Wow, that game was uuuuuuugly. There were fouls, turnovers, sloppy play, and a boatload of missed free throws, with the Lakers coming out with a solid 93-84 win. Considering the last time these two teams played, the Lakers got blown out 104-85 at home, I feel comfortable calling this win “solid.” There were a lot of things that went right, and a lot of things that went wrong…
Things that went right
1) Three Point Shooting
I was tremendously glad to see some solid three point shooting out of the Lakers after what seemed like an eternity of jacking up bricks. Ron Artest (surprisingly) led the way going 3-6 from downtown, and would’ve had a much better percentage had he not thrown up some highly ill-advised off-balance, off-the-dribble, sideways three pointers. Fisher also had a strong shooting night, going 2-3 from three and 4-7 overall. With Shannon, Lamar, and Blake chipping in one three apiece, the Lakers managed to finish 8-16 from beyond the arc.
Despite some fairly lackluster play to start the 1st quarter, the Lakers managed to really key in defensively and push the Grizzlies into bad spots. Gasol, Odom, and Bynum managed to contain Zach Randolph, one of the more efficient scorers in the league, and hold him to 8 points on 2-14 shooting. They also contained Marc Gasol to 5-14 shooting, another one of the league’s most efficient scorers. And while Mike Conley had an excellent start to the game, going 3/3 for 7 points, the bigs, along with Blake and Fisher, managed to hold him to only 2-9 shooting the rest of the game.
The Lakers got their hands in passing lanes, causing 15 turnovers, with each Grizzly starter giving up at least two. Against a very good offensive rebounding team like the Grizzlies, forcing turnovers let the Lakers take possessions away from the Grizzlies without having to battle for rebounds. Even though the Lakers didn’t get many fast break points off turnovers, not giving the Grizzlies the opportunity to get offensive rebounds was probably an even bigger plus.
Things that went wrong
Horrendous Free Throw Shooting
You’d think that Kobe going 7-7 from the line would mean our free throw percentage would be at least 75-80%. But nope, the other Lakers had different plans for us this night, going a collective 14-28 from the line, giving the Lakers an overall line of 21-35, or 60%. Artest and Gasol led the way with 4 bricks apiece from the line, but Odom and Bynum were right behind them with 3 bricks each. Seriously guys, just make your f’ing free throws. If you had, this game would’ve been over by the start of the 4th.
Giving up Easy Points
As I mentioned before, the Lakers were lucky they forced a bunch of turnovers, because the Grizzlies were rushing the offensive boards. While they had only 14 offensive boards, it was those boards in the late 3rd and early 4th quarters that really kept the Grizzlies in the game. And as usual, teams that can run on the Lakers tend to get lots of fast break points. When Memphis pushed the ball, they were able to spread the floor and get into the paint before the Laker bigs could get set on defense, to the tune of 15 fast break points to the Lakers three. And this differential probably would’ve been larger had the Lakers not given up a lot of fouls to prevent easy scores.
Still, this game was a solid win, on the road, against a very good home team (the Grizzlies are 16-8 at home). While the real test may be coming up next against Boston, these past few games seem to have the Lakers pointed in the right direction.
Boston just lost tonight, so pretty much they are due for a better game and the Lakers are about due for a letdown. I hope I jinks myself
Something about seeing “Zach Randolph” and “one of the more efficient scorers in the league” in one sentence just makes me cringe. Did he really turn over a new leaf in Memphis?
About Kobe’s ability to finish at the rim discussed in previous post:
It should also be taken into account the influence his unhealthy fingers play in his ability to finish. When driving into traffic contact is inevitable, it is vital to have a good grip on the ball.
When Stu and Joel have the Carl’s Jr X-Mo on some of Kobe’s nice and 1s, I have noticed occasionally he bobbles the ball, some how gains control, and throws it up and in.
The way his fingers are deformed slightly and the amount of tape he wears, it is truly sustained effort and dedication by Kobe to rewrite his muscle memory for controlling the ball while dribbling or shooting.
Nevertheless, reduction in hops also plays a major role in the ability to finish.
dave m says
Kind of a win that went bump in the night? The Lakers wanted this one and it’s nice to see the effort. Plus, the look on Artest’s face after Marc hit him. I get the feeling some stuff’s gonna build up this trip, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a swing at somebody. Maybe Garnett.
