Talk about a punch to the gut. On a night where the Lakers played a pretty good first half and had a 16 point lead in the 2nd half, they gave it all away over the last 15-plus minutes to lose their season opener to the Timberwolves 112-111.
While the story of the night was the collapse, the devil, as always, is in the details. The game started with a lack of flow for both teams. Coming off an emotional start to the game with an extended moment of silence for the recently passed, former T’Wolves coach and GM Flip Saunders, both teams were somewhat skittish. Shots weren’t falling, the ball wasn’t moving very freely, and guys seemed like they just couldn’t find a great rhythm.
As the minutes passed, though, both sides found their stride and an actual NBA game broke out. Fueling the Lakers was their 2nd unit. After D’Angelo Russell picked up his 2nd foul with 6 minutes left in the 1st quarter, he and Kobe went to the bench in favor of Lou Williams and Nick Young. Soon after that, Marcelo Huertas replaced Clarkson with Bass and Kelly subbing for Randle and Hibbert.
It was this bench crew that opened up the game, giving the Lakers a sorely needed boost. The ball whipped around the floor, but, more importantly, the wings were hitting shots.
Lou Williams and Nick Young have combined for 21 points on 7-10 FG's, 89.3% True Shooting. #Lakers
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) October 29, 2015
Those numbers were at the half, but they show exactly what Young and Williams brought in their 1st stint together. After those two helped get the Lakers off the mat, the starters were able to come back in and find a similar stride.
In the 2nd half, things continued similar to the first half, but the two units inverted roles. To open the third period, it was the starting group who started to get it going, creating makable shots and scoring fairly easily. The only issue was, the Wolves were able to hang tight enough that they never got too far down. Yes, the Lakers’ lead swelled to 16, but it never got to the point where it really felt like they’d pulled away.
Towards the end of the 3rd period and into the 4th, though, is when things really went awry. The Lakers lost whatever rhythm and momentum they’d built up and the Wolves seized it all. Led by Ricky Rubio and his improved jumper, Minnesota dissected the Lakers’ defense and got whatever type of shot they wanted. And when they didn’t get an open look, they seemed to draw a foul instead.
The result was, for an extended period, the Lakers living with single digit points in the period all while seeing their lead disintegrate completely. Before you knew it, it was the the Lakers who were losing and the tide had completely turned.
The Lakers, though, did have one last push in them. After trailing by nine, Kobe got fouled shooting a three and made all his FT’s to get the lead down to 6. After a stop, they were able to get the lead down to 4. And then down to 1 after a Williams three pointer. Then, after getting one last stop, Randle grabbed a rebound with 10 seconds left and, instead of calling timeout right away, pushed the ball. After crossing half court he turned on the jets and attacked Karl Anthony Towns and looked like he might get a good look at the rim. But before the shot went up whistles blew.
Kobe had called a timeout.
Coming out of the break the Lakers actually ran a nice little hand off play for Lou Williams who glided towards the paint and got off a nice six foot runner. But the shot back-heeled. It was an inch too long. Lakers lose. Ugh. Not the way I wanted to start the season, that’s for sure.
Now, on to the notes…
*We’ll start with Kobe because, well, why not. Talk about a roller coaster of a game. After starting out only making one for his first five shots, he then hit five of his next eight. He then closed the game only hitting two of his final 11 shots, including missing his last eight attempts. He finished the night 8-24 from the field for 24 points.
By the way, Kobe made 5 of his 11 two point shots but only 3 of his 13 three point shots. If he's going to take that many, must be better.
— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) October 29, 2015
*As noted above, Kobe took 13 three pointers. That is…too many.
*Besides Nick Young’s 5-8 shooting and, maybe, Lou Williams’ 6-14 night, no Laker shot well. As a team they hit 37.6% of their shots including 9-35 from behind the arc. None of that is good.
*They did hit 32-35 from the FT line, though. I was not only impressed by their accuracy, but with the number of attempts. The Lakers worked hard to draw those fouls, working the offensive glass and being aggressive in isolation. It was really the only bright spot offensively all night.
