Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Pistons

Darius Soriano —  November 29, 2013

After landing in the Motor City Wednesday and enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner provided by none other than Kobe Bryant, the Lakers find themselves back on the court tonight facing the somewhat familiar Detroit Pistons. These two teams matched up nearly two weeks ago in a game that the Lakers were able to win going away 114-99. Since that game the Lakers have won 3 of their 4 games while the Pistons have since gone 3-3.

With these two teams playing so recently, there’s really not a lot that has changed in terms of match ups or X’s and O’s.

The Pistons have a young, athletic front line that can make plays in the paint on both sides of the ball. The also have back court players who, on any given night, can explode for points in bunches and a group of role players who can do the little things to help their team win. This translates to an offensive attack that is in the top half of the league and a recipe the Lakers must take seriously when defending.

What the Pistons also have, however, is one of the worst defenses in the league. While their trio of front court players have good athletic ability and can be good defenders in a vacuum, they can also get lost off the ball and don’t always rotate well as a group to cover for each other when one of them does attempt to help. This can lead to easy shots around the paint off the P&R and/or via offensive rebounding chances by big men and wings who crash from the backside. The Lakers would do well to try and exploit this all night by attacking the paint hard off the dribble and through their big men diving in the P&R in order to force help. This will then put the wheels in motion for the Pistons team rotations to be executed properly and, if this season is any indicator, this is when good shots can be had.

This makes four players quite critical for the Lakers offensive attack tonight: Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol, and Jordan Hill. If these four can threaten the paint on a consistent basis, the Lakers’ wings should get the types of shots they can excel at. Said another way, if those four are doing their jobs, Jodie Meeks, Wes Johnson, Shawne Williams, Nick Young, and Xavier Henry should all get the ball in their preferred spots which should give them their best chance at success. (As an aside, Nick Young suffered a sprained finger on his left hand against the Nets, but will play tonight with a splint.)

Defensively, the Lakers’ game plan really is simple. They must crowd the paint, make solid rotations, and force the Pistons into long jumpers with defenders who are within arm’s reach contesting. In the last game Josh Smith did well to exploit this defense in the first half, but overall this tactic worked well as the game progressed and was a key reason — along with the Pistons’ dodgy defense — the Lakers were able to pull away and turn the game into a blowout late. If the team can neutralize Monroe’s post work and ensure that Drummond doesn’t get going off lobs and put backs, Detroit’s half court offense can stagnate and become over-reliant on Brandon Jennings and Smith to hit jumpers (or create off the dribble for themselves). If the Lakers can avoid having those players get all the way to rim when they put the ball on the ground, they’ve accomplished half of their goal.

The other key to this game is who can win the battle of the benches. The Lakers have one of best scoring benches in the league and come in with an advantage against most every team in this area. However, with Will Bynum likely back tonight and Rodney Stuckey having a bounce back year, the Pistons have the potential to put up a lot of points with their starters resting. The Lakers second group mustn’t just bring their typical offensive output, but will also need to protect the rim and get back in transition to avoid the runouts and fast break chances that can bury you on the road.

Where you can watch: 4:30pm start on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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67 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Pistons

  1. Pistons lack of defense is surprising given they may have the most athletic front line besides OKC. If Lakers spread them out and hit 3′s it could be a long nite for the Pistons — especially since Lakers nation will be prominent in the Palace. This Lakers team is exciting, if they get it going Lakers nation will take over.

  2. So if we win this, which we should, this will make 5-2 on this easy set of games. We then have Portland at home and then 3 more easy games before OKC. This could be a mini-roll. At this point in the season, we are clearly better than more teams than I thought we would be. That said – the western ranking range is not really any different than it was at the beginning of the season (in my case I have them 7-8 with a positive KB and 12 or so, with a negative KB scenario. Speaking of that, I am getting concerned again. Last we heard was “weeks away”.

  3. Lakers looking turkey-flat. Pistons scoring at will.

  4. Gonna be a long night. Lakers have Turkey Legs while Pistons have jet packs.

    Too much ping pong?

  5. What a nice move, ambidexterity!

  6. Will wonders never cease? Shawne Williams is actually doing what the Lakers are paying him to do!

  7. Love Johnson’s game.

    What did Kamen do to got on MD bad list .

    Blake having bad night. No points with 4 TO’s and getting beat on D.

