The last game the Lakers played was a blowout at the hands of the T’Wolves. Whether they were tired from playing in 3 different cities in 4 days or simply due for a bad night, the hope is that a return home will get them back on track when they face the Nets tonight.
The Nets are an interesting team. When you look at their roster, the assumption would be that they are terrible. Yes they have Brook Lopez who is an all-star caliber player and Jeremy Lin (who was good in Charlotte last year) was a nice addition in free agency. But beyond those two, this roster looks like a bunch of journeymen – Randy Foye, Luis Scola, Trevor Booker — and players who even NBA die-hards might not be familiar with. (Sean Harris? Justin Hamilton? These guys sound like generic roster fillers on a simulated 2K season, but they get real minutes on this team.)
In other words, the expectation is that they will be bad. And maybe in the long run they will be. But, right now, this team is 4-6 on the year while posting top 20 ratings on offense and defense.
Those aren’t numbers to write home about, but they do reflect what this team is: well coached and one who plays together to be greater than the sum of their parts. Credit to Sean Marks who took over as GM in the off-season and to new coach Kenny Atkinson for having a vision and then getting the players to buy-in and execute it on the floor.
What does all this mean for tonight? Mostly that the Lakers better come prepared to execute their own game plan and not buy into the lack of talent on the other side. We have said this before, but the Lakers are not good enough to take any opponent for granted. When that other team is well coached and plays hard, that goes double.
Of course, even if citing the coaching and how their role players are getting things done, this team is still about Lopez and the the Lakers would do well to try and limit him. Lopez has long been one of those guys who tends to give the Lakers’ problems and I expect no different this game. He’s expanded his game to include the 3 point shot (now hoisting over 4 attempts per game), but can still work the mid-range and post with a diverse arsenal. Just as the Lakers turned to Mozgov down the stretch against the Kings to battle with DeMarcus Cousins, Timo will be important tonight in order to battle Lopez all over the floor.
On the perimeter, I am interested in seeing how Russell plays. We know he has been up and down and are waiting for a breakout game. If you recall, the game vs. the Nets in Los Angeles last year was the original “ice in my veins” game, and Russell also did well against them in Brooklyn. I know that the participants on their end are different, but I also think there’s something to guys just playing well against certain teams over their careers. Boosting those chances is this game being at Staples. Russell’s home/road splits don’t offer huge discrepancies, but he does shoot the deep ball nearly 8% points better in Los Angeles. I would like to see that trend continue in this game.
Lastly, earlier we discussed how the the Lakers’ bench has been so key to their success this season. Tonight offers another chance for them to make an impact. The Nets will be without Jeremy Lin, which impacts their backcourt depth. They are already not the deepest team, so whatever edge the Lakers can get from their superior depth can end up being the difference in the game.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.
– Nets are an interesting team. Like the Lakers, they’re surprising many with their early season success. Hope Lopez & Lin play. Can’t take any team for granted, but this is one team on paper the Lakers are better than.
I missed out on the DAR post earlier so sharing my
As many have noted, it’s just too soon to tell about
Russell (superstar vs all star vs solid starter). Truth be told, the FO
didn’t do the kids any favors last year with Scott as coach combined with the sideshow
of Kobe’s farewell tour.
Young players need
a defined role and consistent teaching/coaching — I’m not sure that was the
environment on last year’s team. The FO simply did not make Russell’s
rookie year as smooth as you would expect for a #2 pick whom the team desperately
needs to hit it big.
Yes, Luke is a breath of fresh air and has
given the team and the fans new life. This shows in the team’s play and
overall record. However, as rr has stated, it is clear that the FO is
after wins this year. This objective is taking a front seat over a curriculum
designed solely for the youngsters benefit.
Well, in my mind, the reason Russell had such a great summer league was
that he was clearly running the show. He had the ball in his hands a
majority of the time and was able to dictate tempo and make the key decision(s)
on the offensive end of the floor. He was fully invested and it showed in his
Fast forward to this season and we see that the ball is not in Russell’s
hands nearly as much. Also note that
Russell’s playing time is down from his rookie campaign (his turnovers are
up as well). Williams, Clarkson, Randle
and Ingram all bring the ball up/initiate the offense either opportunistically
or by design. The team seems to be making a priority of playing the hot hand in
the backcourt over ensuring that Russell keeps his All Star PG of the future mojo.
Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing as the Lakers
are winning. However, it’s possible that Russell is either unsure of his
role or maybe he doesn’t see himself as a shooting guard which is what he
becomes when the ball is not in his hands.
Strange game thus far. DAR came out blazing hot but the Nets have turned things around. The Nets front court is really playing hard.
Clearly the remedy to whatever ails D’Angelo is to play the Nets more often.
Some of these turnovers are just remarkable.
