Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Spurs

Darius Soriano —  November 1, 2013

Through two games – one great win, one terrible loss – we’re starting to learn some things about these Lakers. Some of those things, we already had hints of from the preseason. This team will compete until the final buzzer regardless of the scorer, they’ll have their issues defensively, they will be very reliant on the three point shot offensively.

Other things, are coming into focus a bit more. There really is a great contrast of styles between some of the different units Mike D’Antoni deploys. The starting group is a methodical bunch while the reserves are more chaotic. The starters aren’t using as much pick and roll as a primary action, instead relying on more motion based sets with ball reversals and dribble hand-offs key to getting players the ball on the move. The reserves, however, are using the P&R a fair amount with Jordan Farmar teasing the action multiple times within any given possession to try and create a scoring chance for himself or a teammate.

These differences in styles between the units will be key to how this team performs over the long haul of a season. Much like a change of pace running back in the NFL, the shift in approach between these groups can get a team off guard, knocking them off balance enough to produce an exploitable hole. If the team can find a consistency in rotations and in performance from the key drivers of these lineups, they can find success in any given game, just as we saw against the Clippers. If the principal players fall short, the results can be disastrous – like against the Warriors.

This concept, though, isn’t brain surgery. The Lakers need their better players to play like it most nights for them to win. They can have fluctuating performances from some guys on some nights, but to hang in games (and ultimately win them) the players the team depends on to be the pillars of their respective units must do well.

Against the Spurs, then, you can imagine what this means. The key guys – Gasol, Nash, Farmar, Young, and Jordan Hill – must all find a way to provide production that will resemble what we hope will be their regular season norms.

For Gasol and Hill, specifically, it’s important to note that Tim Duncan has already been ruled out with Boris Diaw slated to start in his place. So, while Tiago Splitter will likely shift over and handle defensive duties on the Lakers primary big men (at least when he’s in the game) he is not the defender that Duncan is. Pau will need to work more to establish the post than he did against the Warriors and set the tone for the team’s offense. Hill, meanwhile, should look to continue to attack the basket as the dive man out of the P&R while also looking to attack the offensive glass with his usual vigor. Missing Duncan will (hopefully) mean that the Lakers big men can do more work around the rim with less resistance, though Splitter and back up big man Aaron Baynes will try to ensure that’s not the case.

On the perimeter, Nick Young is facing the stiff defense of Kawhi Leonard, but even with that being the case he will need to find ways to be effective. During the preseason, Young was able to hit shots and showed good aggressiveness by attacking the paint when coming off screens and when working isolation, but hasn’t been doing the same in the regular season. It would be nice for him to get back to that. Young’s scoring punch will be needed, especially considering the potency of the Spurs attack.

Young must be joined by strong outings from Nash and Farmar too, though. Nash remains less than 100% physically, but he needs to maintain his aggression and not just look to be a set up man all the time. Against the Clippers, I compared Nash to a “bus driver quarterback” in the Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson mold but he’ll need to be more than that tonight (and during the season). He must look for his own shot and try to turn the corner more in the P&R, even if it means throwing his body into big men who hedge to try and obstruct his path. Farmar, too, must remain aggressive, though that’s less of a concern considering his mindset. What I’m really looking for from Farmar is a nice mix between shooting his jumper and getting to the rim. With Duncan out, more action going towards the hoop would be nice.

Defensively, the key to slowing the Spurs remains slowing Tony Parker. The Spurs run him all over the court both as a ball handler and when working off it, so whoever is tasked with chasing him will have his hands full. That said, Steve Blake has had some good defensive games against Parker, so having him shadow TP while also having every other defender actively knowing where he is will be key to making his life harder. If Blake can contest his jumpshot while angling him towards help off the dribble and when coming off screens, the Lakers will just have to live with the results.

With Duncan out, Leonard becomes a more important player to limit and that will require a strong level of awareness for where he is at all times. Leonard isn’t a big creator of his own shot, but knows how to free himself up and get into open space. This allows him to get off his jumper in the corner and gets him open when slashing to the rim for attempts in the paint and when chasing offensive rebounds. Young will really need to be on his toes defensively and keep tabs on his man better than he showed against the Warriors.

