Archives For Game Recap

Newly appointed Knicks president Phil Jackson was on hand to witness the type of performance he hopes to eradicate in the coming years. After a hot start in which they scored the contest’s first eight points, the listless Knicks allowed the shorthanded Lakers, playing without Kobe, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, to go a combined 34 of 46 in the second and third quarters. When all was said and done, LAL had put together one of its better performances on the year in handing the Knicks a 127-106 defeat. LA managed to score fifty-one points in the third quarter, a franchise record.

This was one of the few games I’ve been lucky enough to attend this year, and the atmosphere inside Staples was surprisingly lively when you consider what’s transpired this season. The Lakers seemed to feed off the energy and the knowledge that the game was nationally televised. When you watch a game in person, the little things that you notice when you watch games not on television- stuff like effort, communication on defense, and hustle- becomes much clearer. And yesterday, it was shockingly apparent that the Lakers wanted to win more than the Knicks did. It’s as simple as that. New York was slow on defensive rotations, slow in their closeouts on three-point shooters, just plain old slow.

The Lakers on the other hand, were not. It was the same formula that helped LAL start off hot decently: up-tempo, push the pace type offense relying heavily on ball movement and three-pointers and defense designed to keep the opponent out of the paint. It was refreshing to see the Lakers play some effective defense for once- they were able to make things tough on Carmelo Anthony, who missed his first seven shots (mostly jumpers). While Anthony did eventually begin to hit those jumpers, the game was well out of hand before he got cooking. What I’m trying to say here is, Anthony was mostly a non-factor despite his 29 points.

Iman Shumpert was completely invisible, as has been the unfortunate truth for Knicks fans recently. He’s really not developed nearly the way anyone in the league or the Knicks’ front office anticipated, and it feels like ages ago that he was regarded as a future building block who could effectively guard LeBron in playoff series’ for New York. If I’d have told you two years ago that Iman Shumpert would be averaging 6.7 points and have a PER under 10 this year, you would have been disappointed in the way he’s developed.

In contrast, the Lakers were excellent last night. Xavier Henry was impressive in his return, going 8-11 for 22 points off the bench in only 23 minutes of action in his first game since returning from a wrist injury. His legs looked springy-fresh and he seemed genuinely excited to be back on the court. That’s something that I think people–me included– have kind of forgotten this year: yes, it’s been a terrible season and the Lakers aren’t anything near a good team, but the players are still living their dream, still playing in the NBA every night for one of, if not the, league’s most famous franchise. For those who don’t have the title-or-bust mentality (so for everyone except Kobe, really), that’s still pretty damn cool.

Swaggy P was excellent for the second straight game, putting up 20 and adding to the historical tone of the evening by notching his sixth 4-point play of the year- a Laker record. He was the first one in Carmelo’s ear all night, as you’d expect and want, as well. Jodie Meeks, who might warrant a few votes in the Most Improved Player voting, hit four of the Lakers’ 18 3-pointers, just one shy of the record set previously this year. It was the type of three-point barrage that Mike D’Antoni’s teams muster when they’re playing well against a team that didn’t come to play. And that was exactly the case- the Knicks really never seemed to interested in putting together a run to get back in the game and didn’t seem all too upset when it was clear they’d lose.

In a season filled with disappointments and too many embarrassing score lines, it was nice to the squad hand down a beating of their own. No matter the circumstances, beating the Knicks is always nice- especially in front of Phil Jackson.

If there is one quality I have admired most about the Lakers this season it’s that they never give up. Injuries and a lack of talent has cost them games and the losing certainly affected their spirit at different points in the year, but regardless of the scoreboard this team has mostly played as hard as it could and tried their best to win the game.

Sundays game against the Raptors was a perfect example of this. In the first half the Lakers found themselves down by as many as 19. Their defense was struggling to contain dribble penetration and the Raptors were especially hot from the outside, killing the Lakers’ late rotations and spotty transition defense. Even at that early stage of the game, the Lakers could have simply started to go through the motions and, essentially, packed it in. Instead they battled back and closed the half with a nice push to only trail by 4 points at intermission.

