Crucifido's Corner

Postby halekulani on Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:12 pm

agree on javaris

excellent on the dribble, but that's about it.

patience will be the key to his success.
User avatar

Posts: 8798
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:35 pm

Postby crucifido on Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:35 pm

That was one ugly roller coaster

Lakers vs. Spurs (Game 40 1/23/2008)

The All-Too Familiar Battle Of San Antonio

Say what you will about the Spurs, their troubles at the moment (which are fairly overblown), the age of the team, the sparse young talent coming in behind the big 3, but any way you slice it, they’re still the champs and still a huge mountain that must be climbed if the Lakers are to step back into the shoes of the best team in the NBA.

It’s a pick your poison kind of game with the Spurs, between Ginobli, Parker or Duncan. The Lakers looked as if they chose to let Duncan get what he had to get and to concentrate on Parker primarily. A good choice as Parker is the guy that typically destroys the Lakers.

But with the absence of Bynum being felt particularly hard this game, the gamble wound up backfiring. The outright size of Duncan, let alone the experience, in the low post was too much for kwame’s planted defense. Duncan’s reach on his shot was too high for Ronny to use his low center of gravity to keep him out of easy scoring position.

The 1st quarter was a well-fought quarter and really it’s a good way for the Lakers to get a feel of the Spurs without Bynum. As you watched, you got the feeling that the Lakers were looking for the Spurs game plan and trying to see the seams in their defense. Their point total showed the prodding Laker offense was working well early in the game.

I loved seeing the Lakers take advantage of Duncan’s absence in the game at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. Making little runs like that when a team is running their bench is key to beating any team.

Just like playing the Celtics and letting Perkins or Allen get going though, the Lakers have got to keep an eye on the outside of the core players like Udoka. Sure its better to let them try and carry a team rather than let the better players get going, but you have to be careful of not letting them get into such a rhythm that you can’t get them out of it.

Again, Ronny comes into the 1st quarter and has n immediate impact. His energy and most of all his nose for the offensive boards recently has been unbelievable. He played a fantastic game coming into the 2nd quarter. His help off the ball when the Spurs were swinging the ball around the court was just perfect. There is still a lack of boxing out the off man on rebounds (ala the put back by Udoka in the 2nd), but overall Ronny’s awareness of his defensive position and spacing has seriously improved this year. That room he’s giving himself is allowing him to recover, help and seal off lanes on defense with speed. Its putting that signature Turiaf never say die energy to awesome use. If he continues to knock down those 12-foot jumpers like he has here and there, Ronny becomes a very dangerous player very quickly.

Keeping on the Ronny love fest, its no wonder he’s been getting a ton of dunk attempts recently. He is almost always exactly where he should be on every play. It’s not just the cutting but it’s the positioning early in sets, the motion off of screens and the screen and rolls. His activity everywhere opened up the game for the entire Laker offense in the first half.

You have to love Sasha finally showing his dead eye shooting skill in a game rather than chronically in practice only this season. A lot of it has to do with Kobe’s brilliant table setting, but the second third of it is Sasha assertively spotting up where he should. Where Sasha’s undoing comes is when he gets on a hot streak. He tends to pull himself out of that comfort zone and begins trying to do too much on the court. Mainly getting the ball into bad situations inside. If he keeps spotting up and contributing with what he can do best, the rhythm he gets into rather easily nowadays won’t be disrupted so often.

Kobe’s methodical play this game was interesting to watch. I mean the way he picked apart the Sours mid post defense was something to see. The pass to a cutting Ronny for the dunk in the 2nd quarter was fantastic. I must have replayed that thing 10 times.

There’s more to Kobe’s run too. His communication with the team on the bus, the plane and most of all on the bench during games is outstanding. The leadership role that a lot of people have longed to see Kobe step into with full force has been filled. Not enough can be said about Kobe talking with Crittenton, Karl and the younger players on the bench.

You have the skill set, the leadership and the trust in his teammates all running at full tilt right now.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Lamar did dunk the ball on a drive in the 2nd quarter, right? Lamar was playing unusually aggressive inside tonight. One can only wish that it stays that way, but at the least it’s good to know that Lamar saw the importance of the game and came out looking to fill the middle more. Odom’s rebounding has been stellar recently. His positioning off of every shot has been deep and in good anticipation of shot distance. The long rebounds aren’t running away from him being too deeply rooted in the paint. The small boards are falling right to him, and watching him put them back up once in a while rather than dishing it out for a lower percentage shot was gratifying.

Defensively it was definitely a tale of two totally different halves for Lamar. The first he was hustling, moving well on all sides, helping quick and playing sharp. Come the 3rd quarter and Lamar let Ginobli send him into defensive confusion. The solid play Lamar had in the first half shouldn’t have been disrupted so easily by one player.

Good early work getting inside from. Luke’s effort on the boards was impressive as well. However, his foot is looking like it’s having a big effect on his lift for his shot. It may be why Luke has taken to forcing shots from the post rather than jumping to shoot from outside. To counter it Luke should be looking to facilitate from the mid range until his foot gets strong enough to work from the post with more certainty.

Kwame has a bit of a jump on Duncan as far as strength in the posts. He used it decently, though pushing Duncan a step or two further in for a pass outside or to make room for a cut underneath would be good to see. Kwame played real well knowing when to stand ground on Duncan defensively and when to give enough room for Duncan to show the ball. Of course Duncan will hit a good portion of his shots, but Kwame did a good job in the beginning of the game making Duncan work for it.

What Kwame tends to do with more mobile big men is take that one extra step to either side after his man has committed to his shot. That extra step usually pulls his stance wider and that pull causes the foul.

Derek was taking Parker to the rack very well in the first quarter. What was good to see Derek do was keep a strict eye on Parker wherever he went. By simply keeping track of Parker off of screens and through traffic, Fisher was able to slow down Parker in the first half. Opposite of dealing with shooters, making Parker an outside shooter helped the Lakers dictate the pace of the 1st quarter in particular. However Parker’s speed eventually wore Derek down and his offense was showing it. IT was a battle of legs at the point, and in the end Parker’s activity wore Derek down enough to send him to the bench for most of the second half.

Come the 3rd quarter and the Lakers looked like they were trying a couple different things out offensively. Unfortunately it got San Antonio that small window they needed to get back into the game. It’s a dangerous game to play, messing with what was working against a good defensive team like the Spurs. It’s a gamble that sometimes puts teams on their heels. You vary your offense; your approach to the game and it takes away adjustment coming out of the half. But at its heart it is a gamble. This time, it didn’t pay off and it let the Spurs back into it.

Obviously you also can’t go 6.5 minutes without scoring against any professional team, but especially when you’re playing a veteran team at home coming off of a weak half.

The Lakers flat out fell asleep from the beginning of the 3rd to the end of it. Letting steals off the inbounds passes or one step from them cannot be allowed. The Lakers must keep their heads in the game whether up or down by anything. They’ve let a total of 5 games slip out from under them due to partly this and having this one join that dubious group was just a crime.

It was really odd to see the post passes from everyone become suddenly very labored, telegraphed and lazy too. Crisp passes into the post should never be taken for granted. In the second half almost every one looked like it was just that.

When it comes down to it, playing high-powered teams is tough to be sure. What makes it easier is making those teams work for everything they get, rather than letting them get into an easygoing rhythm. What also helps is the incredible hustle the Lakers showed as soon as the ball was tipped. That kind of hustle can easily make up for a lack of personnel. For a predominantly stand still type of team like the Spurs, it makes them have to play out of their game in order to keep up. The big thing is that hustle can’t be sporadic, it can’t be only when you’re up on the scoreboard, hustle has to be a 48 minute mindset.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:24 pm

Frustrating doesn't begin to describe that game.

Lakers vs. Mavericks (Game 41 1/25/2008)

The Lakers vs. The 3rd Quarter

Another Texas game, another good start.

Another Texas game, another terrible 3rd.

Hustle inside and looking to run plays through the post got the Lakers to the free throw line early and often. That kind of motion inside without Andrew there is vital. With Andrew it is too, but without a certified offensive threat in the middle, establishing some kind of inside intention is needed. That was lacking in the Spurs game, but looked to be corrected fairly quickly in this one.

Unfortunately, the hustle died in the second half. The contesting of shots, the communication all but fell off the map. Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t rest give you some energy, not drain it?

It wasn’t helped out by the stupid amount of unforced errors. What else is there to say but this rash of turnovers for no reason is ridiculous. Its not like the Mavericks are some defensive juggernaut. They’re quite an easy to team to get around, even without a bona fide big man, as the high shot percentage will attest to. The only ones who can explain this turnover problem are the Lakers themselves. For now, we just have to hope that the Lakers will somehow shake this junk out of their system.

Right around the mid 2nd quarter I hoped the Lakers realized that Bass can shoot. Once again they Lakers have got to see someone other than a big time player getting into a rhythm earlier. They simply cannot let these side guys find open space and easy shots for ¾ of the game before they decide to D them up. Once they get into a rhythm you’ve made it doubly hard for yourself to shut them out.

The missed lay-up thing is aggravating. No wait, let me correct that, its completely unacceptable. It’s simply a matter of concentration. Almost every Laker is taking their eyes off the rim way too early. That’s it, its nothing but the Lakers looking the ball into the hoop. It’s got to be stopped – right now.

There has got to be earlier help once a player gets their shoulder past a perimeter player. The outside defense still has weakness in it and it has to be sealed up by rotating off non-shooters far earlier than after the whistle’s been blown

For the second game in a row the 3rd quarter drought hit the Lakers square in the face. They cannot come into the second half looking to just get by, which is what their play is looking like. Giving up these runs, big or small without looking to strike with the same verve they had in the first half is deadly. They’re looking absolutely lost in the 3rd, and it’s a mystery why. On this game there was no offensive scheme change. It was the same offense run, but suddenly the motion off the ball came to a crawl. It became a one on one battle with the whole team appearing confused.

6.5 minutes / 14-0 run / in the San Antonio game and 3.5 minutes / 11-0 run / lead blows up to 17 in this game. Its a tough enough task to win on the road being hobbled, but putting yourself in this kind of hurt going into the 4th quarter is making things even tougher to say the least.

