Archives For Los Angeles Lakers

Box Score: Lakers 87, Jazz 96
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 103.6, Jazz 114.3
True Shooting %: Lakers 53.3%, Jazz 52.5%

The Good:
For most of the first 3 quarters, Andrew Bynum looked dominant. Nobody from the Jazz seemed capable of stopping his offense. He finished with another monster game with 21 points, 12 boards, and 2 blocks. We can’t ignore Pau Gasol’s production also… and while he took a team-leading 20 shots, he did finish with an even better statline (24 points, 16 rebounds, 2 blocks). He noticeably shortarmed a lot of his shots (including his freethrows) but, nevertheless, he had a good game, overall.

It was nice to see the Lakers’ Big 3 all get over 20 points. They also got to the line quite a bit (30 freethrow attempts by the Lakers compared to 20). They kept the game close for the first three quarters (biggest lead during that time frame was 6 by the Lakers). But the game is played with four quarters (insert very played-out LeBron James joke here).

The Bad:
Lakers shot 38.7%. Bad.

The Lakers lost their composure. We can all look at Mike Brown getting ejected after that play where Earl Watson pickpocketed Pau Gasol from behind (which looked more like a tackle). It got the Energy Solutions Arena crowd into it and the Lakers succumbed to a 16-1 Jazz run spearheaded by Watson himself (who had 8 points and 11 assists overall). The Lakers couldn’t execute in the fourth (heck, in the second half) like they did in the first half… and they couldn’t make a shot to save their lives.

While the Lakers did play well enough to keep the game close in those three quarters, Kobe Bryant looked like he was doing more bad than good during that time frame. He worked way too hard trying to get up a shot early and had two careless fouls in the third quarter. His aggressiveness seemed to work against him rather than for him. But it didn’t seem like much of a factor at the time as the game was close.

Late offensive boards killed any sign of a Laker comeback in the waning seconds. The Jazz beat up the Lakers on the boards, 50-42. And well… the Jazz, despite the Lakers’ big men getting big numbers, beat up the Lakers inside. Al Jefferson had 18 points and 13 boards while Paul Millsap had 16 and 13 to keep up with Bynum and Gasol.

Andrew Goudelock, who has been pretty good over the last few games, finished 1 for 5 (4 points). His misses were not pretty. And, by the way, can we stop with the Mini-Mamba nickname? Please? It’s horrendous.

Also, the Lakers only had 12 dimes (Jazz had 25). So much for ball movement.

Oh, yes. I know I haven’t mentioned that they got in late (4 A.M.). But it really shouldn’t be an excuse.

The Ugly:
As mentioned, Earl Watson led the Jazz to a 16-1 run early in the 4th. The Lakers didn’t make a field goal until 5:56 left when Kobe made the first of back-to-back 3-pointers.

We were thinking in the past few games that the bench may be all right since Goudelock has been carrying the load. With Goudelock not producing, the Laker bench only scored 12 points. It looks way worse when the Jazz bench scored a whopping 49 points. So as mentioned by fellow writer Zephid… if Goudelock goes, so do the Lakers? Pass me the alc… apple juice.

The Play Of The Game:
Bynum had the pass of his life when, after he hustled to get the ball after a Derek Fisher miss, he threw a no-look, over-the-shoulder pass underneath to Pau Gasol for the dunk. It was really pretty and it was nice to see the All-Star starter (YES! ALL-STAR STARTER!) make that kind of play.

Lakers go to Philadelphia next to continue on their six-game road trip. But the Lakers… well, they’re so Jekyll and Hyde. One game, they look like a pretty awesome squad. The next, they’ll lay an egg. I wonder which team we’re going to get against the Sixers.

At least, they won against Denver?

Box Score: Lakers 80, Magic 92
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 94.1, Magic 108.2
True Shooting %: Lakers 49.5%, Magic 55.6%

The Good:
Kobe Bryant had an efficient 30 points and 8 assists.

They showed some fight on some parts of the game. It was nice to see them play through Pau Gasol at the start of the third quarter (before going away from it again). The Lakers did turn up the defense better in the second half and I actually thought the Lakers had a chance to steal the game after they cut the lead down to eight. A quick-trigger technical foul on Kobe killed all that momentum.

