The Lakers are 11-20 and 1-4 on their current 7 game road trip. In the 1st half the Hornets game it looked as though the team had started to recapture some of their early season form only to give it all back like a gambler at a hot craps table who decided he needed to go test roulette next instead of enjoying his comped steak dinner. With that loss the chance of having an over .500 roadie evaporated.
The trip can still be salvaged, though. They close with two games in Florida, facing the 9-20 Heat and the 13-17 Magic. Neither game is a gimme, not on the road and not against teams who have some good talent. But, still, the Lakers have been close to getting back on track for a while now, falling short mostly through a stretch of mistake ridden basketball in nearly every game that proves too costly to overcome.
Tonight it’s the Heat on deck and on a night they celebrate Shaq and all his accomplishments in Miami by retiring his jersey, there is a bit of a controversy with their current franchise center. A couple of days ago, Hassan Whiteside had a fantastic game against the Magic, but his team lost in overtime. That is the context for this from the Miami Herald:
After scoring 27 points and making 12 field goals on 19 attempts in regulation, Whiteside took only three shots in the two overtime five-minutes periods. He made his first two shots in the first overtime and missed his last – an eight-foot hook shot – on the Heat’s first possession of the second overtime.
“They say I’m the franchise player. I would think I should get more,” Whiteside responded when asked if he thinks he gets enough touches late in games. “But, I don’t know, man. I don’t think so to be honest. Coach is going to coach.”
Whiteside has never been afraid to speak his mind and he certainly has a high opinion of his ability to impact the game — as he should. But as the Heat struggle to win games, with Whiteside the face of a losing team, the potential for sourness is there. I don’t think things are there yet — or even necessarily close. But it’s interesting to see from afar and worth monitoring.
What does mean for tonight? Maybe nothing, I suppose. Whiteside is going to play and likely well. His size, post up skill, and ability to be a devastating roll man in the P&R will give the Lakers problems. It gives most every team problems. That said, signing Mozgov was for matchups just like this one. The hope is, at least in direct post ups, Mozgov can battle Whiteside for position, push him from his preferred spots, and then challenge shots well enough to force some misses.
Whiteside is not the only concern, though. Despite dealing with an eye issue, Goran Dragic is likely to suit up. The Slovenian’s shot making and ability to create for others can give the Lakers’ problems. His speed and quickness in the open court and craftiness when attacking the rim will need to be held in check or he will create points for himself and paint scoring opportunities for Whiteside via interior passes and offensive rebounding chances.
The other player I will be watching closely is 2nd year forward Justise Winslow. The former Duke product can play an all around game, impacting the boxscore in multiple ways. He’s not yet the shooter the Heat need, but he can get downhill into the paint to get his own baskets while defending the hell out of the ball on the other end. I’m interested in seeing who he defends initially and also how things look when he and Brandon Ingram guard each other.
On the Lakers’ end, the things I am looking for are pretty straight forward. Play hard and with confidence. I have said this before, but I think the Lakers are close to getting back on track to being the fun team they were to start the year. Their offense has been much better since Russell and Young returned from injury and their defense is….well let’s not talk about their defense. Related, the team will miss Larry Nance tonight who’s MRI showed a bone bruise on his knee but was inconclusive regarding additional damage due to swelling. I don’t know who replaces Nance in the lineup, but I would not mind seeing the team just go small by Deng at PF more which would then allow the team to get the rest of their perimeter players more minutes.
Where you can watch: 5pm start time on TNT and Spectrum Sportsnet.
Randle, Nance & Black out for this game apparently. Deng sliding up to the 4 with more PT for Ingram and Zubac likely.
Should be interesting to say the least.
Lakers in the news. Article by Zach Lowe. I wouldn’t hit the panic button yet. But the article points out that the Mozgov/Deng signings have not made it easy to pursue top free agents.
LT Mitchell says
Zach Lowe breaking it down…..
