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It's tight up at the top

Given that we were all in the same room together about 13 hours earlier, that there wasn't much news coming out of Lakers practice today isn't exactly a shock.  PJ's press time included words on Andrew Bynum (who later sat with Jim Hill, shooting a feature piece, I imagine), the road trip (the goal is two wins, but they want to make sure they get the first, then show up ready to play in the second), and Kobe's poor shooting of late (nothing to panic about).  He also touched the small forward situation.  This was interesting, in that Jackson elaborated on how he might treat the starting gig going forward.  Looks like there could be a matchup based platoon (Download phil_jackson_1.7.mp3):

"I would guess that's the probably the way we're going to go.  I'm tempted to start (Ariza) him against Memphis because Rudy Gay is such an athlete, and playing at a high level right now.  Luke hasn't had an opportunity to gather in on him and play him very many times.  Trevor might have more knowledge of (Gay) than Luke.  But we'll see."

So there's a conversation starter.   But given the slow news day, I was curious about the larger issue of how the Western Conference is starting to shake out. Whereas in seasons past, the depth of the west was such that it threatened to keep even good teams out of the playoffs, this year, the gap between haves and have nots has grown in a big, bad way.  The middle class has grown quite wee (and should get smaller when Utah, as I assume they will, gets their act together).  Seven teams currently have 20+ wins, and Golden State is one victory away.  No team in the top eight is worse than 6-4 over their last 10.

On the flip side, five have 12 or fewer, and none is better than 3-7 in the same stretch.  It's a whole new reality that will impact where teams finish heading into the playoffs. 

Lamar Odom isn't willing to write anyone off (Download lamar_odom_1.7.mp3).  "Some of the teams, you can't look at their record," he said.  "Even if they might not be playoff bound, a lot of these teams give themselves a chance to win.  Every night you have to come and play in the Western Conference if you want to position yourself for the playoffs."

Which brings me to my next point.  There are two games on the sked for the mini roadie the Lakers left for today.  The New Orleans game on Wednesday is clearly the marquee matchup, and one that should be a lot of fun to watch.  But I'd argue that in many ways, especially as it relates to piling up enough wins to land a good seed come springtime, that Tuesday's game against Memphis is the more important game.  That the Lakers have had good early success against quality teams like Denver, Detroit and Phoenix is a good omen, and shows they run with anyone.  But even the best teams can't expect to win every time they play the high class squads across the NBA. 

What will likely determine where teams are seeded in the playoffs will be their record against non-playoff competition, in both the east and west.  Each game a contender loses against the weak sisters is one that has to be made up against a titan.  "Every game is imperative," Odom said, in reference to not looking past anyone.

I'm not talking about which teams are better- I'd take the Lakers over Denver in a seven game series without blinking- just where they finish in the standings.  And obviously there's value in beating good teams. I don't think anyone would give back a win against the Spurs, for example, and teams can make big moves on the strength of those head-to-head wins.  The point is that if the Lakers take care of business against Memphis (twice), Milwaukee, and Seattle between now and the 17th, it means a split of the rough games they have between the 18th and February 1- that's Phoenix, Denver, San Antonio, Dallas, and Detroit (throw Cleveland in there if you want) likely won't hurt them in the standings. 

Teams with good records get there by dominating lesser competition.  So while we all look forward to the marquee matchups, it's important not to gloss over wins like the Lakers picked up Friday and Sunday as insignificant.  Beating Philly and Indy may not be a true indication of how good the Lakers actually are, but wins like those will go a long way towards determining where they finish in April. 

BK

 
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yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay

I wish I could understand why he insists on starting Luke. I want to say first before people argue...stats can be deceiving. But it is what it is I guess. I mean Luke is already associating himself as a starter, shudders.

Still, as long as we're winning. Though I can't for the life of me see this unexploited come playoffs.

As for the top...separation will come in the second half of the season. The questions is, are we good enough to separate ourselves from the pretenders?

Great post, BK.

