The Lakers landed at LAX about 1 a.m. this morning and went home, where they apparently left their defensive skills when packing for two games in Texas.
Below is a list of observations from the last couple of games, plus some other stuff clogging my inbox.
â€¢ Dallas had an eFG% of 59% against the Lakers, the Spurs shot 55.2%. You will not beat anyone in the NBA consistently if you let them shoot like that. Both teams got open looks on the perimeter, plus Dallas pushed the ball past the poor transition defense of the Lakers and got plenty of easy shots that way.
â€¢ The Lakers also are starting to develop a slow-start tendency â€” they were down 14 points after the first quarter in San Antonio, 13 in Dallas. The Lakers give back those kind of leads when they get them, good teams like San Antonio and Dallas donâ€™t.
â€¢ The Lakers have become a predictable three-point shooting team on offense, and good defensive teams are adjusting. It’s Rudy T.’s move in this chess game.
â€¢ When faced with a zone defense, the Lakers appear to want to shoot over it rather than penetrate and break it down. If they keep doing that they will see more and more zone.
â€¢ As much as I think heâ€™s better suited for the three, Lamar Odom can be successful at the four, particularly against bigger, slower fours â€” Webber, Gasol and, at times, Nowitizki. Not that the Lakers exploit this like they should.
â€¢ The Lakers are currently on pace to finish the season 44-38.
â€¢ The Lakers are 6-7 when Kobe scores 30 or more points.
â€¢ Kobe needs to get more rest during games, he leads the league with an average of 43.3 minutes played per game. He played 47 minutes in Dallas (but at least got to sit the fourth in San Antonio). Heâ€™s gathering an assortment of small injuries â€” right thumb, left wrist, left shoulder, plantar fasciitis â€” and rest would be the best medicine.
The problem is what the team looks like with him on the bench, especially defensively.
â€¢ Brian Cook has been slumping and Slava, when given the chance, took advantage of it in San Antonio, going 8 of 10 from the floor. Slava is going to get more minutes, according to Rudy T., but those are going to have to come from Cook and Jones.
Jones continues to be a spark off the bench, Iâ€™d hate to see him lose playing time.
â€¢ Speaking of playing time, itâ€™s time to start giving Sasha some at the point. He looked pretty good in the garbage time in San Antonio.
As much as he has shown flashes, Tierre Brown is not the long-term answer there. I donâ€™t know if Sasha is or not, but the only way weâ€™re going to find out is to get him some playing time, and not just in garbage time. If this were going to screw up the Lakers defensively Iâ€™d say we should hold off, but Iâ€™m not sure our defense at the point can get worse.
â€¢ Have you tried to vote for the All-Star game yet? Voting for forward in the West is impossible â€” pick two of these: Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki. All four should start (all will go, I would think). Stoudemire should be listed as a center next season, that way Iâ€™d donâ€™t have to choose between Yao Ming and Nesterovic.
â€¢ Thereâ€™s been an early push in some quarters for Steve Nash to be the MVP. I donâ€™t think you should be MVP if youâ€™re not the best player on your own team.
â€¢ Mavericksâ€™ owner Mark Cuban posted part of his teamâ€™s internal plus-minus stat on his blog this week. The stat usually measures how much a team scores with a player on the court versus off, but the Mavericks have weighted the measure so that two points in the last five minutes of a close game matter more than the last five minutes of a blowout. Itâ€™s a good concept.
The problem is that any +/- system really only can tell you the value of a player to a certain team, itâ€™s not useful in comparing Stephon Marbury to Steve Nash. According to the Maverickâ€™s system, Marbury is the better player, but I can think of several point guards Iâ€™d rather have before him. That said, Marbury is vital to the Knicks, so his stock is high. (Not as high as he thinks it is, apparrently.)