Skyblog - Exhibition Opener

Skyblog - Exhibition Opener

Postby Sky on Wed Oct 10, 2007 1:56 pm

I'll be blogging this year, BDG is working on puting this on the front page. Until then, here's my take on the exhibition opener.

Skyblog
October 10, 2007

Lost in Translation

Exhibition Opener: Golden State 111 Los Angeles 110

An NBA scout once told me, “don’t draw major conclusions from minor games.” He warned that the temptation was great to overanalyze the x games when they are often about who is motivated to play and in shape – and who is not.

Coming out of each Phil Jackson camp the Lakers have played tentatively, more focused on executing the offense than playing instinctively. It’s the golfer after a lesson striving to remember everything at once. Every part of the swing is exaggerated as he mechanically shanks it into the woods.

That was the Laker offense in the first half, resulting in a fusillade of threes at an ugly 3-16 clip. Lost in team execution the Lakers turned to solo play to get back in it. Kobe Bryant responding to the crowd’s urging for 14 in the third. Vladimir Radmanovic dialing it in for 5-7 from three. Sasha Vujacic and Javaris Crittenton drawing fouls in penetration and parading to the line. That put the Lakers in the lead with 10 seconds left, but Troy Hudson went from Warrior goat to hero, nailing a foot on the arc jumper with 0.3 left to win it.

Risking overanalysis, on to the starters:

Derek Fisher – Two sharp assists to Radmanovic, a bounce pass for a cut layup and a baseline runner kickout for a corner 3. Hit layups in transition, but not in the halfcourt as he was rejected or bricked inside, leading to easy scores the other way. Could not find the range from corner 3. Gave up 11 points and 3 assists in 12 minutes to Baron Davis, who was on fire from three.

Kobe Bryant – A game of extremes for Kobe, passer only first half, shooter only third quarter. With Bryant back in the distributor role how he balances passing and shooting will define how far the Lakers can go this year. The team depends on him to draw the defense to create open looks, if he doesn’t look for his shot he is passing to covered teammates that can’t create off the dribble.

Bryant coasted on defense as Kelenna Azubuike was the game’s leading scorer with 27 and a force on the glass with 9 boards. Yeah it’s exhibition season but a more focused effort from Kobe will be needed to get the team execution back on the tracks.

Vladimir Radmanovic – A much needed confidence booster, money from 3 with 20 points and 6 boards.

Rony Turiaf – He usually thrives in uptempo matchups against small front lines, his best games have been against Golden State (23/9) and Phoenix (12/10 playoffs). Quiet on offense as the Lakers struggled in post entry. An emphatic swat of Pat Burke, but beat off the dribble by Al Harrington.


Chris Mihm – Fugly. No lift, mechanical, slow in rotation, constantly going for one-handed rebounds by not squaring to the hoop or blocking out effectively. When you are owned by Patrick O’Bryant on both ends you’ve had a rough night. The ankle problems have left Mihm out of top basketball shape.

Bench

Javaris Crittenton – Great speed in creating with the ball to draw fouls. As in Vegas he could set himself up but not his teammates, one assist in 15 minutes. Had two nice passes off dribble penetration where teammates missed shots, but his focus was on getting to the line. Lot of trust from Jackson putting Crittenton in the closer role and the rookie delivered with a clutch turnaround fadeaway late. Crittenton is overdependent on finishing to his right, needs a left or the league will overplay him right to take away his penetration.

Jordan Farmar – 1-6 floor, 6-6 line. Forced the action with three turnovers but had a thread the needle post entry pass in traffic to Bynum.

Sasha Vujacic – Added some weight and some aggression in drawing fouls inside. Hit clutch free throws in the second half. Usual story on D, style over substance. Yes he can be a pest, but he’s a frequently beat pest.

Andrew Bynum – The body work has helped his confidence inside, more assertive in going after rebounds. Bynum finished with 12 boards, albeit against the Warrior backup bigs. Set up back to the basket, put the ball on the floor and was stripped blindside by Baron. Poor court awareness. Rushed most of his shots. Best play was off the pass from Farmar for an agile spin and finish. Rotations were late, no swats. Bynum made an effort to show but it left him out of position, has to work on quicker recovery.

Brian Cook – If Radmanovic can play like this consistently then Cook is trade fodder. Cook had a forgettable night 1-6 floor, punked on D.

