Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant are about as long as the list of Lakers who played well last night. Ron Artest had some good moments early in the game, but it would be hard for me to find any other Laker to include in The Good. Pau scored the Lakers first 12 points and had 14 of their 27 first quarter points. Gasol would finish with 26 and 22 while Kobe would turn his scoring on late to score 31 with five rebounds and six assists. More importantly, Kobe got his 31 on only 18 shots and got to the foul line 11 times. It was a rather efficient game for both Bryant and Gasol, but those were the only two Lakers with even remotely efficient games.
Derek Fisher. Jordan Farmar. Josh Powell. Lamar Odom. Phil Jackson. Brian Shaw. Shannon Brown. Me. DJ Mbenga. Pretty much everything else went wrong for the Lakers last night. They pulled down more rebounds and turned the ball over fewer than 10 times, and when that happens, it usually equals a Lakers win. However, that obviously wasn’t the case last night. The Lakers showed little to no kind of sense of urgency until the last half of the fourth quarter, they kept the Hornets on the foul line (34 attempts) shot too many three-pointers (seven for 29) and allowed an undersized New Orleans team to shoot 49 percent from the field. The Lakers were out hustled to all of the loose balls, even though they won the rebound battle, they were consistently giving up great position to the Hornets, and Chris Paul was able to do whatever he wanted to the Lakers point guards. In Paul’s three games back from his injury before the Lakers amassed more than 10 points once and more than 10 assists once. Last night, Paul finished with 15 and 13, with his impact on the game speaking in larger volumes than what the box score says.
From the Los Angeles Times Lakers Blog: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant raced down the other end of the court, bearing a determined look and chewing gum profusely. He had just made a putback off Jordan Farmar’s missed free throw, which cut the Lakers’ deficit to six points after trailing New Orleans most of the game by double-digit margins. The task was far from over, but with the Lakers scoring 11 unanswered points with 5:35 remaining in the game, Bryant’s stoic demeanor gave the impression the team seemed well on its way to completing the comeback effort. With 38.1 seconds left, Bryant’s reaction changed altogether as it became apparent the Lakers’ run wouldn’t be able to camouflage the lapses that had put the team in this predicament in the first place. Those wondering how Bryant would react to the Lakers’ eventual 108-100 loss Monday to the New Orleans Hornets were given a sneak peek after Coach Phil Jackson called timeout with the team trailing by five points. Bryant approached a chair on the Lakers’ bench, punched it, and then sat down in disgust.
From Silver Screen and Roll: That ticking you hear? That’s a clock counting down to the playoffs. The Lakers have only eight regular-season games left, and if tonight’s contest – a 100 to 108 loss to the New Orleans Hornets – proved anything, it’s that the problems afflicting the Lakers since the beginning of the season are still very much with them. When you consider the whole of these last five months, does it seem to you that the Lakers have improved? At all? At this point, shouldn’t they have their act together just a little bit more than they do? I know I shouldn’t seek to extract too much meaning out of a single game. But when the full run of a team’s flaws crops up in one 48-minute stretch in late March, it’s hard not to see critical signs everywhere. These problems are real, and they’re apparently not going away. Let’s go to the post-mortem.
From Hornets 24/7: The biggest crowd of the season saw the Hornets at their best tonight, getting an early jump on the Lakers, building up big leads and refusing to surrender. They were physical and acted like they had something to play for, even though they’re just a couple of weeks away from certain vacation. Some might argue that wins like this are pointless, but I have to disagree. The Hornets needed Chris Paul to come back for the home stretch, playoff hopes or no playoff hopes, and the fans were in dire need of some thrills before this ugly season ended. They need to believe that the Hornets aren’t completely broken, that there’s some hope for next season, some reason to renew those season tickets. And tonight they got that. 18,205 of them (plus Bruce Willis) were treated to scrappy defense, big runs and a win over the best in the West. 108-100 the final score.
From Land O’ Lakers: With 8:42 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Lakers down by 87-72, KCAL sideline reporter/ESPNLA.com’s very own John Ireland busted out one very surprising sideline interview: Bruce Willis! That’s right. John McClane himself, in the Big Easy to film a movie. Willis was enjoying courtside seats courtesy of the generosity of Hornets owner George Shinn. And judging by his easy-breezy vibe, he seemed to be enjoying everything N’Awlins has to offer. I’m not saying the man definitely indulged in a few Seagram’s Golden Wine Coolers. I’m just not entirely comfortable proclaiming he hadn’t. At any rate, the chat initially felt like little more than than a random oddity involving a celebrity at a Lakers game outside the confines of Staples Center. A new twist on a familiar sight. Good for a few “Hey, it’s a loopy Bruce Willis!” tweets from Lakers fans and basketball scribes, but nothing of actual consequence.
