Lakers v. Wizards: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Phillip Barnett —  March 23, 2013

While the Lakers were run out of the building in their game against the Suns, they had been generally playing some very good and fun basketball. After the Lakers loss to the Atlanta Hawks that saw Kobe Bryant go down with an ankle injury in the closing seconds, they played a tough, physical game against the Indiana Pacers and won a more uptempo finesse game against the Sacramento Kings.

The result of each game was a win despite the very different nature in which they were played, but a few things remained constant: 1) The ball moved very well, with all guys who saw at least 20 minutes in those two games shooting the ball at least six times. Five guys scored in double figures in the game against the Pacers and six guys scored in double figures in the game against the Kings. There was a natural flow to the offense, it was ran through Dwight Howard, and guys stepped up when needed. 2) The three ball fell at a solid rate in both games. They made .500 of their threes against the Pacers and .429 against the Kings. The Lakers three point success was directly related to the ball moving well and shots being taken from the offense playing inside out. 3) They didn’t let turnovers kill them. They had 15 and 13 turnovers, respectively, but neither the Pacers nor the Kings had a tremendous number of points off turnovers or fast break points. 15 turnovers is around their season average, and while it isn’t the most clean game the Lakers can play, they didn’t turn the ball over in positions favorable to their opposition.

In other words, the Lakers were Dr. Jekyll, a “large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty”. While smooth faced may not suit may guys suited up in the Forum Blue and Gold, they’re a rather large team full of old guys. And like Jekyll, the Lakers have been trying to fight off the hoop evils that just aren’t suited for a team of this stature. Considering the expectations, this Lakers team should be well above two games over .500 — and for those two games without either Bryant or Gasol on the floor — they ostensibly fought those evils away and played good basketball.

While it’s hard to ignore the egg that the Lakers laid against the Suns (again), the Lakers pretty much continued their stretch of good hoops in the first half of their game against the Wizards. The ball movement was absolutely brilliant, and the movement off of the ball was equally great. Dwight Howard made a gorgeous pocket pass to Pau in the paint. Steve Blake made a couple of gorgeous passes (one to a cutting Jodie Meeks and the other being a behind-the-back pass to Antawn Jamison who was cutting baseline). Kobe was using the attention he got from the defense to find open teammates, which led to six first half assists. Everyone who saw time in the first half took at least two shots and no one took more than six.

The three ball was also falling at a 50 percent clip. Ron Artest hit both of the attempts he took in the first half (his only two shots of the first half) and all four guys off the bench hit one-of-two from behind the arc. The Lakers only made one more three pointer in the first half than the Wizards, but the Wizards took three more attempts. The Lakers looked like a fine-tuned machine, a team that had spent the whole season together, the team pundits and fans alike expected to see by at least December. While it was a bit later in the season than expected, it was nice to see the potential of this team realized, even if it was against what seemed like an inferior opponent. The Lakers ability to shoot the ball at a high clip coupled with their exquisite ball movement led to a 16-point halftime lead.

There was a red flag, though. Nine turnovers. Nine turnovers is quite a bit, and those nine turnovers turned into 14 first half fast break points for the Wizards. The transformation was coming to the surface.

Mr. Hyde.

The Lakers turned into a completely different team in the second half. In an attempt to rid themselves of the hoops evils that had haunted them all season, those very evils came to fruition in the second half of this game and they were outscored by the Wizards 62-43 in the final 24 minutes.

On the defensive end, a combination of their inability to stay in front of John Wall coupled with their unwillingness to aggressively close out on shooters or run them off of the three point line led to them putting themselves in some compromising positions. Either John Wall was finishing around the rim, finding one of his bigs for a layup at the basket or finding a wing for a wide-open three pointer. Wall had 18 points on six-for-11 shooting with 11 assists in the second half alone.

The biggest beneficiary of Wall’s ability to get into the paint at will was ex-Laker Trevor Ariza, who hit five (WIDE OPEN) three pointers in the second half, seven in the game — a career high for made three pointers. Ariza was largely found wide open because of Kobe’s propensity to play free safety and his disinclination for getting back out to the perimeter when Ariza received kick out passes. And when Kobe wasn’t being lazy, he was just flat out wrong. There was one play in particular where Wall got caught in the air near the left wing and Kobe assumed that he was going to pass to Nene at the elbow, but instead opted for a skip pass to Ariza in the right corner, that led to one of his five 2nd half three pointers.

