Archives For Laker Analysis

BOX SCORE: Lakers 114, Thunder 106 (2OT)

This isn’t going to be the normal good/bad/ugly recap like you normally see out of me. I suppose you can say that I’m mailing in my recap much like the Lakers did today against the Thunder.

Until the 4th quarter, that is.

Of course, we’ll have to talk about Metta World Peace… Ron Artest elbowing James Harden to the head after he made his third dunk of the game. Up to that time, MWP had been playing the hardest out of all the Lakers and they had all the momentum in the world as they cut the lead down to 48-47. Whatever you think of that elbow (intentional, accidental, etc.), it was vicious and I won’t be surprised if he gets suspended 10 games or even more. At the time, it seemed like a death knell for the Lakers as they just seemed to go through the motions (they were as down as many as 18 points). Andrew Bynum, despite having 5 swats, looked sleepy out there. Heck, if someone told me I needed to play basketball at around 12:30 P.M., I’d probably stay in bed, too. But Bynum is a professional basketball player in the NBA and if he’s going to loaf around like that, then he doesn’t deserve to play. And he didn’t play after the third quarter as Jordan Hill (she sounds hot!) and his infectious energy was needed more out there.

Kobe Bryant. What can you say? This is why he is Kobe Bryant. He made most of them big shots. That 3-point runner in the 4th. That 3-pointer in Sefolosha’s face right after. His defense against Russell Westbrook (who finished 3-for-22) was PHENOMENAL. Kobe finished with 26 points and while he didn’t shoot well overall, he put the team on his back (sorry, NSFW video) and willed this team to victory.

I like that Mike Brown actually stuck with his line-up of Kobe, Pau Gasol, Devin Ebanks, Steve Blake, and Jordan Hill. Ebanks hustled relentlessly (10 freethrow attempts and did a nice job guarding Kevin Durant) and Blake made some timely threes (his threes in the fourth quarter were huge in this comeback). But you really gotta give fistbumps to Jordan Hill. The guy basically revived his career with a 14-point, 15-rebound, and 3-block performance. We just hope that Brown actually gives Ebanks and Hill some minutes from here on out because these hustle guys are too important to let them stew on the pine. Also gotta give props to Gasol. He didn’t look too hot earlier but he finished with a near triple-double with 20 points, 14 boards, and 9 dimes. He got the whole team involved with his great passing.

Oklahoma City was hurt with the loss of Harden (who is a great playmaker and third scorer) but they were up by as many as 18 points. Their fourth-quarter execution needs work and kudos to the Lakers for not giving up and taking advantage. I hope Bynum was observing intently during this game. I hope he learned that you just can’t walk on the court and expect to get 15 boards without trying.

Some have said that the Lakers should be worried that it took two overtimes to beat a Thunder team without Harden. Some have also said we should be worried for the Lakers’ lack of effort in the first three quarters. But there are going to be players that will put forth the maximum effort like Jordan Hill and we should be encouraged that the Lakers actually now have another big man beyond Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy.

No matter how you look at it, this was a HUGE win for the Lakers and their psyche. They’re down to one more game left in the regular season (against Sacramento on Thursday). And hopefully, they can punctuate their wild and wacky season with a win over that lowly squad. Even if Ron doesn’t see action for the rest of the year, we now know that they have guys that can step up and fill that gap. This COULD be a blessing in disguise as we have clamored for Devin Ebanks to get a spot on the rotation.

Get ready for the playoffs, ladies and gentlemen.

Box Score: Lakers 103, Nuggets 97
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.8, Nuggets 104.3
True Shooting %: Lakers 63.3%, Nuggets 50.9%

For the fourth straight game, the Lakers were going to be without Kobe Bryant, who was still out with tuberculosis or whatever that shin injury is called. Looks like it was up to the other guys to step it up again. Also, Coach Mike Brown didn’t coach due to personal reasons. John Kuester, former Detroit head man, had the reins for tonight. I almost expected a mutiny.