The bottom line is, this can’t happen playing the Spurs, Mavericks or the Timberwolves. Even with the luxury of a fully healthy squad you can’t afford that. Playing at an immediate disadvantage as they are right now has got to make them realize that intensity has to be magnified. The focus coming into every quarter has to be there. There’s no time to kick back. Lax play spells and is spelling disaster.

While I’m complaining – I guess unforced turnovers are back in fashion. Playing teams like the Mavericks that are so savvy at taking advantage of turnovers didn’t make the hill any easier to climb. Its one thing to be defended well, but its an entirely different animal when you basically hand the Mavericks easy shots off unnecessary mistakes.

Kobe is still on his run of MVP play. Venturing beyond the simple scoring for Kobe, this passing binge he’s been on has been astounding. He’s always been willing to pass the ball (despite other erroneous reports), but it’s taken on a different light now. The seams he’s finding on interior defense, like the dish to Odom in the 2nd are just unbelievable.

As much passing as he’s been doing, there has to be more balance in the offense too. Kobe can seemingly do anything he wants against Dallas, but there still has to be help. He tried to use himself as a distraction to open up other players, but nobody stepped up outside of Jordan. Kobe was visibly upset, and well he should’ve been.

What concerns me is that with the injuries, Kobe’s minutes are starting to climb. With those climbing minutes and the injury plague, you’re seeing Kobe sacrificing his body more. In turn getting he’s finding himself in more jeopardizing situations than he had to be in earlier in the year. For the short term he may be able to handle it, but it has to bring up concern for the long run of the Lakers once the playoffs start approaching.

Derek’s shot seemed to liven back up early on. After the poor shooting in San Antonio, you kind of had the feeling that Fisher would be looking to come out a bit more aggressive. The off-ball motion from Derek was really positive. He runs off screens offensively well usually, but there was a hard cut to his step tonight. The speed of Harris was just too much for Derek to handle. In the end, what we know, Derek having trouble with quick guards, is what kept him on the bench for much of the game.

Surprisingly Mbenga did a decent job running the offense. The pick and roll he pulled off with Kobe lobbing the ball to him was good. As well as the same play he ran with Derek. His work on the offensive boards was good too. He seems to use his size well in the high post, which is unusual for a guy of his level of talent. If he learns to give a bit more room to guys driving on him at the start of a drive he can start to get the blocks that he’s bordering on. Though not always yielding points, the hard play and work from him is a big bonus. As basically 6 extra fouls and a placeholder off the bench, any hard work like that is much needed and appreciated.

Ronny’s outside shot continues to gain reliability. It’s still not the most comfortable thing to see him hoist it up from distance, but it’s coming along faster than expected. He was outsized in this one. The height of Nowitzki and the strength of Dampier were too much to handle. As active as he can be, being mismatched like that in both the outside and high post makes for a tough run.

Jordan was nice and crisp tonight. He’s still running the break better than any other Laker right now. As far as the half court sets go he was on the money with his spacing tonight and making good decisions. Though I’m no a big proponent of shooting threes as a first option, I do like Jordan’s looks from the arc. He’s developing a good fell for when his shot starts to fall short.

Better yet, Farmar’s takes to the paint have been spot on. There’s rarely been a time where Jordan gets himself into a spot of trouble without knowing his outs. That ability to probe into the paint without giving the ball up (though there were a couple times tonight, but in general…) is a great quality to have in a point guard, let alone your back up point.

He’s been struggling quite a bit with being posted up recently. It’s not for a lack of effort, but rather it’s from poor positioning. He’s been giving up the inside track a lot. Some of it may be out of habit of having Andrew back there to erase mistakes. But Bynum isn’t there right now and the defensive adjustment has yet to be made by Jordan (or many others) yet. We all heard and saw plenty of perimeter defense woes last year. Just like with everything else I’ve mentioned or will mention in this rant of an article, the big guy isn’t there right now. The middle is weak. The Lakers have got to not only realize this but they have to adjust their defense accordingly. If it’s not done soon, this could be a real rough patch for the Lakers to trudge through – real rough.

I liked Kwame’s passing this game. Other than that there was tentativeness there. That uncertain play led to slow footwork on both ends for him. Whether that was a confidence issue or simply an issue of drive is tough to tell. Whatever it was, with the center position so compromised right now, the Lakers can ill afford a slow-footed, uneasy performance like that in the middle.

The Lakers can’t have Luke be such a donut on the offensive end. He has got to step into the scoring column with some kind of vigor. Right now, if he’s as hurt as his play is showing, he shouldn’t be starting. Maybe a lineup of Ronny at PF and Lamar at SF is worth a gamble.

Lamar was awful. That was an inexcusable performance – inexcusable.

Yeah, yeah, I know the 4th quarter run was nice and all, but if you play the whole game with that same passion you play the 4th with, you wouldn’t have to rely on a miracle run to pull out the game.

Mostly I found myself muttering, “You gotta be kidding me.” A whole lot this game. Not because of the way they lost, but mostly because of the way they came to play in that second half. The injuries certainly change the face of the game, but these guys are too talented, have been together too much and know the system too well on both ends to be playing this mindless for ¾ of a game.

There’s no excuse for it.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

3rd Quarter Collapse

Postby Killer on Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:18 am

Your analysis of the Mavericks game was spot on - and oh so hard to stomach watching. Ouch!!!! Seems as though somewhere between t he halftime locker room and the court the concentration is completely gone. Better fix this problem and fix it fast - it doesn't take long for word to get around.

Posts: 24
Joined: Tue May 01, 2007 12:40 am

Postby 2Pacalypse on Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:41 am

Great analysis Cru. :jam2:
<b><font color="red">Random Thread King
Posts: 5290
Joined: Thu Sep 07, 2006 12:24 pm

Postby crucifido on Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:48 am

Sorry about the sporadic articles, just kind of a crazy busy week or so for me.

Anyway, here's one for that scary Knciks game last night.

Lakers vs. Knicks (Game 43 1/29/2008)

Near Disaster, But Maybe Something Clicked

Alright let me get this out before I forget. Aside from the usual never let a team, no matter how bad or good get a look at a possible win (especially on your home court), there was an important thing to be taken away from this game.

“The importance of unpredictability.”

Now sure, teams come in knowing your plays, knowing the style of game you like to play on both ends, but there’s never a static line to any game. In this game tonight the Lakers did a good job taking what the Knicks were giving them defensively. They were daring the Lakers to shoot from outside, so the Lakers exploited the open shots and kept themselves in the game despite radically poor defense throughout most of the game. But the problem with that was when the Knicks decided to vary their defense up. When the Knicks did that, the Lakers failed to adjust. They sank into a pattern that the Knicks wanted them to be in.

What the Lakers saw tonight was that when they leaned on their skill set and the variances in the offense things opened up. It never hurts to actually play defense for two or three plays in a row either. Anyway, it’s important for these Lakers to utilize every weapon in their personal and team arsenal they can muster. The luxury of being able to lean on one skill flitters by with every fallen teammates. As the injuries keep piling up, the Lakers have got to realize that each of them need to more. It’s not as simple as just being a rebounder, or just being a three point shooter, just being a passer. Every player has now – as in right now – have to find it within their selves to pull out all the stops.

Sure it’s not playoff time, and the regular season isn’t where you want to play your best ball. However, with the West being as competitive and tight as it is, the Lakers can ill afford to rely on what has gotten them there. They now have to rely on putting as much of themselves into every game as they can, even if it falls outside of their previously defined role.

I’m not saying that players have got to ignore what they do best, but they have can’t let that predictable role style of play be the norm right now.

With the middle being as soft as it is, and the bench becoming shallower by the game, the Lakers can’t afford to be the predictable post first team they were becoming. With no overtly strong presence in the middle the Lakers have to adjust their game. There were times in this game when the pass into an uber-high post was seen coming miles away.

With Andrew you can pass to the mid or low post and use his skill as the pivot to run the offense around. There just seems to be times when the Lakers don’t realize that running the offense the way they have for most of the season isn’t available right now. They’re forcing action in the post when there’s no action there to be had.

It’s not just one player but it looks to be the whole team has yet to adjust the game around the thinning roster. Sure it’s not easy and it does take time, but when you see defensive collapses happening on the same fronts over and over in different games, it has to be shored up sooner rather than later. Sometimes it looks like they’re all standing, waiting for the presence of Bynum to magically appear.

As the game wore on (and in sparse moments), the guys started seeing it though. That’s when the game turned. When the front court decided to block out the weak side rebounder, help was coming quick to the low post, and perimeter players were being shadowed the Lakers saw that adjustment, that not being predictably relying on a middle that wasn’t there was working.

I think I got my point out, let me know if it was confusing. I knew I should’ve written it down when it first ran through my head – dang it.


The help came quick in the paint thanks hugely to Ronny Turiaf – again. The guy continues to broaden his effect on games. Granted the Knicks were hampered inside by Curry’s nutty foul-fest and the fact that it’s the Knicks, but that aside, Ronny played like an All-Star tonight. It was another game where his impact was felt instantly. The first defensive set resulted in Ronny’s first block and then the paint help just kept coming. With Andrew out, play like what Ronny threw out there tonight is needed every night.

The best part is that it’s starting to look like the Lakers can not only count on game changing energy from Ronny, but now they can begin o look to Ronny as that weak side help man in the paint that the Lakers have so long been without. It was hard to find a flaw in Ronny’s performance. He’s still flirting with foul disaster by swinging down with his arm from too high, but it’s hard to complain about that tonight. Ronny keeps bringing the energy and the passion like this, it’s hard to see how his minutes won’t be skyrocketing on this road trip.

Another player of the game, Sasha, played his guts out tonight. After being clocked by Balkman, Sasha clamped down on the Knicks. I love when a player takes their anger (though there was a little bumping on the foul he gave to Balkman soon after) out in their game rather than fighting. The shadow job he pulled on Crawford in the 4th quarter was outstanding. It was a Rip Hamilton type of all footwork defense from Sasha. There was rarely a time that Crawford was open enough to get a pass let alone find a lane to get into to even be seen. Once Sasha locked Crawford down from roaming the top of the key arc like he loves to do, the Knicks became a one trick pony show through Robinson.

