Archives For Game Recap

The Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons 106-96 thanks to (for a change) a good third quarter. LAL is now 5-13 after back-to-back wins and is 4-0 against teams from the Eastern Conference while the Pistons fell to 3-15 (yuck).

The game started out as ugly as you might with both teams sporting a combined 7-27 record. Carlos Boozer provided the early offense for LA, notching 8 points in the first quarter. Kobe looked, for lack of a better word, tired in the first quarter and didn’t score until the third quarter. But as he often does when his shots not falling, he played the facilitator role and found his teammates for open looks early and often. That kept LAL close in the first period despite shooting under 40%.

The game remained close in the second quarter and the lead changed hands multiple times. The bench provided a nice spark tonight, led by Swaggy P as is so often the case. Young came off the bench looking for buckets and was successful in finding them after an 0-4 start. He finished with a classic Nick Young scoreline of 19 points, 1 rebound and a goose egg in the assist column.

The third quarter is where this game was won. Kobe came to life, scoring a quick 12 points to help the Lakers build a lead that swelled to 19 points at one point. Jordan Hill continued his strong play (particularly on the offensive glass), knocking down both open jumpers that usually came on the heels of Bryant’s getting into the lane and connected on a few nice jump hooks on his way to 22 points and 13 rebounds. He’s been a bright spot for the Lakers in a season where there haven’t been many.

It would have been nice for the Lakers to maintain the advantage they built in the third quarter to enable to starters to rest with a game against the 11-5 Wizards tomorrow night. But that wasn’t the case, as some sloppy play allowed the Pistons to cut the lead to 8 with 5 minutes to play, which prompted Byron Scott to put Jeremy Lin and Kobe back in the game to secure the win. And that’s exactly what they did. Despite turning the ball over 10 time (!!!), Kobe finished with 12 points and 13 assists. In his last two games, #24 has totaled 25 assists. While there’s no doubt LA needs Kobe to be their first option offensively, he’s clearly the teams best passer/facilitator and it would serve the team better if Kobe played the facilitator role more often.

While two wins in a row are always nice, it’s important to keep in the mind the quality (or lackthereof) of the of opponent tonight. The Pistons have been putrid as of late- tonight marked their ninth consecutive loss. They looked lost on the offensive end, having seemingly no gameplan, and were out-hustled throughout tonight’s game. But the Lakers will take any win they can get, and they head to Washington tomorrow riding a two-game win streak.

Let’s hope the improved offensive play (all 5 starters were in double figures tonight for the second consecutive game) continues tomorrow night in Washington. The Wizards are a much, much better team than the Pistons are, and if the Lakers don’t come to play, a blowout is a real possibility.

Toronto Raptors 122 Final
Recap | Box Score
129 Los Angeles Lakers
Carlos Boozer, PF 30 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +11Boozer had another efficient offensive night, hitting his jumper with good consistency and sneaking into the paint when his man played him too tight to defend against that shot. Add in his solid defensive rebounding and this was a very nice outing.

Wesley Johnson, SF 27 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +9Wes’ stat line doesn’t stand out as super impressive and his three pointers were not falling, but overall he had a solid game. He hit four of his six 2-point shots and had what was a game sealing dunk in the closing minute as the Raptors were making one last push by hitting a couple of threes. He did not have a big impact defensively, but he also wasn’t a minus on that end even though he had to chase around Kyle Lowry for stretches.

Jordan Hill, C 34 MIN | 6-11 FG | 4-5 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | 0After struggling the last couple of games, Hill had a nice bounce back effort against Toronto. His 16 points and 12 rebounds were strong, but more impressive was his late game rim protection. He had two of his three blocks in the 4th quarter and overtime, both of which were big plays at the time.

Jeremy Lin, PG 35 MIN | 3-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | 0Lin’s numbers look dreadful, but I liked the way he was in attack mode all night. He aggressively used his dribble to drive by closing out defenders and was good at creating shots in the paint when he got a step on his man. Those shots didn’t fall with any consistency, but getting those shots up kept the defense honest which allowed for his big men to get offensive rebounding chances.

Kobe Bryant, SG 42 MIN | 11-24 FG | 9-13 FT | 11 REB | 12 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 31 PTS | +2Kobe was the man of the match. While his shooting numbers were again under the 50% mark, he hit big shots down the stretch to put the Lakers in a position to win. Bigger than those buckets, though, was the way he whipped the ball around the court for assists. Early in the game he set up his teammates wonderfully and then late in OT he had another big assist to Young for a three pointer. His triple double tells the story of his night — a night that also saw him become the lone member of the 30K career points and 6K career assists club.

Ed Davis, PF 18 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | -9Davis’ 6 rebounds and single foul in 18 minutes were nice, but he was a non-factor offensively by only making a single FT on the night. I would have liked to have seen more cutting and activity on that end rather than looking so out of sorts. Davis also wasn’t his typically disruptive self defensively, especially when compared to Hill and Sacre. The fact that he was the lone Laker with a negative plus/minus (-9) on the night really tells the story for what his night was like.

