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Lakers' defense drops off upon Kobe Bryant's return

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Though the Lakers unanimously welcomed Kobe Bryant's return from a five-game absence because of a sprained left ankle and injured tendon, Bryant's teammates anticipated that there would be an adjustment period. The point was and has never been made among the team that the Lakers were better off without Bryant in the lineup. It was just that any team changes, good or bad, require  adjustments.

The Lakers immediately enjoyed some of the positive aspects Bryant typically brings. He netted his sixth game game-winner Tuesday against Memphis and he kept the Lakers in contention throughout the fourth quarter. Though Bryant had an overall sluggish shooting night Wednesday against Dallas possibly because of fatigue, the majority of the failed shots were rooted more in attempts falling short than him selfishly hogging the shooting pie. But there has been one negative consequence upon Bryant's return, and that's the team's defense.

Consider the numbers: the Lakers (43-15) held opponents during Bryant's five-game absence to 86.6 points, a mark that ranked second-best in the league and was a near 10-point improvement from their regular season average in yielding 96.2 points per game. In the Lakers' two games since Bryant's return, the Lakers allowed an average of 99.5 points per game.

This problem doesn't point to Bryant, but more the team's reaction to his return. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and guard Derek Fisher had frequently mentioned one of the key factors that ensured a collective effort during Bryant's absence entailed sharpening up on defense. The theory was that if most of the team felt involved offensively, that energy would carry over on the defensive end and create synergy. The defensive philosophy also extended to the fact that without Bryant's scoring punch, there may be a chance points would be hard to come by, making it necessary to limit the opponent's production whenever possible.

There were some valid concerns that the team's effort and Bryant's scoring mentality would disrupt the offensive balance. But that actually hasn't been the case with four scoring in double figures against Memphis and six cracking double digits against Dallas. Lakers forward Pau Gasol had 22 points against Memphis, though he didn't make key plays late in the game. Forward Lamar Odom led the Lakers with 21 points against Dallas, a night after disappearing against Memphis with five points.

Instead, the difference squares mostly on the defense. Of course, even during Bryant's absence, the Lakers slugged through a 104-94 victory last week against Golden State, a game that featured not a lot of defense against a quick team. But the reason for that drop-off pointed more to the fact the Lakers were coming off the All-Star break. The Lakers' poor defense in both games against Memphis and Dallas seemed to solidify the notion that the team lacked urgency, a quality the Lakers have frequently displayed whenever Bryant's played partly because they feel his magic can solve anything. 

Analyzing performances in only a two-game stretch inevitably brings incomplete snapshots. But with 24 games remaining in the regular season every performance bears stronger implications in the latest race with Cleveland (45-14) for the league's best record. Each remaining game also yields more significance on how sharp and prepared the Lakers ultimately be once the postseason begins. And that point, two games wouldn't be a snapshot. It would represent half the win total required to advance to the next round.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant goes for the steal against Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson during the Lakers' 101-96 loss Wednesday in Dallas. Credit: Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press.

 
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HEAD LINES READ
LAKERS PLAY BETTER
WITHOUT
KOBE!!
KOBE = BALL HOG
KOBE = ME MYSELF & I
KOBE = NO LEADERSHIP
KOBE = SELF CENTERED
KOBE = RUDE
KOBE = NO FRIENDS
KOBE - LAKERS HAVE FUN WITHOUT HIM
KOBE = LOSER
KOBE FANS = LOSERS

Here we go into the home stretch of the NBA season, and there are still questions about what our World Champion Lakers are made of.

* Bynum - Beast or Bust?
* Kobe - Savior or Sinner?
* Fisher - Indispensable Leader or Too Damn Old?
* Gasol - Gasoft or GaSmooth?
* Artest - Answer or Mistake?
* Farmar - Future or Pretender?
* Lamar - Starter or 6th Man?

Sure, we've had injuries that disrupt team chemistry and inhibit best effort. But so have other teams. No, these questions remain because of other reasons. Every one of these players has championship qualities. The Lakers just don't maximize them night after night at a point in the season where one can see other teams taking shape and finding their groove.

Part of it is PJ's coaching philosophy, programming the team to hit its stride at just the right moment.

But the essential questions posed above should be answered by now. Clearly, they're not. Hence, the debate posted over and over and devolving into the personal. Perhaps these questions will only be answered when the Lakers end their playoff run, hopefully in June with the awarding of the NBA's holy grail.

Win or lose, it's time to be playing consistent basketball. Getting out-rebounded, or having double-digit turnovers just isn't excusable. Whining about the refs is a cop-out. Needing last second miracle buzzer beaters can't be acceptable. Admitting after a game that sometimes you're "coasting" should be shameful.

