.

  6. Kareem,

    I made that same point a couple of weeks ago, so I obviously agree. When you have:

    a) A three-big rotation of Howard/Gasol/Hill
    b) A team that can’t get stops

    Sitting Antawn Jamison is a reasonable decision.

    That said, seeing Nash out there without Kobe, I still think a lot of time for units of:

    Nash/Meeks/Jamison/MWP/Howard
    and
    Blake/Kobe/Clark/Pau and either Meeks or MWP is the way to go

    Lets Nash be Nash and keeps everybody fresher.

  7. Jordan Hill is ahead of schedule to come back April/May. Pau coming back within a week. D’Antoni is about to be miserable. Neither fits his stretch 4 mentality. Good wins the last two games. We need more of them to get high enough where the final game of the season can be an audition for the bench.

  8. rr

    Agreed. I think the defensive weaknesses of lineups without Howard can be neutralized by compensating with offensive facility. If Blake can continue his solid orchestration on offense, I would like to see healthy doses of the following two lineups:

    Nash/Blake/Clark/Jamison/Pau
    Nash or Blake/Meeks/Kobe/MWP/Howard

    Both lineups will put up great offensive numbers, while the lineup (or any lineup) with Howard will stifle most opposing teams’ offensive. I think we’ve all witnessed the great chemistry that Blake has with Jamison, while Nash can develop a devastating PnR with Pau. The Kobe and Howard PnR has also been very effective, so why mess with a good thing?

    Let’s hope D’antoni agrees to the tiered starter approach that teams like the Spurs are using to good effect. Here’s to hoping.

  9. I don’t think that we can expect two separate squads splitting up the big 4, anytime soon…But I do think there is an issue that Nash and Kobe share PT so closely. Would like to see some more line ups where Nash and Kobe are split up, plus when Pau is back think they could also run line ups with Pau and Dwight and no Nash/Kobe.

  10. Up early and I see FBG was up late : ) Excellent game – and that is two of those in a row. Blake is playing out of his mind, and AJ is playing like the AJ of old. With regard to the rotation, first, a general tendency is that rotations get shorter in crunch time and the playoffs, so this will help us. Our 8 man rotation (tonight was 7) will be up against an opposition’s 8, rather than 9-10 like has been the case. Let’s hope Pau and Kobe get back in and at 100% soon. If that is the case, those minutes should primarily come from Clark and Meeks. I have always agreed with rr’s 2 stars on the floor type theory so rr/Kareem can discuss that with Harvey as he does not think MD is going to do that. In any case, we need AJ to be productive, so that we have some offense off the bench, and he is also able to generate his own shot for those games when that is an issue. The injuries are once again going to cause some flux in our line up, so beyond the injuries, I would like to see consistency in who we sub and when (see Busboy’s comment above – let’s not overthink this – just put the best guys out there). Everyone needs to know their roles coming down the last few games and into the playoffs.

  11. Great team win. Sweet stat of the night: Lakers 1st win w/o Kobe & Gasol since Gasol joined the Lakers Feb 1st, 2008. Really beginning to look like Dwight has found his role on this team, to be a modern day Bill Russell, five blocks, great “D”, 17 rebounds, & double figure scoring via high percentage shot selection (quality over quantity). Meanwhile Nash, Blake, & AJ looked like they did in their pre-Laker days. Clark was solid, MWP, simply…”Unworldly”.

    For those who easily misunderstand, by no means do I believe this team is better off without Kobe, however it’s obvious this team has talent and with the right combinations on the floor s/b able to be competitive when Kobe & or Gasol are on the bench catching a blow or two. Yes, it was “only” the Kings, however the Lakers shot almost 57% from the field…sweet :-).

    Next up: Nash’s old team, the Suns in Phoenix. Relax Kobe, your boys got this.

