Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Blazers

Darius Soriano —  March 3, 2014

The Lakers are back in action after a weekend off, their last game being Friday where they had a great 2nd half (at least offensively) and were able to pull out a win behind the hot shooting of Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, and MarShon Brooks. That perimeter trio combined with a very good game from Pau Gasol to take down a Kings team who was missing DeMarcus Cousins.

I throw in that last point because it’s best to remember who this Lakers’ team is and what level they are actually playing at right now. The Kings are one of the lesser teams in the league (they have some very good individual performers whose production is not leading to wins) and were missing their best player, yet the Lakers needed an outstanding shooting effort from multiple players — and, historically, one of the better three point shooting nights ever — to beat them. This isn’t an attempt to drag this team down or to dampen the spirits of anyone rooting them on (I enjoyed that game a great deal and loved seeing the guys go nova from behind the arc). But it is important to remind ourselves that this team remains one of the lesser outfits in the entire league even though I know no one has really forgotten *sad face emoticon here*.

In any event, if you want to make yourself feel better the Lakers head up to Portland tonight to play in the friendly confines of the arena formerly called the Rose Garden. Oh, that doesn’t make you feel better? What? The Lakers usually get handed their hats to them in that arena? The Blazers are also one of the best teams in the league and got back LaMarcus Aldridge a game ago after he’d missed 5 straight? Oh. Well then…

No, the Lakers aren’t walking into a very good situation tonight. Though well rested and finally getting Xavier Henry back from injury (Henry played two games with the D-Fenders in a rehab stint), the Blazers represent a challenge that will be difficult for the Lakers to meet under the best of circumstances. And, despite some solid play from the newcomers and Gasol looking like his pre-groin strain self lately, these circumstances are not good.

In reality, though, the situation the Lakers are in isn’t about wins and losses at this point (well, maybe it is about losses) but more about trying to get a better handle on who these players are through as thorough an evaluation process as allowed in the remaining games. After tonight’s game, the Lakers will only have 22 games left in this season. Of the players who are actually able to suit up, the Lakers have a team option on Kendall Marshall, can make a qualifying offer to Kent Bazemore, and have Robert Sacre signed for one more season. Everyone else’s contract expires this summer and the Lakers need to continue to try and get as much good information as possible and determine who they should try and retain for next season.

These are the things that matter now. Roster construction for next year should be a major priority and one of the best ways to get relevant information on how to go about that is to use these last 20+ games to get the best read possible on the players who are left to evaluate. That’s not sexy nor is it something that will lead to many, if any, wins. There will surely be some fun moments mixed in as we get to see these guys’ talents shine through. But if you’re looking for X’s and O’s detail and refined strategy that is meant to help the team secure the extra W, you’re likely watching the wrong team now.

That’s the harsh reality of what this year has become. It’s not about rooting for losses — I still cannot bring myself to do that — but it is about rooting for information over anything else. That’s not something I, or any Lakers’ fans really, are used to doing at this point in the year.

Where you can watch: 7:00pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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62 responses to Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Blazers

  1. darius: can’t remember the last time I was rooting for information; but given present circumstances; information it shall be.

    Go 411.

    p/s: a laker season to be forgotten, and yet never to be forgotten..

    Go lakers

  2. here is to a hard fought loss!

  3. Just saw Darius’ shoe blog comments (3/1). The Imelda Marcos of FB&G! lol

  4. Because I love the team… I keep watching.
    As Darius notes, there are always highlights in every game.

    I wonder what the line will be tonight?
    If I bet $1 on the Lakers to win, my return might be enough to retire!

    Re: the previous “Nash” thread –
    That issue brings out lots of passion on both sides.
    Great posts –
    Keep it up gang.

    Go Lakers!
    Go FBG!

