Week At A Glance

Andre Khatchaturian —  January 18, 2014

The Los Angeles Lakers finally snapped their six game losing streak this week and they did it in dramatic fashion against longtime rival Boston. The Lakers had an up and down week and were inconsistent as evidenced by two losses to Cleveland and Phoenix.

The Good: The Lakers scored over 100 points in all three games this week. With their defense struggling all season long, they need the offense to consistently put up 100+ in order to stay competitive in games. They were able to do so this week.

The Lakers shot 60 percent from three point land in Boston after shooting around 30 percent in the 13 games leading up to the showdown at the Garden. Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks, and Wes Johnson were all spot on from beyond the arc. The trio combined for 23-of-50 from three point land.

Speaking of Marshall, he continues to show that he’s the real deal. He has 53 assists in the last four games, which is 12 more than anyone else during that span. In the win against Boston, he hit the go ahead three pointer late in the fourth quarter showing signs of clutch.

Ryan Kelly also played the best game of his young career at Boston – scoring 20 points and playing a critical role in the fourth quarter. In fact, he’s the only player on the Lakers during the last 14 games to have a positive plus-minus rating at +0.4. Those aren’t from garbage minutes, either. Kelly played in all 14 games and averaged 18 minutes.

Finally, Pau Gasol continues to play well as he continues to put up vintage Pau numbers — at least offensively. This week he averaged 22.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

Oh, and the victory over the Celtics meant that the Lakers have now beaten their cross country rivals five of the last six times. Nothing better than dominating your biggest rival.

The Bad: The Lakers continue to excel in the art of not defending well. Yes, of course, they have injuries and Mike D’Antoni’s system doesn’t exactly stress defense but check out these atrocious numbers:

Screen Shot 2014 01 18 at 5.30.30 PM

In other words, bet the over.

I actually tried to see how many times Laker fans won Jack In The Box tacos this year at Staples Center (the Lakers won and held the opponent to less than 100 points) and was surprised to see that number was six times in eight home wins. What does this mean? It means that the Lakers win when they defend. Simple as that.

They got a break last night because they were on fire from three point land and because the Celtics are the Celtics. The fact of the matter is the Lakers continue to be an awful defensive team and that’s why they fell into that awful slump.

Fans can make all the injury excuses they want. The team still has guys like Jordan Hill, Pau Gasol, and Jodie Meeks who have been in the league. There’s no excuse why Gasol has the second worst defensive rating on the Lakers.

Offensively, turnovers continued to be a problem for the Lakers. After just turning it over 12 times against Cleveland, the Lakers coughed it up 36 times over the last two road games. In the win against Boston, they did a great job in the first quarter with just one turnover. However, in the last three frames they averaged six per quarter.

The Lakers also got killed on the offensive glass this week. Their opponents averaged 15 offensive rebounds per game while the Lakers just had 7.3. The disparity in offensive rebounds means that opponents are getting more opportunities to score.

Finally, it was clear that all the losing was causing some Lakers to get frustrated. Nick Young’s punch toward Phoenix’s Alex Len resulted in his suspension from the game against Boston. The Lakers can’t afford to lose players for no reason with all these injuries bringing them down. It was only one game but the team needs to be more disciplined even when they frustration sets in.

What’s On Tap: The Lakers play two sets of back-to-backs this week. Tomorrow they have a matinee at Toronto before playing an MLK showdown against the Bulls. Then, after a couple days off they head to Florida to take on both the Heat and the Magic.

Andre Khatchaturian

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11 responses to Week At A Glance

  1. The Lakers EFG% allowed is pretty much dead average and the their FT/FGA attempt is also good but even with jordan hill and gasol they are near dead last in defensive rebounding which is killing their d. And they are near dead last in generating TO’s as well.

    Strangely the LAkers are much better at offensive rebounding +7% when Hill is on the floor but unchanged at defensive rebounding when he is in.

  2. Dave, I think you may have hit on a reason Hill isn’t being asked to ride to the rescue more often. The coach would rather put someone in who can add more offensive shooting, especially if doing so doesn’t impact our defense or defensive rebounding. Whether you agree or disagree with this strategy or not, it still might help explain things.

  3. Craig W.,

    I actually don’t think that D’Antoni’s erratic assignment of minutes to Jordan Hill stems from any detailed analysis of (seemingly) relevant statistics. D’Antoni will play Hill 22 minutes one night and 10.5 minutes the next. He’ll bring him off the bench for 5 games, then start him for 1 or 2. In the Celtics game, Hill played 11 minutes in the first half and zero in the 2nd half. Zero. Manny Harris, the most recent D League call up for the Lakers, played twice as many minutes as Hill in the last game.

    My belief is that MDA is at a loss for what to do with Jordan Hill and, for that matter, Chris Kaman. Neither player fits his preference as a stretch 4. And yet he needs to call on them, at least on occasion. Both are decent rebounders and Jordan Hill is one of the strongest offensive rebounders in the entire NBA.

    As a result, one would think that Jordan Hill would get more burn. Think of it. If you’re the weakest rebounding team in the NBA, shouldn’t you play your best rebounder as many minutes as possible?

    But Hill is not a stretch 4. And D’Antoni is enamored of stretch 4s. Therefore Hill’s numbers suffer.

    But this still does not excuse the erratic assigning of minutes to Hill. To play 22 minutes one game and 10 minutes the next would throw any player off stride. If Hill were to average 25 minutes per game–consistently–I truly believe that he could average a double-double. I think that Hill’s performance suffers under D’Antoni. And as a result, MDA, in my view, has a lot to answer for.

