Preview and Chat: The Washington Wizards

Darius Soriano —  March 22, 2013

Records: Lakers 36-33 (8th in the West), Wizards 24-43 (11th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.4 (8th in the NBA), Wizards 97.3 (Last in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.4 (18th in the NBA), Wizards 99.9 (7th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard
Wizards: John Wall, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Nene, Emeka Okafor
Injuries: Lakers: Jordan Hill (out for the season); Wizards: Bradley Beal (doubtful), Emeka Okafor (questionable), Ronnie Price (out)

The Lakers Coming in: We covered a fair amount of ground earlier today, but let’s rehash the key points. Kobe and Pau are both going to play tonight, with both returning to the lineup as starters. Reports from practice are that both guys looked good and while Kobe tweeted that his ankle was a bit sore today he says he’ll be good to go tonight. Pau will likely have a minutes restriction tonight, but should still get good work in this evening. Not playing in 6 weeks should translate to some rust in his game, but if he’s able to move around the floor well and show good feel as a passer he’ll be a net positive on both ends of the floor.

Every Laker seems to understand the importance of this stretch run and that should lead to inspired play regardless of their physical state. While the odds favor the Lakers making the post-season, they’ve not clinched anything to this point and that requires they continue to rack up wins. This team adopted a playoff mentality long ago and will need to carry that forward for another 13 games to clinch and then for as long as their ride lasts should they make the 2nd season. After all this team has been through, it’s exciting to think they could finally be coming together to approximate the team they were formed to be. But they must still show it on the floor. With pieces to integrate back in, here’s hoping they don’t get off their stride.

The Wizards Coming in: The Wizards may be 19 games under .500, but they’ve been much better since John Wall returned to the lineup 34 games ago. In that stretch they’ve gone 19-15 including winning 4 of their last 5 games. If looking for a statistical representation of this better play, over their last 20 games they’ve posted an offensive efficiency of 103.7 and a defensive efficiency of 99.6, marks that rank them 17th and 5th in the league, respectively, over that stretch. In other words. since Wall has returned they’ve been playing like a playoff team. A lower seeded one, but one all the same.

Wall has been a key to their turnaround with his quickness and shot creation on offense combined with the ability to cover a lot of ground and pressure the ball on defense making a big difference. One can only imagine what their record would be if Wall had been healthy all year. But giving Wall all the credit would be unwise. This team plays hard on defense even without Wall and have had several players find solid footing on offense to bolster their attack. Martell Webster has regained his shooting stroke this year, making 45% of his three pointers while Nene and Okafor have anchored their front court with good work in the paint and from the mid-range. Put it all together and this team is one that can beat any team on any night through a combination of effort and underrated talent.

Wizards Blogs: Truth About It and Bullets Forever are both excellent places to find Wizards news and analysis.

Keys to game: As mentioned above, the Wizards aren’t the doormat their record implies they are. Their positive efficiency differentials over their last 20 games is actually better than what the Lakers have posted and is an indicator of what they’re capable of. That said, they’re likely to be without rookie Bradley Beal (sprained ankle) and may be without starting Center Emeka Okafor (flu) and if neither play that will affect their depth. It should also be noted that the Lakers represent the Wizards 3rd road game of a 4 game trip and their 5th game in 7 nights. Now is around the time fatigue starts to set in for a team, even one that plays as many young players as the Wizards.

The Lakers, though, must ignore the prospect of missing players and/or fatigue slowing the Wizards down and instead focus on the fact that this team is much improved and a dangerous opponent. They offer the type of formula on offense that can hurt the Lakers and that should give them pause. With Wall’s ability to push the pace in the open court and break down his man in isolation in the half court, he’ll likely attack the weakest parts of the Lakers’ D all night. They also have a good shooting swing man in Webster and a big man in Nene who can work the post as well as the mid-range. This trio will put Nash, Kobe, and Dwight in defensive situations that can lead to breakdowns where the entire scheme can be compromised. If all three are allowed to play to their strengths, the Lakers’ D will be in trouble.