“The disastrous deals for Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng will make it hard for the Lakers to fit even one max-level deal signed after 2017, and almost impossible to absorb two. (The Lakers badly overpaid for Deng; Washington had traction with Deng on a three-year deal worth $20 million less overall than L.A. ended up paying, and was stunned to learn of L.A.’s offer, according to several league sources.)”
Lakers with the half-time lead. Hope they come out strong in the third quarter and increase it and not have a repeat of the last game. Russell with 5 fgs (13 points) and 5 turnovers. Overall good performance so far. Lou Williams 13 points productive off the bench.
mattal Lowe is assuming that the existing Lakers do not amount to much. He needs to spend more time worrying about the green team and less about the hated Lakers.
The Lakers can win this one.
Welp, Lakers lead is gone after the third quarter. They have a chance to win this but need a good 4th quarter. These poor third quarters are starting to be an issue that needs to be addressed.
Nick Young has become so much better off the dribble !
Really impressed how Robinson handled that altercation with Whiteside.
Another tough loss for the Lakers in a game that looked like they had control of. Would have liked to see a win, maybe they will surprise and win tomorrow. They are playing better but need to extend that good play for a whole game or longer stretches of the game.
Sorry Darius. I have major respect for your knowledge. But this is 28th in NBA defense last 20 games. 1 and 11 in Dec with only 1 winnable next 5. Russell, Clarkson and Lou are just terrible on defense. With Mosgov unable to be any kind of protector this team is getting way worse. Every game 4th quarter its one in one hero. Yet Luke is not getting message across. Who is that on?
This is 4th year of excesses. At what point does it go on Mitch and Jimmy. 6 years? 10 years? Other then Randle and Young name one guy who has shown improvement.
In my life excusses are just a way to except lossing. Sunce 8-8 they are 3 and 13. That would equate to a 18 win season. Am I wrong?
The Mozgov/Deng signings were the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass by Jim/Mitch to fast forward the Lakers progress enough to save their jobs. If the season continues as we have seen so far I would expect Jeanie to hold Jim to his promise and make some changes in the FO.
Yep. Mosgov is improvement on offense but a 5 reb starting center who is bottem 5 in blocks while highest paid player is just another case of incompetence in FO. Like to know who made him 1st guy signed in a apparent act of seemingly desperation. Jim or Mitch. Sure never happen if West was here still.
Frustrated, but are we blaming Luke? Seriously?Did he build the roster? The team is being well coached, but we have been hit by injuries and the team isn’t very good even healthy. I guess missing our 2 main PFs for last night game wasn’t a big deal huh? Im satisfied with the coaching. I never had any hopes of a playoff spot. I guess having the 3rd toughest schedule in the entire league is Luke fault too. What we need is a healthy team when the schedule softens. We should be getting between 25-30 wins even healthy so why are people bitching?
Luke is just the new Commander of this “Tank Platoon”. Told you guys not to let the marketing ploys confuse you. This was not a good team nor was it going to be anytime soon. Right now I just want to see improvement and progress from our young players. So, Luke quit pulling them out in crunch time and let them finish the games. I can stomach those losses much better. Trade Lou and Nick Young right now for more assets in this draft. If we are going young then lets do it 100 percent. We are half-stepping our way to “no mans land” with this abomination of a NBA roster that Jimbo has cobbled together. Jimbo just admit your flaws tell everyone we are going full in on a rebuild and you were wrong to even mention playoffs.
Indicates one team is making half time adjustments the other is not.
Good read and brutally honest!
Yup that really hurts! Apparently Jimbo is no capologist either. We are in “Hades” until the Buss Family sells this franchise or removes themselves from the “day to day”.
Guys Zubac is no where near ready he is there for emergency’s only. Kid is fouling out of D League games so please just stop.
LordMo If it was possible to get a lotto pick for Nick and Lou I would be all for it, but I don’t see anybody making that deal with us.
KenNewport What was competence supposed to look like? What would Jerry West have done differently this last offseason (or the last three even) given the position the Lakers were in? I’m all for making better decisions, but you have to play the hand you are dealt.
