What can really be said about this game? The Lakers simply outclassed the Pacers and thrashed them to the tune of a 122-99 route. The home crowd got tacos and all Lakers fans got a complete performance that has been missing for most of this season. If there is one thing to nitpick about LA in this outing, it was the Lakers again starting the game slowly and letting the Pacers hang around. Early in the first quarter, the Lakers flashed the sloppy play that has plagued them in recent first halves of games, but by the end of the first quarter that sloppy play would dissipate and the Lakers would begin to take control. And once the Lakers took grasp of this game, there would be no looking back. Highlighted by 38-17 third quarter, the Lakers blowout would be in full swing and all that was left was a final twelve minutes of clock time before sending the Pacers to their 14th straight defeat at Staples Center.
There are truly too many good performances to highlight, but I’ll mention the ones that stood out for me. First and foremost was the defense of Ron Artest. I’ve been saying this for a couple of years now, but small forward is probably the most stacked position in the NBA (in a close battle with point guard). When you look at Ron’s recent game log you see a list of teams that employ Pierce, Carmelo, Marion, Iguodala, Gay, Butler, Gerald Wallace, and the list goes on and on. Tonight, Ron faced off against Danny Granger who is the key to Indy’s offense and one of the better offensive SF’s in the game. What did Granger do against Artest? Nine points on 2-9 shooting with four turnovers. Artest moved with a quickness and tenacity that set the tone for the Lakers’ D. A team defense that is currently ranked #1 in the NBA in defensive efficiency and one that held the Pacers to an offensive rating of 101. Ron was everywhere on defense and smothered Granger on every drive and contested almost every shot. Wherever Granger went when Artest was on him, he was blanketed and pressured and made to feel uncomfortable. I know that Artest won’t win any awards for his defense (though he should be in consideration for DPOY in my opinion) and due to the highlight quality plays that Lebron makes and the all-world defense that Tim Duncan plays, Artest probably won’t even make 1st team all defense this season. But, he’s been that level a player this year and he truly has made a difference on that end of the floor for the Lakers this season. And, tonight, when he again held the other team’s best player in check, he deserves recognition.
The other players that I thought really stepped up their games this evening were our guards. All of them. Kobe always steals the show when we talk about the Lakers guards and with good reason. And tonight when his jumper was still a bit off, Kobe was good at drawing fouls and getting to the line to rack up his points while using his post-up game to create good shots for his teammates. 24 points and 6 assists for Kobe on the evening, finding a way to be effective without his fastball. But the it was the rest of the guards that stole the show. Farmar was outrageously hot with an 8-10 performance (including 3-4 from 3 point land) for 19 points. Farmar played with aggression and poise and just kept hitting shots and finishing in the lane without ever letting up. Shannon was nearly as impressive with an all around stat line of 12/5/4/1/1 with zero turnovers and two threes made. Some of those buckets came in garbage time (remember though, the entire 4th quarter was garbage time), but his shot making was impressive and he showed confidence in his jumper while not over dribbling (too much). Even Fish got into the act with three 3 pointers made in his six attempts from distance while providing his usual organization on offense by getting people lined up in the spots where they’re needed. Just an excellent night from our guards and one that will need to be replicated down the stretch and into the playoffs.
And of course, this type of performance from our guards wouldn’t have been possible without strong play from our bigs. Bynum and Gasol were excellent again and started to show some of the chemistry that we’ve been wanting to see this season. Early in the game we saw some good high-low action with Pau hitting ‘Drew for an alley oop and also more teamwork on the offensive glass where our bigs worked well in tandem to get easy put backs. Another 30 and 24 combined for Pau and Drew and adding to that was a reserved Odom who was quite content at handling the ball and setting up his mates as he racked up a team high 7 assists. All in all, another great game for our front line as they punished the Pacers inside with strong finishes and cleaned up our defensive glass. This allowed our offense to get going by establishing our sets early in the clock where aggressive moves could be made against a defense in transition.
Overall, just a complete game for the Lakers on both ends of the floor. I understand that the Pacers aren’t the strongest team, but you can only play the team in front of you and from the time the first whistle blows to when the final buzzer sounds all you want to see is a strong performance that ends in a “W”. The Lakers got that tonight, and did it with a balanced dominance befitting the defending world champs. If they can carry this type of performance over into the upcoming road trip, I think we’d all be even happier.
Lovin´ the Artest resurgence. The way he has played the last two games is fantastic, and exactly what the doctor prescribed.
Ron Artest has been the BEST defender in the league and one of the best perimeter defenders in NBA history!
Over the last 6 years here are the numbers (each year weighted evenly): [Ron] Artest (+5.09), [Shane] Battier (+3.92), [Manu] Ginobili (+3.24), Bruce Bown (2.95).
This is defensive adjusted +-, which is a measure of D. Artest has the best defensive APM in the league from 2003-2009 and it is not even close. Places 2-4 range from 2.95 from Bowen to 3.92 for Battier and then Artest comes in at above 5!
I know, I was a bit luke-warm on the Artest signing early in this season, but I’m beginning to like the guy…
This is a game where we can say something good about the entire team-and I like this team very much. Artest’s defensive groove with offensive benefits is again amazing–and yes, he can dunk.
