Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Bobcats

Darius Soriano —  December 14, 2013

The Lakers have lost three consecutive games since Kobe came back – their longest losing steak of the season. They now sit two games below .500 and in an even more competitive West than many predicted (I don’t think a lot of people saw the Blazers at the top of the conference or the Suns over .500 through 24 games), their position is far from ideal right now.

Part of the team’s issues definitely relate back to Kobe and his return. He is definitely not 100% physically yet and still needs to find his game shape along with getting his “sea legs” back. Add to this the fact that he’s still trying to figure out what he can and can’t do on the floor against live competition, is finding that his most comfortable actions offensively aren’t necessarily those that have been used as pillars in the team’s attack to this point, and has to adjust to playing with this specific group of players and the reintegration of Kobe to the lineup is an obstacle that the team is working through.

But as much as adding Kobe to the lineup as been something that has affected the team, the bigger issue with this group right now relates to the combination of not having a single healthy point guard and the continued decline of their defense — issues that are somewhat related, by the way.

First off, not having healthy point guards is absolutely killing this team right now. Even when Blake was “healthy” (he was playing through a torn ligament in his elbow, after all) the team was sorely missing Jordan Farmar and his ability to be a shot creator and defensive pest on the 2nd unit. So even when Blake was playing, the minute he went out and the team had to slide Xavier Henry or Nick Young into the “PG” spot and rely on them to bring the ball up or initiate the offense, the team had issues getting their offense organized and executing consistently. But now that Blake is injured as well, the team is overly reliant on Kobe to create offense for others and be the primary ball handler in the P&R. And while he has shown flashes of being able to get his teammates good looks, his adjustment to game speed and in how defenses are playing him has led to too many turnovers.

Defensively, the team has seemingly regressed and while part of that is related to Kobe (he’s not yet even playing at last year’s reduced level of defensive effectiveness) missing Farmar (and Blake) has hurt here as well. Farmar’s quickness and ability to move laterally allowed him to stay with most point guards around the league. Farmar isn’t a “stopper” by any means, but he’s physically capable and was working hard on that end of the floor. The same could be said for Blake in many match ups. Now, however, the Lakers are relying on shooting guards and small forwards — Meeks, Henry, Wes Johnson — to guard point guards and it’s really not working very well. Combine that with the team’s season long issues with adequately protecting the rim (I’m looking at you, Pau Gasol) and what the Lakers have is a situation where they’re giving up more dribble penetration (and open court chances due to the turnovers) and the type of interior defense that allows easy baskets when the offensive players do get into the paint. This is a recipe for disaster.

All in all, then, it’s not difficult to see why the team is losing. And I haven’t even mentioned the brewing conflict between Pau Gasol and Mike D’Antoni.

What the Lakers need to do to get back in the win column sounds simple enough, but may still end up being a big challenge simply based off the circumstances they face and the personnel they have available to them. They face a Bobcats’ team that is in the top 5 of defensive efficiency and is coached by former Lakers’ assistant Steve Clifford (who probably has some inside knowledge into defensive strategies against holdover players like Kobe and Gasol). Considering the Lakers rely heavily on outscoring teams to gain victories, cracking the code the Bobcats use on that end of the floor becomes very important. Expect the Lakers to continue to try and get Gasol touches in the paint against Al Jefferson and spread the floor with the remaining shooters on their roster, but they will need to remain aggressive in going to the rim and in attempting to set each other up for easy baskets all while not turning the ball over. These keys are the same every night, but until they consistently show they can do them with this group of players, the question that they will be able to get this done remains.

In terms of defense, the ‘Cats sport one of the worst offenses in the league so the Lakers at least have that going for them. Their best players on that side of the ball are Kemba Walker, Jefferson, and Gerald Henderson, and while all three players have their strengths this is not a trio of world beaters. The Lakers, though, will have their challenges of keeping all three out of the paint and in keeping them away from their preferred scoring spots. Chasing Walker and Henderson around screens and forcing them into difficult jumpers is a must. If either get good looks — either via spot ups or when getting a clean dribble for a pull up — both can be dangerous. Ditto for Jefferson when he’s working in the post and able to get to his right hand or turn and face with too much room to simply shoot a set shot jumper. If the Lakers can do well in limiting one (and hopefully at least two) of these players, they’ll be on their way to a win.

