The second half
So much went wrong for the Lakers in the second half of Thursday's shocking loss, no surprise given the size of the lead L.A. squandered. One big topic of conversation when it was over centered on a Lakers offense that scored only 33 points in the second half, on 33% from the floor. Obviously it was a terrible performance from the Lakers on that end of the floor. But how bad, and what went wrong? Some, like Roland Lazenby, suggest that the Lakers stuck with the triangle too long, abandoning the full floor game that served them so well in the first half. I don't agree, mostly because the combination of effective Celtics offense and terrible Lakers D basically quashed any chance the Lakers had to run (more on that below). But clearly plenty went wrong for the purple and gold.
What follows is a possession-by-possession rundown of the Lakers' second half, um, attack, with a running count of how many points they had during the quarter, and an approximate time of when each possession began. It can be tough from the press box to see the whole floor on every possession, so I wanted to go back and see, with the benefit of the pause and rewind buttons, what happened.
1. (11:51) Fish takes the ball from the left side, back to the top of the arc. Hard bounce pass to Gasol in the lane, who feeds Odom on the left block. LO misses the layup (could have been some contact).
2. (11:10) LO on right wing passes to Radmanovic at the top of the arc, hits Kobe on the wing. One dribble right, then elevates over Pierce for the jumper. Good. (Kobe's first FG of the game.) TWO POINTS IN THE QUARTER.
3. (10:40) LO on the wing drops the bounce pass to Kobe, playing with his back to Pierce outside the post. One dribble left, sees the double, and hits Pau with a bounce pass as Gasol flashes to the elbow. Pau misses the open jumper.
4. (9:50) Lakers work the ball effectively. Kobe on the left wing to LO at the top of the key. Odom drives right, kicks to Fish behind the arc. Back to Kobe at the top of the arc, who drives, dishes to Odom deep along the right baseline. Odom drives to the hoop and is fouled by Perkins, who hurts his shoulder on the play.
Odom makes one of two. THREE POINTS.
5. (9:19) Lakers run off Garnett miss underneath. Gasol outlets to Vlad, who hits Odom on the wing, back to Vlad cutting through the lane. Layup. FIVE POINTS. (At this point, L.A. is still up by 16.)
6. (8:50) LO brings the ball up, at the top of the arc dishes to Vlad, who drops it off to Kobe on the wing. He elevates against Pierce from just inside the arc and hits. SEVEN POINTS. (Garnett turns the ball over on the other end. Things look ducky -- Posey enters for PJ Brown).
7. (8:25) Kobe tries to set up against Pierce off the dribble on the right wing. Nothing there, passes off to Odom, who throws a bad pass to the corner to Radmanovic for an L.A. turnover.
8. (7:40) Kobe has the ball on the right wing, lobs to Gasol in the post, who kicks to Radmanovic in the right corner. Vlad nearly turns the ball over trying to get the ball back to Pau, who recovers and passes to Kobe. Bryant dribbles right, elevates over Pierce and the help defender for the long jumper, with about seven ticks left on the 24. Miss.
LO with the offensive board.
9. (7:25) Fish deep behind the arc on the left side dishes to Kobe at the top of the key, who sets up the pick and roll up top with Gasol. Kobe draws the double, finds Gasol on the roll, who kicks back to Fish behind the arc. One dribble on the ball fake, and Fish elevates for the jumper. NINE POINTS. Lakers up 20.
10. (6:50) Kobe to Vlad, who gives it right back to Kobe. Bryant looks for space on Pierce, doesn't find it, dishes to LO in the high post. LO sees a double and backs it out. Back to Kobe, who drives and pulls up on Allen. Jumper misses. Under 10 on the clock.
11. (6:15) Gasol outlets Posey miss to Kobe, who dribbles up court, passes to Vlad on the left wing behind the arc, inside to Pau, who gives it right back as Radmanovic cuts to the basket on Posey. Nice give and go. Radmanovic fouled by Posey. Vlad makes ONE, then TWO. ELEVEN POINTS (Lakers up 20.)
12. (5:45) Kobe brings the ball up the left side. Swings to Fish, who swings to Rad in the right corner, who badly bricks a three. (On the other end, House hits a three, and the Celts are on a 5-0 run ... it gets worse.)
13. (5:22) Kobe walks the ball up, flips to Rad on the left wing, and the ball comes back around to Odom. Rad flashes to the high post, Odom hits him and Vlad immediately drops the ball off to Kobe. He tries to back Pierce down, then goes for the turnaround J. Pierce blocks it.