Faith,

I think you sell Luke a little short, he obviously has his limitations but he has his uses, espcially if he doesn't have to guard a super athletic three. Starting Luke or Ariza based on matchups is a good decision for now. I LOVE Ariza but he's still got to continue learning the offense and developing his jumper (which seems to be developing nicely.).

BK,

What I've noticed more than anything this season is how often the Lakers are blowing teams out. And it's not just the scrub teams, they've had 20+ point leads/wins over some tough competition (Suns, Nuggets).

In the past couple of years, even the wins were a struggle and it was often that I never really felt confident that we could play at a higher level. Last night I got home around 8:30 and before turning on the TV "expected" us to be up by 10-15 points. What happened? We were up by 12.

There's a certain confidence that I as a fan feel and I have to believe that comes directly from a confidence that the team feels/plays with. It's nice to have as a fan, it's been awhile.

How that relates to the playoffs and being part of the cream of the crop? I think we have a confidence and the ability to truthfully believe we belong there, but not a cockiness to think that it can't all go away in a second.

There's a definite "step on their throats" mentality with these guys and if PJ and Kobe can keep nurturing that, this could end up a special year.

Yes this is another case where we have the first half of the month filled with several winnable games. The second half of January includes Dallas, Spurs, Suns among others. The Lakers need to feast on Memphis and Milwaukee and the others. Everyone in the West is winning and they need to keep pace as BK points out.

Andrew Z,

I agree with you on the "expecting" to win big thing. I don't remember the last time I felt like that was. We coasted through regular seasons games during our second and third title years so I don't think it was then. I guess I've got to go back to the 1999-2000 season. I'm not saying we're better than we were in 01 and 02, but I know we're going to take care of business against the mediocre to bad teams in the league.

It's amazing how much this team has improved in a year with the key subtractions being, Smush, Cook and Evans and the key additions being Fish and Ariza. But I suppose you can almost list Farmar and Bynum under key additions since they're completely different players this year.

Faith,

Dang girl, there's a number of reason why Luke starts. He's white, has better calves than Ariza, moves in slow motion so we can see every motion in detail, PJ's afraid his dad will roast him in national tv, all the girls (those not for Sasha) are rooting for him and best of all, PJ does it to annoy Mike T. Lol.

Hey, its a slow day. Just having fun. Please tell Rocky not to get on his high perch.

lol P Ang.

Actually you do have a point Xodus. He is a pretty heady player...and though it hasn't shown well, he actually does some good things on defense. For starters, he's good fundamentally rebounding wise. He's usually always found to block out his man. And when we don't leave him on an island by himself, he can actually do a good job doubling his man.

But still it frustrates me. It gets so that I have to hold my breath at times he's there.

P.S. Is that glass half full stuff from Andrew Z? Where's Lakertom gone? lol, jk.

Thanks, Kareem…

I just wanted to reemphasize how important Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been to the Lakers success this year by showing Andrew Bynum how to position himself to block shots and avoid fouls. Kareem’s teaching has given Andrew the ability to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble and given the team the stopper and shot blocker on defense that we need to win.

The improvement over the last three weeks in Andrew’s defense has been just sensational. It is really hard to believe that this guy is still only 20 years old. We may be watching the emergence of one of the greatest centers in the NBA. OK, maybe just a little too GHF. LOL. At any rate, there is no doubt now that Andrew Bynum is the key to the Lakers future.

There were a couple of plays against the Pacers that really showcased Andrew’s play. I specifically remember Andrew and Jermaine both grabbing a rebound and then Andrew ripping the ball away from Jermaine. Not only does the guy have the softest hands in the NBA but he may also have the strongest. I saw him do the same thing against Amare when we beat the Suns last time. All the Lakers have to do is throw the ball in the air and Drew will go and get it. And how about the reverse slam he threw down on Jermaine.

Anyway, Andrew Bynum is the now the Lakers greatest dominant center.

Tom

Faith,

I best rationale I can assume on Luke is that he's too slow to play with Farmar. Farmar's unit is the high energy rah rah group. Showtime. Act and react. Luke was simply a bad fit. When Vlad gets back, Ariza to start and Vlad with Farmar?

