Right now, with the roster that they have at their disposal, the Lakers’ margin for error is thin when they’re facing a good team. A team like the Chicago Bulls, for example. So when the Lakers commit too many turnovers, get away from what works on offense for long stretches, and can’t win the battle of the boards or the scrums for 50/50 balls, a loss becomes more and more likely. Tonight, that’s exactly what happened as the Lakers fell to the Bulls 88-84.
The game started out well with the Lakers taking command early by executing their offense with crisp precision. The ball went into the post and players were cutting and getting rewarded with textbook passes for easy buckets. Players were setting good screens and working together to create the good shots within the flow of the offense. On defense, they stuck to their game plan to make the Bulls a jumpshooting team by collapsing the paint when Derek Rose had the ball and helping on the screen actions off the ball. All these factors allowed the Lakers to take a 22-12 lead at the end of the first period.
But after that point, it all went downhill. In the second quarter, the Lakers reserves came and the execution suffered. Passes got sloppy. Shots stopped falling. Rather than make the simple play by moving the ball on to the open player, the Lakers began to try and create off the dribble to create offense. The Lakers’ misses then allowed the Bulls to push the ball in transition, putting pressure on the road team to defend the speedy Bulls guards in the open court. This collapsed the Lakers’ D and allowed the Bulls shooters (especially Kyle Korver) to get open shots. Slowly but surely, the pace of the game began to shift in Chicago’s favor and the Lakers suffered because of it. By the time that halftime came, the Lakers had given up their entire lead and actually trailed by 4 after 24 minutes.
In the 2nd half, the game again settled down to a tempo that suited the Lakers better, but the Lakers ability to knock down shots abandoned them. Attempts to run the offense through the post were successful, but any shots outside the paint just wouldn’t fall. On the night, the Lakers only made 3 of their 13 attempts from downtown and a simple examination of the shot chart for the game shows that the Lakers didn’t fair much better on their long two point attempts either.
Meanwhile, the Bulls carried over their improved shooting from the second quarter and also started to better execute their offense against a Lakers’ D that was trying to do the right thing, but just couldn’t get the job done as they didn’t execute well enough on the back end of the play. On some possessions the Lakers showed well on the P&R, only to be beat by an excellent pocket bounce pass to the roll man as the weakside defense rotated late. On other possessions the Bulls went into the post to Carlos Boozer and were then beat when he made good passes to open shooters as the Lakers’ defense overreacted on his drives and over helped on his straight post ups. And on every other possession, Derrick Rose played like the phenomenal player that he is. Countless times he created something out of nothing by going by a Laker defender or hitting an obscene jumper against the shot clock or getting out in the open court to create an easy (for him, at least) basket. On the night he finished with 29 points and 9 assists and heard MVP chants from his home crowd.
In the end though, this game resembled so many of the other recent Lakers’ losses. The Lakers shooting isn’t what it was to start the season and their big men tire down the stretch. This leads to poor offensive execution and too many defensive possessions where interior rotations are slow (or non existent) and defensive rebounds aren’t corralled. Tonight, Pau Gasol had a good statistical line (9-15 from the floor, 21 points, 8 rebounds) but played another 45 minutes and tired down the stretch. After getting some good looks inside at the beginning the game, Kobe became more reliant on his outside shot to the tune of a 9-23 line to get his 23 points. You add all of this to the fact that Blake, Brown, Artest, and Fisher shot 4-21 from the field and it’s a recipe for another loss as the Lakers just couldn’t put up enough points to keep pace with a Bulls team that got hot in the middle portion of the contest and then held on down the stretch.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the Lakers don’t have all their pieces and it’s severely affecting their ability to win games. Missing Bynum and Ratliff is just taking its toll. In order to compensate for these guys being out, the remaining front court players are either pacing themselves in preparation of playing heavy minutes or expending too much energy to keep games close and tuckering out at the end. The Lakers guards appear to be pressing a bit more and their accuracy from the field suffers for it. Sadly though, there just isn’t an answer until the team gets healthy. This team is just going to have to take its lumps now, and then start to hand out some beatings of their own when they’re physically able to. I understand that it’s a frustrating way to go through this stretch of the year, but it’s the truth. This team is still talented enough to win games and keep the others competitive with the ability to make a closing push. But in the end, they show the wear on their tires and can’t pull out the win. Again, the margin for error is just thin. Yes, there’s reason for concern and of course we’d all like it to be different. But the sky isn’t falling, the circumstances are just not on the Lakers side right now. We’ll see if they can turn the game in their favor when they continue this road trip in Jersey on Sunday.