Even though the Spurs are clearly the better team coming into this game, the fact that Duncan is out and the game is in Los Angeles gives the Lakers an opportunity to get a nice win. Coming out of this contest with a 2-1 record, considering the slate they’ve faced, would be a good accomplishment for a team looking to surprise this season. Here’s hoping their seize this chance.

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

Darius Soriano

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76 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Spurs

  1. So I’m surprised no one in the media has brought up the issue of Nash starting…it seems that a volatile starting lineup can’t be a recipe for success…even if he is still around for 63 other games best case scenario.

  2. darius: somehow, someway we got to figure out a way to cut and paste your previews and place it squarely on the bulletin board/whiteboard right smack dab in the middle of the locker room; in bold type and in front of each laker player and coach of each laker game until it effectively sinks in.

    Go lakers

  3. Darius’s preview is why I would like to keep Farmar with the 2nd unit, if possible. Perhaps his minutes expand into the 1st unit, but I sure wouldn’t want to neuter our 2nd unit because we thought Farmar should start – where his skills wouldn’t be as valuable.

    What about having Kobe in his distribution role with the 1st unit and spot in Nash as needed? It would seem his skill set would be perfect and his footwork could more than make up for a loss in speed or ‘push off’. His primary duty could be to set the others up and then shoot whenever the defense starts relaxing on him.

  4. Laker Fanatic: “it seems that a volatile starting lineup can’t be a recipe for success” Well – we went through this last year mostly with the bench guys. I remember the word “experimenting” being used quite a bit. It appears the lab coats are still on.
    Darius: “The starting group is a methodical bunch while the reserves are more chaotic.” Indeed you are on target. The issue I see with MD doing this, is when players switch from the starting group to the reserves and vice versa. This will happen when KB comes back, when our older players need rest, and when we have injuries. So I am sure this will happen completely seamlessly : ) It will be like switching from the Eastern Conference to the West all on the same team. I do not see any continuity issue there : )

  5. Boy Pierce looks bad!

  6. Is Pau auditioning for the floor spacing four position?

    Gasol is starting to remind me of Portland’s Rasheed Wallace, I always liked when he started out hitting shots from the perimeter because he never went in the post where he was most effective.

    Nice dive…finally! Good crisp ball movement. Wesley Johnson block!!!!

  7. Great defense by Lakers.

  8. How many games will Boston win this year? Do you think that Ainge has a fine system in place for good play? (Think Major League) Tankin’ for Wiggins may get out of hand this year!

    Team looks decent so far tonight.

  9. How’s the team look so far? On the east coast, so they just put the laker game on espn

  10. Last year we had one of the worst benches in the league. This year one of the best? What a difference a year makes.

  11. Nefarious–Pretty good. Some of it is a function of SAS simply missing shots (shooting a touch over 25%) and Duncan is clearly missed. But LAL is limiting the Spurs to one shot and hiting perimeter shots. 3 for 7 so far from three.

  12. Hope Henry is okay, took a nasty hit on the head.

  13. Johnson has been very disappointing as has Williams. Need to get Pau back in Mike.

  14. What is wrong with the coach zero minutes for Hill.

    Why?

  15. Jordan Hill keeps riding the pine while MDA’s man crush on Williams continues. Smh

  16. Xavier Henry suffered a two-inch laceration on his forehead and received 9 stitches. He is available to return. No concussion tests necessary.

  17. Yeah, why isn’t Jordan Hill in the game? I don’t get it (I mean, I know he isn’t an MDA 3 pt shooting stretch whatever, but – I don’t get it).

    Meanwhile, Meeks still shooting well, what to make of it. Great that we’re in this game, Duncan-less or not, would be awesome to start the season against Clips, GSW and Spurs … and go 2-1.

  18. This is ridiculous, no Jordan Hill in the 1st half?! WoW…

  19. I guess Jordan Hill finally found his way home with this coach…in the doghouse. Shawne Williams does not know how to do anything but catch and shoot. He stands in one spot on offense and will not move no matter what happens, and that’s because he doesn’t know how to do anything else. He is not a starter, he’s more like the 13th man on the team.

    This coach won’t play Hill, but what has Williams done that is superior to what Hill can do on the floor?

