Welcome to first place, the view is amazing from up here. Canâ€™t quite see all the way to the playoffs from this vantage point, but I bet on a clear dayâ€¦.
There were a lot of things to like out of last night, and not just frustrating Clipper fans. Here are a few notes I made.
â€¢ This was the first game that Kobe looked like the explosive Kobe of old to me. Q. Ross is a good perimeter defender, so the Lakers were smart early to post Kobe up on him and let him use is strength advantage on him. But this was one of those nights Kobe was feeling it, and no one or two men was going to slow him. Plus, a team best 5 assists with just one turnover. Easily his best game of the season.
â€¢ Kobe shot 54.5% (eFG%), the rest of the team 37.1%. And the Lakers shot 40% of their shots from beyond the arc.
â€¢ Luke is shooting 71.4% on three pointers, a sign that he has both worked on the shot and his picking his spots well, shooting just when he gets a good look (like from the corner with :30 seconds in the game). The other thing, after every Laker game, if you read an opponentâ€™s blog, they almost always say, â€œWhen did Luke start to play like that, heâ€™s not that good?â€ Um, yes he is.
â€¢ There are games you can see the tandem of Bynum and Kwame making a solid 1-2 inside punch for seasons to come. There are still things that Kwame does that irritate â€” he made some bad defensive rotations and poor plays on high picks, plus was out of synch when first hitting the floor during a Lakers first quarter run. That said, seven offensive boards, 14 total and 15 points with some solid defense at other times, it was the kind of game Iâ€™ll take from him nightly.
â€¢ It was nice to see another team struggle to defend the pick and roll. When the Lakers made a run in the third running a pick and roll at the elbow with Kobe having the ball. Three consecutive times he drew the double, passed out at the top and the Lakers (either off that pass or with one more) got a clean look at a three for Lamar or Smush. It was a fast nine for the Lakers.
â€¢ Cassell abused Smush off the dribble in the third, then the Clippers went away from that in the fourth (yes, they went on a run in the fourth, but that was because the Lakers went 0-11 shooting). Not sure why they didnâ€™t exploit that more.
â€¢ I may do more on these later, but want to thank Ian for pointing me toward two new Laker posts up by Roland Lazenby. One, before the Clipper game, was Tex Winter talking about Kobe. The second was about Texâ€™s role as bad cop, allowing Phil to be good cop. As always with Roland, great and interesting stuff.
â€¢ Sorry this is up so late, the MAN is making me work hard today. (Weird, I know, but busy day at the office for me.)
Phil has to rethink his lineup choices at the start of fourth quarters. At least 4 or 5 times this year he has made it easy for the opposition to get back in the game, or allowed them to pull farther ahead, by opening fourth quarters with lineups that can’t score.
Kurt do you think the Lakers are contenders?
Phil likes to play with lineups early in the season. It’s one of those things that we’ve learned to live with. In this case, he probably wouldn’t have done it if the game had been a little closer, but the Lakers had stretched the lead to 13 near the end of the 3rd and went into the 4th up by 9. 90% of the time he sits Kobe down to start the 4th when they’re up.
It wasn’t really anything but falling in love with the 3 ball that caused them to let the Clippers back in. Lamar, Evans, and Sasha had 6 shots to start the 4th, 5 of which were 3s and all of which were missed. The Lakers went just about 7 minutes without a point in the 4th. If they drive the ball instead of letting the Clippers off easy with long shots, then it’s probably smooth sailing. But give credit to the Clippers for playing defense and making up for lost time by going 3-8 from beyond the arc after not shooting a three during the first 3 quarters.
2. We’re a long season away from thinking about the playoffs. My feel is that probably not this season, but maybe next season or the one after that. Guys are blending still, specifically Evans and Radman, and Bynum Farmar will get better and more consistent, It’s a little early to say just how good this group is. But in a year or so, throw in a couple more guys and….