Again, though, this won’t be easy. The Lakers are coming off a back to back last night and are already playing short handed without Farmar and Blake. Add in an already shortened rotation that sees little to no time for Kaman and Ryan Kelly and the Lakers are looking at a 9 man rotation of mostly shooting guards and centers. This is not an ideal mix to run D’Antoni’s spread pick and roll attack. But it will have to do. Especially since the Lakers would be well served to win the winnable games on their roster if they still hope to be competitive this season.

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

 

Darius Soriano

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74 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Bobcats

  1. I want to set the record straight for everyone asking why the Lakers haven’t traded Gasol. They did trade Gasol. They traded him at the perfect time… Right before he started aging. They literally pulled off what now looks like the most lopsided trade in NBA history when they traded Lamar and Pau for CP3. Both Lamar and Pau both fell off a cliff soon after the trade was made. Pau was a very nice role player the following year next to Bynum but no longer could create his own shot. Pau’s supporting player abilities were gone however a year later. The Lakers have tried to trade Pau… They can’t. It’s hard to trade a washed up player for anything close to valuable pieces. They probably hoped Pau would have a bounce back stretch of play and trade him then. It hasn’t happened.

  2. “Add in an already shortened rotation that sees little to no time for Kaman and Ryan Anderson”

    Oops, Darius – you must have meant Ryan Kelly. It was nice to see him get a bucket last night, BTW.

  3. Darius,
    Thanks for the analysis. It will help me determine what to watch for this afternoon. If we can get back to all-out effort, instead of waiting to see what the other guy will do, I will be happy with the game today.

  4. D.A. changed his system last year to fit the Lakers and it worked….28 and 12….Then to start this season,it was back to D.A. original system …and it worked for 10 wins in 19 games without Kobe….Now he is going to need to change the system again cause Kobe can’t play the other way…At this point you are now back to running the Anti/D.A. system…The Lakers need to settle how they are going to play for the next 2 years with Kobe…

  5. Kobe Alert: It is a little tough to write Kobe Alert’s in this environment, however I’m sure that pales in comparison to having to write game previews and summaries. Against the Thunder, Kobes pulled to within 5 defensive rebounds of catching Antonio McDyess for 56th all time. KB had 13 dimes to pull within 32 of Sam Cassell for 31st in that category. Since the turn of the century, the Lakers have had 18 games where a player had 13 or more dimes. Of those 14 belong to Kobe (Nick 2, Nash 1, Blake 1). There are 642 points to go until #23.

  6. Hm, i’m still confused. Could anyone explain why Kaman isn’t playing? He was one of our better interior defenders this year.

  7. This is more of a winnable game for Charlotte… Same amount as wins as the Lakers…better Differential… Home game…less injuries…

  8. Wish we had Ryan Anderson.

    Otherwise nice analysis of the problems. Can’t have 3 for 17 games from Meeks when your getting 4 points from your other starting guard.

    Need this win tonight to build confidence in a team that appears to have lost it and to keep from having a. 0 and. 4 trip. Atlanta and Memphis will be tough although I expect a big 25 point show me game by Pau against the Griz,

    Like to see more then 15 minutes from Hill and minutes from Kamen .

  9. Yes, tonite’s game is winnable as are all games. Question is whether Lakers will win?
    Likely not. Charlotte is much improved and plays well at home. Hopefully Farmar can return friday versus Minnesota.