Match the good hustle defense by Sasha with dead eye shooting he had going on in the second half and you have a heck of a game, if not his best game. The best part of his shooting tonight was that he was getting to his spots with that Turiaf like certainty and second, he was not shying away from any shot that was given to him. The one thing I was writing down as the first half came to a close was that I’d like to see Sasha take the in along the baseline or just probe the middle a bit on the dribble about every 3rd time he gets the ball. Come the second half and Sasha did just that. It was in line with my point of not being predictable. He alleviated his outside shot for the 4th quarter by showing the Knicks that he wasn’t just playing robotic out there. He showed that he could be threat off the dribble for a pass too. That right there gave him at least 3 open looks immediately in the 4th.

Not much to say about Kobe, but it was another great game in a string of games that has got to be getting him more and more looks for the MVP. Though an individual award is never the main goal of Kobe, it’s tough to ignore that the balance in his game tonight was incredible to watch. His trust in his teammates, even after most of them fell into a slum pat one point or another was admirable. Of course when he needs to score Kobe pulls out some amazing shots, like the 2 turns through the paint for a finger roll or the 360 step through 3 defenders thingamajig he pulled off in the 3rd. Either way, Kobe played a fantastic brand of leadership quality ball.

Lastly as far as the most outstanding players go, it’s good to write Odom’s name in here. After his leg got twisted a bit, it was good to see him suck it up and actually begin to play tougher with it. Though he was clearly not walking, or running right, he gutted it out and it made all the difference. The most encouraging thing for Lamar tonight was that he was taking his first open looks to the rack. Lately, he’s been turning down the first open lane in favor of dribbling outside of it or passing it off. Tonight though, he was stepping into the seams and as a result his skill was parting the Knicks defense with serious ease. His unusual tapping rebounding style was paying off too. Though ideally you’d like to see guys secure boards with two hands, Lamar used his length (and has been for the bulk of this year) very well. With Lamar taking his first looks aggressively and him getting involved in the offensive paint more, it left Kwame to play at his speed a little more. Odom played like a warrior tonight. I’m sure the usual, “Yeah but will he just fade away gain?” thoughts are there, as they are with me. But for now, in this tough stretch of injuries and road games, I have to take it one game at a time. Tonight it was good to see Lamar play like we all know he can.

Kwame played real well tonight. There were the usual slow movements in the paint to recover defensively, but all in all Kwame came into form a bit tonight. His hands were in the ready position more on offense and because of that he wasn’t bobbling passes as much as he has in the past. There were a couple good strong finishes in there and one real good play when he missed the lay-up (which, no isn’t awesome) but stuck with it and got it back in from the other side of the hoop.

Kwame is an enigma right now. I’m sure a lot of it is about confidence, but with more involved games like this one I hope we’re seeing Kwame pull himself out of the mire he’s been in recently. Defensively,. He needs to be more active, especially laterally or once a move has been made on him in the low post. Offensively, I like to see him try the baby hook, but in his haste to get a shot up (sometimes I think because the lift isn’t there in his permanently swollen ankle) he isn’t looking at the hoop. If he slows down by a half second and lifts his head before tossing up the little hook, he’ll have more success.

The last stand out player for me was Farmar. Though he was relatively quiet tonight, he played a real good defensive game on Robinson in spurts. At his best Farmar was closing Robinson out on the perimeter really well. Any picked up dribble or stutter in his motion and Farmar would use it as a time to jump out on him and make him give the ball up. At his worst, Jordan was having trouble fighting through the mid range to get out to Robinson. The Knicks used screens inside well in the 3rd in particular to get Robinson free and Farmar struggled with it. But the worst part of Jordan’s game tonight was still better than 90% of the backup points in the NBA.

Alright, so no, most of the game wasn’t pretty. But it seemed like the Lakers may have had something click. Maybe they realized that Andrew isn’t there and the extra effort it’s going to take from everybody to survive this big trip above 500 will be there in full force.

Keep altering your game on the fly Lakers, use the flexibility in the altered triangle to vary your attacks, stop passing the ball to the other team so dang much, communicate on perimeter help, come with energy every night, box out the weak side, box out and then box out again and I can guarantee this road trip won’t be so bad.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:57 pm

Alright everyone, I'm off of my hell week of work and ready to get back to it.

Lakers vs. Wizards (Game 46 2/3/02)

Movement, Passing, Hustle & Teamwork

Apparently the buzz of the huge trade for Pau Gasol extends far beyond just the rabid Laker fan base. From the looks of it, ever since the deal went down, the Lakers have copped some serious energy from it as well.

Everyone on the court had a pop to their step that was quicker, livelier and crisper than any movement on and off ball they’ve shown this season. During the Lakers 7 game-winning streak there was plenty of great ball movement and footwork on the money, but it’s made a screaming comeback these last two games. Maybe it’s due to the trade or better yet maybe it’s due to this team finding that rhythm they had before the injuries. Being as short-handed as they are and running over teams like the Raptors and Wizards the way they did is not an easy task. They’re a talented team to be sure, but I don’t think many people can say they expected the Lakers to be as sharp as they are after the Detroit heartbreak.

At the forefront of this 2 game energy-laden streak has been the inimitable Kobe. The guy has been on a tear for the whole season pretty much, but as of late he has had a zip to his game that hasn’t been there for a while. It’s the same jump that he had during the Shaq / Kobe era.

Today against the Wizards he continued setting up the offense through the post. There was a fair share of the same face up kind of offense he excels at, but what has really opened up the mid range jumpers and 3 pointers lately is Kobe working the passes from the high post. Its not like he hasn’t done it before, but right now it looks to be becoming a majority of his half court set when he brings the ball up.

I loved seeing Butler on Kobe for a big part of the game too. For all of the good things Butler does on offense, his defense has always been suspect at best and today proved it to still be true. As Kobe moves through this season playing heavy minutes as of late he seems to be gaining power off of his first step. Granted, the defense of Toronto and Washington are far worse than Detroit’s, but man has Kobe really found some serious hop on drives. He wasn’t forced to play too much defense today, but he did a good job of playing the rover. He patrolled the outside and dove down into the paint to help with boards with good timing.

If this keeps up and Gasol breaks into the fold next game, this Laker team will absorb the Bynum injury easier than expected.

Along with Kobe’s great run of games, once again Ronny has been above the call of duty filling in for Bynum in the middle. His game has now gone beyond the simple run in with a ton of energy guy. The 12 to 14 footer he’s been developing was in full effect this game again. What I liked today was Ronny’s hard work on weak side recovery. He’s been coming off screens on the weak side to help inside shots like a madman and his block numbers are showing it. Not only is his hustle from side to side of the ball resulting in numbers, its resulting in changed shots. Changing shots through hustle rather than stature is something unexpected from Ronny. His energy and passion for the game have never been an unusual sight, but what has been a welcome unusual aspect to his game is the passing.

Its not that he’s been a bad passer, but with Ronny in the middle, his vision of the outside spot shooters has grown. The extra pass out of the paint to an open jumper has often run through or come directly from Ronny. By pulling the Wizards defense in with his activity around the rim, he ‘s opened up the perimeter shots. When those shots came open today, he was looking for the kick out pass and hitting it immediately. The points he’s been kicking in were a big bonus today. Though the Lakers seemed to be in good hands with Radmanovic, Kobe and Odom playing well, the double digits coming from an expectedly weak middle were huge. It made the Wizards slack off of the arc far more than most would think they’d have to with Ronny as center.

With the approach of Gasol, Lamar’s role will obviously change. The good thing is that today Lamar flexed his new role before Gasol was even in uniform. Odom did a fantastic job of filling up the middle with a strong defensive presence. Whether the got the board or not, Lamar was always in the mix down low. There few to no put backs from the weak side rebounders today because of Odom’s work in the paint.

The only thing Lamar was sloppy doing today was splitting space between the inside man on the low post and the outside passer. He was favoring the passer a bit too much. Right now with the shortage of big men, Lamar has to be extra careful to bolster the inside defense more than the mid-range.

Equal to the great job on the boards, for the first time in a long time Lamar stepped up his offense when Kobe was out for a bit. The outside shot was falling because he was taking the open looks the Wizards threw him. That kind of aggression, even if the shots aren’t always falling, go a long way to pulling defense out of the mid-range or paint. With Andrew out, the more pressure you can take off the middle, the better. That showed today when as Lamar started taking the shots given to him, and Haywood and Blatche ran out on him, leaving the quick pass to the paint open. Then you take that pass from the paint up to the rim via Ronny, Radmanovic or someone else or you now have a scrambled defense that opens up the threes. That happened in this game.

So – for the billionth time (until Gasol comes raging onto the court), as Lamar went so did the Lakers. Today, Lamar went forward and the Lakers followed.

One great aspect of the game was Mason. All this season, and in seasons past, the Lakers have had a bad habit of letting a peripheral player kill them. Today, Mason looked to be that same story developing. But the Lakers did a good job of smothering Mason after only 8 points were thrown in. Mason got only 2 more after the Lakers concentrated defensive attention on him before he got into a deadly rhythm.

The predominant Laker keeping Mason from blowing up was Jordan. Farmar played a less offensive role today, but that defensive job he did on Mason today was great to see. As usual, offensively he was good. There wasn’t a flurry of points, but what there was a very well run point by Jordan. With Kobe playing so fluidly and Lamar stepping up into the second option today, Farmar wasn’t required to drain as many jumpers as he has this season. However, the game isn’t 100% offense and watching Jordan focus on Mason was a good thing to see. A little UCLA flashback from Farmar today, but it was something that I hope continues with the whole team.

The welcome surprise today was Radmanovic. He looked alive and awake today. What was really opening up his game was getting to his spots without getting stuck in screen sets. Often Vlad takes a rough road through the paint to get to where he needs to go. Today, there was a noticeable difference in his footwork. He was looking for the easier seam to get into the pass option spots. Once there, the shot he was hired for was alive and well.

Oddly enough, one of the most consistent guys in this Bynum-les stretch has been Sasha. This game looked to be no different as Sasha was moving great pop. I’d still like to see him get inside for more than one lay-up a game, but for the most part Sasha has worked himself into a highly valuable contributor off the bench. His defense was the typical harassing style, though a bit ragged letting too many drives slip by him without working around a screen. All that aside, Sasha played a great game and gave the Wizards another outside headache to deal with.