The start of the third quarter saw the Raptors start on a similar run to the one they had in the first half, beginning the period to score 12 consecutive points and push their lead back to 16. Again, though, the Lakers battled back to close the period on a 28-11 run to take a single point lead heading into the 4th. Once that final period began, the Lakers fought tooth and nail on both sides of the ball to ultimately win the game down down the stretch with solid execution on both sides of the ball.

As they have most of the year, this team didn’t fall into the trap of watching the scoreboard. Instead they bought into what they were trying to do on both ends, made the needed plays, and came out victorious. Games like this feel good not just because of the final outcome, but because the team had so many chances to fall into the mindset that they should lose only to never do so. They battled hard and were rewarded with a victory. Games like this may not have any long term impact on what this team’s ceiling is, but it certainly reinforces that this group of guys really does care and wants to do their best.

Notes:

  • How about rookie Ryan Kelly? Coming off a career best day against the Celtics on Friday, Kelly continued his strong play against the Raptors by scoring 17 points on only 7 shots to go along with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. The rebounding numbers could stand an uptick, but the benefits of what Kelly provides offensively really do matter. He is a true stretch 4 with range that must be respected. Further, against the Raps, Kelly showed the off the dribble work that guys who play his style need in order to be effective in this league. Kelly attacked closeouts consistently and got into the mid-range area where he either pulled up for short jumpers or drew fouls when getting closer to the rim. Kelly went 6-6 from the line, including 3 big ones in the closing minutes when the defense respected his three point shot so much he was able to draw a foul on an aggressive close out. It has only been two games, but Kelly is starting to show that he truly does belong in this league.
  • Pau Gasol wasn’t his most efficient only hitting 8 of his 20 shots from the field, but he still scored 22 points and grabbed a team high 9 rebounds. Gasol absolutely owned Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas whenever the two matched up, taking him in and out of the post and scoring on him easily most of the day. Gasol’s ability to work over the young big man forced the Raptors into adjusting their rotations, playing Chuck Hayes heavy minutes and having Patrick Patterson play some C. These moves worked out for the Raps, but if you’d have told me before the game that Jonas would be a non-factor on both ends, I’d say the Lakers have a better chance of winning this game.
  • Welcome back Nick Young. Young returned from his one-game suspension to score a game high 29 points on 13 shots (10-11 from the foul line), including a fantastic 5-7 from behind the arc. Young showed good energy all day and hit some huge shots down the stretch when the Lakers needed baskets to hold off the Raptors. It’s days like this — where Young is not only “on” with his jumper, but is drawing fouls — that he’s a real weapon that can carry the team’s offense for extended stretches. Young was also solid on D, guarding DeMar DeRozan down the stretch and forcing his fellow Angeleno into some tough misses in isolation.
  • Another double digit assist for Kendall Marshall. He dropped 11 dimes against Toronto including several next level reads out of the P&R that crystallize how much of a playmaker he really can be. His 10 points on 4-10 shooting (2-3 from behind the arc) were also helpful in keeping the defense off-balance and not just playing him for the pass.

BOSTON — The Los Angeles Lakers drained 11 of their 15 second half three pointers and scored 11 unanswered points to finish the game to defeat the Boston Celtics at TD Garden, 107-104, on Friday night in Rajon Rondo’s long awaited return.

Kendall Marshall’s three with 1:09 remaining in the game put the Lakers on top, 105-104, and they hung on to win. Prior to his triple, Jodie Meeks and Wesley Johnson added threes of their own to close the gap.

After Marshall made his three, the Lakers were winding the clock down when the Celtics forced Wes Johnson to a jump ball. During the jump ball, both players appeared to tap the ball out of bounds simultaneously. The ball was awarded to the Lakers. However, after a video review, the officials called for a re-jump. Johnson won the re-jump and Ryan Kelly sank two free throws to seal the victory.

