Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Wizards

Darius Soriano —  March 21, 2014

This could be said on many nights this season, but tonight’s match up is quite the role reversal for a late March game between these two teams. The Wizards enter tonight two games over .500 and the 6th seed in the East. The Lakers enter tonight’s game 23 games under .500 (seriously, that’s not a misprint) and are dead last in the West. I don’t need the Elias Sports Bureau to tell me that this type of discrepancy between these two teams has rarely (if ever) happened this late in the season. But here we are.

The good news for the Lakers (at least if you like watching more talent) is that they get some reinforcements back tonight. Jordan Hill and Nick Young are slated to return to the lineup after dealing with their respective ailments. Steve Nash will also be available to play tonight, likely playing anywhere from 5-7 minutes a half according to Mike D’Antoni. Adding those three to the lineup, even if they are diminished (especially Nash), improves this team a fair amount. Hill’s work on the glass and general hustle, Young’s scoring punch and ability to absorb possessions while creating shots offensively, and Steve Nash’s all-around game on O greatly improve what this team wants to do schematically.

And call me a sap, but I’m happy that Nash will be able to give it a go tonight. I know there are no guarantees he even makes it through the game (even if only playing short stints), I’ve always liked watching him out there on the floor. If he’s able to make a few “Nash” plays when out there, I’ll be satisfied. I also hope the fans give him a nice ovation when he makes his first appearance. For all we know, this may be the last time we ever see him play.

This is normally the part where I’d talk some strategy or discuss the Lakers’ chances of winning this game. Not today, however. It’s not that there aren’t X’s and O’s that intrigue me this game. It’s quite the opposite, actually. The Wizards young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal are difference makers and offer ever improving games that should give the Lakers fits. And with Nene out and Marcin Gortat missing their last game, that duo will have to do even more of the heavy lifting than normal. We also can’t forget the return of Drew Gooden and his all court goodness! (On a serious note, Gooden has been making some plays lately and the Wiz recently signed him for the rest of the season after initially inking him to a 10 day contract.)

I am not going to get into many details, however, because I’m not sure it matters all that much at this point. I mean, I care how the team plays and there are several things that still intrigue me about what this group does when on the floor. But in reality, this part of the season is less about the schemes the team is using or what they can do to win, and more about what the guys are offering as individuals and whether those traits can be incorporated into a team, down the line, that wins games. There is individual growth to be made as well and getting extended looks at several players (especially Sacre, Bazemore, and Henry) can help continue the evaluation process. I want to see how those players operate within the scheme more than what the scheme is itself, if that makes sense.

At this point, though, these are the things that matter most to me. Whether this is true for you or not, let me know in the comments. My guess is that many still care about the wins and losses (especially related to the lottery), but as a guy who is also thinking roster construction and the need to fill some gaps with cheap talent, these last games will hopefully continue to inform those decisions as well.

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

Darius Soriano

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46 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Wizards

  1. Really looking forward to see how Xavier Henry matches up against this Wizards’ backcourt. I hope the kid does well and plays well enough during the remainder of this dreadful season to sign with us for the upcoming seasons.

  2. For Warren!!

  3. Since Duke lost and with it my chance for the billion dollar prize I do not want to see Parker in a Laker uniform.

    That was my money to buy the Lakers!

  4. D’Antoni says there should be note urgency amongst the guys on the Lakers on expiring contracts because: “Next stop, Europe”

    Perhaps Mike could use some sensitivity training .

  5. Let’s lose in a 4th OT by 1 point! Ain’t no stopping the tank!
    Go Lakers!!!

  6. It’s one thing losing.

    But looking like a joke on your home court is another.

    Geeez

  7. Plus minus

    Marshall minus 12

    Steve. Plus 3

    We found the solution!

