Archives For Game Recap

Where to begin?

Kendall Marshall started his first game of the season and in 40 minutes scored 20 points, dished out 15 assists and grabbed 6 rebounds.

Pau Gasol, looking like he is finally over his respiratory issues, played an inspired game and scored a team high 23 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, and dished out 8 assists of his own.

For one night, at least, the Lakers had a dynamic inside-outside duo and were able to ride their production to a win, snapping their 6 game losing streak in the process. In essence, the fun Lakers were fun again and everyone went home happy — especially the fans who got their beloved tacos.

Marshall really was a revelation in this game, showing the skill that landed him in the lottery just a season ago. The 2nd year pro played with a great tempo to his game and worked the pick and roll masterfully, using a quick step to get into the paint to either set up drives to the rim where he could finish or to collapse the defense so he could hit shooters behind the arc. His assertiveness coming off picks was a huge difference from his first couple of games as a Laker, showing that the key to this offense really is an aggressive playmaker who can make the right pass shot decisions when operating in the P&R.

That last point really is important as Marshall really didn’t make many mistakes all night. His lone turnover came on a busted pick and roll where he picked up his dribble without an outlet and sailed a pass into the backcourt. But besides that one error, he was nearly flawless in his decision making and showed off the passing ability that earned him so much praise coming out of UNC. He threw countless passes on time and on target both in the half court and when looking ahead, reading the defense expertly and hitting shooters circling up above the arc or dipping down the corner, picking on helping defenders who had to make tough choices between leaving their man and covering the diving big man who set screens up high.

This is where Gasol’s game came into play as he operated wonderfully in the center of the Lakers’ offense, diving into the paint to draw defenders or floating into the creases of the Jazz D where he could stroke a jumper that looked as pure as it has all season. But when Pau wasn’t operating in the P&R, he was in his favored low post, working against defenders who were reminded that when the Spaniard is on his game, he still has a lot of variety in his offensive arsenal. Pau worked sweeping hooks and turnaround jumpers against quick drop steps and finishes with both hands, giving everyone flashbacks of just how good he could be when his complete game is going.

Beyond his offense, though, Pau also had one of his best defensive nights of the season. Besides his 17 rebounds (14 defensive clears), Pau offered up 3 blocked shots and altered several others simply by challenging shots at the rim and actively going after the ball rather than letting the action come to him. On several possessions Pau sought out offensive players and used his length and timing to bother the Jazz inside when he was on the floor.

Of course, Pau and Marshall didn’t win this game on their own. After missing the last game with the stomach flu and struggling mightily in some of the games before that, Wes Johnson hit all 5 of his shots from the floor to score 11 points. Jodie Meeks and Nick Young weren’t especially efficient (both shot 6-14 from the field), but they scored 18 and 16 points respectively and both hit some key baskets down the stretch when the Jazz made their final push to get the game within 4 in the closing minutes. Robert Sacre had a tough shooting night (2-6) en route to his 4 points, but was solid defensively and pulled down 10 rebonds. And Shawne Williams and Ryan Kelly both did a good job of stretching the floor, combining to hit 4 of 5 shots from behind the arc and scoring 16 points between them.

All in all, there’s really nothing to complain about in this game. The Lakers fought hard on both ends of the floor and when the game got tight at the end, they played good D and came up with the big shots that kept the Jazz at bay. The individual nights of Pau and (especially) Marshall will get the ink and deservedly so, but games like this are won on the backs of the entire team and this effort brought back memories of the team’s early season victories when guys rose to the occasion to get a good win. It remains to be seen if this can be a stepping stone win that helps get the players some of their lost confidence back, but even if it doesn’t it sure was fun to watch.

And that’s not something that could be said around these parts very often lately.

 

That about sums it up as far as the game against the Sixers goes. During the game Xavier Henry hurt his knee and did not return. Chris Kaman played on his gimpy ankle and looked solid in spurts, but didn’t see very much run overall. This left the Lakers with a group of healthy wings named Farmar, Meeks, Young, Wes Johnson, and Kendall Marshall. The bigs healthy enough to play sustained minutes were Hill, Williams, Sacre, and Kelly. At one point the team had a lineup of Marshall, Meeks, Young, Kelly, and Sacre. If you imagined that lineup getting important minutes during the 4th quarter of a close game, you get some sort of prize as being a masochist.

