On a night where Kobe didn’t even have his ‘B’ game the Lakers still won. On a night where they rolled around in the mud with the Charlotte Bobcats for four quarters, the Lakers came out on top. And, on a night where Pau started 3 for 9 and our back up guards combined to shoot 6 for 20, the Lakers came out victorious. It’s been said many times before – an ugly win counts the same as a pretty one and you don’t get extra points for style. As history has proven time and time again, the Lakers struggled through a long night against the Bobcats. Only this time – the first time since 2005 – the Lakers pulled out a home win against the visiting team from Charlotte.
As I mentioned earlier, Kobe was clearly off his game. Connecting on only one of his first seven shots, Kobe struggled on offense the entire night (ending 2 for 11, for only 5 points) and was not much better on defense. Sure, he was picking his spots early and not forcing any shots, but when he did shoot they just did not fall. Throw in another rolled/stepped on ankle and we had a night where our best player was hobbled and ineffective. But, in the end it didn’t matter. Why? Because that vaunted Lakers front line came to play this evening. Andrew Bynum started out hot and active collecting 8 points and 9 rebounds in the first period. In the 2nd quarter, it was Gasol’s turn as he scored 7 points and grabbed a couple of boards. It was also in the 2nd period that Odom joined the party and he continued to be effective into and through the 3rd period, scoring 10 points with a level of activity that we all love to see from my favorite southpaw. When it came to Odom’s game, I think Joel B. said it best in the comments:
Ladies and Gents, we had a Lamar Odom sighting. For the past week I’ve been saying Lamar has to play inside, today he was aggressive around the rim and not settling for jumpers. He got offensive rebounds and put packs, took the ball to basket, posted up. Lamar has to continue to give himself opportunities, if so, the lakers become difficult to beat, even in a game where kobe goes 2-10 or whatever he was this game.
And so it went for the Lakers this evening. The advantage that this team has held over almost every team in the league resurfaced against the Bobcats as the Lakers’ front line put up the kind of stats and had the type of impact that this team will need to make a deep playoff run. The final tally for our 3-headed PF/C combo? – 50 points, 24 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 4 blocks, with only 2 turnovers. That is getting it done. You throw in an efficient night from Ron Artest (14 points on 9 shots, 1-2 from three, 3-4 from the line) and you have a team victory with our best player walking around like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz (before the oil can).
It wasn’t always pretty. Who am I kidding, it was never pretty (save for Shannon’s spinning drive that led to LO’s sweet up and under with the crazy english). But in the end, I’m happy with a win against a team that has just seemed to have our number since they formed the franchise.
A couple of other notes from this game:
*As I noted, our back up guards did not shoot well. However, they did play well (for the most part). Yes, they could play a bit more under control (I’m looking at you Shannon) and they could be a bit more focussed on running the Triangle (do you really need to run the P&R that much Farmar?). But, they were aggressive all night and Farmar essentially clinched the game with a last second steal and dunk. Overall, I was happy with their contributions.
*Fisher, for all the heat he takes in the comments, had a pretty good game. He did not force shots and ones that he took went in. Fish finished with 9 points on 3-5 shooting including 1-2 from three. Could he run the break better? Is the sky blue?
*The Lakers defensive rebounding was a problem in this game. The ‘Cats grabbed 18 offensive rebounds on just 45 misses. I counted at least two possessions where they got 3 tries to score on a single trip down the floor. The Lakers are not the strongest defensive rebounding team, but an effort like that is not acceptable. Squeeze the orange, fellas.
Enjoy this win for what it was – another ‘W’ in the win column. And with Denver going down to Phoenix tonight (in Denver) be thankful that we gained some ground on our closest competitor in the West.
Update: I’d be remiss if I did not mention one other important aspect from this game: Phil Jackson passed Pat Riley as the all time leader in victories as coach of the Lakers. This is a great achievement and it speaks to Phil’s fantastic ability as a coach and his longevity with the Lakers franchise. In typical Phil fashion, he deflected all credit to all of the players that he’s had the pleasure (and pain) of coaching, but as fans I think we know better. I mean, he took a team that had felt the pain of playoff disappointment for several consecutive seasons and turned them into champions when he came on for his first stint as Lakers coach in the ’99-’00 season. In his second stint as coach, he took a team that featured Smush and Kwame in the starting lineup to the playoffs. And now, he’s back on top of the mountain looking for more. I can’t imagine another person coaching this team and I hope I don’t even have to consider it for several more seasons. I really can’t say enough about Phil Jackson, so I’ll let other do it – check out Eric Pincus’ take here and friend of this site Antwonomous’ tribute to Jackson here.
the other stephen says
this one was for warren at one time!