Overall, the spacing on offense and defense today was great. The ball movement was spectacular. The best part of the game today was that the Lakers didn’t sink into the watch Kobe go mode. There was fantastic motion off the ball. As Kobe keeps ramping up his game, the Lakers have realized that this should increase your freedom off the ball. Its given the Lakers far more room to go anywhere they need to on the court. The team’s hands were ready and the eyes were open.

Now, we wait the longest day or so in a while for Gasol to don the #16 jersey. Hopefully the Lakers don’t lose the rhythm they’ve gotten on this road trip. There’s a long way to go and certainly with Gasol the road gets more fun, but they still have to go out there and win.
Last edited by crucifido on Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby Kobe Bryant on Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:48 am

Thanks for the analysis Cru... didnt get to see the game so its fun to read about the details
User avatar
Kobe Bryant

Posts: 326
Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2004 8:19 pm

Postby drxslam on Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:39 am

Always look forward to reading your analysis after the game, Crucifido. Great work!

Can't wait for tuesday :man1:
User avatar

Posts: 129
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2007 7:28 am
Location: VUB, Brussels, Belgium

Postby Najim on Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:15 am

I'm seriously amazed by Sasha this year. You could tell from the beginning of the season that he had kind of a swagger about him. I think this swagger stems from the confidence that comes with knowing that you worked your arse off in the summer and that you're in the best basketball shape of your life. Definitely an unexpected surprise, I think folks forget that before this year, he was a SCRUUUB whose claim to fame was being able to knock down a shot here or there in practice.
The Last Stand Has Begun...
User avatar

Posts: 1264
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:39 pm

Postby crucifido on Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:08 pm

Thanks for the good words drx and Kobe.

No kidding Najim, it is surprising to say the least about Sasha. I'll be the first to say that I didn't really see a spot on this team for him for years. He proved me wrong this season. I find myself muttering his name with amazement during games.

He's filling a huge role. Sure its good to have Radman wake up last game, but Sasha has filled his role and then some all year. Major props to him - major.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:11 pm

My god - this is gonna be fun!

Lakers vs. Nets (Game 47 2/5/08)

Strength On The Road

The anticipation of the game is almost too much to take, but in the end it comes down to how this Laker team will play together. A team on paper is great and all but it has to translate to Ws on the court.

One big adjustment for the Lakers will be learning how to be the team everyone revs their game up for. Sure teams did anyway simply by it being the Lakers, but now with Gasol, the target is growing.

Alright, first things first – how did Gasol do?

Turns out that Gasol is, uh, pretty dang good. He got his first points as a Laker on the offensive boards in the 1st – exactly the way he’ll contribute a majority of points while Andrew is out. But after the foul trouble subsided and the second half kicked in, Gasol found his groove – quicker than I thought he would.

Howe awesome is it to have your center drive along the baseline for up and unders or simple lay-ups with strength and confidence? Gasol’s mobility is there already. For a guy who just walked into a brand new team and offense far more complicated than what the Grizzlies ran, he didn’t look to have too much trouble. The first quarter was a little lost wandering, but that didn’t last.

It was unbelievable to see the Nets try to front Gasol as much as they did. The Laker post passing has been sketchy lately, but with a guy like Gasol in the post, the passes got crisper. There was someone in the post that the Lakers obviously have confidence in – and instantly. When Gasol got those passes behind his man, there was no stopping him. Using his length and his reach, Gasol got one easy bucket after another.

24 and 11 in your debut with a new team, no matter the opponent is impressive.

Defensively, Gasol had a couple instances of real nice side step help in the paint. When a drive came in form the side of the key Gasol split space between the ball and his man perfectly. His work in traffic under the basket once the shot went up was on the money too. With Lamar going nuts, grabbing most of the boards, Gasol was consistently boxing out the weak side rebounder that has burned the Lakers so much this year. Gasol needs to step up into the drives a bit sooner, but for his first run as a Laker, it was real good.

Lastly, about Gasol, his passion for the game was great to see. Often walking off the court into timeouts with a, “Come on, let’s go!” yell, yelling at himself after mistakes or walking with confidence into huddles, Gasol looked like a guy ready to contribute – and ready to win.


Derek Fisher went off again, getting good looks from movement off of the attention paid to everyone else, but hitting his shots with certainty. This version of Fisher as a Laker sees him having more confidence in his shot than he’s ever had before. Derek’s run-offs of screens and his charges through traffic to pop out for a passes is picture perfect.

Derek’s defense was also aware. Though he did get lost trying to dive down to double a high post once in while, he did a decent job keeping tabs on Kidd. Once Kidd hit his first 3 pointer in the first quarter Derek had an eye on him. Kidd’s speed matches Derek’s capabilities on defense for sure. But what was good about Derek’s defense was mainly his lateral footwork from top of the key to the elbows.

Oh yeah, by the way, the Lakers have the best player in the NBA still too. After the dislocated finger, Kobe definitely showed signs of being wary with his shot. But as we’ve seen a thousand times before, that didn’t slow his overall game down. Using the attention the Nets paid to him defensively he looked for his teammates just as he has since the road trip began. Now though with attention going to Gasol and a hot Fisher, the assists piled up. 6 points has got to be the lowest scoring output for Kobe in a long, long time, but it didn’t matter.

Nothing eases up defense on Radmanovic’s outside shot like putting it on the floor once in a while. What favored him the best in Washington and his whole career has been spotting up in the context of a play. But when this season started Radmanovic used the flashes of going inside he showed before to his advantage. Initially, he was looking to crash the inside a bit too much. You don’t want to see him rely on it for offense, but its something him and Sasha have got to look to do more often.

You can see the instant change in his game when he did spot up in the second half. He spot up on one shot, and then went in the next. Though having more to your game than shooting is important, Radmanovic excelled when he used the fading perimeter defense of the Nets to run along the arc for open shots. Once he establishes his outside shot, the inside will ease up. He can’t come into games going inside – get your shot flowing first. Then when the defense sinks into thinking that’s your game you move inside. But with shooters they have to show other teams that the outside is where they do their damage, then change it up and break your man down to the mid range or inside. Radmanovic played well, there’s no mistaking that.

As far as Luke goes, he did better, the action in the post wasn’t forced down low. Rather Luke was staying up high with Gasol down low and using the pinch post to curl down to the mid post for easy shots. It’s a game of adjustment for Luke right now. He’s still hurt and now with Gasol, his role will change yet again.

I’m not ashamed to say that I like what Mbenga has been doing on the court. He’s giving everything Kwame gave but with more zip in his step. His hands are especially good on passes off of him diving into the lane. Though he does barely recover on defense from perimeter flashes, he does hold ground well when he’s planted in the key. His problem is his wandering feet when being driven into. He’s got to stand in one spot rather than moving while the drive comes into his chest. Otherwise, he did a decent job as the third string center.

Farmar shot really well tonight. His jab and step back jumper is a nice weapon to have as a smaller point guard. The space he makes from that move is enough to get his low release off in time before begin challenged into a worse shot. Jordan had great active hands on Williams, often forcing him into and awkward shot or breaking the play as a result.

One of the best side effects of Gasol will be and was Odom’s ability to concentrate on rebounding and passing – in other words, what he does best. Though Gasol got two early fouls to sit in the first period, you immediately saw Lamar looking to rush the offensive boards and play the defensive fill role. Taking the pressure off of Odom to have to score could be a huge factor once Bynum comes back and Gasol gets into rhythm. For now, you can see that Odom having the onus of scoring taken off of him has made a better rhythm on his jumpers. Tonight he was taking the open chances in a nice flow.

This version of Lamar is what the Lakers need. Not so much a Rodman equivalent, as Odom can score far better, but a more focused Lamar as to what his role on this team is. He now has a defined presence out there. The work he showed the whole game, but starting in earnest in the 2nd quarter was terrific.

The Laker frontcourt has still got to be careful about being pogos. There’s too much biting on ball fakes and first looks to the hoop by everyone. With this many big guys in the middle, there‘s no reason for the Lakers to be compromising the advantage they have in the paint by going for as many head fakes. I’m not saying to stay flat-footed all the time, but jumping into every driver doesn’t help either.

When all is said and done, the big advantage of having Gasol is that Kobe doesn’t have to go off every night or play 47 minutes for the Lakers to run out to big leads or win games. There’s finally a viable scoring option besides Kobe (with Andrew out). That’s all Kobe and the Laker fans wanted – consistent focused and quality play from the whole team. The addition of Pau not only adds big punch to the Laker offense individually, it adds room for everyone else to get to their spots, move off the ball with more freedom and play within their game.

Now key for the Lakers will be to keep within their game and not get ahead of themselves. The potential of this team is enormous, but that potential can’t be met without focus on each game, no matter how strong or weak the opponent.

Like Kobe said, “It’s time to walk the walk.”
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Thu Feb 07, 2008 6:22 pm

Something about those dang Hawks! Not the end of the world though.

Lakers vs. Hawks (Game 48 2/6/2008)

Foiled By The Hawks - Again

Every NBA team has their mini-nemeses, ask the Celtics this year about the Wizards. For the Lakers the Hawks seem to be their hurdle at the moment. For most teams playing the Hawks is one of the easier tasks (although the Hawks are finally poking their head out from the 10 year pit they dug for themselves), but every time the Lakers venture into Georgia, you have to cringe a bit. There’s just something about the team (especially in Atlanta) that just stumps the purple and gold. Still, its not an excuse to lose to a sub 500 team.

With Gasol on board, team chemistry still on the rise and the roll of the last 3 road wins, you’d think that would trump the Atlanta curse. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to make the Lakers run their road win streak to 4.

Though there were many points where the Lakers should’ve or could’ve put the Hawks into their rear views, the main crux of the Lakers’ undoing was in the 2nd quarter. The Lakers led by 6 points, which is nothing that early on, and the Hawks went on to miss 10 consecutive shots. That’s great to see and everything, but the problem was that the Lakers did nothing to take advantage of Atlanta’s woeful shooting. When teams miss shots in chunks like that, you have got to make them pay for it. If you allow them to go on that dry of a run and still come out with the same deficit they went into it with, you’re playing with fire whether you’re on yours or their court.