Maurice Evans – Bricks ahoy. 1-8 on several forced shots.

Andre Patterson, Coby Karl, Elton Brown not Brand – Not ready for prime time. Coby, alabaster white in Hawaii? Hit the sand. My eyes hurt.

Issues coming out of the game:

Camp focus was on D and they give up 41 to the Warrior starters in the first quarter. Rotations were late. Transition defense was non-existent.

Post entry passing is a big weakness. Shows how dependent they are on Walton and Odom to provide it, also leads to far too many 3’s as the ball stays on the perimeter.

Kobe has to find balance as a scorer and passer at the same time. This has been a key concern in the past where Kobe is too single minded with a pass quarter, a score quarter, etc. Has to be both in the same quarter, particularly with the switch in roles to distributor.

Rusty debut as the team struggled to translate the lessons of camp into free flowing team execution on both ends. That said the keys for the exhibition season aren't wins but health and progress. 20 days to the opener at home vs. Houston.

Next game: Thursday, October 11 vs. Golden State in Hawaii, 10 pm KCAL.
Last edited by Sky on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby popo on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:02 pm

Nice read and i like how you described Mihm's performance as fugly.
Last edited by popo on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Weezy on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:03 pm

I thought you were gonna lay into Fisher way more than that. :man10: His D was pretty awful, maybe he needs time to adjust or maybe he's too slow. You were right though, what you said kept popping into my head when he was out there, he ALWAYS goes under the screen. Even when the screen is like 5 feet behind him and not even in the play he'll make a point to run around it and go behind. I couldn't even count how many open 3's this left Baron or whoever he was guarding with. I guess instead of Smush's not trying we'll have to deal with Fisher's trying, but still sucking on defense this year.
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Postby Combobreaker on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:09 pm

Pretty good analysis Sky. My opinion of Bynum is that no matter how clumsy he looks, he's so long that it's almost impossible for him to fail. It's like Yao. Even now, Yao still looks pretty clumsy, but, in the end, he's still 7'6 and 300 lbs. And one can argue that when healthy, Yao is right up there with the Del Harris Shaq(prime Shaq was just on another level, perhaps matched only by Hakeem in the past 20 years).

Now the biggest difference between Bynum and Yao is that Yao has a fadeaway, but a fadeaway isn't the only way to score. Bynum's weapon could be the traditional hook or even the skyhook. Let's just hope that he works hard enough that it comes sooner than later.
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Postby jimbo327 on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:14 pm

Agree with most of the analysis, it is pretty much in line with what I saw. The first unit for the Lakers was terrible. Mihm clearly is showing himself to be the 3rd string backup center that he is. It is almost like watching a stiff robot trying to play basketball. And my intense annoyance with Cook is reinforced with his poor D and the offensive paint (low block) is like krytonite to Cook.

Sasha still doesn't look like he put on any weight or muscle definition at all. His shoulders still look like a 14 year old kid. I'm glad his shots fell yesterday though.

It is the first game, but we would have been beat by 50+ points if GS didn't decide to shut down their 1st unit after the first quarter.

But like you said, it's only the 1st game of the preseason, and Odom/Kwame/Luke coming back is going to mask a lot of problems. One thing is for sure, we still have a huge void in the middle on both the offense and defense. Bynum is not ready. Mihm...should have been never been picked up with that bum ankle. And Kwame...well who knows when Gump Part Deux is coming back.
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Postby Black Mamba on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:22 pm

Nice analysis Sky and looking forward to your future blogs.

You show some good restraint on DFish. It had to kill you to see those same defensive tendencies that you thought you would never have to see again (at least with a Laker uniform on).
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Postby UpsandDowns on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:27 pm

Like you said, one of my biggest gripes (even though it's a pre-season game) is that Kobe has way too many "score quarters" and "pass quarters". It's just so obvious when he's looking to one or the other. Hopefully things get in order by the 31st.
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Postby kentu_tiro on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:34 pm

Excellent analysis Sky!

I have the same concern on Critt. He can create for himself but I would like to see him create for others (drive and kick stuff, pick and roll). You have to wonder how things will work out when you put him and Kobe on the floor together (both who needs the ball to create along with Lamar). The only thing I really like about the kid is he can break down the D and get into the lane. Imagine if we had someone like that against the Suns who can take Nash off the dribble...