14. (4:50) The ball goes around the perimeter before Radmanovic gets it in the high post. He tries to dribble drive - never a good idea - and the Lakers nearly turn the ball over. Eventually, and luckily, the ball squirts out to Kobe, who finds Gasol underneath for an easy dunk. 13 POINTS.
15. (4:10) Kobe brings the ball up the right side, hits Odom in the high post, Posey pokes it out of bounds. Posey pokes Radmanovic's inbound away. Take two. Ball to Fish, who dumps into Odom on Posey, who is called for the foul on the floor. Again, the Lakers have to reset, deep in the 24. Gasol feeds Odom in the post, who kicks to Fish, who has to take the long three from the right side. Miss.
16. (3:25) Radmanovic dumps into Gasol on the left block. Baby hook goes in and out.
17. (3:22) Radmanovic again on the left side lobs into Gasol on the left block. Same move, same in and out result. Radmanovic gets the rebound, kicks to Fish at the top of the arc. Dribble penetration, then a tough pass to Odom on the right block results in a turnover. Allen comes back in transition for an easy layup (in part because Radmanovic made absolutely no attempt to defend the play). Celtics down by 11, PJ calls time out.
18. (2:55) Ariza, Farmar in off the TO. Farmar brings up left side, and the ball ends up in Kobe's hands at the top of the arc. He drives right on Pierce and misses a tough runner along the right baseline.
19. (2:29) Kobe on the left wing lobs to Gasol on the left block. Pau makes his move into the lane and is fouled by Posey, who rotated over on the double. Gasol to the line. MAKE, MISS. 14 POINTS. (Lakers up by 12. On the other end, Pierce beats Ariza off the dribble, Gasol gets the foul helping, for the one and one ...)
20. (2:00) Farmar to Sasha near halfcourt. He passes left wing to Ariza, who nearly turns it over. Kobe ends up with the ball in the left corner, draws the double and makes a great pass to Gasol in the lane, who misses the dunk. Ouch.
House hits a three in the left corner, as Farmar has to come off House momentarily to try and guard Garnett, who swings it back to the shooter, who sticks the triple. Penetration and ball movement hurts L.A. there, but JF needs to realize they're better off letting KG take the long jumper than leaving House open: 17-3 Boston run.
21. (1:20) Kobe moves on Pierce at the top of the arc, steps in, misses jumper.
22. (:41.2) Farmar brings it up, passes to Pau in the post, who feeds Kobe on the left wing. Dribbles out, comes off the screen and feeds Sasha in the right corner. Vujacic passes out to Farmar at the top of the arc. He has to heave an awkward three to beat the shot clock.
On the other end, Pierce makes a great pass out of the double team to a shockingly open PJ Brown underneath. Easy dunk. 21-3 run ends the quarter. Boston down two.
SUMMARY: In scoring a grand total of three points in the final six minutes or so, the Lakers certainly went cold offensively and made a lot of bad decisions with the ball that forced them into too many long jumpers or shots deep in the clock, or simply robbed them of shots because of turnovers. Very little high screen action, something that has worked through the series. That said, the Lakers also had some good looks. The two shots from Gasol on the low block were excellent looks, and that missed dunk was a killer. Kobe seemed uncomfortable against an aggressive Pierce and was limited to very tough looks, and Boston did a nice job as well at keeping the ball out of his hands.
They needed other guys to make some buckets to loosen the Celtics up.
But where the real collapse came was on the other end. Trip after trip, Boston had a seemingly endless series of clean looks, most of which they converted. L.A. was flat-out awful on that end, which made it tough for the Lakers to run. When Boston can take shots in rhythm, a) they'll often go in, and b) even if they don't, the defense can set against transition.
Sasha, Kobe, LO, Farmar, Turiaf on the floor. Kobe back on Pierce.
1. (12:00) Odom at the top of the arc feeds to Kobe on the wing, as he was pushed out of the post by Pierce. Kobe dribbles, trying to find some space, passes a screen from Odom, and as the defense comes to him, late in the clock he passes from the top of the arc to Ronny underneath, who is fouled by Garnett. Miss, miss. ouch.
2. (11:15) LO dribbles right at the top of the arc and hands to Kobe coming the other way. Long two, off the mark, fading away from Pierce defending. Sasha gets the rebound in the corner, feeds back to JF, who gives to Odom at the top of the arc. LO back to the left wing for Sasha, who misses a three.
Powe, on the second-chance opportunity, hits over Odom in the lane and the game is tied at 73.
3. (10:10) LO on the right wing lobs to Kobe on the block, who posts agaisnt Pierce. He makes his move into the lane, takes a tough runner fading away. Miss.