And that was the main thing about this game; the Lakers simply let the Hawks hang around too much. Even with a below 500 team, you can’t give them a glimmer of hope. That glimmer of hope snowballed into the 4th quarter where the Hawks killed a near double digit deficit when the Lakers got caught in their own drought.

There were other elements that led to the Lakers stumbling in Atlanta too.

First off, Kobe’s hand just wasn’t right. The thing was swollen up enough to where the knuckles were basically invisibly. The flexibility in the hand obviously affects his shot too. It was another unusually quiet (by Kobe standards) kind of game. Having Pau in the fold is great, but when all is said and done, Kobe still needs to be a major part of the Laker engine. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but you could see that Kobe just wasn’t right. With Kobe hobbled and the rest of the team being so incredibly streaky, the Lakers really never got into that killer rhythm they had in Toronto and eventually found in New Jersey.

Gasol showed as varied attack in this game though. For a guy just getting to his second game, it was still impressive. There were times when he looked a bit lost, but they were usually backed up by solid play with a block or with quality boxing out on the mid-post. What’s so good about Gasol is his ability to run with a break. He has natural instincts as to where to be on breaks, not crowding the lane and often in a good angle on the wing to do the most damage. With a jumping active team like the Hawks, I’d expect Gasol to struggle a bit in the stamina department. There were times he looked a touch drained on the court, but it wasn’t a huge hindrance to his game. The stats were there, though not as big as the Nets game due to his working two man and pinch post sets real well with just about anyone who initiated the play. The surprising thing Gasol showed in this game (well not surprising but more useful) was the amount of cleanup he did.

For only his second game Gasol continued to show that once fully integrated in the system and used to the style of his teammates, he’s going to just as big a part of the Laker success that we all thought he would be.

I’m telling you Odom now having a defined role that puts him into his natural 3rd / 4th option in the offense will do wonders for his game. 19 / 11 with some pretty adept outside shooting to boot is nothing to complain about. Sometimes I get the feeling he’s getting a myriad of fouls thrown his way because the refs are not yet used to him being more of an underneath hustle guy rather than a drive to your left big slasher. But he does get too many fouls from the reach or the attempt to play defense with his long reach rather than his feet. It’s not something that can’t be fixed, but it is something that should be fixed quickly, as Odom’s time on the court in this new role is more than important. In this game and in the Nets game there’s been a marked improvement on Odom’s transition defense. Though transition defense was a major Achilles heel this game, Lamar has been getting back with more vigor than he’s shown in a while.

It was s decent mix of outside / inside play from Odom, but watching him at the line lately is scary. He’s never been a stellar free throw shooter, but it’s got to be cleaned up. 100% isn’t expected but going 2-5 from the line isn’t acceptable from a percentage and frequency strand point. If he attacks the rim with as much fight as he does for boards, he can get more trips to the line. The aggression is coming along now, but it’s still the mountain that Odom frequently climbs and pushes himself off of. With him being further down the vitality line offensively, he should be able to muster it.

Fisher had yet another good shooting night. Nothing surprising there, but unfortunately neither was his footwork against a quicker Lue. Derek isn’t known for his fleet-footed defense and against little guys like Lue it becomes apparent. In the open court and out on the perimeter he doesn’t struggle, but as soon as that pick comes, help has to come with it. That’s Derek’s giant hitch in his game. Drawing help off of another guy’s assignment opened up the Hawks for motion coming off of screens and picks. It doesn’t all fall on Derek’s shoulders, as he did use his lower body strength as well as he normally does. However, versus smaller point guards, there has to be a quicker change in game plan and/or awareness from the Lakers.

For a point guard Derek’s strongest defensive stances are on the post. In the high post he did some good work against Johnson especially, forcing action outside of set plays with his strength.

The transition defense struggles certainly could’ve been helped out with a little more time for Turiaf. It looks to be a bit of an adjustment rotation wise for Phil. Now that Gasol is here and Radmanovic has responded to starting, Ronny is trying to find his place on the team. That ragged playing time is having an effect on Ronny’s offense in particular. IT looked like he couldn’t get his hands or body in rhythm on offense while he was out there. His hustle was still there though, looking to get after every play he could while on the court. One thing is for sure, no matter how much time Ronny gets you can be sure he’ll make the best of it.

As hot as Radmanovic was in the 1st quarter, you know that Phil will always sit someone if their defense shows signs of cracking. There were some times, at the end of the game in particular, I was surprised Vladi didn’t make an appearance, but this is Phil’s way. If you don’t play both ends of the court, you won’t play. Though there were some scattered good defensive moments from Radmanovic, especially in the help department, they were too few and far between to demand more time from Phil. Inconsistent defense will get you inconsistent playing time as long as you’re a Laker and as long as Phil’s the coach. I can’t say as that’s a bad thing.

It didn’t help either that Jordan was virtually a non-factor. When Derek’s defense gets slow, or the shot falls flat, the Lakers have come to depend on Farmar to come in and spark up the team. Tat just didn’t happen as noticeably as it has all season. So could be Jordan being tired (although he’s too young top be tired, even on the second of a back-to-back) or more than likely he just didn’t have his step. It happens to the best of ‘em.

As far as the final shot / lay-up by Sasha goes, don’t be too hasty to lambaste him. Of course, he should’ve taken the 3 instead of the lay-up the Hawks were obviously giving up intentionally. My theory on this (and Luke’s last shot flub a bit ago) is that this team still needs that extra bit of confidence in their selves. Its great that the team has earned Kobe’s has trust, but they have also got learn that they too can be the hero. It’s not always to fall on Kobe to hit the game winning / tying shot. You can see that with Sasha’s mistake, there are still some guys on the team that need to dredge up the faith in their selves to be just as clutch as Kobe. They may miss sometimes, they may make sometimes, but when those chances are given to you, you have to take them.
You can blame the game on Sasha’s brain fart all you want, but ultimately that’s not what lost the game.

Defensively the Lakers were remarkably soft along the baseline. It was well and good to funnel drives to it, but when you push someone to an area, you have to be backed up by the rest of your defense. The Hawks had clear lanes along the baseline with and without the ball with little to no resistance. There seemed to be a lot of miscommunication regarding help defense down low.

The Lakers have got to be aware of teams in the later stages of the game. In Detroit and in Atlanta you saw a Laker team that fell asleep in the 4th. They settled into a prevent game mode that did nothing but get them out of what they needed to do offensively and threw them out of crisp movement on defense.

It’s not an excuse, but it’s undeniable that the presence of Andrew in games like this one is sorely missed. That force in the middle on both ends of the court would come in real handy when the outside shots start going sour. Though Gasol is also an inside presence, you can’t expect a guy who’s played 1 game in a new system to thrive as much as Andrew has. The Lakers can win without Bynum, no problem, but it sure will be good to have Bynum back in the paint to make teams pay for pushing their defense so hard to the outside.

The good thing about almost every game as of the middle of January is that the Lakers are in every one. There are no more games where the Lakers are looking like they’re in slow-mo. There are spurts when the Lakers look to be a step behind other teams, but the space between motivated play is getting smaller. Win or lose, there’s a competitive edge that is slowly creeping into the Laker conscious. It’s visible in the guys’ reactions to fumbled plays and the way they behave after losses. Whether it’s from Kobe’s determination, Phil’s coaching, the acquisition of Gasol or otherwise, the important thing is that it’s making its way to the surface.

So the Lakers lost another game on the road trip. The good news is that the remaining games are still against inferior teams and right now the outlook for the road trip stands at 7-2. At the worst, let’s say the Lakers drop one more on the trip, then it goes to 6-3. 7-2 or 6-3, neither of which doesn’t suck at all.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Hawks game analysis

Postby Killer on Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:11 pm

Crucifido: Once again, I'm amazed at your ability to get so much out of a game and to see every little positive and negative therein. Your analyses get better and better and I look forward to reading them after each game (and even some of the older ones). Thanks.

Somebody please get this guy a professional sports writing job for the Lakers!!!!!

Posts: 24
Joined: Tue May 01, 2007 12:40 am

Postby fusechris on Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:31 pm

first time visiting the blog section of the website, and I have to're my new idol.

Nice write-up.
User avatar

Posts: 731
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 12:54 pm
Location: Santa Barbara --> OC

Re: Hawks game analysis

Postby revgen on Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:56 pm

Killer wrote:Crucifido: Once again, I'm amazed at your ability to get so much out of a game and to see every little positive and negative therein. Your analyses get better and better and I look forward to reading them after each game (and even some of the older ones). Thanks.

Somebody please get this guy a professional sports writing job for the Lakers!!!!!


Sometimes I take his analysis for granted. Substance always trumps controversial tactics employed by newspaper columnists.
"Every time he’s hurt, he always plays, he always comes through."

- Metta World Peace on teammate Kobe Bryant
HDTV/Multimedia Guru
Posts: 21723
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:53 pm
Location: Southern California

Postby crucifido on Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:08 pm

On the road to 7-2...

Lakers vs. Magic (Game 49 2/8/08)

Pau Goes The Lakers! Pop Goes The Magic!

Despite a less than exemplary defensive performance, the Lakers went into Orlando and exacted some revenge. A complete team game led by the tandem of Kobe and Pau had a little cardiac kids flashback, but in the end, the persistent focus of the Lakers in the second half won the day.

That whole defending the three thing looked like it was going to destroy the Lakers early on. For the umpteenth time the Lakers decided to keep fading off of proven or hot shooters on the arc. Sure there’s Howard to deal with and without Andrew everyone needs to help in the middle, but that was nuts. No matter how much help you’re looking to throw down to the paint, there shouldn’t be that many consistently open opportunities from long range. Doubling Howard is one thing, but the Lakers didn’t and don’t need to help out off of outside shooters for every ball that comes down the lane. Though not as consistent as Bynum, Odom, Turiaf and Gasol can handle most slashers making their way down the lane. The rest of the Lakers have to show the same faith they were learning to show with Bynum in the other Laker bigs.

One big soft spot was late help to drives in the paint. That late help opened up the middle and left Odom or Gasol looking back and forth as to where to go. Unfortunately, the outside was left gaping most of the time.

Doubles were also slow to let go in the first quarter. Once the rebound was wrangled by Howard the Lakers stood stagnant with two guys on him, often leaving a baseline run or open spots on the arc all over the place.

It wasn’t the offense of the Lakers in that torrid 1st, 33 points is usually enough to get the job done. Rather, it was the confused looking Laker defense that let the Magic get into rhythm early. That early rhythm is a dangerous thing to play around with. But, with the driven team that the Lakers are quickly becoming, the mistakes of the first were quickly sealed up and suddenly the Magic had trouble getting back to where they were.

Then came the 2nd quarter, and though it feels like I say it all the time – there’s a big difference when Ronny came in. Ronny was hustling from the top of the key to down low. He was canceling out any motion coming down the lane and negating passes running through the key from side to side.

Amazing how well a player can do when their hands work. Kobe was back into form tonight. Now with Kobe getting back to normal and Gasol sinking into the Laker groove, you can get a glimpse of the potential of the soon-to-be-powerhouse Lakers. Kobe’s work off the ball, particularly down low was much better tonight. The confidence to move amongst the trees was good to see. It’s never a problem for Kobe, but tonight he really looked to get into the mix down low, popping out for passes or keeping on the mid post to pull the Magic out from underneath a bit.

Otherwise, there’s not much to say about Kobe’s offense – it was coming from every spot on the floor in every kind of situation.

That dunk Kobe threw down from the dotted line in the key in the 1st quarter was incredible! Not to mention the floating lay-up with the foul he managed in the 3rd. Its apparent that Kobe’s legs aren’t dislocated.

What a trade – what a trade. A couple times I had to remind myself that the Lakers actually have Pau in the mix now.

I love Gasol’s work on the baseline – on the post – on defense and outside.

Starting on the low post and spinning to the baseline uncontested is a weapon that Pau uses to perfection. The spins he pulls out either to the baseline or to the paint on the low block are textbook. Better yet, he finishes a majority of those shots.

Pau’s screen and roll is perfect too. He stands still and rolls with the ball down low every time. There are no wandering picks or standing after the ball has dove down.

His composure after pressure has been thrown on him in the post is awesome as well. There are no panicked passes on bad angles or uncontrolled shots. If he got pushed out, doubled or contested, he got his way out of it and reset the ball outside. Heady play from the post isn’t as common as some may think in the NBA.

The rebound he got in the second quarter at the 2.02 mark and the board he reached out to get around Howard in the beginning of the 3rd goes to show the kind of work he put in this game and just what he can do for the Lakers for years to come. The thing is about what he did this game is that is in the flow. You can easily see how Kobe drawing the majority of defensive attention away from Gasol makes his game even simpler. There was no over-exertion at all. Gasol has yet to really feel the big effect on the Lakers while Bynum sits.

With the thought of Gasol and Bynum filling the block and the posts swirling in your head after games like this, its hard to keep your mind on the task at hand – getting home 7-2 on this trip.

The fundamental wide stance Gasol had against Howard was nice. Often, bigger players take a narrow stance and it lets guys like Howard overpower them even easier. Watching Gasol take charges the way he did in this game gratifying. That kind of talent willing to sacrifice his body for the good of a stop is invaluable.

The triangle is awfully easy to adapt to when you have the smarts that Pau has.

Jordan’s work defensively on Dooling was real good. Hustling through screens and leaving no shot uncontested, Farmar was working hard to keep Dooling about 2 to 3 feet outside of his comfort-shooting zone. It was Nelson that gave Farmar some trouble. Once he got his shoulder past Jordan, Farmar seemed to back off. Though catching up would result in a foul, there was slower recovery than normal. With the one shot h hit, it looks like Jordan may have hit a bit of a wall.

The speed of the magic point guard core gave Derek trouble the whole game. The energy he had to expend trying to keep up with the sweeping back and forth of the Nelson and company took some energy away from Derek’s offense. But due to Gasol’s presence all over the posts and Kobe rounding back into his normal “Kobe-ness”, Derek’s looks starting opening up.

Speaking of open looks, there coming in bunches for Radmanovic and Sasha too. Just wait until Bynum comes back. If Sasha and Vladi can maintain their confidence from outside until Bynum comes back, there’s no telling what can happen.

Odom’s finishing has been far better than it has all season. Gone are the little lay-ups once he gets free. He’s been throwing down every open chance he gets. That not only pays off now, but that kind of aggression will also pay off with the refs once people start contesting him. If he’s seen as an aggressive player like that, the fouls he gets now for sporadic tough play will fade away. Other than that Lamar is just sliding into his 3rd option role with ease. His work in the paint up high this game was admirable. Its tough to get in there with Howard in the game, but once Howard came out Lamar moved immediately lower to fill the space in the paint on both ends.

You can see that the game has lightened up for Lamar. He’s even hitting his 3’s. Now that he doesn’t have to score, scoring is coming easy for him. Now that he doesn't have to be the stopper in crunch time, he's free to block shots.

The Lakers have got to go for the jugular though. They had the magic down in the mouth and down on the scoreboard but failed to bury them when they had the chance. To keep winning and to keep teams thinking they have no chance to beat you once they’re down, you have to take them out when you can.

One other gripe – the Lakers, when close to a shooter have to deny the pass. They can’t let any pass get to shooters when they’re not in a help situation. The ball can’t move freely along the arc when you play a team laden with bombers like the Magic.

The patience and faith in their game the Lakers showed was key. After the scorching start from the Magic, the Lakers held steady. That steady, confident approach got them through. That’s a sign of a team with experience.

There is a big thing that may be ignored in this game, but something I absolutely loved to see. While the Magic went three point nuts in attempts and makes, the Lakers didn’t cop to it. They didn’t try to follow suit and jack up triples to keep up. The Lakers continued to run their offense and take the threes that were given to hem. There were no forced jacks being tossed up without regard to the clock or game. That’s a nice step forward.

So the road trip continues now, as it’s onto the shambles that is the Heat.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:11 pm


Thanks Killer and revgen - I'm honored anyone reads this stuff - let alone likes it!

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby crucifido on Sun Feb 10, 2008 4:07 pm

Some signs of tiring showed today, but in the end the Lakers pulled out another win on this crazy-long road trip.

Lakers vs. Heat (Game 50 2/10/08)

Road Weary, But Still Winning

First things first – you just didn’t want the Lakers to take this game lightly. Coming into a broken team like Miami on the high the Lakers are on could’ve been dangerous. You add the first game from Marion on a team desperately looking for an infusion of energy from anywhere and this game could easily spell trouble. The 4th quarter run of the Heat showed just how giving any team a look at a comeback can be bad news.

Off the bat, I loved Kobe’s takes on Wade’s typical lackluster defense (and no one semi-blocked shot doesn’t count as a game of defense) in the first quarter. Pushing the ball into the middle like he was along with Pau being inside had Miami immediately dumping all defense down low. When the defense was drawn in, Kobe’s mid range jumper was left wide open. Then when Kobe’s jumper got shut off, Sasha, Farmar and everyone else were spotting up at great angles for the pass (i.e. – Farmar’s 1st quarter ending three off of Kobe’s take).

Kobe’s passing was spot on today too. In fact I think he may have passed a couple times too many in the first half, but as usual Kobe getting his on offense is never a worry. The jab dribbling, and the pushes to the inside set the Laker rhythm up really nicely overall. That was as smooth a 30+ point performance as you’ll see in the NBA.

As we all know it’s not all about the offense with Kobe. Since he’s gotten the inspiration to play defense with determination from his international stint, he’s been on a tear. Though it wasn’t mostly the intense rebounding he showed in Orlando, today it was lock down perimeter D.

The stop Kobe pulled off on Wade in the 3rd quarter with seconds left; resulting in a travel was A sampling of the genius of Kobe’s D.

Odom played really good perimeter defense today. Rarely, if ever, biting on head fakes and keeping perfect distance between him and shooters or slashers, kept Miami from moving the ball through any defensive position he was filling.

Radmanovic did a good job early on playing off the curl to the basket. Coupling with Kobe’s jabs to the middle, Miami was sent scrambling pretty often. The problem with Vladi offensively was him crowding the lane almost every time anyone got the ball even in the mid-post. When he stepped out to the three after running through the key instead of holding up in the paint, everything eased up. Also, he’s lagging after missing a shot on getting back. There’s too much sulking or complaining for the foul from Radmanovic. He doesn’t have the speed of or defensive ability to carry that off. Stop griping and get back quick – every time.

Luke finally looks to getting himself back into shape and able to trust the ankle more. Some good passes off of the block and cuts underneath for a lay-up or two were more what we’ve come to expect from Luke.

Sasha has just been the unnoticed killer this season. It continued today as it has for the entire season. I’ll be the first to admit I gave up on him far too early in his career. This season he has been magnificent at spotting up. Whether he makes the shot all the time or not, Sasha’s understanding of the offense and where he needs to be has improved exponentially.

With Sasha nailing the shots like he did in this game, Miami was forced to go single coverage on the floor. Not being able to double Kobe off of Sasha (or Farmar either) was huge. Having yet another guy that the Heat couldn’t leave to shoot at will was just another thing that sent Miami’s “defense” into scramble mode even further.

Defensively Sasha did a decent job keeping tabs on his man. He crowded the shooters and kept from getting picked off as much as he could.

The thing about Gasol on offense that I find impressive is his almost immediate knowledge of spacing and where he needs to be on every single play. Already there are few times Gasol is crowding, out of step or slow to move from post to post.

His pass after cutting along the baseline to Walton for the lay-up was beautiful. Versatility in the post like that is a rare commodity in the NBA.

Defensively, Gasol showed his weakness in the post. It has always been a soft spot in his game, but the activity of Blount in the paint really froze Pau. Once he can get to the high post and swoop in to get boards or help defense with Andrew in the idle, that weakness won’t have that big of an impact on the Laker D.

It was yet another good game from the player of the game for me, Odom. Now that he’s free of having to do things he’s doing the same things with ease. Most impressive today was his rebound positioning – consistent, proper and strong, every time. When the 15-foot jumpers are flowing from Odom’s hands, you know he’s having a good game.