  5. I just want to see the Lakers play as well as they can under the circumstances, those being that they have to try to match up to more talented and cohesive teams, and they play what is a lot of junk basketball to me. They can still be fun to see when they’re hot, but annoying when they’re not. Mainly, I think the most important thing is that they play with passion. If they just go through the motions, or play selfishly, then that’s an indication of the future — how much the organization is starting from scratch next season, or how some of these players may actually be Lakers.

  6. I’m going to try and get to a game in the next couple of weeks and see if I can start a 411 chant going with Bazemore on the line.

    The Nash news seems fair enough. I’d love to see the man get himself healthy for one last go. Once they figure out who they want to keep from the young athletes currently on the team, maybe get Pau to sign a favorable contract, and throw in whatever impact player they draft- the Lakers could have a really interesting team with a healthy Kobe and Nash. If Nash was able to steer that 2010 Phoenix team to the conference finals, you just don’t know what sort of swan songs Kobe and Nash may sing. Will the song remain the same for Nash or might he get one last improbable chance at that ring. Will Kobe give us Achilles last stand with one more ring before he rambles on? Why the hell did this comment turn into a bad Zeppelin tribute? Oh god, I hope I don’t wake up to bad news about Jimmy Page.

  7. Starting again a guy who scored 2 points in last 3 games aganist a top 3 point guards.

    Nice.

  8. Warren Wee Lim March 3, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Regardless of the consequences and disadvantage, I root for my team to win.

    If we land top 3, we land top 3. If not, let the chips fall where they may.

  9. MDA ball on a rare ‘on’ night

    It may be no way to win a ring, but to give an underdog a shot, no system is better.

  10. When was the last time we saw LA with an 8-1 ORB advantage this season?

  11. Four straight trips down the floor through Aldridge defended by Kelly. They’re 4/4 for 9 points.

  12. Was Hill and Kamen released?

    To bad because they might be a bit better on Aldridge.

    Ha

  13. Lil Pau

    True. If games were 12 minutes long.

    Small ball is just like MD future.

    Disappearing fast.

  14. Pau triggering a run with some defense…The team’s defense hasn’t been especially good tonight, but they are at least turning POR over some…

  15. Jodie going Hard in the Paint.

  16. Meeks, Farmer and Johnson should be Lakers next year. Only getting better.

    The rest can go.

  17. Meeks bringing it tonight!

  18. darius: not bad for the first twenty four minutes. hard to say if this breakneck pace will hold up or for that matter tire out the blazers at home. when the lungs begin to burn, the eyes start to water; sometimes one loses perspective, balance and homecourt starts to look unfamiliar.

    keep up the good work information; rootin, tootin, shootin past the blazers,

    Go lakers

  19. Ko–I’ve been of the opinion that Meeks is “Most Improved Laker” for the season–and that it’s not close. Although Farmar might close the gap on that one before the end of the year.

    Love Johnson’s athleticism and potential–but he has to improve his offensive skill-set or he won’t ever be consistent enough.

    If Bazemore can take what he’s done in a small sample-size and extend it through the last six weeks and if Henry can get back to where he was before the injury, (two huge IF’s I’ll admit) would you consider those two?

    Xavier would definitely have to work on his right hand and Bazemore would have to get better at “D.”

    What if Pau was willing to take an adequate pay cut? He’s looked better in the second half too….

  20. No way Pau takes a big cut AND play for this coach. Kent plays to much 1 and 5. Not seeing that being Kobe compatible.

    Henry and Kent are to much alike. I am really down on Marshall . His passing has now become erratic. He is just a career D-Leaguer.

    Team playing hard tonight.

  21. Lakers went from a slow old aging team to a fast young team in less than a year..though too fast sometime but fun to watch.

  22. Draft Joel Embiid , buyout Nash’s contract or him retiring (he has no choice) +9 million to the cap, resign Gasol for 12 million and that puts the cap space at 16 million for free agents.

    1. Kendall Marshall
    2. Lance Stephenson
    3. Kobe Bryant
    4. Pau Gasol
    5. Joel Embiid

    Bench
    Jordan Farmar
    Marshon Brooks
    Nick Young
    Ryan Kelly
    Jordan Hill

    Potential Championship Team??