  10. Error: Sorry – I meant Gary P – not Nick.
    Aaron: Yes – we tried to trade him and we were screwed. At this point you can try to trade him to a contender trying to bolster their front line with a 15-20 minute per game type guy, if they have some 1 year trash they can give us back.. We absolutely can’t take back bad contacts. That will just prolong the agony.
    Ken: I am not yet concluding that Kobe came back to soon. He would need to ramp up no matter when he came back. That said – you talked about strong management to control Kobe. As I have said before – there is exactly one guy in Kobe’s NBA history who has done that to any degree of success.
    Game: Winnable game and we need it desperately. Another B2B at the start of next week. Atlanta plays well at home and then we get Memphis on the back end of it. We need W’s or this could get even uglier (if you can believe that).

  11. Well, yeah, screw Stern.

    I mean, geez, did the ‘basketball reasons’ really do New Orleans any good?

  12. Harold: Could not agree more, however according to many, Mike Brown was incompetent (he was), Dwight is a coward and a shell of his former self, and we all know the Kobe debates. Would the triad of Kobe/CP3/DH really have won titles? I say yes – they could have, but then again I do not agree with many of the opinions about DH and Kobe.

  13. harold,
    Actually the trade they made with the Clippers was probably better for them, but that is an ‘after the fact’ analysis. All the parties had agreed to the previous deal – including Houston – and it was Stern sticking his big nose in the tent, abet he had a legal right to do so, that queered everything up. Now this predicted conflict-of-interest (predicted by Phil Jackson) will be a permanent, as well as prominent, part of Stern’s legacy and there is nothing he can do about it.

  14. I look for Al Jefferson to have a big game against Pau Gasol. And Harold, NO at least wound up with a great player for the present and future in Anthony Davis. The “basketball reasons” were an act of collusion to screw the Lakers. Mission accomplished.

  15. If memory serves correct, Charlotte, for some reason, has always been a team that we seem to struggle against. Fortunately for us, they also played last night (losing at Indiana).

    Kobe’s movements last night was much improved in comparison to his first 2 games. It’ll be interesting to see how he looks tonight. Especially since it’s a back to back.

  16. Pau is just a n average player. His offense he was crying about is no longer good. 40% shooter for a reason. If Kobe keeps pitching to Pau this is a sure loss. No 3 point game for this team anymore .

  17. Pau off to his usual indifferent start. Kobe has set him up repeatedly in the 1stbut Pau has missed them all. Kobe just hit a 3… Looks like he has his legs tonight.

  18. Pau off to his usual indifferent start. Kobe has set him up repeatedly in the 1stbut Pau has missed them all. Kobe just hit a 3… Looks like he has his legs tonight.

  19. I was hoping my eyes were deceiving me this year but they aren’t. Pau is done. Not done as in his career is done, but done being a reliable, night-in-night-out difference-maker.

  20. Boy has this team turned into a slow, plodding , unexciting team. Hard to watch .

  21. Wouldn’t a Kamen/Biyumbo matchup favor the Lakers. Is this team so good that Kamen can’t get any burn?

  22. Roy…The Kings hockey blog gets over 700 comments on a game blog….This blog much less…If I was a blogger I would copy the LAkingsinsider to make this site more successful….

  23. Lakers have become one of the bottom 5 teams in the NBA.

    Sad to watch.

  24. MDA thinks kamen is worst than sacre. Remember, this is the same guy who only plays Jordan Hill because he has to.

  25. Zeller’s footwork mirrors a baby stork.

  26. My gosh is Pau just worthless. Can MD be this stupid to not play Kamen?

  27. Pau should pick up his paycheck with a ski mask on. He’s stealing money.

  28. Mamba

  29. I mean, geez, did the ‘basketball reasons’ really do New Orleans any good?

    Yes. They have Anthony Davis now.

    That said, Craig pretty much nails the rest.

  30. Get garbage Pau out and off this team . He is a joke.

  31. wow, Pau what u

  32. Pau 3 turnovers in 3 minutes. This guy us a quitter and has no pride. Take him out coach or ate you afraid he will complain again!