    Kidding

  8. I agree with the Lakers pre game show…Kobe should be on the bench…He can help the younger players…nice teammate…smh..

  9. One further point re Jeannie and Phil: according to what is out there, the league made Jeannie and Phil sign a conflict of interest agreement. Basically, the league has no problem w Phil in NYC and Jeannie in LA bc Jeannie has no approval of personnel decisions w the Lakers, hence no conflict . So, while she is the boss, it’s clear that she cannot now be in involved on the bball ops side. In short, You all better hope everything she said about Jimmy is true.

  10. What scares me?

    Jeanne says she trusts Jum/ Mitch and they have a like mind.

    Scary

  11. Plus minus

    Marshall minus 16

    Nash plus 10

    Cool!

  12. Amazing what Nash can do for guys like Sacre.

  13. Sacre only has 2 rebounds in 18 minutes. Hill has 12 in 23 minutes.

  14. Ken

    But Mike said Sacre is his hardest worker. Are you questioning our coach?

    Ha

  15. lol Ko! I leave that to you…

  16. Nash’s +\- = truth

    Hill returns and makes Dantoni look like a fool for benching him all year.
    Awesome.

    Kaman waiting outside for Dantoni after the game.

  17. Sad that all those injuries deprived us of seeing more of those
    Nash flashes of greatness we got tonight, thats what i envisones when we signed him. Not a lot of scoring sunce we had the firepower but being the engine of the offense he made these scrubs look pretty good. That was an amazing demostration by a true court general.

  18. Just back from the game. Not sure if it could be heard on tv, but instead of ‘defense’, the entire arena was chanting ‘Steve Nash’. Quite moving.,.

  19. the other Stephen March 22, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Lil Pau, I’m glad to hear that. Despite the loss, I was smiling from ear to ear just from watching Steve play. Sometimes, I think the fact that this team hasn’t imploded into a bunch of gunners, but rather has played hard all year, and players who are all but on their way out the door are still coming together for one another is more than we deserve.

  20. It would be awesome to get another late 1st or evem early 2nd round pick – some of the mid-level guys in the tournament are looking good

    I think ennis on kansas is going to be an improved version of udonis haslem + didnt know wiggans had an older brother playing for the shockwers

  21. Is it me or having Sacre and Gasol simultaneously on court with one of them guarding Al Harrington a bad idea? It seems to me that Gasol is getting increasingly frustrated as the season is ending…

    117 points surrendered to the Bullets…

  22. The Lakers lost by 10 but it seemed closer than that. Some interesting lines from the game:

    * Xavier Henry, 12 pts. (6-10 from the field), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals in 23:20;
    * Jordan Hill, 9 pts. (4-7 from the field), 14 rebounds, 4 blocked shots in 26:39;
    * Steve Nash, 5 pts. (2-4 from the field), 4 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 steals in 18:32; and
    * Nick Young, 21 pts. (7-16), 2 rebounds, 1 assist in 28:58.

    These 4 players by themselves make a very effective bench.

    Gasol, without playing one of his better games, had 14 pts. and 14 boards. Marshall was ineffective as was Bazemore. Sacre was the beneficiary of some drop-dead gorgeous passes by Steve Nash but otherwise only had 2 rebounds in 17:35. And Kelly was OK. Not great. But OK (7 pts., 3 rebounds in 19:18). Jodie Meeks, meanwhile, had 21 pts. (7-17).

    So, the Lakers had a lot of contributors with the bench really shining. But, as usual, they were out-run by John Wall and company (is there anyone in the NBA faster than John Wall?) and played zero defense, especially on the perimeter and in transition.

    Next year, our priorities must change.

  23. MannyP: “So, while she is the boss, it’s clear that she cannot now be in involved on the bball ops side.” I realize this is what was said, however, this would be like saying Warren Buffett is the Boss of Berkshire Hathaway, but he can’t get involved in investments. We are in the business of basketball. She is not and never was The Boss. Nothing to do with Phil – she signed the document – because it changes nothing. People answer to the Boss and Jim does not answer to Jeanie.
    Renato: “Bullets” Nice. We have now lost 3 straight to the Wizards. It is the first time that has happened since 1976, when the Wizards were in fact known as the Bullets.

