Rookie J.R. Pinnock’s 20 foot jumper rimmed out on Saturday night, allowing the Memphis Grizzlies to walk away with a 89-87 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers’ team in Summer Pro League action at the Pyramid in Long Beach.
With 9 seconds left and Memphis leading by two points, the Lakers’ Marcus Douthit turned the ball over to the Grizzlies, eventually sending Tarence Kinsey to the line off an intentional foul. Kinsey would miss both free throws, setting up a chance for the Lakers to tie the game.
Pinnock’s jumper fell off the mark however, as the Grizzlies secured the ball for the win.
First round pick Jordan Farmar would lead the way for the Lakers with 17 points, followed by Pinnock’s 16. Andrew Bynum would score 12 points in his first return to SPL.
“They did some good things and they did some poor things out there,” coach Kurt Rambis said. “It’s the first Summer League, you know? I’m sure the guys were nervous. There wasn’t a real flow or rhythm to this game. It was broken up a lot.”
After finishing the first quarter down 32-19, the Lakers rallied back to take a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter. A huge three-pointer from Junior Harrington would re-assert Memphis’ lead.
Let’s take a look at how the Lakers’ roster performed.
Andrew gave a strong effort on Saturday at the SPL’s opener, finishing with 14 points and 5 rebounds in 20 minutes of action. While it would have ranked near the top of last year’s performances, Bynum will be hungrier to prove himself more.
Upon first glance, the first thing you’ll notice is Andrew Bynum’s development in his arms and chest area. He’s considerably bulked up over the offseason, most of his gain being muscle it seems. What wasn’t apparent was any growth in his leg muscles, something crucial for a young, developing center like Bynum. More on his legwork later.
What the coaching staff has been encouraging Andrew to do is use his natural athleticism to his advantage. Slowly it appears he’s gaining a grasp of this. He’s finally starting to elevate (in flashes) and when he does, it pays off. Bynum got a couple of shot blocks as a result of him rising above the competition. Getting to higher ground, coupled with his large wingspan, really can make it difficult for the opposition to shoot over him as a defender.
On offense, it will allow him to get a better look at the basket in the post. It just seemed like Bynum’s legs were anchored to the floor tonight at times. Whenever that happened, he would miss his shot or simply end up making things more difficult for himself. Either way, once he develops a consistent jump hook (key word there being jump), Bynum will be hard to stop. I’m sure this will be one of the things Andrew and the staff will focus on over the coming weeks. Good thing with Bynum is he’s an eager learner from all signs.
I won’t stress it any more, some of the polishing of Bynum’s game will come with the development of his legs.
I asked Andrew how he’s come along with grasping some of the concepts of utilizing leverage, leg strength and footwork in the past year.
“I think I’m doing pretty good with that because that just comes from just doing squats in the weight room. My legs are becoming stronger. And doing core treatment with [Lakers athletic performance coordinator] Alex McKechnie from Canada. It helps my core out a lot and I’m able to stay on balance.”
My personal opinion was that the officials called the game a bit too tight. Particularly in the first half and down the stretch there were a number of calls that drew puzzled looks from the crowd and from coach Rambis himself.
Whether or not this affected Andrew’s game is disputable. What’s notable is that Bynum had a hard time staying out of foul trouble, picking up two quick fouls in the opening 5 minutes of the game. Andrew finished with six personal fouls on Saturday.
“It kind of took me out the rhythm every time because I would get fouls and then I’d have to sit on the bench,” Bynum remarked. “It took me out of my rhythm as far as being in tune with my teammates and the offense.”
A positive was Bynum’s improved free throw shooting. Bynum converted six of nine attempts from the line, seemingly taking his time with his stroke more than ever. Whether or not this performance will be repeated remains to be seen.
All things considered, Andrew Bynum had a decent first showing at the Summer Pro League. It would be nice to observe him without the foul trouble and catch a glimpse of him in rhythm and evaluate his stamina from a better perspective.
Farmar had an excellent game for the Lakers, scoring 17 points and handing out 3 assists.
Throughout most of the first half, Farmar seemed to be finding where he was comfortable and adjusting to the tempo of the game. To his credit, he didn’t force the ball inside or make bad decisions. It matches Farmar’s scouting report of being a heady player.
His defense in the first half was mediocre, allowing his man to get by him a couple times. Farmar didn’t wow anyone in the opening stages of the game, but played within the confines of the game.
Then he turned it up in the second quarter.
Farmar began attacking the basket relentlessly, using his speed to his advantage. When he began to draw fouls, it opened up the game both individually for him and for his teammates. A notable moment was an and-one bucket after beating his man into the paint for a scoop shot. He’s gained a reputation for being deceptively athletic and lived up to it against the Grizzlies.
Farmar started to feed Andrew Bynum in the post, setting him up for easy buckets. Jordan provided crisp entry passes, using the proper angles to establish Andrew deep inside the paint. It got Bynum’s confidence going and helped the Lakers make a run to get close to the Grizzlies.
“I think Jordan can be a really good player,” Andrew Bynum commented after the game. “He’s really athletic which suprises a lot of people. I don’t know if you know, but he [vertical] jumps 42 inches. He was showing that a lot today. He skied for a rebound over me. He’s coming down the court and drawing a lot of fouls so that was helping us out.”
“If he can stick [in] that outside jump shot and we have an inside-outside presence, we can have a really good team.”
