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I just want to take a moment to offer all of you and yours a happy Thanksgiving from FB&G. The Lakers may not be a very good team right now, but those of you who follow the site and are part of the community, who make this site what it is continue to make the season more enjoyable than it otherwise would be. For that, I am thankful.

Today is a day for family and, it should be noted, that to many of us the Lakers occupy a space in our lives very similar to our actual kin. We invite them into our lives daily, be it through watching the games, following them online, or reading them in print. And while we might not always like how things go, we keep following because we want to see them do well and hope what comes next will be better than what came before it.

This season has not offered much of that, but I am still thankful for it all. And, again, I am thankful for all of you who continue to support me, the site, and the team we all root for. We may not always agree, but we do this together. So, happy Thanksgiving to you all and have a safe and fruitful holiday.

It used to be you could put Kobe Bryant in any scheme and he would excel. Triangle offense? Sure. Spread pick and roll? You got it. Flex? Princeton? Whatever Del Harris or Rudy T ran? He’d still get his because, well, when you are that good at scoring the basketball, it does not matter.

At its most simplest level, Kobe would have the ball, the guy in front of him (and the guy behind that guy) would have to try and stop him from scoring, and they couldn’t. Check-mate.

Those days are gone. And if you didn’t know they were gone from simply watching Kobe play in his 20th season, you should know now that he’s telling you himself.

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The story of tonight’s game against the Warriors isn’t actually about the game, but instead the pending result. The Lakers look to do what 15 straight opponents to start the season have not been able to — beat the defending world champions. Considering the state of both teams, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion the Lakers will not win this game.

One Warriors’ win is not a big deal. 16 Warriors’ wins without a loss to start the season would be the best start in the history of the league. So, this would be a pretty big deal. With the Warriors at home (and the Lakers playing anywhere), the pending doom is only more predetermined.

Sorry, guys, there are no roses and rainbows in this preview. I do not offer any hope, here. The Warriors are, potentially, one of the best teams the league has ever seen. The Lakers are currently the opposite of that. When asked if his team could win this game, Kobe said “stranger things have happened” which, you know, isn’t an endorsement.

So, here we are. But, if you want me to indulge your thirst for how a Lakers’ win could happen, here is the formula:

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Renato Afonso is a long time reader, commenter, and friend of FB&G. He is based in Portugal, played semi-pro hoops, and after that coached his alma mater for two years. He now passes his time in a veteran’s league and raising his first born. This is his latest for FB&G. You can find him on twitter here.

With this post we’re trying to analyze the Lakers current offense and maybe understand the reason behind the team’s offensive woes. While it apparently seems the Lakers are also as bad on the defensive side, the fact is solving the problems on defense seems far easier than solving our offensive issues. Also, this is an X’s and O’s analysis and not a discussion about shot effectiveness, or putting it another way, what is the offense designed to do and which are its shortcomings.

For this analysis we’re considering only the recent string of games without Kobe. The reason for it is quite simple: Byron Scott enables Kobe, the players on court defer to him and we end up with a pump fake, pump fake, jab step, contested fade away three point shot that doesn’t find the net.  So, what kind of plays are they running?

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I want to see Kobe Bryant play well. I want this not as much for me, as a fan with rooting interests in the player and the team he plays for, but for him. As a person and a player.

I want it for him because as one of the best players who I have ever seen play basketball I want him to go out on terms somewhat relatable to the player he has been throughout his career. I want it for him because, after coming back from three season ending injuries and spending an inordinate amount of time simply rehabbing to prepare to play, I want that work to have meant something. I want it for him because, well, on some levels I think he’s earned it.

You can understand my disappointment, then, that I am coming to the conclusion that Kobe will not play well this year. He will not approximate the player he was. He will not depart the game at a status befitting his contributions to it. The hope to avoid the “Willie Mays as a Met/Patrick Ewing on the Magic/Hakeem on the Raptors” comparisons will, very likely, go unfulfilled.

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As we wrote after the Lakers’ loss to Raptors on Friday, the Lakers’ record isn’t what many would like (this includes me), but the level of play and some heartening signs have been visible lately. The young trio of Russell, Clarkson, and Randle played well, the starting lineup has had some good stretches, and Kobe has found a bit of a niche as a playmaker who is looking to attack a bit more than the early season catch-and-shoot (and miss) guy he’s been.

This may not be exactly what we were looking for when the season started, but it’s coming together better than what the first couple of weeks of the campaign hinted at. Well, that’s the hope at least. As with any young team, there is a two steps forward, one step back progression to the season and it would not surprise to see things change up some tonight when the Trailblazers visit Staples Center.

Hopefully not too much, though. Especially when talking about some of the progress the young players are showing. The Blazers offer a dynamite young backcourt and a nice group of young PF’s to match up with the Lakers’ trio of the future.

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The Lakers lost to the Raptors on Friday night, their 10th loss in 12 games, which is a bit concerning if all you are doing is watching the standings or worried about the team’s record. I do watch those things and would like that to be different, but if that’s all you are watching you missed some things which, in the bigger picture, are more important.

The Raptors game was a good progress game, a game where the young players all found their stride on the same night, a game that will, hopefully, be more of the norm in the future than it has been to this point in the year. Consider the following:

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The Lakers come off a much needed few days off to play the Raptors tonight in Los Angeles. After a rough stretch of 7 games in 11 days with 6 of those 7 on the road, a few days off to recharge their batteries and come into this game fresh is what the team needed. And I do not just mean physically, either. The Lakers only have 2 wins in 11 games this season. Mentally, all that losing starts to take its toll.

So, not playing since Monday should help the Lakers. Playing the Raptors in that first game back, however, will not. The Raptors are not playing as well as they would like — they are currently 7-6 and not in the top 8 seeds in the suddenly improved East — but they are still a much better team than the Lakers. Of course, the Lakers are 28th in offensive efficiency and 27th in defensive efficiency, so most teams are “much better” than them. But that’s another story for another day.

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