Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Suns

Darius Soriano —  January 15, 2014

The Lakers start their Grammy Trip tonight, facing off against a familiar Suns team. This will be the third time these two teams play, the Suns winning both prior contests by 6 and 27 points respectively.

In those first two match ups, the Suns dynamic backcourt pairing of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe were key in helping to dispatch the Lakers. Both showed off an ability to get to the rim almost at will while also flashing playmaking in setting up good shots for their teammates. Their ability to be both scorers and facilitators kept the Lakers on their heels while also allowing the Suns to create a balanced attack.

Tonight, however, Bledsoe will not play due to arthroscopic surgery on his knee for a partially torn meniscus. This is blow to the Suns who have lost 3 in a row while trying to compensate for Bledsoe’s absence with Gerald Green getting more minutes and by signing journeyman guard Leandro Barbosa. Both Green and Barbosa are capable players (in their own ways), but neither are anywhere near the player Bledsoe is and the team misses him severely.

Whether that matters against a Lakers’ group that is currently one of the worst teams in the league remains to be seen. Our guys have lost 11 of their last 12 games, including their last 5, and don’t look to get back on track soon even though they played somewhat better against the Cavs. In last night’s loss to Cleveland, the Lakers again showed good spirit and some better offense, but still struggled mightily to defend or rebound well enough.

One area of their defense that really struggled was their work on the perimeter where they gave up penetration far too easily and didn’t do a good enough job of contesting shots behind the arc. The Cavs had a historically good shooting night from three point range, hitting an unfathomable 13 of their 17 shots from deep. The 76.5% accuracy from three is the eighth best mark all time on 15 attempts or more and the fourth best if you up the attempts to 17 (h/t to Gary Collard on the stat). Not good.

Tonight, the Lakers’ D will have to be better behind the arc where the Suns have multiple players – Dragic, Channing Frye, Green, P.J. Tucker, Marcus Morris – who all shoot over 38%. Their D will also need to be better in transition where the Suns do a lot of damage by pushing the ball up court and looking for quick hitting actions in early offense that can exploit a slowfooted team like the Lakers. Being that Pau is also banged up, the injuries that leave only 9 players available, and the fact that they played last night and controlling the tempo and not getting into a trackmeet is even more important.

Offensively, the Lakers need to keep it simple and rely on their inside-out game to get them the points they need to keep the game close. Pau has played quite well lately and when he is on the floor he needs to be featured inside to create a balance between what he can provide as a scorer and distributor from the block with the Lakers typically more perimeter oriented attack. If the proper balance can be struck and the Lakers’ shooters can have a good night, the game has a chance to remain close much like the Cavs game.

This, however, is a lot to ask all things considered. The Lakers are clearly slumping horribly and the injuries combined with the lack of sheer bodies to soak up minutes is taking its toll. The team is expending more energy offensively than they are defensively and that’s leading to teams running up the score while the Lakers don’t have enough talent to keep up. It is not a formula that is working and while preaching that they start to play better defense is natural, this group of players simply aren’t very good defensive players. This isn’t to excuse them, but recognizing player limitations is the first part of analysis and looking at this team objectively tells you they’re going to struggle to get stops.

In any event, the Lakers will try to turn it around tonight. They could surely use a win to start their road trip.

Where you can watch: 6:00pm start on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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59 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Suns

  1. Interesting that Celts make moves for future and very quickly Suns go out and get replacement when their guard goes down.

    Lakers do nothing but talk about injuries . Hard to see any attempt by FO to even pretend to try and win.

    Not showing competence to us fans!

  2. Ko: Big fear for the Lakers is turning off the season ticket holders. If they start trading for the future, then they are admitting that their is no present, and so they have to maintain the pretense of trying to win now (Kobe’s deal) while actually sucking. A tricky wicket to navigate that by miscalculating (Kobe’s deal) my keep the team mired in mediocrity.

  3. People talk about Kobe’s deal like its a 10 year contract. This is a sendoff contract and he deserves it. I dont expect the Lakers to be contenders for the next 3-5 years so what difference does it make,really? We might start making a splash around 2015. The team is been decimated by injuries if not the team would be around 500 or a lil better. This is the team and season fate handed to us the FO is included in this. Not much to do about it but take our lumps and endure. Things will improve in time. On tonights game if we could bot beat a garbage team like Cleveland at home what hope we have tonight? They did not play well last night they were playong their equals in futility. Im going to see the worst Lakers season in my entire life. 55-60 losses a real posibility.