Why is no one talking about Ron. 2 points and 3 for 19 last 2 games. Now shooting 35% which is the worst for any starting forward in the NBA. At least Rambas was smart enough to know he couldn’t shoot. Ron is just bone stupid and keeps throwing up garbage. When your point guard gets out scored 29 to 5 and your forward is the worst in the league it’s no wonder this team is a 4th or 5th seed in the West.
Ron Artest is killing this team and Phil needs to wake up before this team who has only beat one team with a winning record end up out of the playoffs. This guy planevstinks and also gets one or two rebounds a game.
“but the Lakers don’t have all their pieces and it’s severely affecting their ability to win games”
All the more reason to actually run the offense.
Ken, Mr. complainer is back! I am loving it! lol
Excuses, excuses. Lakers have had the easiest schedule of any top 10 team. Five teams with winning records. Utah-loss. Denver- loss. Suns-loss. Bulls- loss and Bulls a win. What’t the excuse for that? One game in the last 2 weeks over 100 points. What’t the excuse for that. What happens against Dallas, Spurs, Ok, Bosten, Orlando, Miami? This would be a 500 team if they played top teams. When your starting forward is shooting 35% and your point guard is getting outscored 3 to 1 you not a good
team. Start Barnes and Blake and the excuses will go away. If you are waiting for the Mr. World Cup to save you are in denial. We have bigger problems problems then people will admit.
4 – “If you are waiting for the Mr. World Cup to save (the Lakers) you are in denial.” Truly.
Bynum has played 150 of 269 possible games since 2007 (56%). He ain’t the answer. To borrow a phrase from Aaron, people are in love with the idea of Bynum. The reality of Bynum ain’t so hot.
Darius Soriano says
All I see is complaints about losses and not any reasons to really explain what’s going on. Those that say that Bynum ain’t the answer, okay. But can you explain why he shouldn’t be looked at as at least part of the solution? I’m serious. Blame Fisher or Artest all you want. But if you really think they’re the problem you’re focus is much too narrow and it seems that you only focus on things that *go* wrong rather than *what’s actually* wrong.
Said another way, do you really think that the successes of Fisher or Artest is what drives this team to victory? If so, which team have you watched in the last three seasons? The Lakers biggest advantage and their biggest reason for winning is their combination of Kobe AND their vaunted front court rotation that allows them to play big (Bynum/Pau), long and quick (Pau/Odom), or a combination of both (Bynum/Odom) and do so without ever wearing out any one player because of the versatility and ability to spread out the minutes of those players. To ignore that the front court rotation hasn’t been available to the Lakers is not only foolish, it’s disingenuous; it’s acting like it doesn’t matter. What thinking fan would come to that conclusion. Really.
I’m not saying that the Lakers are playing perfectly and that all they’re missing is Bynum. The bench is up and down right now. The overall shooting of the team has trended downward since the hot start. The defense is spotty. But, again, doesn’t Bynum help with some of that? Use your heads and go beyond your frustration. Oh, sorry, I forgot. Lakers fans would rather just be dissatisfied with all the losing and find someone to blame. Proceed with killing Ron and Fisher.
Darius Soriano says
Please bring something new to the table besides Kobe’s shooting statistics. It’s an uninformed way to look at the game to come back here night after night, cite his statistics while openly admitting you didn’t watch the game and then tell us that’s why a game was won or lost. There are plenty of other places that comments like that pass for analysis. This place is not one of them.
