Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Spurs

Darius Soriano —  March 19, 2014

If it seems like the Lakers haven’t played a lot lately it is because they haven’t. This will only be their fourth game in the last 10 days and their first since Friday. If you were hoping that all that time off would help with the injury bug you’d be right and wrong all at the same time.

Nick Young and Jordan Hill are close to returning and if they are not active tonight, they should both be soon. However, while those guys are on the mend, Jordan Farmar is on the shelf again, this time with a strained groin suffered in practice earlier this week. Farmar will be out at least two weeks and with only a month left in the season, who knows if we will actually see him again this year.

With Farmar out tonight the Lakers will again be down to a single point guard who is available to play. Kendall Marshall won’t be able to play the entire game, but he will likely see heavy minutes with Xavier Henry returning to his role as de facto backup PG as well as playing his natural role on the wing. The rest of the lineup will remain the same with Kelly, Pau, Meeks, and Wes Johnson likely the other starters.

That group will have their hands full against a Spurs team that has once again surged their way to the top of the Western Conference. At 50-16, San Antonio has the best record in the league and, as the Lakers know from the drubbing they took from them on Friday, are playing some really good ball right now.

What is most impressive about the Spurs is that they are winning while not having very much lineup consistency this season. A little while ago I wrote about how the Lakers have not had very good luck in putting the same groups of players on the floor together this season. That type of lineup disruption — and the “why” it has occurred — has been a major reason the Lakers have been so bad this year.

The Spurs, however, actually haven’t had any high minute groups this year either. On the season, their lineup with the most minutes played is their starting group of Parker, Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter, and Duncan. However, due to injuries (mostly to Green and Kawhi) and the regular regimen of rest that Pop employs for Duncan and Parker, that group has only been on the floor for 210 minutes this year. Yet, here the Spurs are with the best record in the league.

A lot of credit must go to Gregg Popovich for this. He has established a system and has complete buy in from all his players to operate within it. Further, he’s done an excellent job of playing to his guys’ strengths and ensuring that he puts them in positions to succeed every night. What also helps is that the Spurs have had relatively no roster turnover over the last few years. This has given those players a chance to not only learn what Pop wants from them, but to master their roles within the team’s scheme and then perform when they do get their chance to play.

In any event, the Spurs are, again, one of the best teams in the league. Meanwhile, the Lakers are one of the worst. We are a long way from when this game was one the entire league had circled on their calendar as a must watch. No, this season, and especially after last Friday’s game, this may be a game that people want to turn off before halftime. I, however, will be watching the entire thing regardless of the outcome. Join me, won’t you?

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time TWC Sportsnet. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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27 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Spurs

  1. The Spurs really should be respected, and probably studied. There have been seasons where they had significant injuries. They’ve been called “old” for years. They’re a relatively small market team, and lacking some advantages because of it. The years they were dismissed as irrelevant by many Laker fans they were still winning and making the playoffs. They don’t make excuses.

  2. They have 3 things

    Lack of ego.

    Great coaching

    Outstanding scouts

    Lakers have none of those three .

  3. Lakers had Phil. That was the ego that took it to the next level. Maybe we’ll see the Lakers there again in our lifetime. :)

  4. darius: it’s clear now, jeanie buss not jim buss has the sentamentalities of their dad, jerry buss. and it’s a safe bet that jerry buss knew exacly which of his children to place in the position of running the business of the los angeles lakers.

    the hope here is that she will continue to provide the strength needed to help build and lead the organization back to it’s rightful place: up top the nba.

    to paraphase you, with phil jackson gone, now is truly jeanie buss’s time. i added truly as laker naion should do the same. and i substituted jeanie as laker nation should as it crystal clear she represents laker leadership.

    thank you keeping us organized and maintaining a open perspective.

    still rooting for the information. i see what you did here. keep it up.

    Go lakers

  5. darius:

    p/s: it should be laker girl, jeanie buss present on may 20th 2014; nba lottery drawng day.

    Go lakers

  6. Boston beats Heat?

  7. James didn’t play–back spasms.

  8. Its more like yessssss Boston won!! We gotta “pass” them in the tankathon pecking order!

  9. Has there ever been a worse starting defensive team ?

    Maybe the Bad News Bears.

  10. Sacre kinda growing on me.

  11. Lakers playing so hard and X balling. Good thing for SA our two best players are still out.

    Swaggy and Hill.

