If I could recap this game in one word, it would be frustrated.
Fans are frustrated with a home loss that the Lakers could have used to build on their back to back wins over Dallas and Portland.
The coaches were clearly frustrated by their players’ lack of effort on defense and their casual approach on offense.
The players were frustrated by the physicality of the Grizzlies, where tough defense and a patient approach on offense must have seemed like a turn in the torture chamber.
Frustrated. Everyone is feeling it right now.
Save for the Grizzlies of course. Give the blue bears credit in this game. They played harder and smarter than the home team. Rudy Gay paced his ‘mates with 18 points on 14 shots on mostly disciplined attacks off the dribble. He used his quickness advantage over Artest to get below the foul line and shoot turnaround jumpers that Ron tried to contest but couldn’t fully get to. OJ Mayo poured in 12 points in the decisive 4th quarter on hot outside shooting and strong drives to the rim and his 16 points for the game nearly doubled the output of the Lakers reserves (who tallied all of 9 points on the evening). When you add in Haddadi’s 10 points off the bench and Zach Randolph’s 10 and 12 rebounds from a reserve role, the Grizzlies bench gave their team a spark that the Lakers simply couldn’t match.
From the Lakers end, though, it was truly a lack of effort and commitment that did them in. Yes, some of the players point totals and shooting percentages look nice but when you look closer at the boxscore, you can see the red flags. Bynum had 4 rebounds all game and besides Pau’s 11 defensive boards no Laker had more than 3 defensive rebounds all game. The Lakers committed 16 turnovers, mostly of the lazy and weak variety where they either floated a pass or weren’t strong enough with the ball. Rather than doing work to establish the post or set good screens, the Lakers settled for jumpers or tried to do all their work after having the ball in their hands neither of which were very successful.
But it was the defense that really let the Lakers down. The rim went unprotected. Cutters weren’t bumped. Too many shots went uncontested. When the ball was turned over, too many Lakers watched instead of racing back on D. The result was too many easy shots and on a night where the Lakers couldn’t hit their own open jumpers, they didn’t have the firepower to overcome such poor effort. It got to the point that Mike Brown even sat Kobe in a key stretch of the 4th quarter trying to give his team some life only to bring him back in with under two minutes remaining because that didn’t work either.
And so everyone is frustrated. You, me, the coaches, and the players. But, when you take a step back the realization comes that games like this happen. Some nights the other team comes out hungrier, plays harder, and proves to be better on that evening. Such was the case for the Lakers in this game, just like it was for the Mavs this past Wednesday. Hopefully the team learns from this game and can turn some of that frustration into stronger play.
The Dude Abides says
Well, IMO if Sessions is going to play 35 minutes and we want to maximize our bench play while not sacrificing too much with our starters, we should try Blake with the starters again and replace him with Sessions at the five-minute mark of both the 1st and 3rd quarters. Blake would then re-enter the game for two minutes or so around the mid-point of the 2nd quarter, and for one minute or so around the mid-point of the 4th.
I think Sessions and Barnes should be on the court together as much as possible, with Barnes moving to SG some of the time when MWP re-enters the game at SF. At some point, Blake has to start performing better, or else MB needs to make a change and put Goudelock back in the rotation.
anti Dwyer Abbott says
IMHO,Kobe should at least shoot 23-26 times.Nobody wins anything trying to subdue Kobe.
Dick Bavetta says
Very odd. I attended the Clippers game yesterday, & Memphis had trouble keeping up with Lob City antics.
But tonight the table’s turned, and the Lakers are the stumble-bum punch-drunk team.
If it wasn’t tired/old legs cuz Lakers had the day off yesterday, then was it due to desperation on Memphis’ part?
If Brown wants to start Sessions, then he should bring in Hill and Barnes for Bynum and MWP about six minutes in. Have Sessions and Kobe play the whole first. Bring in Murphy for Pau after 10 minutes.
Then, start the second with Bynum/Murphy/Barnes/Blake/Glock. Bring Sessions/Kobe/Pau/MWP and Hill or McRoberts back after about 4-6 minutes. Give Bynum a quick breather and bring him back to finish the half.
Another option would be to start Barnes, so he gets more time with Sessions.
One other thing about this game: Memphis had Gay and Randolph this time.
This game has officially killed whatever little hope I had for a championship run from this squad. Lack of bench production and absence of cohesion/chemistry will culminate in another early exit this year. Sad.
The Dude Abides says
@6 – I think if our different lineups are optimized, we’re still a championship contender. The first and easiest step toward doing this would be not giving Blake any minutes at backup SG. His three minutes in the fourth quarter at that spot caused us to get outscored 12-3 when his man went off for nine points on 4-4 FG. I also wonder why Hill has not been tried in the regular rotation for any length of time. The guy is one of the better rebounders in the league, and we were killed on the boards tonight for most of the game.
You mean Blake being a minus 17isen’t good and Murphy making 2. 3 points in the past 8 games isn’t good? Well Brown keeps playing them and he would rather have Metta in the game to catch up then Kobe the last 5 minutes.
Jimmy is more interest n cutting payroll then winning. Other teams keep picking up players yet we still have tbe worst bench in the NBA.
