Lakers Dig A Hole They Can’t Climb Out Of

Darius Soriano —  March 25, 2013

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Pictured above is the Warriors shooting chart for the first half. As you can see, besides the above the break three from the left wing and the area right above the right elbow, the Warriors were red hot from the field. This hot shooting led to 63 first half points and a 23 point lead for the home team. This was a deficit the Lakers were never able overcome, thus falling to the Warriors 109-103.

Don’t let the final score fool you. The Lakers were beat handily in this game and were it not for coach Mike D’Antoni playing Kobe the entire 2nd half and pushing Dwight and Nash for 21 and 20 out of the final 24 minutes respectively, this game wouldn’t have been anywhere near that close. The final margin was the result of a late game push, but that Lakers’ run like putting lipstick on a pig and didn’t amount to much besides more tired legs for this team to carry on the rest of their road trip.

Make no mistake, this game was lost early on the weakness of the Laker defense. The Warriors guards had a field day working in isolation and coming off screens, getting open to shoot the jumpers that they’re very capable of hitting. In the game preview I mentioned that Klay Thompson is a very good, but streaky shooter and he proved me right by coming out red hot and not missing once he got space to fire off his jumper. His back court partner, Steph Curry, was nearly as good, hitting all types of step back jumpers and leaners when working in the P&R and in isolation. And when it wasn’t Curry or Klay, it was longtime Lakers’ killer Jarrett Jack who hit shot after shot, twisting the knife with each floater over the outstretched arms of Dwight Howard.

Ultimately, the Warriors game plan — as it is most nights — was quite simple. They picked out the Lakers weaker individual defenders and isolated them to get their shots. When Curry was on Nash, they’d go that route. When Jamison checked in, they attacked him with David Lee and then Harrison Barnes. When the Lakers went small with the Nash/Blake back court, they attacked with Klay Thompson against whichever small guard picked him up. On and on this went for the entire first half and the Lakers had no answers for how to stop it. Dwight Howard tried to step up and slow penetration but all that happened was the ball got passed around — either to a diving big man or back out to the perimeter — and an open shot was given up.

It’s nearly impossible to win when your defense is that bad for even short stretches of a game, so when it’s for an entire half you might as well pack it in and go home.

The Lakers did fight back, turning around their own poor offense to score 36 points in the 3rd quarter. But their defense wasn’t much better than it was early in the game, giving up 31 to the Warriors to only shave off 5 points from their 23 point halftime deficit. So, even though the Lakers had the aforementioned 4th quarter run, it didn’t much matter as the team didn’t nearly do enough early to get a win.

A few additional notes:

  • Pau Gasol is clearly still limited physically. He was moving around the floor poorly and was barely jumping to get rebounds in the 1st half. He looked better to start the 3rd quarter, but the bar was so low early on even that slight improvement didn’t lead to a capable performance. He hurt the Lakers on both sides of the ball in this game and while I appreciate him trying to come back as quickly as possible, it’s clear he’s no where near the level he was at right before his injury.
  • Ron left this game at halftime with a strained knee and didn’t return. When we have more information we’ll pass it along. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. That said, the injury bug is feasting on the Lakers this year.
  • Antawn Jamison looked okay physically in playing with his bum wrist, but didn’t shoot well at all. Tough to say if the wrist was really bothering him, but his 1-5 shooting for 5 points was especially painful considering how much he gave back on the other end of the floor.
  • When Jamison is playing that poorly on D and can’t find his offense, I’d have liked to have seen more Earl Clark. Clark competed hard on D in  that first half, stringing together a few good possessions on Harrison Barnes. Clark’s no savior and he later had issues with Jack and Lee, but his effort on D stood out.
  • The Lakers lost this game on D, but their offense is once again out of sorts. They started the game with three straight post ups and then looked out of synch in their P&R game for long stretches in the first half. It’s going to take time to integrate Pau back into the mix and right now they’re showing the struggles of trying to fit in a major piece who still isn’t quite right fitting for what D’Antoni prefers to do on that side of the ball.
  • From the 3rd quarter of the Wizards game to halftime of the Warriors game the Lakers were outscored 125 to 83. Not good. Easy to see why they lost both games.
  • Kobe and Nash were both aggressive in looking for their shots in this game, but both ended up shooting less than 50% from the filed. Nash finished 9-19 while Kobe shot 11-27. Kobe did get to the FT line 16 times (making 12) but most of the night saw him missing shots from all over the floor. Hard to say if his ankle is still bothering him, but he lacked burst in being able to get by his man in isolation and ended up settling for a lot of contested jumpers. Obviously that’s not ideal. As for Nash, he was good in attacking with his jumper out of the P&R but in the 2nd half his legs looked dead and he missed several shots including two jumpers quite badly.
  • With Nash and Kobe shooting a combined 46 times (and Meeks taking 14 himself — while making only 5) there weren’t a lot of shots left for other guys. Dwight had 8 FGA’s and 6 FT attempts in this game and could have used a few more of both. The Warriors were playing him one on one most of the night and while Bogut is a good defender, Dwight got him out of the game with foul trouble in the 2nd quarter but the Lakers rarely went to him with Festus Ezeli on him. Seemed like an opportunity missed.

