Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. 76ers

Darius Soriano —  February 7, 2014

I never really gave my thoughts on the Lakers’ win over the Cavs, so let me spit out a few before I get to the Philly game:

  • Um, wow.
  • Did that really happen?
  • If the Lakers are bad, how bad are the Cavs?
  • Wow.

On a serious note, the one thing that stood out to me — beyond the crazy shot making from behind the arc — was an extra level of competitiveness from the Lakers. Maybe it stood out more because of the Cavs’ relative disinterest, but I thought Jordan Farmar and, especially, Steve Blake really set a tone to get after it on both ends and that had a positive impact on the rest of the team. Both guys hustled all over the floor, made the extra rotation defensively, and really just showed a lot of pride in what they were doing. Again, maybe the Cavs are such a dumpster fire that any effort from any team facing off against them stands out like lint under a black-light, but after seeing the Lakers have some games where they just didn’t seem as into it, I was impressed with how they competed all the way through the final buzzer, especially considering the circumstances of the game.

As for the Philly game tonight, the Lakers will be shorthanded again. Jordan Farmar is sitting out as a precaution related to his hamstring. Nick Young is out due to his knee fracture that will have him on the shelf for at least two weeks. Jodie Meeks was ruled out for this entire trip after spraining his ankle against the T’Wolves. Steve Blake is a gametime decision with a quad issue. And while Jordan Hill will play, that only leaves 8 Lakers available for action again tonight (and that’s if Blake plays): Nash, Blake, Wes Johnson, Ryan Kelly, Sacre, Kaman, Hill, and Kendall Marshall.

That’s, uh, not a lot of people. And considering what happened the last game and the fact that Philly comes in mostly healthy (the guys who have been available all year are available tonight) the Lakers are in for a game where they are out-manned while also closing their road trip. That’s not necessarily the best formula for success.

The game will be played, however, and the Lakers will need to bring their best effort if they want to win. The Sixers aren’t a very good team — their 15 wins and 35 losses are even worse than the Lakers — but they have some promising talent, including rookie Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, and Spencer Hawes. Any of those four players would instantly start for the Lakers tonight if traded pre-game so even if the team’s record is poor, it doesn’t mean they don’t have the players to win this game.

The key to winning this game will be who thrives most in the accelerated pace the action will take place at. The Sixers play at the fastest pace in the league and the Lakers are just two spots below them. The Lakers’ depth issues mean they need to better control the action and not just run up and down the court all night unless they want to lose their legs down the stretch. The Lakers will need to get back and build a wall against Carter-Williams and track Young and Turner filling the lane as they look to get to the rim. They will also need to spot Hawes in delayed transition as he will trail the play and either shoot the long jumper against a sagged defense or run drag pick and rolls to help get Carter-Williams to the rim.

Offensively, the Lakers need to hit their threes at a high rate. They don’t have to be as blistering hot as they were in Cleveland (though that would help), but knocking down 10-12 threes on a good percentage will prop up their offense enough to stay in the game if Philly is getting points in the open court.

One thing I’d like to see in helping the Lakers’ O be at its best is for Nash to be more aggressive in looking for his shot. One reason the Cavs game turned in the Lakers’ favor so early was because Farmar was super active in attacking the defense both with his own shot and in driving to the paint and dishing to teammates. Nash would do well to emulate his younger teammate as best he can to try and generate some early scoring chances for himself. This will loosen up the D and then, hopefully, open up the game for his teammates. Maybe he can turn back the clock on his 40th birthday.

Where you can watch: 4:00pm start on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM in Los Angeles.

Darius Soriano

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46 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. 76ers

  1. Parrothead Phil February 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    I saw on Twitter that Shawne Williams will be suited up tonight. At least he’s an extra body to have available.

    PS
    Happy Birthday to you, too, Darius.

  2. Lol, yeah, the Cavs are just that dysfunctional. Andrew Bynum actions on that team doesn’t look as crazy as some people wanted to believe. Hard to stay sane in a nuthouse.

  3. Please tell Sacre not to shoot. Terrible

  4. Coach: “Why did you shoot that ball?”
    Player: “Because I was open!”

    That’s why an offensive system that encourages all the player’s to shoot when they’re open, does not work. By leaving a player open, the opposing team baits the players that they want to shoot the ball.

    Kelly and Wesley are playing freely knowing that they won’t get yanked.

    Nice to see Williams back, hopefully he worked on his deficiencies this past month.