  4. Parrothead Phil January 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    I second every thing that Fern wrote. I will continue to support and root for the Lakers, but it is getting very difficult to watch.

  5. he (Pau) needs to be featured inside to create a balance between what he can provide as a scorer and distributor from the block with the Lakers typically more perimeter oriented attack.
    Darius, in no way do I have the wherewithal to question your logic in regard to the team´s playing style, but how real is the possibility of altering our typical style of play to increase Pau´s effectiveness from the block for tonight´s game? Given its tendency to stick, mostly, to its guns, would the coaching staff go that far?
    Parrot, I agree with you and Fern. It´s a living nightmare.
    Unrelated: bryan S., did you end up making the trip to B.A.?

  6. bryan S: Yes – we are trying to be all things to all people. Let’s try to get better via cap space and the draft, but oh yea – let’s be good to Kobe and give him a third of the cap. Let’s try to win with an old veteran team, and when that doesn’t work, we will go to Full Showtime and Fun Fun Fun (with the same players of course). Let’s trade Pau for future considerations, no let’s keep him to keep Kobe happy, no let’s trade him, oops let’s keep him. Let’s get Kaman since Dwight left – but what are we supposed to do with him? Let’s hire this guy, no on second thought – this guy. Let’s bring Kobe back, no let’s have him sit the year, no let’s bring him back. Let’s wear the blue baseball cap with the old jeans, no on second thought the red baseball cap and the old jeans.

  7. I’ll continue to support the lakers but realistically we wont really start competing until we get rid of dantoni — his system just does not win — if you look at his entire experience outside of a few years in phoenix where he kind of fell into the perfect storm for his system hes pretty terrible.

    I know that we have been able to get guys like Marshall performing in terms of stats but otherwise after having gone through a long series of years where we were elite I think we can all see that from the eye test that his teams wont win.

    Who does everyone think will be our next coach? – im thinking Bryon Scott or in a perfect world Thibadeau – thibs would be cool because it would be the 2nd bulls coach to lead us back to glory.

  8. Let’s wear the blue baseball cap with the old jeans, no on second thought the red baseball cap and the old jeans.

  9. Robert a lot of that stuff is media created, specially about Pau all that trade to Cleveland nonsense happened bc the Lakers (rightly so) askes for a lot since it was the Cavs that aproached the FO inquiring about Pau not the other way around, other than that the Lakers have been quiet about personnel moves everything has been the famous “sources” which i believe are smokescreen set up by journalists to guess. In all the years as a Laker fan i dont remember a time when the Lakers showed their hand until things were done. Mitch said it himself, the Lakers dont thank and he never been known as a liar, unless there is a deal so good the Lakers could not refuse I believe Pau stays the season. A lot of stuff is been speculation.

  10. “I know that we have been able to get guys like Marshall performing in terms of stats but otherwise after having gone through a long series of years where we were elite I think we can all see that from the eye test that his teams wont win.”
    Really? You think? This team wasnt going to win anythimg even healthy I would love to see PJ record with a team without 5 of his top 6 guys, his record would not be that different. Im not defending MDA and sometimes i scratch my head about his philosophy and personel decisions but he deserves a pass so far bc we just dont have the talent to be competitive. In other words he is triying to make an omelet out of cow dung. If he had a heathy team with this record? I be the first one with a torch and a pitchfork asking for his head. But there is no coach that could fix this mess.

  11. Curious

    They were just making fun of Rambis(kidding him) never standing up on TW. What is it he does this year? Teaches defense? If so it’s good thing his wife Linda is best friends with Jeanne Buss and also works for Lakers.

  12. I agree that one of the bigger concerns for the Lakers are the season ticket holders since the revenue from those seat licenses are not shared with staples and prices are likely arbitrarily set by the organization. However, I think Jeannie has done and continues to do a fine job of selling those seats so I am sure that while some season ticket holders will drop off, there are literary thousands of wait listed season ticket holders waiting to get their hands on tickets.