Can someone please explain the significance of the phrase “this one’s for Warren”? Thanks.
#2. Dedicating the first post to Warren is typically done in the game preview threads. About two seasons ago, Warren (who lives in the Philippines and is a long time reader/commenter on the site) would comment first on the game threads. We found that when Warren commented first, the Lakers won the game. We got to the point where on the games where Warren commented first, the Lakers won something like 11 or 12 consecutive games. Ever since then, many have started dedicating the first post to Warren. It’s like a superstition or for luck.
It maybe ugly but I’ll take it… Hope Kobe’s ankle is good by Friday.
The Lamar thing is just legendary. He is such a monster when he comes to play, but we all know not to get our hopes up anymore.
But the rebounding I don´t get. This team seems to rebound in bursts. Gasol had this 20 rebound stretch, Bynum came out last night and just ate both backboard in the first quarter, Kobe had a run of monster rebound numbers… but at the end of the game last night, Charlotte was dominating that category.
Why is this? Seems like an effort thing, cause we have so many rebounders, just they only seem to go beyond what falls in their lap for short spurts…
I wonder what would Warren post if he had the first post.
“This one’s for me!!!” ?
The Dude Abides says
Here’s a week-old link to David Friedman’s high quality blog which aptly describes what Kobe’s going through with his injuries:
I’d prefer Kobe to take the Denver/Portland back to back games off in order to give his ankle and finger a rest.
Farmar was in the closing lineup tonight, PJ seems to be doing all types of interesting player moves lately. LO was doing what he was supposed to do tonight also, put the ball in – at the rim. Darius, you should consider the Warren info somewhere on this site for easy access to new viewers, seems like clockwork now days, that first post is in Warrens honor, if he does not do it. I will sure take the W tonight anyway.
At this point the team or Phil needs to step in and just bench Kobe. Give him a few weeks off to heal his many nagging injuries and start him off fresh from there.
oh so warren is from the philippines. well hello fellow laker fan in the pearl of the orient.
great job here darius.
though phil’s milestone is indeed a gem, what a gem we have in kobe’s cyborg-like body.
i’d say pau still has to pick it up. have been losing a bit of confidence in him dating back to the contract extension. we don’t need another “sighting” player. on the other hand, good ron-ron is giving us numbers to sweeten the pot a bit for those who do miss TA (and sure i do wish he were off the bench too).
Cats need 2 understand that Kobe ISN’T GOING 2 sit out any games unless a SEVERE INJURY forces him to. As that man has stated on several occasions, as long as he can walk, he’s playing. Phil recently said that Kobe prides himself on playing the entire 82. Therefore, the only semi-break/rest that we can expect from Kobe is during the All Star Break. Even though we all know that he’s not missing that game (1st All Star Game in Dallas’ new stadium. In front of 80,000 fans). Honestly, I also believe that Phil & Kobe both know that we can’t fall 2 far behind in the standings 2 LeBron’s Gang. Considerin’ our brutal schedule in the month of March, in which we play 11 out of 15 on the road.
We cant afford Kobe to be anythin less than 100 percent (well 90% cuz his finger will still be jacked up) come playoff time.
The seedings dont matter if he’s banged up and playing bad. With a fully healthy roster the Lakers can win a series or two without home court advantage.
T. Rogers says
I liked last nights game. I could be upset that it went down to the wire. But truthfully, the Bobcats have had the Lakers number for a while now. I am happy just see them get the win.
Whatever the Lakers do they have to keep the bigs going. Please keep getting these guys the ball.
On another note I am starting to think Farmar needs more time on the floor. Really. When he is on the floor the Lakers get some speed. It is like a shot in the arm. The Lakers have become a lot slower this year. Farmar shifted gears on the Bobcats last night. He burned them a couple of times for trying to press him so far from the hoop. The Lakers need his speed.
Farmar and Brown’s speed plus heavy involvement from the Lakers bigs are key for the Lakers to successfully defend their title. And I agree with one of the other posters that Kobe needs to shut it down until after the All Star break. Let these other guys carry the load. After all, that is what they asked for.
