The Lakers begin a three game road trip today, heading to the Motor City to face the Pistons in the first night a back to back. This after a four game home-stand that saw the team go 1-3. That lone win, however, was a game to remember with Kobe posting a triple-double while also becoming the first player in NBA history to tally over 30 thousand points while also dishing out 6 thousand assists. The Lakers, and Kobe, will look to build on that performance tonight against a Pistons team that, for all intents and purposes, is just as bad as they are.
The fact that Detroit is this bad is, for me at least, a bit of a surprise. While former Laker Jodie Meeks took the injury bug with him to his new team — Meeks has missed the entire season so far with a back issue — the rest of the roster has been able to play, only to not show any real advancement from last season. With the hiring of Stan Van Gundy, I expected this team to take a step forward in their development and compete for bottom playoff seed at least. That has been far from the case, however.
The key issue for this team seems to be roster construction and a lack of shooting (which makes Meeks’ absence so damaging). SVG has tried to play the Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith trio together, but Smith’s inability to stretch the floor while Drummond and Monroe both do their best work 12 feet and in has made this nearly impossible to do while bringing in good results. This has left the head coach looking for alternatives in Kyle Singler, Caron Butler, and Jonas Jerebko but they too have their limitations and can’t necessarily be the floor spacers that this team needs. Combine this with Brandon Jennings still doing more shooting than assisting and the solutions seem to be with a change in personnel rather than trying to shoehorn players into roles they cannot fill well enough.
In saying all this, however, the Lakers still come into this game as the underdog. The Pistons, for all their mismatched-ness, still possess real talent in their front court and have the ability to overwhelm teams with their athleticism and size. For the Lakers to get the win they will need to manage these big men on both ends of the floor and not become speed bumps to a trio who can all do work when getting into the paint.
This starts with Drummond so Hill and, later, Davis will have their hands full. Drummond has explosiveness rarely seen in players his size and his ability to bully his way into the paint to finish with power will be a problem should the Lakers allow him to get to his spots. Hill and Davis will need to do their work early and try to battle him for position, pushing him further out on the floor to make him create off the dribble to get to the paint. Strategically timed double teams can then be used to disrupt these moves, hopefully creating turnovers in the process.
Beyond Drummond, slowing Monroe should be the next priority. HIs ability to turn and face from 15 feet or work from the post will give Boozer some real issues to start out. Like with Drummond, doing work early in the possession to keep Monroe off his preferred spots while also showing the needed help will be key. Monroe has enough talent to score over 20 points and carry their offense for stretches, he mustn’t be allowed to do so if the Lakers want to win.
As for the rest of the guys, Jennings and Smith are the next big names and both have traditionally fared well against the Lakers. It will be interesting to see if Byron Scott cross matches and puts Kobe on Smith so that Wes Johnson can be freed up to defend Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Jennings for stretches. Smith is the kind of guy Kobe typically likes to guard as he can be enticed to take jumpers by sagging off him. If this does happen, however, Kobe will need to be diligent in his rebounding as Smith’s size can be an issue there.
As for the Lakers’ attack, it would be nice to see if Kobe can continue the model he’s shown the last couple of games by starting off as a distributor and then using the threat of the pass to set up his own shooting. This worked well against the Wolves and the Raptors, allowing the rest of the team to find their rhythm while forcing the defense to treat every player on the floor as a potential threat. The ball moves well under this approach and since Kobe can find ways to get his shots up regardless, taking this route would be a sound strategy.
I am also looking for Lin to bounce back against Jennings. Lin’s aggressiveness has been good lately, but his shooting and turnovers have been up and down. Jennings can be a gambler defensively so Lin will need to be careful with the ball, but that gambling can also lead to bad positioning that Lin will need to take advantage of. If Lin can get his jumper going, it will open up his drives to the rim where he can draw multiple defenders (especially Drummond) to create shots for his teammates. Hopefully we can see Lin and Davis start to rekindle some of their early season chemistry where the big man benefits from Lin’s playmaking.
Where you can watch: 4:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.
Every game is a tough decision between wanting the team to win but wanting the best pick possible.
If we win the game and 30 more this season we are banking on getting a big impact player to join and take us from 35 to 45 wins the following year. Im personally okay with not finishing bottom 5 as long as we do get a 10 win free agent to join.
After kobe drops we look for a high per player with lower usage and hope kobe resigns cheap and we go on to 50 win contender status. We are good enough now to win 30 so lets do it. Grab free agent, grab randle, and build up.
