The Lakers are in the midst of a 6 game losing streak. Sunday’s game against the Knicks saw the return of D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young, but both were limited with their minutes and Russell struggled with his shot mightily while looking rusty in general. The team’s defense continued to be terrible, switching excessively and then not containing dribble penetration in the half court or transition.
Despite all that, the Lakers lost by 6 points and had a real chance to take the game in the final 5 minutes. Again, they had a chance to win the game. In other words, there are lots of things to work on with these Lakers and I can understand there being a certain amount of targeted concern. I also think the team is going to get back on the right track now that the injuries are clearing up. Now if only Tarik Black can come back soon.
Tonight the Lakers are back in action, though, so if there was ever a thought about worrying too much about where they stand or what’s going on, there’s really no time for all that. The team is in Sacramento, facing a Kings team which has given them issues of late, using DeMarcus Cousins as a battering ram who can also hit threes and Rudy Gay’s wing scoring to supplement the hammer.
The Lakers pulled out the last match up against them by swarming Cousins in the post and forcing his teammates to win the game instead. They could not do it. Down the stretch of that game Timofey Mozgov was a key player, playing Cousins tightly and bodying him from behind while allowing the help to take away other scoring angles. One has to wonder if Walton will charge his players with doing the same tonight, forcing the other Kings to be the drivers of offense rather than the best player on either team.
For the Lakers, there really isn’t much new to say. They simply need to play better on both sides of the ball. We all know their defense has been terrible of late — they have fallen to last in defensive efficiency in the entire league. They need to communicate better, need to help each other better, and need to execute the scheme better. Walton, too, could do better by not having his players switch so much and by diversifying how they play the P&R by changing up against who and how often they go over screens. I understand there are limitations to making tactical changes when the team barely has any practice time, but it’s difficult to see opposing offenses get what they want so consistently.
Regarding the Lakers’ offense, they need to move the ball more and simply have more patience in how they attack. Too often during this losing streak players have had tunnel vision, looking to get their own baskets rather than working together to try and get those buckets. Only Lou Williams has had much success with this and while I love watching Lou get buckets, I think the team would be better off if his teammates jointed him at the party.
Having Russell back will help. The spacing Young provides can also help get guys back on the right track. But it’s not just going to happen because guys return to the lineup. No, it will take the guys playing together, looking for each other, and following through by actually, you know, moving the damn ball. And it needs to start sooner than later.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.
Darius: “moving the damn ball”, that pretty much sums it up.
roti and curry night.
Clay Bertrand says
I Agree wholeheartedly with MOVE THE DAMN BALL.
Also, someone please tell D’Angelo that shots closer to the basket than the three point line are actually LEGAL and its also within the rules to throw NORMAL EVERYDAY PASSES to expectant teammates in positions to make plays.
Every shot doesn’t have to be a deep dagger and every pass doesn’t have to be a NO LOOK, high risk, all or nothing laser to the lower legs of a big man in no position to do anything with the ball even if he did somehow catch it. Sometimes I think Russell thinks the goal of the game is to deliberately hit teammates when they are NOT LOOKING, and NOT IN POSITION TO MAKE A PLAY just to show he can. It’s like he’s playing dodge ball just trying to hit unsuspecting teammates!!
DUDE, we get it!!!! You have good court vision and fancy yourself as a slick passer!!!!! Now start throwing it to guys WHO ARE READY TO CATCH IT AND POISED TO DO SOMETHING!!!! NO that doesn’t mean MOZGOV streaking the floor 15 feet from the basket or Tarik Black behind the arc w 2 seconds on the 24!!!!! KNOW your personnel!!!!! Make the RIGHT play instead of GILDING THE DAMN LILY on even the most simple basketball passes!!! Its like playing QB!!!! Its not about PASSES——-Its about COMPLETIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We’ve seen tons of cannon arms come and go in the NFL over the years who have no touch, feel, anticipation, or accuracy. If you can THROW some crazy passes but no one ever can catch them or convert, what’s the point!?!?!?!?!?!!?!??????
Russell looked amazing IN THE SUMMER and was drawing raves for attacking at all 3 levels. As a result, he got easier looks, got the foul line more, and drew defensive attention so he could find teammates. He also was more effective because he had a varied attack (AND was playing against Summer League “talent”). Lately though, he has devolved into a THREE POINTERS ONLY shooter who is shooting them poorly and his passes are of the FORCED, GOTTA BE SPECTACULAR variety as opposed to just making the right play.
I don’t blame his mild injury for this either. His game was going sideways before the injury. If confidence is an issue, you don’t regain it by chucking 3s until you make ONE!!! GO to the basket. Get into the lane. Get to the line and stop with the SHOWTIME BS!!!! One highlight Assist for every 4-5 Turnovers trying to thread the needle is NOT gonna get it done. How can your teammates trust you if you constantly make them look stupid with low percentage passes?
