T’Wolves Steamroll Lakers Early, Never Look Back

Darius Soriano —  November 10, 2013

All of this spells some trouble for the Lakers as they face a team with specific match ups that have been problematic this year. If there are two positions the Lakers haven’t been able to handle well this season it’s been skilled power forwards and shooting guards with size who can really score. The Warriors’ game immediately comes to mind, but also the Pelicans’ game where Anthony Davis had his way on both ends. With Love and Martin, the question isn’t necessarily how to slow them down — there are game plans that can be put in place to limit one or both — but whether the Lakers even have the personnel to do so.

Love has evolved into the premier stretch big man in the league. He can not only hit the three ball, but has the ability to put the ball on the floor against a close out against bigger players or post up and dominate the offensive glass against smaller ones. The Lakers don’t have a player with the combination of size, quickness, and rebounding prowess to limit Love and that can lead to Love having his way in this game. As for Martin, his style of running off screens and cutting actively against aggressive defenders is one that Steve Blake is used to defending, but with his size and craftiness off the dribble, Blake will still have his problems containing Martin in all that he does.

What the Lakers need, then, is to be as sharp as they can be in their half court defense and understand where to be in help situations at all times. Love and Martin have the ability to play 25 feet away from the rim and still be effective and it’s in combatting that spacing where the Lakers need to be sharp. Can Gasol, Kaman, Hill, and Wes Johnson rotate from the paint to the perimeter and then back to the paint to contest shots and rebound? Can the wings shade their man and limit penetration while making the correct back side rotation to either contest shots on the wing or body up a big man crashing the offensive glass? And, most importantly, can these groups of players work in unison to accomplish these tasks on any given play and not suffer miscommunications that can lead to wide open shots or easy put-backs? If they can, the Lakers will be in this game throughout. If they can’t, this could get out of hand early.

The above is from the preview for this game. So, while I hate to say I told you so…well, I told you so.

The Lakers lost this game in the 1st quarter when the Wolves used blistering shooting from Kevin Love and Kevin Martin to take a 24 point lead into the 2nd period. I could go on and on about how it happened, but all you really need to know comes from these two tweets:

That’s right, with the 1st period almost over, the Lakers, as a team, had been outscored by Love and were tied with Kevin Martin. By the time the period was over, the team trailed by 24 points and the game was essentially over.

We could get into the details, but the how is really immaterial, right? This may not be who the Lakers are every night, but it’s who they’re possible of being on any given night. And it’s certainly who they likely will be when the match ups line up a certain way and things tilt against them just enough that those match ups get exploited.

So, really, I don’t know if there’s a lesson to be learned here. At least not one we weren’t already at least partially aware of. The Lakers are capable of being bad. The “how” in this equation matters if you really want to dive deep into an analysis, but when it comes to wins and losses the “how” becomes less relevant. Whether it’s bad defense, bad offense, or a little (or even a lot) of both the losses will come when you don’t play every minute hard and when you don’t have the talent other team’s have.

In that respect, this was a loss we could see coming. And if you read the three paragraphs cited at the top of this post, we saw it coming. This team will surprise on some nights, but in this game they didn’t; in this game the things that didn’t favor them in this match up were exploited by their opponent. It really is that simple. Other nights, that won’t be the case. Against different opponents, the Lakers may play above their heads (or their opponents play below theirs) and it will shift the terms the game is played on. Minnesota did the dictating in this game, however. It probably won’t be the last time this happens to the Lakers this season either.

Darius Soriano

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32 responses to T’Wolves Steamroll Lakers Early, Never Look Back

  1. Why was Gasol in at the end of the game…Williams…johnson….Henry are not NBA players…

  2. Gene

    Showing him for potential trade to the Euro Lesgue.

  3. As per the various tweets during the game, Nash hasn’t been the same since that leg break last year. His skill level is still there – his skill set isn’t based on athletic ability and won’t decline merely from age – but the lasting fallout from the nerve damage has to be so frustrating right now. Hopefully the specialist he’s going to tomorrow can start to get him on the road to recovery. As for the rest of the team – I’d say it’s pretty clear it’s a personnel issue vs just coaching etc… Wonder if mitch/buss sat down with MDA and said “we realize your winning percentage is gonna take a hit this season…”

  4. It is after games like this that “basketball reasons” stings. If anyone could have made a man out of Dwight, it would have been CP3.