  12. Some really cynical, tin-foil, conspiracy part of me thinks that the top tier teams got together and decided to lose a few games to the Lakers here and there to make sure that we don’t get a top pick. **That was a joke**

    Xavier showing up tonight…I wonder if he’s over his injury?

    *edit It at least appears that the rift is closing somewhat between the Busses. Blue skies on the horizon?

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-lakers-fyi-20140320,0,5357940.story

  13. X collmg off. Jodie time? Cone on LA!!!

  14. Pretty close game against the Spurs in the 4th….and this is the 13th comment on the thread.

    Sign o’ the times.

    Good effort by the players tonight in any case.

  15. Why does everyone presume lakers don’t have scouts?

    Ryan Kelley will be the 7th to 8th best player on a championship in 3 years.

  16. sufian,
    Since Jim Buss laid of the scouting group during the last lockout, he must not have replaced anyone and we are running on rumors – of course. It’s not like the previous scouts have unearthed any real 2nd round finds between 03-10. This front office has done a serviceable job over the last 3 years, but they are pilloried because 1) Jim Buss is here and 2) they haven’t produced any all-star type players. I don’t want to over-glamorize their contributions, but they don’t stink like some would like you to believe.

    Bigs usually take longer to develop, but Sacre (60) and Kelly are still on the club and contributing. That is something in this era of many total misses.

  17. Man do I hate listening to Stu Lantz continually mouth his cliche platitudes. Pau has never been a rim defender over his entire career, Stu, and he isn’t about to change his spots toward the end of his career. I like his play, but we need someone else in the game along side him if we expect to have any rim protection. I have resorted to turning off the sound and simply watching the action.

  18. Craig you really nail it with the scouts comment, funny that we have drafted a lil better since Jim fired them considering we only had 2nd rounders, the only draftee that turned into something of note the last 10- 15 years after drafting Kobe is Andrew Bynum and who lobbied hard to draft him? Jim Buss. At the end of the day the scouting responsabilty is Mitch’s nobody else and thats why we have see him out there on the NCAA tournament. Getting rid of the scouts did not affect the Lakers one way or another. They are not that necessary on this era.

  19. The problem with having Pau, who’s great for our offense, is that whoever is paired alongside him should be a rim protector/defensive rebounder with the ability to defend the pick’n roll. We can all agree that with Pau that would be the best possible frontcourt. However, that man that will be playing the 4, if he has those characteristics he will hardly be a 3 point shooter or someone with the ability to stretch the floor which leads back to our offensive system and our defensive schemes.

    Bottomline, it’s worthless to think much about it now that we simply don’t know who will be our coach next season.

    In 03-10 we drafted the following players who were somewhat useful:

    ’03 Luke Walton – 32nd pick – I always liked his game and if it wasn’t for the injuries he had he would’ve contributed far more than that good season he had. That was a good pick.

    ’04 Sasha Vujacic – 27th pick – He contributed to two titles. Not a star player but a role player that noone had doubts about him being useful to the team. That was a good pick.

    ’05 Andrew Bynum – 10th pick – Who saw this one coming? A high school kid noone knew about picked 10th? Great pick if you ask me. And yes, apparently Jim Buss had a say in this one.

    ’05 Ronny Turiaf – 37th pick – He’s still in the league as a role player. How I wish he was still in LA. Again, a solid 8th or 9th rotation player. Good pick

    ’06 Jordan Farmar – 26th pick – He’s here. Obvious pick at the time. Not a great pick but the expected one.

    ’09 Patrick Beverley – 42nd pick. Wouldn’t you want him in LA? I would. Good pick.

    Doesn’t matter if they were properly developped in LA or not, but those were very solid picks. I also agree that lately, due to the titles and trades our picks have been way lower than usual but the scouting staff is not the same, so we really cannot compare. Of our two last draft picks I say that we’ve got a 50% success rate. And while I agree that Kelly can be the 9th man in a good team, Sacre is a D-League player getting minutes due to his height and a coach who holds personal grudges against players, since there’s no reason for Sacre to be playing ahead of Kaman and Hill (when both are healthy). I doubt that Sacre would even be successful in Europe. The man simply has no footwork or skill nor plays good defense.

    And I’m really getting bored with people twisting other people’s words. Who here said that we don’t have scouts and run based on rumours? This kind of statement leads to dumb arguments were logic and facts are simply bypassed. What people complain about is that the entire scouting staff was fired to bring in new guys. It’s one thing to change a couple of people here and there but this wasn’t the case (unless I’m wrong and a few members of the scouting staff were retained) and it may lead to problems in the near future. Most fans here aren’t judging these scouts yet, I mean, how could them since we’re picking so low in the draft? We’re judging the firing itself and not new elements that were brought in without leaving some continuity in the department.