  8. Robert stop worrying so much. Weeks away puts him back around…dun dun dun… 12/25. Pretty much what everyone thought. If this team stays around .500 or better without KB, then I’m booking the playoffs right now.

    Team definitely looks a little hung over from turkey.

  9. Ken, Kaman had his back happened. Sacre getting some burn and we aren’t blown out despite 500 to 2 points in the paint difference.

  10. Sources confirmed that Steve Blake had the most turkey yesterday. Get this guy tums.

  11. Thats the reason MDA earns what he does. Amazing backdoor play off the inbounds with 1.3 secs to go for the lead!

  12. Telling you all watching Wes Johnson after watching Metta the other day against iClips that is best trade off in many years. Wes should be a starter for years to come .

  13. Previously, within our FB&G Community, I mentioned that, with Kaman out due to a back injury, I would like to see D’Antoni give spot mins to Sacre. My reasoning is that I felt Hill was being over exerted as the backup Center (due to the aforementioned injury), on top of being the starting PF. While it may or may not be for the same reasoning, it seems as if my vision has come to fruition (at least over the last 2 games).

    Dub Johnson definitely has it going tonight. We still need to cut down on the turnovers and I’d like to thank Josh Smith for dozing off during that last inbounds play that led to the ally-oop conversion.

  14. Tra

    Chris has been cleared to play last 2 games and has been playing in practice.

    Something else up there.

  15. Tra,
    I read & replied to that post. Good foresight on your part it seems!
    ___
    Great to see WesJ playing so efficiently.
    Fewer TOs please!
    Go Defense!!

  16. Blake is just terrible tonight.

  17. He & Pau´ve got 9 TOs combined so far, yikes

  18. Sacre had no idea on defense.

  19. Lakers can’t be bothered to take care of the ball or get rebounds or play interior defense. Ho Hum.

  20. pts on 3s:

    Lakers 36, Detroit 3

    pts in paint:

    Detroit 70, Lakers 22

    MDA ball without Dwight Howard.

  21. Thanks PB .. And hopefully Hill’s injury isn’t too severe (although he’s yet to return to the game).

  22. Lakers are going to say kobe is weeks away until the offseason. I’m not trying to be funny. For all we know, it could be like rose where kobe never plays this season.

  23. Credit to MD by leaving Jordan out there late.

    Team just won’t quit!

  24. Thats whats so infuriating about Farmar for all the good he have done tonight, he commits such a bonehead foul, he is so lucky Jennings bail him out and Farmar miss both ft!!! Jeeeesus this guy kills me.!!

  25. Yea love that Josh!

  26. Lakers could have folded up after third quarter, good push in the fourth to get the win.

  27. Im stunned with Shawne Williams tonight he was on fire, unbeliavable probably scored more points tonight than the entire season combined. If he keep it up there is another weapon coming from the bench, i dont expect 20ppg but a trey here and there every game would be huge. This is all i was hopeful w/o Kobe hover around 500 this team has shut a lot of naysayers up.Four of the last 5 baby!!!! GO LAKERS!!!!

  28. Mini-roll officially in progress. Portland – then 3 easy games.

  29. Lakers are a competitive team. Good win for sure.

  30. This is all i was hopeful w/o Kobe hover around 500 this team has shut a lot of naysayers up

    It’s early.

    Basically, if the Lakers can sustain this kind of 3p shooting all year, they will be better than most people, including me, thought. They came into tonight shooting 41% on 3s, 4th in the NBA, and raised that figure by going 14/31 in tonight’s game. This enabled them to overcome getting outscored 76-28 in the paint. They outscored Detroit 42-3 from the arc.

    They have a group of veterans and reclamation projects who are playing MDA ball well, and who are highly motivated, and they have something they desperately needed last year–legs under 30. And Nash was just killing them, so getting him off the floor has been a huge plus.

  31. I think that puts Lakers 9th in West and would be 4 th in East !

    Gotta Love this team.

  32. What is Blake’s cumulative +/- this season? What is Farmar’s cumulative +/-?

    So far this season it seems like Blake is minus while Farmar is positive.
    Like tonite Blake was -1, while Farmar was +5.

    Suspect Steve Nash cumulative +/- is worse then Blake.