Oh come on Kurt ….. we haven’t played our best basketball and we’re still 8-3 just imagine when we do start playing our best basketball..
chris henderson says
I’m sure Kurt meant we’ll be in the playoffs, but “winning it all” is a season or two down the road.
but then again, ya never know…
I do agree that the future is so bright that we gotta wear shades, we are a young team, and we’ll be bringing up in the system 2 very strong aspects; 1) a true back to the basket center, Andrew is ahead of schedule and impressing us to no end, and 2) a true small quick point guard in Farmar….these are 2 things this team has been needing for a long time, and to have them both essentially rookies and playing this well…the future is bright indeed.
then you have your core group of Kobe, Lamar, (who are looking more and more like they can become a 1- 2 combo) Kwame, Luke, Radman, the bench is looking pretty darn good too, with Evans, Turiaf, Cook, Sasha, Smush, etc…
we’ll be in the playoffs for years to come, and in the not too distant future, looking at the finals, I hope.
Well our record is padded by the number of home games we have had.
Also isn’t it wonderful how much rest Kobe is getting for his knee? Doesn’t play again till Friday night and he had a four day layoff last week.
Why is everyone making excuses for our nice start? it’s funny because the toolbags said we would start the season off slow before the season started.. now the reason we started good is because we had a easy schedule.. wow some laker fans are just ignorant towards there team.
5. Oh, I’m enjoying their play, but win it all means getting another of those cool trophies. When was the last time a team went from 45 wins to the title the next year? The closest recently was Detroit, and they had 50 wins and made it to the conference finals the season before. If the Lakers can get 50+ wins and into the second round this season, then being contenders the following season seems a reasonable jump.
Kurt, there is years were things are unexpected… the Lakers are bound to be the cinderella story this year…
Predictions are tough. I try not to make them, as I am frequently wrong. But the season has been great to watch so far. Whatever place the Lakers finish this season, I expect to see some entertaining ball.
(8) I’m not making excuses. It is a fact that almost every team in history has had a better home record than a road record, so when we play a few more road games (coming up in december) our winning percentage is bound to go down. That being said the clippers have also had a majority of their games at home, so as far as the division goes we look good. But I doubt we will finish with a winning % of over 65.
Derek Banducci says
For anybody who’s ready to talk championship, please consider Exhibit A and Exhibit B. Exhibit A is the San Antonio Spurs. Exhibit B is the Dallas Mavericks.
Nothing the Lakers have done, so far, convinces me that they are better than the Mavericks or Spurs.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with the fact that we are 7-3 and in first place in the Pacific Division. However, that’s still a LONG way from being legitimate contenders for the crown!
John (Vancouver) says
Considering we took 2 of 3 from the Mavericks last year, in the one loss we had one of Kobe’s worst nights in the entire season… Well, when you compare the two teams on paper it looks like Dallas has an edge over us, but I think we match up extremely well against them. It isn’t logical, yes, but I don’t really view the Mavs as a threat to the Lakers as much as teams like the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets are.
Now the Spurs, it’s a different story.
Craig W says
Does anyone remember November 1999? Phil had just come on board and we were preparing to run a new system. It was the common perception that it would take one/two years before we would be serious contenders. Our core was a young/old combination that was not internally together. We had just dumped a coach (and long time Laker) without even a thank you when Phil became available. The vibes were not at all condusive to a championship run. We were supposed to go on a test run.
The result was 3 years of championship dominance – who’d a thunk it!
When a team comes together sometimes it can happen fairly quickly. I want to give this team some time to really come together, but from the ripening of the talent and the cohesiveness of the group, this could be a really special year.
We have the legs to stay with San Antonio, and the pieces to make it tough on them. Think Dirk and Lamar, think the center position, think Terry and Farmar, think Stackhouse and Walton. Now add Kobe to the mix and what kind of potential do you think that equals?
I will be very happy if next year is our year, but I suggest we not write of this year just yet.
Those first Phil teams had Kobe and Shaq. As much as we all love Bynum and Odom not, neither will ever be confused with Shaq in his prime.
Craig W says
I wasn’t trying to make any comparisons to the 3 championship teams. The point was that, with the right talent and chemistry, teams can coalesce quite quickly.
As I said, I expect the Lakers to start being a powerhouse next year, not this year, but they have the potential to surprise us.
Regarding the 1999-2002 Lakers…Those teams became progressively less deep (as the salary cap continued to take its toll). Therefore, any team that is successful over several years MUST start out fairly deep. As the players become ‘household names’ they will go elsewhere to get more money.