  24. thanks for the excellent post Mid

  25. D’Antoni says there should be note urgency amongst the guys on the Lakers on expiring contracts because: “Next stop, Europe”
    ____
    To wit those players replied, “We’ll see you when we get there!”

    Even if he coaches one more year with the Lakers (I’m sick saying that) his career as an NBA coach is over.

    How would this coach do as a college basketball coach with a team in the NAACP?
    1. Would he make adjustments at halftime?
    2. Would he change his strategy based on who his opponent is?
    3. Or, would he stand pat and shoot 3s like Duke for a one and done?

  26. Say what you want about Hill and Nick Young at least they play with passion. Most of the players on the team act like they are playing another pick-up game.

    Along those lines the biggest indictment on D’Antoni’s system is that it doesn’t want or need a player like Jordan Hill.

  27. Even if he coaches one more year with the Lakers (I’m sick saying that) his career as an NBA coach is over.
    ___
    It sure seems that way, at least in the Head Coaching ranks.

  28. Purple

    I do not agree! Mike has established a niche.
    If you want to tank while appear to be exciting for 10 minutes a game, you hire Mike.

    Many bad team will gladly pay him in the future.

    Instead of a designated hitter Mike is the disignayed tanker!

  29. Liked the way Hill stood up for Young in that situation. I’m probably in the minority of fans that enjoyed the old-school standoffs, shoving matches, and occasional brawls. I grew up on basketball like that, and this pansified league with ejections for a single shove disagrees with me. In that situation, I would have reacted the same as Young. Drew Gooden’s bone-headed move could have caused a serious shoulder injury. Gortat got involved, and Hill did the same from the Lakers’ side. Didn’t see Hill do anything that Gortat didn’t, so I thought if one of them was ejected, both should have been.

    But Hill is a phenomenal energy player and stands up for his teammates, and the kind of guy I want on my team. MDA has done some things right, but I strongly dislike the way he’s utilized Hill during his time here. The guy is a good rotation player, especially on a team this thin.

  30. To start the year the Lakers were a marginal playoff team, at best. MDA’s best player sat the whole season, his starting PG has been out for 80%of the season. His starting center has been injured a quarter of the season and nobody else on the team would start on a good playoff team. Hill, Johnson, Henry, Bazemore and Williams are all high draft picks that didn’t work out for various other teams around the league. Meeks, Young, Farmar and Kaman are capable veteran subs and then there is the flotsam and jetsam of Kendall Marshall and Robert Sacre. What are you judging MDA from? The Lakers jersey is not worth 15 extra wins. It’s the guys in the jersey who may be worth that and frankly, there are not a lot of players in the NBA worth that many extra wins on a bad team. Take Kobe off a 45 win team (and that is being generous) and you have 37 wins. Take Nash off along with Pau for the amount he’s been out, that is another 5 wins? Couple in the injuries to Henry, Farmar, and Young that is another 2-5 wins. That is is 26 win team, at best. I think 20 wins would be a reasonable expectation, not to mention the fact that teams become discouraged and hence disorganized with losses piling up. I think a person can argue that the team is overachieving. We have wins against Portland, OKC, Houston, the Clippers and close games against the Heat. I disagree with lots of what MDA does. I think rebounding needs to be a bigger focus for the team. I think play near the cup is more important then it seems MDA thinks. I think the Heat feel they have won in spite of their deficiencies there, not because of them. This is why you see them trying to integrate Greg Oden and have chased other bigs when available.
    MDA seems to do a great job alienating bigs and that is one reason I would not mind seeing him gone eventually. That said, a guy like Love probably fits MDA’s style to a T. I just disagree with everyone who is saying MDA is garbage. He is sort of okay. Is that good enough for the Lakers, hell no. These are not exactly the Lakers right now. We are building back up to it and MDA is not a bad option for now.