For the most part, the Lakers rotations were worse than biting into a steak sandwich laced with globs of unwanted mayonnaise (this happened to me tonight), and it all really began with the whole crew of guards’ inability to keep Wall out of the paint. One late rotation led to another, a pattern that continued until there was no rotation at all and an open shot was taken.

On the other end of the floor, the ball movement we saw in the first half was nearly non-existent. Guys held on to the ball for long stretches, there was too much dribbling without purpose and the shot distribution went from a looking like a plateau to looking like a cliff. Kobe took 13 shots in the second half, and no other Laker took more than five (Steve Nash took five, everyone else had fewer than that). And when the game was tight in the final eight or so minutes, there was a stretch where Kobe took eight of the Lakers nine shots, completely taking the rest of the team out of rhythm.

Mr. Hyde.

The result was a 103-100 loss at home at the hands of a team, while much improved, the Lakers really should beat. There was a whole first half of really good basketball, but even against some of the NBA’s bottom feeders, if you only play one half of basketball, chances are you aren’t going to pull out the victory. It was expected for this team to take a bit of time to figure each other out with Kobe and Pau back in the lineup, but with a 16-point lead going into the 2nd half, it’s a game that absolutely needs to be closed out regardless of circumstance.

And while the loss stings, it doesn’t sting nearly as much as the team potentially losing Antawn Jamison for some time because of the sprain wrist he suffered tonight. We’ll await the MRI tomorrow to know how serious, but a sprained wrist on the shooting hand of a guy who had been playing very well is going to have its consequences whether or not he misses games. The Lakers have the rest of the weekend off to work out some of their kinks before they head up north to play the Warriors in an important game in terms of playoff positioning.

Phillip Barnett

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32 responses to Lakers v. Wizards: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

  1. BleedPurpleGold March 23, 2013 at 2:05 am

    It was obvious someones gonna be injured 2night…..damn not for one week we can have a full squad….what a shame….just no luck at all this season….

  2. Wonder if Kobe realizes as poor his defense was.
    Wonder if zkobe realizes how he HOGed the ball and never once passed to the guy who was 8 for 9 th last ,6 minutes.

    No way this team can compete with a huge hole at both guards on defense and a guy who thinks he can go 1 on 5.

    Aw well coached team will eat this team up. Worst loss of season and zero adjustment from Pringles.

  3. LOS ANGELES — In a season in which the Los Angeles Lakers have pushed the reset button seemingly a half-dozen times already, Friday’s 103-100 loss to the Washington Wizards left coach Mike D’Antoni sounding like he’d prefer to reach for the off switch at this point.

    “This is a good team that just for whatever reason can’t collectively mentally get stimulated to [play hard] every time,” D’Antoni said after the Lakers wasted an 18-point first-half lead. “I told them today, we put our hands in [the huddle], and you guys have probably seen it, we say, ‘Championship,’ and go out [on the floor]. That’s laughable. Championship? You got to be kidding me. Nobody understands the importance of every possession offensively and defensively. Every time they got to come out with some kind of determination to be a good basketball team, and [until] then, we’re just, we’re fooling ourselves. Right now, that’s what we’re doing. We’re just making a ‘sham-mockery’ out of it.”

    The game marked the Lakers’ second straight loss to an opponent with a record hovering around 20 games below .500 after L.A. was blown out 99-76 in Phoenix on Monday.

    “There’s no explanation for it,” D’Antoni said. “I can’t explain it, but every time we get up 16 [points], it’s like, ‘Well, we’re really good and we don’t have to play hard,’ and we start messing with the game. You start messing with not moving the ball. You start messing with, ‘I’m just going to go one-on-one every time.’ You start messing with the basketball gods, and they get you.”

    http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/9088106/mike-dantoni-rips-los-angeles-lakers-blowing-lead-washington-wizards

  4. D’Antoni was asked what the cause was for the relative lack of ball movement late in the game.

    “That’s a good question,” he said, sarcastically. “I wish I knew. What are you, going to throw me a piece of dynamite?”

  5. It is hard to respect a coach who is unable or unwilling to hold his players accountable during the game, only to become angry and critical (of the “team” not of the offending players) after the game.

  6. Once again, excellent recap PB. You paint the picture so vividly that, even if I hadn’t seen it with my own two, I could walk away with a clear understanding of what transpired last night. You call the game as it is and not as you wish to see it and I, for one, can appreciate and respect that. To you, Darius and the rest of the FB&G Staff, keep up the stupendous work.