  5. Yup, Darius, you predicted this could easily happen. However, MidWilshire is also right in the last thread. There are no leaders playing for the Lakers. Pau has always been a #2 guy and doesn’t want to lead and Nash is just trying to get himself into games and is watching his talent degrade by the minute of playing time. Blake is a career backup and Farmar has just returned and is specifically designated for the 2nd unit. Regardless how he returns, Kobe will help this. Kobe can lead the team, plus he will support Farmar’s leadership of the 2nd unit.

    I really don’t know how the FO was supposed to obtain a leader, what with the financial constraints they are operating under. When we are leaderless, we will be especially susceptible to match-up issues (Love and Martin tonight). Ranting about how bad a coach Mike D. is or why we don’t just trade away the Steve’s illustrates fan frustration, but really doesn’t add much to anyone’s GM resume.

  6. Henry and Johnson are NBA players they are just not capable of carrying a team: and, they need to be developed. They are complimentary players to elite players, of which the Lakers have none. I recall two weeks ago when this coach and several fans were proclaiming Xavier Henry as the season savior. That was too much pressure to put on a player that has been in the NBA for 3 years, but has yet to get playing time for 82 straight games. Now, he is reverting to his old habits because he’s pressing. He was developing nicely into a good role player until they coach pointed him out to every NBA scout, all of whom picked out his tendencies and defend him against them.

    This coach just doesn’t get the corporate climate part of managing a team. You see it on his face during games, and in his comments after. These are the players that he chose! Remember, last year he had the players that Mike Brown chose, so this year he went out and got players to his liking (see Shawne Williams). There are plenty veteran players available that would have played for minimum contracts. This team is acting like the team that he last coached.

    What coach allows another team to score 47 points in the first quarter, but refuses to make a change? A coach looking to get fired and still get payed. Either that, or he’s too stubborn and bone headed to realize that a starting lineup of slow players just doesn’t work. I’ll just point out the obvious, as politically correct as I can. This is the NBA not Eurobasketball! When is the last time that an NBA team started four slow, over 30 year old guys with one speedster? This is 2013 not 1962! The Lakers would be better served playing the youngsters plus K-man/Sacre and get ran out the gym, at least they would know which players to retain going forward.

    Pau needs to shut it down. One thing about players from other countries, their skills fall off precipitously (all except Parker and Ginobli). Divac had a pretty decent run, also. My complaint about Pau ever since he’s been with the Lakers is that his summer time basketball always hurt his NBA basketball.

    Now is not the time for these shenanigans, not with a hot, young, dunking, running, shooting team down the hall trying to take over this town.

    Pure rant!

    Ring, ring…don’t answer that! That’s Lakers season ticket holders calling for a refund.

  7. I think this just shows how big of a gamble to the whole Nash & Dwight thing was…

    When they went away from the Triangle… ahem, hired Brown as H.C. There was always something that told me this might not end well… Obviously, Stern nixing the CP3 trade put this franchise back as well.

    I am of the opinion to develop the young guys and see who is worth keeping at this point. Farmar and Hill are obvious… But who knows.

    No one wants to tank with Kobe and Pau around… But i think Kobe really should take his time coming back…

    This team will get a top 5 pick if Pau is traded… because what consistent offense is left outside of Kobe?

    Or maybe the front office won’t even have to worry about it with supposed lower teams actually performing better than the Lakers as well.

  8. Gene,

    Gotta see what Henry does the rest of the year… there is a larger sample size of games regarding Johnson… Yes, Williams might be done at this point.

    These are hussle guys that should be coming off the bench (Young included). They will win only because of hussle and hitting 3′s.

