Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Suns

Darius Soriano —  February 15, 2017

The Lakers lost to the Kings on Tuesday, a game which saw Lou Williams go supernova in the 4th quarter to bring the team back from a double-digit deficit to nearly pull out the win. Williams’ last second heave was wide right, but his work up to that point was thrilling even though I was frustrated by the number of possessions he was using and the time D’Angelo Russell spent on the bench because of it.

That, right there, is the double edged sword of Lou. I will write more on this later, but Lou is so good at what he does that he deserves to play. When he gets his game going it’s hard to take him out and he’s able to turn some rough moments into good ones so quickly it’s easy to give him a long leash in order to find his rhythm. We saw that last year under Byron Scott and we see it this year with Luke Walton.

The other side of that coin is that no one is changing Lou’s game — certainly not him if he’s left to decide on his own. He’s made a career out of playing this way and there will be few extra passes, few instinctive possessions to move the ball on, few extended stretches of consistently dialed-in defense. You accept those parts of his game because the other parts he does well he does really damn well. And while he’s doing those things well, he’ll be keeping either Russell or Jordan Clarkson on the bench. These are the consequences and where the tipping point is for any fan/analyst/critic on any given night probably won’t be known until you’re there.

I was there against the Kings even though he went nova. But I digress.

All of this has little to do with the Suns, tonight’s opponent. I won’t say much about them because, honestly, as much as I love breaking down the game and everything which comes with it, a zoom out tells us that this is the last game before the All-Star break for the teams with the two worst records in the western conference. That’s not to say this game doesn’t matter, but the timing of it and the expected quality due to these facts makes it less meaningful to me.

Yes, you can talk about the Devin Booker/Russell match up, how well Eric Bledsoe is playing (really well), or the battles of both teams’ young forwards (Marquise Criss, TJ Warren vs. Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram). These things intrigue me and, during the game, I’ll be paying special attention to them. But heading in? Yeah, I’ve got little to say. Maybe the game will surprise me. But the last game before a long break which will likely have a bunch of guys getting ready to go on vacation hints at something less dramatic. We’ll see.

Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.


Darius Soriano

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12 responses to Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Suns

  1. Darius: no ones talking about it but I thought I saw Russell pull up a little gimpy during the third quarter last night. Hope everything is good with him.
    A win tonite will make 20 before the all-star break. If not, could be a while before we see that happen.
    Go lakers

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  2. Tonight is a case in point why changes are needed in the FO. There are some huge decisions that will need to be made over the next two years — before the Lakers start eating cap space by resigning all the kids ( Randle, Russell, Nance, Ingram and Zubac will all be up for their 2nd deals before Mozgov/Deng roll off the books).
    This is a piss poor performance by the Lakers. Russell and Randle are supposed to be leaders of this team and they show no passion while the team is getting their butts kicked. The Suns’ kids are showing hustle and heart the Lakers’ not so much. Russell is especially disappointing in his body style and attitude. At least show you give a damn.
    Sorry for the emotional post but it’s just hitting me that moving forward may mean trading some of the young core.

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  3. mattal Thanks for voicing my own feelings.  Very discouraging to see them disengaged, particularly Russell and Randle, as if it just doesn’t matter, as if they were channeling one of the most famous Laker chants – Cancun!  

    Actually, it looked a bit like last year out there.  Maybe I owe Byron an apology (ha ha)… perhaps he was right about needing to grow up and toughen up?

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  4. mattal

    I generally avoid saying stuff about body language/make-up, etc. But in an email to Robert about a month or so ago, I did mention IMO that Russell and Randle give off a little vibe of entitlement. On one level, if that is the case, I kind of get it, in that they are very young guys, lottery picks, from power schools, making millions of dollars a year and living in LA. 
    But in the NBA hierarchy itself, they are pretty low on the proverbial totem pole, so if in fact attitude/desire is an issue with these guys (and it may not be) that may be an area that Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant could help with. 
    As to the team, second night of a b2b right before the ASG–obvious trap game. But getting blown away by an 18-39 PHX team and giving up 137 points in game 58…well, that is, shall we say, a bad sign.

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  5. Nance Jr: “Lack of effort from everybody, it wasn’t one single person, one single unit. It was an entire team let down tonight.”
    (on SPSN)

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  6. The only good thing to say about this game is that it raised the odds of the Lakers dropping to last in the West–they are now one win ahead of Phoenix; same number of losses.  Minnesota won.  Philade 

    The bad thing is that especially the younger players looked bad and noncompetitive.  The only solid player was Lou Williams.  That may be great for trade value, but not the best way for the Lakers future.
    Hopefully, this is the dark before the dawn.

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  7. They wasted my money and time.

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  8. This from the L.A. Times:

    Three straight losing seasons, including two in which
    they’ve had the worst records in franchise history, have done nothing to
    damper the value of the Lakers.
    In its annual ranking of
    NBA franchises that was published Wednesday, Forbes valued the Lakers
    at $3 billion, up 11% from last season and the second-highest figure in
    the league behind the http://www.latimes.com/topic/sports/basketball/new-york-knicks-ORSPT000200-topic.html ($3.3 billion).
    Well, for some high on up the ladder of the franchise, everything´s peachy

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  9. new rr  mattal 

    rr:  You are correct in that its problematic to judge folks by their demeanor.  Had I not been a bit irritated by what I was watching I might have taken a step back and calmed down before posting.
    I have posted before that the Suns, in my mind, are eerily similar to the Lakers.  Not only are their records virtually identical but they have an equally young core.  This should have been a game that our kids should have looked at with anticipation. The two teams are in the same division and there is obvious comparisons between the young players — you’d think bragging rights would be motivation enough to fire up the engines.
    Randle matched up against Chriss, and Russell against Booker.  While their numbers were virtually a draw it took big 4th quarters (when the game was already decided) for Randle and Russell to pull even.  When the game was in question Chriss and Booker were the better players.
    Note:  I know Booker is a SG and Russell is a PG so their matchups aren’t opposing each other.  But Russell was taken 2nd overall and Booker was taken 13th in the same draft.  Virtually every recent ranking has placed Booker as the better pro with more upside. I was hoping that Russell would have a chip on his shoulder and play a great game.

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  10. rr: “that is, shall we say, a bad sign.”    You are so diplomatic   :  )
    JuanJ: “Well, for some high on up the ladder of the franchise, everything´s peachy ”   Yes – the Lakers are a microcosm of California society.  The Buss Family is like the Hollywood elite and the fans are not quite feeling the trickle down economics   (I am trying to be diplomatic like rr).
    Williams:   I still want him traded, but wow – how bad are we going to be without him?
    Effort:   There was none.   So evidently the tough love of Byron does not work, and neither does the “Cool Hand” of Luke Walton.   Perhaps the Lakers should try to take the youngsters out for slurpees after the games – maybe this will produce effort.

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  11. I have mixed feeling about these busters.

    On the one hand, the Lakers desperately need to keep their ’17 and ’19 first round picks.

    On the other hand, wow, what just happened last night is beyond worrisome.

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  12. I believe that someone in the front office may read this most intelligent of Laker forums, at least, I hope so. The core players had increased minutes to an average of 29 minutes last night, up from 22.

    If we asked for more time for them, we should expect a drop off in the quality of play, until they develop.

    Regarding D’Angelo, though his volume of shooting was terrible, it seems he’s trying to use his time to get his shot back in order. I can understand that, as it’s impossible to get a rhythm the way Walton yanks him out like a yo-yo, and no matter how good his floor vision or passing, his main ability is to score.

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