If anything, this game offered relief.
Relief from the weight of a drama filled day. Relief in the form of good team performance. Relief in the form of a much needed 101-77 win over the Warriors.
The players looked a bit relieved too. Or maybe they just looked relaxed. This was a game where the team went back to playing basketball, not overburdened with thinking about what to do next or where they should be on the court. The game was simpler with offensive sets you could diagram on a napkin and that translated to a freer game against the Warriors.
Like most things do with this Laker group, it began with Kobe Bryant. Unlike in previous games the Lakers ran Kobe to the post. He set up at the low block more times tonight than he has in the previous five games combined. From that position he was able to hit some close shots, earn trips to the free throw line, and set up his teammates for open shots.
Kobe didn’t just sit in the post all day, though. He also initiated countless pick and rolls to start out offensive sets. He ran them with Pau and with Dwight. He then probed the defense for his own shot or, again, picked out teammates for makable shots. His final line of 27 points (on 18 shots) and 7 assists was reflective of the way he managed this game and balanced his scoring instincts with his ability to distribute the ball.
Beyond Kobe, Pau Gasol deserves a round of applause as well. His efficiency wasn’t great — he shot 6-18 from the floor to score his 14 points — but the rest of his game was up to his typical standard. He led the team in rebounds with 16 and added two assists with two blocks and a steal. Furthermore, he simply played hard all night and pushed through the fatigue of another 40 minute outing to protect the paint well and hit the glass on both ends of the floor.
We mustn’t forget the bench either. Darius Morris played his best game as a Laker, scoring 10 points to go with 5 assists and 5 rebounds. He attacked the rim well and even hit a couple of spot up three pointers that he’s sure to get when playing next to Kobe, Pau, and Howard. Jordan Hill was his typical active self, scoring 14 points and hitting the glass harder than his 4 rebounds would imply. Jamsion and Meeks also played well. Both of them were assertive on offense and didn’t take much off the table in the minutes that they played. While their shooting percentages weren’t great, their lack of hesitation on offense meant possessions flowed smoothly which kept the pace of the game on the Lakers’ side.
With all this talk about the offense, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the defense. The team was much more active on that side the ball. They closed out better on shooters and did well to protect the paint when those guys were forced to put the ball on the ground. Yes, there were some breakdowns as a team and as individuals but for the most part they were solid. I’d like to see Kobe gamble less and get back on D faster and have Gasol show better instincts when hedging on the P&R but those were relatively minor issues on this evening compared to the other successes they had.
All in all, this was a good win. I understand the opponent wasn’t the strongest. But, from where I sit, when you play a team that’s hurting like these Dubs are, beating them by 20 points is what a good team should do. And that’s really the bigger point tonight. The Lakers once again looked like a good team. They didn’t play their best the entire night but they played well enough to win in a convincing manner.
Over the next 48 hours this game will be forgotten as the conversation once again shifts to who will coach this team. But for one night that didn’t matter as the Lakers looked like the Lakers (or at least closer to them) that we hoped they would be.
The Dude Abides says
It’s not like the Warriors are stiffs like the Pistons. They beat the Clippers at Staples several days ago. Morris did a stellar job on Steph Curry and Jarrett Jack. Remember how Jack used to torch the Lakers when Fisher and Blake guarded him? I think the team has found its new backup PG when Nash comes back. Blake should no longer get any minutes. Morris constantly pressured the opposing PG in the backcourt and simply played excellent ball denial on Curry when the Warriors were in their set offense.
Bernie played Pau and Hill together when the bench unit was in, and played the bench guys in their correct positions, maximizing their output. Niiice!
Kenny T says
Haven’t had a chance to watch the game yet so I’m wondering how Dwight did. The stats seemed to indicate he had early foul trouble.
The most important thing is that the Lakers played like the Lakers: there was good chemistry all night. The play of Darius Morris was especially encouraging.
Does this mean that the team played as a team because they no longer have Mike Brown? Did they lose the previous games deliberately because they want Brown out? Would this mean more aggressive play from the team?
Good to hear from you Drrayeye, I may be missing your comments from previous threads this season, but it is always good to hear what you have to say. Yes, the Lakers chemistry appears to have magically come back in this game. I am liking Darius Morris’s production, as he improved big time in this game, good to see as he is young and I hope he can advance in rank on the Lakers.
I called the firing as soon as Jim buss gave mb the kiss of death. Look it up. My vote for the next coach is Mike d look what the Lakers did last night when they ran a simple offense. With Phil it would be more of the Princeton/triangle sets and personally I like what I saw last night.