New Jersey at home. On the road, blowing leads at Golden State, Cleaveland and Milwaukee. Reverse the results of 3 out of these 4 games and the Lakers would only have 8 losses and they'd have the 3rd best record in the league. So, yes I would fully agree that there is no such thing as an unimportant game.

Memphis game is a must have just as BK stated. That team always seems to play well against The Show. Now that the Lakers are kinda good again, whenever they visit other arenas, teams will be sky high against them. Great teams know that there are no easy nights in the Association. The Lakers have got to learn that lesson to reach the level of greatness.

bronxlakerfan,

You really nailed it there. If the Lakers had even pulled off 2 of those 4
games, they'd currently be leading the Pacific, and tied with San Antonio
for the best record in the West.

Every game matters. Let's go bait the Grizz on Tuesday. We'll think about
using raid on the Hornets AFTER the Memphis game.

Regarding Luke, I think that Phil's decision to use matchup/situational considerations is exactly right. While there's no question that Ariza is the better overall athlete, Luke has assets that too many people on this blog just don't appreciate. It's the difference between checkers and chess.

There's a reason Phil has 9 Rings, and it's good enough for me. I think Luke and Trevor are both valuable for this team.

Andrew Z,
"What I've noticed more than anything this season is how often the Lakers are blowing teams out. "

And how many other games would have been 20+ point wins if they had kept their focus?


I have to think that marquee games are important to the kids' confidence.
Every game counts in terms of seeding but you can get lucky with seeding.

The 2nd Celtic game was disappointing because though a loss is acceptable another blowout was a statement. If the Hornets blow us out on the back to back, it's just another loss in the standings but it's a statement that will get louder down the road.

The exciting part is the development. All signs point to getting better as the season progresses. Fewer vet minutes and the kids coming of age all suggest this won't be another "last year".

You want to see the swagger that statement wins brings.

ohio st is getting killed. Why do they get a free pass to the championship every year. ESPN and the media darlings walk on name alone to bowl games. Anyone could see this blowout coming again. Ohio st plays no one. This system is bogus. We need to start a boycott next year, to drive down ratings and change this crappy bowl system. I want a champ game with teams that EARN their right to fight.

Faith,

Right. The 3 is a "high light" film position and a t'weener like Luke just doesn't fit the profile. With Kobe facilitating and LO preferring to defer, the starters don't need another pass first guy. If Ariza needs to develop then let him do it on the job. He hasn't hurt the team so far, on the contrary.

I honestly think Phil wants to pull that trigger but has to sugar coat it. Personally, my choice would be Luke as the 3rd choice to play SF. 2nd would be Lamar and Ronny at 4.

I have been the on again off again bandwagon on Luke for years and while I believe he is an asset for this team his days as a starter are numbered. One of greatest strengths is his passing and knowledge of the triangle (that's two!) but I feel sometime he passes cause he's not comfortable shooting and sometimes throws the offense out of whack. Now with Ariza, he's only been on the team for a month and his D is earning him minutes (nice pick up Kupchak) his only weakness is his lack of knowledge of with the triangle (which is progressing by the day).

Luke will be a vital cog in the second unit but in all honesty they both need to work on that jumpshot!

Luke Walton is and important cog in the nuts and bolts part of lakers basketball machinerey.It takes a special mind to see the nuances and intricacies of his game of round ball,that is why many of the bloggers that dislike Luke Walton are not bright,sorry i know truth hurts. You only see the flash and pomp but you lack the brain power to see what Luke bring to the menu.

Mitch,
"Luke will be a vital cog in the second unit "

That is as much a function of how the rest of the second unit is playing as it is a function of Luke's play.

Jandro,

What do you think about creating movement of some sort? I haven't watched a single bowl game this season in protest. I won't watch another one until they fix this crap. No one is going to be happy this year and a great sport will be ruined by a crappy postseason once again. The thing I hate the most is listening to the windbag elitist Bowl presidents spout all of their garbage about tradition and relationships. Whatever. Time to break tradition in the interest of the future of your sport.