No treen in the history of the NBA has ever won a title with the worst bench in the league. And to think we got rid of Wslton and Kapono and we now are even worse.
Who put this team together and actually thought these guys could play? Chances are Lakers could pkay Griz in tbe first round and Pau has been worthless every game against his brother and Allen stops Kobe.
No rings this year.
Lakers w/ Sessions on bench 30, 31, 29, 36
Lakers bench w/o Sessions 6, 9 Nothing else needs to be said. It’s a reason Harden, Terry come off the bench they are NEEDED there. Barnes has not been effective past 2 games as he was the 4 before.
Here part of the problem Bynum thinks he’s better than he is. He swears he Moses Malone but we see Elden Campbell. He’s not hustling anymore he wants his numbers and that’s what he’s playing for.
Brown is playing Kobe 39 mins. per and wonders why he’s shooting 43%. So he benches Kobe to send the message he’s the reason for this deficit is how I interpreted it. When in fact Lakers gave up layup after layup and Bynum was being outplayed by Memphis 5th best big man.
Chaz must be spiking Brown’s drink dude is lost out there.
Mike Brown killed the chemistry & bench production inserting Sessions into the starters unit. Not many post ups tonight way too many PnRs. Pau is living on the perimeter past 2 games.
I think we’ve been frustrated with lineups before, it’s just that MB doesn’t get the benefit of doubt PJ does.
Anyway, MB did get to the finals before, and unless LeBron is such an ubermensch that any idiot of a coach can get him to the finals, he should be given some benefit of doubt at least.
Still, frustration is the word indeed. I don’t see how he doesn’t see what we see – and it’s hard to say that he’s trying every single combination before the playoffs because he’s doing so while running our starters to the ground.
We’ll see though. I’m sure Kobe will speak up when he thinks one of his precious years is about to go to waste because of MB.
And I know I’m not alone when I say I’m tired of seeing Kobe in Iso’s all the time. It’s the coaches job to put his players in best position to succeed. Brown hasn’t been able to do that with Kobe all year. If Brown looks at his stats and sees Kobe is shooting jumpers more times than not he should draw up plays to get him OPEN in those areas instead of catching the ball with the other team’s best defender on his hip. That’s why it’s a struggle watching Kobe in stretches during games because he’s having to work for offense all the time. At his age the offense NEEDS to be working for him.
Way too many post ups, Iso’s, pin downs not enough off ball movement with screens, back cuts. At one point when Kobe was in the post Pau would come over for a screen there’s none of that. Brown needs to give Kobe more than one option when he gets the ball. Give your superstar the option to pass and shoot not just shoot.
We as fans are quite funny. One win shows why we will win a championship. One loss tells us we’re not. :).
Sessions has been promoted to the starting lineup and I doubt he’ll be going back to the bench. Past posts I’ve states that I had no problem with keeping him on the bench because there really is a need for instant offense. But, he’s a starter now and that’s where he is going to stay.
I watched the game leisurely tonight and just didnt see a good energy game from Andrew. Tho I dont have the man crush on drew that Aaron does, but i dont think Laker fans see Elden Campbell. Bynum is head and shoulders above Elden and is considered the 2nd best center in the league, which is where I consider him to be as well. But the defensive effort was not there from him tonight.
Steve Blake and Troy Murphy’s shot just dont have confidence in themselves.
Pau shot horrendously tonight. if he made his shots like he did last wednesday, the Lakes would have opened up a big lead early on. Energy wise his rebounding helped a lot.
Memphis deserves credit for playing well tonight. It is the NBA, so every team has the ability to beat every team.
I dont think this shows that they cant win the championship. We’ll definitely make the playoffs And we’ll see how this team will go from there. And don’t tell me that it cant happen. I know no one outside of Dallas that thought Dallas would beat the Lakes in the Playoffs, and I know everyone picked the heat to win the championship.
Bring on the next game.
Mark Sigal says
Let’s face it. The Lakers are an imperfect team. The case with Sessions is the perfect example. Do you start him, and secure a better offensive flow (and chemistry) between the starting core, or rely on him to anchor the bench, and plan on him closing the game?
I think that given the Lakers holes, you need him coming off the bench. Barnes plays better off the bench when Sessions is part of the second unit, and that feeds a transition game that gets them easy looks.
Here’s where the Lakers not securing a second scorer really hurts them otherwise.
R.R. Magellan says
I just see this: one game.
I was not at home watching this so I didn’t get as close of a look as I wanted to but they did look very lackadaisical. So my concern is that I hope they don’t fall into bad habits when it comes to effort. I’m fine with Kobe going to the bench late; it didn’t bother me as much as it did others. I just want to see effort on both sides of the ball when it’s gametime.
The team is still really good. I just want to see some momentum heading into the homestretch and the playoffs.
Jesse P. says
I think MB is concerned about the team’s defense more than anything. I think that’s the missing piece of this puzzle… and it kills my hope that more than halfway through the season and the team still doesn’t seem to have bought into Brown’s defensive-oriented system.
