Lakers Refuse to Give in, Battle Back to Win 2nd Straight

Darius Soriano —  January 19, 2014

If there is one quality I have admired most about the Lakers this season it’s that they never give up. Injuries and a lack of talent has cost them games and the losing certainly affected their spirit at different points in the year, but regardless of the scoreboard this team has mostly played as hard as it could and tried their best to win the game.

Sundays game against the Raptors was a perfect example of this. In the first half the Lakers found themselves down by as many as 19. Their defense was struggling to contain dribble penetration and the Raptors were especially hot from the outside, killing the Lakers’ late rotations and spotty transition defense. Even at that early stage of the game, the Lakers could have simply started to go through the motions and, essentially, packed it in. Instead they battled back and closed the half with a nice push to only trail by 4 points at intermission.

The start of the third quarter saw the Raptors start on a similar run to the one they had in the first half, beginning the period to score 12 consecutive points and push their lead back to 16. Again, though, the Lakers battled back to close the period on a 28-11 run to take a single point lead heading into the 4th. Once that final period began, the Lakers fought tooth and nail on both sides of the ball to ultimately win the game down down the stretch with solid execution on both sides of the ball.

As they have most of the year, this team didn’t fall into the trap of watching the scoreboard. Instead they bought into what they were trying to do on both ends, made the needed plays, and came out victorious. Games like this feel good not just because of the final outcome, but because the team had so many chances to fall into the mindset that they should lose only to never do so. They battled hard and were rewarded with a victory. Games like this may not have any long term impact on what this team’s ceiling is, but it certainly reinforces that this group of guys really does care and wants to do their best.

Notes:

  • How about rookie Ryan Kelly? Coming off a career best day against the Celtics on Friday, Kelly continued his strong play against the Raptors by scoring 17 points on only 7 shots to go along with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. The rebounding numbers could stand an uptick, but the benefits of what Kelly provides offensively really do matter. He is a true stretch 4 with range that must be respected. Further, against the Raps, Kelly showed the off the dribble work that guys who play his style need in order to be effective in this league. Kelly attacked closeouts consistently and got into the mid-range area where he either pulled up for short jumpers or drew fouls when getting closer to the rim. Kelly went 6-6 from the line, including 3 big ones in the closing minutes when the defense respected his three point shot so much he was able to draw a foul on an aggressive close out. It has only been two games, but Kelly is starting to show that he truly does belong in this league.
  • Pau Gasol wasn’t his most efficient only hitting 8 of his 20 shots from the field, but he still scored 22 points and grabbed a team high 9 rebounds. Gasol absolutely owned Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas whenever the two matched up, taking him in and out of the post and scoring on him easily most of the day. Gasol’s ability to work over the young big man forced the Raptors into adjusting their rotations, playing Chuck Hayes heavy minutes and having Patrick Patterson play some C. These moves worked out for the Raps, but if you’d have told me before the game that Jonas would be a non-factor on both ends, I’d say the Lakers have a better chance of winning this game.
  • Welcome back Nick Young. Young returned from his one-game suspension to score a game high 29 points on 13 shots (10-11 from the foul line), including a fantastic 5-7 from behind the arc. Young showed good energy all day and hit some huge shots down the stretch when the Lakers needed baskets to hold off the Raptors. It’s days like this — where Young is not only “on” with his jumper, but is drawing fouls — that he’s a real weapon that can carry the team’s offense for extended stretches. Young was also solid on D, guarding DeMar DeRozan down the stretch and forcing his fellow Angeleno into some tough misses in isolation.
  • Another double digit assist for Kendall Marshall. He dropped 11 dimes against Toronto including several next level reads out of the P&R that crystallize how much of a playmaker he really can be. His 10 points on 4-10 shooting (2-3 from behind the arc) were also helpful in keeping the defense off-balance and not just playing him for the pass.

Darius Soriano

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32 responses to Lakers Refuse to Give in, Battle Back to Win 2nd Straight

  1. If Marshall was our “lottery” pick and this was his first season.. We would be talking rookie of the year.. Right? If Nash and D.A can help him get better it will be great for the future….

  2. 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?