Ya, USC could have easily beat Ohio State and probably LSU also. You can see tonight how great Ohio State's #1 ranked defense is, not very good at all.

Ron artest,

"many of the bloggers that dislike Luke Walton are not bright"

duh, U right, Ron a. I like Luke. He nice and got nice car and rib resarunt. but he not fast and jump high or shoot like LBJ, Caron B, Melo, T Mac, S. Jackson, Josh Howard... I put da 3 dots dere to mean dat dere is mo guys like dose at his posishun. I wich u Ron. u da man.

I hate Manu Ginobli with a passion in my heart like no other player. Watching the Spurs and Warriors game, and noticing something. I remember someone saying that the reason the Spurs continue to get wide open shots is because of help defense on the interior. From what I've seen that's not the case. The entire game the reason anyone has been open outside is because of Tony Parker penetrating the lane. Guards who don't defend their position well fundamentally cause those kinds of open shots. When the man who's supposed to be guarding Bruce Bowen decides to sag into the lane to swipe at the ball as Tony Parker goes by Bowen gets open. Also, as the ball rotates off of the pick and roll penetration the man who pops out can cause the guard who's supposed to be on the wing to have to rotate into the lane to stop the big man from rolling down. This creates another open opportunity for Bowen. It's either bad pick and roll defense, or bad perimeter defense. Not post defense. Typically the only time the post defense is the reason for open corner threes is on a double team, which doesn't actually happen much against Duncan. I'm surprised by the amount of time that Duncan is allowed to go one on one with his man. Just some thoughts.

VMAN

I sit 3 rows behind J.Niclson,I wear a big black cowboy hat with size 13 diamond studded boots,Im 6.7 285 with long blond hair so its hard to miss me,come on down partner,i will buy you a drink.And we can continue the conversation on Luke.

Wow, SA lost tonight at GS 130 to 121 and Denver lost 115 to 137. Suns and Nuggets is not that big of a surprise since they're two of top scoring teams in the league but the Spurs/Warriors game was surprising. They ended regulation tied at 112 and then the Warriors put it away with some big threes in OT. I just couldn't believe that the Spurs gave up so many points. Crazy Western Conference.

Go Lakers!!!

I can't let go of the thought of Michael H and Neamia F brought up. Charlie Villanueva for Chris Mihm. That would be another Ariza type pick up. Salaries match too!!!

I love this blog!!!!

Hey Ron A,

"...big black cowboy hat with size 13 diamond studded boots,Im 6.7 285 with long blond hair so its hard to miss me"

But do you have nice calves?

The Lakers really shouldn't take this Memphis team lightly at all.

Mike Conley, their rookie point guard, is the type of player that could give the Lakers' guards fits. He's super quick and has great hands, so the Lakers have got to be aware of that and not allow him to penetrate the lane and cause havoc.

Luke is garbage. The guy plays so freaking uninspired it makes me want to vomit. 6 million a year for the same lousy spin move and bad defense is what we got. Bad signing Mitch. Ariza is 3 times the player Puke is.

But, I don't understand. I thought these wins don't count because they weren't won the right way?

LTLF

RE: Well, I don't. But when he said "good young centers", I knew he couldn't be referring to Kwame. And Gasol
is the MVP of the league he's in, so he can't be all bad.

you're right. you don't know. can't be all that bad doesn't mean success in the nba.

Aloha Charles

I definetly think that Villanuevea is guy a Mitch should look into but I doubt we could get him for Mihm. They are down to a single healthy small forward and we have 4 if you count Lamar as a 3. I would look into possibly packaging maybe Luke or Vlade. It wouldnt quite work salary wise but they may have another small salary they dont want to throw in.