As far as his rotations…
Not giving Hill playing time (more athleticism/rebounding/defense than Murphy and McRoberts combined) , and playing Blake out of position? Agreed, that doesn’t make sense… especially since Brown is a ‘stats guy’. What kind of stats is he looking at…?
Hmmm? Is Brown scared of taking our incompetent veterans’ minutes? Is he really that much of a pushover?
MarkSigal: I still think this team has championship pedigree only if Sessions is on the bench. I have been one of the few who stated from the start Sessions is better suited as Lakers 6th man. There was a instant 10 point boost upon his arrival.
All these guys could be starting because their the better players but they also finish games.
Ginobli-Spurs, Terry-Mavs, Odom-Lakers, Posey-Celtics, Heat (these guys were difference makers on championship teams off the bench. You need guys like that.) Then you have Harden-Thunder, Battier, Haslem-Heat, Lou Williams-Sixers, Mo WIlliams-Clippers, OJ Mayo-Memphis. All those guys could start.
You need firepower off the bench everyone elite has at least 1 player. Sessions made Barnes better got Murphy open shots and finished games and the cohesion was perfect. Now Brown is toying with lineups trying to find matches when he had it for 4 straight games. Needs to put Sessions back on the bench. Just my logic on the situation.
Maybe its advanced stats, maybe love has been here too long, but the problem is obvious.
The Lakers are the only team with a superstar that does everything to go away from that star.
Since when do you run an offense that doesn’t highlight your best player….who cares if sessions is fast or bynum is tall, you start and end with lobe..win or lose..
Unless….the FO feels like a lot of posters on this board and media members, that bynum and gasol are the lakers strength and not Kobe…then buy him out
This half future, have past nonsense is annoying, if your faith is in bynum give him the keys to the ship. But don’t turn Kobe into John salmons
Kenny T says
People can say or think what they want, but these type of losses reflect back to players knowing and embracing their roles.
Case in point is Andrew Bynum. He scored 30 points tonight with an impressive array of moves….the Dream Shake, turnarounds….heck he even made a three-pointer. And it doesn’t mean a thing because he only played one half of the court. Only 4 rebounds speaks to a piss-poor effort. We saw his poor one on one and help defense.
Other players on the team can score. But Bynum’s height and power are unique on his team and perhaps throughout the NBA. He has got to do a better job of controlling the lane on defense.
i honestly think this team is top 5…its going to be tough and were going to take lumps but sessions has only been a laker for 10 days lets give it a little bit more time
The Dude Abides says
I keep thinking this team could be like the 1995 Rockets after they acquired Drexler in February. They played .500 ball in the regular season after they got him, entered the playoffs as the 6th seed, and won the championship by beating the top three seeds in the West and the top seed in the East.
MB really needs to optimize his lineups, though, and Blake playing SG should not be part of any lineup. I think Barnes and Sessions need to play together as much as possible, with Blake playing 12-14 minutes max. If Brown refuses to use excellent rebounder (and athletic) Jordan Hill in a game where we’re getting killed on the boards, then at least Murphy should get more minutes alongside Sessions, which would probably mean Blake starting. I hate to say that last part, because I said it for several days before MB put Sessions in the starting lineup and I don’t like repeating myself. However, the fact of the matter is that Blake can be hidden more easily with the starters once his minutes are reduced.
I told people on this site that Sessions is better with the 2nd unit. and most of people here said that Sessions SHOULD start. Now, we had saw what happened when Sessions in the starting 5. Bench is really really awful.
Regarding MIke Brown’s coaching, well don’t bash him just because he attended his son’s high school basketball game. Man, he is a FATHER and his son needs hhis SUPPORT. Just blame him for benching Kobe( thats the thing I hated most). Soon, he will realize that he will play Hill and GLock but now he is just looking at the bad side of basketball.
He is also HUMAN, as fans of this basketball team, how can we help MB to make the squad better. Can we say?, can we go to MBs’ office and say to him, “Hey you should play him, blah blah blah)
I know that most people here are frustrated with these things and about what if we traded Blake instead of Fish?. Man, it really doesn’t make sense. The Trade Deadline had gone so why don’t we move on?. We have nothing to do with it and we CAN’T do anything to change it (maybe in the offseason). Remember, Blake was doing well, before his rib injury and we didn’t even praise him. When the time he came back, he is just worst as Fisher. So, what seems to be the problem about him?. We don’t know but Man they are professionals they will know soon how to adjust and maybe Blake is curious if he will still play in this team because Sessions is outplaying him in any category.
This is just one game and I’m not running out of patience. I still think that this team could conquer diversity and this loss will be a source of motivation to win. So, move on to the next game. This is the game and we have this night like this before not just in this season. Not only with Kobe’s era.
From coaches to players they all should take some blame for this frustrated loss. Say, putting Blake on Mayo in crucial 4th Q time and limited court time of Sessions-Barnes pairing that rightfully pointed out by you guys.