Lakers, declare yourselves! It's not too early to answer these questions. I'm only hoping, it's not too late.

It is about time for the Lakers to dig deep and play with more intensity on defense, basically like those 5 games w/o Kobe. It is easy to understand sometimes the ball doesnt fall into the hoop on offense, but defense? Defense is played from the heart, unless they don't have heart then they don't deserve the championship. It does not bode well last 3 losses were against playoffs team (Celts, Nuggets, Mavs), the Lakers need a heart implant quick!!!

rick

i know that U and I have one different opinion in regard with Farmar. the rest will be i guess the same. also i will give a slant to the kobe line:

* Bynum - Bust
* Kobe - Savior, Sinner (and i'm not implying CO - just to keep it as POLARIZING as possible) & Scapegoat
* Fisher - Too Damn Old
* Gasol - Gasoft
* Artest - Answer
* Farmar - Pretender

finally a poll that had some meaning and was also FUN!!!!!!!!!!
* Lamar - Starter or 6th Man?

MM,

Isn't D. Fish the culprit for lax perimeter defense? D. Fish plays 30+ minutes including crunch time.

Can a media type ask D. Fish if a line up change may upgrade defense?

Since D. Fish's offense is terrible, a change to Farmar or Brown will immediately improve offense.

D. Fish hasn't produced with his minutes. Farmar and Brown have shown the ability to contribute more. D. Fish should step aside for the team.

hobbitimage, dude, I think
I discovered why your posts read like free verse.
Instead of a word
processor, I bought me one of those
Italian Word Cuisinart's from Zaira and turned it
up to "frappe".
Awesome, dude! Now, I can even
read your posts without thinking I'm watching
a ping
pong
ping
pong match.

Bryant wasn't the only one who came back. So did Bynum.

Litotes

great point about superstars: people come to watch Kobe. there is no oklahoma, but there is Durant, the Cavaliers are unknown but there is LeBron. miami? just Wade. the only 2 nuggets r Billups and Melo. and the tattooed guy's hairstyle. and so on. unfortunately some lakers Fans want to see the TEAM without Bryant.

jack nicholson's face expressions r more fun than the TEAM unable to score in the last 7-1/2 minutes against the Celtics

Most of these guys have an offense first mind set, and if theyre hitting shots thats when they're inspired to play hard defense. That was evident when Kobe was out since ALL of them had to score in order to pull out a win. And since the offense execution has been ugly lately, their defense is particularly missing as well.

There are a lot of issues lingering in this team. Andrew's lack of understanding of passing the ball when 3 defenders are on him, which then results to a TO. Pau having problems catching the ball, which then results to a TO (Did Kwame put a voodoo hex on Pau!). Kobe still injured and not playing 100%, his ballhandling had suffered a bit which then results to a TO. That broken finger looks nasty BTW. Our outside shooting is still a problem.

So yeah lots of adjustments before playoffs. This will be a long journey, you can't dwell on the loses, which is not much. At least you don't have to root for the Knicks! As a New Yorker, I still do haha, but not if they play the Lakers though. McGrady seems to be adjusting well, I just hope he stays healthy and maybe next year it'll Lakers vs Knicks in the Finals! haha a girl can dream right.

Well thats it, end of blabber. Snow day again here in NYC. Enjoy the weekend everyrone :)

The Lakers aren't catching the Cavs. The Cavs just administered a beatdown of the Celtics last night, just like the Nuggets recently did and Dallas did earlier this year. That's because the Celtics are a mediocre team. So what does this say about the Lakers?

It's not just recent losses against good teams. The Lakers record overall against good teams this season has been pretty middling. 

The best stretch of play recently has been when Bynum was out. As soon as he came back against GS, they started struggling again. Coincidence? I hope so. 

fact1,

Though art an idiot and a liar.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

fact1,

HEAD LINES READ
FACT1 is a KOBE HATER!
WANTS TEAM
WITHOUT
KOBE!!
FACT1 DOESN'T WANT CHAMPIONSHIPS
FACT1 JUST DOESN'T WANT KOBE ON HIS TEAM
FACT1 = KLBEast
FACT1 WANTS LAKERS TO BE LOSERS
FACT1 != LAKER FAN

Marky Mark,

"This problem doesn't point to Bryant, but more the team's reaction to his return."

I love and agree with this sentence. It succinctly sums up the situation.

To expand upon it, I think a potential "problem" could exist with the chemistry of the team in the way that the team responds to Kobe's leadership.

