The Lakers closed out their preseason in style, winning 105-102 against the Warriors. In a game where Monta Ellis looked like Allen Iverson circa 2001 and where the Lakers trailed for nearly the entire night, I must say this was one of the more satisfying preseason games that I can remember. Because even though overtime was needed and the Lakers starters again struggled to find their rhythm (especially Kobe), the team found a way to win in the closing minutes and nothing, even in the preseason, beats a comeback win.
A few notes on the last game of the preseason…
*I really can’t say enough about Shannon Brown. I don’t want to put too much stock into preseason performances, but he’s looked very good and seems ready to take on a consistent role as a bench scorer while Kobe isn’t 100%. WOW is making shots, playing much more under control, and is finding sweet spots in the offense where he’s able to set his feet and shoot in rhythm. One shot in particular that Shannon looks very good taking is the 20 foot jumper from the extended wing when receiving a handoff from the big man at the high post. On Thursday night he made this shot consistently and throughout the preseason this has been a shot that he’s taken with no hesitation and with good results. Again, we’ll see if this carries over into the games that count, but I’m feeling very good about Brown.
*I said that Kobe may not be 100% (and likely won’t be for a couple more weeks at least) but down the stretch of this game he made some big plays to help cut the deficit and ultimately take the lead. Kobe still struggled with his jumper and took way too many three pointers (9 attempts from deep, making only 2) but he showed good movement around the court and was able to get some good looks from the post and by attacking off a live dribble. He also did a good job of setting up his mates (7 assists) and I’m hoping that’s a trend that continues into the start of the season if he’s struggling with his jumper.
*The guys that really impressed me were the rookies. Ebanks and Caracter showed that they can contribute and that can be relied upon to play to their strengths if given minutes. Ebanks played well on D and attacked the basket when he got the ball in the transition or had clean driving lanes in the half court. He also did a good job on the glass (4 rebounds total, 2 offensive). And after missing two games with back spasms, Caracter got in the game tonight and reminded us all of his polish around the hoop and his ability to finish inside. On one play in particular, Caracter made the catch inside, turned over his left shoulder, and made a short, high arching bank that showed good awareness. With Bynum out, Caracter may see some extra burn to start the year and he looks like he can help in short bursts.
*Blake was another guy that impressed me. Sure he missed all his shots (0-5) on the night. But he’s a floor general and that’s something the Lakers haven’t had since Van Exel donned a Lakers jersey. No disrespect meant to Fisher (who does a great job of organizing the Lakers sets and ensuring that the offense gets executed), but Blake is a PG in every sense of the word. He has good instincts on when players are breaking open and how to manipulate the defense to ensure that he can deliver the ball to his mates. He has excellent timing with his passes and always seems to put the ball in a position where the catch is easy and where he leads players into their shots. Not to denigrate Farmar (who I think is going to be very good in Jersey), but Blake is everything the Lakers hoped that Farmar could be as the PG for the 2nd unit and I think it’s going to show in the results achieved by that group.
*The Lakers missed LO’s rebounding, defense, and outlet passing tonight. Odom is just one of those guys that is so much easier to appreciate when he’s not around, if that makes sense. It’s been easy to start to take Lamar for granted with how well he’s been playing this preseason, but with him sitting out tonight it was easy to see the difference in the Lakers on the glass and in how they transitioned from defense to offense.
In the end, I would have been happy to escape with good health. So to get a win (and in exciting fashion to boot) was the cherry on my Sunday. But, I won’t let this feeling linger too long because the real games begin on Tuesday. So, while I enjoyed tonight, my focus is now on the regular season and what the Lakers will need to do to get things done when the contests truly matter. We’ll have our season preview up in the next few days. Until then, we wait, but not for too much longer…
totally agree with you darius and i for one should have shot my foot for switching channels with the lakers down by 8 with 2 minutes and change left.
darius, what do you think about the line up in last 2-3 minutes of the regulation time, when kobe, fish, barnes, artest and brown was on the court at the same time.
i know it was because biedrins was already fouled out.
but i think it was a very good defensive stretch, when lakers was just switched in every pick and roll.
i’m curious as of what does this mean for us.
Good write up, Darius. It was Golden State and it was preseason so, as has been said, that makes it dangerous to draw too many conclusions. However, I have been generally impressed by the play of most of the players.
Sasha has put together a couple of solid efforts. I also really like that Barnes is kind of in the LO mode, doing little things and not looking for his own shot too often.
Brown has looked good, but he still makes me nervous, especially when he is on the wing pounding the ball into the floor. But if he keeps up as he has, he will be a force.
I loved Kobe’s assist total. He could have had a couple more had teammates knocked down a couple of open shots. He was definitely finding the open man. My concern is whether he can find his rhythm and be an effective scorer on fewer shot attempts per game. Also, will he be content averaging less than 25 points a game?
I really have to give the coaching staff props for letting Shannon develop his game, I would have just told him to do nothing that didn’t involve dunks, 3s, or defense. It wasn’t fun to watch last year with all the “Kobe shots” he took but it’s paying off now.
And I am so happy with Steve BLakeshow I could wet my pants.
Even Sasha looks like he’s finally settling into his destiny as an NBA player: comfortably mid-way between the can’t miss guy in 08 and the scrub we saw the years after.