What I want to point out here is, while I agree the Lakers offense have much room to improve , this game was lost on the defensive end. We scored 96 pts despite poor shooting and they should be enough to grind out a win IF we could play D as good as early season. When you conceded easy underneath baskets and Offensive rebounds AND 3 on 0 fast break as often as Lakers did in this game, it’s not about running ISO, post-up or PnR. It’s all about DEFENSE that earn MB’s living and gave us margin of error when our offense really struggled in early season. Blown assignments (Blake, Kobe), slow rotation (Pau, Troy), light-hearted effort of fighting , not waiting, for rebounds(All-star center) were everywhere to be seen last night, and it has been quietly developing into a habit for this Lakers team, which really concern me other than adding 1 to the loss column.
Give credits to Memphis though. They outplayed, outcoached and outfought us. A very dangerous team that no one want to face in the playoff. Just hope we can hold them off for the 3rd seed and leave the trouble to OKC in the 2nd round……
chris h says
chemistry isn’t an easy thing to accomplish, (if it was, everybody would just get ’em some)
and it takes time, and patience.
patience is something folks here don’t seem to have.
we win 2 games and we all think we’re guaranteed a championships, Sessions was the key and all we have to do now is win out the season and sweep every team in the playoffs. (don’t laugh, I remember when Magic’s team swept the playoffs in the west, only to lose to the Pistons, because Riley took the team to Hawaii for intense bootcamp, and Scott turned up lame, and we lost Worthy too, then Magic pulled a hammy, the rest as they say is history)
what makes me laugh here is we lost 1 game, and it’s Chicken Little around here, the sky is falling, this team is doomed to an early playoff exit.
relax, this takes time, and there’s still enough time.
in fact, there’s a danger of peaking too early, (and PJ was good at knowing when to push for the momentum).
if we went on a 12 game winning streak, I’d be worried that we are peaking too soon, gotta manage the energy expenditures, pace ourself, work on the game, figure out the little things that will make a difference.
it was just one game, and admit it, on that 12 -0 run, when we briefly had the lead, we were all cheering, fist pumping, shouting Yeah! this team rocks!
Frustration: perfect word to sum up what I & many other Laker fans felt watching that game. While the Lakers have taken a big step correcting their point guard issue, it’s obvious it was worst then we thought. Because the Lakers still need another point guard, whether a starter or sub, is to be determined. Blake has had his opportunities. However, that’s for the off-season.
My question today: what’s up with Bynum? In the last five games, in which the Lakers are 2-3, Bynum is scoring well, averaging 23.2, 5 points above his season avg of 18. However, he’s only averaging 7.6 reb per game (11, 7, 7, 9, & 4), all below his season average of nearly 13 per game. He’s looked less than interested in defense & he’s picked up 3 techs. Time for Coach Brown to get into A.B.’s ear and let him know what time it is. His rebounding & defense can’t be sacrificed for his increased scoring, regardless of the sweet fg%. Personally I prefer A. B.’s line to be closer to 20 pts/ 14 rebs/ 3 blks then 30 pts & 5 rebs.
Snowmass Dave says
It’s spelled E-F-F-O-R-T! I watched most of the Heat-Thunder game prior to the Staples gathering, and the effort put forth by the OKC group was exhilerating and more fun to watch. Granted, the Grizzlies aren’t the Heat, but man was it exciting. The Lakers just aren’t good enough to coast against any team. Pau started the game out like he couldn’t throw a stone into the Pacific Ocean. What really bugged me was how boring the Lakers game against the Grizzlies really was. Where is showtime when you need it? Blake can’t do much of anything … tired of his touches and tired of MB’s always changing rotations. Does this guy really have a plan? Why not use J Hill when our rebounding is soft. Of course, if the guys played hard, we wouldn’t be focused on rotations as much.
Raydiaz@12: I too am amused by the way we move from one extreme to the other, in our appraisal of the team. Not all of us do this, + some have been very “redundant” in stating that we are the “6th” best team overall : )
Dude: I like your 95 analogy, because they are 1 of only 2 teams in the last 31 years to win the title after having a reg season at our proj finish
Drexler? – Are you suggesting Sessions is HOF? : )
On the positive side, at least the Lakers didn’t blow a huge lead last night. Baby steps.
Never a good thing to take the ball out of your best 3 players hands more times than not. Pau & Kobe are rhythm players can’t sit Kobe in the corner for the 1st 6-7 minutes of the game. Brown played Kobe 101 minutes in back to back games he hasn’t been the same since.
Kobe was benched while he was 7-14. Memphis had 52 paint points 14 off. rebounds and Bynum was getting outrebounded by the Grizzles 5th rotation big man. Benching Kobe insinuates he’s the problem when he’s on the floor. Problem is Brown has 2 7 footers, a top 10 player ever and he’s running PnR 70% of the time with someone who’s been a Laker for 6 games. Conley bottled up Sessions last night but Brown kept running PnR keeping Pau on the perimeter instead of putting him on the post.
Lakers have given up 100 pts to opponents 8 of last 14 games.
Trying not to remain frustrated on my birthday so I am going to play golf today. I am drawing the head of a bald guy on each ball so I can hit it harder. Weather permitting. Will that ball be Brown or Blake or should I just write BB on each golf ball?
Maybe I will wait to the 18 hole and instead of using my best club the driver I will play the entire hole with a 2 iron in memory of Brown sitting Kobe 6 of the last 7 minutes!