  7. This was simply a horrid loss. At home to the Wizards with all of our starters playing, is just not excusable. Forget the causes, it is just bad performance. I see the term “playoff positioning” used above. This term could be fading from prominence when discussing the Lakers. Can we still get 7? Yes. Our next game is against one of the teams we are chasing. That said – we are 3 losses behind both GS and Houston, with 14 to go. We are favorites to make the 8 seed, but the second most likely scenario is 9. The odds of us making 7 or the Spurs dropping to 2 are getting slim (albeit not impossible), so it appears as though we have a date in SA and if we don’t that probably means we are “going fishing” early.
    Once we make the 8 seed, I think everyone remembers some of my previous stats, however just to make sure everyone is depressed as I am: The number of times that someone has won the NBA title from the 7th seed or worse – would be Zero. Further, only one team in all of NBA history has ever won the title from worse than a 4 seed. ESPN 5-5 had an interesting stat yesterday. The Lakers of course are in the bottom half of the league defensively, and a bottom half defensive team has only won the title once in the last 37 years. Interestingly it was the 2001 Lakers that accomplished that.
    That said – I still think we “can” beat the Spurs and “should” beat them. Will we? – well – depends on how we “perform”. So yes – I understand what the odds are (see paragraph above).
    With regard to the cause of our woes: Some like to blame Kobe, some blame MD, some blame DH, some blame the FO for roster inadequacy, and some blame it all on injury and bad luck. Certainly it is a blend of all of those, which is the politically correct, rational thing to say. And that is fine for now, because we can’t do anything about it now (other than “perform” better).. Where we need to decide “what went wrong?”; is after the season. And I am still hoping that we do not need to ask the question : )

  8. I’m about to head out to the gym and see if I can’t exorcize some of this frustration. There are too many losses to teams we should beat. The explanations for these issues are all vague, but one thing binds them together. The issues we see now are just the deepening habits we saw from this team since beating the Celtics in game seven. Defensive cohesion and consistent effort are not the hallmarks of this team. One thinks that adding a superstar defensive monster would change the culture. One would think adding a former MVP point guard with a nurturing personality would change the culture. One would think. Enough thinking. Time to play.

  9. Pau started….that explains it all. I wonder what Coach seen in him the past few weeks that influenced his decision. The Pau train left the station two seasons ago when Blake and DeMarcus arrived. Every time they depend on Pau he lets them down. Worst decision of the year.

  10. D’Antoni was asked what the cause was for the relative lack of ball movement late in the game.

    “That’s a good question,” he said, sarcastically. “I wish I knew. What are you, going to throw me a piece of dynamite?”
    _______

    … only to become angry and critical (of the “team” not of the offending players) after the game.
    _______

    In regards to Both comments: ‘The Kobe System’
    A System in which D’Antoni is in complete & utter fear of.

  11. “Dynamite”: That implies that the problem is like a rock. It also implies that the problem is unsolvable. When speaking about ball movement late in the game, I don’t think it is a leap to guess that MD is insinuating something bout Kobe. Phil was more direct in his book, he used the word “uncoachable”. Well – we know from the results in 2009 + 2010 that he is not “uncoachable”, but I think it is safe to say he is “difficult” to coach. I will not close my post with the obvious questions that could ensue. For one thing – I do not have the answer yet and am waiting for the jury to come in : )

  12. I was going to rant about how frustrating a loss this was because of another ball dominate 4th quarter but looking at the stats on nba.com Kobe’s clutch stats are parallel with Durant and LeBron.

    Last 5 minutes ahead or behind by 5

    Kobe: 40-96 fg 41% 10-28 3pt 35% 38-45 ft 84% 25 reb 14 ast 10 TO -6

    Durant: 37-92 fg 40% 9-27 3pt 33% 66-73 ft 90% 27 reb 9 ast 14 TO +41

    LeBron: 42-95 fg 42% 7-25 3pt 28% 39-50 ft 78% 51 reb 50 ast 9 TO +129

    LeBron has proven to be the far and away better player in the clutch for some time now and the assists really jump out. He’s in a class of his own. But Kobe’s shooting percentages are on par, 2 less rebounds than Durant, more assists and less turnovers. But Kobe is a -6 which probably means the Lakers defense is has much to do with the crumbles late game as the offense. It would be better to see more Lakers involved in the 4th when they are down but the defense has to be a priority too.

