Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Pistons

Darius Soriano —  November 17, 2013

The Lakers coming in: After losing to the Grizzlies on Friday, the Lakers fell to 4-7 on the year. The loss also marked the 4th loss in the team’s last 5 games with three of those losses coming by double digits (though, to be fair, the loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans was much closer than the final margin suggests).

While losing games at this rate is frustrating, I cannot say that the games themselves are truly discouraging. Maybe it is because the team is playing hard. Maybe it is because on almost every night another Laker steps up to have a good game or that we see continued growth from one (or more) rotation player. Or maybe it is because the expectations for this team weren’t that high to begin with and as Kobe continues to miss games, the idea of this team even being in games is enough to sustain me. Probably all of the above, I guess.

In any event, this team continues to inch forward, showing progress in some areas (the starters are pretty good on offense) while moving sideways or regressing in other areas (Jordan Farmar’s recent games have not been pretty). Maybe things will get better when Kobe returns (with him returning to practice, we are getting closer to that date) or maybe they won’t. That’s the riddle to this year where there are so many unknowns combined with a definite feel of transitioning to a time ahead rather than the full focus being on the now.

The Pistons coming in: There may not be a more remade team this season than the Pistons. Armed with cap space and a desire to get back into the playoffs, Joe Dumars chased name brand players to improve his roster. The result was signing former Hawk Josh Smith to a big money deal and then trading for Brandon Jennings who had worn out his welcome in Milwaukee. Combined with those “big” splashes, Detroit also brought back Chauncey Billups and nabbed Luigi Datome from overseas.

All of this tinkering, however, hasn’t brought much better tangible results. Jennings and Smith combine with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond to form an athletic and skilled starting lineup, but that’s also a group that doesn’t provide a lot of offensive spacing and indulges some of Jennings’ and Smith’s worst habits by putting them in position to launch long jumpers. Those two combine to take 11 three pointers a game, yet connect on only 3. That’s, uh, awful. Meanwhile, Monroe and Drummond are still making plays and their efficiency allows the team to still boast a quality offense (the Pistons are 11th in offensive efficiency).

Where the Pistons are struggling, though, is defensively. With Smith and Drummond anchoring their D and Jennings, who is consistently one of the better steals guy in the league, lurking on the wing, you’d think they’d be better than they are. Instead they rank last in the league in defensive efficiency (as a comparison, the Lakers rank 16th) and cannot seem to get stops.

All in all, this team has some talent and may find their stride at some point this year. However, they may need to make a trade to better balance their roster and to put some of their front court players (mainly Josh Smith) into a more natural position to get better results.

Keys to the game: If you look at this game on paper, you’d probably give the edge to the Pistons on talent. Detroit has youth and athleticism on their side as well as brining players with 1st round pedigrees who should still be on the ascent in their respective careers.

They have an especially strong front court with the Smith, Monroe, Drummond trio and offer depth beyond that with players like Jonas Jerebko and Kyle Singler who offer above average skill and good versatility. Add to those guys some explosive back court players — Jennings, Will Bynum, rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and mainstay Rodney Stuckey — and there’s an opportunity for Detroit to find their stride offensively and not look back tonight.

That said, the games aren’t played on paper and if the Lakers come into this game with discipline and attention to detail on both sides of the ball, they have a good opportunity to win this game with potential to run away with it.

This starts with the right plan defensively. As mentioned above, the Pistons are a very good offense and, when at their best, attack the paint through their bigs while also having guards who can break their man down off the dribble. What the Pistons don’t do well is shoot the outside shot, however. So the Lakers must find the right balance between pressuring the ball while also sagging off just enough to invite their man to shoot long jumpers. This is especially true for Wes Johnson and Steve Blake who will be guarding Smith and Jennings. Those guys are capable of getting hot, so they can’t be ignored outright, but they must prove they can hit the shots before they be pressured fully on the wing.