    When was the last time the Lakers had a real point guard to get double assists in five straight games? Marshall is an old fashioned point guard that knows how to get the ball to players in their sweet spots.

    Nick Young will definitely be with the Lakers next season. I think Kobe can’t wait to get on the floor at the same time as him.

    From the last Post: Embiid would rot on the bench with this guy as the coach.

    Nash won’t help any of point guards as long as he stays in Canada. Say what you will, but the Mamba is traveling with the team.

  3. Gene

    Question is what happens when Blake and Farmer come back? Hoping they move Blake to the 2 and split minutes for Marsh and Farmer.

  4. The Lakers went 24/42 on 3s in these two wins, and the opponents went 16/53.

  5. 3s are easier to hit when you are open. Most of them were hit moving forward or with good use of the legs – meaning they are a higher percentage shot. When we hit teams that guard the perimeter well (Chicago and Maimi come to mind) our percentages should drop. However, against Chicago we may be able to cut a little easier for the midrange – see Ryan Kelly. Against Miami I simply don’t know anything – sigh!

  6. This is what I said about the 3s in the other thread:

    If the Lakers keep hitting 57% of their 3s (24/42 the last two games) they will win some. I think D’Antoni might tell you that these two wins demonstrate the necessity of having a stretch 4 out there and shows how it opens things up, makes the offense go, etc.

  7. Back to back wins ! Very entertaining.
    With regard to the 3′s: We simply play a non-sustainable brand of basketball. We are dead last in turnover differential. Dead last in rebounding differential. and we are 5th in 3 pointer differential. So essentially we get killed on the boards, we turn the ball over like philanthropists, and we try to offset that by heaving 3′s. I am not criticizing the strategy, as the roster is depleted, and it would be difficult to win no matter what we did. However this is hardly a foundation that we are putting in the ground for the future.
    Chicago can be beat.

  8. I’ve had high hopes for Kelly since he was drafted. I liked what I saw then and said that at some point this season he would start for the Lakers. Looks like that has come to pass, congrats to Kelly. Glad to see the great play from him and hope he keeps it up.

  9. So happy to see Ryan Kelly taking advantage of the opportunity and playing well. For a second round draft pick (48) who missed most of training camp with a foot issue, he is really showing flashes of how good he can be. Still lots of work to do, but he definitely looks like a keeper.
    Robert – I amostly gree with you about the 3s and sustainable basketball. I’m old school and prefer low post basketball & working inside out.
    Having said that, MDA’s brand of basketball with his style of point guard can be quite effective. Too bad all the injuries have robbed us of really seeing it implemented with these players. SB and JF seemed to be running it pretty effectively.
    Here’s hoping for 3 in a row!

  10. Robert,

    Thank you. I concur. Shooting 57% on 3s is hardly sustainable. I’m delighted with the last 2 wins. Please don’t misinterpret me. But if we continue to live by the sword, we’ll certainly be skewered by it.

    Today was perhaps D’Antoni’s strongest statement yet with regard to his “stretch-the floor” offensive philosophy. Of the three 7-footers that the Lakers employ, only one (Pau Gasol) played significant minutes. One (Robert Sacre) played 5 minutes. And Chris Kaman was a DNP-CD…again. We are using only 1/3 of the biggest front line in basketball. Furthermore, Ryan Kelly played 37 minutes and Jordan Hill played 11 (even though Hill played well–6 pts., 5 rebounds, no TOs, no fouls).

    Clearly, traditional bigs have little to no role in MDA’s universe. Which brings me to my original point: can the Lakers continue to shoot 57% from 3-point range? Will Ryan Kelly average 18.5 points per game for the rest of the year? Can the Lakers afford to jettison size (Kaman), rebounding (Hill), and P&R defense (Hill again) and expect to excel in the next 41 games?

    In short, can D’Antoni’s strategy be sustained for more than 3 or 4 games at a time? We shall see. But I think I know the answer.

  11. Personally, I’d love to see the Lakers use Kaman and Hill more. MD’A tries to shoehorn players into his philosophy of ball. There is room in the NBA for big men, regardless of what Mike thinks.