The last four years have sucked competitively, but I’m still not honestly sure what people think could have been done differently to make this team a contender. Jim and Mitch had no control over the veto, Dwight Howard, Nash’s freak injury, or the new CBA which was designed to stop the Lakers. They had control over Kobe’s contract and chose to max him instead of doing what Riley did with Wade. I think that was going to be a rough decision for the franchise either way and I don’t know a lot of fans who would have been okay having Kobe finish his career elsewhere.
Honestly the biggest mistake Jim Buss made was promising success when it was pretty clearly unattainable (or at least highly unlikely and ping pong ball dependant) during his timeline.
Reading through the whole article, it’s not at all suggesting that we need free agents.
See below an exert regarding the free agent notion:
“Luke Walton, the team’s new head coach, doesn’t want to hear it. “If you grow from within, you control your own destiny,” he told ESPN.com. “That’s the game plan. We want to see what this group can do. We don’t want to rely on anything else — on free agency, or trades.”
He’s right. The Lakers may not have a franchise player, but they should resist the shiny-object quick fix.”
I agree wholeheartedly !
Excellent post MT87, and right on point !
Most agree that a mix of high character vets are essential for our youth to develop properly.
Whenever we get the urge to keep digging into that draft pick well, we should revisit Philly and their years of perpetual rebuilding which even this year has not shown progress.
Besides, speaking of Philly, we should not expect to dodge the bullet every year, thus our next pick would most probably go to them; leaving us with a team of bad habits and a losing culture.
No, we should stay on track and be patient, allowing our seeds to sprout before we judge our crop to be a failure.
This is only the first year of the rebuild,.. no fair to lump the previous 3 onto this team’s back.
They are young, and need development. All of us should have realized at the start of the season that we would be on a roller coaster and adjusted our frustration meters accordingly.
It’s not too late to do that you know.
Yup!!! Spot on!
_ Robert _ says
Ken: Glad to see u posting again.
fern16: Do not see too many criticizing Luke. He is safe for most likely the duration of his contract at a minimum. I also think he is a good long term asset. That said – he is not a savior without a roster.
mattal: Yes – the as many of us have said before – those deals are horrible. The early wins made some think those deals and the roster was better than it was. You are correct that the silver lining could be the real change that has been needed since the day we lost the best owner in sports history.
Team: This was a bad loss – Miami is not very good. We need a W tonight desperately.
LT Mitchell says
The two biggest reasons the team is better than expected are Lou and Nick (and Luke’s unexpected decision to give them big minutes). Without them, this team would likely be in last place in the West, as most predicted heading into the season.
Man, even with their play Lou and Nick won’t bring a lot back if you think they are bringing some first rounder or something you are delusional.. And even the youngest teams need veterans and without those 2 the Lakers wouldn’t have even 5 wins right now. We have 7 or 8 guys that are under 25 and several more under 30, thats enough yourh. They need to develop. The hell you gonna do with 15 kids? Run a basketball camp? Good Lord…
My thought exactly. The kids on the team just ain’t ready to carry the burden yet. If Luke stuck to what most people expected the Lakers would’ve been lucky if they had 4 or 5 wins right now. And oeople want to get rid of them. SMFH
Fern thanks. My concern is losing to bad teams. 3 and 17 last 20 is last place numbers. Russell and Clarkson are shooting worse, bad on D and low on assists. I see upside in Randle and Ingram but other 2 are in my eyes very overrated. 4 Guards and when Nick is your best defender you are not winning. Also watch Mosgov on D and boards. Among last in NBA in blocks and rebs 5 pg for starting center? Bugs me that $35 mil a year went to two guys that give little help to 3 year biggest problem. Lack of Defense. Thats on Mitch and Jim not on Luke. This is a 25 win team right now and I just don’t see Russell as a NBA top 20 PG. Guy is a shooter and a 40% one at that. We as fans can buy the hype and rebuild but then when is it just hype? Ask Philly or Hillery?
