Archives For Game Recap

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.

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.