The key then is slowing down Wall and ensuring he can’t run roughshod over Nash. The Lakers must get back on D to deny penetration in the open court and buckle down in the half court and not give up the paint off the dribble. If Wall is forced into taking outside jumpers, the defense has done its job in stage one. Stage two is ensuring that Nene doesn’t find his groove in the post nor allowed to take uncontested mid-range jumpers. Stage three is sticking to Webster on the perimeter and not allowing him to get hot where he can keep the game close through made 3’s. Slow down guys like Ariza, Booker, and Seraphin in their aggressive moves off cuts and in going to the offensive glass and that’s a formula for turning what’s been an average Wizards’ offense of late into the cellar dweller they were before Wall returned.

Offensively the Lakers will have to find a way to integrate Pau while also adjusting back to having Kobe in the fold. Both are guys who have been decision makers with the ball in their hands this season and finding a way to allow them back into those roles without disrupting the flow Nash, Dwight, Jamison, and Blake have been in is a major key. Finding the balance between pick and rolls, post ups for Kobe, Pau, and Dwight, and HORNS sets with Pau as a passer from the high post is paramount. There will be some hiccups along the way, but getting everyone going should be part of tonight’s plan.

My suggestion would be to play pick and roll early with all 4 on the floor and then going to more post oriented options with Nash and Dwight sit out. If Kobe and Pau can rekindle their chemistry quickly, exploring P&R options with them is also something worth exploring. A lot of this will depend on Pau and how explosive Kobe can be when turning the corner, so we’ll just have to see how those variables play out as the game advances.

It goes without saying that, at this point, all games are important simply from a win/loss standpoint. However, this game is also important as a building block towards the stretch run in terms of finally having every player (save Hill) back in the lineup and ready to go. We can’t expect them to be firing on all cylinders tonight, but the hope is that they’ll show enough flashes.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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108 responses to Preview and Chat: The Washington Wizards

  1. Kobe Alert: In all games that Kobe has participated in, the Lakers are 20-8 against the Wizards. We are 11-2 at home. Kobe has had some very memorable games against the Wizards. Of his 18 career triple-doubles, 3 of them have come against the Wizards (Houston 2, Phoenix 2). Also in the 28 games, Kobe has scored 30 or more in 10 of those games. He has scored 30 or more in three of the last 4 games we faced Washington. He also has logged a couple of monster games against the Wizards. In 2003, Kobe tallied 55 points against the Michael Jordan led Wizards. KB went 9-13 from the three point line. It was the last game that Kobe and MJ faced each other. In 2004 Kobe stuffed the stat sheet with 36 points, 14 dimes, and 10 rebounds. All of this said, last March, we lost to the Wizards and made some of their bench guys look like All stars – and this was with Andrew Bynum – who we all know has a had a higher per than DH does this year : ) Further, the Wizards have won 4 out of their last 5, so hopefully we do not hit a “Wall” tonight. PS: Neil does not strike me as a guy who is overly impressed by the Kobe Alert That said he is 1-0 in the first post, so we should be good.

  2. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like I haven’t seen the words ‘Preview and Chat …’ in weeks. With the return of Pau and Kobe to the lineup, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

    As for tonight’s game, even tho’ it will be Pau’s 1st game back in 6 weeks, as mentioned in the P&C (Preview and Chat), it’ll be interesting to see the substitution patterns that D’Antoni institutes. Particularly if Pau starts. Taking into account that, more then likely, he’ll be on a mins count, the preview of the likely rotations will be brief, but hopefully it should allow us to get a glimpse of what to expect for the foreseeable future.

  3. Another fine KB Alert Robert, thanks
    I agree with Tra, a 3-day break seems like a month!
    GO LAKERS! Keep the ball rolling boys!

  4. Watching the Miami game right now. They are unbelievable on defense. They are 2 steps ahead of everyone.

    I cannot imagine when they turn things on during the playoffs. They remind me of the Bulls during their 1st 3peat.

  5. Welcome back Pau Gasol.

  6. Who are these guys? The Heat? The Bulls? The real Lakers!

  7. Wiz are very poor on road games even though they’re playing .500 now. Lakers must take care of biz today and not let guys like Webster and Ariza get hot and also box out Okafor.

  8. Is it Steve Blake playing or eminem?

    Will the real slim shady please stand up. The dude is just balling right now.

