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.
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.
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.