A banged up Kobe at the end of the season is a recipe for the champs being dethroned.
Really liked our execution and mentality last night (well, mostly the mentality). From the get go we made a concerted effort to get the ball into the bigs. However they showed why it might not always be the no-brainer everyone thinks it is. Both Pau and Drew made some poor decisions and executed awkward footwork that made for uncomfortable shots. This is the case when they are the initiators against a set, uncompromised defense. They got most of their points instead on set up off guard penetration or offensive putbacks. While they are both great offensive players lets not expect them to be shaq and throw them the ball every time down the first thing they do.
Also, Pau ‘s footwork seems to be rushed lately. He is putting up the shot without his second step of his turn being set. Part of this could stem from the mentality he has developed as a result of losing some explosive ness after injury. But even the best need to be reminded every once in awhile about how to do what they do best.
You forgot to mention that Cats best player did not PLAY. If he did this would be another loss to these guys. Also Brown out coaches and has his team ready for Phil on a night Phil passes Riley. In addition Gasol since coming back is weaker then before. Dropping passes, can’t finish and his rebounds are down over 50% from before injury. Sorry but Gasol is not all we think he is. Look at his last 5-games.
You’re right, I did not mention that Wallace didn’t play. That is an important detail. However, I don’t think that guarantees the ‘Cats anything but another very good player on the court. Would he have made a difference? Yes. Would that difference guarantee them a victory? No one knows – not me and not you.
Also, yes! – lets judge Gasol on a 5 game sample. Based on the last 5 games, I’m not sure if the Lakers are going to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. I really don’t understand how what is happening right now is the only thing that matters when making judgements as a fan. Are all of the Lakers playing their best? Of course, no. But to then extrapolate that into concrete statements about what a player *is*? I don’t agree with that line of thinking at all.
Kobe needs to take a one week break. Honestly, he should have declined All Star honors and taken the week to rest. I’d rather test our bench for 10 games and lose some of them if it means that Kobe is closer to 100%, than a hobbled Kobe shooting less than perfect in a 7 game series against the likes of Charlotte, Denver, Houston and, hopefully, Boston, Orlando or Cleveland.
I love Kobe, but his competitive spirit is hurting us now.
I sometimes wonder the age of some of the posters here. I mean, extrapolating the last few games to say “Gasol” is not who we all think. How about you extrapolate the Lakers since he got here? How about you notice that they’ve been in 1st place for nearly his whole time here? How about you see that this season is no different, they are in first place? How about you extrapolate that in his 2 seasons here before this one, the Lakers have made it to the Finals each time, winning once? So we have hope based on evidence of what his impact has been as to what this season will end like!
Sure, he and others have been playing bad as of late. But if playing bad still results in wins, what will happen when they break the slump and play good?
I love ugly wins sometimes.
It’s easy to win when everything is going smooth. Lesser teams lose when there’s conflict or struggle. (Cough, cough, Boston). I’ll take it…for now.
Darius this line cracked me up for a good 5 minutes, “like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz (before the oil can).”
Well put. When Kobe came back in the fourth he looked like Josh Powell, standing straight up and down and moving cautiously.
With that said, I agree the team just looked beat to hell last night. I played a rec game earlier in the evening and finally remembered what its like to get called for a bs foul and then have to run the floor only to miss a shot I should have made- disappointing stuff. I feel you Drew/Pau in Memphis.
2 seasons ago it was the Gasol trade that energized the squad… now we need to re-up organically and I think it should come from Kobe dropping his minutes so that this squad can develop that self-reliance all teams need w/out their superstar.
Off topic but:
What’s the big deal about the Spurs “Rodeo Trip”? An 8 game road trip, only one back to back (games 1 and 2) and the All Star break seperating games 5 and 6.
The Lakers just finish an 8 game trip, with 3 sets of back to backs, get home and have a stretch of Denver, Portland, San Antonio and Utah in a row. Then the All Star Break.
I might add, the Celtics now go on their longest trip of the season, 5 games (!), with the All Star break between games 2 and 3.
chris h says
I think PJ is also aware that Kobe needs to shut it down, didn’t you see that (TV) shot last night of Kobe sitting on the bench in the 4th qtr, while he did look like “put me in coach!”, he also seemed a bit content to let the team that was out there do their thing.