Sagging off those two should allow the Lakers to cut off penetration lanes and sag down towards the paint to help on Monroe and Drummond. Monroe is especially skilled from the elbows and the shallow baseline area where he’s able to use the threat of his jumper to create off the dribble to get to the rim or to get a step on his man to create a post up chance off the bounce. Drummond, meanwhile, is an athletic monster who can use his combination of quickness and power to get shots near the basket and finish above the rim via lobs and put-backs. These two must be crowded and showed extra defenders when they’re in threat positions to either make them passers or to force them to score in a crowd.

Offensively, the Lakers need to find a way to counter the size the Pistons have inside. Drummond has the ability to alter shots inside, not only when he’s guarding his own man but when helping on penetration. The Lakers must be smart in how they deal with him, with the best strategy likely coming through involving him in P&R’s and then either diving behind him or popping away from him for jumpers. Based off who he’s guarding (I imagine he guards Hill), I hope to see a lot of that action with the Lakers forcing the rest of the Pistons’ D to go through their rotations. If Monroe is left on Gasol, it would also be good for Pau to go inside a bit more than he has this season. Monroe offers good size, but he’s not a particularly strong defensive player and can be taken advantage of on the block by skilled players.

The other key to this game will be the battle of the backboards. The Pistons aren’t a good defensive rebounding team, likely because their bigs love to try and block shots from the weak side and no one covers for them when they do. The Lakers must look to get on the offensive glass frequently and get the second chance points that come with them. If Jordan Hill can grab his usual number of rebounds on that end, he can either set up his own easy shots or kick the ball back out to shooters who can get open looks against a scrambling defense.

Where you can watch: 6:30pm start on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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50 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Pistons

  1. Interesting that I make the 1st post. Interesting. Go Lakers!

  2. I’ve been hearing and reading a lot from Laker fans (some within our very own FB&G Community) about the possibility of offering a contract in the summer of 2014 to restricted free agent Greg Monroe. Truth be told, he’s an individual who I haven’t paid much attention to. So tonight, besides hoping for a victory, I’ll take the time to familiarize myself with him. Just in case, you know, the rumors come into fruition.

  3. Monroe is limited defensively but very polished offensively, and has exceptional foot work for a young big. Given that Detroit already has Smith and Drummond, it is conceivable that Monroe will reach the market and that the Pistons might not match a max or near-max offer.

  4. Monroe is limited defensively but very polished offensively, and has exceptional foot work for a young big.

    Thanks for the scouting report Double R.

  5. Pistons will not let Monroe walk away without compensation. Pistons view Monroe as an asset to resign or trade. Over paying has proven the only way to get a desirable restricted FA.

    Joe Dumars has done a good job rebuilding Pistons roster giving them a good chance to reach playoffs this season.

  6. Zero defense by Pau. Cement shoes.

  7. What an embarrassing bad defense they have. Detroit scoring at will.

  8. Pistons will not let Monroe walk away without compensation.

    ___

    Probably not. But there is a better chance with him than there is with Bledsoe or Hayward, which was the point of the post.

    And yes, obviously, any team would have to overpay him or any other high-quality restricted FA.

  9. Detroit is shooting 61% from the floor wow. And Joey Crawford is on the floor today, i winder when he will try to bring the attention to himself, i hope our mop guys are safe from his wrath tonight

  10. Worthy dropping knowledge tonight. He says Pau should get his butt in the post and stop shooting so many jumpers.

  11. @rr we have Pau for that, i think we need someone who can guard.

  12. @ KenOak that drives me crazy after all the criying about wanting to play down low.

  13. Sweet Brandon Jennings .. Real Sweet

  14. @rr we have Pau for that,

    Sure, if Pau were 23, I would agree with you.

  15. Pau needs to shoot the ball more and stop passing the ball.

    Also, Rodney Stuckey is destroying meeks. MDA might have to adjust but he probably won’t.

  16. All I really want from Pau is for him to be a little more selfish. That last turnover was just him being too unselfish. Just back your guy down and take a good shot…If it’s not there, then make the pass.

  17. @rr i mean in the sense of someone that cant guard anyone, i prefer the D down low over any polished footwork on offense.Thats not what this team needs going fwd.