Darius Soriano

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26 responses to Lakers Dig A Hole They Can’t Climb Out Of

  1. nice recap, as always.
    Lakers really did not pound the ball much inside to Howard on offense. and in return, howard on the defensive end looks not interested. kobe and nash both tried to find ways to score, especially at the start of 4th, though the breaks of the game has fallen the Warriors way. every time we try to trim the lead, Jack will be free roaming around with floaters. this was due to our lack of defense, especially perimeter D. we’re 2 steps slower than this younger team. and our intensity cannot be felt. pride is what this team needs, to become a better team.

    mind you that this team has no real threat to penetrate and score at will, and we were toasted like buns.

    i hope we can salvage more Ws than Ls with our road games. the 8th spot has become a tight race with us involve and we cant afford to lose with our (easy) schedule.

  2. Je….f….ch..st… This is THE most frustrating team I have ever rooted for.

    Ever since I sad up all night waiting for the overseas transmission of the games on a dark living room with the lights off, since my parents were sleeping and I wasn’t allowed to stay up all night for sports… ever since then, some 20 years ago, I have followed the Lakers with a passion. And never have I had the same frustrations as this year.

    I even had a little love on the side with Steve Nash’s Suns… and their ownership continuously drowned what little hope those teams had of making some serious noise, but nothing matches the feeling of blown opportunities like this year’s Lakers.

    They show glimpse of championship basketball… and then they play for whole quarters or half games like a true bottom feeder. I told myself 6 times this year to give up on them, turn away and stop watching… but of course I cannot. I am trapped in front of the burning house, watching… mesmerized, wanting to flee…

  3. The K Bros are back, with a new blog, called (again) Land O Lakers. This is the only bright spot right now.

  4. Smart coaches will do exactly what Darius talked about. Pick on the many weak spots on the Laker defense. Not smart coaches will sit and yank on their mustache and try no adjustments. Hard to imagine Morris isen’t better then Nash and anybody isen’t better then Jamison or Meeks. This team has so many holes its a cinch for teams to beat them. Mike Daaa has ony one answer which is to think he can outscore the other team. Didn’t work in Pheonix, didn’t work in New York and not working here.

    Wrong coach for this personel and wrong personel for today’s faster younger NBA. There is zero chance of beating young, talented and or well coached teams if they make the playoffs.. Truth is the Lakers would not win it all if they played in a league made up of the non-playoff teams. This is a lost season. Pau by the way is a complete negative out there and he is 12 games away from the end of his Laker career.

  5. Warriors slowed it up in the 4th and got themselves out of rhythm. Lakers were dominated. I don’t know if any old-timers here remember a coach named Phil Jackson and a system called the triangle. This respected coach who knew what he was doing, and the system established some discipline and structure needed to balance the floor, control pace, give the team an identity, direction, confidence, and stuff like that. Those were the days, Laker fans.

