Lakers/Pelicans: Trouble At The Finish

Rey Moralde —  November 8, 2013

The final score didn’t indicate how close the game was throughout. The Pelicans beat the Lakers, 96-85.

The overall game was pretty tough to watch; both teams weren’t shooting very well (Lakers shot under 39 percent). But the game never got away from either team until the last few minutes. The Pelicans were only leading by three, 84-81, with 3:30 left in the game. After Anthony Davis made a jumper (more on him in a bit), here’s what the next few possessions looked like for the Lakers.

*Bad pass by Steve Blake. (Eric Gordon makes two foul shots.)
*Pau Gasol gets blocked. (Shot clock violation by the Pelicans.)
*Bad pass by Nick Young. (Tyreke Evans follow basket.)
*Bad pass by Steve Blake. (Davis bucket.)
*Pau Gasol gets blocked again. (Davis bucket and draws the foul for a three-point play.)

Add in the Jrue Holiday free throw and it was a 12-0 run in less than three minutes. That, of course, put away the game.

Davis was dominant the entire game (one of the few aesthetically-pleasing things about this game; I meant his play, of course). He had 32 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks. Pau Gasol (3/12 FG shooting) couldn’t do anything against him.

Chris Kaman did play well and showed an array of spin moves. He led the Lakers in scoring with 16 points. Curiously enough, he didn’t play in the fourth quarter in favor of Jordan Hill. Hill did grab 13 rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Steve Blake played a nice floor game with 13 points and eight assists but those two bad passes he threw loomed large. Nick Young (13 points) and Jodie Meeks (11 points) put in some steady shooting. Pau Gasol’s struggles are starting to concern me but he did go against Anthony Davis in this game. Still, it’s something to think about. Going into this game, Gasol and Meeks led the Lakers in scoring at 12.5 points per contest. I’m sure Gasol can do better than that.

The Lakers couldn’t stop Davis and take care of the basketball at the end of the game. That’s what ultimately cost them. Maybe they were tired after that emotional win over Houston. I don’t know. All I know is that lack of execution will not win you a game.

At least, the Lakers are fighting? I didn’t exactly expect them to win this road game. But they fought and went down swinging and, sometimes, that’s all you can ask for. On the bright side, I’m glad there weren’t many camera shots of the Pelicans’ frightening mascot. That thing does not look like a pelican; that’s a psychotic chicken.

The Lakers are now 3-4; the record is certainly better than what I expected after seven games (I’m sure you guys have a different opinion and that’s fine). The Minnesota Timberwolves are visiting Staples at Sunday. Maybe they can get back on track at home.

Rey Moralde

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29 responses to Lakers/Pelicans: Trouble At The Finish

  1. both teams played hard. i’ve got nothing to complain about. good game.

  2. Bof teams played hard mane….bof teams played hard…I pray when Kobe comes back he comes off screens for easy 12-18 footers…if we start getting 15 dribble isos the fun thus team exudes will be over…pau looks done

  3. Pau was done since last year. The memory of him putting up 20-12-2bpg is quite the fantasy now.

    Atleast we are playing hard.

  4. Also, Anthony Davis is the next Kevin Garnett.

  5. WWL – hopefully without the psychotic side.

    The chicken frightens me. Should be an excellent weapon against other team. Between Davis and the Chicken, I expect the Cans to rise to contention within 2 years.

  6. I think fans will be more passionate this year but this team is .500 at best. Need to trade guys and rebuild sad to say.

  7. Pelicans still lack alot from the defensive end. Look who’s talking we’re just a cakewalk in the middle.

    That is why I’m advocating for our team to rise above the politics of having to start Pau because Jordan Hill is simply the better player right now.

    I respect Pau’s game, his contributions to our team and his career… but the same love I have for him wishes he’d have a fresh start elsewhere.

  8. Pau vs Kevin Love, that’s gonna be painful to watch.

  9. Interesting piece from Marc Stein. He interviewed two NBA HOF players, who experienced the same injury Kobe suffered. One who made a successful comeback, the other who didn’t:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/marc-stein/post/_/id/136/nique-and-zeke-kobe-will-be-back

  10. I don’t put too much stock in the results of this last game. As I mentioned in a prior post–with declining quarters of 27, 21, 18, and 19–I think the team just ran out of gas. But they did fight. And I was pleased to see that.

    My biggest concern (and this is clearly a thread running through the comments) is the play of Pau Gasol. I had hoped, and others had predicted, that he would have a career season.

    Apparently, this will not happen.

    His numbers for the 7 games of this season so far are abysmal for someone who was once an outstanding player: 35% shooting and only 12 pts. per game. To his credit, Pau is rebounding well (10.7 boards per game). But interestingly, he’s only averaging one foul per game which means that he’s just not being physical enough. (He’s never been truly physical but he’s usually been more assertive than this.) As anyone can see with the naked eye, he’s not the same Pau of even 2 years ago.

    This reminds me of the time that Lamar Odom hit 33 yrs. of age. He was traded to Dallas and his performance fell off a table. I fear that we may be seeing the same thing with Pau.