  33. Let the trade Pau start now!

  34. Damn, frustrated with Pau. If we lose in this game, I’m in for Pau trade debate.

    Just stinks..

  35. Kobe is turning the ball over and over and over again…
    WTF? Get rid of Kobe too.

  36. Between Kobe and Pau 10 turnovers. Do they have a coach ?

  37. Kobe 7 TO
    Pau. 6 TO 5 for 15

    $50 million

    And Mike sits and watch.

    The Jimmy years. Yea

  38. Trade garbage Pau immediately.

  39. JHill getting it done

  40. Too many turnovers. Lakers hanging in though. Hopefully they can find a way to win.

  41. @ Ken i want to adress something you said last night, about the ownership turning this proud franchise into whatever was the rest lol, dont get me wrong i love the team too and it hurts to see it struggle, the thing is we all knew this team would struggle this season even with Dwight back this team would be better but it would not be winning anything this season, the FO is in a straitjacket financially thats just the reality of it, we have one of the best GMs in the game but even he can only do so much with all the financial limitations this CBA have put on teams. Its not like this is the 1st time in Lakers history we dont have a contender, even the great Dr Buss put some stinkers on the floor. What im saying is that even with all the struggles im enjoying this season a lot more than the last one and the team should start improving starting next summer. I wonder if Dr buss got that kind of criticism when he got Smush and Kwame starting and then grossly overpayed for Luke freaking Walton. We be back but its going to take a little while.

  42. D leaguers sacre and scrubb Williams in again over Kaman. Trade PAU, fire Pringles, force Nash into medical retirement, make kb player coach since his play solely doesn’t deserve $78m

  43. Meeks has play 23 minutes so he has a ton of minutes on the floor. People forget the stinker he trew last night and if he have shot 4 times in 23 minutes is on him. Love or hate MDA but in his system if you move, the ball will find you. And about Sacre and Williams Sacre is playing hard and Williams is a better rebounder and defender than people gave him credit for.

  44. I get you Fern but right now this team is as bad as Utah and Sac both small market teams with no billion Dollar TW deal. You can spend still it just cost you more and no one made more money then the Lakers last year. Don ‘t need to hear Them crying about money. Give us a competitive team!

  45. Why is quitter Pau back in?

  46. MDA plays Pau exclusively with Kobe cos thats the only person that can get Pau to play with any energy and cos of how much chemistry they have. Unfortunately, that leaves the Lakers slow/old at 2 positions. Kobe created a lot of easy opportunities which Pau failed to convert. Would like to see lineups with only one slow player. Im encouraged by Kobe’s play today. He is getting better with each game.

  47. Ken we have the billion deal but you can only spend so much with this CBA. This is an avg competitive team and any owner main goal of owning a team is to make money, it makes no sense spending a 100 million in a team to win now and pay like 250 mill on penalties, thats suicide, the Lakers need to reset and get out of that cap penalty suicide course. If it takes them a couple of seasons to do it, so be it. I been a Lakers fan too long to panic bc of a stretch of seasons without winning a chip. This is all cyclical

  48. Whatever happens in this game im starting to see signs that the team is starting to figure out how to play with Kobe on the lineup.

  49. Kobe is looking better every game. As for his turnovers, he’s the only pg on the team. Let that sink in. Sure he can make better passes, but come on give the guy a break.

  50. They’re scrapping back and could win (1:22 left and 1 down as I write), but the TO numbers are pretty amazing: Pau with 6, Kobe with 7, the rest of the team with 2. Kobe’s always averaged a lot of TOs and playing point means they’ll almost certainly rise, but it’s so curious to see so few from anyone else.

    Kobe looks significantly less lead-footed tonight than he even did yesterday. I’m holding off complaining about his play or the team’s record until after the new year as he plays into shape, but early signs are actually pretty promising.