    Personally, I think Pau is gone. Looking at the money situation, they need to let him go in order to have a free hand in rebuilding. I think the Lakers need to hit a homerun in this draft. If they get lucky and wind up with the rights to Wiggins, that is great. Exum seems like a nice pickup. If they get anybody else in this draft, even the guys I really like (Vonleh, Smart, Embiid) I think we need one more bad season with another great pick in 2015. Couple that with superstar FA acquisitions in 15 and 16… we are back. There is nothing wrong with MDA sticking around until the end of next season. Let him inflate the value of guys and either have other teams overpay, or maybe trade them for better pieces.

    My dream scenario is that Wiggins goes off in the tournament and we win the lottery. If Exum looks like the real deal, I find a way to parlay Wiggins and whatever it takes to get Exum and Vonleh. If that is impossible, then I am happy to keep Wiggins and build around that kid. I am sure he is a superstar. I want to see a guy with flaws and then capable of learning and improving. I know it sounds a little odd, but I see Wiggins as something like Charles Barkley. He has great handle, he is amazing in the open court, he is a little taller than Barkley but he’ll be able to handle the ball, he is a guy who likes to play in the post, he has range on his shot. He’ll be a better defender than Charles. He gets up so high, like Barkley used to, and can do it in traffic. One of the amazing aspects was Charles’ skill and athleticism all tied up in his body type. It ultimately made him a super-athletic load down low. Wiggins has the classic basketball body-type, but again, his bounce and his strength could make him really effective as a post up 4 with swing man skills. I mean, that is the NBA today.

  31. Snoopy2006,

    I concur with your assessment of Jordan Hill. I’d want him on my team, too. He’d be a role player, but an important role player. He wouldn’t start necessarily. But he would finish. I’d want him in there at the end of games.

    Apparently, Michael Cooper agrees with us. On a Friday afternoon radio interview, he was asked whom he’d keep from the current list of Lakers. His list was short. He named Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, and (with some reservations because he doesn’t like his defense) Jodie Meeks. But he singled out Jordan Hill. “The guy can rebound,” he said.

    Truer words were never spoken.

    One last note. Not only did Jordan Hill grab 14 rebounds in 26 minutes (which is VERY impressive), but he also blocked 4 shots. If we draft Jabari Parker or Julius Randall or Doug McDermott or Noah Vonleh, we should not expect those kinds of numbers. So…for my money, Hill is a keeper. So is Gasol.

    But that won’t happen if D’Antoni stays.

  32. P. Ami,

    I disagree with you and I’m not going down that road again. Plenty has been said about MDA and is still being said. I believe he will achieve nothing for the rest of his coaching career which amounts to roughly the same he has achieved so far…

    Now, I also agree this current roster is simply not good enough and key injuries did have a factor in our ability to win more games.

  33. Since the discussion has degenerated into a “what do we need” to rebuild discussion, we need a center. And, if MDA is around, a center who can run the floor.

    OK. That’s my wise input. FO take notice!

    GOOOooooOOOOOO LAKERS!!!

  34. “Even if he coaches one more year with the Lakers (I’m sick saying that) his career as an NBA coach is over.” How do u know? Mike Brown got fired 5 games into a season and people were asking how you recover being fired in November having Dwigh, Pau and Kobe in yournteam?and boom he was hired the next summer. Doc Rivers, overrated as he is coached some bad teams in Orl and in Boston were they regulary were asking for his head same as here. MDA himself endured some bad teams in NY and was starting to turn it around unfil Dolan traded almost the entire team for Melo and boy didnhe get it in NY before leaving what happened next? he got the Lakers job. I said it before and totally agree with P.Ami indoubt he will get fired until he gets to coach a healthy team. The injuries if this team were too cathastrophic to evaluate fairly. If PJ was coaching this team he would not get that much better results last season or this one. As infuriating and stubborn he is, the Lakers wont fire him until he gets a healthy team and be properly evaluated. Some of his whack rotations and starting lineups are the result of injuries. Hopefully IF we are healthy next season and the team struggles he will be fired in a heartbeat im pretty sure he will be in a short leash.