4. (9:40) Off a Powe miss, Kobe takes the ball up the floor, and from the left wing uses a quick screen from Turiaf to drive right, through the lane, layup. TWO POINTS.
Lakers up by two, then Pierce hits a tough jumper over Kobe, game tied again at 75.
5. (8:53) JF walks the ball up the right side, feeds Turiaf, who gives to Kobe on the right wing. He makes a move on Pierce, who is called for a block. On the floor. Lakers reset. LO to JF at the top of the arc. Farmar penetrates, has to kick back to Odom at the top of the arc. LO looks for Kobe, who is denied by Pierce. Odom is forced to take a three late in the clock. Miss.
6. (8:13) Odom on the right wing feeds Sasha in the post, who dumps it to a cutting Kobe on the left wing. Kobe isos on Pierce, elevates, and hits a jumper over him. FOUR POINTS.
7. (7:40) Farmar outlets a House miss to Kobe, who sets up on the right wing, drives left into the lane on Pierce, then misses the up and under.
Garnett hits a very tough shot over Ronny, coming left and shooting with his right hand, moving away from the basket. Well defended, but a better shot. Game tied at 77.
8. (7:10) Kobe has the ball on the right wing against Pierce. Turiaf sets the screen, Kobe hits him rolling to the bucket. KG cuts him off. Ronny kicks back to the top of the arc to Sasha, who drives, then kicks to Ronny on the right baseline for the wide open jumper. Miss.
9. (6:33) Turiaf denies Brown, Sahsa rebounds, Lakers run. Kobe fades to the left wing and hits Odom in the lane. Kobe hits him, LO finishes. 79-77 LAL. SIX POINTS.
Gasol in for Turiaf.
10. (5:51) Pierce misses long jumper, JF rebounds, pushes upcourt to Kobe, who breaks down Kobe attacking the rim for an easy jam. EIGHT POINTS. LA up by four.
Until Posey hits a three in the left corner, as LO helps on Allen's penetration, and can't recover in time.
11. (5:18) Farmar at the top of the key feeds Gasol at the top of the circle, who hands the ball to Kobe coming around the screen. Kobe misses the runner going left, but the Lakers get the ball back as the ball goes off Boston out of bounds. Six on the clock. Kobe inbounds to Gasol, who drives right and makes a very tough shot on Garnett. 10 POINTS. Lakers by three.
KG drives on Gasol, draws a foul on the other end. Makes both, Lakers up by one.
12. (4:42) Kobe at the top of the key can't use a Gasol screen. He swings to Sasha on the right wing, who bounces the ball into Odom on the right block. Nice move to his right hand, but he misses the layup over Posey, who pulls the chair out. That needs to go down.
The Celtics respond with a House jumper, and the Celtics have the lead.
13. (4:00) Kobe up the left wing, draws the double, feeds Gasol behind him on the left elbow. Gasol tries to force a pass to Odom on the right block, but it results in a turnover. The Celtics aren't letting the Lakers set the sorts of screens that will free Kobe. They're laying off the play entirely.
Lakers force a miss from Pierce from downtown, then give up a horrible rebound to Allen. With the second chance, Boston gets the ball to Allen in the left corner, who drives past Kobe and makes a tough reverse.
14. (3:08) Kobe on the left win swings right to Farmar, who goes to Sasha in the right corner. The ball is knocked away from Sasha, who recovers, but has to take a quick shot at the end of the clock. Miss, but LO gets the offensive board. LO kicks back to Sasha, who gives to Kobe at the top of the arc. Kobe drives, draws a crowd and kicks to Farmar for three on the left wing. Miss.
KG hits over Gasol, and the Boston lead is five. Timeout on the floor.
Vlad in for LO, Fish for Farmar.
15. Coming out of the TO, Kobe drives right through the lane and draws the foul. Makes the first, makes the second. 12 POINTS.
Great patience on the other end from Pierce, who eventually drives around Gasol for a foul. PP makes one of two, Boston by four.
16. (1:40) Kobe brings the ball up, Pierce fouled by Pierce on the floor, as the Celts had a foul to give. Kobe gets the ball at the top of the key off the inbound, the Lakers spread the floor. Kobe drives on Pierce, makes a very tough layup in traffic. 14 POINTS, Lakers down by 2.
Posey hits another three in the right corner, Lakers down by five.
17. (1:13) Kobe comes up the middle of the floor, and again the Lakers spread the floor. Kobe drives, meets resistence, and kicks to Fish, who hits a long two. Foot on the line- gotta make that a three! Lakers down three.
