Four days off in the middle of the season is a virtual vacation in the NBA (the Lakers are off until Wednesday). Here are some scattered questions, with a few suggested answers, after a scattered game from the Lakers (that still resulted in a win).
* What is the best Laker five-man unit on the floor? Atkins-Bryant-Butler-Odom-Cook, according to 82 Games. That unit had only played 47 minutes together (the stats at this site can be a couple of days behind, due to the complex nature), but had been better than their opponents 100% of the time. Other successful units also have energy guys off the bench in them: Atkins-Bryant-Jones-Odom-Mihm (besting opponents 66.6% of the time) and Atkins-Bryant-Jones-Odom-Cook (60%) for example.
The problem is the starting five — they are better than their opponents just 38.4% of the time.
* What did we learn from the Golden State and Chicago games? That this Laker squad is still not mature and in-synch enough to put 48 good minutes of basketball together. Ten good minutes are followed by a quarter of disaster. Against a team like Golden State you can recover, against better teams…..
* Don’t look now, but Kobe has had double digit assists in three straight games. And, at times against Golden State when there was good penetration, you started to see really good offensive spacing and passing that led to open shots. Not all the time, but it’s showing up more and more.
* What is up with Lamar Odom and fouls? Part of the problem is there are good inside players in the West — guys brought in to deal with Shaq in years past — that are a difficult match-up for Lamar. But what is sending him over the edge is the two or more fouls a game he picks up sliding over to pick up whoever just burned Chucky Atkins at the point. The penetration of opponents is one thing driving up Laker foul totals inside (Mihm and Cook too, not just Odom).
As a side note, I think the fouls are one of the things holding back Odom’s lacking aggressiveness.
* Want some good news? The Lakers shot just 14 threes against Golden State, instead driving to the basket (Butler — and look what it got him, 27 points) and picking their spots. Of the 14 threes they did take, they hit 5 (35.7%, a respectable number).
* What are the Lakers going to do with their time off?
“We’re going to really try those practice days to get back to some of that training-camp defense,” Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.