This was a disheartening game to lose, marked by both poor decisions and poor execution. This dramatically went from another encouraging victory to a frustrating loss.
I thought we did a terrific job of controlling the game in the first half. What’s the best way to control a game? Rebounding. We dominated the boards in the first half and punished Golden States midgets in the paint. We were doing just about everything right. Closing out their three point shooters, making the extra pass on offense, forcing Golden State into long jumpers. All you can do is shake your head at the fact that we actually lost this one.
Luke Walton- Luke certainly hasn’t been playing well as of late. At first, I was satisfied when Phil inserted him back in the starting lineup, but already I’m wondering if it’s time for him to return to the bench. I’ve thought all season that Luke works best on offense when he’s in the post and the offense is running through him, but that hasn’t been happening because of Bynum’s improvement and Lamar’s recent aggression. Luke has been more of a spot up shooter in the offense, which isn’t his game. He’s struggling with his shot. If Luke won’t be involved on offense, when he plays with the starters, then he should return to the bench. If a spot up shooter is what we need in that particular lineup, then bring Vlad back. Final stat line: 9 points, 1-7 from the field, 33 minutes.
Lamar Odom- He was so close to having an almost perfect game. Although we as a team blew this game, that one play where we trailed by one with about 40 seconds left and Lamar ended up just flinging the ball in the air, along with that missed free throw, was what ruined it for him. I was impressed at how confident he was when Kobe went over to him and said that he needed to take over. He played with a little more swagger than I’ve seen from him this season and his play backed it up for once. I certainly won’t pin this loss on Lamar, but that missed free throw was just…ugh. Pretty ironic that we could shoot so well from the line all night, but miss the important ones. Final stat line: 18 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists.
Andrew Bynum- Another promising game for the young guy. All season I’ve been saying that we don’t feed him enough in the post, and my opinion on that still hasn’t changed, but his post moves are more than a little limited. He gets most of his points from someone else’s creation or off of rebounds, but we’ll need him to eventually become that big guy that we can throw the ball to and expect to score. His rebounding, though, has been tremendous. He yanked down 10 I believe in that first quarter alone. I also think that Kobe is recognizing that Lamar just isn’t that sidekick that he needs- so as a result, he’s been looking for Drew. Their relationship seems to be getting stronger, which is great to see. I would’ve liked to have seen his teammates look for him down low, though, especially when Kobe was benched in the 4th. Less than a week ago he had one of the best games of his career against this same team. His scoring should’ve been around 23-25 points. I mean, it’s not like he wasn’t producing. Final stat line: 17 points, 16 rebounds, 8-10 from the field.
Kobe Bryant- Obviously Kobe struggled all game and his teammates appeared to be stepping up, but they still were missing that go to guy when things weren’t going well. I don’t think Phil recognized the right time to sit Kobe, he waited way to long. If a guy is struggling as bad as Kobe was and his lack of lateral movement is hurting our team on BOTH ends, then sit him down. Don’t wait until we’ve reached the final 1:20 of the game. What sense does that even make? At that point he might as well have just let Kobe finish the game. Anyway, I love this role that Kobe has taken on as a vocal leader on the defensive end. Coming into this season I mentioned us needing someone to be vocal on defense and Kobe has done that. But really, I’ve liked Kobe being a vocal leader instead of preferring to lead by example in general. I think that in today’s game, players need their stars to encourage them more as opposed to in the “old school” days. Money, stats, and recognition are what drive players today, not doing what’s necessary to help their team win. So to receive that credit from the best player(s) on their team is always a big plus. No one likes to be overlooked if their working hard. Kobe has done all of these things so far. But he still played a bad game. Final stat line: 21 points, 6-23 from the field, 6 rebounds, 5 assists.
Derek Fisher- Fish has really been shooting the ball well lately and making smart moves only vets make in this league. But he still got torched on defense. Final stat line: 16 points, 5-9 from the field.
Jordan Farmar- His poise during runs by the other team has been outstanding to say the least. He’s always the guy who steps up and takes that big shot or makes that big play. One of these days, Phil will probably experiment and leave him in the game to see how he’ll finish a game. I wouldn’t mind seeing that to be honest. He’s a spark plug and Phil recognizes that. Whenever we reach those last 2-3 minutes of a quarter, Phil inserts players like Farmar and Vlad so we’ll end the quarter on a strong note. That also helps them get into a little bit of a rhythm heading into the next quarter. Final stat line for Jordan Farmar: 10 points, 4-7 from the field.
Final Thought- Phil’s decision of waiting until the final minute and a half or so to sit Kobe down was beyond stupid. All I hope is that he realizes that now and won’t ever do something like that again. You need your best player out there at that point in the game. If he had played most of the quarter up until that point, leave him in the game. By taking him out, all you’re doing is confusing the players and putting them in unfamiliar territory. At least call a timeout and run a set play for your team so they’ll get motivated.
Golden State beat us in just about every category in the second half that we had won in the first. They were much more aggressive in their rebounding and we never stepped up to the challenge. Instead of tying Denver for 4th place in the West, we moved down to 6th with this loss. A golden opportunity slipped away because of only a few bad decisions. You can’t lose an 8 point lead with 3 minutes left. Just finish them off and call it a night. Since we’ve played so well coming into this game, the easy thing to say would be to “flush it down the toilet” etc…but Phil should really make it clear that you can’t lose games like this when you have such a big opportunity sitting there staring you in the face. Especially if this is a young team. A loss Sunday would be shocking. Time to start a new streak.
Next Game: LAL vs LAC
“We humans must come again to a moral comprehension of the earth and air. We must live according to the principle of a land ethic. The alternative is that we shall not live at all. -N. Scott Momaday, Kiowa