His rebounding was effortless and better than that, it was always under control. Controlled taps, two hands on all boards, kicking it back out to reset the offense and holding it well to set the Laker offense into motion off of defense.

His defense was good too. I liked him running from the free throw line down to the baseline with purpose. There was no hitch in his movement as he fought through a lot of traffic to consistently get involved in every play from the mid range down to the block.

Farmar woke up offensively. Though he was shooting a bit too much from the arc, it was good to see Jordan get his legs under him on his shot again. Defensively he was still about a step or two slow off of screens or off of lateral moves. It just looks like Jordan needs the All-Star break.

The Lakers had plenty of sleepy weak side moments again on defense. This season has gone from perimeter defensive problems from the last couple of years, to weal side defensive board lapses this season. There was far too much attention paid to the ball coming down the middle on the beginning of slashes. It’s of course proper to stop the ball first, but the Lakers were throwing 2 guys at the ball every time down the middle. They only needed to put one on the ball, but when they sent the extra man Pau was stuck guarding two guys on the block.

Along those same lines, there was a touch too much trapping on the outside on guys that didn’t need trapping – ala Davis.

Still frustrating to see guys like Blount or Wright go off on the Lakers, but the Lakers did good making the little guys try to beat them, rather then letting Wade go crazy on ‘em. With Bynum back you’d like to think that big games from mediocre bigg-ish guys will go by the wayside.

In the first half the Lakers were succumbing to the Heat’s running game a bit too. There were a lot of rushed shots, particularly in the 2nd quarter. Patient, post driven offense is the order of the day with the triangle and the Lakers personnel. Though they can run if necessary, The Lakers work better in the half court from the post out – no news there, I know, but in this game the Lakers were looking to play 7 second shot ball a little more than they should have.

Come the 3rd quarter the Lakers got back the deliberate play they do best with.

The Lakers were slow on their defensive transition as well. The first half saw too many 2 on 1’s happening. The 4 on 1 situation in the 2nd quarter with only Derek back can’t happen. There’s got to be a whole team effort to get back or at the very least 3 guys coming back on breaks. There’s no given make on a break. How many times have we seen Kobe or Lamar block a shot or Derek stuff a drive into a pull-up jumper without anyone backing them up to get the board?

There was one instance in the 3rd with Farmar, Walton and Gasol coming back to stop the break and low and behold they wound up forcing a turnover.

There were some hiccups with the Lakers today that looked like they may be symptoms of the long road trip kicking in. They have to hold it together for only 2 more games though, get home 7-2 and re-gain some energy during the All-Star break.

WTF Of The Game: That Miami announcer is just ridiculously annoying, not on par with the Pistons overbearing guy, but dang close. It’s the audio equivalent of watching special teams in football freaking out over an average tackle.

As this road trip slowly (really slowly) comes to a close, Andrew’s return gets closer and Ariza is on his way back, things are running as smooth as they can for the Lakers.

Off to Charlotte they go, looking for win 33.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby LaLaKeRz4LiFe on Sun Feb 10, 2008 4:12 pm

:bow: nice read as always.

Posts: 11446
Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2004 11:06 pm
Location: From the Bay to LA

Postby fusechris on Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:28 pm

lol at the WTF of the day segment.

We watched the same game, but you pointed out a lot of tendencies -that although true- I didn't really think of until now.

Nice read
User avatar

Posts: 731
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 12:54 pm
Location: Santa Barbara --> OC

Postby crucifido on Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:04 pm

Thanks Lakerz4Life! :man12:

Thanks for the kind words Chris! I'm trying to do the WTF Of The Game regularly. Tonight's is kinda the same though. I just can't take the PA announcers any more - its pitiful. :freak2:

Anyway, thanks for reading guys - here's the one for the Bobcats game.

Lakers vs. Bobcats (Game 51 2/11/08)

Cleaning The Slate In Charlotte

Charlotte hasn’t been a kind place to the Lakers lately, but things would change tonight, as the Lakers continued their push to 7-2 on this almost finished road odyssey.

The two-headed Pau/Kobe monster was in full effect tonight – and from the outset too.

Gasol starts off hot, and then settles down a bit. Then Kobe starts draining distance jumpers and breaking down the D with the drive. Once Kobe got more pressure put on him, Gasol moved back into the post and drew attention away from the mid range players, letting motion in the mid post down to the block ease up.

It was a taste of the 1-2 punch that Pau and Kobe can be (let alone what could happen when Andrew gets back into the fold).

Kobe picked up his smooth scoring right where he left off in Miami. Its tough to find a flaw in Kobe’s last couple of games (and this one too), he’s done an MVP job of setting up the team while balancing his own stats. The defense on the perimeter lost a step or two from the incredible job he did in Miami, but it wasn’t needed as heavily in Charlotte as it was against a scorer like Wade.

Not much else to say but Kobe’s kept his game rolling while integrating Gasol and the rest of the guys. Sounds like an MVP to me.

From the first ball given to him Pau looked to be in not so much rare form, but common form. Starting with the easy reception from a brilliant bounce pass from Kobe to get the Lakers’ 4th point of the game, Gasol was off to the races. His efficient scoring was great to see. Most of Gasol’s shots were within his skill set. There were no forced shots or plays beyond his capacity. That right there is enough to make anyone appreciate the things that Gasol can do and will do.

Pau’s did well with his defensive rebounding help on the inside. He was creating purple and gold traffic down low while letting Lamar reach for most of the boards. The noise he was making underneath was enough to push out most of the Bobcats (sans Okafor) out of ideal rebounding position.

Gasol’s problem is the one we knew when he got here – his post defense. He doesn’t have the strongest lower body and by default has trouble maintaining position against the powerful big guys Okafor or even against mobile big guys like Mohammed. It will help to have Andrew back so Pau can get back to his natural position of PF, but for now Pau would be well served to widen his stance and lean into his man a bit more.

Having Gasol and Kobe able and willing to set up the rest of the team with their play along with putting up points without really playing at their top of their game is a luxury to say the least. Thankfully, the rest of the Lakers are finding where to lineup beside Pau and Kobe.

Lamar did a real good job helping out on defense. Working the step to the baseline to shut off drives with perfection, Lamar kept his casual but strong performance streak in tact. Loved the dive down the middle of the paint in the 1st quarter. He was showing freedom of movement within the offense he hasn’t shown very often. Not handling the ball as much has left Odom with a ton of room to operate from top to bottom right down the throat of the Bobcats D.

He was once again aggressive with the chances given to him. He wasn’t turning away from gimmes.

The best thing about this game for me was the return of Ronny to the form he was playing with a couple weeks ago before the Gasol deal. He played very deliberate and in control this game. His turnaround jumpers from the mid-post were good to see come back. The shot’s been a little absent lately, but it looked like Ronny found his comfortable postposition in this one. He used the high and mid post as run-in spots to take stabs at boards and get involved inside off missed shots. If he didn’t dive into the paint, he popped out around small traffic for open looks around the elbow. That use of the mid-post is a nice area for Ronny to operate in with or without another big in the game.

Jordan had a couple spurts of play we got used to this year, but he still looks tired. Jordan can make things easier on himself by jab dribbling a bit more, pulling his man out of the paint. With a presence like Gasol inside and Lamar rebounding like a demon, there’s space for him to remain along the top of the key arc, instead of feeling obligated to take it the full distance to the rim every time. Maybe this way he can keep his man on his heels, create some space for himself outside and preserve energy until the much-needed All-Star break.

As far as Luke goes, the guy is working his way off of injury better with the game he played tonight. There was less shooting from the post and more work jumping out of the post to make room for better low block players. Rebounding was decent, but I would still like to see Luke operate in the mid range perimeter far more than he has this year. His work on defense was slow-footed, but I liked what he did keeping his eye on passing angles and getting a couple key steals towards the end of the game. It would be easier for Luke to get his legs back by playing active defense more than pushing low block offense. He’s adjusting to a different role with Gasol here now; he’ll have to adjust again once Bynum comes back too.

The bench unit was too slow on defensive switches. Luckily the Bobcats didn’t see a multitude of mismatches that were there for most of the time the full bench was on the court. They’ve got to recognize those quicker, if not eliminate them by better communication through screens and traffic.

I really liked the sporadic full court press of the Lakers tonight. If you press too much it gets predictable and easier to run around. But the Lakers did well mixing it up tonight. Mostly towards the end of quarters, the Lakers pushed up on the Bobcats with random perfect timing, making them turn the ball over or disrupting them at the least. (That Radmanovic steal in the full court set was beautiful)

The thing about the Lakers that surprises me is the ease of spacing the Lakers have been doing since Pau’s arrival. You’d think bringing in a major cog like Gasol into a team in the middle of a road trip would cause stumbles. Instead, it’s gotten the Lakers more confidence in where they need to be. Some of that speaks to experience, and some speaks to the talent level of this team. The I.Q. of the Lakers doesn’t hurt either. Adding a smart player like Gasol to a guy like Kobe backed with the steady hands of a team knowing the roles they need to play to be successful is a rare treat to watch.

Either or both ways its good to see the Lakers knowing where to be rather than screaming directions at each other like they were last year at this time.

Letting other teams into games late is a dangerous game to be playing. At some point it could bite the Lakers in the butt. Hopefully they’ll learn to push their will on teams for the whole 48. You can get away with this against the likes of the Bobcats and Heat, but like we saw in Detroit, it’s not a habit you want to get into.

To that effect, it would still be nice to see the Lakers notice when they have a team on the ropes and to push them over the cliff. Developing that takes a while. The leads have to come first. But now that the leads are starting to roll in with frequency, its time to tighten the screws on teams not only like the Bobcats, but on every opponent.

WTF Of The Game: The scourge of aggravating arena PA guys is becoming pandemic. Can’t wait for the Lakers to get back home, simply so I don’t have to hear a 30 second wail over a stinkin’ lay-up for a while. Save me Lawrence Tanter!

It felt like a quiet game tonight. Maybe it’s the road trip coming to a close, or maybe I’m just tired, but it feels like it’s almost the end of a big road trip for me as well as the Lakers. As they roll into Minnesota on a winning streak, coming off this voyage and looking forward to the All-Star break, its vastly important for the Lakers to not overlook this game.

