Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Clippers

Darius Soriano —  January 10, 2014

Since pulling to an even 13-13 with back to back wins over the Grizzlies and the T’Wolves, the Lakers have lost 9 of their last 10 games. As we’ve discussed daily, injuries have turned what was at best a marginal playoff team into one of the worst outfits in the association. They still try hard and, for stretches in any given game, are very competitive – in two of their last three games they’ve actually led at halftime – but they simply don’t have enough talent or energy to maintain high levels of play over the course of an entire game.

And while the other day I mentioned that I was becoming numb to the losses, that feeling should not be mistaken with being embarrassed or distraught over the Lakers’ lot. I’m not happy – losing is horrible and enduring loss after loss is frustrating – but the team continues to work hard only to find themselves outgunned. If this team was openly quitting or not working hard while trying to maximize their talent, I’d feel different. But that is not the case. This team falls short because their ceiling isn’t as high as their opponent’s on most nights.

It won’t always be this way.

One of the reasons I know this is because of the Lakers’ opponent tonight. The Clippers, for what seems like my entire lifetime, have been one of the worst organizations in the NBA. Losing seasons were followed by more losing seasons and the team never looked like it would amount to much more than a punchline. In recent years, however, they were able to turn things around using the same strategy the Lakers will likely employ to get back to being a contender.

Some deft drafting landed them Eric Gordon and more lottery luck landed them Blake Griffin. The former was flipped with other assets from solid drafting and under the radar trades into a franchise point guard. With a top flight back court player and an up and coming front court player in place, the team raised its status into a competitive outfit. With that raised status, free agents wanted to play for them (and in the city of Los Angeles) on the cheap. Add in some other trades and the team has good depth, a high level core, and a high profile coach who wanted to be part of it all. And now they’re a contender.

So, if you’re ever feeling way too down on yourself, just remember, if the Clippers can do it, the Lakers surely can.

In any event, these two teams face off tonight and while there’s a nice rivalry between the players that will get the competitive juices flowing, this game has lost a lot of its luster with Kobe and Chris Paul unlikely to play. Even when thinking back to the first game of the year – an exciting Lakers’ win that may have been their high point all season – Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake, Xavier Henry are all out tonight and they were all a key part of the success the Lakers had in that first game (especially Farmar and Henry who made up two parts of the five man bench unit that closed the game on a ridiculous run that won the contest).

The Lakers just aren’t the same team as they were that night and while the Clips will be without their best player, they still have lots of talent to compensate. If they simply take the Lakers seriously and play hard and smart basketball, they should come out on top. If they don’t, however, the Lakers will be in position to win the game. We know that the Lakers will play hard to make that true.

Ultimately, not to sound like Debby the Downer, but this is the state of the team right now. The X’s and O’s matter and the team will need to clean up their turnovers, rebound well, and hit their outside shots. But what matters more is talent. We say this every day, but every day it remains true and bears repeating. If the Lakers are to win against better teams, they need to not only play to (or above) their ceiling as a group, but they need the other team to play down to them. Maybe that happens tonight and we all walk away happy. I’d really like that, I can tell you that much.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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84 responses to Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Clippers

  1. Not sure if that is a good idea to put added pressure on 2 guys that may already of come back to soon once.

  2. Ko: Good Point
    Aaron: Where are you? You have been skeptical (and correct on all of our recent injuries) Please weigh in on this. I told a guy on another board I would try to get you to post again (after he mentioned you)

  3. I didn’t read the article, but I heard MDA talk about this. Steve Nash and Kobe will be medically reevaluated at the end of the month. That is not any kind of return date.

    I think we are getting too caught up in projecting our own opinions onto others.

  4. Coach Mike D’Antoni said Friday he hopes that Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant can play Jan. 28 against Indiana, right after the Lakers’ seven-game road trip, their longest of the season.
    Speaking to reporters at the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, D’Antoni said the two stars would return “about the same time. Hopefully both of them are ready.”

    ________________________________

    According to Bresnahan, MDA is in fact saying that he hopes that they are back after the trip.

    The ESPN story is a little different, and does say “re-evaluated on Jan. 27.”