  20. It’s a good thing MDA likes to skip shootarounds. Make a damn shot! Geez.

  21. Considering a terrible half by Nash (1 for 6) plus turnovers and zero minutes for Hill lucky to be up.

  22. I hate to say it but nash looks like hes one of the worst point guards in the nba. He can’t make shots and now even his free throws are not going in.

  23. No question Gary he is worst starter in NBA. He also mishandled 4 passes. No way Dpurs will shoot this bad in 2nd half.

  24. Still unfamiliar with the offense Lakers are running. And thought D’Antoni would use Pau how he used Lee in NY. Head scratching decisions from the coach. But all are to blame better shot selection and defensive recognition are badly needed.

  25. Didn’t Pau complain all last year about needing to be in the post? And yet the guy thinks he’s Kevin Love now with all the jumpers. Not sure if that’s him or more of MDA’s offense…

  26. Get Nash out

  27. I detest Hubie Brown. That is all.

  28. I think hubie brown is alright. Better than the constant whiner jeff van gundy.

  29. How long can you keep Nash up there. 1 for 8 it’s silly.

  30. Nash is playing poorly.

  31. Where is Jordan Hill? The Lakers could use him tonight.

  32. This is why MD can’t coach. Getting out rebounded and Hill plays zero. Amazing

  33. Who the hell is this Meeks guy? What happened to last year’s Meeks who couldn’t hit a layup to save his life…

  34. @ KenOaks, thats the first thing i tought too lol, he missed like a million layups last year, much better now, somebody put some work in the summer.

  35. Here comes the MDA bashing, we are losing because we cant hit a shot even losing the rebound battle if we hit half of all those ugly misses we be ahead by 10+. I think he has done a much better coaching job this year

  36. He has Fern. Confused though when you are giving up offensive Rbs why you wait 3 quarters to put in your best guy per minute in Hill.

  37. Jordan Hill gets in the game and making things happen.

  38. Hill beasting the offensive boards.

  39. Jordan Hill is keeping us in it.

  40. @Keno We all know MDA is not the biggest Jordan Hill fan in the world, but he did put him in. Shots like that atrocity that Xavier just put up is what doing us in, this should be a double digit win, tonight we really miss Kobe. We miss him more than SA miss Duncan.

  41. The Lakers better win or every basketball pundit and couch coach will question why this coach did not play Jordan Hill until the start of the 4th when the Lakers were down.

  42. It’s tough because clearly D’Antoni does not want any 2 of Gasol, Kaman and Hill sharing the floor. Pau has to start, not only because he is our best player right now, but that 1st unit falls off the cliff completely with anyone else at the 5. Obviously D’Antoni likes Kaman more offensively, but Hill’s energy rebounding and hustle make him one of the most important parts of the team. He really needs to be higher up the depth chart than Kaman right now.

    EDIT: And as I say that they stick Gasol and Hill together.

  43. Thats what im thinking i dont think that Shawne as a starter thing is going to work out, i rather have Hill at the 4. I was willing to give the young fella a chance but i rather have Hill starting. We cant waste that hustling.

  44. Im an optimistic to a fault but im starting to believe this season is going to hurt. This was an extremely winnable game, Nash horrid play he mised at least 5 shots that were automatic before and the young guys ill timed shooting did us in Nash needs to put it togheter or get out.

  45. I have to say I do like Hill/Johnson/Henry/Meeks/Farmar as the second unit, but I would not complain if Hill got big minutes starting as well.

  46. The second unit is getting it done but outside of Pau our starters are not Nash soot like 1 of 100 .Thats why we lost.

  47. Nice play. Perhaps next game we might see Hill sooner and Nash won ‘t play.

    Long wait for Kobe.

  48. 45 points from the bench, 38 from the starters 17 of them from Pau 21 from the other 4,nuff said.

  49. They need to insert Farmar or Meeks at either on the 1 or 2 position 3 from 20 from our starting back court is just catastrophic, thats the loss in a nutshell.Correctimg the other post 20 from Pau.