  12. Prettiest play of the night, IMO, was Jamison cutting down the right side of the lane and just as he turned over his right shoulder, Antawn recieved a pinpoint pass from Steve Nash in stride. AJ rolled down the lane and without putting the ball on the floor, put up one of his patented half hook finger rolls over the Kings’ Jason Thompson for the score.

    Plays like that are why I find this game so compelling. It was just a great example of precision and teamwork. Jamison reminded me so much of James Worthy on that play with his ability to move without the ball. Their common training and UNC roots were evident.

    Love how the team is stepping up and turning adversity into opportunity. Dwight’s resurgent play due to his improving health has energized the entire team as he has regained his defensive dominance. Having the best center on the planet will do that for a team. Love how this group is coming together.

  13. The Kings were suffering from having a big stopper in the middle, so the Lakers had an open lane for points in the paint. It was good to watch them pull together and play more cohesive. Although Dwight looks much stronger on defense his meager efforts as an offensive force shows. He needs a much more refined post up game. My biggest concern is Steve Nash. Tonight during the Phoenix game will tell just how much Steve has left. IMO, Steve has lost much of his game. I’m not talking his shooting, although it’s been off the last few games, I’m saying his play making skill seem to have eroded. He tends to dribble into crowds and often pushes into very difficult situations timewise. But what really concerns me is his passing and play making. He makes some unforced passing errors, and is having trouble finishing close to the basket. Only time will bear out whether it’s more a skill errosion or just his age. I hope it’s just a blip on the radar and just the rigors of the season are showing. Maybe it’s still an adjustment predicting his teamates tendencies, but whatever it is, I hope its only temporary.

    Still the Lakers are playing much more cohesive and hopefully they will continue to improve.

  14. Great team win. It was refreshing to see some ball movement usually Kobe breaks off plays and halts a set. There were creators from the post, wings and point guards. The game changed when Blake subbed in to guard Thomas early 3rd he did that and gave a huge boost to the offense too. You’d of thought D’Antoni would’ve staggered minutes some but I guess it hard breaking old habits. It will probably be more critical to play more than 7 guys on tonight’s back to back.

  15. I speculated a couple weeks ago that Peace may have been injured, and it appears that this was indeed the case. Playing through a hip injury, and only now is he healthy again. Showing in his play if you ask me. He had a couple rough weeks where he couldn’t shoot or defend.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/lakers/post/_/id/36136/world-peace-feeling-better-playing-better

  16. I love that the Lakers are finally playing for each other. Even though I hate that Kobe got hurt it gives these other guys a chance to step up and play big. As we head into the playoffs we’re gonna need everyone to contribute. Please check out this article comparing the Lakers to the Avengers.

    http://www.wetheopinionated.com/editorial-a-superhero-approach-to-figuring-out-the-lakers.html

  17. Nash hasn’t lost that much. There have always been some high risk passes and turnovers (any one with a very high usage would have the same or more mistakes), just like anyone else there are missed shots, (he still shoots at a very high %), whether those shots are inside or out, and his game is to an extent based on dribbling into high risk situations, and some of the problems there depend on the quality of the picks he is receiving and whether the whole team is 100% onside with what he is doing (which you can understand is not fully the case). he is not your average stay at home point guard..like Kobe there is some taking the good with the bad..in order to get the beautiful passes, cohesive and very efficient offence, you tend to have to put up with a few loose passes and some turnovers. just like Kobe……

    If there is a change in Nash, its more that a) teams and players have caught up with his ideas and style of play, and you are seeing more and more younger and more athletic PG’s who, having learned from Nash, can do some/much of what he can do, while still providing more speed and defensive athleticism/steals than Nash, 2) there is a very hard to define decrease in his strength/physical dominance/swagger, that tends to result in him being somewhat less “dominant” when he is on the floor. For many years, the line-ups with Nash vs. without Nash, had just a way higher scoring differential and over time this has eroded somewhat. It is really hard to figure out what is the major contributing factor there, so I wrap it up in something to do with age/physical dominance/intimidation, which is now missing, as teams sense that they are more likely to stop him and that if they can create a turnover on him, it will lead to a more certain 2, on the other side. It also could have something to do with a slight decrease in speed and may also be a function of taking so much smaller of a role with Kobe on the floor.