*Julius Randle impressed me even though he didn’t play his best game. He was aggressive and didn’t back down once all game. He jawed with KG, bulled his way into the paint, and showed his usual burst off the dribble. He didn’t finish as well against the Wolves’ length and he missed some bunnies inside (a couple with his right hand), but overall he did well by scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
*D’Angelo Russell’s stat line won’t impress anyone — 2 for 7 shooting, 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists — but I actually liked the way he played. He made several good reads, had more bounce in his step, and was more assertive than he was for much of the preseason. As I said on twitter, even though he made some mistakes, I liked the thought process behind them and thought he did well once he found his rhythm.
*Brandon Bass and Ryan Kelly got all the back-up PF/C minutes as neither Tarik Black nor Robert Sacre got any burn. Of the Kelly/Bass duo, I thought Kelly was better as Bass simply didn’t do much offensively and wasn’t any better on the glass than Ryan (both had 6 rebounds). Neither were good as scorers, but at least Kelly moved the ball well and ended the game with 3 assists.
*I’m pretty sure Lou Williams is going to be the team’s 2nd leading scorer this year. He simply knows how to get to the line and shows too much craftiness as a shot creator. He ended the night with 21 points on his 14 shots. He also closed the game with the starting group in place of Russell.
tough luck,great recap.
They went cold when they had 3 players who can’t score on the court at the same time kelly, bass, huertas
I wonder how effective Black/Kelly would be. Bass hasn’t looked comfortable in that 5 spot so far.
J C says
Hibbert led team in assists with 4.
Kobe looked healthy enough to hoist 24 shots and finish with 1 assist.
Byron’s lack of a coherent confident message and system will continue to haunt this team. Would have preferred Black in there ahead of Kelly. At this rate with this coach: 20-62.
Lots of talent and no direction.
I enjoy watching Lou Williams and surprisingly Randle. Great work by both guys. Hibbert too.
Russell will be very good but it will take time for him to shine. With Kobe’s and Clarkson’s projected and current combined usage rate it will take years.
Fitting that this game went to the Wolves. Rest in peace Flip !
Glad it was closely contested.
Peering behind the laker curtains, the script seems to be: Act I – Kobe, the last of the Mohicans. Act II – Future FP, Reel slowly, Veil and Protect. Act III – Swag to my Lou ! Act IV – Clarkson = Real Deal. Act V – Randle Rampage.
Act VI – Huertas, at least won’t hurt us.
The Dane says
I must say I really enjoy watching this team. I like the sets they are running and for a team with so many scorers, I think the ballmovement was quite good. It is early and a lot of teams still look like pre-season units.
Let me say it again, Randle is going to he a beast!!! He could had score 20 or more if he didn’t miss those bunnies Like i mentioned on the other thread Russell looks too tentative and to use a cliche “he needs to get the game come to him” he is going to get a lot better once he get comfortable playing on this level. Like Darius said he has the right ideas, his execution needs to catch up. Hated that we lost this way but this team packs a punch on the offensive side, the defense it is what it is, a bit better than last year, at least we will not get grossly outrebounded like almost every game last year. Can’t wait for the next game!!
Was happy with Randle, and thought Hibbert did fairly well.
We have a ton of gunners on this team, mostly low efficient streaky gunners at this point.
Lou Williams at least is efficient in the sense he gets to the line, slashing, but he has never been much of a pure shooter.
Clearly the Lakers are going to have games that they score a lot b/c they have guys who can gun it up regardless of the other teams defense. So we should get a handful of wins when a couple of our gunners end up having a good shooting night at the same time. As far as Kobe goes, he may as well just shoot a ton and move up the all time point chart, I don’t see what else he has to do at this point–he isn’t going to win much this season.
It’s pretty crazy when “swaggy” Young is your best shooter on a night. This team is currently built with a lot of guys who are volume scorers that likely aren’t going to shoot over 40% a ton, especially if its with ISO’s and not within the flow of a real offensive system.
I just want to see Randle progress, the rest is just background noise to me at this point.
– Waaay to many isolations. Team only had 18 assist, lead by Hibbert w/ 4. Receipt for disaster. Defense? Didn’t see much.
– Lakers 1st nine games are very winnable. 0-1 so far.