Pierce draws a block on Kobe away from the basket, goes to the line, and makes both. Celtics by five.
18. (:47) Kobe up the floor, drives quickly down the left side of the lane, dishes to Gasol, who dunks it home.
I think you know what hapens here. Allen isolates Sasha, drives by him as if he's standing still, Pau is late in helping, and that's the dagger. With PJ on the sidelines calling for the TO, Pau inbounds the ball, and the Lakers will end up having to burn another TO to advance the ball. Didn't turn out to matter, but it was indicative of the way things were going.
19. (:15.7) Vlad inbounds to Sasha, who takes, and misses, a long two. Offensive board to Pau, who kicks to Sasha. He swings to Kobe, who misses a long two. Scramble underneath, and the Celtics end up with the ball with three ticks to go. Fans head to the exits.
House to the line, makes one, and Boston celebrates. Sasha misses one more heave on the other end, just for good measure.
- First, on Kobe. The Celtics deserve a lot of credit for how they defended him in the second half. The move to Pierce made it much tougher for Kobe to post up, and while he didn't hurt Boston shooting from the post early, he distributed the ball well, and created space for other Lakers to thrive. Kobe, for his part, struggled to find good looks, but was also reasonably patient, given the situation. Many of his shots, particularly a group early in the third, came late in the clock, making it tough to create. When he did try to find space on the dribble, there wasn't much. That led to tough runners and jumpers over an aggressive Pierce. It was not a great night for Kobe, but he also didn't get the help he needed in the second half. Too many times he set up a teammate and the Lakers got nothing out of it. Yes, he forced a few shots, but it was hardly a game where you can say Kobe "shot them out of it."
- In the end, while it was impressive to see the Lakers up 18 at halftime while Kobe didn't have an FG, it likely worked against them in the third. Between his teammates trying to get him the ball and Kobe looking to find opportunities, the Lakers offense, which had been crisp and aggressive early, became slow and tentative late. They lost seconds either looking for Kobe, or when Bryant would try to feel out the defense, looking for a hole. Nobody stepped up and forced the Celtics to play 24 more honestly. As the second half went on, the confidence seemed to drain from L.A.'s attack.
- Credit Pierce with some good work on Bryant.
- The Lakers didn't get to the rim enough, and when they did, too often they failed to finish.
- Those responsible for stretching Boston's defense, particularly Farmar and Sasha, weren't able to do it. An 0-8 from downtown over the final 24. There wasn't much incentive for the Celtics to stop packing the paint.
- The Celtics did a nice job playing off the Lakers screen and rolls, staying off the screener and basically flowing around the play. That seemed to throw off the Lakers since there was often no clear decision as to where to go with the ball after the pick was set.
- The Lakers had some good looks near the hoop and made too few, but generally speaking the percentage of good possessions to bad ones was far too lopsided in the wrong direction. It's not that every trip ended in a bad shot, but too many did. Often the Lakers were forced to launch from outside, and generally speaking, nothing came easy. At no point in the second half, did the Lakers dictate the pace of play for any sustained stretch, and at the end of the third, they were totally discombobulated.
- I still don't get why D-Fish wasn't on the floor for more of the fourth quarter. PJ said later that he thought Farmar would be better suited to match up with the quickness of House and provide more ball pressure, but a) Fish could have kept up with House, and b) the Celtics limited the amount of trips he brought the floor up, anyway. It's not like the Lakers were getting all sorts of turnover opportunities because of Farmar's defensive work. Meanwhile, the offense was struggling, and if you're looking for someone to help restore some order and structure, Fisher is a better option than Farmar. Bad move.
- Radmanovic might have helped spread the floor at the end, but he also was a total liability defensively. When the Celtics went small at the end, it seemed like the Lakers could have attacked the post more with Odom and Gasol. The flip side is that putting Vlad on the floor opened things up for Kobe, but I didn't like it at the sacrifice of a better defender, someone who could go inside, dribble and move the ball.
- That said, I don't know if there was a combination that could have saved L.A. at that point. Boston had taken over.
- As effective as Ariza was in the first half, he was that bad in the second, struggling on both ends at the end of the third quarter.
- The Lakers were bad offensively in the second half in part because they were unable to generate any easy points. Not much available in transition - it's hard to run when you're constantly pulling the ball out from the basket - and no ball pressure to force turnovers. In the rare opportunities the Lakers did have to get into the open court, they were generally successful. Throughout the year, the Lakers were generally able find moments where they could supplement the halfcourt sets with chances created by solid defense. Thursday, in the second half, they couldn't.
- The defense was absolutely atrocious.