Archives For Game Preview

Records: Lakers 11-41, Last in the West; Spurs 42-8, 2nd in the West
Offensive ratings: Lakers 97.2, 29th in NBA; Spurs 109.2, 3rd in the NBA
Defensive ratings: Lakers 108.2, Last in the NBA; Spurs 94.7, 1st in the NBA
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Clarkson, Williams, Kobe, Randle, Hibbert
Spurs: Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi, David West, LaMarcus Aldridge

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have won two games in a row, beating the Wolves in LA and the Pelicans in New Orleans to start this road trip. The wins were highlighted by strong play from Kobe Bryant, but he did not win these games on his own — not even the Wolves game where he posted a 38-5-5 line that was as throwback as they come.

No, the team has been getting good efforts from multiple players, especially offensively. Julius Randle has been a double-double machine while shooting a strong percentage, D’Angelo Russell has been doing good work in the post while also knocking down outside shots, Jordan Clarkson has been consistent and a top scoring option, and Lou Williams has provided efficient scoring by getting to the line and creating shots in isolation.

More to the point, this is the team many optimists saw as the best version of the Lakers for this season. Factors — up and down play from the youngsters, Kobe’s on and off health and struggles with finding his legs, not being able to compensate for really bad defense — has limited how often we have seen this type of play. But the team has gotten it these last two games and it’s led to wins and some entertaining basketball.

Continue Reading…

The Lakers start a 4 game road trip tonight in New Orleans, a trip which will double as a Kobe retirement tour at every stop. So, expect there to be some tribute videos and electric environments full of fans for both teams eager to say their goodbyes to #24. With this, of course, comes some distractions, even if only small ones.

This isn’t the biggest deal, but it it’s not nothing either. Kobe will be showered with good vibes and the rest of the team will have to try and channel that energy into positive performances. Because no matter how the game goes, Kobe will get his cheers. I’ve no clue how his teammates fell about this — I’d imagine it’s a bit cool to see — but hearing “oohs and ahs” when one guy touches the ball or takes a shot regardless of result has to at least be strange.

Continue Reading…

Records: Lakers 9-41, Last in the West; Timberwolves 14-35, 14th in the West
Offensive ratings: Lakers 96.6, 29th in NBA; Timberwolves 101.7, 23rd in the NBA
Defensive ratings: Lakers 108.2, Last in the NBA; Timberwolves 105.3, 22nd in the NBA
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Clarkson, Williams, Anthony Brown, Randle, Hibbert
Timberwolves: Rubio, Wiggins, Tayshaun Prince, Gorgui Dieng, Karl Anthony-Towns

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have tied their franchise worst 10 game losing streak. They have also lost 14 of their last 15 games and 16 of their last 20. I could go on, but you get the point. The losing has been bad and, to make matters worse, the L’s have been by large margins.

All of the losing has stirred up the ongoing themes of player development and what is the best way to handle the rotations with all these losses piling up. After all, if the team is losing, why not change things up and start to focus more on the young players? Byron Scott says D’Angelo Russell will be inserted back into the starting group eventually, hinting it will happen after the all-star break. That hasn’t appeased many people, though. In fact, Scott has come under fire recently, from former UCLA star and current Clipper announcer Don McLean, for how he has handled Russell’s development this season.

Excellent summaries of this very public spat can be found here, by Dan Devine and here by Kurt Helin so I will spare you the specifics. They also offer some very level headed thoughts on the matter so I would read what they have to say. Really, go do it, we’ll be here when you get back. My thoughts on this are pretty simple, but can best be summed up with a few short bullet points:

  • I don’t know what Scott says or does behind the scenes in supporting and developing players, so it’s important to acknowledge that we can only know so much.
  • What we do know is heavily influenced by Scott’s public comments.
  • Scott’s public comments, about Russell specifically, have skewed negative multiple times over the course of the season.
  • Some of Russell’s recent comments imply he’s struggling, not only in his play but in his understanding of how to improve and with the lines of communication between himself and the coach.
  • The foundation of any good player/coach relationship is communication. The foundation of any good coaching is communication.
  • If Byron Scott is struggling to communicate with Russell or any of the other players — young or veteran — he must find a way to break through that. Communication is a two-way street, but if your tactics are not working with a player, finding ways to make it work are more on the coach. This is especially true with young players who need more guidance and direction, especially in their first couple of seasons while they are learning the league.

Again, I do not know what is happening behind the scenes, but there needs to be improvement here. And, yes, I’m putting the onus on the coach to make those inroads. Especially when what I am seeing, publicly, implies he has room to improve his approach.