From the OC Register: The Lakers ran into the Cleveland Cavaliers last Wednesday night in San Antonio. The Lakers were staying over at their luxury hotel after facing the Spurs, and the Cavaliers were checking into the same hotel before they faced the Spurs. The next time the Lakers see the Cavaliers — if there is one — looks like it will be in Cleveland. The Lakers’ 108-100 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night dropped the Lakers four games behind the Cavaliers for the best record in the NBA. Each team has eight games left, and Cleveland seems to have locked up home-court advantage in a potential NBA Finals matchup. Then again, before the Lakers think about LeBron and Shaq, they need to worry about being unable to meet the intensity of a New Orleans team already eliminated from postseason contention. “Just didn’t play well,” Kobe Bryant said about the Lakers falling to 2-2 on this trip.
From the Los Angeles Times: This late in the season, this far into March, the Lakers continue to give reasons to scrap championship-parade plans. The runaway leaders in the Western Conference on Monday tossed another clunker onto a growing pile of them this month, falling to New Orleans, a team that was officially eliminated from playoff contention last week, in another uninspiring effort. Chris Paul and Darren Collison ran circles around the Lakers in a 108-100 Hornets victory at New Orleans Arena, leading to a seething outburst from Kobe Bryant, who punched a chair on the bench in the final minute and was still simmering half an hour later in a postgame interview that lasted all of 42 seconds. Bryant obviously didn’t like what he saw unfolding in front of him. He had 31 points and Pau Gasol had 26 points and 22 rebounds, but there was almost nothing else to appease the Lakers’ superstar, in case the brief postgame transcript didn’t prove the point.
From The Times Picayune: The origin was anyone’s guess, so if someone affiliated with the New Orleans Hornets told you he or she knew New Orleans had an effort in it like Monday’s game at the New Orleans Arena, turn and walk away and don’t bother debating. After watching the Hornets recline in consecutive blowout home losses to Cleveland and Portland, and drop 14 of their previous 18 games entering Monday night – 11 of them by double figures – there was absolutely no reason to believe they’d find a spine in time to play the Western Conference-leading Lakers. But find a spine they did. And a couple of fists. And some sharp elbows. And the result was a 108-100 victory that was improbable, fulfilling and frustrating all in one. It was improbable because of the former, because the Hornets had begun playing like they didn’t have much stomach left for the season long before they had nothing left to play for besides pride.
From The Times Picayune: Three hours before the Los Angeles Lakers’ bus made its way to the New Orleans Arena, Kobe Bryant already was on the court taking jump shots in preparation for Monday night’s game against the New Orleans Hornets. It did not matter that his right index finger was discolored and fractured. For 2 1/2 hours, Bryant took shots from nearly every spot on the floor when most of his teammates still were at the team hotel on Canal Street. Having an intense drive, Bryant’s motivation remains the same as it was last June when he walked on the floor for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic. Winning his fourth NBA championship last season, he wants to repeat this upcoming June. “To win is the only reason I play, ’’ Bryant said. ”It means everything to me.“
I’m tempted to copy and paste my rant essay from the other thread here, but hey if I wanted to just routinely bash our PGs I’d just go to SS&R (where Derek Fisher gets his own paragraph!)
I’ll just paste one line, about the whole team but mostly our perimeter players:
“Lakers are 26-2 if they shoot 36% or better from three, 28-18, otherwise. Hell, just shooting better than 31%, they’re 35-6”
Matt R. says
Reactions to a game from March 29:
“It’s games like this that truly show me that we don’t run our offense well enough. The Triangle is a read and react offense where all five players should be seeing the same thing and acting accordingly. Whenever you see a ball denial or the ball pausing for too long it’s because the players aren’t moving when they’re supposed to be. There are pressure releases built into this offense all over the court, but if we aren’t moving (and doing it full out) then ball denials are going to bother us. Plus our spacing was extremely poor on several possessions.” – Darius
“Lakers looked tired and disinterested. Shots were not falling, players were not moving with out the ball, the ball was not moving, they were out hustled for lose balls, and did not rotate well on defense.” – Ryan
The year of that game was 2009 and we had just lost to the Hawks. Seems like things haven’t changed much. Like Darius has said more than once, this is pretty much the same team we saw last year.
Interesting other tidbit about the game exactly 1 year ago:
“KOBE and PAU 14/29 FG (Specially Pau 7/10)
Rest of the team 14/51 FG”
Note to Lakers: Just chalk up any game on a March 29 as a loss.
Matt R. says
An interesting piece on Walton and his impending return to the line-up, from Lazenby:
A really nice tidbit:
In fact, even during his time on the injured list Walton found a way to emulate triangle offense guru Tex Winter, who has been sidelined himself for almost a year while recovering from a stroke.
Walton has donned a suit and sat amongst the coaching staff, furiously scribbling notes during the course of the game, then communicating what he sees to teammates during pauses in the action.
That, of course, has long been a role filled by the tenacious Winter. Obviously, Walton has been more diplomatic in delivering his observations to teammates than Winter, who was known for his brutally frank corrections of players.