  23. Chip
    U watching the games? Another 4 TO game with no defense for Marshall. Farmar will start Kend will not be on team.

  24. Potential D league champ for sure!

  25. Kendall Marshall starting pg, lol,lol,lol i rather start Farmar eho can provide u know that thing called defense and yeah we getting Eimbid because drafting a potential #1 pick is like a snap of the fingers and no thats not a potential championship team thats a team not much better than this year team if healthy a borderline playoff team.Hill will be gone faster that u can say MDA. Its really doubtful the Lakers will be contenders next season and a big maybe the following one.

  26. It’s not that bad Fern. Lakers should get top 4 which would be Parker or Exem.

  27. Hill zero
    Kamen zero

    Go figure.
    Kelly/ Sacre 5 rebounds.
    Now I see why Mitch didn’t trade them.

  28. At least we’ve lasted into the 4th. Not super-convinced that we’ll hold on, but I suppose that helps the lottery cause!

    It’s sad that my March involves thinking about next season’s team rather than this season’s playoffs.

  29. Dante Exum
    Lance Stephenson
    Kobe Bryant
    Pau Gasol
    Omer Asik

    We need a new coach and healthy players it’s possible not that far off from at least contending.
    4 of those players I named are elite defenders Gasol is a decent one. Embiid and Exum are the best players in this draft and were getting one of them hopefully.

  30. MIke trying his hardest to lose this by giving up offensive Rebs with his midget lineup.

    No hill, Kamen

    Bad coach or following instructions?.

  31. Well we still ahead and btw Marshall has 7 points 11 assists 6 rebounds and only 3 TOs not a bad game for him. Ko the odds we get Eimbid are really slow unless he slip down the draft i doubt its happening. I like Exum but if available they should go for Eiimbid. , its not set in stone we are going to get top 4. We need to stink more lol

  32. Well that was good while it lasted, back to our regular programing

  33. Worst coach in NBA. Leaves Brooks who is 1 for 9 with 3 rebounds instead of playing Hill.

    Lottery team with a lottery coach.

  34. Ko – I was having similar thoughts. Getting SLAYED on the glass with the Farmer-Brooks-Meeks-Johnson group around Pau.

    BUT – more ping pong balls….

  35. Ha Ha – D-League Championship

    Anyone here worried that we would take Exum over guys like embid or Parker?

    Considering Kobe’s agent is repping Exum I wonder if that will come into play

    Better a loss and more balls

  36. Great play MDA

  37. WOW, what an out of bounds play. Bazemore to Johnson for the layup. Lakers hold on and win.

  38. Yea, back to back wins. Isn’t that that Earl Clark and Kobe play? I believe that it’s worked at least once this year with Johnson. Very nice pass by Bazemore to Johnson, it looks easy but it’s not.

  39. The only chance the Lakers had to win this game was by playing their uptempo game so well for as long as they did. Laker players can be proud of their effort. There was almost enough time for the better team to win, but not quite. Pau must have been gassed by the end.

  40. Great play.

    They will take Exum. Sure of it.

    This is just a disaster! This win could cost them the 3rd pick.

    Just kidding. Hate Blazers. Great last play.

  41. Well tickle me and call me Petunia Lakers won!!!!! We won in the Rose Garden!!! Now back to our regular programing from now on.Go Lakers!!!!

  42. darius: the 411 on tonite’s game versus blazers: lakers win by one.

    Go lakers

  43. Not the finish I was expecting, but I’ll take it. Always good to win in Portland.

    Kings & Bucks win too, so lotto chances not effected too much.

  44. I couldn’t watch the game tonight. We won. Now tied for 7th worst. This team is so bad that it can’t even tank right. ;)

  45. Small-ball lineup was the key on the game winner. Aldridge didn’t have the footspeed to keep up.

    Have to admit I was puzzled by the DNP’s. Especially Jordan. His minutes have been inconsistent but not zero lately. Kaman has been through this already this year. I think those two are gone at the end of the year.