MH

Nemaia Faletogo.......It looked like the warriors played the game at the pace they wanted

Inquiring Minds

Well acourse I have beautiful calves,been working on them for the last 40 years, very muscular better than kwames.Started on mine in the Navy seals on the first of 4 tours over in paradise,South Vietnam beautiful country pal but i had to dodge a few bullets hahahhaah

Every team brings their A game when the Lakers come to town. Lakers need to bring it.

But I expect the Lakers to lose one of the next two..I don't know which games...

L.O. aka Left Only is garbage....he has no heart...no aggression...an he gets so rattled everytime he touches the ball....he can't wait to pass it off to a teamate

Everyone was talking about his potential 3 years ago...but the reality is...over the past 3 years....his points, rebounds, and assists have all declined considerably

Its never going to happen

what is up with the post practice and post game video interviews on the lakers website lately? it seems like they are cutting them short and stopping them midquestion. they only run four mins now and not the usual nine like they somtimes do. its nice to see the players do interiews, it tells a lot about there character and how they present and carry themselves as individuals.

Hopefully if things are working well for the 2nd unit
Luke is too slow to play in that line up, what they lack in size and strength they need mobility and crisp outside shooting.

Every possible win in Jan. is vital.

I have always felt the real test for the Lakers this year would be in Feb.

The bad:

-6 sets of back to backs
-13 of 16 away (including a 9 game road trip that begins Jan 31st)
-9 of 16 against .500 or better teams (8 occurring on the road)

The good-
-most games are against East teams
-10 of 13 away games against the East, One is against Clippers

Faith, Charles (from yesterdays post), etc.

I would prefer to see both our current starting forwards on the 2nd unit, especially for defensive reasons, more specifically because I think they compliment the presence of Fish better. Let me explain. Fish has been an incredible benefit to the team, I am so glad he's back, but he has a hard time staying in front of the faster point guards (Hello Chris Paul!). Ronnie and Trevor are better defensively than Lamar and Luke, and they can help cover for him better when his man gets past him.

I don't think our offense would suffer too much with L & L coming off the bench, and our bench would be hands down the most talented in the league. Also, since it doesn't look like Lamar is going to get his coveted spot on the all-star team, maybe he would have a shot at 6th man of the year award. My only fear is that not starting would damage his already fragile psyche, and he might melt down and shrivel up. Don't get me wrong, I like Lamar, but he just seems shaky to me.

Nevertheless, in Phil and staff I trust.

By the way, can someone tell me the origin of all these calf references on this blog? I"m guessing some genius actually used Kwame's calves as an argument to support his starting over Drew.

All the Luke bashers should ease up just a little on the boy. Come on now, he brings a quality to the team that Phil likes. Is Ariza a better athlete? Not much to debate there. Is Trevor more exciting? Uhm - yes! Better defender? check. There is a lot to like about Ariza and eventually he will be the starting sf over Luke if both stay with the team. That being said, when the time comes that Trevor is the better starting option for what Phil wants to do Phil will start Trevor. We all know the individual weaknesses that Luke has, but it is a team game and what he brings to the team is more important than the liabilities according to the person that matters most - Phil 9 Rings, more wins than Red Auerbach Jackson.

Just as there is debate on the blog over who should start, I am sure most coaches would be inclined to go with Ariza over Luke but Phil obviously like the way the ENTIRE TEAM operates with Luke in at this point. All of us arm chair coaches and those conspiracy theorists need to realize that Phil is doing what he thinks is best for the team in the long run and that means to have a shot at a championship come playoff time. Phil may sacrifice a game here and there to use as a teaching tool of what not to do.

How hard is it to win a title in the NBA? How many teams with a ton of talent have never sniffed a shot at the trophy? There is no single, works every time guide or formula to win it all. A man with the ego of Phil wants to win all the games he can but he knows that is not possible and sometimes I think he lets his teams 'learn their lesson' when he feels he needs to. I would rather have the second or third best record and win the chip than be the Mavs or Suns and win tons of games but never get over the hump.

In summary, chilll about Luke. Yes he should be a role player off the bench, but until Trevor gets Phils blessing to start, be thankful we have Trevor and that Luke plays just well enough most of the time not to kill the Lakers.