    Robert: The only failed trade I have heard of is the “veto”. Otherwise, I think the message has been clear on what the plan is. I will not bore you with recapping what has been said dozens of times on that. Don’t fall into the pit of believing every rumored trade you read as being true, because when you do you come to the incorrect conclusion that the FO has been switching their plan over and over, when in fact they have remained steady even with all of the injuries the team has suffered. Now, the Kaman “playing time” issue is entirely Mike D’s making, but I think his signing was reasonable at the time because I think he was brought on as insurance in case we got a great deal for Pau that could speed up the team from contending. With Kobe, Nash, Blake etc injured, that plan would appear to be sidelined – but sometimes that’s the price you have to pay to do business in the NBA. I think the FO deserves criticism for not moving Pau so far, but its tough to make that argument without speculating about what we can get back in return. Again, remember that this team rarely (if ever) tips its hand on what their plans are for trades and free agents so I think its inaccurate to imply they keep changing their mind on where we are going. Finally, you continue to imply that the FO decides when and where Kobe and Nash will return to action when you know fully well by now that such decisions are never made by any FO in the NBA (l’m guessing this would violate the CBA). While an FO can influence a player to take it slow or question why they do not play when they are medically cleared, ultimately it is the player in connection with his doctors that make that determination (see DRose). The one criticism I think that is solid in your rant above is that the FO gave kobe 1/3 of the cap space. I could have sworn that you said you were OK with it or in fact liked it, but you have now brought it up several times so I’m guessing that have now switched sides. I think that is understandable but respectfully disagree as I believe the length of the deal is very short and I believe the checkbooks will be opened if the right free agents/trades are available.

    And for those of you complaining about MikeD’s system not winning, his coaching decisions and everything else: it seems to me that, based on the alleged strength of this draft and the injury decimation we have experienced this season and the hope that we can rescue some rotation players out of the current roster, there is more value in ending as a lower seed than there is in magically winning games and trying to make the playoffs as an 8th seed. While I agree that the Lakers do not plan on tanking, it seems to me that destiny has delivered the tanking none the less. So, is this such a bad thing right now?

  13. blaming is easy.
    building a team is hard.

    there is no way to win with so many injuries to key perimeter players, especially on a team made of second string players. this is how it is this year. it’s tough, but it won’t last forever, just like the championships couldn’t last forever.

    there’s no problem with Kobe’s contract, it doesn’t preclude anything that the Lakers can actually do.

    about draft picks, they are no promise of anything. they can lead to some sort of success, look at OKC or Magic and Worthy or Kobe, but they can also be a waste, look at Cleveland, Sactown and all the high picks on the Lakers right now. all that can be done is for the principles to do their best and then wait to see what happens.

    fwiw, i’ll take this season over last season.

  14. From LA Times today

    Magic Johnson says Lakers problems lie with Jim Buss

  15. wiw, i’ll take this season over last season.

  16. I don’t like this season, but it is better than last season.

  17. Magic Johnson is a hater. He has no reason to talk crap to Jim buss but has been for the past 2 years.

  18. That is a team not ready to play. 3 guys never got back 3 times in a row. Terrible team defense.

  19. Purple: Glad to amuse you my friend. I just wanted to show that Jim could manage “the cap”
    mud: When I am at games I never boo or yell at the players and rarely even at coaches. I do not like when others do. I think we should cheer the team on and support them. I am different when it comes to posting, but I just wanted to let you know I understand your point of view.
    Fern: “I’m going to see the worst Lakers season in my entire life.” Well – it could be the worst Laker season in history (since the NBA went to 82 games which occurred right after they stopped having jump balls after each basket). Last time we went 2 years without winning a playoff game was 1976. We have never won less than 30 (in an 82 game season). Only the 6th time in 66 years that will have missed the playoffs.
    “Magic Johnson says Lakers problems lie with Jim Buss” – Yea – he has been “redundantly” saying that for the past 3 years. I always have been a Magic fan.
    Ko: I need to go indulge in one of my vices (the bottled kind) so I can tolerate this game.

  20. Hard to watch this lazy team on defense. Pau and Hill playing half court.

  21. Fern: The problem with Kobe’s contract is that it is long enough to slow asset acquisition, which is the way forward that affords the greatest potential for rapid rebuilding.

    Robert: The organization underestimates the fan base loyalty and general intelligence: we know hard times lie ahead and we can deal with that, now get on with the rebuild and enough of the bread and circus.

  22. How can. 25% shooting Kelly be better then Kamen?

  23. Best guy on the court was Chris

    Hope MD was watching!