Craig W. says
As a fan, I see no way to avoid rooting for a win tonight, or any night. This doesn’t mean I think we will win, but that we put together optimal performances that allow us to compete. Anything less and we are moving out of the arena of sports and into the gamblers’ arena – a much more unsavory and unpredictable path; regardless the rules.
Chris J says
Not to suggest there aren’t valid reasons to hope for a high draft pick – clearly, there are.
But watching the Clippers-Wolves last night was sure a study in contrasts about how placing your chips on the production of high draft choices is still a huge, huge craps shoot.
The Wolves’ roster has several high first-round choices in Bennett, Wiggins, Muhammad, Levine, Young and Rubio (hurt). It’s too soon to judge them all, but the contrast in impact of those players vs. those of a Griffin or Paul showcases how the tanking strategy isn’t a guarantee of anything beyond angering your fan base.
The drafts where there’s a clear No. 1, franchise guy don’t come along often, and it’s a huge difference to get a Duncan, LeBron, Shaq or Griffin at the top vs. the years when you were left with a Bennett or Olowokandi or dare I say the name — Kwame Brown.
I’ll laugh for years if the Sixers wind up with nothing but a stockpile of high draft players, but none who wind up being great. It would serve them right.
Basically I see this as yet another game that Kobe/Lin must play pretty well for us to have shot. Lin/Kobe can both get theirs vs. Pistons, whereas Pistons bigs are tough and play good D. All this talk about Kobe being “exhausted” doesn’t bode well though. If that’s the case I hope he has enough in the tank to at least act as a decoy/active passer and he can hit his jumper. That would mean Lin needs to have a good game.
I don’t see how Hill/Boozer/Wes can create match-up problems for the Pistons, I just hope they can minimize the damage. I would let Josh Smith jack up threes to his heart content though if possible. Hopefully Swag shoots lights out again, then we can get this one. Since winning tomorrow night with fatigue and likely a completely spent Kobe seems like a bridge too far.
Chris J, I think the Philly “tank strategy” is likely doomed to failure. I honestly think they may collect 1st round picks for another few years. Some of the 1st round picks they have in “development” now will want to jump ship as quick as possible rather than keep playing for a perennial horrible team.
Josh Smith is someone I would have wanted to be a Laker IF he stilled played power forward like he did for Atlanta. When he was shooting mostly dunks and layups and short shots he was a really great all around player. As soon as he got the green light to become a SF jump shooter, he become a detriment. He plays defense, rebounds, and is a really good passer and runs the floor. But he just isn’t a true wing, he’s just a fast 4, who can’t spread the floor. I’m really surprised the pistons haven’t traded him yet, but maybe his known personality issues deter some teams.
Kobe is the problem with the lakers, I am a lakers fan, not a kobe fan. If you want the debate we can have it.
-@ dodo64, understand your point, but the timing isn’t good.
-@ bball247, I’ve solved the problem. Not only do I root for my Lakers to win, I’m also rooting for the Knicks, Hornets, Jazz, T ‘Wolves, Sixers, & Pistons to win (except win they play our Boys).
-Lakers have a very good shot of winning two in a roll…but the team needs to stay focus, move the ball…and play D.
Let’s go Lakers…win # 5.
Am I the only one who is more frustrated from Kobe’s milestone than enjoying it? We all know Kobe can pass, period. I was hoping that somebody could get him buy into passing more, regardless of how his teammates may perform from game to game as that’s the only way they’re going to become threats and free him up to do his thing.
Still, kinda amazing that he somehow managed to rack up 6k assists. We pretty much know that he only gives the ball up when it is practically impossible for him to score, and those situations aren’t necessarily the easiest times to pass either, so a good chunk of those 6k must have been truly amazing passes by default…
No point in debating Kobe is “a problem” with the Lakers. He is there for the next couple years. I think Kobe has shown enough this year to suggest that he can still play at a high level. But I think he’s also shown he can’t play at a high level night in and night out with heavy minutes. Those days are past and lead to really poor shooting.
Maybe he can play 28-30mpg and get extra rest on any games where they clearly are going to lose and that will help him recover enough. But I think chances are he is going to decline much more next year. That being said, clearly his skill is still there, his body just can’t handle the crazy minutes. I don’t think skipping practice or shoot arounds is going to do anything for him. He would have to actually sit out some games or play some games just 20minutes. I would LOVE to see Kobe play like that, he has heart and plays fiercely. I just get frustrated when he forces it on tired legs and misses nearly as many shots as the other 4 starters combined. I think its overwhelmingly clear he needs his minutes decreased and Scott needs to pull a Popovich and start sitting him occasionally for recovery purposes.
lil pau says
well, putting aside the kobe question and just looking at the numbers:
kobe is presently 139 points behind MJ (140 points puts him in #3 solo). is it too soon to start a poll as to when he’ll pass him? I’ll vote with my heart and predict (hope) he does it in 5 games – passing MJ at home vs sac on 12/9, a game for which I have tickets – rather than the more conservative 6 or 7, which are both on the road.
where’s ko with that case of amarone for the winner?