  35. Nice gritty win by the Utah Jazz! Last place in the West again!

  36. P.Ami: “…That is is 26 win team, at best. I think 20 wins would be a reasonable expectation, not to mention the fact that teams become discouraged and hence disorganized with losses piling up. I think a person can argue that the team is overachieving. We have wins against Portland, OKC, Houston, the Clippers and close games against the Heat.”

    Not overachieving on the defensive end, one could argue. A poor W-L record is probably unavoidable, (how many wins expected is going to be a pretty arbitrary number) but the question is how do they play, and for the future is it a good way to go as a philosophy?

    Miami got beat by Boston twice, by the Sixers, Jazz, Kings, and now Pelicans… Houston also lost to the Kings twice, and the Sixers and Jazz. Clippers also lost to the Magic and Cavs, OKC also lost to the Magic, Jazz, and Cavs. Portland also lost to the Pelicans, Sixers, and Kings. Bad teams beat good ones. It’s a long season.

    Disappointed sports fans and hyperbole go hand-in-hand. If the team fails to live up to expectations, the coach or manager must have serious brain damage and can do nothing right. At least no one here, to my knowledge, is collecting to hire a hit man, though I’d bet it’s crossed some minds. :)

    I think D’Antoni knows what he’s doing, and although I see problems with the philosophy, he could be pretty successful with the right talent—not just offensive talent, but players who can bring the right defensive mindset and leadership to the floor. I don’t think this Laker team, as it was when he was hired, or now, is even close to being right. Post-up players like Howard and Pau? An iso-player like Kobe? Fast pace for the vets, who are/were the guts of the team? I just shake my head. IMHO, unfortunately, it’ll take almost a total revamping of the team to have a chance.

    So if that’s what the Lakers want, then go for it 100%, starting now. Get rid of anyone who doesn’t fit, acquire only those that do or can. If not, don’t waste more time with things as they are. However, with D’Antoni, it appears the Lakers must, at the same time, compete with a Kobe-led team, and possibly much tension trying to make it work.

  37. Fern and P. Ami,

    D’Antoni is gone. History. April 17th he cleans out his office. You heard it here first.

  38. Warren Wee Lim March 23, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Mid-Wilshire, not to be the devil’s advocate but what if he still has office come April 18th? Is it safe to assume he has atleast 1 more season? Should we factor him in? Or is he a Kobe Bryant diss away from termination? If so, who does Kobe think best replace him? Scott? Hollins? JVG or SVG? Jerry Sloan? PJ Carlesimo? Scott Skiles?

  39. MD: Everyone knows I never thought MD should be hired and never thought much of him. Nothing that has happened in the last 2 years has changed my mind. That said, our FO is capable of anything, so they could can him due to public pressure, or Jim (The Boss) could decide that firing him would be too much change after abruptly firing Mike Brown 2 seasons ago. Further, who to hire and what is the roster going to look like? If we have a poor roster (and as per the posts above, a roster that barely make the playoffs if everything goes right is poor), then it is debatable whether a new coach should be brought in. Why bring in our fourth coach in 5 years if here is a good chance that he falls on his face in his first year? The Rambis interim solution would not be bad, but I do not think Jim would even consider that. So – if we can do something roster wise, then we can consider a Hollins, Scott , or VG, but if we do not then just continuing the circus with MD is a possibility. Why subject someone else to it? Either way we will continue to pay the price for the previous errors in our ways which started with the hiring of Mike Brown. and continued with the baffling events during November of 2012.

    P Ami: Your statement about “He is sort of okay. Is that good enough for the Lakers” – I have been saying that for 2 years. He should never have been our coach. The fact that we could have had Phil Jackson instead of him is just incredulous. The Celtics made a mistake with Pitino. However they did not hire Pitino over Auerbach. And no – Jackson would not have won with this roster, but we would still have DH if Phil had been here as well. And yes (not directed at you P Ami) – we have discussed this before. MD was a bad decision. It is time to admit that.

    Draft Picks + FA: We have Robert Sacre and a $24 million Kobe. If we do anything other than grab the best talent we can – then we are making a mistake. Why draft for need when you have as much need as we do? Why draft for MD? Is he going to be here for another 4 years? Seriously? Just get talent.