Farmar is a local product, playing high school ball at Taft in Woodland Hills, before leading his team to the tourney finals at UCLA this past season. Now he finds himself sporting purple & gold for a team he grew up watching.
“It’s a great feeling,” Farmar said of staying in Los Angeles. “Being able to stay home, it’s a dream come true. I chose to stay in school at UCLA instead of going somewhere else, so I could stay home close to my family. But at this level you have no control over that. For it to work out in my favor is a blessing.”
“It’s good to feel that you’re part of a great organization, a Laker family. So I’m real happy.”
One of the biggest improvements after the half for Farmar was his ability to stay in front of his man. Farmar was raised in Ben Howland’s system at UCLA, one that puts a strong emphasis on team defense. I asked Jordan how he felt of his defensive performance on Saturday and how the transition has been from college ball to the professional game.
“I played all right [defensively],” Farmar said. “I’m trying to still get familiar with my teammates and the concepts that we’re teaching here are very different. And the NBA game and rules are a lot different than college. So once we get familiar with everything all the way around, it will be a much smoother, polished product.”
In additon to all this, Farmar truly was a team leader out there. While he played under control, he asserted his presence on the floor, being a source of positive encouragement and giving his teammates opportunities to score. When he didn’t have the ball, he moved well without it.
The one aspect of Jordan Farmar’s game that needs polishing is his outside jumper. While he showed a nice shot from 15 feet and under, Farmar had a few open looks that rimmed out for him. It’s not something that should prove hard for him to overcome, but at this stage, that’s where his primary attention should be focused. Farmar possesses decent form on his shot, so this is something that should come with practice.
“I’ll work on my body and my shooting and all that stuff as soon as this is over,” Farmar noted. “I’ll be [training] every day. So I’ll be all right.”
For someone who is 19 years old, Farmar provided an impressive opening performance at the Pyramid. He’s got the right mindset to improve his skill set and unlock the potential within.
Devin Green showed vast improvement in a year’s time with the game he had on Saturday.
Green finished with 7 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds on three of seven shooting, but more importantly it was the little things he did on the court.
The first, and most obvious, improvement from Green is his outside shot. His form has truly improved and he’s able to concentrate on his shot and follow-through even with a hand in his face.
I asked Devin if he has focused on improving that aspect of his game during the offseason.
“Yeah, I definitely have been working on that in the offseason with Craig Hodges, Brian Shaw and Kurt Rambis,” Devin acknowledged. “It was looking pretty good though, it was looking pretty good.”
Green showed great lateral movement on defense and improved speed and athleticism compared to a year ago. The most memorable of his defensive moments came when Green leapt up high to block up a Memphis alley-oop attempt in the middle of the air. I asked Devin how how he felt about his defensive performance.
“I think defense is just hard work. That’s pretty much how I play. That’s something that comes easy to me I guess.
On offense, Devin seemed comfortable and was confident in knowing his spots on the floor within the triangle offense. He appeared to have great offensive instincts, knowing when and how to rotate the ball and swing it across the perimeter, while providing some solid entry passes into the low post.
Now having a year of Tri experience under his belt, I asked Devin how comfortable he feels in the offense.
“Oh I’m very comfortable,” Devin asserted. “I know the Triangle in and out now. I can’t wait until tomorrow. I think we could have come out today and played much better but we looked very good for being the first time with the younger guys and everyone trying to establish a chemistry. But I think tomrorrow we’re going to come out and do some big things.”
Green is a restricted free agent this year for the Lakers and roster spots are filling up fast this offseason for the team. Knowing that, I asked Devin if this serves as a motivational factor for him.
“I’m not motivated by that, I’m motivated by myself, you know what I mean?” Devin replied. “I push myself hard enough. You can’t really worry about the roster spots and all that kind of stuff because that’s uncontrollable. You’ve got to just come out and play as hard as you can. Everything will fall where it’s supposed to fall if you come out and do that.”
If he continues doing all these little things to help the team, it will only increase his chances of making the Lakers’ roster.
Danilo “J.R.” Pinnock
The Lakers traded a future second round draft selection to acquire rookie J.R. Pinnock out of George Washington. Saturday he showed why the Lakers had their eye on him.
Pinnock came off the bench to score 16 points in just 26 minutes. J.R. showed a nice touch from the outside, hitting both of his three point attempts and knocking down his midrange shots with relative ease. He may have had the best touch from long range of all the Lakers on Saturday.
The other thing Pinnock did well was attack the basket strong and prove an ability to finish there, while in traffic. Like Farmar, Pinnock really took over in the second half and showed a good sense at to slashing to the basket.
We will see more of Pinnock’s progress within the coming weeks. It’s intriguing what he could do with more minutes out there.
In his third consecutive appearance as part of the Lakers’ SPL team, Marcus Douthit played one of his best games in Long Beach. Douthit scored 14 points and pulled down 7 boards in 33 minutes.
Most notable among Douthit’s improvements are his defensive rotations and his ability to finish at the rim.
Douthit still, however, lacks much of a back to the basket game, which could end up hurting him at the NBA level.
Nevertheless, it was positive to see a performance like this out of Douthit.
Von Wafer certainly did not have his best game today. Wafer ended up going 1/6 from the field, scoring 2 points.
The remainder of the team either didn’t provide a significant contribution or did not receive enough playing time for proper evaluation.
Keep tuned in for more interviews and analysis with BDG’s SPL Exclusive reports and ClubLakers.com’s complete coverage of the Summer Pro League over the next couple of weeks.