Lakers vs. Hornets (Game 4 11/6/2007)
About This 3 Point Thing…
This game was lost predominantly because of 2 things, and it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure ‘em out.
First, I still have no idea, let alone the Lakers who have made it a chronic habit over the last couple of years, don’t stay at home on shooters. In the case of Stojakovic, the guy brings nothing else to the table but shooting. No matter who was guarding him, Luke, Vladi, Kobe, it didn’t matter. For some reason or another he was constantly left alone. I can see the problem of not keeping up with a shooter who has another element to his game, but seriously, if Peja is virtually incapable of doing anything else.
I can see Stojakovic getting off somewhere around 15 points or so, but there is no excuse other than absent-minded defense as to why he came away with 30+ tonight. Argh!! This is one of my big fat frustrations with this team sometimes. They seem to have an aversion to (at least try to) shutting down what one-faceted players do best.
Worse yet the hot shooting of a wide open Stojakovic led to another mammoth reason the Lakers fell flat from the end of the 3rd into the 4th quarter. They decided to get into a shooting contest with him. Shooting has never been on e of the Lakers’ fortes. Its fine if guys like Radmanovic occasionally throws up an open look, or Kobe creates a good chance outside of the line, but there’s no reason to completely abandon what had kept them in the game for the sake of trying to catch up with something they don’t excel at.
It’s a terrible affliction, this three point thing. If there are chances opening up via the offense you run to win games, cool. Other than that there’s no reason to go away from what was looking like a strong inside game in the 2nd and most of the 3rd for a long distance shootout.
The Lakers were crazy successful in this game when the ball was moving and doing most of the foot work for them. When Farmar was probing the middle or pushing the ball into the paint to pull people off of post play it was great. Bynum was once again active in the mid and low post (though his shots weren’t falling due to a touch of the T-Rex arms) . Ronny was filling out space and creating lanes along the side of the key well. Mihm was doing a good job of making room for himself in the low post, yet for some reason all of that hard work got ignored.
Well not some reason, it was the threes that killed the beast tonight. As Chick once said, “Live by the 3 – die by the 3”. Tonight, the Lakers out and out kicked the bucket due to that unhealthy fascination with the bomb.
One other point of interest tonight was the waning paint play by the Lakers. They’ve shown the importance of controlling the paint in the last couple of wins. More importantly, they need to control their own key at all times.
The waltzes down the middle by Paul and the lateral cuts through the key shouldn’t be allowed. In that Utah game there was such stifling defense along the baselines by the Lakers that the Jazz had no choice but to play an inactive post game and push shots up from out of their comfort zone. The Lakers were sporadic at best on defense. The signs of what we saw the last 3 games were there, but they were too spotty to be as effective as they were before.
The turnovers were a problem in that first half but thankfully cleaned up when they came out of the locker room into the 3rd. What made the turnover amount hurt the Lakers less was the interior defense the Lakers showed. They had a good chunk of this game where they made inside play incredibly difficult for the Hornets. If everyone had stayed home on Stojakovic, the inside would’ve continued to have been locked down. However, again, because of the doubling off of shooters, inside play (including those trounces through the middle by Paul) got easier by the minute in the 4th.
I guess it was a good game for people to see just how associated everything on defense can be. When one element of your defense is being fumbled, the rest falls down pretty quickly.
Alright, alright, enough of the bad stuff. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a lot of the good things the Lakers did in this game as well.
Like I said before, Mihm did a real good job of defensive positioning in the paint. There was few to no times when Chris (once he got in there) was pushed out of the block. That kind of leg and foot strength from Chris after that brutal injury of last year was encouraging to see.
I still find myself cringing when Ronny throws up his 12 footer from just outside of the elbow, but slowly, you can see him getting pretty dang confident about it. That can do nothing but good things for not only Ronny’s game, but for any other big man he’s playing with as well. The hustle of course was there again from Ronny tonight. I mean the guy brings 100% every minute he’s on the floor.
Between his clock awareness, quick footwork, intelligent play in the full and half court, developing shot and his confidence in the system, Farmar is rounding out to be a legit point guard. It’s got to make Phil take a second look at his tall guard theory. In only 4 games the apprehensiveness the team (and a lot of fans) showed when he came into the game is disappearing.
Bynum’s size was making Chandler do a second take on his otherwise aggressive rebounding. He’s using his length incredibly well. That’s something that was desperately needed to be improved on from last year, and he’s done just that. The offense comes easy to Andrew, you can see that. The emotion he was showing there was something truly gratifying to watch. Emotion like that comes from being confident in what you’re doing. The slump-shouldered play on both ends is taking a back seat here and there. It’s not entirely gone, but Andrew looks to be getting it.
Kobe’s defense was once again inspiring to watch. This sudden affection and timing on weak side shot blocking is a big help in the middle. He’s hustling amazingly fast from perimeter defense to baseline defense. Swinging over from weak to strong looking for the swat or helping out on the low posts is taking away the foul parade from the Laker bigs. Though his first half was unusually stagnant on offense (which is what seemed to knock him out of his typical rhythm) the defense he was playing was more than making up for it.
Team wise hands are more pass ready this year. There’s less passes flying through everyone’s hands. The high amount of close shots, lay-ups and strong finishes attribute some of their stuff to that readiness for the ball. That readiness is taking direct advantage of Luke’s increasingly good court vision and Kobe’s ability to open up shots for everyone.
Anyway, it was a loss sure, but it wasn’t something that was a fundamentally incurable problem. Stay at home on shooters and don’t get caught up in shooting contests.
Now it’s time not take the Wolves for granted and get healthy on a bad team in Minnesota – a team the Lakers should easily handle.
One last thing – AAAAAAAAAA!!! – o.k. had to get it out of y system.
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill