The Lakers snapped a 5 game losing streak with their win over the Pacers on Friday, a sorely needed win after not only that recent skid but a longer stretch of only 5 wins in 26 tries that lasted over a month. The win did not come without its “losses” though. D’Angelo Russell suffered a “mild” MCL sprain and a strained calf after tough fall in the game’s 2nd minute. He’ll be out 1-2 weeks and did not travel to Dallas. Nick Young also suffered a hyper extended knee, but did return to the game and, presumably will not suffer any lingering affects.
Losing Russell is a blow to the team, no doubt. He’d been struggling with his individual game lately and I was hoping to see him respond with a strong game against Indy. Still, though, as I (and others) have harped on throughout the season, Russell is the lone guard who offers an ability to score at all three levels of the floor, can organize the offense, is a deft passer, and a good ball mover overall. That diversity of ability means the team rarely struggles to get at least a somewhat respectable look in the half court when he’s in the game. Considering the dearth of individual shot creators in the starting lineup, this matters.
Anyway, Russell is out and Calderon — who took Russell’s rotation spot vs. the Pacers — will surely step in against the Mavs and beyond. Calderon’s shooting will be important, as will his veteran “steadiness” — at least in theory. When Russell missed time earlier in the year with his knee issue, Calderon was more turnover prone than he’s typically been throughout his career. His penchant for turnovers hurt on both ends of the floor, since they were more often of the live ball variety which not only ended a Lakers’ possession but gave the opponent a chance to get out in transition and get easier scoring opportunities. This will be something to watch for as long as Calderon is filling in.
The good news is that as Russell departs the lineup, Larry Nance, Jr. returns to it. After missing a month with a bone bruise, Nance has been cleared to play and will be available against the Mavericks. Luke Walton noted there will be a minutes restriction and that Nance will only play in 4-6 minute bursts, but having Nance back at all is important. Friend of the site Pete Zayas of Laker Film Room has a nice article at his site on this topic that is worth your time.
Nance’s return also offers an interesting problem for Luke Walton, though. Ivica Zubac has started to earn rotation minutes through solid two-way play. He did not do well against the Pacers (Al Jefferson gave him the business), but I would imagine Walton would like to continue to give him chances. If that’s the case, Zu joins Mozgov and Black as C’s who would be getting time. Add Nance back to the mix at PF with Randle — who also moonlights at C, especially when the team likes to close games with smaller lineups — and suddenly the team has five players who are scrapping for 96 front-court minutes. Even with Nance on a minutes restriction, finding time for all of these guys will be difficult.
All of this sets the stage for today’s Mavs game. The Lakers have already lost to this team twice. The first game was one of the more disappointing losses of the year, where a banged up Mavs team went to Harrison Barnes all game only for the Lakers to have no answers. In the 2nd game, Rick Carlisle had a great game plan and attacked the Lakers’ P&R defense relentlessly, allowing his team to pull away in the 2nd half for an easy victory. Today, one has to imagine Carlisle will try to build on both those game plans, to get a W his team could surely use.
The Mavs have lost 2 straight games and are still (tied) for the worst record in the West. Despite those facts, they have been playing better of late. Before these recent losses they’d won three straight games. Even their most recent loss against the Jazz was an OT battle where Dirk missed a potential game winning shot in regulation where he was wide open at the top of the key (a shot prime Nowitzki buries, I’m sure). In other words, the Mavs are playing well enough of late, they are at home, and they have already showed they give the Lakers problems.
How will this all translate today? Can the Lakers buck the trend of the season series to this point and build on their momentum from the Pacers game? To do so, they’ll need Randle to continue to bounce back, for Ingram to continue his strong play from the last 10 games, and for Luol Deng (who returns from a sprained wrist) to defend Barnes well. These things can certainly happen, but it won’t be easy.
Where you can watch: 12:30pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.
_ Robert _ says
The silence on this board is deafening. I realize that the NFC championship is on, but that game is also a blowout. So I do not think that “context” applies.
As for the game: After analyzing the advanced stats, the shot charts, and the other nuances I can pick up from film and commentary, I have carefully concluded:
This is bad. Most lopsided loss in franchise history. Anyone have any “context” for that?
Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer:
Mavericks 122, Lakers 73 (final). It’s the most lopsided loss in Lakers history.
A game to forget today with historic loss. 11 years ago, a game to remember #81 with historic performance.
I could not watch past the 3rd qtr… too painful.
We’ve had far too many ‘games we should just forget’ this season. I thought Jim/Mitch spent $134 million on Mozgov/Deng to make sure these games didn’t happen.