You're also spot on with regards to Cook. If Vlade plays this well or at least about 75% like this every night, then Cook is a goner. I'd rather keep a bruiser like Elton than Cookie coz we never know with Kwame and his "ouchies".

I like the fact that Sasha seems comfortable mixing it up inside now. He needs that. Be a pest of driving inside then getting a foul call. Funny stuff on the pest that gets beat.
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Postby Stearnfxr on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:36 pm

I'm almost positive that spin move and pass to Bynum was by Critter, not Farmar.
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Postby Weezy on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:37 pm

Stearnfxr wrote:I'm almost positive that spin move and pass to Bynum was by Critter, not Farmar.


Don't think he's talking about the alley-oop. 2nd quarter or near the end of the 1st Farmar hit Bynum in the lane and Bynum spun real quick and went up for an easy dunk.
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Postby kentu_tiro on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:42 pm

I think with Kobe that's always gonna be an issue. In his years with the league, he has never really grasped the idea of getting both games working together. He is either programmed to pass and create for others, or be the killer scorer. It's just how he is made up/built. So I really don't get this new concept Jackson is trying to get him to play. And if he were to really embrace this facilitator role, he doesn't have the right players around him who can support him. With the youth on this team, it's more like a baby-sitter role. If he had a whole bunch of veterans who knows what to do, then this Kobe the facilitator setup will work. But with these kids? Goodluck!
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Postby Critical Beatdown on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:47 pm

Not sure if K-Cal got it wrong but they had Kobe going for 17 points and 5 assists in the 3rd quarter alone, so he was not just making plays for himself. I remember a few more assists that Kobe should have had in the 3rd (Bynum got fouled and just missed the And 1's).

Like the analysis though...on target.
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Postby Satan on Wed Oct 10, 2007 2:55 pm

Weezy wrote:I thought you were gonna lay into Fisher way more than that.


Yea, I'm disappointed!

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Postby fahrique on Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:13 pm

Black Mamba wrote:Nice analysis Sky and looking forward to your future blogs.
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Postby nimannn on Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:22 pm

:jam2: :jam2: :jam2:

I'm love reading your posts Sky, keep up the great work.
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Is he heavy?

Postby gcclaker on Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:50 pm

Sky,

Sasha put on weight? I couldn't tell... Or were you just confused by the amount of hair he had? OK...seriously. Yes, he is a pest but still gets beat off the dribble. I'm still in shock that he drove to the basket, drew a foul sending him to the charity stripe. Let's see him keep that up...

Fisher went underneath the screen where Troy Hudson hit the trey in the third. I thought to myself...hmmm, wonder what Sky is thinking at that point.

Looking forward to your blogs... Should be incisive with a healthy dose of humor.
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Postby jjin28 on Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:01 pm

very nicely done Sky.....
Look forward to more.
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Re: Is he heavy?

Postby Punk-101 on Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:23 pm

gcclaker wrote:Sky,

Sasha put on weight? I couldn't tell... Or were you just confused by the amount of hair he had? OK...seriously. Yes, he is a pest but still gets beat off the dribble. I'm still in shock that he drove to the basket, drew a foul sending him to the charity stripe. Let's see him keep that up...

Fisher went underneath the screen where Troy Hudson hit the trey in the third. I thought to myself...hmmm, wonder what Sky is thinking at that point.

Looking forward to your blogs... Should be incisive with a healthy dose of humor.


That's exactly what i was thinking when baron hit 3 trey's in about 5 minutes off of fish's going WAY under the screens.
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Postby Lakerfantilidie on Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:29 pm

Sky you didn't say it.....so I am.....we are in trouble. I really don't see anything changing. Guys are still doing the same things they've been doing the past couple of seasons. We need to make moves, now. Smart ones. Maybe not for all-stars, but like an article I read today said, for guys who can play and want to win and have the will to win. We need it now. Really the only guys on our team that have that are Fisher, Kobe, Crittendon, & Turiaf. The others ones what a joke. We need serious moves like yesterday.
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Postby purplengoldjonez on Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:38 pm

great read SKy... looking forward to more of these throughout the year..
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Re: Skyblog - Exhibition Opener

Postby Cuban's a Schmuck on Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:41 pm

Sky wrote:Coby, alabaster white in Hawaii? Hit the sand. My eyes hurt.