  33. I was tracking it and Blake was minus Jordan positive but that was a few games ago. Part of course is Blake plays against starters. He is top 5 assists per minutes played though,

  34. This is what many people never understood about MDA. Its not just the 3 point shooting, although that is a big part. Its that by empowering players to move the ball, play unselfishly, and not to over coach them he has consistently gotten excellent seasons out of “projects” and been a part of many teams that have over- achieved and had great chemistry, while playing a very appealing type of ball. Its only when there are ego issues (read Carmelo, but also possibly Dwight and some of the issues he had with Amare) have there been big problems. But part of that philosophy is to not micro manage possessions with excessive time outs, to not over-coach by using excessive match up substitutions, and to often use a short bench. Many of these unconventional coaching philosophies have been a part of this success.

    No one would have pegged this group with no Dwight, Kobe and Nash and a hobbled and only average Pau, winning anywhere near the number of games they have.

  35. I am very pleased with this win…and more than slightly amazed. A week-and-a-half ago, the Lakers were 4-7. Now they’re 9-8 (much better than I would have predicted) with a 5-1 record in the last 6 games and a 2-1 record in this last road trip. And furthermore, I can think of another couple of games that they could have (and should have) won.

    I believe that the mind set of this team could be in a transitional phase. This is a team that is starting to believe strongly in themselves. And I think that they almost–I said, almost–believe that they can beat anyone. (They’re not there yet. But they’re approaching that point, at least with regard to home games.)

    The trend is very positive.

    If the Lakers go 2-1 over the next 3 games, they will have finished the first 1/4 (20 games) of the season with a .550 winning percentage–the same as last year’s team for the entire season. AND they’re doing this without Kobe.

    I realize that it’s still very early in the year. But if this continues, some of us (including me) may have to readjust our expectations about this team. A few commenters on this blog predicted a few months ago that a 47-win season was entirely feasible. At the time, I thought their claims were slightly exuberant. But they may be right. (I was thinking 37-42 wins.)

    Even so, a big part of the season remains. And Kobe still hasn’t returned. We shall see what transpires. But this could be a very surprising team.

  36. Ken, we stil 10th but only half a game behind the 8th seed. Im not surprised this team is around 500 i call it before the season, the surprise is how they got there, i expected a old but healthy Nash running the offense and Pau back to being a 18-10 guy i failed on both. I also mentioned that we needed at least 2 of the new guys to have career years, on that they surpassed my expectations we have 4. Thats been the key, we have Xavier, Hill,Wesley and even Blake is having his best season as a Laker even vilified by a lot of people, Farmar is a lousy pg in my opinion but a very good scorer and we might have witnessed Shawne’s awakening dont know about that one yet but this game must have done wonders for his confidence. And i believe some people need to start giving MDA his props. Last year situation not even PJ would had salvaged it and this season he has been extremely solid on his coaching he said the team would do better once he figured out the rotations, he did and the results are there for all to see. And on a last note i read somewhere else that even if the Lakers are like 22 in points allowed per game with sabremetics the Lakers are actually the 11th best D in the league, and they are not higher bc of the pace the team plays on offense allows the other teams more baskets that they would normally have. Im glad about that one because i think everyone myself included tought this team could be historic bad on D. I think we have the foundation for the future, the framework is there. Im really optimistic not about a chip this season but i think the rebuild could be shorter than i anticipated if we play this right.

  37. @rr is early i know but after 17 games there is a big enough sample to see who this team is and despite playing pretty well lately is still a fringe playoff team in the West. That said i dare to say our D is not as bad as predicted and teams are going to have to beat us, this team aint no doormat.

  38. Look at December schedule. I see 11 wins and 4 or 5 losses.

  39. Ken,

    You’re right about the December schedule. There’s a whole bunch of win-able games in that month. And I’m not even factoring in the possible return of Kobe (which I expect to happen in December).

    Without Kobe, I would say that 9-6 would be possible–maybe: 8-7. (I’m more conservative with my predictions than you.) With Kobe, who knows? Things could change dramatically.

    If the Lakers go 9-6 in December, they would be 18-13 by January 1st. Who would’ve thunk it?

    But let’s be careful with our expectations. This is still a team with limitations. (Can you believe allowing 76 points in the paint and still winning the game?) This is a highly unpredictable team. And a surprising team. And by and large, a young team (especially the 2nd unit). Any thing could happen.

    But it should be fun to watch…at least, I hope so.