This is CLEARLY Kobe's team, so much so that hyper-competitive Ron Artest reacts practically like a dog rolling over on its back in submission when he discusses Kobe's leadership role. While I am in no way challenging whether or not Kobe should lead this team, I am wondering if the team dynamic has formed the following structure:

Kobe = Leader
Rest of the Lakers = Followers

As a result, perhaps Kobe's leadership role is so absolute that other players feel hesitant in being proactive in their decision-making and creating offensive opportunites, as opposed to reacting to opportunities given to them by Kobe's leadership.

I'm not sure I've got this right, but clearly the team is not playing with a sense of urgency. Kobe is playing with a sense of urgency, but the rest of the team does not seem to consistently play with that sense of urgency. I know they are capable of playing with that sense of urgency. I saw it last year and while Kobe was out. So, Phil Jackson and Kobe need to figure out how to recapture that sense of urgency and cohesion in play because that is the key to another Championship.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Most of Kobe's perception problems stem directly from Phil Jackson and his relationship and influence with this media..........it's called the "dumbing down" of America


That headline could have read a number of ways since Kobe and Ron Artest are both All defense performers in the past.

Possible Alternate headlines:

"Kobe returns.....Supporting cast shrinks"


"Laker's dependance on Kobe contributes to poor energy and defense"

"Kobe returns.....rest of Lakers make excuses"

"Is Laker coaching staff responsible for Lakers lack of defense in Kobe's return"?


"Lakers can't break the Kobe bailout mentality"

"Kobe inspired Olympic defensive efforts.......but can't jumpstart excuse making Lakers"

You get the picture.


You can shape opinion anyway you like......depending upon your motives..

It's Kobe, Kobe, Kobe.......all the time


Why not ask Phil this question? Phil, What can you do as coach to increase defensive intensity? Will you make Defense a priority in practice?

For a coach that demands $12M........the local media does not hold him responsible for anything.

CTran,

"It is about time for the Lakers to dig deep and play with more intensity on defense, basically like those 5 games w/o Kobe."

Funny thing is that I expected with the addition of Thriller that we would be monsters on defense this year. I haven't really been seeing that, but I've kind of forgiven Thriller because he's been playing with planar facitis--which I have been told is EXTREMELY painful.

Now that his injury has largely subsided I'm looking for Thriller to return to being the pit bull of defense I expected and for the Lakers to follow his lead. As Ron said at the start of the season [and I paraphrase], "Kobe is the first option on offense and I'm the first option on defense."

So, if our defense is down, we should be asking Thriller to ramp up his intensity and leadership role.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Color us Concerned

It's not always harder. The second ring in the Shakobe era was a layup by the time we hit the playoffs. The team got better, more dominant than the year before. This one isn't goin' that way... yet.

Other teams didn't get exponentially better that year. Cleveland, Denver & Dallas have bulked up and stepped up. Have the Lakers?

Ron's focus on this season is excellent. He's committed and when healthy, the solid addition we'd hoped for. But Trevor's speed is missed.

The Pau, Andrew lineup is maybe the biggest adjustment this year. On paper, it's dominant. Maybe it would be if Fish were havin' a better shooting year to help space the floor. Maybe it would be if there weren't so many nick nack injuries. But maybe it's Lamar time. Maybe he's reachin' his all star status and needs to a green light.

There's no moral victories on the Lakers, it's all or nothing. It's all or Phil's gone and Shaq has a 5th ring. Hateful concept. Time to D up, step up, man up.

ouchhhhhhhh,

"and i'm not implying CO - just to keep it as POLARIZING as possible"

It's obvious that you enjoy polarizing the blog. It's extraordinarily immature.

You must think of yourself as extremely clever. There's nothing clever out of saying things just to provoke people. That's just downright childish.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

fact 1 - i don't see how the headline is blaming bryant. it's a very matter of fact statement. Lakers' defense drops off upon Kobe Bryant's return. And I make it very clear in the article it's the team's reaction to his return, not Kobe himself.

MM

Todd - D Fish has definitely played poor on D. But so has Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown. During his struggles this season, Fisher and Jackson have been asked about it numerous times this season. They recognize it. But basically they're arguing that his on court leadership and presence in the locker room is still invaluable and they pretty much suggest there's not a better alternative.

MM

Ex

"Bryant wasn't the only one who came back. So did Bynum."

Worth repeating.

Who took over as defensive coordinator after Kurt Rambis left?

Rick Friedman,

Like your poll, but you oversimplify things too much. I'll take them one at a time to keep this from being one of those 500 line posts I'm so keen to write...

* Bynum - Beast or Bust?

Does it HAVE to be one or the other? Because if so, then there are 10 or 12 beasts in the league and every other player in the NBA is a bust.