  50. I feel like Gasol/Kaman/Williams/Young/Blake needs to be out starting group. Nash looks like toast right now, and it seems like we’ll get more out of Blake than the other Steve.Like any team that shoots a lot of outside shots there are going to be games like the opener, or the shooting of tonight and @GS. A lot of paint shots missed tonight though,

  51. Starters other then Pau shot 14%. Perhaps Williams,Young, Nash need to sit.

  52. If Nash is like this in game 3 imagine in game 50. They need to shift the starters.

  53. Shawne Williams needs to go to the bench and put Hill in there with Pau keep Kaman coming out of the bench, you put him starting with Pau we get 70 points scored against inside every night.

  54. Shawne fg% thru 3 games is a whooping 16.7 % thru 3 games,Nash 33%, Young 26%, Blake 37% Pau is at 45% wich is way below for him. Just Yikes and that was before todasys game, outside Pau the rest took a huge dive tonight on their fg% extremely disturbing. Thars not the coach.

  55. Time to start Farmar, Hill and Meeks.

    Earth to coach, play your best players not who you like!

  56. How do you get out rebounded while kamen and Hill combined played 25 minutes .

  57. Getting outrebounded wasnt the reason we lost, we los bc of backcourt shoot 3 from 20.

  58. Time to d some immediate shifting in the starting lineup. Meeks put some work in this summer and it’s showing. He needs to take Young’s spot because even though Young isn’t shooting Lakers out of games, he’s out of sync with the starters and they’re the main problem. At the same time the bench has a good groove and everyone knows their roles, I’m afraid if Young goes to the bench he’s going to mess up their rhythm too. But something needs to happen fast. Instead of trying play small ball all game, at least 20-24 minutes should be committed to having 2 bigs on the floor. Hill/Pau, Pau/Kaman, Hill/Kaman. The team can still play small ball but some lineup shifting needs to take play asap.

    Another thing I haven’t seen so far this year is someone besides Hill box out. No one on this team other than Hill don’t play with fundamentals. Too many times guys are out of position and give up offensive rebounds or an angle when they should be in position to defend. I saw Rambis yelling instructions plenty throughout the game, but it didn’t work. That goes back to a flaw this team has had for years not trusting one another. Elite teams know where their teammates are going to be and trust they’ll be there. The Lakers don’t seem to know what they’re doing and don’t trust each other defensively. Way too many breakdowns and miscommunication happening this year. Team needs to work on the simple fundamentals of basketball and they’ll be better in certain areas. That’s the only way things will get better is if they are fundamentally sound for 48 minutes.

  59. This is the 3rd game of a new season, with many new players.

    The coaching staff is going to give everyone a chance to prove they deserve to sit on the bench. Yeah, we all would like to have the guy who was hot last game start this game, but that is not how a team is built. Kobe is out – we will lose quite a bit. With all that in mind I actually can see why the coach is doing things this way.

    He wanted to start Williams and see how he would do – he hasn’t done much so far, but it is just 3 games in. However, he needed rebounding this game. He also wanted to give both Pau and Kaman a good run at the center position. He did that. It didn’t work out and we were losing the rebound battle. Therefore, he played Hill practically the entire 4th qtr – until the game was already lost. Hill has probably proved he is one of the more dependable and energetic people on the team. That looks good for him going forward. He also found Hill can play with Pau, but Hill will take the low post and sometimes it will get awkward.

    He is going to play Nash as long as he can, but he may give him ever decreasing minutes to get it together. Meeks may work out and he may be playing himself into trade value.

    The team is being formed now, but we may not see good results until around Xmas.

  60. P.S. Mike D. is also learning how to coach this team. This is not like his Phoenix teams and he can’t run the offense he ran there. He wants to push the pace, but the pressure is also on to rebound and defend. Coaches don’t automatically know how the pieces fit together; they have to experiment and give different combinations a chance. Preseason is the place where you sort out the wheat from the chaff, but you don’t really know how your combinations are going to work until you get into real game situations – especially true when the team and coaching is being turned over.

    I did like that he gave Johnson run at the 3 in the 4th qtr. I have been frustrated that he seemed to be trying to force Johnson into the Marion role. I want to see more slashing from him, as that seems to be his offensive strength.