  40. @Ken very posible we had the second toughest November shedule in the entire league and did ok.

  41. This is what many people never understood about MDA. Its not just the 3 point shooting, although that is a big part. Its that by empowering players to move the ball, play unselfishly, and not to over coach them he has consistently gotten excellent seasons out of “projects” and been a part of many teams

    Examples? His best teams in PHX were built around three high-level talents–Nash, Stoudemire, and Marion. His best team by far in NY won 42 games, and looking over the BaskRef pages for those teams, I don’t see guys dramatically exceeding career norms, but maybe I am missing something. An exception is Shawne Williams, who had been dreadful this year until tonight. What MDA did in PHX was find/use a system that highlighted the talents of his best guys. But all three of those guys were outstanding with or without MDA.

    Look, I get that the optimists and MDA defenders are smelling vindication–hence the sudden reappearances of Harvey M and Jerke, and MDA did take too much guff last year. I defended him some, and he is doing a nice job this year so far. This is a much better situation for him than last year was on a number of levels, and he is taking advantage. Power to him.

    But the Lakers are shooting 41% from the arc, and have not one, but several, players beating their career numbers. Meeks, Young, Hill, Blake, Farmar, Henry, and Johnson are all playing better than they have either ever or in quite some time. If they keep it up, MDA may be a COY candidate. Last year’s team went 17-24 the first half and 28-13 the second. It is hard to analyze a moving object.

  42. 500 add kobe….next season add a draft pick and a above avg. Free agent!!!

  43. Lets not get ahead of ourselves predicting like we will be favorites anytime soon. Temper your expectations and enjoy what the team’s hardwork is giving you.

    Wes Johnson had a career game shooting and scoring and nothing’s forced on his part. A gem because he plays very good (not excellent) D.

    Pau Gasol needs to do more. If we did that, with some guys getting healthy aka Nash, Kaman and that scrub named Kobe. He can help a bit.

  44. Ferm I meant December schedule. It’s kind of easy.

  45. rr – although a lucky draw, D’Antoni did have Lin play waaaaaaaay above expectations during his NY stint.

    it is kinda funny, it looks like the team does well whenever D’Antoni gives up :p

    anyway, not complaining.

  46. Harvey M,
    Thanks for your very insightful comments.

    Often we are so concentrated on looking on what has worked that we don’t examine the benefits of other systems. Also, we get so hung up on stars that we fail to realize how properly coaching more average players can yield great dividends.

    I am not saying we don’t need to sign/develop a superstar, but – if that person is a team player – we may not need 3 of them to be championship contenders. I would put forward that the Spurs are built this way and they have been pretty good for pretty long.

  47. I would say that Nash and Amare were never stars outside of the D’Antoni system and Marion – the most successful – was a very good, consistent role player, not a star. If the players stay with MDA, they continue developing, but if they leave early – Earl Clark – they are subject to disappointing their new teams. This is why I think Mitch will work to retain those players who continue to play hard and develop over this entire year. Maybe none has the chops to become a superstar, but they could be foundation players for this club.

    Both D’Antoni and Pop make the most of their talent and are able to tailor what they do to the personnel they have. I am not saying MDA is in a class with POPs, but he also doesn’t deserve the hatred he has received from some of the Laker fans.

  48. D’Antoni did have Lin play waaaaaaaay above expectations during his NY stint.

    Check Lin’s NY numbers vs. his current ones at BaskRef.

    MDA is doing a very nice job so far, but I remember that the the 1992 team got to 10-3 right after Magic’s announcement. So let’s see what happens.

  49. Fern,

    As to the D:

    The perimeter D is better than last year because Kobe, Nash, and Metta have been replaced by a bunch of guys in their 20s with live legs who are playing for contracts and who bust hump, and because Steve Blake hustles every play.

    The D is a little more organized—maybe because of Rambis, maybe because of more practice time, maybe both. That is one of those things in the “We don’t know but the FO probably does” category.

    The interior D is terrible because Howard is gone, Pau can’t move or jump, and Hill has short arms.

  50. RR,

    To be sure, to be very accurate, there were not many projects in the main years of Phoenix, but I would say both Nash and Amare over achieved under his tutelage, and others like Marion, and Raja Bell, also were better in his system than at any point in their careers. But that was also true of guys like James Jones, Eddie House and Quentin richardson. And what about Jason Richardson who never looked like a full fledged star till Phoenix?