And, yes, I totally expected Andrew Bynum to get 35 rebounds in this game.

The Good:
He didn’t. But Bynum ended up with 30 points and was actually efficient in his shooting. He went 11 for 19 on the field and he got to the stripe, too (8 for 11). Granted, it wasn’t exactly pretty early on for Bynum and we’ll get to that later. Oh, and he had eight rebounds. Disappointment.

Against San Antonio, it was Metta World Peace that achieved his Laker career high. Tonight? It was Matt Barnes. He scored 24 points and pulled down 10 caroms (tied for the Laker high!). Yeah, I’m kinda disappointed he doesn’t have much of the El DeBarge hairstyle anymore but he was certainly getting into the rhythm of the night. Barnes hustled everywhere and made all four of his shots behind the arc. They don’t win this game without his potent scoring (YES) and scrappiness. He should’ve worn a hockey mask tonight.

Speaking of Metta, he started off fast on the offensive end. He eventually ended the game with 14 points but his hands were a bigger factor today as he ended up with 5 steals. And he also grabbed 8 boards. The small forwards for the Lakers are kicking it into high gear.

Pau Gasol didn’t have the best scoring game (14 points) but he did have ten boards and three swats. He also helped move the ball around with 5 of the Lakers’ 25 assists. Ramon Sessions struggled but he had a decent line at 7-4-6. And Steve Blake had his third consecutive good game with 7 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals off the pine.

And, of course, Staples Center fans got tacos and the Laker fans on the internet got virtual tacos. Plus the Lakers clinched a playoff spot with the win so don’t panic about that!

The Bad:
Bynum continues to have his issues with double teams (his frustrations probably made him get lax on D in the first half). The Nuggets came back a few times when they started quintuple-teaming (relax… I could get hyperbolic) Bynum even before he receives the ball. Of course, when they stopped doing that, Bynum made them pay.

Andre Miller has a YMCA game that can never be beat. He had a 20-6-6 line. He’s virtually had the same game since he was in college and probably when he was 8 months old. It never ceases to amaze me. And Al Harrington always seems to do well against the Lakers. Al Harrington finished with 18 points and reminded everybody that turtles fight with honor.

The Spurs only had ONE offensive board in the previous game. Tonight? The Nuggets had EIGHTEEN (in overall rebounds, the Lakers still won, 45-40). The Lakers forgot to box out Manimal (Kenneth Faried) and Pierre (JaVale McGee). They combined for 11 offensive boards.

Also, I’d like to know the stats for most double-digit games blown in a season. I believe the Lakers lead in that department. They were up as many as 15 points. Oh, Lakers. You’re so Hollywood. You just have to keep making it dramatic. If I wanted drama, I’d go rewatch my Melrose Place DVDs.

Lastly, I was hoping JaVale McGee would do something moronic. He didn’t and he actually had a very good game (14 points off 7/9 shooting and 10 boards). Though his only misses on the field were critical tip-ins that were botched late in the game.

The Ugly:
Turnovers were the story. The Lakers ended up with 22 giveaways. Gasol had six and Bynum had four. What was maddening was their post entry passes. If messing up a post entry pass was a crime, we’d have a bunch of Lakers in jail now.

Also, it’s amazing that the Nuggets had SIXTY-EIGHT points in the paint. 68 out of their 97. The Nuggets had 21 fastbreak points so even without those, that’s still a ridiculous amount of points in the paint. How about that vaunted frontcourt, eh, Lakers? Oh, well. It was a good thing that the Lakers didn’t get into a shootout/track meet with the Nuggets because that would’ve been disastrous.

The Play Of The Game:
I will go with the steal and the dunk by MWP in the first quarter. It really shows that he’s healthy, too. Keep doing that thang.

The Lakers are now 1 1/2 games ahead of the #4 Clippers. At this point, they’re probably not going to get any higher than the third seed. So they’ll have to keep playing their ball and continue to have momentum as the playoffs inch closer. They may not have Kobe again in their next game. But it’s probably a good thing as his teammates gain more confidence and Bean gets some much-needed rest.