Fisher haters could finally be right in saying that Fish is the worst rotation guard we have. This is a good thing. And if it helps, they can think of him as a starting victory cigar instead of one that’s trotted out in blow outs.
Darius Soriano says
#2. Not sure it means much beyond that the coaches decided to better match up with the guys the Dubs through out there. I think in most situations the Lakers would have at least one legitimate big on the floor (at least Odom) and usually two (Odom/Gasol).
The Dude Abides says
Fish guarding Monta whenever they’re both on the floor is probably something that won’t happen during the regular season. It’s a complete mismatch. I would imagine that he’ll draw Curry, and Kobe will play off of Monta and turn him into a jump shooter. Of course, if they play each other when Drew and Pau are both healthy, Fish might draw Monta a little more often, as the lane won’t be so wide open.
I didn’t watch the game, but the one note that really stands in the stats was that Monta Ellis played 53 minutes – the entire game. GSW knows that these games don’t count, right? For someone that’s as injury prone as M.Ellis, I would think the coaching staff would limit his play in situations that don’t mean anything….41 points or not.
the GS coaches must have felt that making a stand against the Ls (even w/o Curry) would provide a boost going into the real games.
Darius Soriano says
#9. I thought the same thing. Essentially, this game meant more to the Warriors in that they need a bit of momentum going into the season. That’s one of the main reasons why I was happy with this win. In a game where the Lakers easily could have just played out the string and gone home healthy to prepare for Tuesday, they fought at the end and pulled out the win against a team that wanted it.
I am not sure I agree with the idea that this game (if you mean winning it) meant more to the Warriors. Kobe coming in at the end and then for part of overtime was a head scratcher for me as much, if not more than Ellis’ minutes. The Lakers’ bench was doing well, why not let them play it out? Seemed the competitiveness kicked in on both sides.
I do think the Warriors needed a competitive game situation for practice more than the Lakers. I think that may be why they kind of cut things loose.
I am curious to see how the Lakers fare against some good defensive teams. They looked pretty bad against Utah. So although I like a win more than a loss, I am not taking anything away from this game other than it was a confidence booster for some of the bench players, who hit some shots.
Dave M says
I agree, that’s a ridiculous amount of time to play Monta. I don’t personally care ’cause they’re not my team but I’d care if I was a GS fan.
Darius Soriano says
I see your point. At the time, I felt that Shaw was using that moment to give the starters a sense of playing in a close game together as a sort of a “teaching moment” considering that they haven’t really had a game like that all preseason. But, really, you’re probably right in that at the end of the game, both teams really wanted the win.
The Lakers last night, much like the playoffs, put another Laker on the opposing teams PG when Fisher couldn’t play adequate defense. The great news for Lakers Fans is this time it was the lighter Ron Artest who now looks more like the all world two way player he was with the Pacers in frame and game. With Kobe coming off knee surgery, do you think it will be Artest Phil Jackson chooses to guard the other teams PG’s when there is a limited offensive SG for Fisher to stand beside on the perimeter?
Still in awe of the quickness and strength of Artest’s hands.
One thing conspicuously missing in this writeup–and in others this preseason, has been commendation for Derek Fisher’s remarkable half of the new partnership with Steve Blake. Derek has been shooting quite well, and shooting as needed. In this game, Fisher was 5 for 7, including 2 three pointers (67%) for thirteen points–but zero assists. The first unit is loaded with players that pride themselves on assists, and the team plays the triangle, so a classic assist pg is not needed.
Blake was 0 for five from the field, four of them three point misses–but, unlike Jordan Farmar, Steve was focused on assists–he had 6 of them. This needed assist role is what has begun to transform the second unit.
Neither Steve nor Derek were able to defend Ellis, until Monte wore himself down and scored only 2 for ten in the latter stages of the game. That may have had more to do with the failures of team rotations than the pgs themselves. Whatever it was, it apparently made Phil feel sicker at home.
Though it probably is so expected we don’t notice, Derek drew a charge near the end of the game that erased two Warrior points, and helped seal the victory.
Please don’t forget about the contributions of Derek so quickly. His preseason has been great.
Darius Soriano says
If Fisher really is struggling against a specific PG and the coaches think that making a defensive switch is the best move, whether the switch is to Kobe or Artest is going to depend on the rest of the personnel on the opposition.
Basically, I think it comes down to who is the opposing SF? Last season, when the Lakers played Boston and OKC, Artest stayed on SF and Kobe guarded the PG. I think Pierce and Durant were the reason(s) for that being the case. When the Lakers played Sacramento, Artest guarded Tyreke Evans and Kobe slid over to whoever was playing SF (Francisco Garcia, Donte Green, Omri Casspi). Even against the Heat, Kobe moved off of Wade and onto Quentin Richardson with Artest picking up Dwyane.
So, again, a lot will depend on who the other perimeter player is that Ron would typically guard. I think Phil really does want to save Kobe in the way that he did with MJ later in his career when Pippen and Harper would guard the opposing team’s better wings for most of the game.
Darius Soriano says
Fisher has been playing well this preseason. Not mentioning him in the recap(s) has little to do with not appreciating his contributions, but more because the theme of Fisher’s performance hasn’t been as important, imo, as other storylines. Based off my history, there are few folks that have supported Fisher or believe in his value to the Lakers more than I do.