Peace.

Eagleboy

Xodus,

"It's amazing how much this team has improved in a year with the key subtractions being, Smush, Cook and Evans and the key additions being Fish and Ariza. But I suppose you can almost list Farmar and Bynum under key additions since they're completely different players this year."

I admit that I underestimated the impact that the Smush-for-DFish move was going to make. I felt that the upgrade in leadership and off the court would be huge, but thought the on-court difference wouldn't be that drastic. I couldn't have been more wrong. While Fish still has very visable limitations, he is exactly the type of smart PG we needed. His ability to work "smart" on defense, know when to be aggressive on offense, and work off Kobe is immeasurable.

As for the Cook-Evans for Ariza deal, I thought that was great from the beginning. I actually liked both Cook and Evans, and was sad to see them leave, but I applaud Mitch K for addressing a weakness (athleticism/defense at the 3) with the deal.

As for Bynum and Farmar, two completely different guys from last year. Those two have been the biggest keys to our success this year, if you ask me. I never thought Bynum would play like this, and especially not on such a consistent basis. If he doesn't go for 12-15 points and 10-12 boards a night with a couple blocks I ask what's wrong. And maybe it's just me, but I've noticed him getting stronger, more hungry, and overall much better. That's a great sign.

Ex,

The Knicks game in the Garden is a perfect example of a game that we were up by 27-30 points and ended up close. Thankfully that seldom happens, we've been good at maintaining leads so far.

Jack Mack,
Ummm, garbage you say. You mean there really are garbage players in the NBA? ...And starting, at that. Gee, the coaches must really be a stupid bunch of people - $12M/yr you say. Gosh, I guess the owners must really want to hemorrhage money. You mean they really won't go over the Luxury Tax level?

These people are paid way more than most of us can ever hope to make. I think it is not smart to assume this makes them either stupid or poor talent evaluators.

how about c-webb?

i'd go along with corner j and some others about luke vs. trevor - they're both good role players and are best used in a mix and match depending on opposing lineups. personally, i don't care which one of them starts - as long as they're benefiting team play. the only think that worries me is luke's ankle - seems like it's starting to get a bit chronic and he's not a speed-burner to begin with.

i was glad to see that C.karl wasn't waived.

One more reason to start Turiaf & Ariza over Odom & Walton: We would have the most the most expensive 2nd string front court in the history of the nba, thereby proving that MK is the most brilliant GM in the league today! (Do I win non sequitur of the day?) I think the combined salaries of our whole starting front court wouldn't even equal the lowest of the 2nd string.

Putting Lamar in the secon unit could make him more aggressive in his scoring. Might end up being a move a la Ginbli or Stackhouse. Putting him there to bring some energy and versatility to that lineup, as well as some veteran leadership might be a great recipe. He would also be able to finish games with the starters, just as those other two do. He's a versatile team player that will do what he's asked, so why not try it out for a couple of games against teams where it might be efficient to do so?


Ron artest

I sat just down from Jack for years, I'd have to go up but I 'prectiate the offer... or threat. Congratulations on the great outfit. A beer and Luke / Nam rap would be great.

Don't know how much you've hung 'round the blog but this is about the 2000th Luke discussion. You mentioned "dislike", don't think any fan dislikes him starting with Faith and me.

After a few too many years of frustration, we're all wondering if he's the best option to start now that Trevor has come on so quickly. He's valuable for all the reasons you, Phil and the blog have mentioned. This year there are other options to start and help take the heat off of 24.

On defense the Ariza choice is obvious but I'm bothered most when team's take their athletic, long 3 off of Luke and on to Kobe. Luke winds up with a small on him and doesn't dominate the mismatch. The first time we played Detroit this year, with Ronny and LO at 3 and 4, Prince had to take LO instead of Kobe, that hurt Detroit, making it easier for Kobe to exploit the matchup.

The ball movement this year has been good with and without Luke starting. Our boy R Fox wasn't a high fly act but he was a more consistent shooter and much better enforcer.