Nice game wrap-up Darius. I regret now drafting Artest ahead of Beasley in the fantasy league now, but at the time I thought I knew what I was getting. Beasley had been unproven until this breakout year for the #2 draft pick, I am happy for him though. I missed the game again, but I think this quote might fit in tonight. BTW, I do think when Bynum our 7 foot, 280 lb true Center comes back, the rotations will be back to normal and we will be winning games like tonight.
“What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth.” – Jewish Proverb
I agree with you Darius, but the team’s injuries are injuring me as well. My brain and heart can’t take much more of this abuse. 🙁
@#10 Your talk of food is making me hungry. Go make me a club sammich, k thx.
A few thoughts:
Bynum: I agree with both camps, actually. Bynum does matter, a lot. Even at about 50%, he mattered in 2009 and 2010. But they can’t count on him and like someone said yesterday, after three surgeries, we don’t know how he will be moving. Ratliff is 37 years old. I know the team is miles over the cap and tax, but they may need to try to get another functional big.
HCA: Pierce said before the season that Boston was going for HCA. Between Pierce’s mouth and Miami, I thought it was a joke. It is not a joke now. HCA matters, and Gasol’s ridiculous workload shows Phil knows this. The problem is the team is losing anyway, so killing Gasol isn’t helping.
Last night’s MPG:
As bad as Artest has looked on O, I thought and still think Phil should have handled this by going small and using Artest at the 4. If Phil really cannot bring himself to give Caracter 10 MPG, then I think Artest–starting Sunday–should get another 8 MPG and Pau should go 37-38. 12/14, I assume Bynum will get 10-12 MP and then that number will go up. But I think one reason the offense looks so bad is that Pau is gassed at crunch time.
Looking ahead: two key things to remember about the playoff picture:
1. The schedule,with no back-to-backs, helped the Lakers and will again.
2. The matchups spun the Lakers’ way last year. They missed Dallas, which has Dirk + Haywood and now Chandler. They missed San Antonio; they missed Portland. They got all the teams that were weak at the 4/5 until Boston and then Perkins missed Game 7. I am not taking anything away from they accomplished, but we need to remember these things in evaluating them–both the plusses and the minuses. This is not a superteam.
As to the issues Darius focuses on—offensive and defensive execution–I agree, but that is also a function of matchups and opponent.
Chris D says
I understand #10’s frustration as its something I think we’ve all talked about to some degree, but I’m with Darius on this one. Especially having watched last night’s game, the story was the same as it was against Denver, Phoenix, Utah, Indiana Memphis and Houston – the Lakers going away from what worked in the first half, falling into a whole and make a faux attempt at comebacks. Our problems are much larger than statistics (or Bynum’s return for those who harp on it). The main problem is execution on both sides of the ball. Offensively, there is too much dribbling and individuality and less ball movement, cutting and a few players seem to be hesitant about taking a good look (i got my eye on you, Ron). I understand sometimes the shots don’t fall, but it seems the less they fall, the more the guys keep firing away. Especially against a speedy, fast break team led by D. Rose, that leads to long rebounds and easy baskets in transition.
Defensively, we aren’t much better. Too many times Kobe, Barnes and Artest were beaten off the dribble or worse, they left their man with too much space. Chicago have good shooters (at least in Korver) to make anyone pay. I know Pau is worn out after playing so many heavy minutes in the last month, but for heaven’s sake, he need to put a body on someone and stop allowing easy offensive rebounds. I remember one particular play when Derrick Rose came from nowhere to scoop up a missed shot, and Pau didn’t even pretend to attempt a rebound. These extra possession really do count for a lot (think Game 4 of the 2010 Finals) and you would think an experienced team like this would know this enough.
This, in a nutshell, is our biggest problem and not so much numbers of missing personnel, although they are part of the equation. The truth is, all seven games we lost could easily have been won. We have yet to lose a game by 10 or more points, many of these losses coming by 5 or 6. The numbers are roughly the same for said games. The guys need to go back to running the offensive sets, rotate to their man better than they have and collapse the paint better. When we do all that, I think we’ll be able to manage injuries better.