The ball movement seemed a little better in this game than the contest against Miami. It’s just that the Lakers can’t throw a dime into the ocean and they end up building houses (BRICKING) inside Amway Center. They should go hide in those newly-built houses after the game. This performance was, overall, shameful.

The Bad:
I don’t even know where to start. I’m surprised that the Magic didn’t lead by 30 at one point.

Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol didn’t make any field goals in the first half. And while we touted the Bynum/Howard match-up, Dwight Howard thoroughly outplayed the Lakers center tonight (Howard had 21 points and 23 boards while Drew ended with a deceiving 10 points and 12 rebounds). It didn’t help that Bynum was in foul trouble the whole game. As for Gasol, he settled for too many jumpers once again. This has become a disturbing trend as we know how wonderful Pau is on the post. Like most of the Lakers, he looks completely lost in this new system. As for the rest of the Lakers, the bench continues its bad production. They only scored 12 points (and they are dead last at 19.9 points per game coming into Orlando). And I know I’m not the only one clamoring for this but it’d be very nice to get Steve Blake back soon. Also, the Lakers are missing Lamar Odom more and more everyday. But let’s deal with the cards the Lakers currently have.

Coming into the game, the Lakers were third in rebounding (45.1) while the Magic were 13th (42.7). Howard led the charge with 23 rebounds and helped outrebound the Lakers to the tune of 51-42. Once again, the Lakers got killed on the offensive glass (15-8).

It also looked like that the Lakers were tired after they got smashed by the Heat the night before. Mike Brown chose to play the starters through the end of that Miami game even though the result was already academic. Yes, we all know that Phil Jackson used to do that at times… but this one basically came back to bite the Lakers the following night.

Can’t forget that the Magic made 12 treys. The Lakers are the worst 3-point shooting team in the league and while they made six, they still got outscored by 18 behind the arc.

The Ugly:
We’d better get used to this. The Laker offense is terrible (only scored 100 or over once this season). Today was no exception… and the first quarter was ESPECIALLY ugly. They shot 4 for 21 (19 percent) in the opening quarter and only scored 10 points. The Lakers also went 7 minutes and 36 seconds of game time without a field goal before a Troy Murphy 3 stopped the bleeding. The Lakers would finish the first half at 11/38 (29 percent) and would end the game at a “somewhat respectable” 38 percent.

And good grief, I expected SOME jumpers to fall in for the Lakers but it seemed like they couldn’t make anything. I swore that every time the Lakers clanked an outside J, a brick would smash through my window every time.

I feel like at some point, Kobe is going to yell about shipping his teammates out. This is not getting any easier for him and the Lakers.

The Play Of The Game:
I have to pick one?

How about that difficult driving banker by Kobe early in the second quarter. It’s quite amazing he made that over three Magic defenders. But Laker fans would be hard-pressed to cheer for SOMETHING in this Laker game. Hopefully, it’s something completely different at Staples Center when they face the Pacers on Sunday night. At least, the Lakers are a tidy 9-1 at Staples.

Box Score: Lakers 94, Clippers 102
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 109.3, Clippers 118.6
True Shooting %: Lakers 57.0%, Clippers 55.7%

The Good:
I suppose people will point to Kobe Bryant dropping another 40+ game. After all, he pretty much kept the Lakers within striking distance in a game that was basically controlled by the Clippers for the most part. He finished with 42 points and shot 14 for 28 so it was still efficient despite the crazy perimeter shots he took. Kobe had a monster 3rd quarter where he scored 21 points and helped cut the lead down to 74-72 near the end of the stanza.

I’m going to point out Andrew Bynum’s disappearing act on the offensive end later but it was nice to see him continue being aggressive on the boards. He ended up with 16 so, at least, Drew is doing other things that don’t involve scoring.

Despite the sloppiness seen throughout the game, the Lakers only turned the ball over nine times (a nice drop from 17 against Cleveland). And they did show some energy in the 3rd quarter when the game got chippy. It was good to see the Lakers show that kind of moxie (even if it is for one quarter) even though they were playing their fourth game in five nights.