Hopefully we see him do better to shake the rust tonight. Also, another dose of 25 year old Deng would be welcome after last nights Hot Tube Time Machine game!!!! I actually think Deng had a flash in the pan game because he was facing Noah and Rose and that he will likely NEVER approach the shooting he exhibited last night again in the next 4 years……But I’m a GLASS HALF FULL OF AIR type of guy…………….
GO LAKERS!!!!! KILL THE QUEENS!!!!!!!!!!!!
LOL are these refs for real? How did they miss Cousins throwing Randle to the floor? No wonder Luke got himself tossed.
Luke Walton not happy and gets 2 technical fouls standing up for his team after a missed call. Way to go Luke. Light a fire under the Lakers.
Cousins is really out to prove a point after the post game verbiage between him and JR following the first meeting. That WWE move on Randle should have got him ejected, not Luke.
Thomas Robinson is working his ass off.
The Lakers need to draw a line in the sand and push back against the physicality of Sacto. Since the incident, they have become unhinged. If they can’t respond to the physical challenge, every team in the league will push them off the court.
You think that the refs would have reviewed that Cousins garbage, before they ejected him.
Always disliked Cousins, bad character, and I hope he never ends up a Laker.
The Lakers should win this one for Walton.
Agree, Kev… TRob got the memo; he brought the energy. Deng is looking good, too… 8 points in the 2nd.
Russell seems to be shaking the rust off.
Good job by the Lakers to close the 2nd on a 14-2 run… DAR looking a lot better. LA held Sac to 28 pts. in the quarter. More of that please!
Disastrous third quarter, simply awful.
Looks like the Lakers forgot they have to play 2 halves. Their body language after this onslaught is that of a whipped team. They’re feeling sorry for themselves. That’s not good.
Cousins with another deceptive play, an overacting flop, but this time he got caught.
Reality is starting to hit home for this team. Their personnel is too flawed to get by with such erratic (I’m being generous) defensive effort.
Meanwhile, the BS calls continue with a perplexing T on Lou Williams. Give me strength.
Referee ball at its worst…6 techs…
I’m not blaming this loss on the refs… the Lakers threw this game away, but this was a horribly officiated game nonetheless. This is a tough business. The Lakers better toughen up.
Above should have read 18 pts.
Your description of Russell reminds of an old Kings PG Jason Williams. Williams would throw fancy no look passes in lieu of a simple one, and no one would expect them, including his teammates.
It’s time to reconfigure the Lakers lineup. With D’Lo slowly back to form, we need to maximize our team in terms of usage rate and balance. Its no secret my love affair with Junior, and its time that he starts at the 4 in lieu of Randle.
Nance is low-key and low-usage but he could also be the recipient of D’Lo’s lobs. Because Mozz is slow and plodding aka a traditional big man, pairing him w/ the most-athletic guy on the team might be beneficial. For what its worth, the Lakers have Deng and Mozz in the 1st unit therefore running is not in the plans. Nick Young is the other end of the shooting spectrum and would benefit if Russell plays the post more.
As for the bench, losing Black for a bit matters, but Randle just fits in much better beside Ingram, Clarkson, Lou Will and T-Rob. The team is interchangeable and defense isn’t the focus. We just run, move the ball and run some more. This combination has been successful in the past and fits in w/ each other’s skillset. Everyone from 1-4 can bring the ball up court and just interchange.
John Citizen says
wwlofficial I agree. However, Randle have more potential and aggression than Nance so i would keep it for now in the starting players simply because its a development year. He had good games and bad games offensively but his defense looked bad on most nights.
I know i said this before but Russell usage rate should increase way more than this. He is our only star and must be treated as such. For Randle to not pass to Russell and go one on one instead just piss me off and it bothers me why no one is mentioning how bad is this.
I’m a Nance fan too. However, I think Randle’s early success was predicated on the spacing Provided by Russell and Young. With their return, I’d hold off on changes at the moment to the starting line up.
Perhaps try something if things don’t start clicking in a few more games.
Still think this team is going to the playoffs? ROFL!!!!
Write-ups and posts calling for Black. Really? Should tell you how bad we really are when you guys are pining for a border line NBA player.
In the words of Vic da Brick …. ” Bad Team, Man! Bad Team!
Oh yeah… Bye Jimbo! Maybe you meant we would make the playoffs in 3 years after Kobe. Once Jimbo is gone then and only then will we have a chance at respectability.
As always Ol’ LordMo is right. Keep pumping sunshine people because it is all we got and it is a long season.
LordMo going by your tone, we should just tank it out every year until a superstar comes to save the franchise. Instead of developing one that’s already on your team.
Greatest Laker fan ever.