  9. Jazz lose in OT to the Spurs. A victory tonight will give us a lil breathing room.

  10. Steve Blake with a nice bounce pass to Meeks who lays it in for 2. His second good pass of the game.

  11. Near perfect 1st quarter. Everyone contributed. I’m still curious when Clark will come in.

  12. Is Earl Clark officially in MDA’s doghoue?

  13. It was nice to get a 3 day break of all things Lakers, i really needed lol, i know this is the Wizards but what i see today is a team focused and all business they know they are finally sort of healthy and that this is it, time to get busy, i hope MDA dont bury Clark all the way to the end of the pine, he needs to be used.

  14. Am im wrong? i believe this is the first time the Lakers have everybody that can be available in like 3 months.

  15. Sweet Nash .. Sweet

  16. I believe Clark is making a huuge case for himself to be kept in the rotation, i dont see any reason why the Lakers couldnt go 9 deep.

  17. Great rotations by MDA!

  18. you can see the potential power of this team with so many effective pieces now going (or soon to be going in the case of Pau). But once again its a whole new rotation….you just wonder if they can get this together as quickly as they need to. there will be some bumps along the way for sure.

  19. I love that jack in the box comercial lol

  20. With D’Antoni, one never knows, but as of right now, I appreciate the fact that he’s going with a 9 man rotation. It allows the opportunity for everybody to stay fresh. Well balanced attack thus far.

  21. Kobe Johnson ballin tonight.

  22. Except for his turnovers.

  23. Team relaxed and the lead is at double digit, the maddening pattern continues

  24. Glad he made that one Nash was 2 for 8 and his shot has been off for awhile. Maybe more Blake.

  25. This is pathetic. Stupid turnovers!

    Letting an 18 pt. lead get cut to 2 against a high school team is inexcusable.

  26. So many PnR’s. Run something else.

  27. This is just stupid. They are just blowing this game. Terrible defense. Lose this fame and I might give up after the Suns and this.

  28. Hmm, Robin: the Lakers are trying to run some semblance of your famed two-star platoon lineups. They played Steve and Dwight earlier in the 2nd quarter, and now have just Kobe and Pau on.

  29. Ridiculous, true to form the team cough up the lead, smh, this team drives me crazy…

  30. 8 turnover for Kobe. What a pathetic quarter.

  31. Before everyone starts freaking out,the Wizards have beaten the Heat, Thunder, Nuggets and Clips.

  32. This is what happens when players mess around and don’t just do what they’re supposed to do. I may be the only one, but I absolutely hate games where Kobe goes into facilitator mode. First of all, it’s freakin boring! But more importantly, he piles up the stupid turnovers. Just be the scorer that you are!

  33. Turnovers killed us in the 3rd.

  34. Neil and the others who claim that Kobe kills ball movement why r u guys not complaining? The so called players who Kobe supposedly hinders r stinking up the joint. Steve Blake and Nash can’t guard their man but people are focused on ball movement.

  35. Watching Nash try to guard Wall is really sad. Also 3 for 9.

  36. Collapse in progress blowing a freaking 18 point lead and struggling against another bottom feeding crap team, thanks Lakers for the big bowl of crow im eating from my first comment, this is so maddening its stupid.

  37. Jayz, before anyone tries to justify this collapse, the Wizards are 19 games under .500 playing in the far weaker conference.

  38. Pau not having a great game back – 2 of 10 and the only minus on D tonight. Has only 1 assist. But mainly he is crazy slow on D right now, providing no presence inside.

  39. Antawn Jamison: Sprained right wrist, will get X-rays after the game.

  40. German Knees!

  41. And Jamison is hurt, this team is cursed.

  42. It wouldn’t be a lakers game without a blown lead.

  43. Dantoni is and idiot

    He plays his small forward (metta)at power forward against a center nene
    He plays both sooting guards at small forward kobe and Meeks
    And plays his back up point at shooting guard

    I don’t understand it. He unnecessarily creates mismatches.
    He has quality players at every position starters and bench. Pau is the back up center. Jamison is the back up 4. Clark can play both forward positions. Meeks is a shooting guard and Blake is a point guard. It’s so difficult for Dantoni because he wants to go small and ignore the teams strengths.