Bench, Blake, Brown. 3 B’s don’t spell ring!
Happy March 26th.
Enough already about the substitution patterns and who starts and who doesn’t as if all that’s required is to sprinkle a little pixy dust on the situation and everything will be perfect.
Look around Laker fans! it’s an imperfect season for everybody! Practically no one is playing with any degree of consistency.
These are the dog days, too many back to backs, too little time to practice and regroup. I don’t think I’ve watched 5 games all season long that I felt were well played, high quality, NBA games.
As a result the post season is going to be very interesting. Everyone is vulnerable. But the confusion also breeds opportunity.
I don’t see a championship team here unless the Big Three play out of their minds, still their chances for succeeding are better than 90% of the teams out there.
Coach Brown is doing the only thing he can do. Try to build some consistency and cohesion with the little remaining time they have. They aren’t going to be anyone’s top seed anyway.
Kobe will have to dominate offensively and Bynum will have to dominate defensively and on the glass and we’ll see if that’s possible over twenty some odd post season games.
@20 The Dude Abides says it all. Steve Blake should not receive any back SG minutes. OJ Mayo toasted Blake like he was Fisher.
Next note MB will do Fisher a favor and play Blake against him. From a mismatch point of view MB should make sure Fish defends Sessions.
Five games behind SA in the loss column with only 17 to go – makes a 2 seed, pretty much out of the question already. Not that I am taking the 3 seed for granted either mind you : ) Clearly over the past few games – we have “chemistry” + rotation issues. The trades helped talent wise, but overall “right now” – we are not yet a better team + the 3-3 record reflects that.
Man we shouldn’t have traded Walton!
I am not a know it all. Haha. Okay I am. Everyone re watch the game Kibe was benched for defensive reasons. . Bynum shut down Marc Gasol again. The problem with that is that Marc makes Bynum have to guard him and respect his outside shot. That means Bynum is not under the basket defending the lane and grabbing boards. This isn’t rocket science. Andrew was outside next to Marc. Bynum needed to respect Gasol’s great outside shot.
Ha. Hadid scored two points on Bynum (a nifty quick hook) and had a 1/2 a rebound against Drew (Bynum was five feetbaway guarding a PG) Bynum only didn’t grab two rebounds the entire game. One time he tipped it out above the rim where the Grizz grabbed it at the tree point line (Bynum mistake) and the other rebound was grabbed by Gasol after Bynum couldn’t grab it.
The Lakers rotations are fine. They are scoring the heck out of the ball. The defense has been lacking and last night was the perfect team to exploit the Lakers. They had a Center that could make Bynum move out of the paint and nailed to the perimiter to stay with Marc Gasol. As James Worthy said on Sports Central on KCAL… “When Bynum needs to guard perimter centers… Pau needs to do a better job guarding the paint.” The roatations will be much improved when Hill takes over for Murphy/McBob and if Morris/GLock take over for Blake at the back up PG.
Memphis isn’t a bad team – at full strength, they are a formidable out for any team. Keep in mind that the last time we played them, they were without Randolph or Gay. They were also hungrier for a win than we were.
No need to overreact – as others on this thread have said, once we get our rotations straightened out, we should be ok.
As for the Kobe benching, maybe, just maybe, it was Brown thinking that he needed to save Kobe’s legs for the last couple of minutes. I don’t think he was sending any kind of message as much as trying to keep him fresh for the end.
The team has rallied without Kobe on the court before, and if they did this time, we would all be singing Brown’s hosannas.
Nights like this happen – as Darius mentioned. Just file it away and look to the next game.
Ken: I don’t think the issue is with who we traded 🙂
(although I would have preferred Fish over Blake), but rather the issue is with who we “didn’t” receive. We received Sessions, and if that was supposed to be “life changing”, then we had very high expectations.
In a shortened season 66 games in 120 days Brown has played his stars crazy minutes in some stretches:
Kobe has played 40+ minutes in consecutive games 11 times the past 2 years ALL in 2009-2010 season. He’s done that 6 times this year.
Kobe: Consecutive games of 37, 36, 41, 38, 39, 43, 41, 44, 38, 41, 44, 36, 39, 42, 42 ( That’s 40 mins. over 15 games in 26 days). Another streak of 39, 43, 40, 38, 41, 52, 49, 38 ( that’s 42 mins. a game in a 8 games in 12 day stretch). No sensible coach would do something so foolish and one can not argue a logical explanation for this. Look to Mike Brown for Kobe’s struggles.
Bynum: Same stretch for Drew 40, 42, 33, 43, 41, 49, 46, 39 (41 mins per the same 8 games in 12 days). Maybe this is why Bynum has been lackidasical on defense lately. No excuses but those numbers are not ideal.