Continue Reading…

Records: Lakers 9-40, Last in the West; Hornets 22-25, 10th in the East
Offensive ratings: Lakers 96.9, 29th in NBA; Hornets 102.6, 15th in the NBA
Defensive ratings: Lakers 108.4, Last in the NBA; Hornets 102.5, (T) 13th in the NBA
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Clarkson, Williams, Anthony Brown, Randle, Hibbert
Hornets: Kemba, PJ Hairston, MKG, Marvin’s Room, Spencer Hawes

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have now lost 9 games in a row or, said another way, have managed to lose as many games in a row as they have won all season. The 9 game streak is the 2nd longest in team history, but a loss tonight would tie that record. If you’re wondering the last time the team lost 9 games straight it was…last season. So, yeah, Byron Scott holds a couple of dubious distinctions in the form of consecutive losses (both for the Lakers and the NBA) and can add to his legend tonight.

Continue Reading…

The Lakers, after a deflating and bad loss against the Bulls on Thursday, are back in action on Friday against the Clippers. The loss against the Bulls was the Lakers 8th straight, their longest of the season, and only enhanced the struggles the team has been dealing with lately.

After the game Byron Scott railed on his team, questioning how important the game was to some of his players, again noted that his team did not come out ready to play, and threatened making lineup changes (again) to find players who would compete each night.

I’d go off on some long rant right now on how these comments can, by some, be interpreted as another deflection by the coach; that when your team isn’t ready to play, it reflects as much on the guy in charge (if not more) as it does on the players; that the next time this coach takes some ownership over his team’s struggles to “compete” it will be the first (second, maybe?), but I won’t write more than that single sentence. Why bother.

Continue Reading…

Records: Lakers 9-38, Last in the West; 25-19, 4th in the East
Offensive ratings: Lakers 97.1, 29th in NBA; Bulls 100.7, 26th in the NBA
Defensive ratings: Lakers 108.3, Last in the NBA; Bulls 100.3, 8th in the NBA
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Clarkson, Williams, Kobe, Randle, Hibbert
Bulls: Rose, Butler, Tony Snell, Taj Gibson, Pau

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers have lost 7 games in a row, tied for their longest losing streak of the season. Their recent games have offered some glimmers of hope for a win, but the team has either not been able to close (Dallas) or been outclassed by much superior opponents in the 4th quarter (San Antonio). These aren’t new themes, but for a team which consistently finds ways to drop games, it is impressive in its own sad and frustration inducing ways.

Beyond the losses, I don’t have much to say about this team. Recent news is that Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell were chosen to play in the Rising Stars game on All-Star weekend while teammate Julius Randle was not. I actually think Randle was deserving, but the format of the game — USA vs. the World — and the fact that two players who will play internationally for other countries (Karl Anthony-Towns plays for the Dominican Republic and Jordan Clarkson will likely play for the Philippines this summer) are on the USA team means deserving American players didn’t make the cut. Randle is one such guy.

I’d get upset about this — and I’m sure Randle sees this as another reason to play with a chip on his shoulder — but with the longer All-Star break and the game being in Toronto, I might just enjoy a vacation on the beach rather than trudging around in freezing temperatures. I get that Randle is a young player who would (probably) appreciate the recognition, but some time off the refresh never hurt anybody. Or maybe I’m just old.

Continue Reading…

The Lakers are back in business tonight, facing off against the Mavericks for the final time of the season. This, of course, means this will be the last time Kobe Bryant faces off against Dirk Nowitzki in an NBA Basketball game. Actually, unless they meet up at the local Y, it will be the last time they face off ever since Kobe has pulled his name out of contention for the 2016 Olympic Team and Dirk has retired from the German National team.

Tonight, then, really should be a bit of a celebration. Well, at least for me it will be. Dirk has always been one of my favorite players. Recently, Kevin Durant called Kristaps Porzingis a “unicorn” because of his varied skill set at a guy his size. Dirk, though, was the original unicorn — a 7-footer with unlimited range on his jumper — and the player who paved the way for players like Porzingis to make it to the NBA and be drafted as high as he was.

So Dirk, like Kobe, is somewhat of a pioneer. The fact that this will be the last time they play means something to me and I’ll try to reflect on that and appreciate the moment while it’s happening.

Continue Reading…

I am keeping this short and sweet today since, like the Lakers, I am on the road (and short for time because of my travels). The Lakers visit Portland tonight in a game which will be Kobe’s last game in the Rose Garden (I know it’s the Moda Center now, but I don’t call it that). These “last game in city X” are always a bit tricky to navigate for Kobe and the rest of the team and I expect tonight to be no different.

Continue Reading…