Truth is, Bynum is somewhere in between.

You want to know who wishes they had Bynum?

1. Atlanta. They picked Marvin Williams with the #2 pick in the draft. If they had a do-over at this point, they would pick either Deron Williams, Chris Paul, or Bynum.

2. Charlotte. Ray Felton? Give me a break. They drafted him at #5, five picks ahead of Bynum.

3. Portland. Not only did they draft Martell Webster at #6 (four picks ahead of Bynum), but then they went on to pick a TRUE bust - Greg Oden in 2007. Can you imagine if Portland had scored Bynum in 2005, Aldridge and Roy in 2006, and Kevin Durant in 2007? Right now they would be a MUCH more serious threat to the Lakers (and everyone else).

4. Toronto. They drafted Charlie Villanueva 3 spots ahead of Bynum. Right now they could have a front court of Bosh and Bynum instead of picking soft Charlie and dumping him later.

5. New York. They picked Channing Frye 2 spots ahead of Bynum. Then they dumped him off to get Zach Randolph, who they later dumped off. If they'd have picked Bynum, then they'd have a much more decent core with which to lure LeBron (Bynum, Lee, Chandler, Gallinari), though they'd still be lacking a PG.

6. Golden State. They picked Ike Diogu one spot ahead of Bynum. IKE FREAKING DIOGU!!!

The only three teams that probably AREN'T bummed about who they picked in the 2005 NBA lottery are Utah (who got Deron Williams), New Orleans (who got Chris Paul), and Milwaukee (who got Andrew Bogut).

Bogut actually makes a nice comparison for Bynum. They were picked in the same year, they have similar stats, and they've both had some injury problems. If Milwaukee and the Lakers swapped C's, they'd get back roughly comparable players.

But Bogut was picked #1 and Bynum was picked #10.

So comparing them, you'd have to conclude that Bogut is a little bit weak for a #1 pick, and Bynum is very strong for a #10 pick.

In summary, I'd say Bynum is neither beast nor bust, but he's closer to being a beast than a bust. If he has a season ending injury two or three more times and retires in 5, he's a bust. If he avoids any more season ending injuries and contributes to two or three more titles, then he could earn the beast epithet.

LongTimeLakerFan,

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but it's nice to see you returning some balance to your commentary, particularly in regards to your stance on Bynum. I thought that your most recent reply was exceptionally well reasoned and written, and I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything that you had to say. I also appreciated the fact that you recognized the false dichotomy involved in the original question...

LongTimeLakersFan,

"In summary, I'd say Bynum is neither beast nor bust, but he's closer to being a beast than a bust."

Correct. Finally some sanity to the discussion.

It freaks me out how so many people assess subject matter with a dogmatic "ALL OR NONE!" mentality. That's not how reality works. It's not black or white. It's more subtle than that.

The truth is that Andrew Bynum has shown incredible potential. For God's sake his career high is 42 points! What percentage of all players who have ever played in the NBA have ever scored above 40 points in a single game? Maybe 5%?

All I know is that it's highly uncommon. Clearly the kid has potential.

At the same time he's been inconsistent and has shown weaknesses in his game (aggressiveness, foul issues, etc.)

So, when people start screaming that Bynum is the next coming of Wilt Chamberlain or a complete bust, it's just madness.

The truth of the matter is Bynum is "A Work In Progress" and since he's wearing a Laker uniform we should hope and look for the best in him. At least you should if you're a fan of the Lakers.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

@hobbitmage
"I *want* to agree with you. I'm not sure that I do. It has
nothing to do with it being logical. It has to do with Jimmy Buss. Bynum is Jimmy Buss' pet project and I don't think he has *ANY* intention of giving him up. I think what is more likely is that Phil leaves, Kobe leaves and another coach comes into to make Bynum the focus of the team."

&

"I think Kobe wants to win more than he wants $$. I don't think
he's forgotten that someone, in the organization, betrayed him a few years ago. I think Kobe *ACHES* to play with guys who are *DRIVEN* to be their best. I can see him making less than *max* for the chance to win multiple championships. Wouldn't that put the final dagger in all of the "ko-me" crap?


These are two related points you bring up and in some ways I can agree. It feels like it all comes down to Jerry Buss, somehow. How much control of the team has he truly ceded to his son? How much longer is Jerry going to be involved in the major decisions regarding the team? How many more years does Phil want to coach?


These are the questions that will settle the teams' roster debates because if Jim is making a majority of the basketball decisions than I could see him starting to align the team around Andrew. However, if Phil is retained for another season or two, and since we just signed Pau to a b-i-i-i-g extension and we won the championship without any major contributions from 'Drew, I would see the staff and GM wanting to hold onto the proven commodity.