  13. Robert: if the end result is going to be a Kobe shot I’d much rather it come from the post after he receives the ball in the post. If D’Antoni wants to run a PnR late game it should be Nash.

  14. The explanations for the loss are easy: First, after building a 16 point halftime lead, we thought we had the game in the bag and decided to coast. You could see energy and effort in the first half; there was none in the second. Second, reintergrating Pau Gasol will be challenging, especially if he plays in a tentative manner. Earl Clark is decisive; Earl Clark will drive to the basket if you give him an opening. Pau is the superior player but only when he plays like he is a big man. Confidence is as important as skill. I’ll cut him some slack given that this is his first game back from injury, but the problems we see with Pau have been there all year. Third, there probably was a bit too much Kobe ball at the end. You knew he was going to shoot every time he got the ball. Kobe has a tendency in games after an injury to overassert himself — as if he is trying to show himself and the world that the injury does not affect him. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. Of course, we never would have been in a situation where it would have mattered had the team kept up the intensity in the first place.

  15. Robert,

    I actually criticized MDA sharply in the other thread, saying that if he wants the offense to run through Nash in crunch time, then it is MDA’s fault that it doesn’t. MDA/Nash are not Brown/Sessions in terms of gravitas. They should be able to work with Kobe on this issue. And, although Phil poked guys in the media all the time as well, I don’t think that it is, in general, a good personnel management approach.

    That said, if the Lakers had the 2009 or 2010 roster right now, they would almost certiainly be doing just fine, no matter how inept you may believe D’Antoni to be. What you still seem to be in daily denial about is that Kobe has slowed down quite a bit on D, that Pau is not the same guy, that MWP is not the same guy, that Odom is gone, that Howard is not himself, that Jamison and Meeks couldn’t guard a teddy bear with hightops on, that Nash and Blake are old and slow, etc. .

    Darius has a Tweet up over on the sidebar there pointing out that Ariza and Temple, Kobe’s primary defensive assignments, went 9/15 on 3s. That is a bigger problem than ball movement in the 4th quarter, and I hope both Kobe and D’Antoni give it some serious thought.

  16. rr: Please re-read the game thread and the posts above: Ken says – zero adjustment from Pringles; Funky says “it is hard to respect a coach who…”; lolz says “I hate… D’Antoni”; Will says that D’Antoni’s decision to start Pau was “the worst decision of the year”; Tra says that MD is in “utter fear of” the Kobe System. I could quote the game thread – in which I did not participate, sans the KB Alert, but that would be over the top. Now yes – I have “questions” – but truly the jury is out. If we do something between now and the end of the year, I may truly want to keep MD. I said all along that I did not want him fired during the year, as many did. So I have not decided as others have in both directions. I do not agree with the “Fire him” mentality. Nor do I agree with those making up pre-manufactured excuses. I liken the later to deciding one is going to plead insanity before the crime has been committed. Let’s see what happens first. What about my dynamite post do you disagree with? MD said it, and you posted it. What is your take on that? With regard to your other post that came out of mod: I agree with MD on the beginning and the end of his speech: “This is a good team……We’re just making a ‘sham-mockery’ out of it.”. If I owned the team and that were the case, I would ask the coach for an explanation, to which he has already replied: ““There’s no explanation for it,” D’Antoni said. “I can’t explain it” I couldn’t make this up if I tried : ) Let’s root for them to make the playoffs and do something. If they don’t do that then you and I agree that changes are required. I don’t think either one of us is buying a post season speech by Jim Buss where he praises everyone in management and coaching and keeps the bulk of the roster intact – perhaps adding a Ramon Sessions or 2 – sorry – couldn’t resist : ) PS: rr – you’re still one of my favorite people on this board and always have been. Enjoy your posts.

  17. Agreed. Kobes defense is definitely the biggest problem. I wish he would get called out on it more often, especially in the media.

  18. missed 5 seconds call by the refs was quite the hammer.

  19. The problem is that our coach does not have a defensive strategy and Nash is a little girl who cant stand up to Kobe like fisher did. Can someone please man up on the team and get the ball from Kobe on some of the possessions.