I have been watching Kobe and while it’s admirable that he wants to play through the pain, he’s also a liability on defense, and his shooting percentage is also down due to the injuries.
I think PJ will exercise his authority to give Kobe the breather that he needs (but won’t accept), that may be our best option now.
also, when Kobe does sit, it does seem like the others, especially Drew, LO, and Farmar, and Ron as well, raise their games to compensate, and I think this is a good thing in the bigger picture, for the team as a whole.
This game was horrible and ugly to watch. Kobe, my favorite all time player, if you can’t play, get off the damn court!
Shannon/Farmar, you are freakin killing me out there. No, you guys are NOT Kobe Bean Bryant, no you are not even a Vince Carter in his prime, you are ROLE players. Please take this into consideration when throwing up low percentage shots over and over. Just run the freakin offense and score in the flow of that offense. You know, like when you have an absolutely WIDE open 3pt shot. Or when you have a lane to drive through. Do not take fade away3pt shots, or in someone’s face deep 2pt shots.
Odom –if you had Kobe’s brain you would be an all-star every year. Why can’t you understand that you are unstoppable down low? I’m not talking about posting up ISO. I’m talking about coming off screens and catching the ball within 5 feet of the basket, or getting put backs, or whatever. Your defense is also top notch when you try. Odom, you are the most important player on this team. Forget that, i should say most underestimated.
Pau –go up strong. You are playing WEAK. Don’t try to get a foul called. They will come if you just go up strong.
Bynum –why do you disappear? Play the entire time. Your rebounding and defense were great today.
Luke –tell PJ to play you more minutes.
Artest –play in the flow of the game.
You should work in statistics! They love it when you take an incredibly short period of time, in hindsight no less, and then extrapolate out into infinity.
I guess i could do the same. Hope i get signed by the Lakers for a 1 game contract, play the first minute of the game, score a lucky basket and bench myself. Then i could claim that my scoring is 2pts per 1 minute. Extrapolated over a game, 48 minutes i think, that’s a 96pt per game average.
Just think if i got a rebound!~
I am surprised no one has mentioned this, but Sasha V. came up big again last night. Kobe goes down – amidst the widespread panic, Sasha steps in playing the vital role of decoy (just like Kobe does sometimes) as the Lakers go on to get a critical bucket right before the half.
At the end of the game it was those two points that proved to be the margin of victory. The Machine, in just twelve seconds of burn, secures victory from the jaws of defeat. That’s called earning your salary.
The Dude Abides says
16. Darius, actual Laker fans know just how valuable Pau Gasol is to this team (2009 NBA Finals, plus the team’s comparative records with and without him).
I am going to defend Gasol and Walton for a minute. Pau Gasol is the best thing to come to the Lakers since Kobe or Shaq for that matter, in recent times, we want him on our team. Luke, you just run the Triangle beautifully, I wish most of our guards would follow your lead. I did not realize how much we missed him until he has come back, he certainly should be getting more minutes now days.
“Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” – Margaret Peters
A very crude and unofficial tally I took through the 1st quarter and half (until Kobe came out) tracking offensive tendencies.
Who threw entry passes into the post?
Kobe lead the way by far with 11, followed at a distant by Gasol with 3, Bynum w/ 2, and Artest and Fish w/ 1 apiece.
Also, Pau passed out of the post 5 times while Bynum (shocker) never did.
They ran 6 pick and rolls and 5 possessions could have been called “isos”, or shots without any passes. Kobe’s first 4 shots were in this category.
New post up. Talking the Lakers struggles on offense this season.
Gatinho – That’s a really interesting tally, I’d love to see someone do that for an entire game or stretch of games. Interesting that Artest and Fish passed the ball into the post less than the post players themselves. I’m sure that’s a function of how the triangle runs – I didn’t see the game – but I’m assuming Kobe’s position in the triangle makes him the primary post entry passer at the corners.
So 11 non-triangle possessions, out of how many? I think the triangle should be run at least 60-70% of the time, generally.
OK I might have been to hasty on my Pau thoughts. He just seems very tentative since his return. I am a big Pau fan and also a 40 year Laker fan, 30 year season ticket holder and former collage player and often too hard on my team. We don’t win without him so I will be more selective in my comments in the future,