  44. Kobe D on Trevor is terrible.

  45. Can anybody tell me why the Lakers are not active with there hand on defense? This is the mark of the good teams Heat, Spurs, OKC . If they did that for even one quarter the steals and deflections would go up and the opposing teams FG% would plummet

  46. Wizards are playing seraphin and nene d’anotni keeps pau on the bench.

  47. I expected this would be a tough game; as Darius pointed out, WAS is 19-15 since Wall came back, and any team with a really fast PG is going to cause problems for the Lakers.

  48. Kobes playing that one man zone again…. Smh

  49. Well look at that. I seriously didn’t even know that Ariza was still in the league, until we decided to make him look like an all-star and make him relevant again. Smh

  50. Dwight is 8 of 9 tonight. Ball was last passed to him in 1974 I think.

  51. No Pau on crunch time?! Come on MDA, what the F are you doing?!

  52. Trevor 7-12 3 pt shooting. So of course the Lakers defensive scheme is to continue to leave him open continually.

  53. To be fair, Pau has been awful tonight.

  54. other reason this was going to be a tough game…Kobe and Pau would need PT and we should have known they would be rusty, especially Pau…And Washington is a way better team since the return of Wall.

  55. rr

    You just described 80% of the league. So the Laker go out and get a 39 year old PG? Odd.

  56. A lot of bad Kobe ISO to end this game.

  57. Pau is obviously not in basketball shape and the Laker have played reasonabily well with that lineup , MDA made the right call on that one but this game is a disgrace

  58. Stupid coaching Kobe every shot and. Dwight hasn’t touched the ball. Loser team with stupid coach.

  59. Collapse almost complete, im beyond ashamed, im about to call it a season and forget this team.

  60. Bad play by Metta but that was an awful flop

  61. Does anyone seriously think this “offense” won’t be utterly ineffective in the playoffs against well-coached teams with time to adjust to our one play “system?”

  62. The only really bad call in this game by MDA was sticking with Nash on Wall, but MDA can’t find his way to basically admitting that Nash is a major defensive liability.

  63. This is a disgrace. I hate to blame games like this on one individual but it’s clear Kobe doesn’t have any faith in dantoni. The last 3 minutes of the game they don’t call a single play. Oh I forgot they don’t have plays.

  64. This is by far the worst loss of the season and that is quite a measuring stick.

  65. Win by Kobe, lose by Kobe. Too many bad possession down the stretch for the Lakers. Just a horrible loss.

  66. Lakers continue to put themselves in these tight games but do nothing different on offense or defense.

  67. I blame this on the coach. No Pau, no offense on the last 5 minutes. What a hell of a game.

    Too bad Jazz lose also.

  68. Not good enough at the free throw line, too many turnovers, no legs too match youth, and no defense on three point shooters. Same issues…

  69. That timeout MDA took with 36 secs left in the 3rd Q looks huge now. Without a timeout, basically will need a full court heave.

  70. The value of having Pau is you can run offense through him late. D’Antoni choose not too again rather chuck up threes and watch Kobe pound the air out the ball.

    Pau has his best stretch of the year playing center before the injury but is benched late in favor of Meeks. Bad coaching. It’s bad enough picking Meeks over Pau but to not switch him on Wall is another strike.

  71. Worst loss of season: Blown 18 pt 2nd half lead at home against a 24 win team.

    I’m speechless.

  72. Wall set career high in assists, Ariza career high in 3’s.

    Both were wide open all night long.

  73. That was painful to watch. After seeing great ball movement and offensive flow in the first half… they just go Kobe-iso down the stretch.

  74. Im done… I cant take this anymore, this game is the season in a nutshell, huge expectations with a even bigger crushing, heartbreaking dissapointment, i feel like criying no joke, i just cant believe how this team with this talent can collapse, again and again against inferior opossition, im crushed, this team dont deserve to be in the playoffs, there is a limit on how much dissapointment and punishment a man can take.And with the team complete for the first time in months this is an embarrasment. Unless something really unexpected happen im done. See tou guys next season, getting beat 2 times in a row by lottery teams in the middle of a playoffs push broke me. Bye

  75. Worst chicken coach ever. Scared to death of Kobe who took every single shot. Dwight no shots in 4th. They will never win anything with this gutless coach and Kobe playing zero defense 8 TOs and gunning every shot.

  76. we’re now stucked at #8 and praying for Utah’s loss every night.
    very disappointing, with our starters playing. no excuses.