KB24 is now the poster-boy for advanced analytics and the pundits who champion efficiency have an easy target. 24 points on 24 shots cannot happen again, ever. And I think it’s going to happen most nights.
Some periods of this game got me excited – the lakers showed moments of brilliance. But in the end the same two things that have killed us for a while killed us again – once it got close we got over reliant on Kobe iso, as much as it pains me to say at this point this will work less often than it will. Seriously there were some shots that even the great man had no business taking. And the other was crap defence – like really really poor – there was a sequence down the stretch of the third that the wolves got anything they wanted going to the rim – they muscled their way down there and no laker was willing/able to stop them. I have concerns the bass/kelly front court is just too small it will likely cost us defensively.
For the life of me, I can’t begin to fathom why Russell was playing off the ball for the majority of the game. If you drafted him to be the point guard, let him play point guard. I know positions matter less now than ever before, but let the man play to his strengths.
Young guys need to develop that starts with more burden on their shoulders.
JD, I think the reason why is because Byron Scott does not believe that Russell is good enough to initiate the offense. Fern has written that it is tentativeness. I disagree, but whether the case is, I think he is not ready to play point guard yet.
Ehen Kelly and Russell play 46 minutes and have as many fouls 7 as points you have issues. Kelly should be in a bad suit on sideline not Metta or Black and my 11 year old son plays better D then Russell. Scott stopped coaching in 2nd half and blew win aganist a team that won’t win 20. STOP with this fantasy that Kelly stretches the floor. He retches the floor. And Russell plays zero defense and should be watching like Kobe did his 1st year. Playing a 2 guard? Jimmy Buss joke!
Start Lou, make Kelly a ball boy and explain to BS when a team go on a 18 to 3 run your allowed to call time outs.
Bad defense, playground offense and a clueless coach makes for another bad season.
T. Rogers says
If Russell isn’t ready to play point guard yet the Lakers should not have drafted him. It not like he’s going to learn by NOT playing. But I think he is ready. He just needs to be given room to play and make his mistakes.To be fair, the Princeton is not an offense that prizes a “quarterback” style point guard. Its more about half court sets constant movement and the ball going from side to side.
Supposedly one of Russell’s assets is his jump shooting. I’d like to see him get more shots up. I just want to see him more involved altogether. If the Lakers are going to lose a game, then don’t lose it with Kobe and Lou getting all the shots up. Lose it with Randle and Clarkson getting the shots up and Russell quarterbacking the offense. Nothing wrong with Kobe and Lou putting up points. But the sooner the young guys come along the better.
Joe W says
I do feel Coach Scott deserves some criticism for this loss. To start the 4th quarter he left the same lineup in for almost 5 minutes and they only scored 2 points. By the time he substituted, the lead had vanished. I also think he did a terrible job with the timeout situation. If Kobe didn’t call the timeout with 4 seconds left, the Lakers would have taken 3 timeouts into the locker room with them. Also the timeout should have been called immediately after Randle rebounded the ball with 10 seconds left as obviously the team was not all on the same page when Randle took off dribbling towards the basket.
D. Peterson says
Here’s what I saw:
1. I disagree with Darius about Russell. He looked largely lost on defense, like a JV player trying to keep up with the bigs. He didn’t fight through any screens, and his man was frequently yards away from him. He did not seem to play with any sort of intensity. It looks to me like he has trouble with the speed and physicality of the league. He needs to put on his big boy pants and get to it. I am also as flummoxed as some above posters about his lack of touches. He played mostly off the ball, and was a total non-factor. I thought he was supposed to be the guy that brought rhythm to the team. I just don’t get it. And I’m a little anxious that he seems more interested in his pre-game bow tie and shiny backback than he is with his effort. He simply did not look like he belonged on the same court with the rest of the guys.
2. The Lakers bring the ball up the court at an agonizingly slow pace when anyone but Randle has the ball. They don’t get into any sort of offense, the shot clock gets to 8, and then it’s just one-on-one. This has been a problem for several years, and Byron doesn’t seem too interested in fixing it.
3. Kobe did not make any attempt at all to get his team into rhythm. He certainly did not make the extra pass, nor did it seem he was encouraging his team to do anything other than give him the ball.