I though Farmar showed a good performance out of desperation to keep the game alive. Although Pau had a terrific game I would have to say the only 3 people that were trying to impose them selves from this loss were Kobe, Farmar, and Phil. Kobe needless to say, took over on the offensive end doing anything and everything necessary down the stretch. Farmar was the only guy making open 3’s at the end of the game and had nice coast to coast play that lead to an and1. Phil was abnormally calling time outs through the whole game as if he had already seen where this game was heading (OKC.)
I hope no one takes this as a pau bashing. I’m just simply saying he played great consistantly through the game, rather than the 3 listed above that seemed to impose them self in the game when the team really needed it.
I want to reiterate the point ReignonParades (1) made, because I don’t think it’s been stressed enough. I seriously think we are dead in the water if we can’t hit a decent percentage of 3s. We are currently tied for 20th in the league in 3point FG%. The list of teams worse than us is just ugly.
Everyone harps on the number of 3s attempted last night, but the majority of them came within the offense/were wide open. We have to take those shots in order to keep the defense honest. More importantly, obviously, we have to make a decent percentage. Otherwise the opposition can just pack it in the paint, thereby making it difficult for Pau & Bynum to score, decreasing offensive board/putback chances, and decreasing driving opportunities.
And you know what makes it worse? Cleveland, Dallas, Orlando, San Antonio, Utah and Denver are in the top 10 in 3point FG%. The two Eastern favorites and the top 4 Western challengers.
In order to win the ring last year, the Lakers shot 37.7% behind the arc in the playoffs, while this season they are shooting 34.2%. That 37.7% clip was aided by Odom shooting 51.4%, Shannon shooting 48% and Ariza shooting 47.6%. Those percentages were 19.9%, 14.9%, and 16.2% above their career averages, respectively. If that’s not eye popping, boot rattling, jello jiggling I don’t know what is.
Here’s hoping that a couple guys get hot for this years run.
5. jeremy very weird post
when can sasha come out of the dog house and play? wtf did he say to b shaw?
even if he doesn’t make his 3s he still spreads the floor more than our other “shooters”.
I honestly could only stand to watch a few minutes of the third quarter last night, but in those few minutes I saw Farmar take and miss three long range shots. Two from just inside the 3 point line, and one from beyond it in the corner.
All three attempts were open looks. On the downside, they were still horrible shots.
Long 2 point attempts are pure garbage. Even wide open they are the least efficient shot in the game. Opponent’s will give you those, BEG you to take them, all game long.
The shot from the corner that I saw was terrible. Not because he missed (a brick to the front of the rim), and not because he wasn’t open (Farmar was open), but rather because of WHY Farmar was so open: Gasol had his man sealed on the low post, and there was no second defender. If Farmar had made the high percentage play (pass into the post where Gasol was one on one with his defender UNDER the basket) we almost certainly get 2 points, and might even get the and 1.
Until the Laker guards, Kobe included, begin to play fundamental, high percentage basketball, the Lakers are in big trouble once the playoffs arrive.
Management went to considerable effort to create a very good Triangle team. Our guards are comparatively weak because our front line is so strong. But all strength in the world does no good if you play to your weaknesses.
This is a coaching issue, not a talent issue. Talent is what it is. Phil needs to start yanking these guards the moment they make boneheaded plays.
The lakers just don’t have any consistent shotmakers. Farmar, Brown, Odom, and even Artest are all inconsistent at best. Fisher is consistent, but consistently bad.
Sasha needs to get some more time. He’s the only natural 3 point shooter the team has. But Phil needs to change Sasha’s role when he’s on the floor. Sasha just needs to spot up like Artest does and not run off of numerous screens and shoot the ball on the move. I know Sasha is a much better catch and shoot player than his percentages tell us.
More importantly then the lakers shooting is their defense. They are a good defensive team, yet they have so many defensive breakdowns. Its like they play really good defense for 18 seconds and then there is some miscommunication, some one not rotating, or someone letting their defender blow past them hoping to get a steal from behind. All those type of breakdowns lead to open shots.
So far the lakers haven’t met the challenge of being on the road against good teams. They have a real test tomorrow and I don’t think the lakers will show up with the right focus either.
On a side note, when is the last time kobe took 20 shots. He’s really trying to force his team to play better and not just depend on him to do everything all the time. He bailed the team out 6 times already and I thinks thats enough as far as the regular season goes. Artest, Lamar, Fisher, Farmar, Shannon, Sasha need to step up. Well Sasha has to play first.
Phillip, thanks for doing the ‘running’ around the web as to the various reactions to this late season loss from the Lakers to a team with nothing to prove but pride.
This is how Phil Jackson coaches the last 20 games of the season, per Rick Fox in an interview a couple of years ago.
‘The final 20 games are to intensify practice and get yourself into a winning momentum for the playoffs.’
This road trip does not seem to be doing that, huh?
A new post is up.