I’ll commend the Lakers for keeping the Clippers’ shooting percentage at 41.2 percent (they were mostly held under 40 percent throughout the game) but maybe it’s a product of the Clippers not really playing as smart and the Clippers missing shots that they should be making.

And, hey, the Lakers bench outscored the Clippers bench, 13-11! That’s good, right? Hello?

I suppose it’s fatigue but while we know that the Lakers are going to have trouble going against athletic squads like the Clippers, you wonder what would happen if they had enough energy the entire game. Nevertheless, they weren’t good enough to keep that winning streak going. Their run stops at 5 games.

The Bad:
On the surface, it looked like Pau Gasol (14 points and 10 boards) and Bynum (12 points and 16 boards) had good games. But they seemed so invisible in the second half (with Bynum last scoring with 6:20 left in the third and Pau last scoring with 10:44 left in the game). It really goes both ways. Yes, we know Kobe goes into this mode where he’s unconscious and just wants to score. But, hey, the bigs gotta demand the ball, too. I’m not saying give them more shots but give them more touches in the post (not shoot jumpers, Pau) to set up better shots for any Laker. Go inside-out. I mentioned yesterday that basketball can be a very simple game to play but sometimes, I wonder why they want to make it as hard as brain surgery.

How about the boardwork? The Lakers were crushed in the rebound department early on. They were able to whittle it down to a final of 50-42 boards in favor of the Clippers but the Clippers are the worst rebounding team in the league (with the Lakers being second best). Besides the fatigue, that seems inexplicable to me. Our favorite ball-grabber from the Clippers, Reggie Evans, had eight off the bench (six on the offensive end). For a guy that played only 17 minutes, he seemed to make more of an impact than Gasol and Bynum.

I’d like to see more inside-out play from the Lakers. I did notice Bynum’s face; he seemed a little upset about not getting touches. Maybe he should be more vocal about it. More communication, please.

Overall, the Lakers looked very lethargic on both sides out there. Sure, blame it on the fatigue and their heavy schedule and all teams are going to have a dud or two or twenty per season. The day off will do them well before they have to go against Dallas on Martin Luther King day.

As far as time off goes, it may get easier for the Lakers. They have played 14 games so far (tied with the Bulls for most games played in the league).

The Ugly:
It’s ugly on the Lakers side as Chris Paul dissected the Lakers all game long with 33 points and 6 assists. Whoever guarded Paul never stood a chance and while I applaud Darius Morris for his efforts, efforts just aren’t good enough, sometimes.

The game, overall, was hard to watch despite the fanfare. Both teams shot less than 40 percent for the most part and even though they only had 9 turnovers each, it seemed like the Lakers had trouble passing it to the post, there were a lot of botched plays, and, all the while, the referees mostly let them play this ugly brand of basketball. It was Slop City at its finest (yeah, I couldn’t help but make a Lob City reference… kill me).

The Play Of The Game:
On a Laker fastbreak in the third quarter, Kobe passed it to Andrew Bynum down the lane where Bynum made a nice spin move into a dunk as Chauncey Billups held him. It was nice footwork and a pretty play by Bynum and I thought this was going to be something of a surge by Bynum.

It wasn’t. That was the last time he scored in the game.

Lakers play the Mavericks on Monday where I figure an irritated Bynum is going to take his frustrations out on Roddy Beaubois. Maybe. That or we can see Kobe try to gun for 40 for the fifth straight game. That would be kinda fun.

At what point does a person’s income preclude him from complaining about some of life’s breaks? Is there a line of demarcation? $10 million per year? A million? $500,000? $100,000? At what point does compensation beget dehumanization?

Though I share neither their income bracket nor VIP status, I have a tendency to empathize with athletes and celebrities. Despite the immense financial rewards and public adulation bestowed upon them, in many ways they are, in fact, “just like us.”

I’m talking not about occasional trip to Starbucks or fashion and dining choices that fit within even the strictest of budgets, but preferences, comfort zones, insecurities and emotional vulnerability. A person that has successfully refined and focused a specific skill set in such a manner that it is valued, in a free market, at several million dollars annually, does not cease to be a person.