    Having said that, what he is doing at 39 is to me still pretty remarkable and unprecedented.

  18. Kevin: Understand your point about the 7 and the back to back. However, I agree with MD on this. We need to start getting a consistent line up, and that is hard enough to do with all of our injuries. That said, when we are at full streghth, I do not want to have anyone second guessing their role, so to that end, I would prefer to let Blake and AJ have their runs with starter type minutes. Further, there is a big gap between the 7 and the others : ) Of course I understand your concern that playing 7 on the 2nd of a back to back might result in complete exhaustion. It is the lessor of the evils : )

  19. Ok, people need to calm down about this ball movement talk. The problem when Kobe plays isn’t that the ball gets stuck, its that the role players feet gets stuck in mud. Only Jamison cuts and moves well without the ball. MWP played a good offensive game for the 1st time after a 2 and half month streak of bad offensive play and we want to claim that’s because of ball movement??? We had stretches last night where we played badly also, just that we didn’t succumb like we did early in the season. (Wonder how we would have done if Smart had resorted to Hack a Dwight). That being said, we won; mostly because we played a bad team without their best player. I will take wins in any fashion right now so I am not complaining. We are getting better, Howard is getting healthier, but lets not deceive ourselves, we are nowhere near where we need to be if we want to beat one of the top 3 seeds in the playoffs.

    One last thing, someone mentioned a lineup with Steve Blake and Nash?? Smh. That only works against the worst/lottery teams. That back-court will get eaten up against elite teams.

  20. MDA should be stronger, just man up and tell Kobe that Nash needs the ball for the first 15 seconds on the shot clock to try to explore and create the offense. If the opposing teams has the defense well drawn up to counter the PNR or Screen and roll or the double curl screen at top of the key, then leave to Kobe to do what Kobe does the best, create a shot of his own. Nash is one of the best passer ever to play this game, and Kobe is the best ever at iso plays. So just let Kobe be Kobe, rather than Kobe trying to be the passer, and make Nash a spot up shooter.

    But Kobe being Kobe, just watching from the side line, he will probably figure it out himself.

  21. To me the Kobe as facilitator and Nash as spot up shooter experiment is 1) more about balance than anything, as Kobe will never be happy in the much more limited role he would have with Nash controlling the ball like he did in Phoenix, but 2) a process…With the very poor start, and with the Nash/Dantoni system, supposedly some part of that, it was natural for Kobe to do something radical, which put more on him….I wonder what will happen now that the awful possibility of missing the playoffs seems to be handled. Don’t want to jinx, as the playoffs are not a lock, but my hope is that once they have had some success in the W/L column, there will be further changes to how they run their offence. It seems that actual evidence is what was needed in order for Dantoni/Nash to have the credibility to change the system more significantly.

    It is also, why I place a lot less value on the analytics of the Lakers, in this one case. Why put too much faith in stats that include the early season, when a) Duhon and Morris were the starting and back up Pg’s, b) Dwight was a shadow of his former and current self, c) Pau was either injured, about to be injured or majorly pissed off d) MWP was injured, e) there was a huge amount of pressure/expectations about the team, that was not being delivered f) there was a lot of controversy about the coach and the coaching choice and g) all or most of this was happening at the same time? I just think that in analyzing this team more is being written now and over the next month, than what was happening with the team in November/December, and more than any other team in the NBA, its a bit hard to determine just where they are at, at the moment.

  22. Albert, have u watched the Lakers at all this season? MDA practically told us once Nash got back from injury the team would play better. He gave Nash the ball and the team struggled, which is why he eventually resorted to Kobe taking over play making reins. Once again, people need to calm down, Nash has been inconsistent for a few months and stuggled against good teams. Don’t take 2 games and try to make it seem like he is suddenly all world.