The Lakers’ next game is against the Mavericks on a Sunday matinee. Great. We all know how the Lakers do on a Sunday afternoon. If it doesn’t rain, maybe you’re better off chillin’ in the park and waiting for the sun to go down along with your homies…

Have a great weekend. Even with this ridiculous wind going on in Southern California.

Box Score: Lakers 98, Spurs 84
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.1, Spurs 94.4
True Shooting %: Lakers 53.5%, Spurs 50.6%

The Lakers faced San Antonio for the first time this season. Kobe was still out. The Spurs rested Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili in the previous game so they would feel more fresh. We kinda joked that the Austin Toros would keep it close against the Lakers, who barely escaped the Hornets’ nest a couple of nights ago. What followed was a complete surprise.

The Good:
Andrew Bynum. Andrew Bynum. Andrew Bynum. THIRTY REBOUNDS IN THE GAME (easily breaking the season high in rebounds of 25 by Dwight Howard and… wait for it… Ersan Ilyasova!). Bynum absolutely owned the paint on both ends. Owned it so much that it felt like the single offensive rebound by the Spurs (yes, they only had ONE) was a pity board. But I suppose the Spurs can feel better that they would’ve outrebounded the Lakers if Bynum wasn’t there. The board count? The Lakers had a 60-33 whoopin’. SIXTY. 16-1 on the offensive boards, by the way. Of course, with Bynum’s domination on the boards, Pau Gasol looks lazy in comparison. Our favorite Spanish forward only had 11 rebounds. SLACKER.

Not only did Andrew Bynum get a career high in rebounds (Darius also noted that Bynum didn’t foul at all in the game!), but Metta World Peace had his best scoring game as a Laker. He scored 26 points and, at one point, made five straight field goals in the 3rd that included a series of fadeaway jumpers. He even made an old-school flat-footed 3-point set shot with the shot clock running down. Metta had smoke coming out of his fingers. I wish that Bill MacDonald knew his NBA Jam terms, though. Three in a row is not heating up, Billy Mac; that’s ON FIRE.

Pau Gasol had a terrible start, shooting-wise, but the Spurs got into even deeper water when Pau started making his jumpers in the 4th quarter. He had 21 points to end the game and, like Bynum, owned the paint as well. It’s just that we can’t appreciate Pau’s performance as much if Bynum (who also had 16 points) was basically being Pac-Man by eating rebounds as if they were ghosts.

Matt Barnes continued his hustle with 13 points, 6 boards, and 4 dimes. He also hit 3 3-pointers in the first half, which got most of us Laker fans afraid that they might depend on that 3 a little too much. But the ball rotation was so good that they had such good looks, we’d get mad if they didn’t take them. Steve Blake finished with 10-3-3 in his second consecutive good game, including a 3 that basically Austin 3:16′d San Antonio and the Laker fans that have been down (to put it kindly) on his game.

The ball movement was quite a sight. They had 23 assists on 40 field goal makes.

And the Lakers were swarming on D, particularly inside the paint. They made Tony Parker shoot difficult shots (2/12) and were getting in the face of most of their shots from inside to the midrange. The Spurs shot 40.7% overall and only scored 41 points after the half. San Antonio couldn’t deal with the Lakers’ size (insert terrible enlargement pills joke here).

Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace should be able to listen to ‘N SYNC or Celine Dion as loud as they want in the locker room the next few nights after their fantastic performances. Steve Blake should’ve given Bynum the ball so he could shoot a 3 (I’m sure you guys noticed how Bynum ‘guarded’ Steve on the final seconds).

This feels like the most complete Laker game this season. Maybe tomorrow, Kobe Bryant will be amnestied.

The Bad:
The Lakers have had trouble covering the perimeter for years now and this is no exception. The Spurs hit 13 treys in the game but that was pretty much the only weapon the Spurs had.