Also… I was very surprised Mike Brown didn’t put Bynum on the Grizz PFs. He usually does when we are playing a stretch 5 like Marc Gasol. I guess he didn’t feel like Pau could bang with Marc. Usually Brown has Bynum on the other teams PF or C that plays closer to the basket so Bynum can be around the hoop to rebound and block shots. I disagree there with Brown… I’m pretty sure Pau can guard Marc in the post. But maybe not.
lil' pau says
A little distraction from the frustrating loss:
I attended the Lakers open practice (Chalk Talk) yesterday morning featuring Mitch and Mike Brown and wanted to report some things that I think will be of interest. I may add more stuff later, but I have a busy day today and wanted to get a couple of things out there asap. Basically, this was a typical game-day morning shootaround but open to the public (well, to season ticket holders) and best of all, mic’d.
For each practice, Brown puts one of three Asst Coaches in charge– Snyder, Ham or (I think) Kuestner. Today was Snyder, who is the asst with the responsibility of scouting Memphis, along with our old friend Bill Bertka (who was also there and gave a pretty interesting scouting report on Memphis to the fans, basically explaining what he tells Snyder, Brown and the team from watching tons of tape.) The practice began with the defensive strategies specific to that night’s game. Snyder had the team line up A-unit (starters) vs. B-unit (Blake, Goudelock [who he referred to as ‘Lock’], Barnes, Murphy/McBob alternating, Hill). They ran through the ‘8 plays Memphis runs the most’, with different variations for each play. The Lakers’ familiarity with these plays was staggering to me. For example, they ran one play which was designed to result in one of 3 results– to get Randolph the ball down low, to get Gay a good look on the wing, or to get MGasol an open look from the top. The Lakers would run through the play at half speed, with each player reacting to what developed. For example, when the ball was up top for a high PnR, Randolph passed beneath the basket and Bynum would ‘hand him off’ to another player at a particular point. 8 different Memphis plays were run, with maybe 2-3 variations per play and, in every case, all Lakers knew what they were supposed to be doing, both on-ball and off. Brown watched from half-court, saying little, but when he saw something he could improve, he would walk over and quietly make adjustments. My sense is that the players’ ‘got’ what he was doing immediately and they would angle their bodies differently to get the muscle memory set. For each play, the A-unit and B-unit would then switch– offense to defense and vice versa. When the A-unit was on D, Kobe playing ‘center field’ was an obvious part of the formulation here- his movements looked completely different than when other players were defending at the 2 as MB/QS encouraged him to help out much more than any other player and he would often ‘jump off his man’ to help another defender. This was particularly striking at half-speed, or when they would run through the play without a ball.
Again, for each of the 8 major plays, the Lakers seemed to know the play by name, the main variations, and exactly the tendencies of who they were guarding (eg., Snyder would remind the team that XX likes to go left here or YYY doesn’t shoot here but likes to fake the shot and drives, etc.). The players were nodding with obvious recognition. Brown later addressed the fans and said that they have practices like this one on every morning of games whenever they are not coming off a back to back. I think the players were on the floor from about 10:15-11:45 or so.
Offense: the Lakers spent less time on offense, but ran through a number of sets, both with and without defenders. Emphasis seemed to be on developing a high-low game with the bigs– plays frankly i didn’t see much of last night. Again, Snyder did the heavy lifting, with Brown coming over and making adjustments. I should add that Snyder was mic’d and Brown wasn’t, so it was easier to understand what Snyder was saying. After many of the plays, the Lakers would then pair off briefly and discuss one-on-one minor adjustments, usually Kobe and Pau discussing exactly when the pick should come and at what angle Pau should hold his body to allow Kobe to curl around it. Bynum was also a part of these discussions. Again, the players’ understanding of the wrinkles of the offense and the defense was stunning to me– please let’s all consider this before putting up another ‘MB is the worst coach in the world’ post….
Kupchak on Fisher: Mitch was asked extensively about the Fish trade and a # of things came out that I haven’t read before. Mitch said that about 2 weeks before the trade deadline, he sat down with Jim and Jerry Buss (the overwhelming sense I got was that this happened with the 3 of them in the same room) and discussed the possibility of trading Fisher– if that was even an option on the table. He said it was an extremely difficult decision and they went back and forth, but ultimately decided that it was something they would and should do. At that point, it was just a question of getting the right deal. Mitch was asked over and over again if it was a ‘hard’ decision, to which he replied it was very hard but the decision was made 2 weeks prior to the deadline and after that point, they had reconciled themselves to the decision and it was just a matter of finding the right deal. I hope this puts an end to the pointless speculation that some kind of Jerry to Jim baton has passed– it was absolutely clear that both Busses were part of that discussion and, the sense i got, was that the team is being shepherded by Mitch, Jim and Jerry in tandem (obviously, with Mitch executing what they all decide). This also shows that deals are not done in the heat of the moment– they went through the entire roster together with plenty of time to come to terms with a mutually agreed upon strategy, then allowed MK plenty of time to put it in place. Oddly, there were no questions about trading Pau or the aborted CP3 deal, but questions had to be submitted in writing and there is a chance they were excluded. Or not, who knows.
The overall sense I came away with in terms of MB was one of confidence– he didn’t feel the need to play to the crowd or to his team by inserting himself in the action, but gave a huge amt of responsibility to his assistants, then would make surgical adjustments when needed. I hope this provides some interest/reassurance/or at least something.