For the second night in a row, Derek Fisher was there to make timely threes and exert his leadership. Kobe resisted his urge to be a volume shooter just enough to facilitate effectively despite another off shooting night. Pau did it at both ends while finding ways to collaborate with Andrew.
Andrew not only scored, but rebounded, blocked a shot, and made fewer gaffes than usual on defensive assignments. Lamar supplied the invisible glue to preserve team cohesion on both ends and with both starters and reserves. Jordan put on an offensive show that more than made up for his frequent inability to stay in front (or even near) his defensive assignment. Shannon made key shots and steals even after hurting his hand on a defensive block.
Adam had fifteen minutes of PT, during which he put on his best imitation of Luke Walton, showing a variety of shots, and making a spectacular feed to DJ for a dunk. DJ was hitting his jumpshot, though he did get lost on his rotations a few times on defense. Powell only played a few garbage minutes.
The team as a whole played about the right number of minutes per player in a blowout victory that allowed the starting players to spend the fourth quarter as spectators. Can this be duplicated a few times?
That’s two good Fisher games in a row.. and the playoffs are just around the corner. Lets go Fish!
I agree, Artest deserves consideration for DPOY. He has been great all year (with a few exceptions but in an 82 game season that can be expected). He certainly deserves be first team all defense over Lebron (who is a decent defender but no where near Artest). I know Kobe gets knocked for his D a lot, since he tends to conserve energy on that side of the ball unless its critical that he plays great D. But when he and Artest are both in lock down mode (like the second half against Denver), they are best defensive duo in the game.
Can’t b 2 judgemental regarding this performance. We did what we were suppose 2 do. Which is DESTROY an inferior opponent. Started out sleep walking, but u could see the storm brewing from miles away.
Still concerned about Kobe heading into the stretch run. Shot not falling & his legs have been looking heavy ever since he came back from injury (except 4 the Memphis game, which was his 1st game back). Really picked up on it during the Nuggets game, in which he had iso’s on 3 seperate occassions (twice against K-Mart & once against Birdman) but couldn’t get seperation & settled 4 long jumpers. Now maybe it’s due 2 the fact that the ankle is still tender or because his ball handling has been affected because if the finger injury, but on the norm, Kobe would’ve easily broke down these 2 individuals off the dribble & either gotten 2 the hole or created an easier shot 4 himself. We all know Phil has been playing him too many mins & even though he’s only 31, Kobe has alot of mileage on those legs. That’s why, in my opinion, it’s imperative that Phil employs Sasha into the rotation once he returns next week from the shoulder injury. He’s a young player with fresh legs (considering that he’s barely played all year), he’s a legit 6’6/6’7 & a pretty good/pesky defender. In the sparse playing time that he’s had this year, he’s kept his emotions in check and has been more under control (signs of maturity). 4 all the criticism that he receives (especially on this site) regarding his inconsistent shooting, it’s hard 2 get in any type of shootin’ rythm when you’re not playing on a consistent basis (if at all). ASK ANY SHOOTER. Guaranteed, given consistent playing time (especially on the floor with Pau & Kobe), he’ll start hitting those jumpers that he’s been known for.
Important 3 game stretch, startin’ 2morrow, against 3 teams (Heat, Bobcats & Magic) that play us tough. Especially on their home court. This month (11 of 15 on the road) will show what we’re made of. I have the utmost confidence that we’ll storm through it.
LAKER 4 LIFE. LETS GET IT.
Morning links are up with more reactions from the Pacers game.
John Morris says
Ron Artest is the motor that has been keeping this team running in the past few weeks. He looks so much more comfortable out there now. I can’t believe how good he is at ripping the ball out. He would probably be a great ball hawk linebacker in the NFL. The only thing more I could ask of Ron would be for him to catch fire from beyond the arc going into this final stretch and into the playoffs.
Shaq’s injury is pretty timely for the Lakeshow. This is the toughest month of LA’s season. Now Cleveland only has one 7-footer (until they resign Z). Hopefully they can drop a few games and the Lakers can steal the homecourt advantage. I guess none of that matters if Cleveland fails to make it to the finals again!
Artest has really stepped it up recently since shedding the weight. He has been manhandling SFs all over the place. However, let’s clarify that game against Charlotte. Gerald Wallace was out and I’m pretty sure Artest was guarding Stephen Jackson that game. Jackson went 10 for 16 for an efficient 30 points, nearly bringing home the victory for his team.
#10. Hunter, you are correct about Wallace. That was my error as I forgot that he didn’t play. My point was to mention how deep SF is as a position and how Ron has a tough matchup almost every night out. I think that part of the point still stands as Jackson is quite good. As to your second point, yeah, Jackson was on fire that game and that is going to happen. Defenders have bad nights too and Ron has had his share. But I think we’re all in agreement that his defense has been as good as advertised when we made this acquisition.
it takes a tenacious offensive player like Jackson to make an impact against Artest. Just as Artest wants to do on defense, Jackson wants to bully folks on offense (and on defense as well). There aren’t a ton of tenancious offensive players. As was the case last night, a more passive offensive player like Granger isn’t going to do much against a tenancious defender like Artest. I mentioned this elsewhere after the acquisition, but I always thought it was a smart move by LA and I figured Artest would play his role because he wants a championship. Artest will make a difference for this year’s playoff run, no doubt.