Marshall scored 19 points, 14 assists and was 4-for-5 from downtown in the victory. The Lakers also got solid production from Kelly, who scored 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Pau Gasol led the team in points and rebounds with 24 and 13, respectively.

Rajon Rondo made his season debut and was introduced as the team’s captain during the pre-game introductions. He showed his leadership in the second quarter by making three consecutive lay-ups and giving a Celtics an early cushion. Rondo was limited to 19 minutes of action, though, and wasn’t very impactful after the first half. Rondo finished with eight points and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk put on a clinic for the C’s, scoring 25 points and dishing seven assists in the loss. Phil Pressey also added nine assists as the Celtics had 34 assists on 44 field goals made. They came into the game ranked 28th in the category with just 19.8 assists per game. Their solid ball movement was a big reason why they were leading throughout most of the game.

The Lakers, however, exemplified great ball movement as well. They recorded 27 assists on 37 field goals made. Whenever the ball was moving, they were efficient. That said, after only turning the ball over once in the first quarter, the team had coughed it up 19 times when the final buzzer sounded. The Celtics, on the other hand, only turned it over seven times.

Because of the turnover disparity, the Celtics took 25 more shots than the Lakers did in the game. However, because of the Lakers impressive three point shooting, especially in the second half, the Celtics couldn’t muster a W. After shooting near 30 percent throughout the last 13 games, the Lakers exploded from downtown and made 60 percent of their threes.

Whether it was luck, impressive ball movement, or both, the Lakers will take it. It’s been awhile since they’ve gotten a break like the one’s they got tonight (the re-jump) and it was good to see the team not falter in the second half.

One thing also rang true in this game: when these two teams play, the records must be thrown away because more often than not it’s going to be a classic and tonight’s game had the fans buzzing and reminiscing of the 2008 and 2010.

The Lakers will now continue their Grammy Road Trip on Sunday as they play a matinee in Toronto.

It’s pretty tough to win a game when your roster is depleted. And the Suns took advantage of that as they beat an undermanned Laker team, 121-114.

The Lakers essentially played seven (Robert Sacre didn’t play) the entire game. Nick Young was kicked out of the game after he took a swing at Suns rookie center Alex Len and Goran Dragic. Len whacked Young in the face during a dunk attempt. Young had every right to be upset but he has to control his emotions better. I know; it’s easier said than done. A lot of people would react the same way, too, after such a dangerous play like that.

But enough of that. This wasn’t exactly a well-played game by both teams. The Lakers looked flat early on both sides as the Suns got off to an 8-0 start. The game was sloppy a lot of the time and the Suns outlasted the tired Lakers, who were playing on a back-to-back.

The Lakers were, as expected, atrocious on defense. They couldn’t stop anybody in the paint (64 points inside by the Suns) and they let Phoenix run on them (36 fastbreak points). The Suns also had a 53-43 advantage on the boards (16-8 on the offensive end). And once again, the third quarter proved to be disastrous for Los Angeles as they were outscored, 34-24. A quick 9-0 run by the Suns in the middle of the fourth proved to be the mountain that the Lakers couldn’t scale.

Gerald Green had a season-high 28 points as he seemed like he couldn’t miss any of those funky jumpers he took. Markieff Morris couldn’t be stopped inside (24 points) and Channing Frye had a big game (20 points). And I didn’t even mention Goran Dragic’s excellent all-around game (18-10-7).

As for the Lakers, it really hurt to not have Nick Young after the second quarter (who had scored 9 quick points). Kendall Marshall was distributing well (13 assists) but shot poorly (4 for 16, 10 points). Wesley Johnson (22 points) and Chris Kaman (18 points) with Young out. Pau Gasol got going late (24 points) but it was too late by then. But when they needed a shot, Nick Young was usually the one to bail them out and he obviously wasn’t there. Marshall looked uncomfortable shooting the ball and it showed when he passed up a wide open three late in the game.