Nick Young, SF 31 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-5 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 20 PTS | +3Young was efficient with his shooting and, as mentioned above, had a huge three to give the Lakers some breathing room in overtime. Also big was his ability to prop up the offense when Kobe took his first breather by hitting shots and working well off the ball to draw defenders’ attention.

Robert Sacre, C 19 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +7Sacre doesn’t get a lot of love from Lakers’ fans, but he was more than solid in his nearly 20 minutes in this game. He played strong position defense and took advantage of his offensive chances. He will never wow you with his rebounding and his usage can be a bit high for his skill level, but his maximum effort and high motor are traits this team could use more of.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Though Terrance Ross and others did a nice job of stepping up, it was clear that Raptors missed DeMar DeRozan. Lowry was the lone offensive creator down the stretch and I’m sure the Raps would have loved to have been able to go to DeRozan in isolation or in the post to get a bucket or draw a foul in what was a really close game.
  2. The Lakers’ offense really had some nice movement in the first half. One of the reasons Kobe was able to get his triple-double was because when he had the ball at the top of the key or was looking to create off the bounce, there were cutters and players shifting around the perimeter to create passing angles. It also helped that Kobe was actively looking to pass, but the guys made his life easier by sliding into the open spaces and creases.
  3. I’m still not sure what the Lakers’ issues are in the 3rd quarter, but they need to try and figure it out. After leading by nine at the half, the Lakers were promptly outscored by eight in the 3rd period, giving up separate runs of 8-0 and 13-0 during those 12 minutes.

The Lakers lost their opening day game against the Houston Rockets, 108-90. But something far worse had happened.

Julius Randle, the Lakers’ first round pick, seems to be done for the year with a broken leg. It seemed like a throwaway play after he was pushed to the floor (by Donatas Montiejunas). And then suddenly, we were getting the bad news about his leg. Looking at the replays, his leg was already dangling by the time he jumped off. It was bad news for the Lakers and especially bad for Julius Randle. I can hardly think of any worse starts to your NBA career than breaking your leg in your first game. Speedy recovery to Randle and hope that his career flourishes afterwards.

As for the game…

For the most part, it wasn’t pretty as the Rockets went at them to draw fouls and sank multiple three-pointers. We all know that new Laker coach Byron Scott seems to be allergic to three-pointers. I don’t know if he is trying to set the game back 30 years but the fact is that ignoring the three completely isn’t going to win you an NBA game in 2014.

Kobe Bryant (19 points), for the most part, looked like the Kobe of old (trying to be careful with my word usage here). He had his usual post game and was draining those midrange jumpers. But other than that, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Laker that played outstanding. Carlos Boozer made seven of his 13 field goal attempts but we know that he spends a lot more time working on his yelling game these days. Jordan Hill did have double-digit boards but he missed a few bunnies. Jeremy Lin was a turnover machine and the other guys like Wesley Johnson, Julius Randle, Xavier Henry, and Ronnie Price didn’t do much. Ed Davis had a decent game in the minutes he got but not enough to make a huge impact on the game.

The Lakers did try to attack the rim but with Dwight Howard inside, they couldn’t do much. They increasingly got tentative in the first half; possessions got longer and they didn’t seem to have much of a plan after getting stopped initially. The Lakers did cut the game down to single digits with Howard in foul trouble but James Harden (32 points) got more aggressive and started drawing fouls (questionable or not) to get to the stripe.

I mentioned the three-pointers. Rockets were making them as if they were going out of style while the Lakers almost treated the shots behind the arc like it was Ebola. The Rockets made 12 threes compared to the Lakers’ three. That’s a 27-point difference right there. Plus the Lakers only attempted nine threes. The Lakers don’t exactly have sharpshooters (Price comes to mind) but they should set it up where their best three-point shooters take the shot (Wesley shot 37 percent last season and Lin shot 36 percent). The Lakers and Rockets had a little drama in the fourth quarter when Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard exchanged words after a rebound. We were all jonesing to see a fight but, unfortunately, Randle’s injury really put a damper on everything.

It’s difficult for the Lakers (and the Lakers fans) to move on with this news. Nevertheless, they go to Phoenix to play another game tomorrow night.

Speedy recovery, Julius Randle. We’re all thinking of you.

Yes, it was only one game. And yes, it’s too early to draw any lasting conclusions after this single game. But the Lakers showed some positive signs in their first preseason game, defeating the Nuggets 98-95 in an entertaining, if sometimes sloppy, affair.

In all honesty, there wasn’t a single thing that stood out most to me. Yes, Kobe Byrant looked very good. While his 5-12 shooting night doesn’t look great, at least two of those shots were taken with the clock winding down and from a disadvantageous position. And while his first jumper was an airball, he quickly found his stride thereafter, hitting several nice jumpers including a couple of his muscle-memory fading J’s from the baseline that we’ve seen so often over the course of his career:

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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.