  20. Far more perplexing is the need for the entire team to sag off 3 point shooters into ‘nowhere’ land. They neither disrupt drives to the basket, nor are they capable of returning to their defensive assignment in a timely manner to run their man off the 3 point line and into Dwight Howard. What is the point of having one of the best defensive players in the league on your team when the Lakers consistently give up 3 points a game instead of 2 points. Now I know that I’m no mathematical savant, but the last time I checked 2 points are less than 3 points and over the length of a game if the Lakers give up ten drives to the basket that’s 20 points as opposed to giving up ten 3 point shots which adds up to 30 points. When the three point line was first implemented and only one or two players on a team could hit the shot, it was wise to sag off three point shooters. However in today’s game more players are capable of hitting the 3 point shot at a high percentage level, so it does not make sense to leave them unfettered beyond the arc. It is time to hold the entire Lakers organization feet to the fire regarding the lack of defensive accountability outside of the key.

    Darius Morris is a much better defender than Steve Nash, so why not insert him in situations that require a defender on the quick guards in the Association? When Steve Nash passes the ball to Kobe, and floats weak side of the basketball and stands there planted (perhaps waiting for a pass that never comes) he is just as ineffective on offense as a Darius Morris would be in the exact situation. At least when Kobe isolates the ball in late game situations, the Lakers would have an athletic young player to run back and possibly disrupt the opposing team’s offense.

    If Pau Gasol is going to stand perimeter and shoot jumpers while disdaining the post, then the Lakers are better served with Earl ‘the Duke’ manning the power forward position in the starting lineup. Pau appears reticent to get on the block and use his entire skill set. No, one game back from injury is not indicative of what the possibilities are of Pau Gasol in the starting lineup with Dwight Howard will fully entail. Though one begins to muse that the defense is not better, and offensively one pocket pass between the big men and an assist are not enough scoring punch to justify the two 7 footers playing extended time together on the floor.

    At this juncture of his career Meeks is just not capable of making plays down the stretch to win ball games. The Lakers needed Pau’s knowledge in close game situations on the court for the last 3-4 minutes of the game. Moreover, Pau might have received the pass after Kobe and Dwight’s PNR for a shot or drive instead of Kobe’s fading 18 foot jumper over Nene. D’Antoni repeatedly inserts offense over defense during big possessions because he believes that more offense is apropos to a defensive juggernaut.

  21. Reading these comments just annoyed me. Listen, Phil Jackson didn’t invent the system he ran, never implemented a defensive system of his own, but he is regarded as a great coach. What he had was exceptional players and a sense to let those be the best they could be with guidance. He wasn’t a magician and never pretended to be one. However, from day one he knew what he wanted his team to be and pushed for that identity. There is a saying that a team takes on the personality of its coach and Phil’s teams never panicked taking on their coaches nature. Fast forward to MDA.He is the wrong coach for tthis team. His temperament is wrong for this team. In all the years he coached the Suns they always lost the big game because their defense never measured up, not once did u hear him complain about defense. Last night the Lakers could not hold on to a 16pt lead and he is talking about ball being stuck and about basketball gods. Its simple, the Lakers lost because Steve Nash and Steve Blake couldn’t contain John Wall. If a coach can’t admit that, he is going to have a had time getting through to players (Kobe and MWP) who are champions. If I was coaching last night, I would not have had Nash on the floor and instead I would have played Pau and had Kobe on John Wall. Want a reason for the Lakers Jekyll and Hyde personality, look no futher than their unstable coach.

  22. I seriously feel that if Nash won’t get to run the offense in the 4th quarter, he should sit down and maybe have meeks or morris at pg. Wall was having a field day just blowing past nash( even crossing him over and making him fall down in one play) and when wall got doubled on the drive, he kicked out to a wide open ariza. This is the same reason d’antoni sat gasol, right? Because Gasol is too slow at defense and he doesnt fit the offense. So if hes willing to sit gasol in the 4th quarter, why not sit nash too?

  23. If yesterday’s Game showed how we will be guarding point guards in the playoffs: Well it may be a short one for us.

    1. Chris Paul – Beast
    2. Tony Parker – Beast
    3. Russel Westbrook – I don’t know what that dude is, but he would be more than a beast.

    You get the picture.

  24. So!

    Based on the above posts most agree with me that Nash is a huge negative late in games against most NBA quick PGs and if he is just going to be a caddie for Kobe his value is little.

    Also it appears to be agreement that Kobe’s zero D on 3 point shooters is 50% his fault and 50% Pringles for not putting a willing
    defender on the hot shooter.