Go out there and get yourself into the break with a streak of wins and a streak of confidence.

P.S. – Congratulations DJ!!
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby revgen on Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:17 pm

crucifido wrote:Jordan had a couple spurts of play we got used to this year, but he still looks tired. Jordan can make things easier on himself by jab dribbling a bit more, pulling his man out of the paint. With a presence like Gasol inside and Lamar rebounding like a demon, there’s space for him to remain along the top of the key arc, instead of feeling obligated to take it the full distance to the rim every time. Maybe this way he can keep his man on his heels, create some space for himself outside and preserve energy until the much-needed All-Star break.

Unfortunately, Jordan doesn't have any rest for the ASG break.

He's playing in the Rookie-Sophmore game.

Once again, great writeup. I also hate thost PA announcers. This Bobcat one was worse than the Heat announcer. I think he screamed for about 2 minutes as program was returning from a timeout.
"Every time he’s hurt, he always plays, he always comes through."

- Metta World Peace on teammate Kobe Bryant
HDTV/Multimedia Guru
Posts: 21723
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:53 pm
Location: Southern California

Postby crucifido on Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:26 pm

Thanks for the compliment revgen. :)

True about Jordan getting a break, but that game is hardly a lot of work. All I want is for Farmar to come out healthy.

Enjoy the All-Star break everyone!!

Lakers vs. Wolves (Game 52 2/13/08)

7-2 & All-Star Break Report Cards

The Lakers were definitely showing signs of being a little exhausted. When you see so many shots fall short, you know the weariness has set in. Running up on offense, even in the half court was sluggish at times. Rotations and help on defense were also lagging in the 1st half, but it picked up after the half. Luckily, the slack to be a tad slow in the 1st half was there, but its something they should never count on, on the road or at home.

The Lakers did real well though in the 3rd quarter in particular, putting the hurt on the Wolves without mercy and in turn making a “gimme game” exactly that – a “gimme game”. That instinct to put away teams when you have the chance to is going to be monstrously important the second half of the season on into the playoffs.

Aside from the obvious great result, there’s been very little one pass or no motion off the ball offense on this road trip. Everyone is getting to their spots early or working on getting to option spots before the clock becomes an issue. It’s been a team game more than it has in a long, long time. Because of that, the Lakers came out looking like a team on the verge of something big.

Now onto mid-season report cards:

Ronny – Missed lay-ups mostly due to exhaustion were haunting him today. The post defense was a touch slow, but semi-effective.
Need to: Stop swiping so hard on blocks. Keep his swing under control a bit more, not coming down so far onto player’s hands. Don’t lose sight of the weak side rebounder sneaking in behind. Too many times Ronny’s gotten too far under the hoop to be mobile enough to defend both side of the block.
Keep on:Playing with that trademark energy that has now become the gold standard for the Laker bench. The jumper from the elbow needs to keep being worked on. Help defense from mid-post on down has been great too.
Grade: B

Sasha –
That pass from Sasha off of his drive along the baseline in the 2nd was just amazing to see. That’s what I was talking about – working off of drives about every 3rd or 4th shot. Doing that opens up shots for everyone else, but it also opens up his shot.
Need to: Keep working on putting the ball on the floor. Anticipate screens a bit more. He’s been lagging off of his man and fading back on D too early and too often.
Keep on: Getting to the spots like he has been. There’s been quick movement to where he’s supposed to be. Take the shots that other defenses give you. Never be afraid to take the big shot down the stretch or in the meat of a game.
Grade: B

Vladi –
Radmanovic played real aware defense from the beginning. Stepping out to steal and playing good, grounded footwork outside got the Lakers off to the races quick and strong. It looked like maybe Vladi is seeing the benefit of defense. Radmanovic put in some good inside to outside work the entire game too.
Need to: Remember that the game has two ends. Falling asleep on guys on the perimeter has been an Achilles heel for Radmanovic so far, but that can easily change simply by focusing. Vladi is a casual guy with a easy going attitude, but he has to increase intensity on the defensive end if he expects to get significant minutes.
Keep on: Spotting up as well as he has on the arc. He looks like he knows the game a lot better, at least the triangle, and his shots are showing it. Just like Sasha, take that ball inside like he did in this one against Minny to open up your natural game more.
Grade: C

Pau –
Man Pau’s efficiency from any range is just beautiful to watch. Very deliberate style of shooting with spotting up like he’s been here all year made Gasol get off to the start that I think every Laker fan can get used to really quick.
Need to: Continue wide stance he had against Jefferson on D tonight. As Andrew’s return gets closer Pau has to know that moving from the defensive high post to mid post is going to be key.
Keep on: Playing strong defense. The offense is easy as it can be right now (without Andrew) but without Pau staying rounded in the high post the Lakers have to depend on Andrew too much.
Grade: A

Lamar –
Odom did very well patrolling the court. Offensively he was diving down low with the ball then popping out up top to give pass options. Free motion from Lamar was the order of the day as it has been since Gasol’s arrival. Lamar has made the most of the room that Gasol has given him.
Need to: Work on getting some boards in traffic with two hands. He’s good at tipping the ball to himself on smaller guys, but he’s been tipping in tall traffic too. Look for open shots down the middle. With Gasol and the other Lakers pulling play out of the middle right now, the lane is wide open for Lamar to keep diving down for lay-ups, passes or dunks.
Keep on: Playing loose and easy. The pressure is officially off of Lamar permanently now, so the free flowing play should be easy to keep up for the rest of the year. He’s been doing great lately taking the shots that have been given to him and that has to continue to.
Grade: B

Kobe –
It was an unfair game tonight. From the passes off of drives to the cruel crossover he threw down on Brewer, it was a full-on cruise control game for him. It was a good way to end the road trip for him, relaxed play with a mind to drive and kick.
Need to: Not let the ease of offense let him slack on defense. He played really well in Miami and had spurts of the defensive stopping power he showed earlier this year. In the second half of the season he has to also keep his own scoring in mind. Odd to say, but with Bynum, Gasol, Odom and everyone else out there, he can’t get share-happy.
Keep on: Being the team leader he’s become. The encouragement, motivation and heart he’s given to the rest of the team has ton keep going for the Lakers to be playoff successful.
Grade: A+

Derek –
He had a quiet game tonight. The shooting was still there and his spotting up was on the money, but all in all he was a small contributor.
Need to: Not leave his man as much distance on the perimeter. He had moments tonight against the Wolves and times this year when he’s split space too far in favor of the paint. With all the bigs in the middle now, he can move more to the outside on his splits and not give up so much room to shoot the 3 or long 2.
Keep on: Shooting like he has never done before in his career. A lot has to do with the offense he kows so well, but Derek’s decision making has been spot on all year.
Grade: B+

Andrew –
Need to: Move laterally on defense from weak to strong or back again without jumping. Having the ability to block shots is great, but Andrew has to stay grounded when play gets scrappy in the middle. The middle is his to give up or to protect, keep his mind as sharp as his timing has been.
Keep on: Showing the varied offensive attack he began to show before the injury. His spacing on defense has been great and for the Lakers to keep on a roll when he gets back he has to know that he still owns the low block with or without Gasol.
Grade: A

Luke –
He showed signs of coming out of the injury plagued and sloppy play. His defense on the perimeter was sharp tonight. He had times when he turned his head to move to a play before he had control of the ball, but mostly Luke had a good “coming out of the fog” kind of game.
Need to: Work more from the high post instead of getting into trouble in the low post where he doesn’t belong. Improve the mid range to distance shot he had last year. With so many big guys here and coming back, shooters will become important. The post work he has been working in should take a backseat to the more active off ball play he does so well.
Keep on: Staying positive and playing tough minded. It hasn’t been a smooth season for him, but he’s shown heart in playing hurt this long when the Lakers needed him.
Grade: C

Trevor –
Need to: Get healthy. Play under control on the defensive end. Don’t let the ability to jump through the roof take you out of position.
Keep on: Playing with smooth, quiet enthusiasm he has. The athleticism off the bench has been a welcome element to a Laker team that needs him to be as active as he can be.
Grade: A

Jordan –
There was a bit of a pick-up in his game tonight. He was playing more wake and aware of where he was on the court tonight. Spotting up well and breaking down the defense on drives in the middle were back to a small extent.
Need to: Stay sharp even though Crittenton isn’t breathing down his neck.
Keep on: Developing the consistent shot from outside. Don’t get lost underneath screens or multiple picks on the outside. Keep your eye on your man above the screens and don’t get pulled down low to leave them so open on the outside.
Grade: B

DJ –
He played well tonight. The little hook he showed in the 4th was surprising, but a nice little peek at the control DJ can play with.
Need to: Stay ready at all times. With the big men of the Lakers being a thick and full rotation, minutes can be thrown your way at any time.
Keep on: Stay positive no matter how far down the bench he gets.
Grade: C

Coby –
It was great to see the team really fight for him to get in the box score tonight. He had a great block late in the game and showed some good energy in off ball movement while he was in.
Need to: Shoot like he does in practice. Make adjustments to your shot in game rather than throwing up the same hitch in your shot.
Keep on: Play with energy when he’s in. Time will be tough to come by as the season wears on, but its no excuse to grow complacent.
Grade: C

Lengthy article I know, but we’re in the All-Star break now on a fantastic run. Let’s just enjoy the break and gather steam for the second half of the season that’s shaping up to be one of the most exciting, interesting and fun to watch seasons we’ve had as Laker fans in a long time.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill
User avatar
Clublakers Analyst
Posts: 4957
Joined: Mon May 19, 2003 10:11 pm
Location: Costa Mesa, California

Postby revgen on Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:27 pm

Great Writeup Cruc. I'm surprised that Gasol has fit in so quickly. Yeah, I know that his skills are perfect for the triangle, but it's still impressive nonetheless. He's scoring at a freaking scary 62FG% in only 2 weeks.
"Every time he’s hurt, he always plays, he always comes through."

- Metta World Peace on teammate Kobe Bryant
HDTV/Multimedia Guru
Posts: 21723
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:53 pm
Location: Southern California


Return to Lakers Blogs

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

Advertise Here | Privacy Policy | ©2008 Sculu Sports. Come Strong.