  9. The problem we’ve been fearing for at least two years is at hand: the Lakers are in deep trouble–and Kobe can’t fix it: he’s got problems of his own. No matter how he comes back, when he comes back, he’s facing a lose–lose scenario. Should he defy all odds, and come back in a week, better than 5 years ago, IMO this team will still continue to lose. Frustration will set in. Team chemistry will suffer. The Lakers will have no transition strategy for the post Kobe era and recruitment efforts will have limited success..

    More likely, Kobe will return late December/early January a much more limited player. Kobe will have difficulty finding his role. The team will continue to lose. Frustration will set in. . . .

    Most likely, Kobe is a year away from making a significant contribution, and will need training camp to find his role. He will not be the Kobe that we knew.
    Frustration will set in . . .

    No matter what Kobe’s status, the Lakers need to transition to a post Kobe era, new attitude, new team, new everything–and I’m not convinced that such a post Kobe vision exists. It may be that a complete change of leadership, management and coach, will be necessary to have this new vision. And then the rebuilding (or should I say “reloading”).

    To me, it looks like a long, painful process that has yet to begin..

  10. Someone mentioned that Xavier Henry and Wes Johnson are not Kevin Love … hmmm, interesting.

  11. Why doesn’t D’A start Lakers most effective lineup:

    Farmar, Meeks, Henry, Hill, Kaman?

    This line-up give Lakers a chance to win games potentially
    even 7 or 8 seed.

    Rotate Nash(when avail), Gasol, Blake, Johnson, Young

    Blake, Gasol, Nash, Young, Kaman is a guaranteed loser against most teams as demonstrated last nite.

    Is this a salary thing?

    Gasol, Nash, Blake $30+ million

    Farmar, Hill, Meeks $8 million

  12. No surprises here. Nothing realistic Laker fans didn’t expect. This game is a perfect example of why they were chosen to finish in 12th place in the preseason. Yes, Love & Martin had great games. Even Ricky Rubio looked like an All-Star last night.

    This team will occasionally have a quality win against a team like Houston or the Clips. But I don’t see the Lakers getting the quantity of wins necessary to be considered relevant this season.

  13. I see the fan-base blowing up all over the place. I don’t see a hang-dog look on the players. Perhaps that is to come, but it is not the team that has fallen apart – much of this was predicted – but the fan-base. This is what a tough year looks like people.

    Changes will be made to the lineups and players will play themselves out of a job, but this will not happen over 8 games – and certainly won’t change after each and every loss. The ‘enjoy the process’ part of fandom is celebrating good things, not getting hysterical over bad things. For this team, getting hysterical is likely to leave us all with ulcers by the end of the year.

  14. Elephant in the room is Pau Gasol. He’s our last best hope of improving and also transitioning to next year’s team. It won’t be easy but its possible and its coming.

    Farmar cannot take the reins of this team if the Steves continue to play heavy minutes. The more they are ‘showcased’ it seems to me the more they are shooting their trade values.

    I don’t know I’ll comment more once it dawns on me.

  15. Fan Base: Some of the fan base came into the year with very modest if not in some cases – dire expectations. Others came in with predictions of large win totals and playoff predictions. All pre-season predictions should have been tempered with the Kobe variable, but many were not. At this point there are adjustments to the expectations being made.

  16. drrayeye – The transition plan was built around acquiring Paul and DHoward. Unfortunately, that did not play out in the Lakers favor.

    With the new CBA/salary cap it is virtually impossible to have viable back-up plans. For most teams the only way out is to blow it up and start over. The Lakers have been blessed to never really face that alternative. They may have no choice this time around – ther is no young superstar to build around.

    That is why so many Laker fans are OK accepting the record our current talent will produce. The team should get a very high draft pick. Combine that pick with some rational FA spending and the team should be on the road to recovery.

    My only hope is that the team doesn’t over spend this summer as there are some very nice FAs available in the summer of 2015.

  17. I agree Robert. Watching this team the last 2 games and realizing they are last in the NBA in points allowed, I am tempering my view.

    Any team coached by MD will under perform. Nash is done. Pau is close to done. The rest are hand me down and bench players. Kobe will get his points to pass Jordan but this team will set a Laker record for giving up thei points in Laker history.