  46. WHAT ARE THE LAKERS DOING?! TRYING TO WIN???

  47. melcountscounts March 3, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Always nice to beat the Blazers.

    Some of these guys have gotten better, and are young guys with an upside. Bazemore and Wes. J. in particular, perhaps Marshon. These are the type of guys who sometimes figure it out, and end up playing for the Spurs. I still love watching Kendall pass the ball-the way he sees the floor is just remarkable-but I believe he’ll be gone, a step slow and not a good defender.

    Please let Nick Young go, it was fun for awhile, but adios.

  48. I had to work late tonight so I missed the game. So happy for the win. Beating Portland in Portland. Wow. That’s awesome. But then I checked the box score.

    What’s this? Kaman and J. Hill both DNP-CD? On a night when we’re playing against L. Aldridge and the Trail Blazers? This makes no sense. Have they both been exiled to Siberia? Is Kaman is back to the dog-house and is Hill in there with him?

    I honestly can’t think of another NBA coach who would do this. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that MDA has finally gone over board. He almost seems afraid to play them (especially together) for fear that they’d disprove his theory that Small Ball is best. This is truly outrageous.

    It almost takes the joy out of winning.

  49. It seems like D’Antoni has been emboldened by that questionable statistical analysis about lineups. But even if they go small I don’t see them being better in the long run with Sacre playing instead of Hill. Sure, Sacre does give you effort, but so does Hill.

    It already didn’t sit well with me last game when they played Kaman and Hill played for like 2 minutes, the Kings got on a little run (like NBA teams sometimes do) and the spin that the coaches gave it was that the “big lineup” didn’t work. I felt that was really disrespectful toward these players. I also felt it was disturbing that the coach called Pau’s comments after the Indiana game (which expressed exactly what I felt after watching it) disturbing and said he had no idea what Pau was talking about.

    It’s hard to have faith in a coach like that. I think there’s a substantial risk that D’Antoni wil not only mess up some games but might even leave us a mess of a roster once he’s left.

  50. I don’t like the new NBA.com design of player pages. Maybe I am not looking the right place, but where can I see length, previous clubs/schoools and age?

    I was looking up Bazermore in this case.

  51. As Laker fans we don’t have a lot of experience with tanking. Even in the years after Shaq Kobe wouldn’t let it happen. Hill and Kaman didn’t play because tanking teams generally play their kids over their vets to give them experience and see what they can do. We didn’t try to trade Hill , Pau Kaman and Blake because we thought it would help us win. It’s all about the future now so I don’t expect to see much of Hill and Kaman the rest of the way.

  52. The reasoning behind wanting the Lakers to lose games makes simple sense, if you accept losing. The Lakers don’t. It happens, but I think it’s pretty rare for teams to truly tank. Sometimes getting rid of higher-priced vets on a terrible team doesn’t make you any worse. Hungry players, lesser-known players, playing loose and in new combinations that opposing teams are not well-prepared for, can actually be more dangerous than what the “tanking” team had before.

    I think Portland would take any series from the Lakers because they’d adjust, but tonight, the Blazers didn’t really respect the Lakers, and came out flat and unprepared for the speed and intensity they faced. D’Antoni stuck to how he likes to play, and when it’s working, why shouldn’t he? It’s apparent that Hill and Kaman don’t fit the style in the coach’s eyes. It’s not like this team has a great chance against Portland with a more conventional approach.

    Hill and Kaman are likely not coming back if the Lakers want D’Antoni ball. There are just a lot of things a Laker fan has to accept if that’s going to be the plan.

  53. rfen – thanks mate. Great post. A lot of fans want us to tank but at the same time bash MDA on who he plays or when we lose ..lol. I’m with Mitch on this one, we dont tank, we do our possible best and win all we can, and wherever we end up on draft day, we just choose *no manipulating*.