  6. As Darius pointed out good coaches can out smart this coach by matching up fast, good shooters with bad defenders. Nash, Jamison, Meeks and to often Kobe are easy pickins. No adjustment from MD reminds of why he never won anything in Pheonix and was a big losser in New Youk.Wrong coach for this personal and wrong personel for today’s younger, quicker NBA. No way this team gets out of first round. For those who prefer to play SA, let me remind you of the best coach Pop who will mash this team with coaching moves.

  7. Well it looks pretty official now. With 11 games to go and our Lakers four games behind both the Warriors & Rockets in the loss column, it’s time to turn our attention to the Jazz & Mavs who are only one game behind us in the loss column. After a day off, the Lakers have 3 road games in 4 nights. And I’m sorry if it offends anyone, but I wouldn’t feel confident betting the house on the Lakers sweeping these 3 games vs the T’ Wolves, Bucks, & Kings.

    Bottom line: Lakers are still in a dog fight to make to post-season. Something just 3 games ago that I thought we were past. :-(

  8. This shows we have an offensive coach who only sees the players scoring and not defending:
    “When Jamison is playing that poorly on D and can’t find his offense, I’d have liked to have seen more Earl Clark. Clark competed hard on D in that first half, stringing together a few good possessions on Harrison Barnes. Clark’s no savior and he later had issues with Jack and Lee, but his effort on D stood out.
    The Lakers lost this game on D, but their offense is once again out of sorts. They started the game with three straight post ups and then looked out of synch in their P&R game for long stretches in the first half. It’s going to take time to integrate Pau back into the mix and right now they’re showing the struggles of trying to fit in a major piece who still isn’t quite right fitting for what D’Antoni prefers to do on that side of the ball.”

    Thanks for the recap Darius hope we ca n rest Pau more and go back to the 8 man rotatin until the Spanard is 100% ready to play

  9. (edited for baiting) Bad coaching, bad defense, no consistency, overrated big man, old, slow….to put it simply, not championship caliber. With all that said, I still believe this team makes playoffs over Utah.

  10. Almost all the scoring for the Lakers came from the perimeter. Stephen A is right. D’Antoni does not know how to utilize his big men. Until this problem is solved, we’re not going anywhere.

  11. If I was Dwight Howard, I could not envision returning to a team that kept Mike D’Antoni as coach. A man who has never shown an interest or an aptitude in coaching big men has done nothing this year to change his reputation.

    Big game against a team ahead you in the standings, coming off horrible losses, three games left on a road trip, two OLD and beat up guards, and an opponent that single covers me, and the back court gets up 46 shots to my 8? Yeah, if I’m Dwight it’s definitely going to be a “him or me” moment this summer….

  12. I agree with Fern,
    but still cringe at the thought of DH showing disinterest on D when he doesn´t get enough touches (though he should´ve had a lot more last night, for sure) – I mean, it´s the yin -yang of thigns one must keep in mind: all is one, one is all – so if your hustling on D no matter what´s occuring on the other end of the floor, it´ll work itself out in the end (ha! I´m not trying to get Zen Master on anyone here)
    Oh heck, we look terrible and the near future certainly looks bleak..f*** it

  13. Utah has the tiebreaker, remember, so the Lakers need to win one more game than them.

    As to Howard, he may not want to add to his “coachkiller” rep by being tied to a D’Antoni firing. But as I said before, if the Lakers miss the playoffs, particularly after they actually passed Utah, I don’t think D’Antoni is safe.

  14. Funky,
    I’m in total agreement with you, although, coming off of the bad PR he received in Orlando (which was warranted), I highly doubt that he’ll give ultimatums (however delivered) to the FO.

  15. For those claiming Dwight was so bad on D, I guess I must have watched a different game. He wasn’t as great as he’s been lately, but the Lakers’ guards were the root of every single defensive issue the team had. Dwight was playing 2 on 1 on the back end on so many plays last night with no one rotating behind him to pick up his man when he steps up. Defense is all about trust and too often the Lakers’ wings let Dwight down. I’m not in Dwight’s head, but if that were me it would definitely lead to second guessing about how far I’d step up while still hoping to disrupt what my man was doing.