  24. I read Magic remarks and i agree, the thing is that we have the face of the organization in the Buss family already a certain Zen Master would be perfect for that role, he has even more pedigree than Pat Riley for crissakes!!! Either that or bring Jerry West back in any capacity.

  25. I believe Kaman has officially succeeded Hill for the number one spot on my “why isn’t this guy playing more” list….and more for his “D” than his “O”–he is the only player we have that even remotely resembles a rim protector. That mini-run was as much about his interior defense as it was his offense

    I’d be interested to know Kaman’s season on/off in comparison to Pau’s season on/off…at both ends…

  26. It’s about time!!!!!!

    Stand up for yourself, Nick. Marquise is a punk, this where the Lakers needed Shawne! Nobody but Kelly stepped in there to protect his team mate. Len fouled Nick hard and didn’t even try to hold him up. Come on Kev Cutler, toss Len or Morris!

  27. What I would predict…

    Flagrant one on 21 white
    Technical on 15 white and ejected
    Technical on 1 white
    2 Techs and ejection on zero blue
    Zero blue may get a couple games off

    Regardless–I’m with CHearn—I like Nick showing some chippiness after getting treated like that

  28. Well, that’s one less guy available for the next few nights.

  29. Brilliant Nick. Your gone with no bench. Just threw away another game.

    Not one Laker backed Nick
    Not a word from lame duck Mike.
    What a sad sad sad.

    Another MD excuse after game for losing.

  30. Go back and replay that CHearn it was 5 suns vs Nick.

  31. So Sacre goes from start to DNP-CD, to start and back to DNP-CD. Yet, you wonder why this team is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. These lineups are truly laughable!

    Wow, Ryan looks like he’s gotten fired up! I like the kid. A rookie can only improve with playing time. Remember he was unable to play basketball for six months and did not participate in training camp with the Lakers. Still getting his sea legs under him. He’s going to make a fine rotation player.

    Ko-Ryan was there initially, he just didn’t follow Nick going towards the bench. He sort of disappeared, though. Looking at it you’re right. He was helping Nick get up, I guess. LOL, that’s not good!

  32. Nick or no Nick we still stink so i see no difference.

  33. Chearn
    Maybe but it’s hard to be positive when he wears Walton’s number.

    Perhaps the coach might take Kendall of Green.

  34. Ko, that’s B-Scott’s number, always will be!!!!

    Do the Lakers know that they can use their arms and hands on defense and in the passing lanes?

    Rookie mistake by Kendall trying to impress his old team.

    Come on coach, start Kaman and Pau together in the 3rd!

  35. Way to step up for your teanmate Lakers, sheesh

  36. That sequence at the end of the half, i have to laugh bc i didnt wanted to cry. Blew a 13 point lead and the 3rd quarter of doom aproaches.

  37. Hope there are scouts there so they saw Kamen since this great coach won ‘t play rest of game.

    Marshall D league play.

  38. Wonder why MD refuses to call TOs at end of half to set up plays. He had 2 left.

    Saving them for next year?

  39. Nick Young lets out some frustration after taking a hard foul and gets ejected, will have to wait to see if he will miss any games for his actions.

  40. That altercation showed me that most of this team is not a team . No way it happens in Magic years just like Worthy and Horry said.

    One year guys looking for pay days. Mean while Mike was smiling on bench. Go back and watch.

  41. Kamen being punished for playing good.

  42. Pau is bad out there. Yet Chris K sits.

    Explain please.

  43. Marshall is just terrible shooter. 4 game in a row under 30%. Should never shoot the ball.

    3 for 13 tonight.

  44. I think mda wants to get fired.. Only way to explain his temper tantrums and why he would bench caveman who’s been the Lakers best player tonite!!

  45. He takes Kamen who out scored Pau in half the minutes and Pau looks like a stiff out there in 30 seconds.

    I give up on this coach.

  46. Pau has lost the game 2 nights in a row within a split second. Just now turns the ball over and instead of being down by 4 we get down by 10 in a few plays after. Pau for his own sake needs a new team.

  47. Maybe MDA is coaching to lose. If he coaches to win he will lose his job. He knows something we don’t.

  48. Nice job Mitch

    Marshall 4 for 16

    That’s the best he could find out there.

    14th in the West. Utah look out.

  49. MDA’s adjustments at halftime , never mind what adjustments. He really can’t be that bad of a coach and that is why I think he is coaching to lose.