  77. Again, I don’t understand the Pau not playing in crunch complaint, he was brutal tonight, particularly on D. On O he was 2 of 10 and had 1 assist in over 20 mins.

    This loss was about the team playing no perimeter D and not playing team offence, no ball movement.

  78. totally agree with Darius…letting this be just a series of Kobe ISO’s, with Kobe so obviously compromised physically was ridiculous, and I am sorry that is not Dantoni…Kobe just insists on the ball and Nash complies. and then they deny Kobe and Nash so MWP takes it the whole way with no ball movement at all…nuts. as for Nash’s defence on Wall, many of the minutes were not Nash covering him as it was Blake..Wall did not have a series of easy looks, he just hit a bunch of good contested shots. Besides this loss was way more about Kobe’s very very loose defence on Ariza.

    My thing here is that yes they needed kobe to carry them when nothing else was going…but now that there are more players going, and Nash has found some groove with the team, its just got to be a different story. How that is going to happen with the culture in this room, I don’t know.

  79. Is zone defense still allowed. We could have used it to stop dribble penetration.

  80. Ken,

    The problem wasn’t getting Nash; it is that almost the whole team is old and/or slow. You can’t have too many guys with the same weakness.

    UCLA lost by 20 in the NCAA Tournament tonight, making this one of my more unpleasant evenings of fandom ever.

    I agree that MDA should get some flack for all the late ISOs; I said that last week. But people should realize that the Wizards are not a bad team right now. That doesn’t excuse blowing a 20-point lead at home, but it should be noted.

  81. our D is atrocious, MDA is an awful strategist adjustment make..its just hard for me to believe and NBA level coach cannot figure out away to coach these guys….We just need to hang on to the 8 spot and play the Spurs…

  82. 4 late threes by Kobe vs Toronto, Atlanta and tonight hide the fact D’Antoni has been a horrible late game play caller.

  83. as for the angst going around here, people need to seriously relax…every one should have known that integrating Pau, and with Kobe still hobbled this was going to be way tougher game than many would have expected.

  84. 3 days off. Playing at home. Against 1 of the worst teams in The Association. Knowing that every game counts at this point of the season AND that Utah lost tonight. Establishing an 18 point lead .. And We Lose

    Since Darius has rules and regulations in place in regards to expletives, I’ll leave it at that.

  85. MDA is really losing the control of this team. Just fire him after the season. Making the playoff doesn’t really matter any more. This clown coach will just get out-coached night after night.

  86. Harvey,

    That is a fair point, but even healthy, Pau doesn’t fit this system or this roster anymore–even he knows that. That is why he said that he wants to be moved if D’Antoni and Howard are here next year. He will probably look better in a week or two when he has his timing back, but as I have said, he simply is not a 4, especially not for a D’Antoni team.

  87. Tired of hearing that the Lakers are old/slow when we lose. We already know that! Tonight earlier there WAS great ball movement. I think the entire team lost focus. Simple.

    MDA NEEDS MORE PLAYS FOR DWIGHT IN CRUNCH TIME, as well as Nash, & Pau. I mean these guys are Pros..

    Kobe iso is great when we WIN but complainers come out when we lose. Hate Laker fans!!

  88. Harvey M even integrating those 2 is not an excuse to blow a 18 point lead at home against a piece of crap tem were not talking about the Thunder here.

  89. umm why was my second comment deleted? Anyway I wanted to say lakers should be ashamed for losing this game. If the team can’t close out a 18 pt lead against the wizards, what indicator is that of how they will perform in the playoffs? First round loss probably.

  90. Ken. for once I agree with that last post, but do you seriously expect Dantoni to discipline Kobe? Dantoni is walking into a culture that borders on a religion here. I can’t imagine a bigger street cred disparity than the one that exists between Kobe and Dantoni. I mean half the fans were truly excited about Kobe’s brilliant coaching when he was injured and trumpetting that there is finally a a coach!

    That shift where Kobe possessions down the stretch are balanced with Nash possesions needs to come from more than just Dantoni…Kobe needs to somehow be onside with that.

  91. Hate Laker fans!!

    Then you might be at the wrong site.

  92. Washington is an above average team now…and this is a funny game. Give an underdog a chance, and rely on guys that are struggling, and forget to cover a guy that hits 7 3’s, and lose one of your better weapons to a wrist injury…and before you know you are turning the ball over a ton, and the game is going against you.