_ Robert _ Nope, you’ve got it just about right.
Mike Trudell @LakersReporter:
Walton acknowledged that one of the challenges is the Lakers don’t really have that one veteran leader to rally around on the court.
Again, this begs the question of why invest in Mozgov/Deng?
mattal Yeah, I didn’t expect Moz to be a leader on the floor, I don’t think he has ever served that role, but there were definitely some expectations about Deng that are clearly not being filled. Somebody needs to step up and I don’t think it actually has to be a vet, but leadership and commitment seem to be lacking atm.
new rr says
The Lakers don’t have any All-Star caliber players, and they don’t have any outstanding defensive players. It is tough to win that way–that is why Dallas is 15-29 and the Lakers are 16-32. Mentoring, coaching, and attention to detail only take you so far, especially since every team in the NBA has a crew of video/stat/training people/scouts and a staff of coaches working on many angles game-to-game.
Philadelphia doesn’t really have any veteran leaders, but they are up to 10th in DRTG and have been competitive over the last month since they have an ASG-caliber guy in Embiid and two high-end rim protectors in Embiid and Noel. Philly won’t go anywhere as long as they are 30th in ORTG, but in spite of anything Luke has to say, the team’s issues are more talent-driven and to some extent youth-driven than they are stemming from a dearth of veteran leadership IMO.
new rr mattal
Simmons cometh! And Sakic is a player too. Philly just need guards and they will probably get one courtesy of us.
MT87 _ Robert _
Wow. To see my favorite team of all time play so poorly and without pride shouldn’t hurt this bad. It’s only sports, right?
new rr mattal The Lakers are playing to develop their young core. If Luke was serious about having a chance to win, Calderon would have started based on his performance against the Pacers. Ingram as a starting PG? I do not think so, even a few years from now. It did give Luke a chance to see Ingram perform against a good defense and how he handles being the main facilitator. Nance came back and started to get back into game shape. It was not a wasted game in terms of playing time for the youth and not giving the vets more run to keep the score closer.
new rr says
FredP new rr mattal
I am not sure why you put this as a response here, since it has little to do with any of the posts above it, but that’s cool. A few points:
1. Dallas does not have a good defense–they were 22nd in the NBA in DRTG heading into today.
2. The Lakers in minutes per game in order:
All of these guys are between 21 and 30 MPG. Walton may think this is the best way to develop the young core, but clearly Walton’s focus has been dividing up the minutes among 9-10 guys and trying to find combinations to win games. Running the youngest guys out there for 32-35 MPG and playing them together as much as possible–which is what I would like to see him do–is simply not what he has done for the most part.
3. The Lakers lost to a 14-29 team (albeit one playing better lately) by a franchise-record 49 points. No matter what combinations of players Walton was using, no matter how deep the Lakers are in a rebuild, there is really no way to spin that. This is the 4th loss by over 39 for the team this year, but the first three were all to powerful teams: GS, HOU, and SA.
This game doesn’t mean that we should all start watching college ball or hockey and give up on the Purple-and-Gold. They will have good games;maybe the next one will be good. But it is not a good sign on any level.
I made my annual trek from LA to Dallas to see the Lakers vs Mavs. I have a college friend who invites me out each year. Had
my Lakers hoodie on and saw a lot of purple and gold (forum blue) in the crowd at AA arena prior to the tip. Then…Worst loss of the year. That’s saying something since we’ve had some real clunkers already this season. Biggest loss in terms of point differential in Lakers history. A truly dispiriting, disheartening loss. Yes there will be ups and downs with a young team. But Dallas has an awful record as well and we were blown out by an unholy margin. Seems like an eternity since win against the Pacers.
It’s time for Luke to forget spreading minutes around. Play the young guys. Figure out well and truly what we have. And then proceed accordingly. It’s a talent driven league. So let’s find out what kind of talent we truly have. And is it unreasonable for this team to start exhibiting some sembalance of pride? Well at least our chances of keeping our pick this year improved. Smh.
and everyone said we dont need russel
he maybe inconsistent but give him to philly and they will have a championship caliber team in a few years so why would we do that when we could have patience with our young core and let them learn from their mistake ingram is a good point forward not a point guard. Clarckson is a good scorer but not somewhat a hesitant passer most of the times. randle has great motor as a re bounder and passer at the power forward but still needs a right hand. nance is a higlight real and hard nose defender but not a go to guy. the veterans lou is not part of the future so is nick so lets enjoy their contributions mozgov and deng are supposed to be our veteran leadership lets wait one more year than find a way to ship them out of they dont deliver. calderon should have started in place of russell, the kid can learn from calderon from a point guard stand point. what russel needs is the confidence to lead regardless what his teammates think of him as immature a snitch or what ever his in LA our point guard he is one of the better guards around give up on him and we take some other dude that will suck l will take my chances with D LO
Embid is a straight monster. We don’t have anyone of his caliber on our team. Very few teams do. That is why they have improved. Wait until Simmons hits his stride. They have several numbers 1s. We have a couple number 2s. Makes a difference.