  54. I didn’t root for the Lakers to lose until I watched some Jabari Parker highlights. If the Lakers magically end up with the #1 pick, he’s legit.

  55. @rfen
    “I think Portland would take any series from the Lakers because they’d adjust, but tonight, the Blazers didn’t really respect the Lakers, and came out flat and unprepared for the speed and intensity they faced.”

    You “think” that Portland would win any series? The Lakers would lose a series to any playoff team. Any team. If your above statement is true -> then realize that we just beat them by ONE point with all of that speed and intensity.

  56. Mid-Wilshire, and others…
    You prove why I support SVG in his comments to the Stats Conference last week. If you don’t watch the game, you don’t get to comment on the play.

    Look at the comments before the game. We were all resigned to lose this game. We won because of the way MDA requires his players to play. No this won’t result in a playoff round, but nothing this team did would get us that. If you were watching, the reason Portland came back in the 4th was because we started going 1-on-1 and play hero ball. We are not a hero ball team and must play by passing to get open.

    The way the play went, and who the coach is, I wasn’t surprised Hill and Kaman didn’t play, but I suggest we hold all our ‘hatred’ for MDA, at least on those nights when we win.

  57. Warren Wee Lim March 4, 2014 at 7:50 am

    That was an amazing win. A win never ceases to please me.

  58. The team deserves credit for the W and MDA deserves credit for the out of bounds play. It was a great call by D’Antoni. But Portland is a 3-heavy team and had an off night from the arc (9/29), and that was a big reason they lost.

    As to the rest of the post, as Robert has pointed out, if Pau, Hill, and Kaman all bail, that will create a roster construction problem, and probably some tension with the Mamba, who is making statements in social media about “sweet, quick revenge.” Kobe is perhaps referring mostly to his own performance, but revenge would be sweeter and quicker if it involved some Ws as well.

    This potential problem was illustrated well by a post by one of the SSR writers yesterday. The culture of SSR is very different than the culture here in many ways; one way is that there is a very loud, confrontational, and vocal group of FO and MDA defenders there, which includes some of the site writers. One of them wrote a long post yesterday about whether the Lakers should go after Emeka Okafor in FA this summer. Okafor has not played a game this year even under the watchful eye of the magical PHX training staff. As always: reliable big men, even very flawed ones, are tough to find.

    As a few have suggested, the Lakers may be in the market for Spencer Hawes, depending on how things play out (meaning mostly that they don’t get Embiid or Vonleh on draft night).

  59. Aside from the turnovers, which were chiefly on Portland, did anyone else note that the Pau-centric post offense in the first 6-8 minutes of the first quarter was what utterly laid waste to Portland? Entry pass, a couple of dribbles and either he’d take a shot or kick it out to the open man. At this point with this roster’s shooting capability, they should run SVG’s Orlando offense, which is what that resembled.

    Reminiscent of last year when Kobe told Pau to get his ass in the post, and they began ignoring the coach and winning.

  60. Dantoni for Coach of the Year.

  61. As guys start coming back healthy, this team might start stringing together some wins. Its not really that bad a roster it is just one that has been plagued by injuries.

    I’m personally hoping we get either Exum or Parker. The Lakers have done well over the years trusting in a dedicated hard working all-star. I consider guys like Embiid and Wiggins as just being much more riskier. Exum would be my first choice in that he has exceptional speed, dedication, and has expressed desire to play for the Lakers. That is hard to pass up on.

  62. rr,

    I don’t read the SSR anymore because I don’t think they actually discuss basketball. They talk about the Lakers, sometimes their posts are funny, but, more often than not, they do not discuss X’s and O’s or any other form of on court decisions. If I wanted that kind of empty discussion I would be sitting at the barber shop way longer than I do.

    People here, even the one’s I don’t agree with, actually try to defend their point with logical arguments. And I believe that’s why we should never compare the two sites. FBG is simply, well, better ;)

    That being said, I chose not to watch the game and we actually won. Good. Today I’m not bashing MDA…