Finally,most important stat is back to normal:Team FGA is 90.This is a must going forward,keeping it around 85-95 a game.Thanks Bernie Bickerstaff, special thanks to Kobe for another spirited game despite all the jealous haters.
This season’s 2nd act has just started, the bleeding has stopped. And it started with a win. I’m so relieved by that I won’t even discuss the poor shooting, lol. Sac Kings next, can’t wait.
Craig W. says
It was really good to see Bernie go to big minutes for Darius. He was able to find his rhythm and keep the team humming. However, your request for Ebanks – though understandable – is a little much for now. We will have a hard time integrating two young’ns at the same time. I think the PG spot is more important for now. As soon as Morris has a couple of successful games under his belt, then we may be able to start adding time for Ebanks.
I think a lot of the continuation of success last night was the integrating of starters with bench players. Too many bench players trying to learn their craft could upset the organization of the whole. Ebanks has the year to elevate his status in the rotation – Morris must do it while Steve Nash is out – another reason to bring along Morris now and Ebanks later.
Another 2nd to the rewelcome of Drrayeye.
Edwin Gueco says
Darius, what happened to my recent post? Did I say something wrong, again?
TNT’s Alridge reports that the firing of MB came from Dr.Buss, it made sense because we all knew Jim Buss hired MB, and Kupchack asked the Buss family to give MB some more times, but Dr.Buss have seen enough of MB. MB is the right coach for Sac, Charlotte, Toronto,…, he is not qualified for Lakers coach. Lakers’s coach is the coach who is an expert on offensive side or defensive side, and the result has to show on the floor. I know that people want Phil to come back, i hope Phil has good health, and he will put standard champion level on practice, we don’t want to hear players did not practice hard because Phil wasn’t there again. Another the good thing i read that Phil will choose his successor for next Lakers coach, we know Phil can’t coach Lakers forever.
Mike D’Antoni is another candidate, he needs good defense assistant, and Nash is not young anymore, so if Lakers want him, Lakers have to get another PG. Last year Lin explained that the PG in D’Antoni system like the guy in center of the circle, running around and find open man, so it will take a lot of energy for PG to do that.
Joseph Th. says
The warriors aren’t looking great this year. I think Kobe needs to take over the team. No more coaches, Kobe knows how to regulate.
Dick Bavetta says
I thoroughly enjoyed Bernie Bickerstaff’s post-game interview last night.
Maybe the Lakers don’t need to look any further than him for their coach, at least this year?
Might not be seeing any of Eubanks. DUI yesterday is his 2nd encounter and we may see a change in personal. Clearly SF(Metta shooting under 25% last 3 with another 3 for 14) is an issue and someone may get moved.
Mike D-Childhood hero for Kobe when he played with Jelly in Italy. Big fav of Nash and a quality guy that just needs a defensive asst. Of course ge never had Dwight to clean up mistakes in Pheonix.
Phil-Vote of confidence from Kobe and Dwight and it appears Jerry is back making decisions with Mitch and Jim.
Team would be much more fun to watch with Mike but more structured with Phil. If it’s Phil expect Rambis back as his wife is best friend and works with Jeanne.
Mike is multi-year and helps build future with Dwight while Phil is a one year go for the gold deal.
Personal I would love to watch show time Mike again but no way with Metta, Pau, Blake and Jamison. Have to make immediate changes like a certain left hander dumped by Dallas who can run and gun.
Expecting a decision before Spurs game. Either way we Laker fans are the winners. Hope I find a link as I will be in Chicago at trade show Tuesday(former NBA guys signing at my booth). Cheers.
Everybody is spot on mostly on my opinion, one thing that i might addd is that finally used Jamison and Meeks right, they flowed withing the offense, played hard and even though they werent that good offensively that should improve once they find their rythim, those are the kind of minutes they should get per ge and the second unit looked pretty good once it was out of Brown shackes. We have a decent bench finally!!!!
Maybe the Lakers don’t need to look any further than him for their coach, at least this year?
What last night showed was that Brown had, in fact, lost the team and Bickerstaff did several obvious things (get Meeks on the court, simplify the schemes, use Jamison correctly) that people here and elsewhere had been calling for. There was a “honeymoon effect” and also GS was missing Bogut. Still, BB deserves ups and a nod from Lakers fans and players. He helped the team last night.
But the Lakers need to get the next guy, and I do think it will be either Phil or D’Antoni, in place ASAP.