Records: Lakers 8-2 (3rd in West), Bucks 5-5 (6th in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 116.7 (1st in NBA), Bucks 99.8 (29th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 107.5 (16th in NBA), Bucks 96.9 (1st in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, John Salmons, Luc Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden, Andrew Bogut
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum (out), Theo Ratliff (out); Bucks: Carlos Delfino (doubtful), Chris Douglass-Roberts (out), Michael Redd (out)
The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers are a favorite to win the championship come June. Something drastic and truly catastrophic would need to happen for that to no longer be the case this season. But that doesn’t mean things will always be roses and rainbows for this group and right now is one of those times. They’re coming off consecutive losses, are still operating without Andrew Bynum, and now face a couple more injury issues to deal with to their frontcourt.
Both Theo Ratliff and Lamar Odom have undergone MRI’s and while Lamar’s diagnosis is a bone bruise that should allow him to play (albeit in some discomfort), the news is not as good for Ratliff who will require surgery on his knee to aid what ails him. This means the Lakers will be without a back up Center for the foreseeable future and with a potentially limited Odom too. So, expect even more minutes for Gasol (who’s already been averaging his most minutes since the ’06 season), for Caracter to see more burn (no trips to Bakersfield in his immediate future), and for the Lakers to explore more small ball lineups where Artest and Barnes get even more run at PF than they have so far this season.
Mind you, this doesn’t create a situation that the Lakers can’t overcome but it does stretch them quite thin up front and means that the little things the Lakers haven’t been doing that well already – rebounding, protecting the paint – will get a bit harder. However, such is life in the NBA and I can guarantee no one is weeping for the defending champs. On a side and completely related note, get well soon Andrew Bynum…
The Bucks Coming in: Milwaukee is a hot team right now as they’ve won 3 games in a row and 4 of their last 5. And like every other team coached by Scott Skiles, they’ve been winning games on the strength of their defense. The Bucks lead the league in defensive efficiency and have only allowed one team to score 100 points or more against them all season (and it took an overtime period for Boston to break that threshold). They’re a hard nosed team that will pressure the ball, rotate well, and contest every shot you take from any position on the floor.
However, whe’re they’ve been struggling is on offense. They’re second to last in offensive rating and don’t have any single player that is a consistent threat on that side of the ball. Their leading scorer (Brandon Jennings) averages 15.7 points a night and their four other best scorers all chip in with about 13 points per game. It’s no wonder they’re playing .500 ball as they can suffocate teams on one end but can’t score enough for it to really matter on the other.
You’ll notice some new faces on this year’s Bucks as they’ve added Drew Gooded via free agency and Corey Maggette via trade. These two were supposed to add some punch to their offense but, again, that hasn’t really been the case. In essense, this team has taken on the identity of their head coach for better and for worse. Until they can consistently score the ball, they’ll need to hope that their defense is strong enough to limit the other team so that they grind out the wins.
Bucks Blogs: Jeremy is doing a great job covering this team over at Bucksetball. You can read his preview for tonight’s game here.
Keys to game: This is the first night of a three game in four nights trip to the mid-west as the Lakers finally leave the comfy confines of the west coast to get some games in. Personally, I love when teams go out on the road as it gives the guys a chance to really come together and start to build that chemistry that fuels championship teams. However, winning tonight will take more than a group dinner at one of Milwaukee’s great steakhouses.
It will take an effort that’ been somewhat lacking in the past week or so. While effort is usually equated to defense, rebounding, etc, I’m really talking about focus and attention to detail and then following through by actually acting out what needs to be done. This means executing the offense by making the post entry pass in a timely manner and then cutting and screening hard. It means understanding that when shot goes up that players need to be boxed out and the ball secured before racing down court to try and set up on offense. Mostly it means playing hard and smart basketball because you can bet the Bucks will be playing that way.
From an offensive X’s and O’s standpoint, the Lakers need to run a bit less P&R and more straight post ups on the strong side with screen actions on the weakside to open up slashers for easy shots in the paint. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in recent games it’s the Lakers tendency to run more P&R as an initial option rather than relying on the traditional ball movement that develops from the motions of the Triangle. If the Lakers continue that trend tonight, they’ll find mobile bigs like Bogut and Mbah a Moute closing down penetration lanes while still showing the ability to recover to the paint and rebound. The Lakers will be much better off if the ball goes into the hub of the Triangle in the strongside post with the weakside big flashing into the paint to score over the undersized (outside of Bogut) Bucks front line. These cuts and interior passes will not only lead to easier buckets inside, but will also loosen up the perimeter D and give the Lakers guards/wings open shots as the Bucks have to help in the paint more.
Defensively, the Lakers must control Jennings operating in space and in the P&R. Jennings likes push the ball and see if there’s an opening in transition and if there isn’t he’ll slow the ball up and run P&R to try and penetrate to create for himself or a teammate. Traditionally the Lakers do a good job keeping ball handlers to one side of the floor and tonight that will be tested as Jennings is very good at going to his left from the right side of the floor in order to find cracks in the defense. If the Lakers can force him to the right side and keep him there, it will go a long way towards slowing an already stagnant Bucks offense.
The other two players I’ll be watching closely are John Salmons and Corey Maggette. Salmons has traditionally been a Laker killer who thrives in isolation and curls off screens to get open and shoot his mid range jumper. Artest and/or Kobe will have their hands full when dealing with Salmons and could use help from their big men when he comes hard off screens looking to catch and shoot. Remember too, Salmons is another player who seems to play his best when the Lakers are the opponent so focussing in on him should go a long way tonight. As for Maggette, he can be a real spark off the bench for the Bucks and will always be in attack mode. He’s excellent at drawing fouls and considering the Lakers current depth issues up front, this team can ill afford Corey crashing his way into the paint and getting early whistles against LO or Pau. The Lakers wings must do a good job of marking him in transition and making him pull up for jumpers by laying off and not getting beat off the bounce.
Tonight isn’t a season maker by any means but it’s another good test for a variety of reasons. This is only the 4th road game for the Lakers but the first that is further than Denver when looking at a map. That extra travel can wear on a team and this is first time LA is going on any kind of extended trip. It’s also the first time this year that the Lakers have lost twice in a row and it’s pretty rare that this incarnation of the Lakers (with Kobe/Pau) would drop three straight. So, the Lakers will be looking to come together on the road and beat a playoff team in order to avoid dropping three in a row. Again, not a season maker but this game has some value to the Lakers. Here’s hoping they come out and play like it.
Where you can watch: 5pm start time out west on KCAL. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710am.
Andreas G. says
do you think skiles will double kobe this time? ha ha!
Darius Soriano says
This has nothing to do with the game, but since tonight’s opponent is the Bucks, I thought this commercial was pretty funny.
OK, FB&G family. I apologize for using this thread to post this inquiry, but I really need help! Does anyone have any idea where I can get one of the sacrilegious St. Patrick’s Day Laker shirts that the NBA was foolish enough to produce last year? I need a kid’s one pretty desperately, and I have searched everywhere I can think of relentlessly (amazon.com, eBay.com, all sports apparel stores, etc). Again, I’m sorry to ask this in this forum, but I figure that if no one here knows a secret then it simply can’t be found.
Igor Avidon says
NBA’s store has them I believe (sorry but I refuse to link, just google it). I hope you’re getting it for the sake of burning it 🙂
It’s a long story, Igor. The NBA store doesn’t have it, either (they only carry versions for the Bulls, Pistons and Raptors); that’s the 1st place I went!
Igor Avidon says
I see the adult size polos as in stock and available on there.. would a size Small be too big? I don’t know if they even made kids’ ones, sorry.. good luck!
Craig W. says
A green Lakers shirt!!!! Jeeeeezzzz!
I thought that one died a horrible and painful death last March.
Darius, I really like the ESPN RV ads, this one was funny as well. Still my personal favorite of the new ones though:
Dave M says
Spot on analysis – especially liked the offensive x’s and 0’s paragraph. Re: Gooden, I caught a Bucks game a couple nights ago on TV and was surprised, I didn’t think he’d been picked up by anybody. He still seems to be pretty much running on empty.
chris h says
hey folks, last night in TN, so need a link again, but tomorrow, ahhh, back at home, 60 inch, HD, tivo, no commercials… life’s good.
Tonight is about just getting a W, ugly or not.
HAHA what was Salmons doing on that play? Terrible completely wasted foul.
chris h says
link … anyone?
So, are the Suns disguised as Brandon Jennings? 😛 wtf @ 5/6 from the arc
uh oh its happening again..Since when did Drew Gooden hit 3’s?
Andreas G. says
What is this – is every team going to set a franchise record in threes versus the Lakers? These are bad shots too…it’s just silly.
As Mark Jackson would say, hand down man down. Every 3 but one has been uncontested
Jim M says
anyone else notice that whenever artest brings the ball up in a non-fast break he does the exact same thing? He dribbles to the right corner and the passes to the trailing player. It does not seem to be very effective
The Dude Abides says
You can’t let Bad Porn drive uncontested to the hoop like that. He’s one guy who you make shoot jump shots.
The Dude Abides says
Ok, so he made a jumper. He won’t keep that up. Keep making the Bucks shoot long twos, and this will be a victory for the Lakers.