    Again, this isn’t to say Dwight was even very good last night on D. He wasn’t. But the guards in front of him were pretty much awful. As a backline defender, you need *some* help from the players on the perimeter to at least partially slow guys down before they get to the paint or funnel them correctly to where the help is. Last night I saw little of that from the Lakers’ guards.

  16. Darius is right here. Howard has not been nearly as dominant on D as he has in the past and has at times looked disinterested. But, again, the #1 problem with this team is the perimeter defense. Kobe, Metta, Nash, Blake and Meeks simply do not have the quickness/size to get the job done. Coaching issues are making it worse, probably, but it starts with personnel.

    Kupchak was aware of this going in, I am sure, but I assume that he anticipated that he was getting 2011 Howard to cover for more of it, and that the offense would be so good that the team would be a top contender. Hasn’t happened.

  17. This up and down IS the Laker team. Same goes for their inconsistency. The error that the media and fans make is that when they have a good game and get a win, then everyone sits back and says “my team has arrived!” and “finally!” And then when they stink up the joint on the other half of nights, there is groaning and embarrassment.

    The only way to move forward is acceptance. Accept that this is the identity of this team, and if they want real change then they will have to move some mountains, because the effort on defense is not their first priority when they are on the floor.

    They have been run out of the gym so many times this season, that it has become a glaring weakness. I don’t see many team loaf on defense like the Lakers do.

    Steve Nash, in his 2 MVP prime, never made it to the NBA finals. His team (coached by Dantoni for much of the tenure), ran a team that ranked 27th in Defensive efficiency.

  18. Tra, I think that Dwight has already set the table for a him or me arrangement. Unlike his time in Orlando, he doesn’t need to go public or push for a trade. He need simply inform Mitch and Jim once the season is over that he wants to make a clean start for a team of his choosing. When they ask if there is anythign they can do to change his mind, he (or his rep) need merely say some version of my previous post: “I can’t see re-signing to play under a coach with no desire or ability to coach big men.” The message will be clear, and even if his reputation as “coach-killer” is enhanced, he and the team will likely be better off, which will do wonders for improving his reputation.

    The Lakers have two 7-footers who would likely be featured on most NBA teams. Here, one is relegated to standing 18 feet from the basket, while the other is frequently offered zero 4th quarter shots. I’m not holding Pau and Dwight blameless here (far from it), but a coach who can’t get anything in the 4th quarter from those two guys has to shoulder much of the blame.

  19. i agree that Howard did play decent last night challenging shots of the other teams penetration.
    i also agree that our guards are letting their man dribble around with no pressure at all, not fighting screens and being lazy on D, including Kobe (Kobe seems to have a moment when he just lets his defensive assignment take open shots/slip and penetrate)

    our problem starts with our defense, lack of intensity, dedication to just play D all night. its obvious that we cannot win when we score, so we should really try to put more emphasize on Defense.

    i remember my fav movie The Replacements, when their team needed lots and lots of heart to win games. :(

  20. If Kobe were healthy, the Lakers would have smoked the Warriors. Take a look at http://www.warriorstwitterfeed.com and http://www.tweetslosangeles.com/lakers to see the teams’ reactions to the game

  21. Great recap.

    Lakers have a back to back vs Kings and Suns play a 7 man rotation go 1-1. Have 3 days off with Wizards at home lose a 18 point lead. Have 2 days off for a vital game versus a western conference foe give up 63 points in 1st half for a 23 point deficit. 4 games in 9 days, 3 against lottery bound teams and Lakers go 1-3. They don’t deserve to make the playoffs. Lakers better put these next 3 road games in the win column because April is murderer’s row. Record is 9-12 vs those teams so far this year. Luckily the furthest they go is north to Portland.

    Kupchak last few signings: signed 38 yr old Nash to 3 years replaced 26 year old Sessions , 26 yr old Dwight replaced 24 year old Bynum, signed 35 yr old Jamison replaced 26 year old McRoberts, 24 yr old Meeks replaced 31 year old Kapono, Odom for an expired trade exception, 25 year old Hill replaced, signed 32 year old Murphy, signed 37 year old Ratliff, signed 31 year old Barnes, signed 30 year old Blake to 4 years, signed 30 year old Ron.