    And sadly my 47 wins is wrong and friend Keith Erikson was right. This is a 35 win 12 place team. Only good thing is MD will be blamed and maybe Jimmy will realize he needs help as the Lakers fans boo and the Clippers out draw and end up in the finals.

    Basketball is a business. Just like Time Warner lost 300,000 viewers with their handling of the
    CBS fight, the Laker fans may leave this franchise and not return for other entertainment .

    Perhaps then a change in management or ownership will save us long time fans from false hope, hype and losing. Sadly the Lakers are a now a badly run business ( Sterling has become smarter?) on the decline due to the old saying of ” it rots from the head down”.

    Exceptence for things we can’t change is the first step in inner peace. Today I except that my Laker team is longer good. Ahhh I feel better now.

  18. note to kobe: we’re tanking without really tanking. when you decide to come back, you’ll have to ask yourself these questions first:

    1. where do i put my big toe to stop the leaking?
    2. where do i apply the tourniquet to stop the bleeding?
    3. where in the heck will i need to fit in with this team?
    4. can and will my body hold up?
    5. when exactly do i come back?
    6. why do i come back this season?

    if you answer everywhere to questions numbered 1 thru 3, then you are the kobe bryant we’ve all come to know and admire.

    if you answer yes to question number 4, then you are the kobe bryant we’ve all come to know and admire.

    if you answer as soon as possible to question number 5, then you are the kobe bryant we’ve all come to know and admire.

    if you answer because laker nation needs me, to question number 6; then you are the kobe bryant we’ve all come to know and admire.

    we’re waiting.

    Go Lakers

  19. Exactly Ed. The only player i saw in next years free agency is Gordan Hayward and he is restricted. I dont know what is going on with Pau but i can tell you that its not just Pau. Its the style of D’antoni. If we were playing inside out and Pau actually had Jordan hill next to him. I just dont understand why we wont play a traditional lineup of Farmar, Nick Young, Wes Johnson, Hill and Pau to start the game.

  20. but it is not the team that has fallen apart – much of this was predicted – but the fan-base.

    What exactly do you mean be this? Who is the fan-base and how is it falling apart?

  21. C.Hearn: Just saw your post. Very nice rant.
    “This team is acting like the team that he last coached. ” There it is. Similar results as well.
    “One thing about players from other countries, their skills fall off precipitously (all except Parker and Ginobli).” Well – some of them do – but guys like Dirk and as you mention Parker and Ginobili have not. Another guy like Tony Kukoc comes to mind. He played 8 years in Euro before his successful stint on the Bulls. The key is know how to use these guys. I will not defend Pau too much, but I think it is safe to say that the system has not helped him the past 1-2 years.

    The next game is a “must” win. No caveats that it is early. No excuses. It is a must win or this will get very ugly.

  22. The glaring issue is of 2 Steves, Young, and Johnson. Either Young or Johnson should be starting at SG but neither has been playing well enough to justify starting them. Which has lead to MDA playing the 2 steves who are guys he trusts. But really neither is big enough to guard otehr SG’s nor put up enough offense to make up for it. Meeks has been playing well but he too is a short SG.

    At PF the Lakers have been playing a lot of twin towers spelled by minutes of Williams and Hill. I don’t think any of these players have been playing all that worse then could be expected of them with exception to Pau recent shooting but I think he is overall been playing as well as could be expected. The Lakers did not look to address one of their weakest positions early into the offseason. One of the reasons I said early on Kelly and then Williams had a good shot of cracking into the starting line up. There is not a whole lot of depth in front of them.

    I’m still more concerned with the loss to the Pelicans. The Lakers can survive losing a lot of games to other teams chasing a play off spot while winning some times. They can’t afford to lose to teams contending for the lottery sweep stakes.

  23. Gosh Robert you will love my rant then. If it makes it out of thought prison.

    Darius please “release me” Harsh but all reasonable.