    I hope I’m wrong. Let’s hope for the best. But the signs are not good.

  11. Both teams played hard. Both teams played real hard.
    However in the end
    Ball Don’t Lie

  12. Jerry West used to say trade one year before the decline. Well Jimmy and Mitch you missed on Pau 2 years to late and aquired Nash 2 years too late .

    Right now Pau is the worst starter on the team. Shooting under 30% last 3 games . He was the guy who was going to keep his finger in the dyke until Kobe came back.

    Well Laker fans we are all about to drown!

  13. Hill: I have and will continue to be an advocate for him. However, he can’t go 0-6 from the line. We are 23rd in FT percentage. Also with all of our 3 point gunning and “fun” offense – we are down to 17th in ppg. Which would not be so bad if not for the other side of the court. Throwing Hill more minutes will help the defense and the rebounding, but it will hurt the offensive end. I like to criticize MD, but the chess moves are limited when you start the game out down a couple of pieces.

  14. Pau can never be the worst starter in the league as long as Kendrick Perkins’ name is being announced over loudspeakers in OKC. That said, Pau is no where near the worst starter. He went against two of the most dominant defenders in the league, plus he is being asked to work 18-ft and out a whole lot more than is optimum for him. Still, he is not the player he once was.

    Keno, just remember, Pau was traded a year before the decline and the return would have helped us avoid chasing Nash. CP3 could well have also helped us keep Dwight, or been another indication that Dwight did not belong. Unfortunately, the CP3 trade was reversed by Stern. So, you might argue that Pau should have been traded again, but finding a trade partner is not an automatic. Especially, as a reversed trade undercuts a team’s leverage.

    Personally, I’m happy with this team. They compete. They have some athleticism. They are fitting into roles. The Lakers lack one of those dynamic players who can make something positive happen late. Maybe Kobe comes back as that kind of player. Could be we never see that player until next season, or maybe never again. Maybe we make the playoffs. Maybe we are, once again, given a gift by the basketball gods and get a high pick that nets us a dynamic cornerstone player. What I do know, I like how this team plays. Win or lose, they work hard, show grit, and seem to be growing together. It’s all I really wanted from this season.

  15. This team should count its lucky starts that is 3-4, by all rights it should be 1-6 after the Clipper game the next 2 wins have been lucky wins, blowing leads against Atl and Hou, only a Jordan Hill off rebound and Dwight Howard prevented those defeats.This record is a mirage, now we playing 6 of 7 in Staples this will make or break the season, yes this early. Despite all the scrappiness and all the cliches we can throw at the team, they just not that good. There are some rays of light, like our bench but thats it. Pau have been disastrous, same as Nash, those are the 2 players i counted the most to keep the ship afloat, i know they old and all that jazz but i expected better who in the hell would had thought both would be shooting under 40% combined? I expected Nash to play not an MVP level but as a serviceable pg that could hit the ocassional jumper or three when given the chance, Pau, after last year and his complaining about not being featured on the post get his chance and what he do? Shoot jumpers and 3s and horrible when he decides to post up. I knew the team wasnt that good but i expected better production from Gasol being the main guy on offense but he looks done. When Kobe comes back it will improve the team but not by much, the weaknesses are too many for one man to make a difference, even if is Kobe, i really doubt we made the playoff and when the season really gets ugly like it likely will i expect tankapalooza after the trade deadline, no matter what they do they need to keep the bench intact, thats the foundation for the future. Long season ahead but i will keep watching bc i love this team.We be back to the top sometime in the future.

  16. P.Ani thats a great point, Pau got traded one year before his decline like Jerry West said. That trade was going to be the foundation of our future and was going to relieve our cap situation it was a masterful stroke and all the teams involved were going to benefit. Its unfair to say that our current state of affairs Jimbo and Mitch fault, the move was made. Stern listened to whinning owners that cant atract any FAs like Cuban and Gilbert and dealt a mortal blow to the Lakers for the forseabablel(sic) future, and giftwrapping CP to the Clips was part of an attempt to destroy the Lakers by jelaous owners, this pickle we are in it was created by external forces, if we get CP we would had get and kept Dwight. Im triying to remember howany high prize free agents those 2 owners have landed since them, so it backfired on them too.

  17. Consider it – retroactive history dictates we should have Luis Scola’s expiring contract and have let Kevin Martin go via Free Agency.

    WHo would be, if you can name me one, be Mike D’ Antoni’s choice of center? Chris Bosh?

  18. Fern is spot on about the team. One reason I got so excited about the Clipper and Rocket wins is because they should not have won those games. One thing about the 82 game grind is it levels out all good fortune. For every game a team “steals” there will be another they end up giving away. No team ends up with 50 wins if they are not truly a 50 win team. And we know this isn’t a 50 win team. I’m not even sure its a 40 win team.

    As I have said before I knew this going in. But seeing it unfold is a different thing altogether. But there are some bright spots. Imagine how much damage the bench could do if the team has some bona fide star power in front of them.