Edit… My mistake. Not Mike browns fault. The Grizz PF can hit the 20 footer also. So it wouldn’t have mattered. Whoever Bynum was guarding would be moved out to the perimter. It’s the only way to beat the Lakers defemse now. The scouting report is out. You need two bigs that can space the floor to get Bynum out of the paint. It’s the same thing teams try to do with Dwight Howard. Good thing there are only a handful of teams that have two starting bigs that can shoot from the outside.
Sessions has changed the offense. There was no reason to expect him to change the defense; he is not a particularly good defender.
As to whether he should start, the Lakers ORTG in the two games he has started are 113 and 110. In two of the games when he came off the bench it was below 100. It was 123 in Dallas, and that was a bench game. Obviously many factors go into that number.
I do think he needs to be on the court with Barnes as much as possible, and that Brown needs to play Hill.
Good stuff; thanks.
But…the thing with MB is that I think most people see him as a hard worker, a nice guy, and a good practice coach. The issues people have are rotations, game management, and personality management. The playoffs will tell us more.
Magic Phil says
MB is a grat coach?
Hm….so why he didn’t play Ram and Barnes together last night?
Where was the Buss/MK brain trust when they resigned Fisher going into last season? The right decision would have been to not resign Fisher. Go with Farmar, Brown and Sasha to see what young energy may bring to the title defense.
Fisher should have never been resigned. Maybe it was MK’s gift to Phil’s last dance to have Fish. Lakers could have won last year with better PG play on both sides.
BTW, Fisher has the same box score impact with OKC that he did with the Lakers. ZERO. Unfortunately, Blake is as bad, maybe worse.
the other Stephen says
thanks for the post, lil pau!
lil pau, thanks for sharing man!
Treylake, Farmar left two years ago, not last year. Sasha was traded last season. And Shannon is not a PG.
We had one final year under Phil and the triangle. They wanted to keep continuity and a PG who knew the triangle like the back of his hand. We had no cap space to sign any PG of note. We were basically stuck with either giving Fish another deal or essentially having no one. I agree that the deal was too long, but Fish leveraged the FO by flirting with the Heat.
I’d like to see Hill/McBob take the back-up big minutes, with Hill playing the 5, so Pau can stay at the 4. I know Murphy provides more “offense”, but that’s like bragging about your Prius being faster than a smart car. Murphy is a liability on D, he makes Fish look like Westbrook.
Sorry to keep harping on this guys. Sessions on the Bench VS Minnesota
31 PTS 14 REB 8 AST 12-23 FG 4-8 3PT.. Barnes +6 Bench +13
Sessions starts 2nd up 23-19 Kobe checks in Lakers up 38-27. +7 Momentum
VS Utah 30 PTS 13 REB 14 AST 9-24 FG 0-5 3PT… Barnes +7 Bench +20
Sessions starts 2nd down 25-20 Kobe enters the game Lakers up 34-31. + 8 Momentum
VS Rockets 29 PTS 15 REB 5 AST 11-21 FG 3-7 3PT… Barnes +10 Bench +18
VS DAllas 36 PTS 21REB 12 AST 15-29 FG 6-12 3PT… Barnes +23 Bench +52
Sessions starts 2nd down 29-27 Kobe checks in up 38-26. +14 Momentum
Sessions starting. bench VS Portland 13 PTS 13 REB 8 AST 6-16 FG 1-6 3PT… Barnes -2 Bench -2
Blake starts 2nd up 30-21 Sessions checks in up 42-32. +1
VS Memphis 9 PTS 9 REB 4 AST 3-9 FG 2-5 3PT… Barnes -4 Bench -39
Blake starts 2nd down 28-24 Sessions checks in down 38-31. -3
Small sample but drastic difference. Fans were excited to start the 2nd qtr now it’s a countdown to when Sessions comes back in the game.
I think the one thing a lot of people are missing in the Kobe “benching” discussion is the fact that he hadn’t had a breather on the bench in the second half up to that point. He played the entire 3rd quarter and the first 6:15 of the 4th. A jump shooter with dead legs is a recipe for disaster.
Brown should have rested him to start the 4th. I think giving Kobe a little rest completely slipped his mind until it was too late. Another poor rotational decision to add to the list: no playing time for Hill or Goudelock, playing Blake as both the backup point AND shooting guard, and wearing down both Pau and Kobe by playing them too many minutes too often.
Thanks Lil Pau for the insight. Seeing how my own meddling amateur team struggles to execute even our own handful of plays properly, this is really fascinating to me. I guess people who like college basketball better because they think it’s more strategic compared to “one-on-one” ball in the NBA should probably watch one of these practices.
I can provide no such great insight, although I know why Pau’s shot might have been off:
Whoops, anonymous @51 was me.
rr: You are correct once again my friend. Sessions has improved the offense at the PG spot. The other Lakers issues remain the same as they have been all year: No help defense, too many turnovers, not enough offense from #3, bad 3 pt shooting, No Bench, etc. We have 16 games (hopefully this ends better than the last countdown).