I'm dumb but not stupid, Luke is a great glue guy, knows where to be on the floor but has had his bad streaks. To get to the level Kobe wants to get to, I like Trevor or LO starting 3. As always, it doesn't matter what the hell anyone but Phil thinks.

exhelodrvr,

>>>And how many other games would have been 20+ point wins if they
>>>had kept their focus?

Yeah, I hate when they get a big lead and then start playing conservatively
and let the other team climb back into the game. I wish they'd learn that
when they have a 20 point lead, they should keep playing hard and try to
make it a 30 point lead. And when they have a 30 point lead, try to make it
a 40 point lead. Forget about "humiliating" the other team, I want the Lakers
to INTIMIDATE other teams.

I still can't figure out why the Lakers havn't contacted me to coach the team. I'd do it for lees than half the money of PJ. As a fan (fanatic) i have so many ideas as to how to improve the team also. So I must be right cause i make only 60,000 a year doing nothing related to basketball or any sport for that matter. You all are right, Mitch is dumb, he must be since he and the Lakers haven't realized how i would be a better decision maker than any of them... at coach or GM or even owner. Luc should come off the bench, Bynum, since he's a great passer for a big man, should play the point, Kobe should not play any one position since he can score from anywhere. This will confuse the hell out of opposing defenses. DFish .... in my system he would start at the 5 since he likes to drive hard to the basket anyway, he might as well start there and save his aging legs for the playoffs...right, and while i'm at it I'd bech LO perminately and insert myself as player coach cause with all my years of NOT playing basketball, I definately now how to play PROFESIONAL BASKETBALL (ANY POSITION MIND YOU) better than any of these shlubs the Lakers have assembled into this SO CALLED TEAM.

Vman,

>>>Right. The 3 is a "high light" film position and a t'weener like Luke
>>>just doesn't fit the profile. ... If Ariza needs to develop then let him do
>>>it on the job. He hasn't hurt the team so far, on the contrary.

I beg to differ. Here is a specific example:

The Cleveland game - a squad with Luke on the floor built a 9 point lead.
Ariza subbed in for Luke with about 2 minutes left in the 3rd and the Lakers
leading by 9. By the time Ariza was taken out with 9:18 left in the 4th,
CLEVELAND had a 4 point lead. Ariza had 3 turnovers and no points.
That's a 13 point turnaround that basically lost the game, and Ariza
certainly contributed to it.

The problem there is that Ariza was trying to slash to the hoop every time.
Cleveland is a good enough defensive team that they clogged up the
lane and stole the ball from Ariza twice and took a charge on a third
play. It's actually unusual for Ariza to turn the ball over that much, but
there it is - a case where a team with Luke built a lead, and a team with
Ariza gave it back.

Currently, Ariza shoots 27% on his 3-pointers, which sucks. Because of
that, smart defenders sag off of him and wait for the inevitable drive to
the hoop. Luke shoots 39% on his 3-pointers, so defenders have to respect
that, so he keeps the defense more honest. Luke is also a better passer,
so he gets open shots for his teammates more often.

And on defense, before the Indy game several bloggers were predicting
that Danny Granger would have a career night because Luke was
guarding him. Granger scored 17, which is exactly his average for the
season.

I've said it before. Luke's defense is about as good as Trevor's offense, and
Trevor's defense is about as good as Luke's offense. Think of the time
before Bynum learned to play defense without fouling. In that time,
Kwame was better on defense, and Bynum was better on offense. It's a
bit like that.

If Ariza can improve his offense (and I think he can), then eventually he
will become the defacto starter. Until then, I totally agree with PJ's
situational use of either one as a starter. If they reeeeeallly need a lock
down defender for the starting 3 on the other team, then start Ariza
(key example tonight: Rudy Gay on Memphis). OTOH, there are situations
where it's much more beneficial to bring Ariza off the bench -- for example,
San Antonio, where you could bring Ariza in whenever Ginobili comes in.