  93. Many of the arguments that people are making here are valid. But guess what? If you simply don’t blow a freakin 18 pt lead, we wouldn’t be talking about any of this.

  94. Interesting press conference with the coach. He is livid and bashing the team for its effort, the mental lapses, and lack of ball movement.

    I see none of this passion or courage when it comes to actually coaching during the game. Kobe played his typical horrific off ball defense, but doesn’t get called out. They ran nothing but Kobe pick and rolls for the last 5 minutes. If these things are not what the coach wants to see, why in hell doesn’t he say something to his star player?

    As much as his mysterious rotations and no defense, perhaps the biggest difference between MDA and Phil Jackson is that the latter was not afraid to actually coach and, when warranted, criticize his stars.

  95. Ken. for once I agree with that last post, but do you seriously expect Dantoni to discipline Kobe?

    “Discipline” is the wrong word to use, but Yes. D’Antoni coached him on Team USA; Nash is here with them. D’Antoni has a guaranteed deal. He was brought in to run his system. He is the coach. He is supposedly on an offensive genius. Nash has 2 MVPs. According to Jamison, Kobe respects people who stand up to him. If D’Antoni thinks that Nash should be instigating the offense in crunch time, then that is what should happen. If it isn’t happening, then that is D’Antoni’s fault.

    The only “religion” here is winning games. Some people outside the fanbase think Lakers basketball is all about Kobe, but they’re wrong.

  96. rr,

    I agree that Pau is not an easy fit…but he worked really well just before he was hurt. and there were moments with Pau and Dwight on the floor together in Jan/Feb that were successful.. the problem that I foresee, and honestly, I am not sure they can overcome it so late in the season, is that they need to play a little different with them on the floor. So that is what is tough.

    And interestingly, tonight Pau/Dwight line-ups were not that big of an issue.

  97. I find it incredible Lakers have found themselves in this same position a dozen times this year. 5 point game either way 3:00 minutes left and do the same exact thing expecting different results. It’s only so many times Kobe can save the day. 4 hofers on this team they all should have a say in the outcome of the game.

    The one guy Kobe truly trusts on this team is Pau. D’Antoni has to find a way to play him in crunch time. Benching Pau in favor of a 3 pointer with 18 seconds on the shot clock isn’t ideal.

  98. hahaha, Laker fans are very spoiled, especially now, that we need to pile up Ws to positon ourselves in playoffs. Losses to these PHX and WAS is really disappointing.

    well, we can just rage here and whine, but we already loss to this lowly teams. we should bounce back in our next games.

  99. I agree Kevin, its inexcusable not to have one of your best players on the court in crunch time. Last time I checked he cant still shoot a jumper, despite his shooting #’s today. Zone couldn’t be that much worse than our man to man, so why not give that a try for a few minutes.

  100. rr,

    well maybe you are right about Dantoni doing that, but after that series of miraculous victories at Kobe’s hands, I don’t thing its going to be easy. In fact if you read between the lines, Dantoni has implied many times, that Kobe is not doing what he wants him to do, that he can be a ball stopper, that “there needs to be better ball movement” and other like comments directed mostly at Kobe and to an extent at MWP.

    And while I support Dantoni, standing up to an MVP, and pretty much local demigod, is just asking something of this guy I think he isn’t well suited to deliver. I don’t mean to apologize for him, if he can’t do it, then ok, I can accept that he deserves some of the blame. I am just suggesting that there needs to be more voices from inside of the locker room (and perhaps from outside it as well) to support that.

  101. Dissapointing…..
    Tomorrow i am hitting up the clippers game. Should be interesting to see a team where the ball moves to the open man, regardless of who they are.

  102. Harvey,

    Certainly it is easy for me to say that from the safety of my condo, musing on my laptop. Coaching the Lakers is a hard job.

    But…all that stuff I said holds true. This isn’t the Mike Brown/Ramon Sessions combo we are talking about here. This is Hall of Famer Genius Nash and the coach who brought the NBA SSOL, Team USA assistant Mike D’Antoni, who knew Kobe’s old man in the old days in Italia. D’Antoni might not have much street cred on FBG, but he should have some with #24. If they can’t communicate with Kobe, then, hell, fire him, trade Nash, and bring in Phil or Brian Shaw.

