I kept asking it, poster gatinho asked it, I think everyone was asking it â€” where was Sasha in the second half of the Golden State game? Rudy T. gave him the start, and then never played our favorite rookie in the second half, opting instead for Tierre Brown.
I think the answer is defense. Where I think Rudy T. missed the boat is the problem is bigger than just Sahsa â€” without Kobe the Lakers could be in trouble on the perimeter.
Saturday night the Lakers faced (and beat) a Golden State team that is one of the worst shooting teams in the league, an eFG% of 44.8%. But against the Kobeless Lakers, their shooting improved to 48.9% and they really hurt the Lakers from the outside. The question is: Was that a one-night problem because Fisher was hot, or are we going to see the already-bad Laker perimeter defense get worse until Kobe returns? I think we start to find that out tonight.
But lets talk about Sasha, and Rudyâ€™s rationale. For those that missed it, Sasha was given the start in Kobeâ€™s two-guard spot, played 18 minutes in the first half but never saw the floor in the second half. His time went to Tierre.
My first question: If Sasha was good enough to start in Kobe’s place, why did he almost never get any run before that game?
On to Golden State. Sasha was better for the Lakers on offense. Tierre hit just 5 of 13 shots (eFG% of just 38.5%) while Sasha hit three of four (2 of 2 from beyond the arc). Using +/- for the game, the Lakers were -1 when Sasha was on the floor (or -2.6 if he played the full 48), while Tierre was -5 (-8 for the full game). A few more details: Sasha was taking one shot every 4.5 minutes, had an assist every nine minutes and a rebound every 6. Tierre was taking a shot every 2.3 minutes, had an assist every 10 minutes and a rebound every 5 minutes. Since Sasha was shooting so much better and the team played better with him on the floor, I think we can safely say Sasha outplayed Tierre on offense.
I think Rudy T. thought Sashaâ€™s defense, particularly on Fisher, was inadequate. It was â€” I counted 14 of Fishâ€™s points coming while Sasha was on him (Fish outmuscled Sasha a couple of times, the kid needs to put on a little weight). Also, Speedy Claxton would be too fast for Sasha, so a switch was not in order.
The problem with this line of logic is, Atkins didnâ€™t slow down Fish either. Heck, everyone had trouble with Fish â€” heâ€™s always been a streaky shooter and when heâ€™s on he can hit anything. Just as San Antonio.
Without Kobe the Lakers are without a stopper on the defensive perimeter, the problem in Oakland was not just Sasha. There are times Rudy T. frustrates me to no end â€” this was one of those cases. Sasha deserved more time on the floor.