    For sure, some of the over achievement was in the 2010 year when Dantoni was gone from the suns and Gentry (his protege but perhaps a guy who tweaked and actually improved on his principles) got a lot out of a number of questionable players. But in his first year in NY it was a pretty solid achievement as well till it was ruined by the heinous trade for Carmelo.

    Look its not just this website seeming distaste for him. That guy seems to bring out some of the vilest comments I have ever seen for a head coach of any professional sports team. And for me its not about “vindication” but more about, loving watching many of those teams, and honestly not getting the degree of venom directed at that guy. For me, he has always been a breath of fresh air in a pretty cynical sports world, so again I don’t completely get it. And him and Nash made basketball interesting to me, in a way no one else ever has. So its not about sticking this in anyone’s face. more about trying to figure out why my opinion seems to be such an outlier.

  51. The Lakers are my favorite team in the NBA right now!! And, yes, that has always been true because they are the Lakers. But, it is without any forced effort now.

    GOOOoooOOOOOO LAKERS !!!!

  52. Really like the effort of this group of players. An example was when Nick Young injured his finger the other night in Brooklyn. I could tell from his reaction that his hand was in some real pain, but he didn’t linger in the backcourt after it happened. The man busted it back on defense. That little vignette was very representative of the type of hustle the Lakers are displaying this year. As a fan I love it.

  53. I’m hoping to see Chris Kaman get some more burn. He can provide a low post offensive threat, particularly when surrounded by the type of three point shooting the Lakers are displaying this season. Guy’s a pretty good ballplayer to my way of thinking.

  54. And just to put the performance so far in perspective… Lakers are 9-8 and in the east, this would have netted a shared 3rd spot and then we are not even accounting for how much easier the schedule would be out east.

  55. @Ken i forgot to put a coma after “very possible” lol, i meant to say that i tend to to agree with you and that we did ok in November considering we had the 2nd toughest schedule in the entire league. @ rr im not saying we have an elite D not evem close but we are way better than last year. We are not good in post defense thats true but the post game is becoming a forgotten art in the current NBA so i doubt we will get torched inside every night i remember the Nuggets scoring like 85 points inside last season with Howard there.

  56. What a good win! Nice to get a strong 4th Q effort, & a just reward!
    ____
    Ken,
    `Gotta Love this team.´
    ____
    I dig your enthusiasm, & I believe most of us here feel the same way as well.
    It´s truly a breath of very fresh air when set against last season, isn´t it?
    ____
    Nice post-game message board everyone!

  57. lol – gotta love this board. First some many people here vehemently kill mda last year, then start railing on him again at the start of this year because he doesn’t use Hill enough, Now he’s using everybody, and his system is showing fruit after a full training camp/better fit personnel/acclimation period and things are rolling so – oh maybe he’s not a horrible coach after all – but now comments are coming out how the poor start was due to Nash and he’s the new whipping boy and should never come back. At least things don’t get stagnant here!

    While the defense has improved a lot and that plus energy is whats keeping the Lakers in games right now – the fact remains that this team is by no means an offensive powerhouse. Yes if Kobe and Nash come back healthy and play there may be some drop off defensively – but (and I am qualifying this that they both need to be healthy and at 85% or better) they have a chance to be an elite offense and get into the top 5 in the league which starts making them a serious playoff team. The two of them healthy (or even just kobe) would get the offensive efficiency up and greatly increase the pt differential in the Lakers favour – turning some of these close games against weaker teams into comfortable wins. People forget that MDA was the offensive coordinator for the olympic teams so kobe certainly knows how to play this style and Nash won’t have a problems fitting into the system and the success they’re having now is going to ease their transition back in knowing that the Lakers have healthy guys who can step up and play well – allowing for the Nash/Kobe mins to be tapered up/down as the need may be. This team can only improve with those two guys back healthy – Nash won’t play if he isn’t able to go – but you want guys like him and Kobe on your team to have for the last 5 mins of a game when execution, pure skill, and experience play the biggest roll.
    I’m not a Nash apologist – he’s slow laterrally and while a decent team defender, he can give up too easy one on one and does need help – but his offensive contributions will outweigh his defensive liabilities if he can come back healthy. As for all those that say he gets destroyed by Parker, CP, Rose, Westbrook, every single other fast good guard in the league etc…. – those guys get their numbers against everyone including each other – nobody is shutting these guys down – and Nash still manages pretty decent numbers anyways against them. It just all depends on health – so those worried that he’s going to drag the team down – he ain’t coming back unless he can perform.