    That said, the late ISOs are a problem..but it is still the D.

  103. Should be interesting to see a team where the ball moves to the open man, regardless of who they are.

    The Clippers have their own ESPN site, Hoss.

  104. Once again, one must question the so called Genius within D’Antoni’s Offense. I lay most of the blame on the players tonight (turnovers, Kobe’s lack of defense and the fact that, once they established that huge cushion, they took their foot off the gas), but during Money Time, in a close game, there has to be more options offensively besides Kobe Iso’s.

    This is a game that we had NO reason losing. Let’s stop with the excuses.

  105. Dwight was 8 for 9.

    No shots in the 4th quarter.

    Hard to shoot when you have no coach to control Kobe.

  106. rr,

    You know this question of the co-existance of Nash and Kobe was kind of the big one coming in. Or at least one of the big ones coming in. I thought that they would work it out, but I think the Nash injury and subsequent huge troubles once he came back with Dwight’s injury and all the rest of the stuff around the team, I think really retarded the development of that. With the strength of kobe’s personality and history of success and with Nash’s way more deferential nature and “lack of a ring”, this was going to be a process, and not an instant solution. But then they went 17-25 for a variety of reasons, and looked like a disorganized and dysfunctional mess they needed almost like an intervention, and the simplest way was for Kobe to just totally dominate and “will” them to victory, which was, overall, a really good choice but tended in my view to exacerbate the longer term need to have Kobe defer to Nash a bit more. So we are here now, solving problems that I think with a healthy roster would have been getting worked out at around game 30. And I think the same goes for the whole Dwight/Pau mixture/Pau usage issues. So that to me is the real problem, combined with the fact that Miami seems to be a truly unstopable dynasty.

    One note I will add, is that the Suns under Dantoni often suffered at the end of games against elite defensive teams, as by the 4th quarter the elite defences had tended to figure it out and tended to defend the PNR better, and I think Dantoni often felt deprived of an ISO stud, needed to soften up the defence at the end of the game. And so it is a but ironic that they may be facing the opposte issues with arguaby one of the best ISO players of all time.

    And I don’t completely agree its ultimately all its about the defence. Yes statistically and optically that is the case. But with Dwight now seemingly fairly healthy and Pau (eventually) capable of providing a decent ish back up, they can be at least a top 8-10 defence, which is all they need to be. But I think the offensive issues are intermeshed. If the offence was just handled and everybody was fully engaged and happy in their roles, I think you would see a huge improvement in the defensive intensity (which is a big part of what has been missing on that side of the court), as we have seen at various points over the last few weeks. FWIW.

  107. What was most depressing about this game is that it was so familiar–and so predictable. The Lakers started as we expected at the beginning of the season–for one period–and made us momentary believers. Then they broke our hearts.

    For the rest of the game, they were the “low D, sputtering O” Lakers of Mike D’Antoni–and Good Kobe was replaced by Bad Kobe–first turnovers–then defense–then iso one on one offense to end the game.

    Not that I think that it’s Kobe’s fault or Mike’s fault–It’s beyond blame. It’s bad chemistry: just a little sweet, some sour, and more than a little bitter.

    It didn’t have to be this way . . .

  108. Harvey,

    What you say makes some sense, but I am not a huge fan of “process” arguments with an old, $100M roster. If the Lakers had a team like Cleveland or Charlotte, or Washington, sure. And that applies to D’Antoni as well. He was not brought in to shepherd the Lakers through a process; he was brought in to win. The Lakers have had lot of injuries, but they have not dealt with them very well, and most teams deal with some injuries.

    As to the defense, the plan, as I have said many times, was that Howard could anchor the defense well enough to get into the Top 10 or so, and that the O would be Top 3. Right now, the O is 8th, but the D is 18th, so I am talking results and personnel, not optics. Last night was another example of how the lack of a good perimeter defender with quick feet continues to plague the Lakers. Yes, Kobe played too much free safety and no, D’Antoni and the staff do not seen to be able to come up with anything creative on defense. But basketball is in some ways a very simple game; slow guys have trouble staying with fast guys.

    MDA ripped the team and an article is up at ESPN. I excerpted it in the new thread; it is stuck in mod. MDA talked about going one-on-one, not moving the ball etc.