I didn’t get home from work until late, so I didn’t get to see the game until the last six minutes and when I turned it on the Lakers were down 82 to 69….
A couple things I noticed from that point on.
1. The Lakers were going for the home-run pass in the paint almost every time – trying to force it between two or three guys to Pau or Odom after losing their dribble. A couple of times it worked and was pretty to watch, but once the Bulls caught on and played a pretty strong zone for the last 3 minutes, that play resulted in a turnover.
2. For being down 13 with four minutes to go, they were running the offense extremely slowly. After misses there was no attempt to run up the floor and get an easy basket, and most of their plays too nearly all of the 24 second clock. When time is your enemy you have to try to use a little less and score a little quicker.
3. D-Rose his a monster shot with about forty five seconds left that iced the game after some pretty stellar lakers D for 23 seconds on the shot clock. Thats what good players do in this league and credit to him for making it. When they do make that shot, shake their hands, say good game, and prepare for the next one.
4. Like I said, I didn’t watch Q’s 1-3, but blaming Kobe would be foolish. Everyone wants the offense run through Pau, but noone can seem to explain why Pau moves to get the ball so little. The easy stuff Pau gets comes of dribble drives from Kobe, and right now he seems less confident is his 15-18 footer.
5. It shouldn’t be surprising that the Lakers can’t shoot – we couldn’t shoot last year and historically players dont become that much better at shooting three pointers, especially what we saw from Shannon in the first few weeks. What Shannon had looked automatic, but now the 2nd time through the round robin teams are sticking closer to him, quick doubling Pau on every play, and daring us to win with 18 footers. Lakers have to adjust, as Im sure they will at some point.
6. Stop freaking out. The Lakers did this last year – not just at the end of the season but in December after losing the X-mas day game. Basketball is a game of ebb and flows, right now the Lakers are ebbing, and just gotta make sure they are flowing at the right times later in the season. It wouldn’t hurt however, to get another big body aside from Bynum in the lineup though, just so our bigs have some hard fouls to use.
well here’s yet another darn statistic: SBrown, 18m/0-4 for 0p/-11
the team seems to be showing some age now; another year older and deeper in DE Bilious Twilight
John Morris says
I just looked at the box score trying to figure this one out but what I saw was untimely turnovers by the Lakers (which they paid for on the other end), some offense droughts by LA and a combination of defensive lapses by LA. Also Rose had some clutch shots down the stretch to keep the Lakers from rolling onto a comeback victory.
Shannon couldn’t seem to get anything going tonight. A few buckets from him or Blake could have been the difference although, on nights when they are struggling offensivley, I’d like to see them settle into their offense to try to create the easiest shots possible and keep the other team from getting out in transition.
On to NJ. Do they give Farmar his ring tomorrow night?
I was wondering when the negative comments would start coming. I guess this game opened the door…
I am not enough of an X and O guy to back this up, but I wonder if Artest is struggling because he is basically the 4th option. Issue one is that he doesn’t get the ball enough to find his rhythm or groove. Issue two is that his game overlaps a lot with LO’s. Issue three is that he is not comfortable with the triangle (and may never be). He really seems to want to do the right thing, but is struggling to find his place. (I am curious to see if Bynum’s return frees him up a bit, in that he won’t be playing with LO as much).
I also noticed what CDog pointed out, that several Lakers seemed to be going for the spectacular pass last night. Several balls were just thrown away. Not sure if that is a result of player boredom or laziness or what.
Finally, I think the Lakers are really struggling to find their identity right now. They don’t look comfortable as a team and I am not sure why. I wonder if they don’t all feel a little too much pressure from the weight of expectations.
Last night was as good as any night to allow Artest more minutes at the 4 to get some rest for Pau. With an undersized Boozer, Artest would have been able to use his muscle in the paint. Pau minutes are high and yet the outcome has not been W’s(whats the point of driving him into the ground).
