Another week of ups and downs, another game of sections. The Lakers played well for the first quarter and a half, and the Thunder played well from there. Derek Fisher returned, got love from the crowd and showed that he’s not quite ready for the scrap heat. Andrew Bynum showed that he can play fired up after his little episode the other night, and Scotty Brooks showed the art of cutting to the chase. In a sideline interview after the first quarter, he said “that was a bad 12 minutes. We have 36 minutes left to be good.”
Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’Lakers: It would have been nice for Bynum to face the media yesterday at practice following all the controversy surrounding Tuesday’s game in Golden State, answering questions himself rather than asking others to do it. Still, the best statement Bynum could make would be coming out Thursday, playing hard and playing well. For the most part, he did exactly that. From the jump, Bynum was a force on both sides of the ball, hitting four of his first seven shots, for eight points, while pulling down six rebounds. He had some great moments defensively, including one when he altered one shot attempt inside, then pogo-ed off the floor to block Serge Ibaka. In the second half, Bynum had a couple of turnovers, but his performance was more indicative of the team’s offensive shortcomings than his own. On a couple of occasions, he looked to pass out of double- and triple-teams down low but couldn’t find an outlet because his teammates weren’t moving. He finished with 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting, grabbed 13 rebounds — a welcome change after five straight games in single digits — and blocked four shots. The Lakers had plenty of problems Thursday, but he wasn’t one of them. His effort was there tonight. Nobody should be going overboard giving him credit for playing hard, but given the reasonable questions about his maturity we’ve all been asking this week, it was still good to see.
C.A. Clark at Silver Screen and Roll: The Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder by a final score of 102-93 tonight, and there is some small comfort in losing a game in which there is no overwhelming story line. There were no shocking developments, no benched superstars. It was just a game in which Kobe Bryant didn’t play well, Pau Gasol didn’t play enough (due to foul trouble) and the team could not find an answer for Russell Westbrook in the 2nd half. Nothing strange, nothing even all that unpredictable. Oklahoma City is a very good team, and the Lakers are not good enough to beat the Thunder unless they play well. They didn’t, and so they lost. It’s almost beautiful in its simplicity. Almost. The game started off well enough. With the Laker offense firing on all cylinders and picking up offensive rebounds at will, the Lakers built up a big lead as both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook starrted the game slowly. The Laker lead was 12 at the end of the first quarter, and the team looked locked in as they so often seem to be against top notch competition. But the Thunder started chipping away at the lead immediately, and an 11-0 run to start the second half put the Thunder ahead for good, as Russell Westbrook started nailing mid-range jumpers and attacking the rim for easy layups. Westbrook ended up with 36 points on the evening. For those of you scoring at home, no, Ramon Sessions is no more effective on Westbrook than anybody else in a Laker uniform has been over the years.
Dave McMenamin & Justin Verrier for ESPN, and the Associated Press: Derek Fisher received a standing ovation before tipoff as highlights of his Lakers career played on the video board, along with a “Thanks for all you’ve done” message. He stood in his warm-ups and waved to the fans, then applauded them back after being hugged by some of his new teammates, who delivered a 102-93 victory. “We definitely want to come in and get this win for him,.” Russell Westbrook said. Fans got on their feet again when Fisher entered the game with 2:04 remaining in the first quarter. One held up an “I Miss D-Fish” sign. “The love and support and appreciation they’ve shown me over the years far exceeded anything I could’ve imagined when I first moved here in 1996,” said Fisher, who finished with seven points in nearly 16 minutes. After the game, Kobe Bryant addressed Fisher’s return, which was his 12th career game against the Lakers. “I think him coming back for a second stint with us and the championships that we won, it makes it a little bit more special than him coming back with the previous teams,” Bryant said. Bryant and Fisher won five NBA championships together in Fisher’s two stints with the Lakers, which were separated by stops in Utah and Golden State. Bryant added that he didn’t watch the video tribute. “I didn’t want to watch it. I didn’t want to look at it,” he said. Fisher discounted the notion he was traded because he would be unable to handle a bench role with the Lakers. “That goes against and flies in the face of not just what I’ve been since I’ve been in the NBA, but the type of team player I’ve been in every group I’ve ever been a part of,” Fisher said. “Team sports raised me in a sense. Besides my mom and dad and my family, I was raised on team sports and that meant and has always stood for sharing, sacrificing, giving of yourself so that the group can succeed. So, that’s what I’m explicitly focusing on doing for the Thunder now, and I’m looking forward to finishing out this regular season and really trying to help a team that was great before I even showed up.”