Agreed. He is a fine coach and poised to get better. We have a deficit of talent, thats what makes the esrly success more stunning but we knew it was going to even out and the injury curse returned in full force. But i remain convinced that the team will start winning more games once the schedule softens and we get healthy. We eont even get a sniff of tje playoffs but the team should improve quite a bit. People critizicing that he uses Lou and Nick, what the hell is he supposed to do? They are playing great and carriying the load. It’s painfully obvious the kids ain’t ready to carry the load. Lou and Nick have done their job.
Both DAR and Clarkson has played below expectations for the most part.
_ Robert _ says
fern16 Lou and Nick are exceeding expectations, and yes, Luke should use them to win. Problem is that Nick and Lou are not part of our next contender. The bigger problem is our roster as it has been for years. We can talk x’s and o’s, talk coaching, and strategy, but in the words of Phil Jackson:
What year are we projected to have a talented roster?
Ahh here we go.
As for losing to bad teams, did you take the injuries into account creating a rust factor upon returning, or the gauntlet schedule that’s wearing our guys thin ?
How about the game we won against top tier teams? You simply ignore them?
Lastly summing D’Angelo up, during a shooting slump post injury and at age 20 is not at all accurate or fair.
These are the sorts of comments which are more steam valves for the poster, and less informative to our actual situation.
Robert, the kids are not ready. Maybe later in the season they will take more of the load but for the most part it’s either Lou or Nick or both. They been having the hot hand the entire season. What you prefer? That Luke bury them in the bench so the kids develop? Clarkson and DAR both have minutes and shots, this isn’t Byron’s regime. Sorry but they are not exactly setting the league on fire. If those two were playing as at least what i expected them to play i would have zero problems see Lou and Nick getting less minutes. Even before the injury i wasn’t impressed by DAR and im a staunch supporter of him. If Nick and Lou are producing you gotta play them…
My man Robert. Good to hear you and as always you are right on. They blamed Brown, Mike D, Bryon, Kobe extension, The Russian, Obama. Running out of excuses for a bad front office. Now its a 5 year rebuild!
We have BI, DLO, Randle, Clarkson and Jr. Everyone is either garbage or trade bait! Only Robinson and Black are in the 25 to 30 range that is it and they are marginal NBA players at best. Everyone else is 30+ and should not be on this team so trade them. We will still have Deng and Moz because no one will eat those crazy contracts for role players so there are the vets you guys covet so much. The new CBA has pretty much doomed the FA market … time to get fully on board the youth movement and grow this team from the ground up. That my fellow fans is reality so yes I want the young guys to develop and I want more young guys until we rule the league.
Bingo! @Ken I was just about to post that. We are now clearly on a 5 year plan. The sooner the FO realizes or admits it the better. You cannot rebuild on the fly when you do not have a Kobe and they could not even do it the last few years with him here.
new rr says
Like I have said many times, and this post by MT87 is a perfect example: the defenses of the FO are the Veto, selling the stealth tank narrative, and disempowering the Lakers’ decision-makers, which means that five years after it happened, the Veto is still the best defense there is.
As to what the FO’s actual issues have been and are, I (and others) have covered that many times as well. Re-litigating is certainly fine if people want to do that, but there is not going to be an agreement. The FO will be an issue again when Jeanie Buss and the other Busses want it to be.
Looking ahead, the keys are:
1. Whether the FO/Walton will try to cash in Williams/Young, thereby giving more reps to Clarkson, Ingram, and Russell and perhaps adding minor assets. With the team at 11-21, that option should be on the table.
2. Whether Walton can get the team up into the low 20s or even mid-20s in DRTG.
3. Whether the presence of four guys 30 or over in the rotation is in fact helping the young guys develop, and if so, how that can be measured/observed.
4. Whether trying to win a few extra games with the four guys over 30 is in the organization’s long-term interest.
As to the big picture, it hasn’t changed: none of the young guys looks like a franchise cornerstone, but the Lakers are not in a position to trade for a star for many reasons, so the best thing to do is stay the course. The question is what the best way to do that is. If it were me, I would be looking to get something for either Young or Williams and would alos be seeing if anyone has any interest in Deng and Mozgov. But the FO and Luke may not see it that way.