Ramon Sessions (LATE EDIT: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) was a little bit out of control even though he still had a decent game. Since the Lakers owned this game, I suppose we can give Sessions a pass with his four turnovers.

The Spurs did a great job fronting the post against the Lakers in the 2nd quarter. The Lakers had trouble with that for a while and if I was a San Antonio fan, I would wonder why they went away from that.

It’d be nice if the Lakers can kick teams while they’re down. When up 23, punch them in the face and go for a 30-point lead. When up 50, kick them in the groin and go for a 60-point lead. When up 127, leave C4s on their backs and go for a 180-point lead. You get the picture.

I’m also the last person to harp on referees (well, Darius might fight me to the death on this one) but the Spurs could Dragon Punch Andrew Bynum in the face and they still wouldn’t call a foul. Maybe they felt sorry for the Spurs.

The Ugly:
Good grief, Boris Diaw is a big boy. Imagine him dancing. Yeah, I thought you would like that image.

The Play Of The Game:
I will take MWP’s flat-footed three-pointer early in the fourth. That’s when you knew that everything was going right. You actually kinda wonder if Kobe’s spirit actually went inside Metta’s body. It was a sight to behold.

In a way, this game makes me angry. You saw how Bynum was so dominant on the glass. You kinda wish he would stop loafing around so he can average around 15 boards a game (30 boards a game?). It’s obviously a bit hard for Bynum to score with no Bean on the court but he has to be patient and not get so frustrated on both ends. Pass it out, repost, rinse, lather, repeat until a good shot comes along from the team. We all assume Bynum’s going to own this team beyond the Kobe Bryant era. Hopefully, he’ll figure it out. He’s a smart kid.

If this was any indication on how well the Lakers can play, the Spurs better know what they’re facing. They’re going to face each other twice more in the season. Of course, Gregg Popovich could just be a total jerk, kill a thousand people, then sit his stars down.

Meanwhile, the Lakers start a three-game homestand on Friday. They draw the Denver Nuggets. Of course, we would like to see the effort and execution they had earlier tonight against Ty Lawson and company. They can’t depend on Danilo Gallinari missed lay-ups and JaVale McGee bloopers that would make him an America’s Funniest Home Videos staple; the Lakers gotta bring it. With or without Kobe.

Enjoy the win. I know my dinner tasted better after that. Even if it was just a measly chicken sandwich.

Box Score: Lakers 93, Hornets 91
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 113.4, Hornets 111.0
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.1%, Hornets 55.4%

The Lakers have lost two straight coming into this game against New Orleans. At this point, there are no sure wins for the Lakers, even if it’s against the team with the worst record in the Western Conference. Sure, Eric Gordon, Jarrett Jack, and Emeka Okafor were all out. But Phoenix killed the Lakers with Michael Redd, Shannon Brown, and Sebastian Telfair. To make things a little dicier, Kobe Bryant was out for the second straight game with that teno-shin thing. Well…

The Good:
If I had one game ball to give to, it would be to Ramon Sessions. Sessions finished with 17 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists. But y’all know he hit the 3-pointer that gave the Lakers enough cushion to win the game with 26 seconds left (which punctuated a 10-0 run late in the game). It was the same Pau Gasol back screen that got Kobe free against New Jersey last week.

You gotta give Pau Gasol some credit for carrying the offense. He scored 25 points from 10/21 shooting. Those jumpers looked so pretty today and worked the post like only he could. They don’t win this game without Pau (of course, it’d be nice if he can make some freethrows; 5/9 tonight for Pau).

Bynum was pretty frustrating to watch in the first half but he started passing out better on the double-teams in the second half. He ended the night with another double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He really has to get used to seeing that many double-teams in a game.