And then there’s this – nothing to do with the Lakers, but it’s a great piece by Danny Chau.
Danny Chau, Hardwood Paroxysm: I miss Andrei Kirilenko. Somehow, he slipped away without us being able to give him a proper farewell for the decade he spent in the NBA. With the lockout and our scrambling to adjust our rituals, schedules, and expectations once the season was green-lighted, Kirilenko slipped through the cracks—like he did so often on both ends of the floor. He’s in Russia now, a place he had pined for in the last four years of his NBA career. He’s with his once-former team, CSKA Moscow, leading them to a successful season in Euroleague. In Russia, he is free to be the player he’s always been, but was only able to show a glimmer NBA: a creative force on offense and defense. While never the most fluid or graceful player, Kirilenko’s most devastating talent was his impeccable timing in every facet of his game. At 6’9”, he saw the floor better than most point guards, and made bullet passes in stationary positions and in motion that slipped through traffic. But his most notable brilliance was on defense, and not just in shot-blocking. In a 2008 Sports Illustrated article, Chris Mannix articulates the impossibility of Kirilenko’s defense:
With Utah clinging to a late four-point lead against Milwaukee, Kirilenko poked the ball away from Bucks point guard Ramon Sessions and took it the length of the court for a game-sealing dunk. What was special about that steal—his fifth of the night—was that it came during a dribble handoff. As Sessions gave the ball to Richard Jefferson, Kirilenko slid his arm between the two and knocked the ball free. “Did he just do that?” marveled a scout watching the game. “He’s Rope Man. He can get those arms in the smallest of spaces.
There is something religious about the franchise player model that most teams subscribe to, placing all hope and faith on one man to lead a team to victory. Not to say that a nightly collective effort is altogether agnostic, but the factors that contribute to success are more complex. There is little room for error. But that isn’t why this season’s Utah Jazz are important. They exist at the fringe of popular discourse—just outside of the clutch debate, the closer arguments, and thoughts of MVP and Finals candidates. The Jazz offer some semblance of purity, however fleeting. They are a collection of good, not great, talents playing stellar basketball as of late. Their play displaces some of the noise, some of the clutter. We thought we found utopia last season in Denver. Perhaps utopia exists further west.
The weekend’s here, and the Lakers have a lot of basketball in front of them. They face the Hornets tomorrow and the Warriors on Sunday, as the last month of the regular season arrives. It hasn’t been a smooth ride, but there’s been progress. And after last night’s defeat, an obvious reminder – there is still ample room for improvenent. What comes next? What does this team have to do to prepare for the playoffs? Comment away.
– Dave Murphy
Mike Brown’s 8 man rotation is puzzling to every basketball expert. The Lakers make it easy for a coach. Or so one would think. It should not be hard to come up with a solid 8 man rotation for this team. It’s not rocket science. The Lakers have only eight players that are NBA players this year according to advanced statistical offensive and defensive analytics. Bynum, Ramon, Kobe, Gasol, Artest, Barnes, Hill, and GLock. That’s it. There is giant drop off after those eight from every advanced statistical standpoint. The rest of our roster is filled with “d league level pkayers”.
Magic Phil says
“What comes next? What does this team have to do to prepare for the playoffs?”
Fire MB and hire LB.
One Brown for the other.
There are three key problems with the Lakers right now. One can’t be fixed. The other two won’t be fixed.
1. Lack of depth. No more to say about this. It is what it is and it isn’t going away this season.
2. Brown can’t figure out his rotations. Granted he is limited in personnel and practice time, but he has to find the best combinations and get some consistency. He is killing Kobe and Bynum with the long minutes. In this facet of the game he gets a D+. I don’t think it is going to get better.
3. This team can not be Kobe-centric any longer. Kobe is crucial to this team’s success, but he has to give up more of his shot attempts and be more efficient on those shots he takes. Neither Kobe, nor the team are good enough to make up for the number of wasted possessions he accounts for. I am pretty sure this isn’t going to happen either.
dave m says
I agree with the rotations, absolutely. Overplaying the big three and constantly toying with sub patterns, like the McRoberts/Murphy dance last night. Josh plays hard – reward him for tips and altered shots, don’t yank him as soon as he gets warmed up.
The problem begins and ends with Kobe. He’s jacking up a lot of shots, and bricking about 2 in 3. He’s missing too many shots. Needs to stop shooting and share the rock. Which he probably won’t, because we have a snail as our head coach.
Don’t shoot I’m only the messenger.
When Kobe shoots under 20 times. Lakers are 8-2 shooting 46.5% winning by an average of 10 points.