Exactly. The offense has been much better since Ramon has been starting… And little know fact… The other teams PGs have a worse PER since Sessions was acquired. We need to tighten up our defense again. We are playing like a Phil Jackson team. In the regular season when we score a lot we are taking it easy on defense. We need to be able to okay hard on defense when we are scoring at will. I think when Jordan Hill replaces Murphy and Steve Blake doesmt play back up SG against anything other than PGs the Lakers will be set. I am not worried. If anything I’m very exited by the potential of this roster. Very exited. I would though like to see Brown play Morris or GLock at back up PG. like I have been saying all year…. We need a true PG on the floor at all times in this traditional PG heavy PnR offense. It’s mandatory. Blake was brought in for the triangle.
lil’ pau: Nice write up. I agree that the Brown bashing has gone a bit far, + with our talent level, I think the record is about where it should be. MB is getting harder to defend with his rotations etc, however I do not really think it has cost us in the record. With regard to the FO, let’s forget the Buss baton thing for a moment, + let’s look at the FO as a whole. Compare the team that got swept last year + the team on the floor now. It is hardly an earth shattering improvement – for whatever the reasons – true? : )
lil' pau says
Robert @ 55:
True, but the ‘whatever the reasons’ part matters enormously. Whether it’s: flexibility under the new CBA, a lack of tradeable assets, or a desire not to completely overhaul the roster in a condensed season… these things matter. I think the fact that Mitch turned Fish, Luke and Kapono (and picks) into Ramon and Hill is impressive, and I think a real argument can be made that Sessions + Pau is better than CP3 and no Pau. The elephant in the room is the TPE we got from trading LO, but the verdict won’t be out on that one until December. I’m not personally aware of obvious and attractive uses for that TPE that were not pursued for financial reasons. That is a huge chip we have in our pocket and one that should be used judiciously. As much as it pains me to say it, I also agree with the thinking that Fish had to be moved in order to make MB’s job easier as well as to avoid the risk of a divided locker room (if Ramon plays poorly for a couple of games, would players start lobbying for Fish’s return, 9or playing him in crunch time etc.?)
Funky Chicken says
I can’t believe there continues to be a contingent that supports moving Sessions back to the bench and starting Steve Blake.
Citing an improved bench performance when they play with your best point guard is hardly “evidence” of a good conclusion. You want to improve the bench performance even more? Move Kobe to the bench.
You start your best players unless you have 4 guys who can hold down the fort and give you the luxury of bringing a great player off the bench. Every example cited above (Terry, Ginobili, LO, Posey) comes from a team where there are 4 legitimate offensive players who can offset the presence of a weaker, defensive-minded player in the starting lineup.
The Lakers have already made the decision to choose defense over offense with MWP. That’s a perfectly defensible thing to do–but not if you move Blake into the starting lineup. You cannot win with two of five positions being complete nonfactors on offense. The reason the Laker offense has been inefficient this year is that three great players (offensively) have had to operate against 5 defenders since two of the Laker starters need not be guarded.
Sessions makes the starters better. He opens up space for the bigs, and frees up Kobe. It seems rather logical to use his talents to make the starters better rather than use those talents to improve the game of Matt Barnes (whose hustle and effort will always make him effective).
As long as the Lakers keep MWP in the starting lineup, this team does not have the luxury of bringing Sessions off the bench. Steve Blake is awful. You can’t win a title with an awful PG and a terrible SF (on offense, anyway), and while an effective bench is clearly important, it is not more important than an effective starting unit….
Darius Soriano says
A new post is up.
Why would you waste your breathe (or fingers) on people that think Steve Blake should start ahead of Ramon Sessions? Seriously. I had to just stop responding. It would be like starting GLock ahead of Kobe at SG so we could have Kobe bring some scoring off the bench. They don’t add points from players off the bench. A FG still counts as two points no matter if the players starts or comes off the bench last I checked. If coach wants to play Sessions with the second unit he can… Just rotate him in and out the same way we do with Bynum. Funk chicken… Sometimes it’s best to just leave it alone. But it is pretty funny. It’s not like Steve Blake is Jason Kidd. Haha. It’s not like he is an adequate PG who will serve a purpose with the starting unit. It’s just 4 on 5 with Blake starting.
Bynum said something the other day after he was suspended. He acted as if he wasn’t sorry for what he did because it did not merit getting rung up and said that he wasn’t concerned with coming out with a sense of purpose just about getting his numbers. Now, that again shows you his mind state. All he wants to do is score. He nolonger cares about defense or rebounding. He has turned into a PRIMA DONNA. This is the hard part with dealing with children in adult situations. No matter how smart a child is, they do not see the big picture. His whole game is needed every game, not just when he feels like it.
FunkyChicken: That’s my point Sessions doesn’t need to make the starters better. He needs to make Barnes, Murphy better. Lakers starting 5 has been fine all year constant harping was PG, SF, bench production. All were solved with Sessions on the bench.
harden is better than sefoloshia, Ginobli is better than danny green, terry is better than carter. The reason those guys are on the bench is because their scoring punch is needed there. That can’t be denied with Sessions either.
@23 Count me as a chicken little if you want to. but just one game can point out problems that will mark a team and a season—clueless coaching, quarter-hearted defense, giving in to determined teams, lack of chemistry and confidence.