  24. C.Hearn,

    You should see more international basketball before making such statements about foreign players. Regarding the decline of their skill, I would say that on a % basis the decline happens the same way as it does to americans. More stats are needed, but you have examples of players who are still contributing at a high level (Nowitzki, anyone?). If you want to complain about Pau’s game, then by all means go ahead and complain. He’s not playing as we all hoped for but that’s no reason to make such assumptions about foreign players.

    Also, several teams in Euroleague play with speed and athleticism. Are they NBA-level teams? No, but some of their guys have enough skill and athleticism to be in the NBA. They just prefer to start in Europe and make more money here than being the 9th man on the Bucks rotation, for example.

    Regarding our current record, I truly believe that we can get back to .500 soon enough and stay there until Kobe returns. Pau needs to improve a lot and Nash is probably going to retire if he keeps up like this (or at least I hope he does). Maybe these bad losses will help us solidify a rotation (hopefully with more Hill and Farmar) to pick up the pace upon Kobe’s return. Plenty of time left…

  25. Once Kobe is done with the Lakers, the Lakers will be able to move forward.

    Not before.

    For now, they are dangling, rearranging deck chiars on the Titanic, pick a metaphor of your choice.

    drrayeye – you are on to something, although I would go a step further. Kobe must leave the scene before the Lakers can find that new identity. Kobe must leave before the post Kobe era can begin.

  26. The play of the scrap heap roster from pre-season to the present has exceeded expectations. Give D’Antoni credit for it. But last night was a painful reminded of why D’Antoni has always been a second tier coach. For him to sit and watch the wolves torch the lakers without so much as calling a timeout and making whatever defensive adjustments he could, was grossly negligent or incompetent–take your pick. I can deal with losing this season, but they have to show heart. A team coming off a road trip will often look flat-footed first game back, but again, as a coach you to have your players ready. Right now I’m having a hard time seeing D’Antoni lasting beyond the New Year.

    I’ve been studying the draft, upcoming FAs, possible trades for expiring contracts etc., anything and everything to divert my attention from the present to a more hopeful future . . . .

  27. We can talk about the inconsistency of young, johnson, kaman, and henry all we want but thats expected. Those guys are bench players and and bench players are inconsistent. But what’s inexcusable is the play for our starting unit. Blake has picked it up recently. Nash has been more aggressive when he been on the floor but ummmm, he hasn’t been the floor much. That leaves us with Pau. The lakers role players are clamoring for Pau to pick it up. They want to play off of him, but Pau looks like he doesn’t have a desire to lead and step up. At this point he is what he is, which is the 4th or 5th best player on a decent team. Mark willard and ben lyons on were able to name 25+ big men better than Pau. That’s a far cry from the “most skilled big man in the league”.

    He’s completely awful on the both ends of the court. Absolutely no rim protection, he cant defend the pick and roll, and he can’t defend his man one on one. Then on the offensive end where he’s supposed to shine, he won’t go into the post, the few times he has this season he’s thrown up bricks. Pau is spending most of his time at the top of the key setting weak screens that don’t free up the guards. He hasn’t been aggressive, so he’s not getting to the line. All he’s done is settle for the most inefficient shot in basketball, the long 2.

    So pretty much we have to reserve judgment on the role players until Pau starts playing well and they play off of him, or until kobe comes back and they play off of Kobe.

  28. Robert-Thanks…sorry, it was late. You’re right Dirk and Kukoc should be on my list. Also, I can’t wait to see the “Kobe Alerts” no matter what they may look like. If Kobe can’t do the things that he wants to on the court, he will surely find a way to do so. He said so much in an interview.

    All I want from this group of Lakers is for them to play like there is no tomorrow. Play hard! Even if they lose by 20 points, play with maximum effort–if you don’t know what that looks like, see Hill!

    The lineups have to become stable, that way a player will know his role on the team. This constant change in the starting lineup is a death knell to the team as a whole, and to opposing teams a sign that the Lakers don’t have an identity.

    Why shouldn’t the fans react after every game, the coach changes the lineup based upon what a player did in the last game. If they scored more than 10 points they make into the starting lineup, if they don’t they get benched. He talks about defense, yet he won’t play the players that actually try to play defense. He’s talking out of both sides of his face, but everyone in the league knows that he is only concerned about the offensive end. Until this coach rewards players for what they do on the defensive side of the floor, then the Lakers will continue to exhibit dissociative identity disorder.