  12. When we hit teams that guard the perimeter well (Chicago and Maimi come to mind) our percentages should drop.

    Opp 3p%,this season;

    TOR .357
    BOS .352
    MIA .368
    CHI .360

    Obviously, there is more to guarding the perimeter than 3s, and in Jimmy Butler, Chicago has an excellent perimeter defender.

  13. So essentially we get killed on the boards, we turn the ball over like philanthropists, and we try to offset that by heaving 3?s.

    That’s a big part of it. But I would add that the Lakers simply get killed in the paint. They are dead last in the NBA in attempts and makes by opponents inside of 5 feet. Opponents have 1408 attempts inside of 5 ft, which is 55 more than the next highest team (Portland). Opponents have hit 840 of these shots. which is 42 more than the next highest team (Utah). The % allowed–.597–isn’t totally awful, but the Lakers allow far too many. Indiana, by comparison, the best defensive team in the NBA, has allowed only 1010 such attempts and only 523 makes.

    Portland has allowed fewer conversions, at a. 557 clip, than the Lakers have, but many observers think that this issue will torpedo Portland in the postseason.

    The Lakers have gone 616/1060 on such shots themselves.

    Obviously, these numbers draw a line under past comments about Howard and recent ones about Joel Embiid. For those who like Ryan Kelly, imagine him teamed with a 20-year-old rangy 7′ rim protector with great feet and a 7’5″ wingspan who dunks a lot.

  14. Nothing has changed. We hit the 3-pointers at a high enough clip to overcome our shortcomings. A good coach would try to minimize our weaknesses in order to have sustainable success but this guy only cares about his game philosophy. Should we overlook the previous 15 games and just say that, with a 2 game sample size, this is the way to win games? It is not. We lack talent. We lack many things. We do not lack size and size does matter, as long as you know how to use it. I agree with Robert and Mid-Wilshere on this…

    And for those praising Marshall, remember that his defense (at least to the eye test) is definetly subpar. I would like to call it atrocious, but I’m going to stick with subpar until he gets a few more games under his belt. If we are looking for the future, Farmar is the man we want. He may not get those assist numbers but he surely can make a positive impact on our offense while also being the best Lakers PG on the defensive side of the ball.

    At this moment, all I’m hoping is that we don’t lose Farmar and Hill because of MDA’s defensive shortcomings and inability to use big men on offense. I’m also hoping that we don’t look at Marshall as the PG of the future, specially after that Nick Young situation. I’m hoping that Henry, Young and Johnson also stay with us, as they can be productive two way players.

    PS: How is it possible not to improve in our PnR defense nor defensive rebounding? Is MDA’s answer for everything just “shoot more 3′s”?

  15. As KO would put this, this is really a dynasty.

    Stop for awhile and notice: Kendall Marshall is averaging 12.2 assists in the month of January. That would be better than ANYONE. Cp3 who?

  16. Lets take it easy with Kelly, a 2 game sample is not big enough and honestly, he is not that good and i really doubt the Lakers will sustain these offense, we played 2 garbage terrible teams our equals really, and had to come back to win because we lucked out with our long range shooting still cant guard and we still a terrible rebounding team, Kelly is an horrible defender and rebounder. Chicago is tanking but they still have an excellent coach and cant guard. We be back to our scheduled programing soon enough. One thing, we need to keep Nick Young after the season no matter what,everybody else not named Kobe Bryant is expendable.

  17. I really like Kendall Marshall. He might not be a John Wall monster athlete… but how many PO games did John Wall win so far. If he can keep expanding his game, he just might become a really solid starter.

  18. I guess I just don’t get it. We were crying we were about to lose every game on this road trip, after losing a very winnable game in PHX. Then we win two games in a row and “…we are not sustainable.” Since when have we really expected sustainability this season? Under the best circumstances we were going to just sneak into the playoffs. This is a year for player development; that’s really the point of MDA – he develops players (maybe not bigs, but everyone else). If MDA manages to develop sustainability this season then he certainly deserves to be the coach next year.