In any event, the Lakers aren’t a good team right now. Injuries have decimated them to the point that Xavier Henry’s MRI scheduled for tomorrow is actually a huge story since missing him for any extended period of time takes away the team’s back up point guard and one of the team’s better players to this point in the year. Read that last sentence again and you’ll have a better understanding of the shape the Lakers have been in this year.

I tweeted that at some point after the game and it also sums up the Sixers game for me. I understand the hope that a high draft pick is waiting for the team at some point this summer. This, however, does little to take away the sting of losing games like the one against the 76ers. Losing, for lack of a better word, sucks. Rationalizing the losses with dreams of the draft lottery going the Lakers’ way is nice, but, again, it doesn’t make nights like this any easier to deal with in the moment.

Really though, there’s not much else to say about this team at this point. You can point to coaching or the front office ownership if you want, but what Brian Kamenetzky tweeted at the top is the most basic truth about the Lakers right now. There are too many players hurt and not enough talent remaining to compensate for those injuries. After the game Mike D’Antoni reiterated that this team plays hard and fights, but still acknowledged that it isn’t enough right now. Beyond getting players healthy, I don’t think there’s a solution right now. Sure they can execute better on some plays and pay more attention to detail on both sides of the ball, but this is a talent league and right now the team doesn’t have enough of it.

At some point that will change. But right now, this is the Lakers’ lot in life and we all just have to deal with it.

Well, that was a better game than I had anticipated. But it’s worse when you root for the Lakers as they go down to the Jazz in a nailbiter, 105-103.

It was actually a close game throughout, although, for the most part, both teams seemed to be allergic to defense. Both teams’ rotations are awful and, sometimes, you wondered if they would just rather play XBoxOne instead of playing in this game. That or they had too much Christmas food. I know I did but I digress.

The Jazz killed the Lakers in transition; Utah had 25 fastbreak points compared to the Lakers’ 12. It was also frustrating to see the Lakers miss so many defensive assignments early (yes, the Jazz did the same thing but there’s a reason why they were 8-23 coming into this game).

The Lakers went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 97-96. Jodie Meeks would tie the game at 99. But the Lakers got careless in the next few possessions, as Meeks suddenly reverted to last year’s version of himself (which led to a Hayward three) and wasting a possession that resulted in a sloppy Jordan Hill turnover. Still, the Lakers were able to tie the game at 103 with Jordan Hill foul shots. Unfortunately, they didn’t box out Derrick Favors, who got the follow dunk with 2.1 seconds left. That was partly made possible by Gordon Hayward’s drive as they made the Lakers collapse. Lakers had a chance to tie or win but it ended with Meeks attempting a three from Dan Majerle range (a 35-footer essentially).

Young was a bright spot. He scored 21 points and was throwing fireballs for most of the game, going 10 of 17 from the field. But he fouled out halfway through the fourth; the Lakers could’ve really used his offense. Jordan Farmar played well, going for 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Chris Kaman had great chemistry with Farmar, scoring 19 points overall. Hill ended with 16 points and nine boards.

The Lakers did have a chance to win the game but I wish the Lakers had a better sense of urgency as, again, they looked mostly sluggish early. And they got beat by the team with the worst record in the Western Conference. But give Utah credit. Hayward blasted the Lakers with 24 points and nine assists. They couldn’t stop Favors on the boards (18 points, 14 rebounds). And Trey Burke gave some good play in spurts (14 points, seven assists).

The Lakers have now lost four straight but they do have a four-game home stand coming up. They have Philadelphia on Sunday and Milwaukee on Tuesday. Their first game of the new year is a rematch against Utah. These are winnable games. Hopefully, they can get back on track at Staples Center.

Well, that was fun.

Without Kobe and without a point guard playing a single minute (the newly acquired Kendall Marshall was a DNP-CD), the Lakers beat the Timberwolves by 13 points to move back to .500 on the season. I’d say I saw this coming, but that would be a lie. The Lakers again played like the unpredictable, free-wheeling group they were before Kobe returned and put it on the Wolves in a totally unexpected manner.