4. I saw very little in the way of adjustments from Byron. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to say the team had a coach at all.
5. Nick Young shot us out to a lead, and then he shot it away. By that time, Rubio was rolling and the writing was on the wall.
6. Clarkson needs to provide more leadership. There were times when he needed to take command to get the team into some sort of offense, and he simply didn’t get it done. He seemed to disappear for large stretches.
All in all, except for Julius, I was very discouraged by what I saw. I don’t see how any of the youngsters will make any progress with Kobe being Kobe and Byron being crap.
Ed C says
Meanwhile, for Phillie, Jahlil Okafor scored 26 points. Just sayin.
Darius, very insightful post. I agree with everything.
I particular, I agree that Russell played a much better game than his stat line suggests. When things started falling apart at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, I kept hoping that Russell would go back in for Huertas. It seemed to me that the Wolves figured out that Huertas can’t shoot and, maybe more importantly, when things were going bad that he would not shoot or shoot confidently (which is really the same thing). I still believe (hope) that Huertas can play his role but Russell needs to be in the game when things start to go badly for the offense.
@KO, I agree Kelly should be a 3rd stringer, maybe play 5mins a game, shot a couple 3’s then sit down the rest of the game. Also agree that Russel has the look of a bad defender at this point, and likely never will be too good–but he’s young so hopefully he strives to become slightly below average some day.
I would rather see Russel play 15mins a game with the rock in his hand, working from a position of strength–rather than more minutes playing off ball. No way he’s going to be a 2 guard, so why even bother, let him work on his weaknesses from a position of strength. Having him become mostly a higher minute observer that contributes very little isn’t going to do much for him, nor his confidence.
@KO, agree Byron Scott really is not a good coach, the data is in, if anything he may be worse than he was in the 90’s. Without his pedigree as a player, no one in their right mind would make him a head coach. He could just be a shooting coach or something. Disagree with you on the Wolves, yeah they aren’t that good, but they will win more than 20 games, IF people think this team is winning 30 games, then the wolves will win as many as us, we clearly aren’t better then them.
Snarky George says
For the third year in a row the Lakers have essentially a completely new team. So in spite of summer league, training camp and pre-season games there is still a learning curve for the team to get comfortable with each other. This is why talk of the playoffs is folly. Playoffs teams don’t spend the first 30+ games of the season just developing chemistry and learning how good the kids are. The margin of error, in the NBA. is just too small — the 8th – 10th seeds will probably be decided by mere games. We’re going to lose a lot of winnable games like last night.
My biggest take away from last night was Randle getting into double digits on the boards. I was most concerned about his rebounding as he didn’t excel at that last summer league/pre-season or this summer league/pre-season.
Kobe was Kobe. I think he shot far too much and should have picked up the passing slack by acting as a playmaker. I feel the team would be better and he would be more efficient if he took less shots.
I think the team will regret last night’s home loss. The Lakers have yet to play a true road game (all preseason contests were essentially at home) and they have a string of road games among the first 10. Getting some early wins under your belt is important especially for a team that is still figuring out who they are.
The Fouls really hurt the flow for the Lakers …plus Clarkson sat with foul problems.,..Randle needs more minutes(33 to 37) and less for Kelly/Bass.Concern about Russell and his lack of speed and hops.He hasn’t shown he can get to the hoop.Team can defend him easily.I know he is only 19 but I want to see NBA potential… Haven’t seen it yet.(Including Summer League and Preseason)…
Snarky George says
Mudiay: 17 pts (6 of 13 fgs); 5 rbs; 9 assists and 11 TOs in 38 min
Okafor: 26 pts (10-16 fgs) 7 rbs, 2 assits and 8 TOs in 38 min
Porzingis: 16 pts (3-11 fgs) 5 rbs 1 assist and 2 TOs in 24 min
Meyers Leonard, RFA watch:
12 pts (5-12) 8 rbs 3 assists and 2 TOs in 34 min
– As per Basketball-reference.com, 302 players participated in 14 games last night (10/28/15). Kobe Bryant led in one category: FGA’s (24). This translated to 24 pts, placing him in a tie with three other players, Bradley Beal (19 fga’s), Derrick Williams (17), & Jimmy Butler (11) for 13th place in points scored.