Let’s enjoy this win, warts and all. It might be a while before we pick another. The next 5 games in the schedule are just murder. Let’s see how the team behaves. Im not really encouraged by our defense tonight…
fern16 It might be, but to be honest Chicago and OKC aren’t anything to write home about.
My bad,next 6-7 games…
That might be, but the Nets are even less to write home about and they hanged 118 points on us. Chicago and OKC are better teams than the Nets. And playing the Dubs in consecutive games. Who made this schedule Mark Cuban and Larry Bird?
fern16 The Warriors and Hawks are better than the Nets too… 🙂
TOJW, Looks like Walton read your plea, and gave D’Angelo some freedom tonight.
Keep writing my friend, keep writing !
lil pau says
loved that time out play that led to the JC FTs. Man, what a difference a year makes….
Renato Afonso says
Nice win. The Nets transition defense is just terrible. Their pick and roll defense is even worse. Now things get interesting…
I’m hoping for 1 win…
Russell was turning the ball over big time in the Summer League. He was scoring more and exuded confidence so we took it as him coming out. Instead, he comes out every game with that lackluster approach and those confounded turnovers. He may never learn how to play defense (he doesn’t have the athleticism), but if he cuts down the turnovers he can become and effective NBA point guard.
I was never so wrong, Randle can be the beast you guys saw. He is so strong and quick. If he ever develops a shot, he can definitely rise to a second tier star. He may never be KAT, Davis or Lebron, but he can be an allstar.
I won’t say you or I are wrong just yet but let’s say definitely encouraged and highly optimistic about Randle’s play and progress so far. Responding to the coaching and he is displaying additional elements to his game. Now what he has to do is become consistent and deliver that level of play night in and night out against better competition. My hats off to the young fella been answering the bell!
It’s been a real head scratcher for me. On offense nothing has changed about his game other than he is finishing at a really high rate at the rim with very few jumpers. Is it something schematic in Walton’s offense? I’d like to see Darius or Renato do an article on the plays being run for Randle. I really don’t know how to explain the huge turn around.
I’m most impressed though with his defense this year. Well beyond my expectations.
Vasheed Busboys4me To my eyes the big difference is that the floor is much better spaced this year. The way teams packed the paint last year Randle was almost always attacking into multiple defenders. This year the team’s improved shooting, ball movement, and off-ball movement have largely kept the opposition from packing the paint and it has turned out that there are very few players who can guard Randle 1v1.
Vasheed Busboys4me He’s only in his second full year. I don’t think any of these guys are finished products so maybe it’s just the way people learn and better. Probably doesn’t proceed in a straight or happen overnight as much as the fans would like.
I think almost all of our young guys have the skills that could make them all-stars and hopefully the work ethic to get there. I like Ray Allen’s quip – “God doesn’t care whether or not you make your next jump shot.”
A Horse With No Name says
LordMo I’ll say it for you: You were wrong.
Busboys4me He may make it to a LeBron lite level, which would be reaching his highest ceiling and would make him a some time all-star. The key is going to be a consistent shot and ability to use his right hand. Both are doable and both are works in progress that won’t happen overnight.
Perspective, and Patience my fellow fan.
First of all, everyone who passes on that team, is turning the ball over, and it’s not always the fault of the passer.
This is new team that is just getting to know one another.
As for Russell, turnovers are a sign of a trait that a superstar point guard needs, which is decisiveness and the willingness to take chances and make mistakes.
He will learn from those over time and get better.
With regards to defense, expecting perfection from such a complicated position as pg is a self imposed cage of frustration.
Many super star point guards were not the best defenders, including the best of the best, Magic.
Lastly, imo Russell is our pg, so I for one am going to support him, and have the patience that Walton is applying.
Pressure, even from fans, is counter productive to him, and thus to our team future.
A Horse With No Name says
MT87 Vasheed Busboys4me Astute comments, MT87. I would add that Randle is stronger, faster, lighter, and has more physical endurance to play at a higher level than before. Last season he was a bit of a bucket hanger, grabbing the fruit off the tree (the basket). Now he is truly a full court player with the capacity to switch defensively, and make multiple offensive thrusts in a given possession. His handle is much improved (even making cross-overs on the break), and he has his head up, enabling him to see the court and make the correct pass (last season he put his head down and barreled towards the basket).
MT87 Vasheed Busboys4me
Very good observation.
A Horse With No Name LordMo Busboys4me
More like Zach Randolph Plus! LeBron is an elite player and athlete plus great on both ends of the floor. With Randle your looking at a good athlete for his size much different. Also, we want him to become a capable defender but he is no stopper. If you go long term on Randle then you will always have to have an elite defender / rim protector in the front court next to him like Dallas with Dirk… pretty much the same scenario.