  50. When the offense consists of 5 players on the perimeter and nobody is going toward the rim, there are going to be very few fouls and no offensive rebounds. That is a team asking to get beat. At least Pau and Hill should be drifting toward the basket. Exactly what are big men for, if not to at least try to rebound.

    If this is the coaching, then get new coaches. If this is the players, then Kaman should be getting more minutes.

    Rant due to frustration with a team desiring exclusively jump shots.

  51. Players usually won’t lose on purpose because they have too much pride and in the Lakers case they are all playing for contracts but a coach will coach to lose and will take the team in the direction management wants him to.

  52. Mitch told MDA to lose games. Don’t know why it took people so long to figure out. Now the question is: are people okay with “t…ing?” I’m okay with it. Is anybody else?

  53. Sorry for the rant, just frustrated. Past 10 plus games they start the 3rd and we know what’s coming.

  54. Worst coached team in NBA.

    Young calling out his teammates

    Marshall 15 for 51 last 4 games

    Who is worse Mike or Mitch?

    No more excuses for this team and coach.

  55. And yeah one more thing , they shouldn’t resign anyone except Nick Young. Not a single teammate came to back him up. Total punk move by all of them.

  56. Ko,

    Well if MDA is coaching to lose than he is actually the best coach in the league because he is doing a great job. Does he get a multi year lucrative contract for the great job he is doing.

  57. Kevin

    Have you heard him talk?

    Not that smart.

    Marshall calling out Young while stsnding and watching puts him back to the D LEAGUE.

  58. What is disconcerting to me is how the supposed lofty Lakers fans are floating around the notion that the organization has told this coach to coach to lose. One moment the claim is that the Lakers pedigree is higher than all of the other teams in the league, but in the same sentence bloggers want the Lakers to replicate the success of other teams, i.e., Seattle/Oklahoma. There’s a reason why that team is the only successful model to jump from the bottom to the top via the draft. What most proponents of tanking do not divulge in regards to Oklahoma, is that when they were in Seattle they were relegated to mediocrity for a decade before luck landed them Kevin Durant. Yet, Lakers Nation somehow feels as though the Lakers need only hit rock bottom for this hypothetically loaded draft and get free agents Anthony, Love, Westbrook, Durant, or James to join the team to rocket the Lakers back to contending for championships. WWJBWS (wonder what Jerry Buss would say)!

    The Lakers boxed themselves into long sentimental contracts predicated upon the championships that, Kobe, Pau, and Peace won for Jerry Buss—his call. Couple those contracts with the new CBA and those two elements did what no other team in the league could consistently do, and that is to take down the Lakers.

    Last season and thus far this season the Lakers are a fiasco! If Jim Buss has orchestrated the fail by design strategy, then the direction the organization is taking is far more off course than any of us could imagine. For the record, I don’t buy this notion, not for one moment. Buss is hamstrung by the fact that he fired Brown five games into the season, and can’t possibly fire this coach during the season, or people like @Robert-will make jokes about him not being able to decide anything loftier than the choice between red or blue baseball caps.

    Buss Jr.’s legacy will be defined by what the organization does in June 2014-2016 with the first and foremost, coach, draft picks, free agents and the personnel from this team that he decides to retain. Until that juncture, we have to live with the Lakers as constructed. Not easy considering we’re paying Mercedes Benz prices for a product of the quality of a Yugo, but remaining a fan though the years with Smush Parker as the starting guard, as well as through the years when Buck hoisted his first championship trophy are what separate loyal fans from Waggoner’s.

  59. Frustrating to watch the Lakers. That much is apparent. However, the part that kills me is the lack of physicality and camaraderie. The Lakers set the worst screens in the league, which allows for little creativity for point guards, which results in bad offensive possessions.

    Secondly, the Lakers are terrible at boxing out and securing rebounds. Jordan Hill is the only person who consistently boxes out and gives all out effort.

    Thirdly, the defensive rotations have been atrocious. Pau has no pride on defense and gives little to no effort. If he wants to blame it on injuries, then just sit out. He needs a team dynamic that requires him to bring his best. Now that the Lakers are a fragmented bunch with nothing to play for, he is coasting and is lacking the pride of a hard working player.

    Finally, I’m fine with tanking this season, but wish that we can create as a tough out, rather than opponents thinking that they are going to get buckets and go for a career high.