  19. we’re only through 7 of 82 games. a lot can change or stay the same in the future.

    the only thing the team owes fans is to work their butts off. two games this year, the team did not work their butts off and they were blown out. for five games they did work hard and found a way to win three. front runners and bandwaggoners will be disappointed, but anyone who paid attention to the events leading up to this season should be pleased. be glad you don’t root for the Cubs.

  20. Imagine how much damage the bench could do if the team has some bona fide star power in front of them.

    This is basically the Aaron/LeBron scenario. He, and I, and others, said before the season started that the Lakers have some nice role players, but as I put it, the roster “May have no top end”, given the issues with Pau, Nash and Kobe, and Pau and Nash certainly appear to be very near the end of the line or at it.

    D’Antoni has done a nice job of getting contributions out of Meeks, Johnson, Henry, and Young, and the team looks a little better than I thought it would. But 2 of the 3 wins are by one point, and 2 of the 4 losses have been blowouts.

    3 of the next 4 are at home. Opponents are:

    MIN
    NO
    AT DEN
    MEM

    Minnesota is doing pretty well (Love is a darkhorse MVP candidate) but is not a juggernaut; they look like a 5-7 seed. NO we saw, and even factoring the b2b in, it was an object lesson in the value of stars. Denver is struggling terribly under Shaw and without Iguodala and Gallinari,and Memphis has not looked good at all early.

    So, if this is a 45-win team, even factoring Kobe in as part of that, all four of these games are winnable.

  21. Rr. I agree that in isolation each of those games is winnable but isn’t @DEN on the second night of a back to back? That might be a schedule loss…

  22. Looking at the replay of the last play from the Houston game, you cannot help but be impressed by the motion offense D’Antoni has installed. Blake is coming off double picks and Pau sealed off Blake’s man. When super?man tried to go for the block, Pau was left alone to role to the basket and was in great position for a pass or possible rebound. This offense is much more enjoyable to watch than the endless isos and players standing around that dominated Lakers play post triangle. If Farmar becomes D’Antoni’s latest reclamation project, the rebuild/reload phase may not take another few years.

  23. Fern,

    I agree with you when you say that this team should count its blessings for being 3-4. You say they could have easily opened 1-6. I predicted 2-5.

    Mychal Thompson and John Ireland (the Lakers’ radio announcers) keep saying that if this team plays close to .500 until Kobe returns, then they will have done their job.

    A lot of people are pointing to the “lack of talent” on this team as the reason for their struggling. I, personally, don’t see this team as lacking talent. (They have SOME talent. Some.) What I see them lacking is leadership. This team is a rudderless ship. Gasol is not a leader. He’s far too passive. And Steve Nash just doesn’t feel as if it’s his team.

    As a result, they need Kobe…not just for his skills (if he still has those) but for his leadership. (It’s a tough-love kind of leadership. But it’s still leadership.) We shouldn’t underestimate leadership. Dissertations have been written on the subject.

    I sure wish that someone would step up and say, “Until Kobe comes back, this is my team.” But I’m not holding my breath. And I can’t imagine who would say that with any credibility.

    Until then, we’ll just hope for the best.

  24. BigCity,
    thanks for the link to the Nique article, good one

  25. I, personally, don’t see this team as lacking talent.

    They now have some very credible role players; if last year’s team had had Johnson/Farmar/Henry instead of Ebanks/Morris/Duhon, it would have helped. Meeks is doing better so far this as well. Kaman is a competent rotation big, as is Hill. But they have no top-end talent unless Nash and Pau suddenly find the Lazarus Pit. No one they are using right now is an All-Star candidate. One way to see this is to realize that is in basically every game they play without Kobe, the best player on the floor will be on the other team. 3 of the next 4 opponents have Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, and Marc Gasol. They beat Atlanta, but Al Horford is better than anyone on the Lakers’ active roster. Houston and the Clippers we know about. Dirk Nowitzki is better than any active Laker, as is Ty Lawson.

    Depth can to some extent compensate for that, and some nights it will. But over time–it’s a talent league, and a stars’ league.

    And, again, we really have no idea how Kobe will do when he comes back.

  26. And yes the Denver game is a b2b in Denver, and Shaw will probably want the game badly. But so far, unfortunately, Shaw seems to be struggling as a head coach almost as much as Rambis did. The off-season moves didn’t help him, but he has already taken some heat for how he is handling the talent remaining on the Denver roster.

  27. Fern made some excellent points in his comments. I saw Pau appearing to be nursing some sort of foot injury last night. I hope its nothing serious. But I don’t think Pau’s struggles are only injury related. He just looks over matched every night. To his credit, he is rebounding well and is playing some semblence of defense. He did well against Dwight, but Anthony Davis is a far more versatile offensive player than Dwight, and AD ate Pau’s lunch. This business about Pau playing Center and being one of the best and most versatile post players is just not true at this point in time. That ship has sailed.

  28. I, for one, would like to see Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman sharing the court more often.Kaman’s ability to shoot from the outside would prevent defenses from clogging the lane completely. Kaman seems to be chomping for more playing time. I’d give him his head.

  29. ” I, personally, don’t see this team as lacking talent. (They have SOME talent. Some.) What I see them lacking is leadership. This team is a rudderless ship.”
    Wow – can we file that away for the year end review?