  51. Thats why Kobe get paid the big bucks thats why they need him. Unbeliavable man.

  52. Nice rebound Pau Mr, Weak.

  53. Hey, but that was a decent one.

  54. Redeemed yourself Pau.

  55. Yea. Yea a win a win.

  56. back on board the winning track KB,
    nice to get a road win too

  57. KOBE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  58. Kobe is going to play with Pau come hell or high water and MDA cant do a damn thing about it, Pau had a way better second half. And im starting to believe Kobe might come back to Mamba mode, i cant believe he is improved this much in just 4 games, in 2 weeks it would not surprise me if he be dropping 30+ on teams. The man is a mutant. Smdh

  59. Kobe said he was going to get into Pau’s behind for hanging so many turnovers on his line. hahahahaa
    This team forgets to communicate on defense far too many times.

  60. I dogged him all night, but Pau made good stops and 2 big freebies down the stretch. Credit where credit is due. Kobe also was big down the stretch as he summoned up “The Closer”!

  61. Love it or hate it Kobe and Pau won this game. Im at awe of Kobe being forced to play out of position running the entire offense plus being the closer. Dont cease to amaze me.

  62. And of course as soon as the Lakers win..the doomsayers stop commenting. Good gutty win from this team. Just imagine if we had Farmar running the second unit again- or even starting alongside Meeks and Kobe at the 3. Yeah, yeah, Kobe had 7 turnovers, but he also had 8 assists playing the point again (Which isn’t his natural position btw.) along with 7 rebounds and 21 points on a fairly efficient over 50% shooting.

  63. Lock up your back door / and run for your life / The man is back in town! Kobe!! Don’t you mess around!

    KobeAlert is also back in town!

    Nice contribution by all to get this win, the Lakers will more cohesiveness to garner more w’s.

  64. I was one who wanted Sacre to remain in. Obviously, MDA and Kobe want Paul to close out games. That’s great for his confidence, but he was slow and weak tonight. I saw several basic defensive moves he just didn’t execute and they resulted in Bobcat scores. At the end he didn’t fold.

  65. I still think Pau is done—but he played solid D at the end when the ‘cats tested him.

  66. And of course as soon as the Lakers win..the doomsayers stop commenting. Just imagine if we had Farmar running the second unit again- or even starting alongside Meeks and Kobe at the 3

    —–

    I am glad the Lakers won one, and that the no-wins-with-Kobe thing is over. Kobe is a tough hombre; we all know that by now. But Charlotte’s O is ranked 29th in the NBA, and they would probably be in 14th in the West. Getting Farmar back will help some, but this is who the Lakers are now.

  67. @rr
    We have to take them as we can. This team is without 3 PG’s -two of which were having “career” years pretty much. We just got back our best player a week ago and that means this team has to win any way possible which includes ugly. I’m just glad we got one with Kobe, as you said, because finger of blame is always pointed at him no matter what.

  68. “Getting FRmar back will help some, but this is who the Lakers are now”

    Your right this is who the Lakers are now, a team playing without a point guard. It doesn’t mean it will remain this way after we get Jordan back. The Warriors lost their back up and then Curry went down and they lost until he came back. Most teams would have a tough time if they lost their entire point guard rotation.

    Kobe has made a leap forward with each game and reminded everyone what we gave been missing today. Pau played a solid 2nd half and good D downs the stretch. If this continues, we get some point guard relief added to what our role guys have been doing this year we still can make some noise. The key will be not falling to far behind while it comes together.

  69. @kenOak the statement of the night lol, most of us know this team is not a championship team even with Kobe but making histerical calls to the FO for roster changes and all that is asinine, we all knew this is a team in flux, im ok with that. People need to chill the hell out.

  70. With the exception of the point guard position–which is obviously a bit fluid right now–I think it is now time, 24 games into the season, for D’Antoni to settle on a specific starting lineup. My suggestion is as follows:

    Pau: 32-34 minutes
    J. Hill 24-30 minutes
    W. Johnson 28-32 minutes
    Kobe 32-34 minutes (when healthy)
    Jordan Farmar 28-32 minutes

    Obviously, if and when the Steve’s come back, the starting pg minutes may shift a bit. That position is in flux because of injuries. But I suspect that Farmar will come back soon (he’s claiming that he’s ready to play now) and that he may end up being the Lakers’ starting point guard for the foreseeable future. Just a feeling.