He had to run away from Marc before he blasted his ass. Ron Ron may have not lost his edge, he’s just fighting real hard to keep that beast within himself. Like when grabbed the guy’s neck in a confrontation a month ago, the beast within is only a hard foul away.
This game was in my mind a good win on the road against a team that has given LA problems in the past. The game as a whole there was not much consistency, but it was good to see the team get it together in the 4th quarter for the W.
4. dave m
I saw that look from Artest as well, and I think its about time the team got angry and wanted to force its will upon an opponent. The effort is there, its the execution and willingness to focus at the task at hand. If that means throwing elbows at KG’s ribs in a polite way, Im all for it.
John Morris says
Thank Lamar for hitting those threes to spark that late run the put Memphis to bed in the 4th. They wouldn’t have even been there if they would have made 80% of their free throws.
My week will be made if the Lakers can go take (not steal) a win in Boston.
Craig W. says
Speaking of focus; we fans can only focus on the next opponent and we measure the entire season on how we played against the last opponent.
No team improves by quantum leaps. It is always a process – a bit here, a bit there. We are getting tougher on defense, while our offense is a bit stagnant because of the banging. When preparing to play Boston this is not a bad development – see the 7th game of the finals last year.
8. Craig W.
The defense is definitely picking up as the season progresses. Now if the team can control the defensive glass and stop allowing teams all those second and third opportunities off of offensive rebounds. Defense will carry this team and any other team that makes it deep in the playoffs come spring.
4,5, & 6 – Ron is still scary – I think he really wanted to pop Illgaskus (sic) during the XMas game.
Per Chris Broussard: Lakers had preliminary discussions with Nuggets about Carmelo Anthony.
People just looking for things to write about. I’d imagine all 29 teams have had “initial” discussions about getting ‘Melo. I don’t think it’s a good move at all and I don’t think many of you would disagree with me. Our advantage is our big guys, we all know this.
Joe A says
Agreed, not a good move (if it is the only move). But, the addition of Melo would necessitate moving an SF. If Artest could be traded for a serviceable, defensive-minded big, might not be so bad in the long run? Lamar, Kobe, Melo and Pau would basically be unguardable, despite the fact that they may not provide a tenacious defensive presence. But let’s not kid ourselves, we don’t have that now.
Igor Avidon says
Probably just Nugs trying to get some leverage. Food for thought – Phil won 6 titles without a single great big man, but with 2 amazing wings. I’m sure Lakers would consult him if he thought he could get the same out of KB/Melo as he did from MJ/Scottie.
I agree this is unlikely. But, that said, the Lakers will take this deal if they can get it. Yes, Bynum is extremely valuable when he plays, but given his deli-sized menu of injuries, why wouldn’t they take an all-NBA second teamer in his prime who would likely consent to a long-term deal? Given the glut of small forwards, they could then make another move to get a serviceable back up center and they’d still be plenty long with Odom and Gasol. In fact, the starting 5 would be significantly longer (Melo is 6’8″). And, though Anthony wouldn’t lock down the middle like Bynum, he is averaging the same number of rebounds (though in more minutes) and would fit in well with the modified defensive scheme the Lakers are trying to implement.
It’s tough for any team to get a player as good as Anthony, and smart management will take the perennial all-star over the kid who might someday become a perennial all-star (if he can ever make it through more than 50 games) any day. If nothing else, Carmelo’s trade value is far greater than Bynum’s, and if Mitch is serious about rebooting this team, he will do it.
The problem is, Denver won’t.
If LA was getting production out of Theo, like Chicago is with K.Thomas, this trade might make sense. A trade with Bynum involved would make the front court a little too thin with this current roster. Love what A.B. brings to the table, cant teach size, on any given night. But the reality of his injury history(knees) has to be thought of in a long term point of view and not short term. I am not one for a shake up of this team in the middle of the season, so I have to say no and wish that all of this would have happened before the season started.
Ric Bucher just reported that last week the Lakers talked to the Bobcats about trading Artest for Stephen Jackson or Gerald Wallace, except that talks broke down when they learned Artest didn’t want to leave.