    An uptempo offense with only 8 players is asinine. Slow it down and the turnovers will dissipate. How long will teams allow the Lakers to only focus on offense and give away the game by not playing defense.

  5. Sweet Nash .. Sweet

  6. Sacre 1 for. 6 in 17 minutes
    Kamen. 4 for 7 in 7 minutes

    Please explain!

    Anyone?

  7. The Lakers have far too many bigs. If Jordan Hill was able to play today, why pick up Williams? Without Williams, there is Kamen, Hill, Kelly and Sacre with just enough minutes for all of them. Don’t forget Wes can play at the 4 for stretches.

  8. For P. Ami from the last thread: this isn’t about the Spurs, but it’s similar to the type of article you were looking for:

    http://www.nba.com/magic/news/Cuttingedge_medical_and_train-292857-66.html

  9. Kamen is 5 times the player.

    But we all knew that.

    Except on guy .

  10. we´re poised for another win, c´mon fellas!

  11. Dangit! I’m not cheering for losses, but this is a terrible win! :/

  12. This team is unbeatable!

    32,wins in a row?

    Ok ok maybe not.

  13. Nash, nice win on your birthday!!! Happy birthday, Steve! Continue to play every other game or even every third game.

    #Lakers!!

  14. Happy bday to Steve Nash. And a good win without needing to rely on arcane NBA rules!

  15. melcountscounts February 7, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Wow, who knew the Lakers had a 17 point, 8 boards, 3 block guy buried on the bench? Oh yeah, just about everybody…

    Much as I like Sacre’s attitude and hustle, he’s a borderline NBA talent. Don’t see him having a 10+year career, or making any All Star teams.

    I know he’s weak in other areas, but I love to watch Kendall Marshall pass the ball.

    Oh joy, more Shawne Williams. Soon he’ll be starting and casting up 3′s.

  16. After watching only the 4th qtr, I think Kaman & Hill make a good duo and should be used in combination much more frequently. They compliment each other’s weaknesses well and they both hustle pretty much all the time.

    I am beginning to hear that it is Steve Blake that is the difference for this club. It is his non-stop effort on BOTH sides of the ball that is becoming infectious.That motivates the bigs to play harder and he and Nash compliment each other like Kaman & Hill. It is a good situation and I am going to keep an eye on this in future games.

  17. The ball movement was really good. No one on one. Is it possible that Young causes the ball to stop? 2 and o without Nick.

    Yes Craig Hill-Kamen is a good mix.

  18. This win is probably a net negative in the big picture, but I am happy that Nash played well on his 40th and was on the winning side, given how badly things have gone for him here.

  19. Craig W. and Ko,

    Good eye. You’re certainly right about Kaman and Hill making a good combination together. In the 1st half, Philly scored 64 pts. and they were practicing their layup drills the entire time.

    In the 2nd half, Kaman and Hill played extended minutes together and the layup drills STOPPED. In fact, in the 2nd half, Philadelphia only scored 34 pts. (Philly scored more pts. in the 1st quarter alone.) The fact that Kaman and Hill were in the game for major minutes during the 2nd half is certainly telling.

    One other observation: did you notice who the last person was to come off the bench? Jordan Hill. And yet, Hill tonight had 14 pts., 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 gorgeous block, and played generally hellacious defense in the paint in only 20 minutes. Really a strong performance.

    It took MDA 3 quarters to figure that out. Food for thought.

  20. Looking at the bigger picture, this win WAS vs. one of the worst teams in the league. Also, our health outlook is still precarious and not likely to get substantially better for a few more weeks. So that will probably mean continued losses vs. good teams (and optimism re: the draft). Still, a win every now and then is good for morale. Continual losing must be awfully tough for the guys in the locker room.

  21. Listen, everyone. This team is substantially better with its point guards. Nash, Blake (even when hobbled), Jordan Farmar, AND Kendall Marshall all make the offense flow much, much, much smoother. And to think that this team is still missing Kobe, Pau, Nick Young, and Xavier Henry.

    So…when these players come back (barring any unforseen trades in the next 2 weeks), things WILL change. Among those changes will be more wins and a far more competitive team. It’s inevitable. For those who have been fantasizing about the Lakers plummeting to the depths of the standings and choosing Joel Embiid in the draft, I hate to disappoint you. But the chances of that happening are remote.