All-in-all, it was a sloppy game to watch despite what the scoreboard said. Just that the Lakers couldn’t stop anybody (which has been a theme for the last six games; all opponents have scored 110 or more in that stretch) whether it’s in the halfcourt or in transition. The Lakers fall to 14-25 and at this point, watching a Laker game is equivalent to going to the dentist.

The Lakers go against the Celtics on Friday as they reengage themselves in combat. No, really. In Combat (Darius is going to hate me for making that joke).

In any case, it would be nice to see a win on Friday. This losing thing gets old really, really fast. The Lakers have lost 12 of the last 13 games. Hey, remember a few years ago when the Lakers lost only 17 games in the regular season?

Man, I miss 2009.

There wasn’t much positive to take from the game. Nick Young has now scored 20+ points in eight of the Lakers last 11 games and hasn’t failed to reach double figures since the Lakers win over the Kings on November 25. Kendall Marshall continues to be a playmaker for these Lakers as he recorded 17 assists with a few absolutely gorgeous dimes to cutters and a couple of notable skip passes to shooters in the corners. Pau Gasol recorded a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds while recording five assists. Jodie Meeks also had an efficient night with 23 points on 15 shots, with the majority of his buckets coming near the rim.

The Lakers went into the half with a one-point lead, but weren’t able to to keep pace with the Nuggets in the second half. “We don’t have the backbone yet as a team,” said Mike D’Antoni to reporters after the game on TWC SportsNet “We don’t have the grit that we need sometimes on hard times. They had it kind of before we came back here — but in the second half it’s just like the air went out of our team [...].” A disgusting second half it was. The Lakers seemingly didn’t get a stop in the second half as the Nuggets followed a 33 point third quarter with a 44 point fourth. The Lakers were cold from long range and couldn’t keep the Nuggets off the board. The result was one of the uglies losses of the year. Below are a few notable numbers from tonight’s debacle.

  • 77: The Lakers gave up 74 points in the second half of tonight’s game after leading 61-60 going into the half. The team came out lethargic in the third quarter, turning the ball over and giving up easy looks at the rim. Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler combined for 17 points in the quarter with Lawson adding five assists. The Lakers missing from three coupled with their four turnovers turned into 12 fastbreak points for the Nuggets in the 3rd. In the fourth, the Lakers lacked the sense of urgency that kept them in the game in the first half. They played sloppy and unmotivated. They seemed to have come to grips with the fact that tonight wasn’t a winnable game and promptly gave up 44 points in the final period.
  • 21: The number of three-point attempts that the Lakers had tonight. For a team that relies to much on the three ball, hitting three-of-21 from the field just isn’t going to get it done. The starting unit was 1-for-11 from three with the second unit slightly better at 2-for-10 from behind the arc. On the flip side, the Nuggets were 12-for-29 from long range, making them +27 from three, a definite losing differential the way this rendition of the Lakers plays basketball.
  • 52: The Nuggets recorded 52 points on 32 extra possessions. The Nuggets recorded 17 offensive rebounds and turned the Lakers over 15 times and turned that into 31 points off turnovers and 21 second chance points. Considering the fact that the Nuggets shot 53 percent from the field, giving up offensive rebounds on 37 percent those misses is down right unacceptable. The Nuggets deserve all the credit in the world for working hard to create those extra possessions, and even more for turning those extra possessions into a seizable number of points, but the Lakers lack of effort in those areas definitely contributed to the Nuggets success.
  • 137: This is the highest total that the Lakers have given up in a game since 2011 when they gave up 137 to the Suns in triple over time (a win, by the way). The Lakers hadn’t given up more than 130 in a non-over time game since 1993 when they allowed the Charlotte Hornets drop 141 on them in regulation, just over a decade ago.

Despite the rough loss, the Lakers will need to put the game behind them as they have a rough three game stretch where they travel to Dallas and Houston which will be followed with a “road” game against the Clippers. They’ve now lost seven of the last nine with trade rumors hovering over the team like Nate Robinson on a tip dunk. Even with the distractions, the Lakers are going to have to focus on the road to be able to come home with a few more tally marks in the win column.