_ Robert _ says
We are 29th in Def rating, we are 26th in assist % (and this is the supposed to be the post Kobe era), we are 28th in the ratio of assists to turnovers, and we are 26th in turnover ratio. I have been very complimentary of Luke – and I still think he is great for us. However these are “coachable” type items so I know what would be said if this were any of our last 3 coaches. So is this coaching? Roster? or can some give me some optimistic “Context” about injuries, schedule, and referees.
I am NOT focused on the wins and losses as much as I am focused on us progressing. The stats above indicate where we are on the that score to some extent. Playing the right way is shown by playing good defense, not turning the ball over, and sharing the ball. We are not playing the right way yet. Plenty of time to turn it around but this is not good right now.
I said earlier in the year that Luke was doing this with mirrors. I think that perhaps we are now reading the fine print – “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”
We dont have a superstar on this team. We can try to project that upon one of them if you want but that does not make it so.
Denial just isn’t a river in Egypt…. It is here on this board!
A Horse With No Name says
Injuries (losing your starting backcourt!) and a brutal schedule have disrupted the delicate balance of a young team that had been over achieving. Give great credit to Luke for making the young and undeveloped pieces meld with the older, mostly ordinary talent into a team that competes and gives their fans hope. It’s real. This team is on the rise. As others here have noted, this is not a linear trajectory. Stops, starts, bursts and busts will be part of the journey. Do not underestimate the importance of seemingly minor personnel absences. To whit, the absence of Tarik Black has really hurt the defense of the second unit. Black’s ability to switch and recover with Nance has been at the center of their defensive scheme.
Despite the loss, there were encouraging signs. The comatose Deng has found his game and if he can sustain it, it will have a huge impact on the first unit. Nick looks to be in fine form already. Russell was much better than his initial return game. Once their minute restrictions are lifted they will hugely impact the team by restoring the spacing and movement that has been missing as Randle in particular, and Clarkson and Lou as well, have been forced to do too much.
I don’t anticipate wins per se on this road trip, but I expect that the team will show progress again. All this talk about making the playoffs was premature, as everything would have to go right (it rarely does) for that to happen. I said they would surprise and get to at least 30 wins. With good health, they will.
I’m going to enjoy the journey.
new rr says
_ Robert _
1.Just as things weren’t as good as they looked
early in the year, they are not as bad as they look now, in that the law of
averages if nothing else suggests that the Lakers will bounce back some soon.
2.You are correct to note that Brown, D’Antoni,
and Scott would be getting eviscerated right now for the same team performance
arc. That is fair in some ways—Luke is new, was a very solid hire conceptually,
deserves a long rope, and will get it. That said, it is also fair to note the
Lakers’ defense by the basic metrics is just as bad now as it was under Scott
with Kobe and Hibbert playing a lot. I think it is reasonable to expect the
team to improve on those numbers a bit as the season goes forward and to put
some of that on Luke if they don’t.
3.I agree with Mo that a few people are making too
big of a deal about Tarik Black. If the Lakers can only compete with all ten of
the guys in Walton’s rotation being healthy and playing at their best level,
then that just means the roster is very weak. Injuries are part of the game.
4.As to rotations: switching out Young and Randle
for Ingram/Clarkson and Nance makes some sense to me, in that Randle could
handle the ball more with the second unit and having Young and Williams there
would still provide some spacing. Plus, it would get some of the young guys more
floor time together. But given how well the bench was doing, I assume that Walton
won’t change anything yet, which I get.
5.The Lakers really only have two guys who seem to
have a solid shot to be ASG-level guys, and they are playing their age-19 and
age-20 seasons, so it is important to remember that. As has been the case since
Kobe hobbled off the floor against GS back in April of 2013, the best player on
the floor is almost always wearing the other team’s uniform when the ball goes
up, and the Lakers do not have an All-Star. We have seen the effects of that in games
against OKC, Chicago, Indiana, New Orleans, Memphis, and we saw it again last
night. No matter how smart Walton is and how hard guys work, play together,
etc. that is tough to overcome.
6.I expect that one reason the FO and Luke wanted
Deng Mozgov is the idea that roster stabilization and veteran presence would
help the team avoid long, possibly demoralizing losing streaks. So, I would like
to see Deng and Mozgov spark a win or two on this trip.
new rr _ Robert _
The thing about Black is he is basically like the Laker’s poor man version of Draymond Green. Black is basically a PF but strong enough to hold his space against traditional centers. He fits systematically into what Luke is trying to run in the second unit. A lot of Luke’s success had been in finding synergies within the players he has. Disturbances in the second unit have seemed more detrimental then those in the first unit.
Maybe yes, maybe no, at this time, we just don’t know.
new rr says
Vasheed _ Robert _
Link 82games.com floor units page for current Lakers
Clay Bertrand says
new rr _ Robert _
Tarik’s recognition as a missing piece may be being overstated by some, but it is interesting that when we see these guys go down like Nance and Black, we can SEE there is truly something missing. That they can be missed even as ROLE players says something about the way Luke has guys embracing and thriving (other than DEFENSE) in their niches.