    We have one more game where I expect us to be competitive – Orlando. If we win anything else it is above expectations and the team and MDA deserve to be congratulated. Yeah, I would like to win in Chicago and New York, but I won’t be downtrodden if we lose those games. Miami, of course, would be a miracle. Let’s not talk as if this team will disappoint if we don’t win the west – it ain’t happening.

  19. It’s the half way point and 16 wins or 32 is what many predicted. The worst would be a 40 win, no playoff and 25th pick. Now that would mean having no plan.

    Fern- would you like Williams back starting? Kelly has upside, can shoot and plays hard. We are not getting Hill or Kamen under MD so learn to like a smart Duke player instead.

  20. @Newport in case you dont know Shawne Williams is gone and deserveldly so, im happy that the rook is playing well but lets take it easy with the expectations, i have not forget the fact that we played against 2 terrible garbage teams. A 2 game sample against terrible teams means nothing. Lets see him putting 20 points against Boozer and Chris Bosh before we start getting overblown praising the kid.

  21. Fern,

    You are a wise man. Before we annoint Ryan Kelly as the 2nd coming of Larry Bird, let’s see him play a few more games. Two games does not a career make.

    I’m very happy for Kelly. I hope he continues his success. But we’ve got to be careful with our euphoria.

    Remember Earl Clark? We were saying that he was the greatest mid-range assassin since Chris Mullin. Then he went to Cleveland and flubbed. Let’s hope for the best but not set ourselves up for disappointment. Kelly is still in the early part of his career. Let’s give him a chance to develop. Then we can draw our conclusions.

  22. Craig 57% shooting from 3 point land the last 2 games is not sustainable. When the shots stop failling we are going back to lose big, we won those games coming from behind against terrible teams because our shooters were hot, because our D and rebounding is been as atrocious as always. We won because thise 2 teams executed terribly down the stretch not because of our D but our D must be improving we are only allowing 106 ppg. We were lucky.

  23. C. Hearn, those with back injuries and nerve damage will tell you what’s the second most painful thing you can do with that sort of injury: travelling. Playing being number 1, of course.

  24. The Lakers have done well this season to build a solid bench of players 6-10. Sign them for next year and get some free agents in here to help Kobe for two years. The guys we are watching now other than Gasol(barely) and Young, should play any type of difference making role for a team named the LA Lakers.

    The team will likely keep losing and needs a top 5 pick and one max free agent and another player. Id love to see Gasol and anyone else we could move to get Rondo. This season simply has to be tolerated as one of transition so it might as well be as bad as possible.

  25. To be fair, Boston is bad but is not THAT bad. Toronto has been very good since the Rudy Gay trade.

    Kendall Marshall is averaging 12.2 assists in the month of January. He’s double digit in assists in most games that he starts. He is very limited in many aspects but he’s a gem.

  26. let’s talk about the center position because we’ll probably get outplayed tonite versus Chicago.

    the reason coach d’antoni does not play chris kamen is because he’s our one reliable insurance policy; albeit, not a good insurance policy but a policy nonetheless. why is that? one of two outcomes seem possible/probable:

    pau gasol gets injured.
    pau gasol gets traded.

    Chris Kamen has little or no trade value at this point of the season and has a history of injuries of his own. coach d’antoni may not even know he’s doing this, but nonetheless it’s an assurance just in case one or the other pau gasol scenarios happen soon enough.

    Robert Sacre is a good guy, a solid third string center; oftentimes relegated to a rotation center position; an insurance rider so to speak and plays on the cheap. there are fiscal reasons for keeping Robert Sacre and it all makes sense for this season.

    Jordan Hill has an upside and a downside. upside being hustle; hustle and more hustle at the small center position around the basket; both on offense and defense. downside being lack of midrange shooting and inconsistent at the free throw line; has a tendency to get into foul trouble; primarily due to hustle (really nothing wrong with that) and seems to tire out; also due to hustle; which leads to foul trouble; which leads to a need to be substituted. could be prone to injury. overall, Jordan Hill has more upside than downside because of his movement; creates problems for teams with traditional slower centers and can be inserted into the lineup to disrupt the flow of the other team down low in the post position. seems coach d’antoni is doing this as a back up to a back up plan with an assurance that the need for a back up for a starter is a real possibility.

    because we literally have a team of Yugo centers, the premiums on these insurance policies seem pretty much acceptable for now.