LTLK,

The Lakers did exactly what you're saying against Philly the other day. When you get up on a team by 20 or so, usually the garbage time guys get in and start playing out of the system. Against Philly they just kept on keeping on and it was fun to watch.

However, this team is going to need to win a playoff series or two before we can intimidate someone. I think us and New Orleans are two of the better teams completely under the radar.

As long as people keep saying "Can Kobe's supporting cast keep this up?" we can keep flying low and whooping ass.

Mitch,

>>>Ariza, he's only been on the team for a month and his D is earning him
>>>minutes (nice pick up Kupchak) his only weakness is his lack of
>>>knowledge of with the triangle (which is progressing by the day).

No. His outside shooting is also a weakness. 27% on 3-pointers? I think he's
been working on it since he came here (he was 2-for-2 in the Indy game), so
hopefully he's improving.

>>>Luke will be a vital cog in the second unit but in all honesty they
>>>both need to work on that jumpshot!

Luke is 39% on 3-point shooting. Ariza needs to work on his jumpshot,
Luke just needs to take more.

Vman,

>>>duh, U right, Ron a. I like Luke. He nice and got nice car and rib
>>>resarunt. but he not fast and jump high or shoot like LBJ, Caron B, Melo,
>>>T Mac, S. Jackson, Josh Howard... I put da 3 dots dere to mean dat dere is
>>>mo guys like dose at his posishun. I wich u Ron. u da man.

You're right. The Lakers should start LeBron at SF. Oh, wait! He's not on
the Lakers. Then they should start Caron Butler. Oh yeah! We traded him
for someone with big calves. Then start one of those Melo, TMac,
Captain Jack, Josh Howard or ... guys. Oh yeah, THEY'RE NOT ON THE
LAKERS EITHER.

Nobody would be lame enough to say that Luke is better than any of those
names you mentioned, or a dozen or more other SF's that you didn't
mention. But they don't play for the Lakers. If you want to compare what
Ariza or Radmanovic or even Odom contributes to the Lakers, then feel
free. But you're just howling at that moon to complain that Luke isn't
as good as LeBron.

Get it through your head. The Lakers don't have all-stars at 3 positions.
If that's what you want, go cheer for the Celtics. If you want to talk about
what's best for the Lakers, then keep your comparisons to the somewhat
less talented choices that the Lakers have to work with.

Chris M,

ok ok ... we get it ... phil jackson and his staff can not be wrong ... just as bush and his staff can't be wrong either ...

Andrew Z,

Bynum is definitely showing some fire this season. The two moments I remember the most was the Indy game on Sunday when he got fired up after getting an And 1 against JO and against Amare on another And 1.

The most underrated and ignored storyline (I'm surprised AK/BK haven't mentioned this.) is that since Bynum missed those clutch free throws against Golden State he's been pretty consistent at the line. I love this kid, he identifies his weaknesses and he works on them. This kid's going to be special.

Andrew Z,
"whooping ass"

I think I had that when we bought those tacos from a street vendor in Tijuana.

Or is that more like the "whooping cough"?

oh you are right taliq, you obviously have more experience and more rings than phil and staff. you sound like a typical employee who complains about management and how the rich get richer and poor me i need to go on strike cause i only make 25 dollars an hour as a high school diploma carrying bus driver wah wah wah poor you. untill you get off your lazy butt and WORK your way to the top and hold a position on the mangerial side of things can you appreciate WHY certain descisions are made. I wish just once a real pro athlete would say that the average fan is a moron, because thats how they feal because the average fan knows nothing about the sport they are so in love with. where's chuck barkley when we need him

you know what.......who cares? GO LAKERS

Not only would I be trying to start Ariza over Walton, I can't believe they havn't found a way to package Walton and Radmonovich for Artest. As for the standings, I agree with this article. Last year the sub-par teams dominated the Lakers on the road. Keep in mind, teams like Memphis; Charlot; and Milwaukee had absolutely nothing else to look forward to - but to play as hard as they most possibly could against Kobe. This year, its more energetic team that can match their "star struck" energy we've had to play against on the road.


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