This is something that is difficult to establish on younger teams. Look at Minnesota’s core of young developing players—Although their talent is tantalizing no one is willing to do the dirty work there. Young guys typically are head strong to make THEIR MARK in the league and getting them to buy into a limited, specialized role for the good of the rotation can be a hard sell.
I find it particularly glaring that when Nance and Black are absent, the poor excuse for DEFENSE that the Lakers play gets noticeably worse. Its worrisome that the Lakers defensive identity (and I use the term Identity very loosely here) seems to start and end with Nance, Black and Mozgov none of whom are considered THE CORE of the team. More guys need to buy in on the Defensive end Period.
If we were to rebound and go 5-4 the rest of the month of December, which I think is totally doable, that would be a pretty successful month especially given the long road trip.
Vasheed new rr _ Robert _
He is no where near Draymond Green … please stop the madness!
He can only play against the centers of today because there are no true centers in this league anymore with them shooting 3’s and what not … ridiculousness!!!
_Craig W says
A Horse With No Name Deng’s history indicates he will take around 20 games to acclimate to a new coach’s system. He is following his history.
Clay Bertrand says
_Craig W A Horse With No Name
I’d really LOVE for this to be the case with Luol. He can’t have gotten THIS OLD over a few months could he!?!?!!?!?!?!!!??? He looked pretty good on the second of a B2B last night. We know his BB IQ is high, his fundamentals are sound, he hustles, and has a dedication to playing D.
Maybe he just needed to get on track……..Looks like he has.
A Horse With No Name says
_Craig W A Horse With No Name Fingers crossed! Good find.
LT Mitchell says
_ Robert _
The Lakers have by far the worst collection of defensive guards in a league that is PG driven. It’s no surprise that they rank 29th.
Offensively is where this team has some potential, ranking 20th (29th last season). The recent injuries have lowered their offensive ranking, but I would not be surprised if this team ended up in the top 15 by season’s end.
Although I would like to see the assists go up as well, I don’t think the low numbers are an indictment on the coaching staff. Lou has been our MVP and the offense revolves around him when he is in the game (and rightfully so), which means plenty of isolation and getting to the line. Our second best scorer is Nick, whose strongest skill is creating his own shot and our starting PG, DAR, is really a SG. I think Luke is simply trying to utilize the talent (and lack thereof) on this roster. This isn’t DAntoni trying to force his players to fit his system by turning Pau into a perimeter player, etc. Luke knows exactly what he has in Lou, Nick, DAR, etal. and his offense reflects that.
LordMo Vasheed new rr _ Robert _
You’re making strawman arguments. One I called Black a poor man’s Green. Two teams still use true centers and most of them don’t shoot threes.
The thing about playing defense in the NBA is that a lot depends on the referees. Teams and players with defensive reputations are allowed way more latitude as far as contact is concerned. Think about the hated Celtics in 2008 and how their coaches (Rivers and Thibodeau) encouraged them to foul on just about every play, knowing that refs are loathe to slow down games and won’t call every foul.
Right now our Lakers are perceived to be so weak defensively that a lot of their aggressive attempts at making stops are automatically called fouls. They have got to learn to be physical without being obvious about it. Bringing a consistent effort will eventually change the narrative and experience will teach them what they can and can’t get away with. Right now their lack of aggression on D combined with poor fundamentals and a lack of communication, effort and execution have them in limbo.
According to Walton it is too early to judge how well the defense is doing. The team has been weak defensively for 3 seasons and it will take more than (now 27) games to learn and execute the schemes. That being said, it would seem they could do a much better job of talking to each other and calling out picks and screens. My other pet peeve is the insistence on jumping into shooters. Those are easy fouls to call and too often bail out bad shot attempts.
If all of the Lakers players are hopeless on defense, what does that make Minnesota’s players? As a team they are ranked just ahead of the Lakers and that is with a defensive genius as coach.
With Ingram and Deng the Lakers have two guys on the roster that will play better than they did these first 25 games of the season. I don’t know if Deng can sustain the level of play that he showed the last two games and if Ingram will be the Superstar that everybody is hoping for but they won’t play that bad. And that will have a huge effect on the teams performance.
The only thing that worries me is Russels defense. I really like that kid and I hope he will be a great player but I find it difficult to really rave about players that only shine on the offensive end of the floor (Sorry James Harden)
What I can see on the floor doesn’t give me much hope though. However when Nick can become the best wing defender (on a bad defensive team I know! But Still!) Russel might get there someday.
Also there is this quote from Russel: It’s always my fault. Being the point of the defense and being on the ball and trying to make it tough for the next guard, I blame myself here.”