    Go lakers

  27. Mid-Wilshire/Jesse/Craig W: I think it we all agree that shooting a high volume of 3′s for a high percentage is not a “sustainable” formula. There may not be a sustainable formula for this year’s team. Could MD make some adjustments? Yes and I would love to see that. Whether those adjustments are successful or not is probably not as important as MD showing that he in fact an be flexible. I would not base MD’s future employment off the won/loss record from this point forward. I would base it simply off whether we believe he helps/hinders the process of obtaining/retaining top notch talent.
    Craig W: Back in preseason when this board was filled with optimism I pledged to support the continuation of MD’s tenure if he won 50 games (yea – comical now – I know – but the 50 game level was bantered about quite a bit). I will add this pledge as an additional way I support him. Without regard to record, if any max or near max player who we want, speaks out that MD is a plus for them coming here, we should retain him – and I will stick to that even if we lose every game from here. This can apply to a 14 or a 15 FA. So if Kevin shows him some “Love” – then he is in. However if everyone is more “Melo” towards him – he should be out.

  28. Since when have we really expected sustainability this season?

    People are just suggesting, contra to your narrative, that these two wins don’t really indicate that the Lakers have turned some kind of corner in terms of building ‘chemistry’ and/or player development, and the people who don’t want D’Antoni here next year still don’t want him here.

    Mid-Wilshire’s post detailing the playing time of the bigs shows the issue well, but again, D’Antoni wants to run what he wants to run: 4-out/1-in, fast pace, the ball in the PG’s hands a lot, a lot of PnR action, and a lot of 3s. So, if the FO is going to keep him, they need to get rid of Kaman and Hill for whatever they can get and get more guys in here whom MDA can do that with (but doing that doesn’t address the Kobe fit issue).

    The two games do suggest, as noted, that Kelly may be a guy who can hold a rotation job. But it is only two games, also as noted, against bad competition.

  29. Fern: Did not mean to leave you out : ) I see you commented on the same. By the way:
    “because our D and rebounding is been as atrocious as always. ”
    I thought you were one of the board optimists : ) Well it is that type of year : )

    rr: “Kobe fit issue” I am just hoping we have that issue soon. Getting worried again.

  30. Robert, I think there is a policy against using profane language on this board. Please, do not talk about Melo coming to the Lakers. It is just rude.

    I think Marshall is doing a fine job filling in but lets not get crazy here. What a guy brings to the table only counts when he’s not taking too much off. I need to see a much better defensive game from Marshall before I think highly of his assist totals. Part of a PG’s role is to maintain control over the offense. This offense is coughing up the ball at a very high rate. That’s not all Marshall’s fault but he needs to help minimize that.

    Guys, this team is deeply flawed. I am happy to see the wins. I just wish I could get as enthusiastic about wins as they deserve. I get that nagging feeling after a win about what position we’ll be drafting at. I’m not saying it’s a good feeling or a bad one. It’s just the reality of our situation. I’m always happy to beat the Lepers but winning ugly in Toronto is not as pleasurable as it should be. Still, we had a couple of nice defensive stands the last few games, and it’s good to see Nick Young take a Swaggy-P all over the US-Canadian border. He is marking his territory in my heart. I wish I could hear Chicky Baby narrate just one Swaggy venture to cup.

  31. @ Warren neither Boston or Toronto are good, they would be as bad or worse than the Lakers if they were in the West.@ Robert after the injuries an seeing this team doing its best to allow 130 points to the opponent they just beat the optimist out of me. We might get more interesting once we get some guys back but the grave is dug, we just need to lower the casket…

  32. Sadly, I rather they lose close games and develop Marshall, Kelly, X, Johnson… Wud really love lakers to get the as many lotto balls as poss.

    I do like the fight on this team. Dependg on their draft pick, D’antoni and the rest are doing well considerg what they have. But we rather lakers get a top 3 pick, to go along with kobe and love.

    Dreaming of a Marshall/Farmar, Kobe/swag, X/johnson, love/kelly, Embiid/hill/sacre. Wish cud keep pau…