    It’s crazy how Dwight has gone from the most despised Lakers to the guy I’m feeling sorry most for. Worked all the way back from back surgery to be a clean up guy on offense. Teammates don’t help him near enough on defense and he should be a 1st or 2nd option on offense on this team not a last outlet. I think if Nash had the ball more to create he’d finds more ways to get him involved. He’s been a monster since the asb. The effort he puts forth trying to help his teammates on defense should be the same from his teammates trying to get him involved on offense.

    Kobe’s heroics work against him sometimes. He saves the day so much and brings the team back from deficits with his shot making his teammates stand and watch times they shouldn’t. Last night all game when Kobe got the ball he looked up waiting for someone to cut or move but they all took steps backwards trying to give him room. Kobe definitely held the ball too long waiting for someone to cut then was forced to take a tough shot because not much time was on the shot clock. Kobe played point guard for an extended part of the season showing he’ll make the right play. Guys aren’t cutting or making themselves available. I blame his teammates and coaches as much or more than Kobe for the stall in offense once he gets it on the wing.

    D’Antoni’s rotations are wacky. He wen from playing 7 guys on a back to back to 9 guys in lineups that haven’t played together all year. Nash, Blake, Meeks are all under 6’4 and none should never be forced to defend a sf, but D’Antoni wants offense so he’ll suffer the consequences on defense. Lakers had two days off and had no plan on defending the Warriors. Mike Brown always said his objective was to send guys baseline to not give up the middle of the floor. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t. D’Antoni’s postgame usually go “We didn’t make shots”, “The ball didn’t move” and not one mention of defense.

  22. Here’s what I’d like to see. Consistent, relentless defense. For 48 minutes. Yes we are slower than many (most) other teams but with a decent scheme, all-out effort and on court communication we can and should be able to disrupt our opponent. Uncontested, unimpeded trips to the basket and open threes simply should not happen. Worst loss of the year in a year already rife with many other stinkers.

    I question whether MDA can get this team to put defense first given his obvious predilections. Can things be turned around? How many restarts have we already had? This team as it is currently playing is an easy first round out against any other team in the West.

  23. Lakers need a coach. While Mike Brown isn’t the answer, he at least tried implementing an offensive system that shows he knows is personnel. The Princeton offense slowed down the pace and put Kobe and Howard in attacking position and Nash and Pau in facilitating positions. The Lakers were 5th in offensive efficiency and their defense woes were mainly due to giving up to many fastbreak points (cos of their high turnover volume) and because Howard wasn’t healthy. Imagine if Mike Brown was given more time. I don’t beleive we would be any worse. I’m and 100% convinced that MDA is the worst of the 3 coaches that have coached the Lakers this season.

  24. Really, this season can’t end soon enough.

  25. Espn 710 said in the lakers five losses in march, including the last three. Dwight has a total of 3 shots in fourth quarter. If your superstar can’t even get one shot a qrt it’s an issue. And personally I’ve noticed there is no effort to get him ball in second half of games all season. The hack a Dwight would still be ideal.

  26. “He’s an offense first coach” is not analysis. This team stunk on D last year with a defense first coach who had his teams winning 60+ a year with one superstar. The year before that, this team played hellishly bad defense while coached by a guy who has won 11 championships.

    Kobe just tore the ligament that keeps his ankle from rolling and whose springiness permits lateral movement. Guess what kind of movement is perhaps the most important sort on defense. Nash was never a lateral speed demon.

    Nash, Kobe, Metta, Pau, Dwight… I see one guy on this list of starter who has lateral movement. Jamison, Clark, Blake, Meeks… I see one, maybe two guys who come off the bench with lateral movement. Ebanks, Morris, Duhon, Sacre… Those are the buried options off the bench and we want to blame MDA for the poor defense? This is a flawed team. It’s flaws are fundamental and cannot be made up for with the vast array of talent. This league is young, it is quick, it is explosive. This team needs some tweeks, but of the sort that solve those issues of lateral quickness… so, I don’t see the fix this season. Sign Dwight, amnesty Metta, get some springs for this mattress of a team.