    So let’s be realistic. Before Nash and Blake’s recent reappearance, this team was awful. With Nash and Blake and Farmar, they’re competitive. And with Kobe and Pau and Young and Henry, the team will be totally unrecognizable from the team that took the court in January. I hate to disappoint many of you, but this probably is not going to be a lottery team at all. When all the pieces come together–and they probably will–they will be much too good for that. Kobe alone will see to that.

  22. I posted last week that if the Lakers won a few games with some of the guards back, we would start seeing some of the same kind of stuff posted here that we saw in preseason and in the early season. All it took was back-to-back wins against two of the worst teams in the East.

    But, even if Mid is right, and the Lakers, who have 32 games left, go, say, 19-13 the rest of the way to finish 37-45, that would be quite possibly pretty much the worst possible outcome to the season. Again: one reason analysts were so down on the Lakers was that they seemed to be designed in such a way that they would win about 35 games, and would therefore be out of the both the playoff picture and the top of the lottery. Also, the guys that some people are seeing as difference-makers–Kaman, Nash, Blake and Hill–are 31, 40, 34 (in two weeks) and a guy MDA will not play more than 25 minutes, respectively.

    The schedule is very tough the rest of the way; the Lakers are mostly done with the Eastern lottery teams now, (single games left with ORL, NYK, and MIL) and they have multiple games left with OKC, SA, HOU, POR, and LAC, plus they still have to go to Indiana. So, even if they do suddenly start playing a lot better, playing over .500 the rest of the way is pretty unlikely.

  23. Mid-Whilshire

    I agree that this team will start winning if they can ever get all their parts back at the same time. The worst part was most of the injuries were to the back court. At one point Meeks was the only guard left that started the season then he went down. That said they will be a lottery team. We are 11 games out of the playoffs. Even if Dallas and Memphis fell apart that’s just to much ground to me up. Consider Kobe is still a few weeks away it just won’t happen.

    But I love these guys. The Cavs have Itving and Deng among others and the 76ers have Turner, Young, and the leading candidate for rookie of the year, while we are missing half our team. But we won because we have heart and never give up. It’s been that way most of the year. I am pretty sure trades will be made and we will lose some more but I have to hand it to these guys for never giving up against all odds. Hopefully we can bring some of them back next year.

  24. This team is competitive against bottom-feeder teams like us, sure. However, against playoff teams- not so much. I kinda want Mitch to hurry up and make a move trade-wise. If we keep winning meaningless games it will really hurt the draft position. And, at this point, all games are meaningless because this team hasn’t got a prayer to make the playoffs.

  25. Whatever you want to say about the coaching, you have to give credit for the team never giving up and never turning on itself – like many other teams have – while the wheels were literally falling off the car. That is no small accomplishment, and my guess is that other players and coaches recognize this, even if the fanbase doesn’t.

  26. C’mon Dante, follow Kobe’s footsteps, declare that you only want the Lakers!
    Or c’mon Mitch, make a move. Getting a lottery pick is what makes sense out of this season. I am afraid to say, I was not happy with the win. My personal point of view. I know we don’t tank. So should I pray for someone to get injured again? No. C’mon lakers let’s lose! :D

  27. good game Mr. Kaman.

  28. The game itself, specially the first half, was terrible… Seemed like a bad pickup game. However, Kaman and Hill were great in their limited minutes together. I know, it’s a surprise to everyone, but apparently they’re both solid basketball players. If only we didn’t have those future hall of famers Kelly and Sacre to stop them from getting more minutes in future games (or even get them some DNP-CD now that Shawne Williams is back), I think we could have more wins…

    Oh well, I’m just hoping for the day they hang Sacre’s and Kelly’s jersey on Staples Center! What a moment that will be. Thanks MDA for letting us see the beginning of their amazing career!

  29. Great game from Kaman. What we knew and he knew already – he can flat out play. And Blake another great game.
    Nash is so smart he makes everyone else on the floor smarter. He’s so unselfish, everyone gets unselfish. It’s infectious. Everybody shares the ball. The Lakers had 34 assists on 45 baskets. Six players in double figures:
    17, 15, 14, 19, 17, 14.
    At 40, he’s a better leader than Kobe EVER was.

  30. That is no small accomplishment, and my guess is that other players and coaches recognize this, even if the fanbase doesn’t.