HA!!

The fact that Sky is blogging this year might be the one and only true bright spot to look forward to. I was planning on working on letting my Lakers obsession die down a little this year - looks like I'll have to put those plans on hold.
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Postby richsmith on Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:44 pm

Nice write-up. If you continue these, they'll be a great reason to stop by this site more frequently. Agree with your assessments for the most part. The Lakers won't go anywhere without:

1) Kobe finding the balance between scoring and distributing. He's seldom managed to consistently succeed with this in his career, so I don't have high hopes this year, especially considering there's no Shaq, Fox, Horry, etc, to pass to and trust.

2) A point guard who can both defend and distribute. We have guards who can score, of course, but no pure point worth a damn. Usually in Phil's system this doesn't matter too much, but crisp passing and triangle execution will be hard to come by considering only Farmar is a natural 1, and not a particularly good one. Defense is even worse. Fish and Jordan are overmatched. Kobe has sleptwalk on defense for the last 3 years. Javaris has potential but he's a long way off. We'll soon be seeing on a nightly basis why Kobe was so adamant that the Lakers make a move for Kidd.

3) An interior anchor. From the looks of it, we're coming up short here as well. Bynum will improve, but he clearly doesn't have the natural instinct necessary to consistently fulfill this role. Mihm was a stopgap even before he annihilated his ankle. Kwame's in a contract year, so at least he has some motivation to play, but his mental and physical fragility are well-documented.

It is of course too early to make any predictions about the season. But it's clear that the Lakers roster, though quite deep, is fatally unbalanced. They may come together nicely as a team, may even make it to the playoffs, but their obvious weaknesses, especially on the defensive end, are going to be tough to overcome.
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Postby GCMD on Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:33 pm

Combobreaker wrote:Pretty good analysis Sky. My opinion of Bynum is that no matter how clumsy he looks, he's so long that it's almost impossible for him to fail. It's like Yao. Even now, Yao still looks pretty clumsy, but, in the end, he's still 7'6 and 300 lbs. And one can argue that when healthy, Yao is right up there with the Del Harris Shaq(prime Shaq was just on another level, perhaps matched only by Hakeem in the past 20 years).

Now the biggest difference between Bynum and Yao is that Yao has a fadeaway, but a fadeaway isn't the only way to score. Bynum's weapon could be the traditional hook or even the skyhook. Let's just hope that he works hard enough that it comes sooner than later.


Bynum and Yao???

Can't be serious. Yao has been a pro for about 10 years...about 5 or 6 BEFORE he came to the NBA...

Bynum can't hold Yao's jock. I don't care how long or tall he is...
Feel free to ignore anything I say...

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Postby GCMD on Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:43 pm

Didn't see the game but from the sounds of it, we're in for a long season.

I'm gonna reserve judgement for at least 20 games (reg season game). But I know that Sky's analysis will take into account the preseason game and all of the other mitigating factors.


If Sky doesn't like what he sees, that's not a good sign.
Feel free to ignore anything I say...

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Postby Combobreaker on Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:48 pm

GCMD wrote:
Combobreaker wrote:Pretty good analysis Sky. My opinion of Bynum is that no matter how clumsy he looks, he's so long that it's almost impossible for him to fail. It's like Yao. Even now, Yao still looks pretty clumsy, but, in the end, he's still 7'6 and 300 lbs. And one can argue that when healthy, Yao is right up there with the Del Harris Shaq(prime Shaq was just on another level, perhaps matched only by Hakeem in the past 20 years).

Now the biggest difference between Bynum and Yao is that Yao has a fadeaway, but a fadeaway isn't the only way to score. Bynum's weapon could be the traditional hook or even the skyhook. Let's just hope that he works hard enough that it comes sooner than later.


Bynum and Yao???

Can't be serious. Yao has been a pro for about 10 years...about 5 or 6 BEFORE he came to the NBA...

Bynum can't hold Yao's jock. I don't care how long or tall he is...


Yet Yao could only average 13 and 9 when he's 22. As far as not holding Yao's jock, you probably said the same thing about Yao back then when someone compared him to Shaq. If you didn't, it's only because nobody were bold enough to make such a comparison.
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