Steve Blake has been much-maligned for a while now and I don’t even blame the Laker fans for getting even more frustrated with him due to so many missed defensive rotations and assignments. But he continued to play scrappy, drew a couple of charges, and even made a couple of bank shots up close. Blake finished with 8 points and 4 assists. While it’s far from excellent, it’s his best game in a while and those are some encouraging signs.

Again, Metta World Peace has a flair for the dramatic. I can’t say enough on how many big plays he has made in the clutch this season. His 3-pointer with 1:31 left in the game took the lead for good for the Lakers. Of course, we’ll talk about his… um… questionable play later.

Matt Barnes did his usual dirty work with 9 points and 8 boards. And Devin Ebanks had some nice hustle plays. He scored 6.

Good job by the Lakers with the boards, too. 46-35 edge (12-8 on the offensive end). Pretty good considering the Hornets themselves have some big guys.

The Lakers will take the win. But my goodness, this is the Hornets we’re talking about here.

The Bad:
Most of these were open looks but the Hornets made an incredible 9 for 15 3-pointers. So many bad defensive rotations that had been typical as of late for the Lakers. Marco Belinelli scored 20 (4/7 3-pointers). Greivis Vasquez had 18 points and 11 assists. Vasquez, a 32 percent 3-point shooter, made 5 out of 6 behind the arc. How does this always happen… never mind.

Either the Lakers should go after Carl Landry this offseason or kidnap him and leave him in a dark cave. He scored 20 points, grabbed 11 boards, and dished out 5 assists against them. They couldn’t stop him in the second quarter, where he scored 12 straight points for N’awlins.

The Lakers were also very careless with the ball early on (Al-Farouq Aminu had 3 steals in the first quarter). Good thing they took care of the ball later on but things looked very grim from the start because of it. They eventually settled down to have only 12 turnovers. Of course, the Laker defense, being as threatening as a poodle these days, only forced 7 turnovers.

For much of the first half, the Laker offense looked discombobulated. I felt drunks could execute an offense better (while the outstanding Mark Medina from the L.A. Times tweeted and asked how did I know if they were sober). But it was hard to watch for a while. So much sloppiness and settling.

By the way, MWP. Maybe you shouldn’t roll an inbounds pass to the Hornets frontcourt up 2 with 1.2 seconds remaining. That might be a good idea.

And, no, Jason Smith didn’t tackle anybody.

Give the Hornets credit, though. They played very, very hard.

The Ugly:
You know what’s good torture? Try tying up someone to a chair and make him watch the first half of this game while Justin Bieber’s music is playing in the background the entire time. He would probably die before he could sing, “Baby, baby, baby, ohhhhhh!”

The Play Of The Game:
The Ramon Sessions 3 with 26 seconds left to pretty much put the game out of reach. As mentioned, it was basically the same play that got Kobe Bryant free for a 30-footer against New Jersey that put THAT game away. Great stuff.

It’s the first of three games between Lakers and the Spurs on Wednesday. Not sure if Kobe will play but I wouldn’t mind another holdout just so he can rest more of his tired legs. As of this writing, the Spurs are playing the Jazz without Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili so we don’t know if the Spurs will still have their winning streak intact.

I know us Laker fans will say that the Lakers should’ve beaten the Hornets by a thousand (including me, yes). But it’s just been such a hard season for them that the Lakers and the fans should just take every victory at this point in the game. I just want some momentum for the Lakers going into the postseason. Hopefully, they do well against them old rivals, the San Antonio Spurs, in the next two weeks or so.

Now comment away. Talk about how better of a coach you’ll be than Mike Brown. Talk about how Kobe Bryant looks extremely dapper in his suit. And talk about how Gustavo Ayon from the Hornets looks like a Create-A-Player from NBA2K12. I’m going to get dinner and watch Monday Night Raw. Ciao!

Box Score: Lakers 105, Suns 125
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 110.5, Suns 131.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 52.0%, Suns 63.4%

The outlook went from bad to worse with Kobe becoming a late scratch in this game due to… uh… tenosynovitis. In other words, his shin is bothering him. Meanwhile, the Suns are fighting for a playoff spot. And the last time the Lakers were in Phoenix? The Suns absolutely plastered them. And no Kobe? Definitely an opportunity for the Suns.