    D’Antoni deserves some credit for that, and he has gotten it from some people here. OTOH, as several of us pointed out in preseason, the Lakers have an entire roster of guys who are playing for next year’s contract. Many other bad teams don’t have that type of roster situation. For example, every player on Cleveland, except for CJ Miles and Luol Deng, is under contract for at least one year after this one. With Philly, the only three guys whose contracts are up are Turner, Hawes, and Lavoy Allen, and the first two are trade bait.

    So, as with anything, you have to look at the big picture.

  31. Point well taken rr BUT for guys all playing for their next contract, they are still playing as a team. Doesn’t seem like any one of them is hogging the ball, trying to get their shots and their numbers up…well, maybe Swaggy P, but that’s his game and even he has been a pleasant surprise with his passing and defense. Except for a few occasions, they still seem pretty together and definitely rooting for each other, that in itself says a lot.

  32. While I want us to get the highest possible draft pick, it’s nice to see Nash do his thing. Maybe he can establish some trade value.

  33. As we get our guys back, I want to see what kind of a team we have. I feel the lottery will take care of itself and we shouldn’t try to manipulate it. IMO, if we know how these players play together we get a better read on what we have to do for next year. The better they play together, the less drastic moves we have to make next year. I don’t expect championship contention next year, but I do want to see definite improvement – it’s just that I want to know what we are improving from, not the tire fire that has been the last couple of months.

  34. I have a new set of expectations lately that I want to share:

    First off, the team will be a little bit better once real starters get floor time. Surprise, these guys have a better feel of the game.

    Second, even at the expense of a higher pick (top 5-6 vs 8-9) the Lakers are not tanking. Our injury situation forces us to, but we will be better once we get more guys back.

    Third, expect 3-4 deals. With the deadline looming, i fully expect Kaman and Hill and Blake to be on the move. Kupchak is a master of the buy low thing so look at guys having bad seasons to be considered. I look at: Tyreke Evans, Jared Dudley and Andrea Bargnani to be real targets. I kid you not.

    Fourth, the Lakers are parlaying 2014 Cap Space for 2015. We will have enough for max when July comes around but expect the team to be hitting hard on 2015. This is not a big secret but it will be revealed come deadline.

  35. rr. looking big picture doesn’t necessarily give you relevant data. How on Earth might we be able to confirm what is motivating a team to fall apart and what is keeping it together? Aside from their contract situations, Cleveland is also a much younger team than the Lakers. Who on Cleveland has the gravitas of a Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol? What sort of culture do we see from Cleveland? From ownership on down, that team is close to a joke (comic sans snark inserted here). We also know that Mike Brown lost this Lakers team pretty quickly. Somehow, MDA has not had the same history of losing a team this quickly. Even in NY, he kept it together for a while. Another avenue of thought is, the Lakers started to lose heart after over a month of core leadership lost to injury. There were no point guards available to organize the team on the court. That lack of organization is disheartening. Now we see some good point guard play and the personality of the team is more in line with that addition.

    Are any of the reasons THE reason for what what we see on the court? Are there other factors none of us have touched upon? Perhaps they all help explain the circumstances in total. Maybe a few of these circumstances are bigger factors than others. All in all, this is an exercise in rationalization and confirmation bias. But then, I have a bias towards thinking we are all just humans who view the world through a narrow bandwidth of reason, and a much wider frequency of personal narrative. We see the story we always see, our own. Hard to see these personal stories being the actuality of our team. Or rather, we have no way to confirm our bias. It’s just faith.

  36. @WWL
    We’re not talking about the difference between the 5th pick and the 9th pick. We’re talking about from 5-8th to probably 13-15th pick. That’s a world of difference.

  37. How on Earth might we be able to confirm what is motivating a team to fall apart and what is keeping it together?

    We can’t. And I said that D’Antoni should get some credit. But not all bad teams are the same; the situation in Cleveland is very different than the one here is, so if people are going to imply that MDA is a master motivator who is getting consistently shortchanged by an ignorant and angry fan base, and they are going to do this by comparing him to Mike Brown, then they should take those differences into account.

    And one of the guys playing well for Mike Brown is the aforementioned CJ Miles, who is the one guy on that team is most like the guys that the Lakers have: Miles is a 26-year-old rotation player on a one-year deal, who has had some decent performance in the league but has kind of an up-and-down track record, and probably came to the league too soon. And he is having a nice year under Brown.

  38. Ken

    I see Lakers going 10 and 20 no more then 12 and 18.

    Either way that gives then under 30 wins which has to be biotyem 4 to 6.