  5. Craig W: “I didn’t read the article” Please do. I do have interest in your opinions about the Lakers.

  6. My personal wish is for Nash to medically retire and for Kobe to come back after the All Star game just to show the fans and his fellow players that he’ll be ready next year.

  7. Lakers need to slow it down. They cannot run with them.

    Opposing teams are competing against the name on the front of the uniform, and they don’t particularly care whose name is on the back. Their intention is to put up good numbers against the Lakers and beat them, that’s that!

  8. Meeks defense? Not close to his man.

  9. If Wesley doesn’t abuse J.J. on offense and defend him, I’ll be through with him.

    Congratulations to Darius Morris being on the team.

    Awesome move by Pau against a good defender.

    If Wesley doesn’t start using his athleticism to play basketball, I’ll be through with him! Start dunking on people!!!!

  10. Lakers are not playing bad. Clips not missing open shots.

    Kamen should have been playing all year.

  11. Gonna be long night. Young looks way off.

  12. 4 straight TOs, yikes- scratch that, make it 5; long night indeed

  13. This is shameful.

  14. ESPN just switched it to our game. I don’t think I want to watch. :/

  15. Live ball turnovers really hurting the Lakers.

  16. The Lakers were pulled from ESPN earlier this week–their game in HOU was pulled in favor of PHX/MIN.

  17. Not unless you want a good laugh Ken .

    This is a very bad team.

  18. Regarding the turnovers:

    This coach just doesn’t seem to care that the team has not developed one discernible skill that will augment their winning percentage. They still pass the ball as if NO defense is on the floor, they don’t ball fake, look away a defender, or adjust to defensive pressure in game situations. The team turns the ball over; attempting the same ball handling procedures on consecutive plays resulting in turnovers like bananas…in bunches. The revolving point guard situation is one cause, and the rotating lineups are another. Lakers head coach chooses to change the lineup according to the opponent. In not allowing the lineup to remain static; the coach is another source for the turnovers. His lineup changes have nothing to do with injuries, rather they are predicated upon his like or disliking of a player.

  19. heck, I´d watch that just to hear Chick

  20. heck of a post C. Hearn

  21. Shame. Lakers are simply outmanned.

  22. Nice Hearn

    I had tickets but gave them away. I figured I would be kicked out or beat up yelling at these guys.

    Least I can turn channel at home!

  23. Lakers are playing poorly,but their play is not any worse than the job the officials are doing in this game. Someone tell this crew that the Lakers are playing badly enough that the Clips don’t need the help tonight….

    I remember when JJ Reddick first came out of college ball and I was skeptical that he would ever be anything more than a spot-minute guy in the NBA. Boy do I look stupid now…..

  24. Clippers starting 5 is better than Lakers starters and bench combined.

  25. Sorry about this but Meeks and this team looks like clowns out there.

    Reminds me of my 9 year olds boys club games just running around with out the ball.

    What was MDs plan tonight? To run with the Clips?

    Oh boy!

  26. Thanks, PurpleBlood and Ko.

    PurpleBlood I thought I heard you on the radio two days ago, was that you on ESPN?

    I saw the towel guy at the table with Sacre and I thought the Lakers were trying to sneak a player on the floor. LOL. One must find humor somewhere.

    I guess we won’t see Hill anymore this game, he took that 15ft shot and missed. How many minutes did he play, six.

    Sacre you could have dunked that on Griffin’s head!! Too many Lakers are soft at the rim. DUNK EVERYTHING!!!

  27. 75 point half?

    And Mitch said coach doing a GREAT job!

  28. Can’t get any rebounds. Wow 3 Lakers under the basket just standing around.

  29. CHearn,
    lol, no that wasn´t me on ESPN – you see, I´m down in Patagonia, so that means someone´s using my handle up there! Unless it´s Magic, tell `em to get their own monicker!
    & yeah, JHill should get more minutes!

  30. Marshall showing why he has not stuck the last 2 teams. When he is guarded he is below avarage.

  31. So a team with bad turnover issues decides to run with a quick fast break team.

    And this weeks quote from Mitch was coach is doing a great job?

    About to lose 11 out of 12. What is a bad job? Showing up with no shoes and their underwear on?