    Sounds like the “wait to Steve comes back” speech is more like ” hey
    wait until Steve and Mike are here” to show why you can’t turn back the clock and make people something they are not.

    Wrong coach and 5 years and wrong PG for today’s NBA. Looked good on Jumbo fantasy team though.

  25. Robert,

    I will answer at more length later, but I responded to those guys as well. Basically, I think other anti-MDA types tend to acknowledge the roster issues more than you do. Ken, for example, bags on Nash all the time. He overstates that case, but at least he is talking roster. You give the impression that you think the Lakers have a championship roster and an idiotic coach.

    Essentially, I am opposed to one-trick pony analysis, and to your credit, you do acknowledge multiple causations. But IMO people who focus on one thing over and over again (like Ken with Mike Brown last year, or some guys with Kobe’s FGAs) are missing the boat.

    I do not think MDA is doing a particularly good job, but even if he were, I don’t see this team having what it takes to beat the best teams 4 of 7. YMMV.

    Thank you for the kind words; I feel the same way about your posts, even if we disagree a lot.

  26. Kevin,

    Good post with the clutch numbers.

    Robert,

    My take on the “dynamite” quote was covered in the other post. Yes, Kobe is a living NBA legend, and a difficult personality, but MDA and Nash are not guys who just fell off the proverbial turnip truck. Brown has little cred, as I pointed out, and neither did your favorite point guard, Ramon Sessions. But Nash and MDA do. Also, just because Kobe does not have the ball at the start of a possession does not mean that he can’t take the shot, and having Nash walk the ball over the timeline, hand it to Kobe, and then stand aside, is not the way to use him. MDA of all people should know this.

    But, again, the defense is a bigger issue than crunch time, as Kevin’s post suggest. People focus a lot on crunch time emotionally, for obvious reasons, and the media obsession with how much Kobe shoots has made that an optical and statistical focus as well. Many fans don’t notice or remember a 14-2 run that the Lakers give up when they fail to get stops on five straight possessions midway through the 3rd quarter with the same vividness, but that affects game outcomes just as much as the last couple of possessions on offense do.

    And, while I agree with those who point out a lack of defensive creativity on MDA’s part, having watched the Lakers a lot this year, I just see too many small, old, bad and slow defensive players on the perimeter for it not to really hurt the team. Kobe’s sloppy off-ball D is a big problem sometimes, but Nash, MWP, Meeks and Blake do try on defense, and they still get burned a lot.

    Lakers fans in general, and a lot of people on this site, seem to talk all the time about “effort” and “focus” and “execution.” I think this is a remnant from the way many people felt about 2008-11 teams, which some seemed to think could go 82-0 if they just cared enough. With Phil gone, that has been replaced for some with endless criticism of the coaching. (And yes, IMO you are that way with D’Antoni, although you say you are not. Once Howard got here, you assumed this team should be a top contender and have seemingly not wavered from that in spite of evidence). But while coaching matters a lot in the NBA, talent matters more. No one that I am aware of thinks that Erik Spoelstra is a genius.

    So, I am not impressed with D’Antoni, but I am not convinced that he is the biggest problem and I think the critique of him should be framed differently than it often is.

  27. rr: We agree on the “big things”. Examples: Getting DH + keeping him, Shaw v Brown, Phil v MD, KB v the Haters, the lack of adequate roster changes in 2012, + last but not least – the overall significance of the VETO. We even agree on smaller stuff such as Barnes, our despise of people touting the Clippers, etc. We also agree that our current set of management, coaches, + players is not where it needs to be in order to contend. We even agree on MD in that we are in a minority on this board who are not in either extreme camp. I know you realize that a decision will eventually need to be made there, + I will be interested in what your decision would be – after the season – not before the results are in : ) With regard to your roster comments: I think all of us would have adjusted expectations downward if we knew about the injuries, + the apparent shortcomings of the roster. In my case, I would have adjusted down to where I would see that Miami + OKC are in a different league, but I would not have adjusted down to a point where we were struggling for our playoff lives – like you say – YMMV. Nash (per your exchange with Ken) is an interesting case. When it comes to roster – he is my personal biggest disappointment. KB is having a great year (even with the D), + as you know – I am a big DH supporter. Pau + AJ have had “other” issues where I do not think they are being maximized (Pau also has injuries). Which brings us to Nash. I have generally not been impressed. What I find ironic is that many MD supporters are also Nash supporters + say he has not lost much. I mean he was a 2 time MVP, so even if he is 85% of that, then wow – he should be one of the league’s best. He obviously isn’t, but you see the irony in this discussion : ) I am guilty of having the view that having 2 first team all NBA players (KB + DH), should be enough to allow us better results (it has just about every other time in league history). If you add 85% of yet another league MVP – wow – we have a dream team. Yet we don’t : ) This road trip is critical. No matter what: We Rule – Because – He Rules !