Dont recall anyone saying that not even me. I think the debate about DLO centers around what is his true position? But you are mistaken if you think the Lakers lost because he is out. The Lakers just are not a good team on the court and even worst off of it.
The young Lakers need to stop depending on Lou Williams to bail them out in games. Its time for the kids to step into the moment regardless of outcome. I mean, its not going to get any worse than this.
Currently, the Lakers are 16-32 and currently stands as the 3rd worst team. Odds-wise, its getting better for us to keep the pick. Its about playing it out and seeing what happens, but its also about giving more time to the kids and stop playing the guys that only take time away from them.
The Lakers have drafted a fairly balanced roster filling many needs as opposed to the Sixers who have 3 Centers based on drafting the best available player and are now stuck trying to unload them to balance the roster.
However, I believe the Lakers have two players playing out of position which is to the detriment of their effectiveness. Russell whom because of his great play making has been pigeon holed as a PG when he probably is a SG. Deng has played most of his career as a SF but has been more effective as PF both for Miami last year and the Lakers this year.
Only by getting guys into their best roles can the F.O. address their weaknesses and identify where they have log jams.
Actually Philly has drafted quite well. Sure they have 3 Centers but their logic was sound. Embiid was hurt then Noel got hurt both had some uncertainty about their futures at the time. So, while they have a logjam at the 5 it is a good problem to have because those are all young tradeable assets. They are pretty set in the frountcourt with Embiid playing the 5, Saric @ 4 & Simmons @ the 3. And Vasheed you should always take the best available player. The Lakers had Eddie Jones & Peeler when they got KB24 … Because he was the best available player even if it was clear that they needed a PF to help Shaq. Kobe was too talented to pass on.
_ Robert _ says
The ESPN main NBA page has a Brian Windhorst video which questions the FO, the overall direction, and most importantly – whether or not the youngsters can be difference makers. He is very negative.
My own view is that the jury is out on the youngsters but to say the “kids are all right” and we nailed it is way premature. There are no 5 year development plans. Being on bad team and not being a difference maker does not bode well for the ceiling of these guys. I am still hopeful Imgram can be a star. For the others i am hoping for a couple of “contributors”.
As to the FO: Change is finally coming
Travis Y says
Solid article by David Aldridge on the state of the Lakers.
One item that I always fail to ignore is:
If the Lakers have to give their 2017 first-round pick to Philly, they’ll also have to give their 2019 first-round pick to Orlando, a final payment for the deal that sent center Andrew Bynum to Philly in 2012 — a four-team deal with the Nuggets and Magic http://www.nba.com/magic/news/magic-acquire-six-players-five-draft-picks-howard-trade.
But if L.A. can keep its 2017 first, it can satisfy its obligation to the Magic by giving Orlando second-round picks in ‘17 and ‘18, and keep the ‘19 first-rounder.
The truth is, the Lakers are really trying to win games yet they have not been able to devise a consistent blue print.
The reality is they are young and can’t bring the focus, energy, and talent ever night. AKA they are a young team.
The fact that Mozgov and Deng have not been able to provide veteran leadership is the last red flag against Jim.
He was supposedly being prudent and aiming for two max free agents. Well patience with the fan base has run up and he used his money on veterans that are helping us bottom out for the next three seasons.
My four point plan to make the Lakers great again.
1.Simply, we need to tank.
2. Get Jim out.
3. Fix the offense and make the players share the ball (like at the beginning of the season). Where has the flow, love of basketball, and selflessness gone?
4.Follow an actual defensive plan. Bench those who don’t rotate and focus more on offense than defense. It’s simple, box out, help the helper, rotate, and minimize penetration on the pick and roll.
In the past I would probably have agreed with you. But, so far it appears Philly has been unable to trade out of the position of having 3 centers, faced with the unenviable position of being forced to sell low or let an asset walk.