  61. If this version of Steve Nash is the best we can expect of him, then the Lakers are in a world of hurt. If Pau Gasol is going to play center, he has to play with force . I’m giving both of these guys a pass for now as they are recovering from injury. Steve just looks like he’s done. Hope I’m wrong.

  62. Pau is at 45% wich is way below for him

    Pau shot .466 from the floor last year; he is at .462 in 3 games this year.

    As far as the Hill thing, while Hill as noted ad nauseum does not have the shooting range MDA wants from a 4, there are two things to be aware of:

    1. Hill’s on-court numbers with Pau last year, which Darius ran on his Twitter feed in the off-season, and which I re-posted during training camp, were very good, albeit in a small sample.
    2. Hill and Williams both have NBA track records, and simply put, Hill’s is better. Obviously Williams is not going to shoot 17% from the floor all year, and it is worth noting that Williams’ best year by far in the NBA was under D’Antoni. But this is not an exceptionally young team, and NBA teams are not put together like rec league teams where you have no idea who you are getting until you watch them play a few games. Guys come in with track records and extensive scouting reports.

    And, looking at the 30-and-over guys, I admire Steve Nash tremendously, but he may have hit the wall and it may be that he needed the PHX training staff. Steve Blake has never been particularly good, and he is now 33 years old. Pau is one of my favorite players of all time, but he is 33 with a lot of mileage on his legs.

  63. Wow…my personal thoughts

    Trending down:

    1. Nick Young…what happened to that scoring punch he was supposed to provide?
    2. Shawne Williams….if your not gonna knock down shots consistently from deep you can’t play.
    3. Steve Nash…I haven’t seen a player with so little production get cottled by the coach since Derek Fisher…I’m lookin at the team needing leadership and production and theres Nash laying on his back…sigh…

    Trending Up
    1. Maybe its an overreaction…which I love to do…but maybe Wesley Johnson just needs a lot of confidence and encouragement from the coaching staff to excel…won’t be the first time we had a player like this (see Lamar Odom).
    2. Xavier Henry…despite a bad shooting night he was still +5 while on the floor…and I know this stat is flawed overall but I can actually see his contributions while on the floor.
    3. Jordan Hills energy….he isn’t pretty but he gives energy…

    Notes:
    I’ve said it once and I’ve said it again…what is with the Pick and Pop / Pick and Reposition? I saw a play where Gasol basically set a screen, Farmar goes off the screen comes back and uses it again after Gasol turns around again…then Gasol stands there does ANOTHER 180 before Farmar does whatever…if the screener isn’t rolling the defense doesn’t have to collapse or account for what can be an easy bucket…good grief…

    Gasol’s jump shooting is like a gift and a curse…complains about not being in the post…when he gets it he thinks he is Ryan Anderson or something…smh…I hate to be hard on a guy that got 20 and 11 but to me it was very telling that at the end of the game when the game was somewhat over Gasol decides to go …you guessed it…THE POST! Unbelievable…what about the post before. Gasol is very versatile but he HAS to be inside for spacing and because this team needs as many easy buckets as possible. Personally, I think he should use his jumpshooting more when he has someone like a Kendrick Perkins on him who will give him problems in the post or maybe even to draw a shot blocker like Dwight out of the lane…but this ehh…like I said 20 and 11 is a good stat line and only one miss from 50% but when you are the primary scorer you have to do more with your opportunities..

  64. So, the best defense of D’Antoni is simply this: through 3 games, the Lakers have beaten the Clippers and played the Spurs tough. Given what he is working with, that’s about as much as you could expect, and of course, 3 games is just 3 games.

    At the same time, though, while they will have better games than they did last night, Young, Williams, and Blake are 28, 27, and 33, respectively, and have clearly established that they are not NBA starters. Experimentation, adjustments etc. don’t really have much to do with that problem. Farmar, Henry, and Hill probably aren’t NBA starters, either, at least not good ones, but they might do better than the first three.

  65. Going to be a long season. Going to take nap, wake me up when Kobe comes back.

  66. I think this was a game of missed opportunities (not to mention missed shots).

    1. Shawne Williams should never have started and should probably be benched at this point. With Duncan out, I would have started Kaman and Pau and simply have overpowered Diaw. S. Williams played 20 minutes tonight. That’s entirely too many. He scored 3 points. If you don’t hit your shots, you don’t stretch the offense. He’s had his chance. Williams should sit.