  28. Kobe favoring a sprained ankle. Pau rusty and out of condition. Nash vs an excellent quick young PG. All were sloppy and ineffective in the second half. Jamison out. Coach typically no help. It is was it is.

  29. Robert,

    Re Nash…what he has lost is kind of hard to put a finger on. His greatest skill set were his decision making ability, his shooting, his effort and his leadership. I am not trying to say he has lost nothing, but when you view him in that context, you can see, its not real clear what he has lost, because the only tangible skills in that group, (shooting and decision making), we can see aren’t particularly compromised. I put it down to a bit of strength/physicality/speed, but it isn’t super obvious, and it isn’t a ton of that. He was never imposing physically in the way Kobe/Dwight are. he succeeded despite that. Perhaps the other thing that is “lost” is that as the years have gone by, the league keeps on getting faster and faster and more athletic, and he, if anything, is going slightly in the other direction.

    What he has lost for sure, was the willingness of the group around him to play exactly the way he wanted, for him to have the ball most of the time, and for there to be a team constructed around him, that will compliment his game to the maximum. So the question becomes how much can he be when the team is not suited to maximize his skill set? We saw in some of the recent games that without Kobe and with only one big on the floor, to disrupt the flow of the offence, that there is still a lot he can do. But in a pure post up offence he is not a valuable asset, as there you don’t need a “offensive genius” but rather a competent PG with great speed, athleticism, youth, energy, and ball hawking ability none of which are his strengths.

    The other issue I have is with the additive formula you use to analyze the team’s strength. You can’t just keep adding talent and say x talent + y talent + z talent = more and more success. Only one guy can have the ball at a time, so at some point having an extra “star”‘ may be more of a liability than an asset.

    I continue to think that the defence which is clearly a bit better with Dwight healthier, will eventually be better yet with a decent back up big in the lineup (Pau), and if they can ever figure this out, (and bringing Pau back into the fold was never going to be easy) that you will get a decent enough defence, but perhaps it won’t still have enough speed to deal with the kind of speed we see on Miami/Denver/OKC..My hope for the season, is that it would reveal that the team is either ready for a chip or good enough to compete against anyone but the top 3-4 teams, and that it would be really clear what was needed to get there, and during the offseason enough could be added/replaced to get the team into the elite class. Still hoping that is possible.

  30. Harvey,

    Nash’s rate stats had been holding, but they have dropped off a bit now. But I don’t really think he has lost that much. I think his stats look worse than he actually is.

    I agree with your comment about the “additive formula”, and I would add this: in any organization–this is not just a sports thing–you need a mix of skills in your personnel. One basic problem with the Lakers’ roster is that they have too many guys with the same weakness: being old and slow, and even the younger guys are not ballhawks or tough defenders.

    So, it is not so much that Nash needs to be replaced as it is that his backup needs to be someone in his 20s with more size and athleticism, who can play off the ball, play the 1 or the 2, play some D, and play with him or with Kobe. CJ Watson, for example, who signed a cheap deal with the Nets this past summer, probably would have helped the Lakers more than Meeks and Blake have, not because Watson is anything special, but because he brings things the Lakers do not have and he fits with their stars.

    Jamison is the same way. When he plays, he can score, even at age 36. But he is yet another older player with defensive issues. A younger PF with more defensive chops might have helped more.

    We have seen this demonstrated with Earl Clark. Clark is a very limited player, but he brings some things to the table that the Lakers need, so he is useful.

    The other issue is Ebanks. The Lakers desperately need a young, ballhawking wing who can play 15-20 minutes a night, take the defensive pressure off Kobe and Metta, and hit a 3 sometimes. Ebanks was supposed to be that guy, but he isn’t.

    But the main reason that I backed the MDA hire is that I thought he was the best guy, including Phil, to get the most out of Nash (Nash is not a Phil-type player, and I think if Phil were here, Nash might have been traded) and to get Howard happy and dunking and smiling. It has not really happened, and while some of that is injuries, a lot of that falls on MDA and his player usage patterns IMO.