    The other key player in my opinion is Jordan Hill. MDA has been all over the place with Hill. He’s played him 10 minutes, 12 minutes, 15 minutes, and he’s started him. Against OKC, Hill played 12 minutes. Last night he played 31 minutes. I believe they need Hill for more that 12-15 minutes a game. Yes, I know. Hill plays with great abandon and he’s prone to injury. But they need him.

    The Lakers’ 2 biggest weaknesses this year are defense (especially in the paint, as we all know) and rebounding. We’re getting killed on the boards. Jordan Hill addresses both of those issues–the first one to a degree, the second one resoundingly.

    One other point, I believe Hill should not only start games but finish them. Whenever he finishes games, he seems to make things happen. He keeps balls alive, he grabs crucial rebounds (often on the offensive glass), and he provides a certain amount of defensive intensity which can be infectious.

    I’ve wavered this year on whether Hill should start or not. Well, I now think he should start…and finish. And I think they should try to get, say, 26-28 (even 30) minutes out of him, health permitting. I just don’t think the Lakers have any other choice.

  71. Fern, you are correct. It is just that I am exhausted watching Pau and wondering exactly when he is going to get it together and play a complete game. I don’t mean he has to dominate or score in bunches, but just be consistent and stay focused throughout the game. We do need that from our 2nd oldest veteran and 2nd highest paid player.

    If he can simply be consistently decent at home and on the road, the role players can help carry us through this rough stretch, along with an improving Kobe.

  72. . The Warriors lost their back up and then Curry went down and they lost until he came back.

    Farmar is a nice player, and I’m glad that he wanted to come back. Curry, OTOH, is one of the best 15-20 players in the league. GS has also been missing Iguodala, and he is still out. So it’s not quite the same thing. Kobe had a nice game, and I am glad that he did. But the biggest difference between last night and tonight was the opponent. OKC is one of the best offensive teams in the NBA; Charlotte is one of the worst, and the Lakers were down 85-79 with two minutes left. Farmar would have helped in this game because Kemba Walker probably would not have gone 10/13 from the field had Farmar been there to check him some, but Farmar would not have made a difference against OKC, or, probably, Toronto. PHX–didn’t see the game.

    Fern,

    You go up and down as much as anyone, depending on what the score is of the game you’re watching at that moment, so you might consider taking your own advice if you want a mellower, more big-picture kind of comments section.

    The Lakers are almost certainly going to clock out somewhere between ~35 and ~45 wins. So, the important stuff is the stuff that relates to the future, and IMO people should enjoy the ride rather than trying to tease analytical meaning from every game, and the kinds of players they have–old guys and cast-offs–are going to go up and down.

  73. There are a few issues to address that I would rather leave to the post-game thread. I was screaming at MDA a lot throughout this game…

  74. Traveled the during game time (barely slept last night) and finally home. Waited for kids to settle into bed and finally got to watch the game. Knowing the result midway (update in the 4th, being down by 6) and to see us win by 3 kinda confused me.

    So I got my answer… Kobe happened.

    The game was lousy for us from the get-go. We looked slow and dragging and was never in the picture to win it. Fortunately, the Bobcats are a lousy team too. Even at home. Therefore we stole one win we had no business owning.

    Enter Pau Gasol. Media is the worst place you complain to, everyone knows this but yet its also the one place a disgruntled player cannot keep away from. The organization can always try to do damage control but bridges are burned. I believe Pau flirted with dissing MDA last year, but what he hasn’t considered is that he hasn’t been playing well since Phil. And now, its all over. He rang his bell finally, at the risk of his supposed-flawless reputation.

    I will forever like him, as a Laker and as a person. But his time in LA is over. Fast and quick and less talk. For the love of Pau. For everyone.