  32. Okay, I spy an adjustment. Wesley on Collison and Meeks on Redick, with Marshall on Dudley.

  33. Get Meeks out of there.

  34. How can anyone say it’s not a coach issue. There is no structure, no hustle , no help on defense, no clue on offense, keeps Meeks on court now a minus 30!

    This is bad coaching making players look worse then they are. That’s bad coaching!

  35. My bad. Meeks is now a minus 37. Ha ha ha

  36. Link to 16 minute video scouting Joel Embiid:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn-dtrmh0nM

  37. These guys are painful to watch. No semblance of defense at all. And the Clippers are without Paul.

    Just ugly, the past few weeks… but yeah, Nash will be back soon to save us. Jerry West, too.

  38. Gutless weak soft team. No fight.

  39. No emotion from the Lakers. Not even a hard foul to Griffin or Jordan. Lakers have given up and maybe we should too. Time to tank.

  40. A third quarter and game to forget.

  41. Meeks a minus 44 with 5 TO and 2 for 10 yet still in the game.

  42. Refs need to keep this game under control. Besides the fact that they’re annihilating us on National TV, they’re also trying to show us up and humiliate us. Wouldn’t be surprised to see someone take a flagrant on 1 of the Clippers players.

  43. Hey Ken,
    The Lakers only have 9 players dressed to play and only 3 of them — Marshall, Meeks, and Young — are even guards. Regardless of his stats, when you complain about Meeks “still being in the game” you don’t sound smarter than the coach, you sound, for lack of better words, silly and uninformed.

  44. the other Stephen January 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    this one loss should count as losing three games, so that we can get to the lottery sweepstakes sooner.

  45. @Gary i gave up a while ago, the thing is that this team with 8 players suiting up is gassed, i say it before this stretch of games started, that this was going to get ugly, im glad im not watching this game. This is going to be worse than the 2003-2004 season. We just need to endure this will pass.

  46. Darius i was going to say that Meeks is in the game because we dont have anybody else. When people will understand that this team is completely decimated by injuries.

  47. Your right. I keep thinking Sasha is still on the team.

  48. Maybe they should get a PG signed to a 10-day before the trip…

  49. Losing 60 games is starting to look like a real posibility with this bunch, this team is a tad over the nbadl and below the NBA, i never thought that the injury bug last year would bite us worse than last year but it came back with a vengeance. I can already hear the nuclear explosion of this team being blown up after the season. We are getting a good positioning for the lottery thats the only thing to look fwd to.

  50. Stupid idea Rr.

  51. If injuries are the answer to the Lakers woes, then why not slow the darned game down and play a controlled offense? Why would you try to run with a team with the moniker “Lob City?”
    When you have one point guard you slow the game down, you don’t speed it up and then cry about not having a point guard. Eighteen turnovers exemplifies the very need to stop pushing the ball down court and rushing to shoot the ball.

    Inexcusable to lose by 42 points to your cross-town rivals!!!!!

  52. rr the tank is here i dont doubt Mitch and Buss raised their arms and went ” to hell with this” this season is lost. Most of these guys will be gone after the season, ride them until they can run no more.

  53. Ko,

    I am on board with Kobe sitting out the rest of the year. I was just thinking of you.

  54. Fern,

    See my reply to Ko.

  55. C. Hearn because we dont have the talent. Most of the guys available would not make the rotation if the team was healthy. Fast paced, low paced the results would be the same.

  56. CHearn I brought that up. But what do I know.

  57. But what do I know.

    Jodie Meeks +/-

  58. In sports, a loss is a loss. But a blowout is in a different realm. Lose 59-50 not 123-87.

    Blake Griffin has been on a tear since the rumor came out about the possible trade of him to New York for Carmelo Anthony.

    My point exactly James Worthy, the team has to find one aspect of the game to discontinue doing from one game to the next. This team is not learning, injuries be darned.

  59. Well, the Clippers got to take 30+ years of playing 2nd fiddle – opps, that’s being too generous with them – out on the Lakers tonight. It was garbage time after the 1st qtr.

    When you bring a limited number of knives to a gunfight this is what happens.

  60. Meeks have a really good season dont pile on him because one craptacular game. It only took one game for peeps here to basically call him a no good POS.