Kobe: 21.2 PTS 5.2 REB 4.6 AST
Pau: 19.9 PTS 11.1 REB 2.9 AST 1.8 BLK
Bynum: 21.2 PTS 10 REB 2.1 BLK
Bench Points: 21
Why won’t the man at least try Ebanks. We are going to end up losing this kid without ever knowing if he can play in the this league!!!
In those games Kobe averages 16.8 shots per game. About 7 less (23.4 to 16.8) than his avg. Scoring only 7 less ( 28.2 to 21.2) points.
Pau is taking 15 shots those games. 2 shots more than his average (13.5 to 15.1) scoring 3 points more than his avg (16.8 to 19.9).
Bynum takes 12.9 shots those games. Same as his season average (12.6) and scoring 3 more points too (18.3 to 21.2).
Bench still sucks at 21 points average these 10 games.
I don’t care how many times Kobe shoots as long as their great shots (like Utah game sometimes he just misses). But as I said earlier some numbers are too drastic to ignore.
The problems with this team start and end with Mike Brown. Period.
Jesse P. says
You know what this team needs to make a deep run this post season?
They have to “want it”.
Mike Brown’s team in Cleveland “wanted it”; they had a gritty, defense-first attitude to them. The Lakers still seem to have that Phil Jackson “we’ll start playing when we have to” mentality. Not working with this team, and this system, and this coach’s philosophy.
There’s no more excuses.
39 Paint Points average in 10 games. Those games ball movement has been great so has 3 point shooting
6-16, 9-16, 2-24, 8-16, 4-14, 8-17, 8-20, 9-18, 6-19, 7-18.
Defense holding opp. to 88.9 points and forcing 11 TOs getting 5.8 steals with 5.8 blocks.
While I’ve tried to temper my criticism in the past, Mike Brown’s rotations really do suck. Are his assistant coaches as clueless or does he just not listen? We have one of the best international basketball coaches of all time sitting on our bench. I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about Messina’s input (although I guess it’s nice not to have another distraction).
Looks like the moderation filter jumped into 5th gear at the same time the Thunder did. Seems like every post I’ve made over the last couple days, even the tiny ones, have been stuck. Not sure if something changed.
Edwin Gueco says
Magic Phil, sup! we’re stuck to what was handed to us by the Gods, thou art for Brown and die for Brown. Right now his coaching wisdom comes from chewing gum and the paper cup he’s holding throughout the game. That is his comfort zone. Where is the brilliance of his coaching he wooed Jim Buss? I think Jimbo was attracted by the 3m per year compared to 12m from the Zen coach.
When they were choosing who’d coach the Lakers, I often suggested in several sites – the players of Showtime Lakers. I’ll choose Great game James as head coach with assts. such as: Coop, Norm, Rambis and the Cap. If they lose and crumble, at least we have chosen the best of the crop and our purple and gold was handled with care. It was coached by our own compared to outsiders who appears to be nothing but snake-oil salesmen that presented a rosy plan to Jimbo. Missouri former coach, Kuester, Messina why would the Laker fans trust these guys who are a bunch of outsiders? Well this is also the Laker fans adjustment we have to take because they were handed to us by the new Gods. Like the Dodger fans, we adjusted to unknown sneaky owners from Murdoch to McCorts, well we got Jim Buss, the horse trader who turned into basketball wizard. In the end, It all boils down on markets, if the market are not satisfied with the quality of the product, then it will be reflected on tickets and junk those TV contracts too or anything that is being forced to them to accept.
Anonymous: don’t buy that. Fans have been begging for a PG when we got Sessions he was the answer to some of our many problems. All Lakers problems are fixable. Chemistry needs to form again. Offensive rebounds have continued to be a problem. And finally teamwork is a must. Mike Brown must galvanize these players for the common goal.
if the lakers can tighten the screws defensively, there is just enough talent on this team to win a championship.
that’s on mike brown.
if the lakers target favorable match-ups and punish mismatches, there is just enough talent on this team to win a championship.
that’s on kobe.
if the lakers impose their will on both ends of the floor, there is more than enough talent to win a championship.
the leaders of this team need to step up!
Not Charlie Rosen says
I’m not usually a Pollyanna, but I’m honestly not too demoralized after last night (especially since I expected a loss…we’ve been .500 since the trade, trying to figure stuff out still).
Much like the last game against the Thunder, we were the better team in the first half, leading at halftime (and this time didn’t even give up a bonehead 5 points in the last 2 seconds), got blitzed in the first 5-7 minutes of the 3rd, and were pretty much even the rest of the way.