  18. Lakers would be better not playing Pau. He has become a negative on the court.

  19. Good thing Detroit had 10 to’s on this half or we be losing by 20. Field day on the post.

  20. Thats not what this team needs going fwd.

    Well, IMO, the team needs high-quality young players going forward.

  21. Gasol at this point in his career is nothing more than a bench player. The Lakers won’t even sniff the playoffs if their starting center, and supposedly best player, can’t even shoot 40%

  22. @RR correction we need high quality young players that can defend, and if Hill keep this up we might have solved some of that in house.

  23. Gasol should retire

  24. Joey Crawford up to his old tricks.

  25. That’s why Wesley Johnson is in the starting lineup!!!! He needs playing time to get consistent on both ends of the floor.

    Jodie gets a back door baseline dunk every game.

    Wesley Johnson and Xavier are the only other Lakers that get that dunk or score baseline.

  26. Blake is doing his own impression of lob city tonight! Wow that dunk by Wesley!

    ps..Joey has had some awful calls.

  27. Wesley Jonhson = Quality young player still room to improve but he can play D.

  28. Nash shouldn’t start another game this year. Blake has out-played him severely.

  29. Sweet SB .. Real Sweet Crossover and Finger Roll

  30. Keep your eyes on Pau. On defense he can ‘y move his feet and 6 foot guys are grabbing rebounds while Pau plays a statue.

    Tough to play 4 on 5.

  31. I think Pau is just limited athletically. All the injuries and age has just sapped him of any quickness or speed he had left. Hes playing like he’s 40 years old.

  32. That last move by Pau is what we all want from him, I think. He was quick, decisive, and aggressive and it paid off for him. Nice 3rd quarter there for the blue and gold!

  33. I love Nick Young! He is so much fun to watch. This is the most under control I’ve seen him play. I do hope that he continues to curtail bad shots and plays in control, as I’d like to see him stay with the Lakers next year. He’s not a defense stalwart by any means, but I’ve seen improvement since the preseason games up til now.

    Farmar just needs to stop trying to be a prototypical point guard and score, that’s what he does best.

  34. Outstanding by Farmar. He can make a big difference out there.

  35. Wow excellent play at both ends of the floor best execution on offense all year.

  36. Come on clock management!!!!!! You get an extra possession, take it out and set up a play. That’s why they lose in the 4th quarter. They are all too score happy. You have the lead now manage the clock.

    Good time out.

    Now get the starters back in there, and manage the game and clock for the win.

  37. If Jordan Hill keeps this up he’s going to earn himself some nice coin. A lot of elder bigs who hold titles are in serious decline Pau, Kg, and Duncan. It’s a young man’s game.

  38. Farmar plays good and gets pulled. Throws towel in anger!

  39. My gosh get Hill back in. Pau just watching.

  40. @Ken
    Was Farmar discontent with being taken out of the game or is he angry at himself?

  41. Gasol, best +/- on the night! He’s doing something right!

  42. Jordan Hill. Steve Blake. Jodie Meeks. With a splash of Farmar, Johnson, and Swaggy P. This team has been fun to watch this year and especially this game!

  43. Gary, it looked as though Farmar was watching a replay on the jumbo tron, the lineup was already on the floor by the time he threw the towel.

    That’s the most excitement I’ve ever seen out of Jodie Meeks…I like it.

    Please, please manage the clock, to win the game! Use more of that 24 second clock, that reduces Detroit’s possessions, they can’t get hot and score if they don’t have the ball.

    Another good time out.

    They have to get smarter and break some of these bad habits. It will cost them in close games.

  44. Farmer stopped Jennings. Moment Blake went in he has scored 10 points.

  45. Great game Hill. Meeks and Young.

    Really needed this one.

  46. Great game! And tacos!

  47. Lakers have a great bunch of role players. When Kobe comes back, I can see this team being 7-8 seed

  48. If Hill keeps this up the Lakers need to lock him up for a while right after this season, we might have filled the PF position in house. Could the team turned the proverbial corner? I dont know but we have some nice pieces in place to speed up the rebuild.

  49. First post? No problem. You’re welcome Laker fans.

  50. I been hard on Pau but 12-9-7 is a nice stat line i be happy if we get this production out of him.