The highlights and fun moments were plentiful, but what stood out most to me was the way this team played defensively. The ‘Wolves only converted on 33 of their 95 field goals (34.7%), including a pretty terrible 5-22 from behind the arc. If you want to know what that wretchedness looks like, here you go:

Wolves

That includes Kevin Love’s 9-18 from the floor, too. Take his night away, and the Wolves only hit 24 of 77 shots from the floor against a Lakers’ D that scrambled and hustled around the floor smartly to contest shots by the team’s better shooters while leaving the guys open who deserved to be. The result was a T-Wolves’ offense that never really got on track and struggled to produce points in the half court. Of course, the Wolves didn’t help themselves by playing lineups with multiple non-factors on offense for most of the night, but those are the guys they have at their disposal, so I’m really not sure what Rick Adelman was supposed to do.

While I’ll remember the D, most others will remember the balanced offensive night that had three Lakers score 20 or more points with the entire team shooting nearly 54% for the evening.

Nick Young was fantastic off the bench with a team high 25 points, including several big jumpers in the 2nd half that either stopped a Minnesota team that looked poised to make a run or pushed the Lakers ahead and really got the crowd (and his teammates) into the action. Xavier Henry was also fantastic, scoring 21 points on a very nice combination of long jumpers and nice finishes at the rim. Henry wasn’t particularly efficient (8-19 shooting), but his aggressiveness never waned and the team needed the pressure he applied to the T-Wolves defense.

For my money, though, the Lakers’ best player offensively was Pau Gasol. The big Spaniard had 21 points on 8-15 shooting while also dishing out a team high 8 assists to go with his 13 rebounds (6 offensive). Pau orchestrated the offense from the high and low post, making several good reads and acting as a facilitator on countless possessions. His ability to have the offense funnel through him was especially needed considering the team’s lack of point guards and the fact that he was able to get his teammates going while still being an efficient scoring option really kept the team’s offense balanced. He also had the most fun play of the night, hitting a big three pointer with the shot clock running down and then running back up the court celebrating a la Nick Young with a smile wider than we’ve seen him flash in some time.

And that may be the biggest takeaway from this game. The Lakers, while being counted out by nearly everyone and with countless reasons to feel down on themselves, went out and played hard, played together, and had fun. They’re back to being the underdog and while that’s not a familiar place for this franchise, it certainly seems to fit this group of players who revel in being able to outperform expectations and enjoy showing people that even with the odds against them they still know how to play this game. In the long run playing the spoiler isn’t going to get them any closer to the lofty goals the organization sets for themselves, but it will ingratiate themselves to a fan-base looking for some bright spots and who will cheer you on when you play hard and provide some entertainment while doing it.

For now, maybe that’s all we can ask for but if the team is going to deliver it we’re all going to love them for it.

The Atlanta Hawks dropped 67 points in the second half and held Kobe Bryant to just eight points in 32 minutes to overcome a seven-point halftime deficit and beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 114-100, on Monday night.

Al Horford led the Hawks in scoring with 19 points, but the team also received balanced scoring throughout the lineup as five other players hit double figures. One of those players was Kyle Korver, who hit three timely threes in a third quarter where the Hawks outscored the Lakers, 35-19.

The Hawks outrebounded the Lakers 16-8 in the third quarter. The turning point of the game came when the Lakers were up 60-55 and the Hawks grabbed three consecutive offensive rebounds in one possession. They ended their possession with a three for Korver, who extended his streak of three pointers in consecutive games to 94 and at the same time gave the Hawks plenty of momentum. Atlanta would eventually take the lead a few minutes later and never look back.

But the story was Kobe’s ineffectiveness once again. For the third time since his comeback, Kobe scored fewer than 10 points. He failed to make a three pointer today and is now shooting 2-for-15 from downtown. Once again, his turnover numbers were sky high as he coughed up the ball five times. Lastly, he only shot one free throw and it was on a technical. Kobe is known for earning calls and getting to the line. However, we have yet to see him get to the line more than 10 times in a game – something he did 28 times last year.

The Lakers did receive solid production from Jordan Hill, Xavier Henry, and Nick Young – at least offensively.

Hill didn’t miss a shot – going 8-for-8 and scoring 21 points. Young was money from long distance – draining five three pointers. However, he was the only player on the team to hit a three as the Lakers went 5-for-21 from long distance. Henry, meanwhile, scored 18 off the bench. That said, the trio combined for a minus-20 and struggled defensively – especially in the second half.

For the Hawks, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap were key contributors. Teague dished out 10 assists and scored 17 points and Millsap added 18 in the win along with four steals.

The Lakers have a quick turnaround as they head to Memphis for a huge Western Conference showdown against the Grizzlies.