Somewhere along the line, we as a society came to equate fame and considerable financial means with the complete absence of hardship and dissatisfaction with one’s existence. You don’t need to be just scraping by to love the city in which you live, genuinely enjoy your family, hate your boss or experience heart-shattering pain. Make no mistake, a life free of financial shackles is very often preferable to one that is not, but – and I strongly doubt that you need me to explain this to you – money doesn’t equate to happiness, it simply provides the security required to pursue it on one’s own terms. I lay this before you not because I think the rich and famous are in need of a crusader (though I imagine that would pay pretty well), but because over the past few days we have seen a number of NBAers, men of considerable means all, have their professional (and by extension, personal) lives dramatically altered by forces beyond their control. And regardless of income, they have every right to be unhappy about it – none more than Lamar Odom.

We’ll begin Thursday evening when, as you might have heard, executives from the Lakers, Hornets and Rockets agreed on the terms of trade that would land Chris Paul in L.A., deposit Lakers All-Star Pau Gasol in Houston and send draft picks, the Rockets’ 1-2 punch of Kevin Martin and Luis Scola to NOLA, along with Odom, the NBA’s reigning Sixth Man of the Year. As you also might have heard, for (basketball) reasons that continue to defy explanation, the increasingly dictatorial David Stern shot down the agreed-upon swap, along with a second iteration submitted by the teams, before the Lakers officially withdrew from talks on Saturday.

In light of the nixed deal(s), there was little doubt that awkwardness would abound at Lakers camp. While an admittedly unhappy Gasol arrived on Saturday at the team’s facility in El Segundo on time and said all the right things, Odom, as deeply emotional (do not confuse this with “demonstrative”) a player as there is in the NBA, was nowhere to be found. He arrived early that afternoon but stayed only long enough to complete a physical and chat briefly (read “request a trade”) with GM Mitch Kupchak, who quickly obliged, sending Odom to the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, in exchange for a $8.9 trade exception (presumably to be used in attempt to acquire Dwight Howard) and a first-round draft pick that may or may not be utilized before the next lockout.

Surely aware that the Lakers’ attempt to trade him stemmed not from displeasure with him personality or on-court performance, Lamar’s reaction is exactly the type that sparks populist drum circles, with accompanying demands throughout the media that he “suck it up” and appreciate that playing a “kid’s game” will earn him roughly $9 million this year.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Plagued by inconsistency and immaturity early in his career, in seven years as a Laker, Odom evolved as a player, grew as a man and found love (say what you will about the show, but over two years and nary a problematic blip). Never a selfish player, Odom emerged as a calming veteran influence on three Finalists and a pair of championship teams, doing whatever was asked of him in the name of victory. His Swiss Army knife skill set created matchup nightmares all over the floor. When called upon, he ran the point. In a pinch, he logged minutes in the middle. Despite having more raw talent than all but a few players in NBA history, in 2008, for the good of the team, Odom agreed, without complaint, to come off of the bench.

On-court sacrifice not really moving you? No worries…

If there is any player of whom “not about the money” rings most true, Odom, a favorite of both teammates and fans and by all accounts the epitome of a gentle soul, is that player. The lone non-Kobe constant of the post-Shaq Lakers, not only did Odom sacrifice on the floor, he left eight figures on the table (anyone doubt that his last contract, 4 years, $36 million, could have topped $50 million?) as a free agent because he loves living in Southern California. If all of that – legitimately checking his ego at the door and foregoing millions to play where he wanted – is somehow still not enough, credit him for the perspective he’s gained, more appropriately, had forced upon him, by having to overcome more heartbreak and sorrow in 32 years than most of us will endure in a lifetime.

He lost his mother to colon cancer at age 12. At age 24, the beloved grandmother that raised him also succumbed to cancer. Three years later, to the day, Lamar lost a child, six-month old Jayden, to SIDS. His father, a heroin addict and absentee for much of his life, has reemerged, hand out. Last summer, while in New York to attend his cousin’s funeral, Lamar was a passenger in a car that struck a motorcycle, leading to the death of a nearby pedestrian.

You really wanna call this guy a me-first prima donna?

Best of luck, Lamar. You are already missed. You’ll always have a place in Lakerland.