Hey Darius, since College basketball is officially underway what is your team?
So, are we gonna get any defensive stops this game?
Kobe is not even guarding Mbah a Moute. And so far, it’s working
Andreas G. says
kehntangibles: Wouldn’t be close if we did. The Lakers are trying to keep us interested;)
Our defense has definitely picked up after the timeout. Now if only we can run the offense and stop having Kobe dribble around and throw up a contested shot.
I have zero confidence in this team right now to defend dribble penetration, threes and putbacks. I’d chalk this up to one bad half, but it’s been going on for 3 games now. 3.5, if you count the Minnesota game.
59 points is way too many in a half to be a great defensive team.
On another note Jennings is a monster
T. Rogers says
The Lakers give up another 59 point first half. That didn’t work out too well the last time it happened (Denver). I am never comfortable when the Lakers play the outscoring game vs the defensive game.
Hopefully this one ends well.
A little disappointing to give up 59 in the half. As as kehntangibles said, it’s the “same old” Laker issues on D with uncontested 3s, offensive boards and dribble drives. Hard to know where a change in the last one is coming, but they can definitely do a better job on the glass and closing out shooters.
On a more positive note, the offense is looking solid. Efficient work from Pau & Kobe (28 on 19 shots). A lot to like there.
the best I can do to describe the first half is to say its bothersome. Not enough to make you angry yet still annoying.
In other news I’m happy to see the Cavs winning tonight. As a semi-adopted team this season I am happy to see them prove that their regular and somewhat post season success the last 2-3 years was not the result of just one guy
Darius Soriano says
So, the day job kept me from watching until the last couple minutes of the first half. Can anyone give me an update and let me know what I’ve missed. Based on the comments so far, Jennings seems to be a problem and the Bucks are making their outside shots. How are the Lakers rotations? Sounds like the D is struggling. Is this correct?
Well Darius, Milwaukee is 60% from three (although LA is 3 of 6 themselves). Late or non-rotations from what I’ve noticed. Or else being in front, but not close enough and not with a hand up. Playing off Jennings I get, due to the quickness, but there still needs to be a contest, even if it’s small.
I am a little worried about the secondary line once a quick guard gets into the lane. Maybe it’s just lack of Drew, but quick guards don’t seem to find it hard once they get to the rim against LA.
Darius – from what I see, It’s mostly just Milwaukee being redhot from outside. The defensive effort has been a lot better, 59 pts withstanding, than previous games and the defensive rebounding is overall not bad. It’s just that the putbacks were ill-timed, not that there’s ever a good time to allow them – they’d keep Milwaukee in the thick of things right when we were starting a mini-rally. It’s just that it’s troubling to be staring down the barrel of a 3-game losing streak and our comeback is going to have to start from the defensive end. Offensively we’ve been incredibly efficient in our own right – Pau was near flawless – but it’s never a good idea to assume that’s going to continue – especially against a defensively sound unit like the Bucks.
The Lakers are playing like *%&% on D.
Darius Soriano says
BTW, I blame my expert fantasy choices for some of these hot nights of late. On my two teams I’ve got Nash and Jennings, on another I have Jason Richardson.
Jeremy, I’m with you the whole myth that the Cavs had no help around him was ridiculous, Lebron actually had more talent that was better suited for him in Cleveland last year than he does in Miami right now.
Not a great start to this half, no sense of urgency.
Darius – I think we might need to ban you from fantasy basketball in the future. Clearly you’re just stocking up on Laker-killers!
A little late to the party, looks like this will be another high scoring game, that is not good.
3rd break that fish has blown thus far, by my count
Odom has done a solid job defending Bogut since he switched onto him.
Now if only we could get Dirk Nowitski out of Drew Gooden’s body.
Is it just me or are Milwaukee getting a lot more of their baskets off assists than we are? It sure feels like it.
wtf @ the technical?!
So getting knocked the ground is a technical now? What the hell is wrong with the league?
Even the Buck announcers are saying “i’m not really sure what that was for”
what on earth was that T for..ball dont lie!
Worst technical foul call ever
make-up call on Salmons for the Kobe T
Where is Ron-Ron?
This run post-tech is what will win games. Better D, drawing fouls, knocking in FTs.
I like that.
I don’t think its a coincidence that the Lakers went on a run when Dirk Gooden went to the bench.
Has the league considered what exactly the ramifications would be if one its big stars (kobe, lebron, wade, Garnett etc) were to have to miss a finals or critical playoff game because of this stupid rule?
verrrry debatable blocking call on Blake
ok I want to see the Lakers come out with a belly full of fire and hold the Bucks to under 19 in the 4th Q
Excellent 3rd Quarter. Now let’s see if we can hold on & not blow this lead, ala Denver last Thursday night.