  58. That guy seems to bring out some of the vilest comments I have ever seen for a head coach of any professional sports team.

    Go look at some Nets and Pistons boards after those teams lost to the Lakers. And nothing said here has come close to what Bulls and Clippers fans were saying about Vinny Del Negro.

    And your opinion is not an outlier at all nationally, except for in comparison to the large segment of the Lakers fan base that wanted Phil. And, given Phil’s track record and background in comparison to D’Antoni’s, wanting Phil was quite understandable. Knicks’ fans don’t like MDA much, either, for a simple reason–his teams there didn’t win. So, yeah, we have a guy whom a lot of fans in NY and LA don’t like, but as as much as the media may make it appear so, that is not everybody. Most NBA fans do not think of MDA as a clown or a failure, nor should they.

    As to House, Richardson, Bell, and Jones, there is nothing dramatic in the statistical records that indicates that they were especially effective under D’Antoni. And, as analysts pointed out at the time, and as I once pointed out here, Steve Nash’s numbers in PHX did not jump dramatically from what he had been doing in Dallas. You can make a case for Stoudemire, to a degree, but he was still very effective under Alvin Gentry, and then his numbers dropped off a lot when his back went. He also had one very good year in New York. He did have two MVP-type years under MDA, but his drop off at that time when he had it, when MDA was there, was also due to his health. Marion dropped off after leaving PHX, but he had put together two AS-level seasons in PHX before MDA ever got there, and PHX moved him when he was about 30 and had been in the league ten years. As to Earl Clark, I covered that. Clark has played worse in CLE than he did here, but I think that is as much CLE scouting poorly as it is MDA.

    MDA did get the most out of those players, but he didn’t make them into players that they were not without him, and he coached Marion and Stoudemire during their physical peaks.

    The takeaway IMO is the basic one: most coaches are not as bad as they look when they lose nor as good as they look when they win. Like players, coaches have strengths and weaknesses. Last year’s team highlighted MDA’s weaknesses, and he was in an impossible situation in terms of expectations, backdrop, and personnel. This year, he is in a situation with low expectations that highlights his strengths. People on both sides of the MDA stuff should IMO take that into account. MDA was not a fool last year and he is not a genius now. The Lakers could just as easily have lost to Houston, Atlanta, and Detroit, and in that case would be 6-11.

    Finally, Jerke’s LOLing aside, Nash was killing the team. That was apparent both from the numbers and the eye test. It is no surprise that the team has jetted forward without him.

  59. I think there will be a trade in the works if Kobe comes back as anything like himself. Too many perimeter players and we could use another mobile big. Guys like Wes Johnson are doing a good job using their length and ups to make up for some of the internal issues we have on D, but Kamen is not a guy who has held up for any amount of time this decade. We will need some more booty down low.

  60. jerke — Thanks! We have a ‘superstar or bust’ mentality and we need someone to occasionally pop the bubble.

    I have been an MDA supporter since before he was named coach, so my opinion is going to necessarily be biased, but his system does seem to show players playing to their strengths instead of held back by their shortcomings. This type of play works best when a team is either young or in transition and that is what the Lakers are now. We need to develop players – because our stars are aging, our salary structure is skewed, and we have had to try reclaiming players who were once thought good, but are now thought to be too flawed. MDA is the perfect coach for this type of situation and, if our FO continues to be able to pick diamonds out of other people’s castoffs, we should see a very good foundation going forward — and at a price that allows us to attract an additional star.