The more I watch Lin the more I am amazed how often he get beat.. Really a bad defense player.
Wow 4 TO by Kobe in 7 minutes.
How do you go from a triple double to
Man get Kobe out of there. He clearly has nothing tonight.
Rest him on. BTB
Hey I asked to delete my last post due to stupidly?
LOL Ko. Dude scored 12 points in two and a half minutes.
Newsflash to anti lottery pick/tankers… What roster would you rather have? The TWolves or the Lakers? If the Lakers had the Sixers or TWolves roster it would be almost a lock Durant, Anthony Davis, and every other top free agent would join forces and sign with the Lakers. It kills me to have to stress this as it should be a no brainer… But the advantages of getting high picks isn’t that you just have a better chance of drafting a Davis, Durant, or Blake Griffin but it increases your chances of just getting solid young players on the cheap that would attract free agents or be used as trade chips.
There is zero downside in drafting first instead of tenth. And there is even less downside in drafting first instead of not drafting at all. The only argument against tanking is if you believe in Karma. I would accept that argument. I just don’t believe in Karma.
Safe to say Detroit is not liking life with Stan.
Lakers really need a PG. Lin can ‘t play D and Price is the worst shooter I can remember.
Nice 3 quarters. Don’t screw it up with bad rotations Byron.
Scott waited way to long with the D league team out there.
Is he even awake on the bench?
No wonder they have lost 6 games in the kast 5 minutes.
Not a very good game unless he is trying for different kind I double double. He just seems really slow and tired tonight.
Noticed Lakers still have 3 timeouts left, does Scott ever call a TO to maybe stop a run or give his guys a breather??
Kobe just looked exhausted this game. Beyond that brief spurt. The triple double with 10 to’s just doesn’t cut it, despite his assists. When he is that tired he needs to control the ball less. But regardless they got the win.
Lin needs to shoot more, seems Scott wants him to be like Ronnie Price.
Wes Johnson, man he’s really starting to play pretty well as a 2 way player.
Swaggy needs to learn to pass, despite shooting well this game, the dude averages 1 assist a game for his career, he doesn’t look like he’s even going to sniff 1 assist a game this season.
Hill–man he’s looking like a keeper for 9mill next year, rather than trade bate.
Please Byron Let Ellington/Clarkson fill in for for Kobe tomorrow night and give the guy some rest.
I think Pistons’ tv announcer George Blaha summed it up perfectly at the end of the game, when he said that Kobe had a “very unusual game.” 10 turnovers? Yikes! But a road victory is fine by me. Major props to Jordan Hill, who led the team with 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting in addition to 13 rebounds. Great that all 5 starters were in double figures. It was the Pistons, but a nice effort from The Show.
So if Lakers were in the East they would be a top team? Undefeated!
Kobe’s TO’s are part of his finest moments in facilitating the game to victory. We are watching a real MVP candidate orchestrating the Lakers chemistry from all sides and his teammates responded. If Lakers reaches .500, there is a good argument that Kobe should be considered in the MVP category in managing the hodgepodge roster into a well oiled machine. Pistons have good players with awful chemistry too, Lakers sensed it and closed it convincingly. I just wish Clarkson was given the green light to play even for few minutes in 2nd or 3rd quarter. he could match with Augustine or Jennings.
On to Boston on Friday, they can lose all year but never with the leprechauns in good times and in bad.
Nick young is hilarious
With LBJ and Blake Griffin earth bound… Is the NBA lacking a must watch player for the first time since before rookie Magic and after post prime Dr J? I drool over Davis as an effective basketball player but he doesn’t raise the hair on your neck while you stare at the TV like a Shaq, Kobe, LBJ, Jordan, Magic,
This for me is a dark time in NBA legends. Last year and the few years before it LBJ was a twice in a century type of player statistically and aesthetically. We go from that to not even one single NBA overlord for the first time since maybe before Magic.
I’m in a funk. Maybe it’s just the second straight Lakers “victory.”