– And his iso’s may have been contagious. Lakers only had 18 assist for the entire game, led by Hibbert w/ 4.
– Did anyone mention “mentoring”?
I gotta say I am prettt encouraged with the team this year…more athletic even if a lot of players are below the rim they are still better nonetheless….and the bench mob might be back….the pace was nice….just need to convince kobe not to shoot over 20 times in games….but I like huertas and lou williams and young is under control this year it seems…
Joe Houston says
The 3 in the corner that Lou Williams hit, who passed initiated the pass? wasn’t it Kobe. Who hit the 3 Free-throws to pull us close? Wasn’t it Kobe. You guys need to shut it with the Kobe complaints. The Lakers were up 16 with Kobe playing well and then we went to the bench and Byron didn’t do much to stop the early 4th quarter bleeding. Still Lou Williams had a got shot that unfortunately didn’t drop. As for Russell, he is looking more and more like the 2nd coming of Kendall Marshall.
david h says
darius: coach scott was correct in benching Russell for lack of defense. This is where he needs to improve on the most because he will never become an impactful point guard in the nba if he continues to fail defensively as he will find himself on the bench and unable to contribute to his own learning curve from that position. not sure if he can ever accomplish this. but as others have said in his defence, he’s young and still learning. the question is: does he have the requisite tools to build on and how many players will pass him by before he ever gets there?
for his sake, let’s hope that process begins starting Friday.
As many have said, the Kobe iso’s killed us last night. Down the stretch, when Kobe got the ball, everyone either stopped moving or moved away from him. We would have had much better flow if he put the ball on the floor and played pick-and-roll with Hibbert or Randle. Instead, we got too many long threes that killed our momentum.
Note to Huertas-You do not have to foul every single time the opposing team is ahead of you on offense. You only resort to that tactic when you and the offensive player with the ball are in the backcourt and no other offensive player is in front of you. Huertas fouls unnecessarily when he’s behind on defense even when the Lakers have a sufficient amount of players ahead of him to play defense. Please, less minutes for Huertas, and more for D’Angelo. Might as well see if he’ll learn and adapt to the speed of the game sooner rather than later.
Note to Russell-The NBA is a man’s league. If you weren’t ready for the rigors of the league, then you should have stayed at Ohio State another year instead of capitalizing off one good season on a terrible team. The Lakers had a 19-year-old that played significant minutes as a rookie, and that player was lambasted for being arrogant enough to shoot the game-winning shot in the playoffs on a team full of veterans. Now that was the embodiment of confidence.
Russel can’t bring the ball up the court fast because he plays at one speed. He was torched by Ricky Rubio, the heretofore player that had excellent court vision, could finish at the rim but lacked a jump shot. Fast forward to last night and he’s added range and consistency to his shot. But to be fair Rubio’s shots were similar to his workouts in that they were made without any defense or a hand in his face. Then there was Kevin Martin. Now Martin is known for scoring, but not for defense. Yet, last night he looked like a lock for defensive player of the year against the Lakers guards. In a league dominated by offensive guards, the Lakers have failed to acquire a single player to put in the game for defensive purposes. Every guard in the league is circling the Lakers games for career nights.
As far as Bass goes, I’d rather the Lakers play Larry Nance Jr. as the backup center over him.
The Lakers needed one strong defensive segment during the last four minutes of that game, and the outcome would have been positive. Can anyone say, Meta World Peace?
Byron, your rotations and decision making are bothersome.
I implore you, Russell; please play the game with as much thought as you put into your pre-game outfit and social media tweets.
Kobe, if you will because you can, please average 4-5 assists a game.
Randle when you get to the rim, either dunk the ball or use the backboard you’ll finish more often, but overall I’m enjoying your rookie campaign thus far.
Lakers for Life. Let’s go defense!
Mark Sigal says
I am not sure if everyone saw the game, but the lack of timeout at the end was on the officials. Multiple Lakers, including Kobe called timeout, and the officials did not notice it, so they pushed up court.