  61. MD: I have not said too much on this subject lately, because little has changed. He always was a competent NBA coach and he still is. In my opinion – he just never deserved to be OUR coach, and I still feel that way. He is doing a decent job this year, but wins and losses are not going to change my mind about him. I already concede that he is competent. Whether we win 37 games or 47 games is not going to matter too much in the long run (in fact some people would prefer the 37 to get the higher pick). What matters is how we get ourselves back to being contenders and who our coach is going to be at that time. If the Lakers are truly “biding time”, letting Kobe do his thing for the next couple of years, then I am fine with MD (I really am). He loves Kobe and let’s him literally do whatever he wants to do – so I am down with that. However – if we have any intention of contending during the next 2 1/2 years, then we need to attract FAs and the coach and the system are a big part of that. So what MD “could” do is that at the end of this year – he could make the LAL seem like an attractive destination. Winning a decent quantity of games “could” help that. If he makes the LAL an attractive destination, I will be on board with him. On the other hand if Melo and others do not want anything to do with him (added to Dwight), and if we really don’t have a clear plan for the future (this involves the FO as well), then he is nothing more than a placeholder. Some on this board are already conceding a non-contender status for the Lakers in 15 + 16. If that is the case – I am fine with the “placeholder” coach. For those hoping for a title run for Kobe, then change is probably required (although MD could change my mind pending what we look like this summer).

    Team: The Lakers are playing well and the team and MD deserve credit for that. I will continue to root for this team every game and root for them to make the playoffs. I am sorry to those who want to tank, and to those who want MD to fall on his face. My logic agrees with you, but I simply can’t root for a bad record and losses – even if it is in our interests. We are indeed on a mini-roll here. If we win over Portland or OKC – this could go to a major roll (3 easy games in between).

    Board: There is almost no difference between what the “optimists” are saying and what the “pessimists” are saying. Almost everyone in pre-season said we could get a low playoff spot or not and most are still saying that. There were a couple of 50+ win predictions, but nobody was predicting even a visit to the playoff’s 2nd round. I still don’t see anyone predicting that. What I see is that some people say – we might make the playoffs – this is great, interesting and fun. . And others are saying – well yes we could barely make the playoffs – but what does that mean to the future? It is a perfect half full, half empty – but it is the same mug : )

    Kobe: This “weeks away” thing is like nails on a chalkboard for me. I agree with Gary above – this “could” go on for the entire year. Not saying it will – but I am concerned.

  62. “We have a ‘superstar or bust’ mentality” – Not me – I have a championship or bust mentality. Now – if you look at the history of the NBA – the vast majority of the titles have gone to superstar players (and to some extent – coaches). If you want to try to be the 2004 Pistons – it can work – but the odds are very long.
    “Occasionally” – It appears you and rr agree on something : )

  63. RR,

    I agree with the general thesis that coaches are less good and bad than people think. I do agree that much of the emotion with MDA was about the possibility of Phil’s return and that was understandable. Still think Dantoni gets a bad rap from a lot of the knee jerk crowd that are not very analytical and is a target, generally, of some of the more ignorant types. I like what he advocates as I think the game has suffered under the leadership of teams that are more geared around ISO ball and less ball movement. And feel that it kind of started with MJ, who I view as a Jimi Hendrix type. A brilliant virtuoso, who spawned a lot of less successful copy cats and in that way was, ironically, a bit detrimental to the development of the game. I think Dantoni and (later Gentry) were instrumental in the leadership of three over achieving teams (the 2005, 2006 and 2010 Suns) which were all pretty beautiful teams to follow because of the way they shared the ball and the excellent chemistry they had. And this team with way less talent at the moment shares some of that, but to be sure, aren’t likely to go very far. But this is what he is most capable of doing which is to invigorate a team and make them just way more interesting to watch. and yes he is better set up to handle underdog type teams.

    don’t know what to say about Nash, Missed the early games. I will admit to being very concerned about what he is capable of doing at this point.

  64. We have a ‘superstar or bust’ mentality and we need someone to occasionally pop the bubble.

    D’Antoni’s best teams in PHX had Stoudemore with a 27 PER and Nash winning back-to-back MVPs. If there is one thing all Lakers fans should have learned from the history of this organization, it is the importance of superstars. Ask Jack Kent Cooke, Jerry Buss, Jerry West, and Pat Riley if you don’t believe me.

  65. Robert and Harvey M:

    Both of those were high-quality posts, although I disagree with a couple of points in each. Good work, though.

  66. Robert,

    Not attracting Melo here should not count against MDA, IMO. A 30-year-old Anthony and a 36-year-old Kobe trying to play MDA ball and taking up 75-80% of the cap between them is not a plan that will lead to the next parade.

    Greg Monroe and/or Kevin Love are the players on radar that could make the biggest differences over the next two summers, and Monroe will be a RFA if he even hits the market.