    2. MDA sat Farmar too soon. Furthermore, he only played Farmar 16 minutes. But Farmar, though certainly not playing a perfect game, shot 3-6. Blake was 2-12. Nash 1-8. The radio announcers were very vocal when Farmar sat. They didn’t agree with that decision. I agree with them. In a close game, every decision is magnified.

    3. As has been noted, the fact that Jordan Hill didn’t play until the 4th Q was criminal…and a little strange. As we all know, he was desperately needed long before then. But with Shawne Williams being allowed to play 20 minutes 37 seconds, the minutes to Hill (11:37) and Kaman (12:40) suffered. MDA’s man crush on Shawne Williams has got to come to an end. Hill must play more. So must Kaman. When Mychal Thompson was asked by John Ireland (they’re the 2 radio announcers) if he thought that someone should replace S. Williams in the starting line-up, he replied, “I hope so.” It’s time to make a change.

    The bottom line–and the pity of it–is: this was a winnable game. Next up: Atlanta.

  67. Shhhhh, it super awesome tank mode time

    Pau, 29 minutes in a close game

    Shhhhhhhhh

  68. Mid

    As I pointed out above when you play guys that were or should be out of the league like Williams almost as many minutes as your 2 bigs Kamen and Hill combined there is a problem . Especially wen your are getting out rebounded.

    When you play 2 guards who shoot 3 for 20 three times the minutes as the one who is 3 for. 6 you have a problem.

    If I didn’t know better I would think the plan is to pretend to try by keeping Mike as the coach thereby tanking by incompetence.

    Very clever.

  69. Point Guard play was non existent last night.
    1. Nash looks as if he’s cleaned, fresh laundry. AkA – Washed Up.
    2. Blake’s jumper was off the majority of the night.
    3. Farmar continues to over-dribble; with no sense of direction.

    I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll state this again, Jordan Hill, as limited as he is offensively, needs to see significant floor time in order for this team to have any chance at success. He should be starting along side Pau.

    Much respect to Kahwi Leonard. Love his game, and demeanor.

  70. Regarding Nash, of note is the fact that if a young, vibrant, athletic, healthy, guard misses just one single game, it takes them 3-4 games to get their timing back. So how many games does it take an old, slow, injured Nash to return to form, 6-8 for every one game missed? This is why it does not make sense to play Nash in the starting unit. He is a major cog in the fragility of the disjointed starters.

    Steve Blake and Gasol are the only two starters that have been with the team before this year, and they were inconsistent and injured last year. The remaining two players Young and Williams have never been permanent starters in this league. It maybe too much pressure for them as players on option and one year contracts. Both are losing their confidence right before our eyes.

    Mid-Wilshire-I echo your opinion that this was the perfect game for MDA to use Gasol and K-man together against Splitter/Diaw and the rookie Baynes. A coach is supposed to put his personnel in a position to succeed; if not to win a game then to let the personnel gain confidence for the next go round.

    Keno-That is an interesting perspective, that the Lakers are using incompetence as a strategic tactic; if so, then management is far more cunning than any of us know or could conceive.

  71. there is a lot of complaining, but realistically, i can’t be part of that.

    in the Warriors game the Lakers just stunk. they didn’t compete. if that continued, i’d do nothing but complain. the Lakers were quite competitive with the Spurs. at this point, that’s the main thing that i am asking for as a fan. don’t give up, compete hard and let the wins and losses take care of themselves.

    the Lakers are obviously going to lose a lot of games without Kobe. even with him, it won’t be easy. if the team can catch fire however, they could become quite dangerous for their opponents. that all starts with a unrelenting aggressiveness. i saw quite a bit more of that this game, so eh…it’s all ok right now.

  72. Mud agree I just hope Mike rewards the effort be playing the right people at the right time. I can except losing but not mismanagement.

  73. I think we need to try to trade Nash now before he gets injured again…

  74. Keno you might be on to something there; “tanking by incompetence.’ LOL

  75. Davis for who? Smush is no longer playing.