(I do so miss the early 2000’s Lakers, who pulled that regularly…ease through the first 24, then nuke the other team out of halftime.)
We figure out how to not get blitzed in that short time span–Pau not sitting with a ton of quick fouls, better energy, etc.–and every game against the Thunder is winnable.
I’m not saying that there aren’t things that I would love to see changed (send Murphy to the d-league if he isn’t going to shoot and make at a high percentage, his rumored ability to make shots is the only reason he’s not working at Best Buy right now; give Goudelock some burn, especially alongside Sessions and Barnes; and WTF is Blake doing to deserve these kinds of minutes, he should be spelling Sessions for at most 5 minutes a quarter).
Nor do I think beating OKC–or SA, Miami, CHI, etc.–would be easy. Aside from the 2001 Playoffs, I can’t think of any Lakers team that contended for a ring that did so without playing at or near their best, especially regarding effort and communication. I just don’t think the gap between what we saw last night and taking 4 out of 7 (especially with rest and a chance to truly gameplan) is as big as it sometimes appears to be.
This is not a championship caliber team yet. It will not happen this year. This team still lacks a quality point guard other Ramon (he needs help against bigger points), another scorer off the bench, and back up big (in case of emergency or foul trouble). In addition the team needs a coach capable of inspiring and controlling an NBA team with two Prima Donnas (Kobe and Drew), two headcases (MWP and Ron Artest) and a manic depressant (Pau). Good Luck!!!
Mike Brown is like a bottle of vodka. People just keep doing shots so they don’t have to face the reality of the roster.
Darius Soriano says
BTW, a new post is up.
Since 2006 there has been 1 team in the finals that was favored to get there and didn’t.
Heat started slow in 06, Nobody thought the Cavs would make the finals in 07, Lakers were a afterthought before the mid season trade in 08, Magic caught fire in 09, Celtics came back from the dead in 10 and last year Mavs caught lightning in a bottle.
Miami or Chicago are coming out the East. OKC may be the favorite but SA and Lakers have a good chance to make it out. Last year if Gasol’s mind is right who knows what happens. Inept coaching or not I wouldn’t count the Lakers out.
Magic Phil says
@13 – sup Edwin,
So…Can we fire a coach mid-season? I mean, is there any restrictions?
I’m not aware of anything. But the point is: Larry Brown is available. That changes everything. What he did with the Bobcats was remarkable. He’s probably one of the best NBA coaches and he’s available.
Jerry Buss would never let a chance like that slip through his fingers…
dave m says
Snoopy – wanted to say about moderation, that the system just gets glitchy sometimes, I don’t think there’s anything more to it than that.
dave m says
Magic Phil – I think there’s zero chance of Larry Brown coming in for the stretch drive. Mike Brown has a four year contract for $18m. Yes, he CAN be fired before than, as can any coach, but he has to be settled out and it wouldn’t be cheap. Regardless of money, I’m sure Jim Buss intends to give him ample time to succeed. Remember, we’re in a lockout-shortened season with a ton of change. While this wouldn’t at all be considered a building era, it’s at the least transitional, and some allowances will be made. Plus, from a pure numbers standpoint, we’re in a better place in the standings right now, than many people predicted.
None of this means I’m happy with management choices (or with some of the coaching decisions), but Mike Brown isn’t exactly going down in flames right now.
Having recently sponsored a retired player event in LA I had the chance to unofficially poll tbe 4 ex-Lakers St that event. Not one of them thought the Brown hire made any sense.
I just feel he us tbe wrong guy for this team. Do players like Kobe Andrew, Psu respect this guy who never played the game and never won anything as a head coach?
This morning he said he is not playing Goug because he can’t create his own shot or pass. Really? I thought the guy was one of only 2 or 3 Lakers who could create his own shot.
Kobe! Blake, Metta all shooting under 30% from three. AG 36% from three. Is Brown really that clueless?
Magic Phil says
@24 – Dave M, thanks for your reply. You rock. But…are we stuck w/ MB for (at least) next 2 years? Kobe’s final years? Did Jimbo do that? Commit to MB, a subpar coach whos only job was to get LBJ the ball? And now (that’s what sets me up) Larry Brown is available and we cannot hire him?
I’m going to the nearest bridge…
Hmmmm it could be worse. We could have Vinny Del Negro as a coach
yeah I heard that also… I cant believe he is so moronic! Goudelock played way better than Blake in his absence. He is far more capable of penetrating and dishing and ofcourse nailing a 3. The only time he “couldn’t do much” is after Brown froze him out again after Blake returned from injury and Glock hardly got any minutes or touches…