Randle is looking like a beast, and you have to love his attitude, jawing with KD. Very encouraging. To have a big that can dribble, can hit the mid range and finish is going to be fun watching develop.
Russell was much better than his stats show, and made several excellent passes that teammates were not ready for, which was more on them than him. Reps and chemistry will solve that, but it should be obvious that if he’s encouraged to play less cautiously, he will develop. He sees the whole floor, and is a pass first PG. The scoring can come later.
Very winnable game, but that is secondary to the team developing, and being entertaining. I will say, though, that a lot of that loss is on Scott for letting the lead evaporate before making adjustments.
Too many fouls. I thought we lost the game in the 3rd period when we fouled Kevin Martin seemingly every time down the floor. The game was hopelessly long and drawn out and stole any momentum we had.
To me, I was very pleased with Hibbert. He’s a smart defender and sneaky good all around. Kudos to the team for the FT shooting- all seemed to have a nice stroke and it will win us some games.
Clarkson looked good, Randle too (those shots will fall, eventually). Williams was great and Nick Young was his streaky self. Kobe looked to shoot almost every time he touched the ball, and I was disappointed with that. To his credit, he did make a few key passes in the last minute (and voila, we almost win the game). If the team is to turn the corner, Kobe will need to average 4-5 assists per night. Taking 13 threes is not a way to win. The players still, on the whole, defer to Kobe on offense. I actually think Kobe needs to play closer to 25 minutes, some with 2nd team. This would free up Russel and Clarkson to take the lead.
I agree with the comment’s about Kobe’s 3 pt attempts. That being said, one sign of progress(?) was at the end of the game when Kobe didn’t take the 3 and passed the ball to Lou who had a more open shot and made it.
George Best says
Really unwatchable but this game is a mirror for the Kobe farewell tour season. Our expectations are so low that we try to boost up plays made by youngsters and scrubs to justify having them on the team not that bad a thing. Then we lose a game we should win which will put us at 25 wins instead of 35 everyone thinks we will get.
This year is wasted and if we drafted the guard version of Sam Bowie and Okafor is Elton Brand or better, the Buss family will be selling this team or the fans will burn the Forum down.
@George, I’m with you on the Russel pick, its done and over. But I for one was shocked, and not happy at all. I wasn’t completely enamored with Okafor, but he certainly looked like the more legit player. Russel is that “he’s got upside” guy. Every year we get a ton of guards who are going to rock the world, so few do. At least the 7 foot guys with offensive talent can be rotational players at some level, even just for their size. Somtimes the guards end up being about worthless. I think Russel is likely not a ton better than Kendal Marshall. Although to be fair Russel has decent form, not that crazy crap set shot Marshall had, but Marshall was a pretty impressive passer I’ll give him that. It’s just for most teams they need a guard who can break down the defense off the dribble when they want, not merely be a precision passer. Russell certainly is young so we can still hope he gets there–and he may very well may. But Okafor looks like he’s going to be doing some damage now, whereas Russel likely isn’t going to look like a #2 pick this first year.
Im sorry but clarkson doesnt need anything handed to him…put huertas or clarkson or williams in that role and make him earn it…ever wonder how kobe would have turned out if he was starting from day 1 and had the keys to the offense? Either he will step up or he isn’t a real nba star
BREAKING NEWS – 19 year old rookie struggles in first game as an NBA point guard! Laker fans in a panic as their dreams of making the playoffs vanish.
We all love this team. But this is what rebuilding looks like. Rookies and castoffs from other teams. There is a reason most people pick this team to end up at the bottom of this conference. D’Angelo has a lot to learn and he will struggle this season. I expect they are trying to bring him along slowly to keep from breaking his confidence. Temper your expectations and look for improvement as the year goes on. It will make this season a little more bearable.
Man we lost to a sorry team…..the team did show some chemistry, kobe trying to prove he still gots it, alright already no its time to play team ball, russell looked good, but the critics are gonna talk, i can’t wait until randle has a 30 point game, why is clarkson on the bench at all, did huertas need to play 20 minutes, is bass a rookie what issss up, he got outplayed by ryan kelly, twolves starting center didn’t even play, other than that it’s gonna be a good year as long as management stays out of the way