In the meantime, it was up to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to hold down the fort. Meanwhile, Mike Brown surprised everybody by starting Devin Ebanks. Remember him? The guy hasn’t had meaningful minutes in months. What about Andrew Goudelock? Hello? Anybody there?

This may seem all over the place. I apologize in advance for this.

The Good
I had some fantastic fried chicken.

The Bad
The Suns scored 125 points. It may very well have been 125,000.

Phoenix did everything to them. The Lakers got beat by penetration. The Lakers couldn’t defend the pick-and-roll. They didn’t close on the shooters. The Suns killed them in transition. And to show how inept the defense was, the Suns only turned the ball over three times. THREE TIMES. In this frenetic pace. Unbelievable. The Lakers tonight were like a bunch of drunk girls in a bar. It was a score every time for Phoenix.

Andrew Bynum didn’t have the legs tonight. Most of his shots were short. He got blocked multiple times early. I thought he seriously was going to shoot 50 times after a 4/14 first quarter (he ended at 10 for 27 with 23 points). He did have 18 boards, at least, but it was really noticeable that he looked out of it.

Pau Gasol had 30 and 13. He knocked down pretty much every jumper in the 4th in a late run. He did what he could on the offensive end. But just like every other Laker, he had trouble rotating and contesting shots.

Ramon Sessions has to be bothered by that shoulder injury. He played only 29 minutes, when he had been getting 35+ as of late. I did notice that he had trouble going left again, which is supposed to be a strength of his. He did have 11 and 9 but he got beat on D, too (which is not his strength).

I mentioned closing out on shooters. The Suns were 14 for 29 from deep. The Lakers only made 1 out of 9. That’s a 39-point difference from behind the arc.

Shannon Brown (20 out of his 24 points in the 3rd) and Michael Redd (23 points) went crazy from the perimeter. I suppose there wasn’t much you can do about that. But I would still like to see more effort on the defensive end.

If there’s any silver lining to this, those names are Devin Ebanks and Metta World Peace. Devin Ebanks did well in his starting role as he hustled for offensive boards and cut to the basket hard. He had 12 points. MWP could’ve been more of a factor if he didn’t get into foul trouble. He was killing in the post. Peace had 19 points from 8/10 shooting.

But once again, this was just a classic SSOL show by the Suns. Hell, if Bassy Telfair is scoring 13 points, you definitely deserve to lose. And I didn’t even mention Steve Nash yet (13 points and 11 assists)!

The Ugly
BENCH POINTS. Suns 58, Lakers 10. Suns had 40 bench points by halftime.

I’m not even going to bother with the play of the game because this was just a horrid, horrid loss. It started out sloppy to begin with to the point you thought you were watching a glorified pick-up game. And you know that this helter-skelter kind of play favors the Suns. When it eventually, uh, settled down, the Suns played that chaotic ball like only they can. Yes, the Lakers were leading at the end of 1, 32-24. But that tempo favored the Suns right from the get-go.

I’ve defended Coach Brown all year and most people have clamored for Andrew Goudelock. I am not the Laker coach and I don’t know the method to his madness (his rotations seem more random/worse than the “auto” substitution mode in NBA2K12). He may have to go to Goudelock at some point but I’m not sure if that necessarily “changes” the game. But what I do hope is that he drills into the heads of his players that they have to play defense. It just keeps getting worse and worse. Kobe or no Kobe, they can make up the lack of offense (which didn’t seem to trouble them tonight) by playing good, hard-nosed defense. And they haven’t either given as much effort as they should have or they’re not making smart plays on the defensive end.

At least, Andrew Bynum didn’t get thrown out of the game?

Well, guys and gals, it’s Saturday night. Move along, knock back a few, and hope they get it together on Monday.