Friday Forum

Darius Soriano —  October 11, 2013

The Lakers played their last preseason game in the U.S. for a little while on Thursday, losing to the Kings 104-86 in a pretty uneven performance on both sides of the ball. The first half offered some positives offensively, some struggles defensively, and some pretty good individual performances. The second half offered a decline in all facets on both sides and included Steve Nash going to the locker room with a sore ankle. The end result was a blowout loss, but the players and coaches took it all in stride and seemed to brush it off as another brick in path towards the season.

A season that is fast approaching, by the way. Tip off for the first game that counts is a mere 18 days away. Less than 3 calendar weeks to get the house in order and present the best group they can to compete when the contests really matter. How good this team will be seems to be a question with an evolving answer — there’s hope inside the locker room that improved chemistry and upgrades in athleticism will make a real difference. On the outside, however, the prognosticators still aren’t convinced. Thing is, though, is that all the words spoken by the players and coaches or those written by scribes who cover this team (both from afar and who see them every day) doesn’t change the fact that the results will be determined on the floor. In the end, the words don’t matter. Only the actions on the floor do.

The big story of the night was, as mentioned, Nash’s sore ankle. Over at Land O’ Lakers, Brian Kamenetzky notes that Nash’s hedging on how much of an issue his ankle may be down the line is a cloud over what has been some optimism about this team.

At ESPN LA, Dave McMenamin also reports on Nash’s bum wheel and notes that his head coach thinks Nash may be in and out of the lineup all year. Some of that is simply based off age and the fact that the team may find ways to rest him more throughout the season. However, after injuries derailed Nash’s season last year, it’s also not the most inspiring quote.

While on the topic of the head coach, the fine folks at Silver Screen & Roll discuss what they think the biggest change will be by the head coach this year, considering he has a full training camp. Interesting answers all around, there. From my perspective, one thing that is clear through the first four preseason games is that this group looks much more organized defensively. The results are still mixed — something that will occur when you have some average to below average individual defenders while also playing several deep reserves — but you can at least tell from play to play what they’re trying to accomplish. Based on this alone, it’s fair to say that D’Antoni really is taking defense seriously this camp.

Shifting to the Kings’ game, here’s a good take on all that occurred during the contest, good and bad, to contribute to the result.

One of the good things, of course, was the continued good play of Pau Gasol. Over at the LA Times, Ben Bolch notes that the Spaniard is playing well, especially in relation to his developing chemistry with Chris Kaman.

Speaking of Kaman, he had some interesting (and informative) quotes — as he usually does — about the Lakers’ trip to China in this piece.

The trip to China should provide more answers to questions we have heading into the season, but that would true whether the team wasn’t going halfway across the globe to play basketball and promote the league (and the sport at large). We hope, soon, to get a clearer picture of when Kobe may return, whether the Pau/Kaman pairing really is an answer, if the team will finally see all it’s players healthy enough to suit up for the same game (minus Kobe, of course), and if the space between the fringe players continues to define itself so we can get a better understanding of who will and won’t be on the final roster.

All of those questions will be answered in time. In fact, it will only be 18 days.

Darius Soriano

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6 responses to Friday Forum

  1. thanks, Darius.

  2. Nash. Who are we kidding? He had enough old man moments last season where he was physically overwhelmed for Laker fans to understand he was done. I don’t expect him to be healthy enough to make more than a cursory contribution to the team. I hope he retires this season if he can’t stay on the court. Does a buyout count against the cap?

  3. SN should be able to give us 15 -25 minutes of solid ball per night on average however at age 40 there’s not much left in the tank physically. I know that he will be a valuable leader and a role model for the younger guys. My fingers are crossed and hoping for the best.

  4. It appears as though the Lakers are in a similar position health wise, as we were last year. Two games in, and both of our point guards are out with injuries; our center is recuperating from off-season surgery; and we still don’t have a team identity. The Lakers aren’t efficient enough offensively to be considered an elite scoring team, and they don’t play an appreciable amount of defense to be considered a defensive juggernaut. So what will they be? If the outside shooting doesn’t become more efficient soon, it won’t matter what Kaman or Gasol can do in the post because they will have 2-3 defenders swarming them on each catch.

    This coach has adjusted his offense to suit the players on the team, in particular Kaman and Gasol which is admirable. It appears as though he is not married to an offensive scheme despite the players on the roster.

    Last night in the 4th quarter the team did not even bother to run any semblance of the coach’s offense. The first player that received a pass on offense proceeded to shoot. The coach should have called timeout or benched the players to put a stop to that kind of play. The team is full of players attempting to stay in the league or players playing for their next contract. So, if they are not contained via threats of lost playing time, they will definitely resort to a ‘me’ mentality.

    I still like this team better than last year’s product on the floor.

  5. Chearn

    Could be worse . Coach could be Donny Baseball who would sub out his best players in overtime and never bring them back on.

    Sorry for the baseball reference but I couldn’t help myself!

  6. Bryan S.,
    Waaay too premature,but one option the Lakers have is the “stretch” buyout of Nash’s last year.
    Turns a 1 yr $9mil Cap hit into a three yr $3mil/yr cap hit.
    But that’s a theoretical option for next off-season,who knows how this season will play out?