  39. Point well taken rr BUT for guys all playing for their next contract, they are still playing as a team

    Sure–an expendable rotation player looking for his next deal doesn’t want to get tagged as a ballhog or a gunner or a malcontent.

    One of D’Antoni’s selling points is that his system is fun–everybody plays loose and free, everybody gets to shoot. That probably helps in a situation like the one D’Antoni has right now. Since people are bringing Mike Brown into this, two of the biggest raps against Brown are:

    a) He can’t coach offenses–his offenses are stiff, mechanical, repetitive, ISO-driven.
    b) He is prepared to the point of being over-prepared, and is therefore over-structured, and uptight, and is unable to adapt on the fly or to process things well in real time. Recall that one reason that he was hired is that he supposedly blew away Buss and Kupchak in the interview–for which Brown had been prepping for months. Brown said when he got hired that he watched the Lakers a lot in 2011, since he knew that Phil would probably be retiring and was thinking of himself as a candidate for the gig.

    This goes back to an observation that I made back when the Lakers were 10-9 and people were talking about MDA as a CoTY candidate. We are in the habit of thinking of coaches as simply good or great or OK or bad, but in reality most of them simply have strengths and weaknesses, just like players do. Last year, MDA was in a situation that shone a harsh light on some of his weaknesses. This year, when the PGs are healthy, he has a situation that highlights some of his strengths. But he is still just the same guy.

  40. MDA is a master motivator who is getting consistently shortchanged by an ignorant and angry fan base.

    Haha – Maybe that’s right.
    It’s amusing to see a few Dantoni supporters cautiously clearing their throats now about to speak.
    It’s a bit like Dantoni himself – recency biased.
    That being said …
    It was nice to see a win where our point guards had a chance to flourish – esp Nash – in Dantoni’s ‘system’ – which coincidentally featured Kaman and Hill, Blake suddenly playing out of his mind, and Nash turning back the clock, against a weak opponent.
    Bring on the Bulls!

  41. Dantoni isn’t God, but he isn’t the Devil either.

    He is a good coach with his faults, just like Phil Jackson. No, he hasn’t won any titles, but he did change the game. The hate is so palpable for both the ownership and the coach that it kind of chokes the room. Give it up – you will be healthier for it – and so will the Lakers.

  42. Yes, but Phil probably wouldn’t get a playoff spot with the team and injuries this year. This team was built to begin rebuilding and the injuries to all the starters and backup PGs eviscerated any hope for success. Now it is worth giving credit for holding things together – from a team standpoint, not a winning standpoint – until we get our 1st string back. We are beginning to see them start to return and the team is playing better. That is really all I am saying.

  43. Hmmmm… So then, if 2015 is the cap space year… what if the front office gave Pau the max amount on a 1 year deal after this season, with an agreement that Pau would sign for a small amount after that 1 year deal is up… which would allow the Lakers to have Pau, Kobe, K. Love… ect!

  44. “what if the front office gave Pau the max amount on a 1 year deal after this season, with an agreement that Pau would sign for a small amount after that 1 year deal is up”

    ———————-

    That would be a violation of league rules, the same kind of thing that cost the T’Wolves $3.5 million and caused them to forfeit four first round draft picks about 10 years ago, when they landed Joe Smith with a wink, wink below-market contract and the promise of a big payday later, when his Bird rights were secured.

    The last thing Mitch would want to do is risk losing draft picks, especially to retain a player who he could potentially keep anyway, should he want Pau beyond this season.

    Rick Fox took a minimal salary when he came to L.A., saying his motivation was a desire to play for a winner. If I recall correctly, he even re-upped for less than market value for his second season in L.A., only to get paid later. But in that case, no one ever suspected anything illegal or under the table (whether there was such a thing or not). Taking Fox’s position at face value, I always liked that he put winning above money.

  45. Scorchee,
    You mean like a front-loaded contract, instead of a back-loaded contract like Asik or Lin? I suspect Pau would want a multi year contract, not a promise we would sign one later.

  46. I wonder if we move Pau before the deadline for a draft pick, can fences be mended between MDA and Kaman?
    I saw a lineup of Kaman, Hill, Kelly at the 3, Wes J at the 2, and Marshall, in the fourth quarter that I liked.
    Kaman is a good player and I’d have to say, a better and quicker defender than Pau at this point and could make losing Pau less traumatic.
    Still, it would be nice to see how the team performs with Pau playing alongside a healthy Nash and Blake.