After staying neck and neck with the Dallas Mavericks in the first half, the Lakers’ Summer Pro League squad pulled away, cruising to a 97-69 victory Sunday afternoon.
Shooting guard Von Wafer would lead all scorers with 18 points for the Lakers. Wafer’s effort was followed by 14 from Andrew Bynum, who grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked 5 shots as well.
Rookie Jordan Farmar recorded 13 points, 6 assists and 4 steals in his second day in Long Beach.
The Lakers went into halftime trailing the Mavericks by just a point, but thanks to a 34-15 third quarter, they were able to pull away and decide the outcome early.
The entire starting lineup would rest for the fourth quarter, a period that featured a unit led by Wafer.
Second year player Devin Green would add 12 points and 5 rebounds for the Lakers.
“It’s always difficult for players to come in and pick up this offense,” coach Kurt Rambis commented. “We’ve only had five or six practices. Most guys don’t pick up this offense for a year or two, let alone just six practices.”
The Lakers will have a day off to rest before their next game on Tuesday.THE BREAKDOWNAndrew Bynum
Today’s performance showed how much foul trouble limited him in the previous game. Bynum finished with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
Bynum took on the task of matching up with ex-Laker Jelani McCoy of the Mavericks. After McCoy got the best of him in the opening minutes, blocking a couple of Bynum’s shots, Andrew responded well, stepping up his overall intensity and even serving up a couple of resounding rejections on McCoy.
Andrew’s shotblocking served as a game changing factor for the Lakers. The Mavericks were noticeably intimidated by his size and strength and as a result had to settle for outside shots throughout the game. Bynum’s 5 blocks came when he used his athletic ability and jumped to meet the competition in the air, as I stressed in yesterday’s report.
What was pleasant to see was that Bynum didn’t show the hesitancy he displayed in the League opener on Saturday. When he caught the ball in the low post, he wouldn’t wait to attack, only stopping to make sure his teammates cleared space for him to operate. Sometimes he made the right moves down there, sometimes he ddin’t. It’s to be expected with a project center at this stage.
A promising moment took place in the third quarter, when Bynum used a pivot move and created space to sink a soft jump hook a few feet from the basket.
“When we first got him, he was a project and he’s still a project,” coach Rambis said. “He’s going to be a very good ball player at some point in time and this is what he needs. He needs time out on the court. He’s got the moves, he’s got the height [and] we’ve just got to be able to figure out how he can do it when he’s out there playing against defense.”
“I was happy to see him make good decisions on his moves. Whether he made the shot or not, I think he made good decisions out there. He accepted double teams and moved the ball on. We liked his defense too out there. [Whether it was] taking drivers on his chest or going up and blocking shots.”
He still had trouble with his footwork out there, aside from all the good things he did. He’s got to start developing a jump-hook, or at least use the one he showed us in the third quarter more. With his height and wingspan, it will be tough to stop.
One of the best parts of Bynum’s line was the 15 rebounds. While rebounding had been one of Bynum’s weak points leading up to this game, he definitely showed vast improvement in this area.
I asked Andrew what the difference was on Sunday afternoon that allowed him to grab those boards.
“I guess the balls were bouncing my way,” Bynum said. “I was being a little bit more aggressive as far as rebounding goes. Because we lost the game on a rebound yesterday, so I was just trying to get the ball today.”
Another good sign was that he didn’t show any severe signs of fatigue after staying out of foul trouble against the Mavericks. He played the whole first quarter in fact and rested only for 5 minutes of the 3 quarters he played.
Bynum knocked down 4 of 5 free throws against the Mavericks as well, proving that Saturday’s performance at the line wasn’t a fluke.
The best part of all this was Bynum only played 3 quarters (31 minutes). If the game had been a bit closer, his stats would have been even more impressive.
While there’s still a lot of room for improvement on offense, it was a job well done for Andrew today, particularly on the defensive end.Jordan Farmar
Following a strong performance against the Grizzlies, Jordan Farmar arguably had an even more impressive game Sunday.
His 13 points, 6 assists and 4 steals led the way for the Lakers. As I stated before, he’s a great leader for the team out there. His presence in the game alone was vauable, not to mention his strong instincts on offense.
Farmar brought out a nice floater shot from his aresnal when driving into the lane. He often would beat his man through pure speed and loft it up into the basket in the paint. It made it difficult for defenders to block his shot or make a serious effort at contesting it. He seemed unphased by any challenges from big men inside.
While the outside shot maybe the part of his game that needs most work, Farmar looked to penetrate today. He did, however show a nice touch from midrange on a step-back move in the first quarter along the baseline.
Jordan really looked to push the ball in transition. He was very comfortable on the break, dishing a no-look dime to J.R. Pinnock in the first quarter and a few more of them throughout the game.
What allowed him to get onto the break was his ability to create turnovers. His four steals came as a result of reading the passing lanes and having quick hands. He did not hesitate to race to the other end and attack the defense when the Lakers had numbers.
I asked Jordan on how he was reading the defense and coming away with these steals.