    And this is why I didn’t join the other thread about the FO. It’s very subjective and Jim Buss is not going anywhere, regardless of what we feel about him. But Mitch, MDA, the training staff and the scouting staff are things that can be changed, so I’ll still voice my opinions on those people. Also, and to end this long comment, I would like to note that the strength and conditioning staff is what causes me great concern. Coincidences happen, but this is just unbelievable… how can hamstring problems keep coming back in this rosters? Pau, Farmar, etc. Maybe the FO should have looked into that first and yes, that includes Gary Vitti.

  20. Really not much to say about this game. The Spurs are a good team and have been for more than 15 years. The Lakers are a bad team. The Lakers don’t play defense and don’t seem to be interested in slowing down the tempo so… our average margin of defeat stays high and young players aren’t properly groomed into winning habits.

    As a basketball fan, I must say it’s really sad watching a game where one of the teams doesn’t play defense and can’t execute a proper halfcourt play if needed.

  21. If the ultimate prize is wining a ring, the Lakers are more impressive than the Spurs. The spurs have the benefit of having the same Management and coaching for almost 20 years, in contrast the Lakers have had more than 4 different coaches and systems in that same time span. That is the Jerry Buss system and it has produced more championships than the Spurs approach. Jerry preferred his approach to adopting the triangle as the franchise system (Truth is he hated the triangle or maybe it was Phil he didn’t like). Focus only on the years Phil was Coach and notice that despite having lesser talent the Lakers did much better than the Spurs. Continuity is all the Spurs have over the rest of the league. They have modified their play around their best payer. This is why I continue to respect Kobe. He never got a chance to play out his career in the same kind of coaching/system stability as many other all time greats. Also, I will also blame Phil Jackson a little because if h doesn’t fall in love with the owner’s daughter this whole thing probably plays out a little differently. Then there is the fact that Pat Riley interviewed for the Lakers coaching job in 2005 but because Shaq refused to take $20 million and dissed Jerry he had to be shipped and Riley ultimately didn’t take the job cos he wanted to coach Kobe and Shaq.

  22. Renato,

    Good post. Here are Pace Factors for 7 NBA teams:

    SA 13TH
    IND 17TH
    MIA 22ND
    LAKERS 2ND
    OKC 9TH
    LAC 6TH
    HOU 8TH

    In other words, the Lakers play at a faster pace than the next likely NBA Champion and neither of last season’s finalists plays at a fast pace.

    Two of the arguments in favor of the D’Antoni hire are that supposedly Old Man Buss made the final call on the hire, which takes the heat off of Jim, and did so based on the idea that the league was moving in a direction that suited MDA’s style, that the Triangle needed to be put in mothballs, etc, which means that even if Phil had wanted the job (unknown, really) he wasn’t the right guy in any case.

    While the league is moving towards more 3P-driven offense, and MDA’s 4-out 1-in spread-the-floor model (also used effectively, in a different form, by Stan Van Gundy in Orlando) is becoming more popular in various forms, the NBA still revolves around getting as much high-end talent as you can and putting your guys in position to succeed. That won’t change; systems don’t win titles–players and coaches who know how to use them and get the most out of them do.

    As to Vitti and co–as I have stated, that is a tricky area, but I think upper management should at this point take a look at it.

  23. rr,

    Nice observation. Come on guys! Just because it is an off year, don’t let your interest in our WONDERFUL LOS ANGELES LAKERS droop! Keep the comments AND THE CHEERS coming!!

    We kept it close into the fourth. We put a team on the floor!!! We are the L A LAKERS!!!

    GOOOOoooOOOOOOOO LAKERS !!!!

  24. Renato,

    I have had concerns about Vitti for a long time. We don’t seem to rehab players very quickly and are injury prone.

    GOOOooooOOOOOOOO LAKERS !!!!!

  25. Good post by renato

  26. Is it April 17th yet?

  27. As a Spurs fan who’s lived in LA since 2000, Jo Houston’s assertion that the Phil Jackson Laker teams had “lesser talent” than the Spurs teams leaves me scratching my head.

    First Phil title group: prime Shaq, prime Kobe, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Brian Shaw.

    Second Phil title group: Kobe, prime Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest.

    Spurs have never matched that talent. Not even close.