    Steve Nash needs to come in off the bench when he’s available…period. Had he not broken his leg last year, we’d be having a different conversation, but he did so we’re having this conversation. Nash should probably become a coach-player, and tutor Farmar.

    I’m not overly concerned that Kobe will come back and disrupt the team, because it may be far more important for Kobe to retire with the Lakers. He may want to preserve his legacy with the franchise more than the need to win a scoring title. If any player bleeds purple and gold, it’s Kobe Bean Bryant! That might be the one thing that he can impart upon the players on this team, and that is what it means to wear the uniform. I trust the Mamba, and he’ll do what ever it takes to make the team competitive.

  29. This is really very simple: last year’s starting 5 is gone. Metta, Howard, and Kobe (for now) are literally gone, and Nash I expect will be placed on the injured list and will be gone for awhile as well. That leaves Pau, who seems to have hit the wall. Leadership, fit, chemistry, cohesion, redemption, etc.–not all that relevant.

    In response, Kupchak/Buss have put together a decent group of role players, adding Kaman, Farmar, Johnson, Henry, and Young to Meeks, Hill, and Blake. But there is no roster anchor–no Love or Davis, nor are there wingmen (Rubio/Martin/Holiday). Like I said in preseason, the bottom end of the roster is better, but unless Kobe, Pau and Nash had some gas in the tank, the roster would have no top end. But betting on Pau/Nash/Kobe was and is very shaky. So far, Pau has looked bad and Nash has been one of the worst players in the league.

    D’Antoni IMO is not really helping. I think the team’s best shot to compete as well as it can is as many have suggested and as I said in preseason, is to run a more conventional, younger, lineup out there, to try to compete better on D. More Hill, more Johnson, more Farmar. If MDA does that and Kobe comes back and can play well enough to anchor the offense, the team might–might- look somewhat better than it does now. But between the West’s Top 6, and then Minnesota, Portland, Dallas and maybe New Orleans and Denver (plus Phoenix is 5-2) the playoffs are highly, highly unlikely and 12th/13th does in fact look about right.

  30. Thinking Kobe is the ‘boat anchor’ for the Laker franchise would seem to be buying into the ‘talking head’ version of him being a selfish player and nothing else. I thought we had long since dispensed with that type of logic.

    Kobe has been a very intelligent player for many years now and it is foolish to think he would be anything else when he returns. He has dealt with declining athleticism by becoming even more fundamentally sound. He has proved he can distribute. Even if he is not the 1-on-1 defender he once was, he can still work within a team defensive concept.

    The problem going forward isn’t Kobe. It is bringing other talent to the Lakers under a CBA specifically designed to restrict teams like the Lakers. No matter how many times it is repeated, I still reject the notion that other players won’t come here solely because Kobe plays here. Dwight Howard is the exception, not the rule in the NBA.

    I too, believe we should not put all of our eggs into the Summer 2014 basket. Our strategy should be to pick off what we can and be willing to wait for 2015 if we don’t get all of what we want next summer.

  31. “One thing about players from other countries, their skills fall off precipitously”

    I’ll give you a pass only because I feel that you did not mean to sound xenophobic, but c’mon…

  32. Ed – Your comments are spot on and a number of folks agree.

    The Lakers have been beyond blessed in that they have avoided sustained valleys During the last dark period – 2004/05 we could fall back on the fact that Kobe was entering his prime. We don’t have that luxury this time around. We are as close to starting from scratch as we’ve been since the end of the Magic era.

    The good news is that we should net a good pick this year and we have virtually no contracts on the books beyond this year. If Jim and Mitch can put together a solid 2 year plan on how spend their cap room we should be fine.

    I know a lot of folks are pissed when the word ‘rebuilding’ is mentioned. Finishing 7th or 8th will not help us get back to the top. all that does is guarantee that well will get stuck in the no man’s land: not good enough to win and not bad enough to get the help we need in the draft.