I don’t think Kobe looked tired or slow. I thought he made a few bad decisions with the ball and forced a few passes. What I like most about his game tonight is that he didn’t force up a lot of shots. He stuck with the game plan and passed out of the double team defense that Detroit played.
YouTube Kobe is gone. Kobe even has stated that he’ll have to bump and grind to compensate for the loss of athleticism that Father Time has taken away from him. The fact that he draws double teams from just about every team he faces speaks to the fact that other teams realize that he is still s force to be reckoned with. When his teammates step up and convert his good passes into assists by actually making shots, the Lakers look like a halfway decent team.
Back to back triple-doubles!!! Go Kobe! 😉
I’m very pleased with the Lakers’ win tonight, even if it was against a woeful Detroit Pistons team.
Having said that, I’m noticing what could be a few interesting emerging stories of late: 1) the play of Wes Johnson and 2) the play of Jordan Hill.
Both J. Hill and Wes have been playing well lately and with a certain confidence that has actually taken me by surprise. Earlier in the season, I was extremely disappointed in Wes. But lately he has been playing superbly on both ends of the court. He actually seems to be settling into a groove with this team. I’m going to want to see more from him. I pray that he doesn’t disappear for 3-4 games as he has in the past, drifting around the 3-point line without getting involved in the offense. But in the last 3-4 games, I seem to have noticed a new Wes Johnson. He’s more active, more involved in both the offense and defense, and more reliable. (Tonight he had 13 pts. on 5-6 shooting, 4 blocks, and one steal. He also played well in the previous 2 games.) We’ll see if it continues. But so far, this is the Wes Johnson that I had been hoping to see all along.
Jordan Hill tonight was superb — 22 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and only one turnover. In the previous game, he had zero turnovers. Furthermore, this was his 10th double-double of the season (in 18 games). At that pace, he’ll have 45 double-doubles for the year. And he’s averaging 31 minutes per game, shaming those who insisted that he was incapable of playing more than 20 minutes per game. At $9 Mill per year, is he over-paid? Probably. But at this rate, not by much. Tonight, on the same court with Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, and Josh Smith, the best big man on the floor was Jordan Hill.
Props should also be given to Wayne Ellington who has been a steady contributor all season long.
If this continues, the Lakers will have no shot at a lottery pick.
Perhaps the “second season,” which I’ve been predicting, is near at hand.
Chris J says
If your “Newsflash to anti lottery pick/tankers” comment was directed at my prior statement, your reading comprehension skills need some work — perhaps even more so than your predictions need help. Or are LeBron and Carmelo teammates this season, as you screamed as “fact” to all who bothered to read your repetitive comments here over the summer? Has Pat Riley moved back to take over the Lakers’ reins? I recall you touting that as a lock, too… There have been others, but it’s not worth my time to dig them out of the archives.
I’d rather keep the Top Five pick this season than lose in the first round of the playoffs, and have said so many times on this site. No one in this string said anything close to being “anti lottery pick” — I merely said having high draft picks doesn’t assure success. Agree chimed in and said Philadelphia may not do well in its tanking process. Again, not at all a suggestion as to what the Lakers should/shouldn’t do in advance of June.
No one argued that having high picks reduces a team’s chances of drafting a stud, nor did anyone suggest the draft doesn’t help obtain solid young players on the cheap, who could in turn attract free agents or be used as trade chips.
Your statement that, “If the Lakers had the Sixers or TWolves roster it would be almost a lock Durant, Anthony Davis, and every other top free agent would join forces and sign with the Lakers” is equally comical. You flat out eliminate countless variables that would affect the decision-making processes of men you don’t know, then self fellate yourself by stressing that your knowledge is a “no brainer.” Maybe Durant is loyal to OKC, or he wants to return to his childhood home and be a Wizard? Maybe Davis really likes gumbo and loves New Orleans. Maybe they’d rather play in Miami, and save on taxes? No one knows — aside from you in your own mind — what any free agent would do given such a hypothetical. But like 99 percent of your arguments, you construct your own terms, fill in the blanks, then tell everyone else what a genius you are.
From “Fisher sucks” to “Bynum is the best center in the league” to “We’re getting Pat Riley, Carmelo and LeBron” to today’s “secret tank job” — and repeating over and over how you’re the only one smart enough to see these facts.
It. Just. Gets. Old.
You know those slow clap scenes in the old 80’s movies? Yeah.
Good comments about Johnson and Hill. Watching Wes play with Kobe reminds me of how Kobe helped Trevor Ariza develop.
@Chris J ….
Thanks, this board feels a little cleaner after your comments to our resident genius.