Clay Bertrand says
I have been selling what you are saying here as well. We need those picks. This isn’t the 90s. The league has had 2 new CBAs since the era when league rules were more favorable to the way the Lakers always ran their team in terms of talent acquisition. The Lakers FO, have failed to change their philosophies quick OR COMPLETELY enough to keep up with the changing times.
I have no problem with Jim moving into the Owner’s box. But this isn’t some INSTANT FIX. SO many people think once Jim is gone, it’ll all be nice and rosy but the scenario will still be here for the new incoming FO person(s). Look at Sean Marks with Brooklyn. He still has to let things run their courses because he is asset poor from the previous regime.
For me, for continuity and because I do think he is good at what he does (UNLESS it was HIS idea to sign Deng!!!!!) I would retain Kupchak in Jim’s Role as President of Basketball Ops and hire a Troy Weaver as GM to work with Jesse Buss and Ryan West (along with the foreign scouts etc.).
But the IMMEDIATE URGENCY (as you point out in your list) is keeping the ’17 and ’19 picks and LUCKING OUT by potentially not having to give up high draft picks for the Nash/Howard deals.
I think the best way to do this is to jettison our marketable vets and NOT be TOO greedy about wanting high value returns. This is my third post in a row strongly advocating we SELL at the trade deadline and do what we can to make this more about the KIDS and less about our W-L record.
The Offense and Defense Fixes you mention are items of importance for NEXT year and beyond………….Although, removing the BAIL OUT vets like Lou and Nick from the rotation (via trade hopefully) would likely cause a reversion of sorts to SELFLESS basketball because there would be NO VETS to defer to on O.
The trading of the Vets just makes sense on so many levels IMO. I will beat the dead horse once more and say, IF Deng can be traded for a better contract scenario regardless of player quality, PULL THAT TRIGGER ALL DAY LONG!!!!!!!!!!!!
new rr says
Clay Bertrand Travis Y
SO many people think once Jim is gone, it’ll all be nice and rosy
WADR, I don’t think anybody here thinks that. Some people just think that a team has a better chance moving forward with some new leadership in basketball ops.
Clay Bertrand says
new rr Clay Bertrand Travis Y
I totally agree with that notion bro. I’m on the change bandwagon for sure permanently now. I have been patient and in wait and see mode on some of the FO moves but its become abundantly clear to me that we need people who have a better grasp of the way rosters need to be built and maintained under the new CBAs to compete going forward. Its kind of a more NFL approach IMO…….but that’s a tangent……
Its just that Jim’s leaving the FO in and of itself will lead many of the average fans expecting immediate on the court results. Clearly merely a new GM will not salve the wounds or cover the warts of bad basketball from a young developing team that lacks superstar players just as a new young coach from a winning organization cannot immediately do the same.
I think change in the FO will come this off season.
My angst lies in the fact that THIS FO, is in place now and they’re the ones that control the direction of the rest of this season. They’re the ones who decide to move Lou, Nick, Deng, etc. or not which in turn controls our draft destiny for the next 3 years. I think its very important for us to have 2 high picks in 3 years vs. 1. ESPECIALLY this year.
IOW, I think that the FO change is forthcoming so we shouldn’t sweat it much at this point. The question is whether the FO will do what’s necessary to save our picks. We are losing with or without these veteran role guys. I don’t see any reason for the FO to NOT trade them.
THIS FO has to start to be like an outgoing White House Admimistration would do and start preparing, perhaps bitterly and grudgingly, for a peaceful and constructive transition of power.
The fact Jim is family AND PART OWNER, he can certainly be convinced to cooperate accordingly in the best interests of the franchise that lines his pockets.
Travis Y says
Clay Bertrand new rr Travis Y
Many people are talking about how we shouldn’t tank. Yes, tanking means playing Mark Madsen and letting him shoot 3’s to close the game.
Or allowing people like Thomas Robinson bring the ball up the court (irks me to no end).
What I am talking about is being strategic. Yes, I know that having a bottom 3 record doesn’t guarantee a top 3 draft pick.
But what do we have to play for? There are 38 games left in the season. If we improve and get an 8 seed. That wipes us out in the first round against the Warriors.
I want Luke to get the players to play his system, to develop the fundamentals of defense and wake the *(&^ up. It’s embarrassing to be bottom dwellers four years in a row. We have super teams who have 4 legitimate all stars and we can’t even get a meeting.
Getting rid of Buss is not going to magically make us better. I agree, but it is a start to the solution. He had his chance to implement his plans. Well, it failed and it’s time for a new FO with a different vision.