  4. Did any of you account how foul-prone Jordan Hill is? That would affect his minutes for sure.

  5. Hard to argue the Plaschke story in the Times. He can ‘t save the season only decrease their chances of getting the best pick and increasing the chance of injury agsin.

    It’s tough to except and admit but he should wait.

  6. Strangely the LAkers are much better at offensive rebounding +7% when Hill is on the floor but unchanged at defensive rebounding when he is in.

    Research has indicated that DRBs are to some extent an opportunity stat, so that stat is not all that surprising. ORBs are generally more affected by great rebounders.

    One point about Hill: he was acquired while Brown was coach. Hill is not D’Antoni’s kind of player, but he is Brown’s kind. As I have said, if the Lakers are sure that they want MDA to be the coach next year, they should shop Hill.

    Hill is foul-prone, but he averages 4.3 fouls/36, so MDA could play Hill 25-30 minutes a game if he (MDA) wanted to. He doesn’t want to.

  7. I think the debate regarding Hill will always be relative to the other bigs. He is NOT the priority whereas Pau is. On a night where Ryan Kelly is scoring and playing his career bests, where Hill has committed lots of fouls and played significantly worse than Kelly, he played Kelly. What would you say if he benched Kelly for Hill, who wasn’t playing that well when Kelly was playing well?

    On another note, I believe the call to trade Jordan Hill (and Steve Blake) as well as Chris Kaman is warranted. They are not part of the team next year and so we might as well get cap relief or players we like in the process. These 3 won’t fecth a 1st round pick but they can be sold separately to different teams to accumulate different assets.

  8. What I wonder about Hill is how he is viewed by the front office, as opposed to MDA’s view of him. The latter, it is clear, has little use for the guy. I understand this — he doesn’t fit the system — even though I think it is nonsensical. The guy is a great reboiunder, an area of weakness overall, but that doesn’t generate consistent minutes. This is exhibit A when people complain that MDA can’t adapt.

    However, if the organization is committed to MDA for another year, they ought to move Hill, who certainly has some value. That value would presumably increase if he got more minutes — I think he’s a double-double guy too, with consistent time. The season is clearly going nowhere. It seems like the FO would suggest to MDA that playing Hill more minutes would be a good idea as a prelude to moving him. I’m guessing this hasn’t happened. So if there’s devaluation of an asset here, it seems like it’s organizational, as opposed to just on the part of the coaching staff?

    I generally give credit to Mitch — and of course none of us really know what’s going on behind the scenes — but this situation remains perplexing.

  9. From various videos out there and stat watching…I think that I’ve come around to seeing Embiid as the top prospect. I mean you always take the 7 footer right? (Unless Jordan, Durant, Lebron are in it.) Here’s a question for you guys. If the Lakers were to drop into the first pick- Do we pick Embiid with the current coach that we have. Is he the right choice to play under D’Antoni?

    Can he develop a 7 footer with low post moves? You know where I’m going with this. If MDA is here to stay- hehe- then perhaps Wiggins, Parker, Smart, or Exum would be a better choice. If we were to choose a PG, any PG, you know they would be an All-Star under MDA. I claim that you could say the same about a G or SF too. Parker could probably be a stretch 4 under MDA…

    Don’t bring up Amare. He was a guy that could stretch the floor out to 20 feet and roll with the best of them, but he wasn’t your prototypical back-to-the-basket guy. He also played zero D. Embiid reminds me a little of Hibbert, *but he has serious footwork and is more athletic. Can you imagine what Kareem could do with this kid?

  10. Mid Wilshire and Minor Threat – great points about Hill.

    It’s my opinion that any coach that can’t “adapt” – to having an unselfish, workhorse player who gobbles up offensive rebounds – is a certifiable moron.

    Questions about FO’s plan here are valid and alarming. If they plan to trade Kaman and/or Hill they are being devalued. It’s a foregone conclusion that neither player will want to play for Dantoni next year and that’s a shame.

    A rare talent like Embiid, if we were lucky enough to get him, would not thrive under Dantoni because he’s over 6’8″.

    The disconnect between signing Kaman and Dantoni’s use of him indicates a fractured organization possibly due to persisting rifts between Jeannie and Jim.

    Kupchak remains a solid and loyal tie to past Laker glories and paid his dues under the great Jerry West. He continues to provide legitimate reinforcements such as Marshall and most recently Manny Harris.

    If Kupchak were to leave – I wonder if ownership appreciates him since it’s clear, at least at the moment, that they are backing Dantoni’s (mis)judgments about PT – it would represent the last nail in the team’s coffin until the Busses sell.

    Unless by some miracle Jim were to relinquish all basketball responsibilities to Mr. and Mrs. Phil Jackson.

  11. rr-Spot on.

    KenOak-Valid point. Embiid would rot on the bench with this guy as the coach.

    Re: As long as Hill’s playing time is sporadic the Lakers will never know his full potential. Inherent in the game of basketball is an uncharted statistic known as timing. It is imperative to a player in scoring, rebounding and defending in the game. Devoid of playing time a player has difficulty charting the flow of the game, thus the tendency to second think themselves on offense and defense.
    R. Kelly!!!!! How you like me now? I said all along this kid intrigued me. What if he had been playing this entire season?

    Manny Harris, I like his foot speed.

    Kendal Marshall: When’s the last time the Lakers had a real point guard on the verge of making double digit assists for five games? Refreshing!!!