“I did all right,” Farmar said. “I was just trying to use my quickness and athleticism on the defensive end as much as on the offensive end. [I can] try to get my hands on balls and just make things uncomfortable. That worked out in my favor.”
Good game for Farmar, who did all of this in just 26 minutes of action.Von Wafer
I’ll label this game from Von Wafer as “decent.” Before you jump all over me for this, realize that most of Von’s points were scored in garbage time during the fourth quarter, as the Lakers were sitting comfortably on a 20 point lead.
Through three quarters, Von had scored 8 points on just 3 of 9 shooting. He bounced back in the fourth, going for 10 points on 4 of 6. However, considering that this was the Mavs’ B-Team, coupled with the fact that the both teams had benched their starters, it wasn’t as impressive as it seems on paper.
Don’t get me wrong, this was a better game for Wafer, it’s just that he made poor decisions out there and the majority of the scoring he did came when the game was already decided.
Von just didn’t seem comfortable within the offense to me. Two of his three field goals before the 4th quarter were buzzer beater treys at the end of the first and third quarters. What this says, is that Von Wafer shot 1/7 while playing within the offense. I personally disagree with the coaching staff trying to make Von into an initiator for the offense. It’s just not his game. It’s not that he has poor handles, it’s just that he hasn’t been trained to make decisions like a point guard.
I asked Von how comfortable he is in this role of molding into the initiator of the offense as opposed to being a swingman.
“Extremely comfortable,” Wafer said. “I worked on my handles this summer. I feel comfortable out there, it’s just I want to try to make better plays for other people. I only had one assist today. I wanted to have like five or six. I’m trying to do that. That’s what I’m really trying to get down.”
Kurt Rambis seemed to offer a different view.
“We need to see that Von can run the offense,” Rambis said. “In the two guard front, he hasn’t been very good in terms of reading what needs to be done within the offense. He did a lot [of a] better job this game than he did in prior games, but he’s not used to being back there and working the ball up the floor.”
“He’s usually just running down and coming off picks and shooting the ball so we need to see if he can execute the offense. Like I said, he did a much better job today.”
His strength is shooting, but that only comes when he’s comfortable and confident. While Wafer ended up with 3 steals, those all came off of gambles he made. Truthfully, he didn’t have a very good defensive game. In face, he got burned badly on the baseline by a Mavs’ swingman late in the game.
I asked Von to sum up his performance on Sunday.
“I have to get into a rhythm out there,” Von said. “It’s coming slowly. I can’t get any jumpshots to fall, but that’s how it was last summer. I’m a little excited but I’m getting a little bit calm and being a little more patient.”
Von’s problem seems to be more mental than physical at this point. I don’t know if he’s just lacking focus right now as a result of nervousness or if he’s just in a slump, but it’s clear he has the tools to succeed. So far he hasn’t used them to their potential. Hopefully he can get himself into a rhythm before the end of the League this year.Devin Green
A good game for Devin.
Not a good sign to see him blow an easy layup in the first quarter, but he responded well. Green again brought hustle and defense to the game.
He’s continued to show signs of an improved jumper when on the floor as well as an ability to finish at the basket minus the blown layup.
“When Kobe penetrates, we have to have players that knock down open shots,” Green said. “So I think that’s pretty much the biggest thing for me.”
I asked Devin whether or not he’s more comfortable getting to the basket.
“Yeah, now that we’ve been in the league for a year, we kind of know what to expect,” Green said, “So we can see and read the defense a lot easier than last year. We were coming in and we didn’t really know [how to do that].”
So was it a major mental adjustment for him to improve this aspect?
“It’s mental and physical, man,” Devin told me. “We trained hard after we got knocked out of the playoffs. We train hard for this right now. We’re just putting in the work right now and working on our game right now getting ready for the next season.”
The positive sign was his ability to keep his head in the game after a cold start. Green went 0 for 5 in the first half. However, in the third quarter, he seemed to connect with Jordan Farmar and scored 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting.
Pretty impressive for a young player in my opinion. It shows his ability to stay focused and play under control even when things aren’t working out well. He had a nice run in the third quarter and sat on the bench for the fourth with the rest of the starters.
I’m looking forward to what Devin brings to the Lakers for the rest of the League.Danilo “J.R.” Pinnock
Pinnock continued to show his ability to score for the Lakers and play decent team defense.
Danilo finished with 11 points and 4 rebounds on 5 of 9 shooting in just 20 minutes on the floor. The great thing about Pinnock is that he can create his own shot, attack the basket and hit the open jumper from long range.
It’s refreshing to see a player who can do all of this on a Summer League roster.
I’m still waiting until Rambis plays him serious minutes (30+) and seeing what he can do. It’s impressive that he’s given two strong performances in limited time on the floor so far.
The remainder of the team either didn’t provide a significant contribution or did not receive enough playing time for proper evaluation.
The Lakers’ next game will be on Tuesday night in a re-match against the Memphis Grizzlies. Keep tuned in for more coverage of the 2006 Summer Pro League.