  61. Craig, correctien a limited number of dull knifes.

  62. Relax, Fern. I am just good-naturedly poking my man Ko for calling me stupid.

  63. Guy I sold my tickets to wants his money back. He is a attorney and said he will sue me for fraud.

    Well at least the players are good losers. I am not clearly.

  64. Rr you know I was kidding. That is as obvious as the big Italian nose on my face. If you picked up a couple of guys you wouldn’t have to watch Jody trying to be a PG.

    That is if you wanted to compete.

  65. rr its ok, even healthy this team wasnt that good it was avg not great with all the injuries we are terrible, i made my peace with this season already lol. Cant watch as many games as before because my heart would explode combined with an aneurysm and im not that old lol, but it will get better, with the Lakers it always does. Hope we make a good choice in the draft thats have to be the 1st step. In 3 or 4 years we be back. GO LAKERS!!!!!

  66. Can’t blame any one player.
    Unfortunately, and I hate to pile on Dantoni, but no matter which players are available to you, it’s important to give a maximum effort- coaches and players alike.
    FO will undoubtedly give Dantoni a pass this year, again, considering all the injuries.
    But it’s difficult to see a bright future with this coach. Just too many question marks.
    If I’m GM I’d ride this season out, see how Kobe and hopefully Nash look on their returns and if no improvement is evident by the end of the year, I’d replace the coach and start over.
    I hope we can retain Hill.
    I’m also a fan of Kaman but he’ll only stick around if there’s a new coach. Of that much, I’m sure.

  67. Team stats:
    Combined steals and blocks
    Effort and focus categories
    29-3 in favor of Clips.
    29-3!

  68. Ko,

    I know.

    Fern,

    Stay healthy. FBG needs you.

  69. Whatever fight this team had at the beginning of the year went the way of the dodo bird. Having said that when a point guard you picked up off the scrap heap two weeks ago is your best player you got problems

  70. Eventually we will be talking ping pong balls around here. I forgot how the system works, because the Lakers are never in the Lottery.

  71. The problem with a one trick pony coach is the other teams are riding horses and MD is 10 lengths behind on a pony and telling jokes when people ask him why as he keeps flashing back to the old Sun days. Man can’t a Adjust.

    This team is not nearly this bad.

  72. Yeah where is Aaron? I still believe in his pipedream. And that ain’t no joke!

  73. Lakers – Clippers. That was farcical. The announcers could barely hide their contempt for way the Lakers were playing. The lack of effort is a coaching issue because MDA’s job is to hold his players accountable to themselves and each other. Tough times.

  74. Lakers have looked like a disjointed team on the floor for a while now. We’ve only seen small stretches of the team playing like a 5 man unit, most recently the 10+ game stretch before Kobe came back. Lakers need to get back to playing as a unit and not 5 individuals with their own gameplans. That’s where I miss the triangle the most is it made the Lakers think and react as a team.

  75. Of all the Lakers’ many problems (injuries, lack of continuity in the rotation, absence of talent, etc., etc.), the one issue that sticks out the most–and has not been addressed in any of the previous blogs that I know of–is the reality that, in my opinion, this coaching staff has lost the team.

    This is a matter of leadership. This is a matter of credibility…credibility that leaders should have with their employees (or in this case, players). I’ve seen it come about over the last 11-12 games. I honestly believe that Mike D’Antoni has completely lost the team.

    It’s not easy for me to admit this. (I am neither a D’Antoni apologist nor a detractor. I actually wanted to see him be successful this year.) I’ve seen this occur a few times before in athletics. It doesn’t happen often. But I think that we are witnessing an example of a coach (and his staff) losing the players’ faith in the “system,” the tenets that the coaches preach, and in the coaches themselves.

    For example, I’m sure that MDA and his staff tell the players to get back on defense. But the players don’t. I’m certain that the coaches talk to them about blocking out in going after rebouds. But, again, the players don’t. I’m sure that the coaches tell them to make safe passes, especially with their point guards being down. But the players don’t. I’m equally certain that the coaches talk to them about making proper rotations so that they don’t leave the Darren Collisons and JJ Redicks of the world wide open for 3-pt. shots. But the players just don’t respond.