Bench is holding serve at the start of the 4th, to make Kobe not have to be the hero. This is what you did not see last year
is Ron in the doghouse, his minutes been down all season and tonight ebanks and walton have got burn
I love Shannon’s game, I can’t get enough of the kid
I really miss Brandon Jennings’ high top fade.
SB might be earning himself Vujacic money this offseason
how is that a flagrent???
So, we’re playing… Hack-a-Bogut?
Let Shannon Shoot!
He’s earning those crunch time minutes!
59, if he keeps up this level of performance, I wouldn’t mind giving him the $15M/3yrs Vujacic deal. Just make sure there’s some non-guaranteed money in there.
Shannon Brown continues his great playing this year
Does anyone else think that the sky is the limit for Shannon? He’s young and so athletic he has the potential to improve year after year and become the heir to Kobe’s SG throne on this team.
@65 – He has the work ethic, attitude and athleticism. And a pretty good SG teacher.
Shannon Brown. Damn.
Loving his work.
ok 3 more pts (115) should do it. Let’s end this
edit – Lamar for 2, 1 more
Shannon Brown from downtown! I like the ring of that, how about all of you?
Ok, can officially exhale now. Anyone else amused that the Fox Wisconsin guys continually calling us one of the best defensive teams in the league though?
just magic says
gotta give credit to shannon’s summer workout and training. big improvement with actual game time results (unlike sasha). props to shanwow.
70, yeah they have been complimenting the lakers through out. I was thinking to myself “these guys are pretty good announcers”
A road win against a playoff team by 11. Pretty good
69. sT: “Shannon Brown from downtown! I like the ring of that, how about all of you?”
Sounds good. Similar to Downtown Freddie Brown who played with the Supersonics years ago.
Is this the same commentary team that yelled out “miss it!” on Kobe’s game winner last season?
Not going to call them good announcers in a hurry! In another recent game, one of them mentioned Brad Lohaus as a great forward who could shoot like a guard.
I’ll take the W pretty good win, still I would like to see more defensive consistency. 107 points is still just too many, I’d like to see them give up 94-96 because I realize the Lakers will be averaging the high 100’s in scoring.
The Dude Abides says
From what I saw of that first half, the team’s defensive effort was much better. It’s just that Jennings gives Fish the same problems that Aaron Brooks does in that he’s lightning quick AND can hit from three. Because of that, we have to help a lot, and then you have Drew Gooden?! hitting stepback threes and long twos. The Bucks were unconscious on their jump shots in the first half. At one point, they were 19-27 from the floor, with the vast majority of their shots being 18 feet out and beyond, many of them contested. Even Bad Porn was hitting his long jumpers in the first half, but their whole team cooled off in the second, as expected.
Who the hell is Bad Porn?
It is kind of funny, but I am going to start benching Ron-Ron, and start ShanWOW in my fantasy leagues now, I guess that is good, at least as far as my fantasy stats go.
Darius Soriano says
There will be a bit of a delay with the recap as I’m re-watching the game as we speak. Didn’t get a clean look at it the first time through and since I missed the 1st half to begin with, I need the review.
The Dude Abides says
Bad Porn = Corey Maggette
When he played for the Warriors, the Golden State of Mind bloggers criticized his style of play, always going to the basket with his head down and never passing: “Sure, there’s a lot of penetration and scoring, but are you truly happy with what you’re seeing?” 🙂
Best NBA nickname, IMO.
Craig W. says
At least some of you got to listen to the Bucks announcers. After you have heard Stu and his sidekick about four times, you have heard all the comments they are going to make. Everything is just a repeat from there on out. I am completely bored by their commentary and it is only 11 games in.
I am glad this is the Lakers and quite a few game will be broadcast on ESPN and TNT – I at least get to listen to different announcers.
How about starting a “Give us Spiro Dedes” bandwagon for the TV crew?
Downtown Shannon Brown rocked it out for my fantasy team tonight. Big ups!!
Thanks for the green Laker info, Igor. I found a custom youth Kobe jersey in green trimmed with purple. Sacrilegious, but perfect for what I need.
I echo Craig’s sentiment when it come to Joel and Stu. No insights as to strategy and sooooo boring. I’d take Spiro and Mychal Thompson in a heartbeat. Listening to Stu without Chick around makes you realize just how good Chick really was.
85, I don’t know what you’re smokin’ but it just shows that you never watched the game.
The 3-pointers were 10-of-16 (63%) and our FG was 42-of-78 (54%).
Mark, 85 was trying to tell you those were Kobe’s stats for the season.
Darius Soriano says
Game recap is up.