    Billy Donovan: If we could get him – we can do it right after this season. A new NBA coach – let him learn the ropes with no expectations. It would be perfect. An established coach would be expected to win right away and they probably will not. Le’s gra the up and comer – and I will take him een over an ex-Laker : )

    Let’s see what The Boss does.

  40. this team may be bad, but not as bad as some suggest.

    a frontcourt of Pau and Jordan Hill, with Kayman as backup is one of the better frontcourts in the league. think about it, this frountcourt would be at least in the middle of the pack in the NBA.

    on the other hand, the backcourt, without Kobe, is one of the worst, if not the worst backcourt in the league.

    seems pretty simple to me. if you want to maximize wins, you give your best players more responsibilities on the court. you play through your best players. that is not what this team has done, so to suggest that DAntoni maximized the talent on this team is way off IMO.

  41. but we would still have DH if Phil had been here as well.

    Sorry, buddy, but you have no way of knowing that. Houston was an awesome situation for Howard across the board and even with Phil had plusses that the Lakers simply do not have. And we don’t know for sure that Phil would have taken the gig, although I think that he probably would have and personally believe that his recent statements saying the opposite were pride talking. But we don’t really know.

    Like you always say: there are facts and there are opinions. Your statement above is the latter.

    As to coaches, I think it would be fine to hire Hollins or Van Gundy if the FO is

    a) Fully committed to their style of play.
    b) Fully committed to giving them 4-5 years, no matter how bad things are initially.
    c) They are willing to work as part of a build-up plan rather than on a quick fix.

  42. If the Lakers go with D’Antoni next season, but with no clear commitment to a direction, then it’ll be another indication to me that all they’ve been doing lately is floundering. Throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks so they can continue to sell tickets. They want this then that, Mike Brown then Showtime, a franchise center then a coach who doesn’t need one, to honor Kobe but also to rebuild at the same time, to keep Pau or not… and it doesn’t seem to add up. When it comes to the Buss family, I believe their hearts are in the right place, but it’ll take some time to show they really know what they’re doing in the new NBA, under the new CBA, and with so many great Laker minds no longer around. What is the blueprint for success? Have the Buss kids been groomed to greatness? Time will tell.

  43. Wartrem
    Scott attorney made a deal with TW to show up a few days a month on the air. It is my believe and understanding that was authorized by the FO and Kobe as “in waiting”. No way BScott ties himself up without that option.

    He is a friend of Kobe and a former Laker and has been very diplomatic on the air when discussing the FO. Not so much on defense, shot selection, rebounds and rotations. Watch the post games. It’s clear to me BScott will coach next year.

    Hardly think they will let Kibe’s 48 million be wasted by running him down again or have another 26 win season and spend 3 million for guys like Kamen to scratch the beards all game .

    Mike is gone.

  44. Ko,

    WADR, you have told us that Scott was getting hired before as well.

  45. C.Hearn March 22, 2014 at 11:04 am
    D’Antoni says there should be note urgency amongst the guys on the Lakers on expiring contracts because: “Next stop, Europe”
    ____
    To wit those players replied, “We’ll see you when we get there!”

    Even if he coaches one more year with the Lakers (I’m sick saying that) his career as an NBA coach is over.

    How would this coach do as a college basketball coach with a team in the NAACP?
    1. Would he make adjustments at halftime?
    2. Would he change his strategy based on who his opponent is?
    3. Or, would he stand pat and shoot 3s like Duke for a one and done?

    ———————————————————————————–

    Took me reading this a second time to catch it… I didn’t know the NAACP had a basketball league. Is it anything like the one of the NCAA? :)

  46. @Fern-I don’t know if he’ll ever be a coach again, its conjecture. But, it’s no worse than the posters that predict that this coach will/would be successful with a healthy roster.

    @Jason- LOL!!!! I was watching the NCAA at the time, so I’m not even sure how my fingers typed that acronym. #Ilikehumor #Nevertakeyourself2seriously