    None of these issues is a matter of talent. Rather they are issues of effort and determination. (You don’t have to be talented to block out. You just do it.) The University of Arizona basketball team–the #1 college basketball team in the nation for the last 6 weeks–do all of these things. They do them superbly. They do them tenaciously. But those players listen to their coaches. The Lakers’ players clearly do not.

    As a result, my only conclusion is that D’Antoni and his entire staff have simply lost credibility in the eyes of the players. In Leadership, whenever that happens, it’s a situation that is almost impossible to reverse. I think that this is what has occurred with the present Lakers team. And it pains me to admit it.

  76. I don’t think people now what the word “tank” means. To tank is to lose on purpose. Withholding effort for the purpose of losing, that is tanking. This team is not losing because they are tanking. They are losing because they don’t have the talent to win. That lack of talent, and it’s negative impact, is disheartening. This loss of spirit is not a tanking. It is a result of effort that achieves negative result.

    This team does not need to tank to get a decent number of ping-pong balls. Plus, it makes little sense to tank. It hasn’t worked for quite a long time. So, calling for the tank seems a pretty silly desire, and calling what is happening right now a tank job is far from accurate.

  77. Great point by Mid-Wilshire. It’s a tough thing to talk about because two elements are not mutually exclusive. You can “try” and put forth “effort” while making mental errors, and without being fundamentally sound.

    I don’t think anyone would suggest that the Lakers aren’t playing hard, that they aren’t trying to win. But at some point — and especially with a young and inexperienced team like this — you have to see some evidence that coaching is taking place. Consistently ignoring fundamental practices like boxing out, getting back on defense and taking care of the ball don’t speak well to what is happening between players and coaches. Even if MDA and staff were coaching a high school team against NBAers, these are things that could be done, and often aren’t. Lack of talent can’t be the only yardstick here.

    (You also, hopefully, have someone on-court who can command the respect of teammates in such a way that they will remember this stuff. The proverbial “coach on the floor.” I love Pau and everything he’s done for this team, but he is not that guy. And I really don’t see anyone else currently active who has the gravitas to attempt it.)

  78. When the teammate next to you isn’t able to slide over and get in front of an opponent and you have to help out, but no one covers your back because they are not able to handle their own man on their own – then you get a disorganized defense.

    This isn’t about the players listening, or not listening, to coaches. This is about development and talent. These players need leaders on the floor to show them how to do things. They don’t have any of these leaders (IMO Pau is simply not a leader of others). When leaders are not there, then no one is doing things in any organized fashion and chaos simply breaks out. We Laker fans haven’t seen this because this organization has had good floor leaders over much of its history. When you combine this with a team full of players simply trying to learn how to be role players and stick in the NBA, then this is the result. Now add a Clipper team with a very large ‘Laker’ chip on their shoulder and we viewed the result last night.

  79. And this is a big deal because if we do end up with a lottery pick, is it a good thing to bring them into a situation where coaching doesn’t seem to be taking hold? I have always thought that MDA would work well with younger players (unlike, say, Phil), but this latest run is giving me pause.

  80. Craig — you read my mind. (I have a post partly about on-court leadership in mod.)

  81. It’s easy to blame players and their coaches for lack of fundamentals or effort, but it’s not that simple. When other teams are quicker and more athletic, and you’re in a system that doesn’t promote a favorable pace and good floor balance, the result is bad defense, whether getting beat off the dribble or in transition. That leads to even more scrambling, fatigue, desperation, and loss of purpose. If D’Antoni has the right talent, his way of playing can be pretty successful, but with these players, especially without a good PG, it’s a disaster.

  82. I agree about system-related deficiencies causing frustration when a team is overmatched like the Lakers are currently, but I don’t think it can all be chalked up to players not fitting the system. Everybody has to box out, for example, no matter what the system is. These guys often don’t.

    No doubt exhaustion and discouragement play a part in these failures, but combatting that is part of how a coach earns his dough, even under circumstances like these.

  83. I’m not a fan of D’Antoni’s philosophy, but I think he’s definitely earning his money. He’s probably very frustrated, as the players are, and I’d bet they’re working hard in practice to try to overcome a boatload of problems. Not a fun season. If the Lakers want to make a coaching change at some point, I hope it’s because they decide a new philosophy is needed, not because of some notion that the coaches have lost the players.