Even with a healthy Bynum coming back Wed.the team cant continue to play accordingly and expect to win. The offense was off the charts at the beginning of the season and the defense was suspect. Now LA’s offense has slowed down and the defense isnt better creating a perfect recipe for losing basketball. Chicago is a good team in the East who should challenge for the Eastern crown with the likes of Boston, Orlando, and MIami. Lossing to them on the road is nothing to be ashamed of, its the effort for a full 48 minutes that the players should be ashamed of.
chris h says
here’s a new persepctive
stop blaming the team and players…
the REFS cost us this game. (actually, I am serious)
2 plays, back to back were enough to be game changing.
1) Ron’s steal and breakaway that should have been called a clear path, resulting in our taking the ball out of bounds rather than 2 free throws and the ball, a possible 4 point play.
2) the very next play, pau caught the ball in the paint and was whistled for a 3 second call, both pau and PJ were shocked at this call, so I have to assume it was a bad call, result turnover.
we were down 6 when Ron made that steal, with about 3 minutes to go. i could have seen it tied up, and the momentum switching back to the Lakes, as CDog said, we were down by 13, and cut it to 4 at one time, clearly we were fighting our way back into this game.
also let’s not forget Ron’s stellar Defensive plays, remember the 2 steals from Blake Griffin against the Clips, he has other value other than O.
Darius Soriano says
You can keep talking Bulls here or on the next thread, but a new post is up.
Tai Chi says
“Ron’s steal and breakaway that should have been called a clear path”
I couldn’t believe that call. According to the commentators, it wasn’t going to count as a clear path foul as he wasn’t fully in control of the ball – but the reason he wasn’t fully in control of the ball was because Noah was holding onto his arm!!! What on earth would count as a clear path foul if that wasn’t one?!?
Bulls fan here: good article, but please spell Rose’s name right. It’s Derrick… not Derek
Darius Soriano says
#23. My fault. So used to typing Fisher’s first name, that I consistently misspell it when it’s different than his. I’ve fixed it.
I sometimes wish that Phil would just make the changes and start Blake and Barnes. Then, if the Lakers record gets worse or stays the same, what will the complaints be about?
Derrick Rose’s clutch shot in the fourth quarter was good even though Fisher was trailing him well the entire play. Fish did make him work for it.
Artest is our defensive guy. When we signed him last year, we wanted him as our defensive guy. So why are the complaints about his shooting? Yes, he takes shots, but he’s supposed to take shots if he’s open. Same with Fish. Same with Brown. Same with Blake. If he doesn’t shoot it and just sits there and makes a pass, then the opposing team can just relax off of him and play everyone else, and then the complaint will be that Pau should pass it out of the double team.
I swear we had the same complaints last year. Fisher sucks. Artest sucks (we shouldn’t have traded Ariza). Sure, switch them out. That has to be the way to fix the team.
As I said last year, in Phil Jackson I trust.
Not that there isn’t anything to complain about. There is something off about this team but I haven’t seen that beautiful offense as much. One of the things I love about watching the Lakers is guessing where the next cut will be or where the next option is. I feel I’ve watched this offense for the last ten years, read Tex’s book, so I would like to think I can read this offense pretty well. But it hasn’t been as pretty this year. Or maybe just the games I’ve been watching haven’t been as pretty.
The Bulls were sloppy themselves, and just missing shots until about midway through the 2nd quarter. They got back into the ballgame and erased the Lakers lead pretty easily.
The Lakers schedule is starting to balance itself out with more away games and better opponents. There early season schedule was the softest in the league, and I think their domination exaggerated their greatness.
I also think that their age is going to be a factor come playoff time. Maybe it won’t have much of a factor, but I think it will effect their ability to stay healthy and rested.
You asked why us doubters feel “Bynum ain’t the answer”. In part, because he’s played only 56% of possible regular season games since 2007. Not to mention, 0% of possible regular season games in 2010. (Let’s hope that’s not a trend, but is there any reason to think it isn’t?)
In addition, of those games he’s played, many times he’s been less than fully effective due to injury or working himself back into the lineup, figuring out how to play with Gasol, ect.
I hasten to add that I hope I’m wrong, wrong, wrong!