On Kobe, I have to disagree with him not taking the max. It's a badge of honor in the NBA to be counted amongst the top paid players in the league and Kobe knows he deserves to be there for this contract slot. In the past, I too have floated the idea that Kobe would shed a few million from his base salary to help management bring in higher quality talent, but at the end of the day that's just not Kobe's job. That's Mitch's job. I would imagine that Kobe sees it pretty much the same way.


I just want to say, I'm not advocating any moves until we finish this year's run. These decisions will be predicated on how far we go in our quest for a repeat. This season has presented the Lakers with stiffer challenges than last and they have held up pretty well. We lost some games we should have won and won some games we should have lost. I'm curious to see how we start playing the last couple of weeks into the season and continuing into the playoffs.

GO LAKERS!!! (If we lose tonight, watch the Blog ERUPT!)

ladyJem24,

"Most of these guys have an offense first mind set, and if theyre hitting shots thats when they're inspired to play hard defense. That was evident when Kobe was out since ALL of them had to score in order to pull out a win. And since the offense execution has been ugly lately, their defense is particularly missing as well."

I like this analysis. I think you may well be onto something.

Maybe the solution is making it a point that more players get more touches per possession AND that ball movement is meant to generate not open shots, but high percentage shots... because high percentage shots means a more consistent scoring offense than just pure open shots.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Marky Mark,

"But basically they're arguing that his on court leadership and presence in the locker room is still invaluable and they pretty much suggest there's not a better alternative."

Better watch out! People are going to start screaming for your head and saying that you don't know anything about basketball!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

* Kobe - Savior or Sinner?

yes and yes.

Kobe taking over games is both a blessing and a curse. More often than not, if the team is flailing, Kobe can take over for a quarter or a half and absolutely dominate and pull the Lakers up by their bootstraps and turn a loss into a win.

And sometimes that strategy backfires. Sometimes (like the Dallas game), Kobe has a bad shooting night and nobody else on the Lakers is man enough to take over and carry them. If Pau started screaming "throw me the damn ball" like Shaq used to, do you think that would make the team better?

One problem is Pau is TOO unselfish. Let me use a specific example from the Celtic game. Second to last possession of the game. With 31 seconds left in the game and the Lakers trailing by 1, they got Pau the ball in the low post. Boston was playing him 1-on-1, so he should have been able to go right by Kendrick Perkins to score. Instead, he tried to force a pass to Shannon Brown and turned the ball over.

Pau NEEDS to take that shot. If Shannon was absolutely WIDE OPEN, that's one thing. But Shannon was making a quick cut in traffic from the opposite side of the court - it was not an easy pass and not a wise pass to make. If Pau takes the shot and bricks it, I can live with that - the best player on the floor for the Lakers would have come up a little short. But giving up a turnover trying to be a "team player" was a losing move.

So getting back to Kobe. The good news is that if the team is playing well, he generally doesn't revert to selfish mode. It's only when the team seems to be floundering that he takes over games. And that is what he's supposed to do.

Consider that late hook shot by Magic to beat the Celtics in `87. Magic could have tried to pass to Kareem, and that would have been a legitimate play. But not only were there two defenders between Magic and Kareem, making a turnover possible, but Kareem was on the down side of his career at this point. Magic was the best player on the Lakers, so he took the big shot himself.

Magic took the most shots on that team, despite having two other top-50 players of all time on the team (Worthy and Kareem). Did you ever hear Michael Cooper complain that Magic wasn't playing team ball because he was taking more shots? Heck no. Coop and Big-Game James and the Cap recognized that sometimes you've gotta let the best player on the game take over. And Magic didn't win every game he tried to take over either, but he won a lot of them.

Oh, and as a side note, Magic earned 2.5 million for that season... HALF of what Fish is making for shooting bricks and whining when Kobe tries to bail him out this season.

So the answer to the poll question is this: Kobe can only be a savior by being a sinner. There are at least half a dozen games this year where if Kobe would have taken less shots and played the team game, the Lakers would have lost, but they won because he carried them. I can only think of 2 or 3 games where that backfired and the Lakers ended up losing.

And you know what the difference is between teams like the Lakers & Cavs and some lesser teams in the league? The lesser teams DON'T HAVE a sinner like Kobe or LeBron who can carry their team to a victory with selfish play when needed.

So you can decry Kobe for being a ball-hog or whatever, but in the same breath you should thank him for giving the Lakers the second best record in the NBA.

* Fisher - Indispensable Leader or Too Damn Old?

Once again, yes and yes.

I think the Lakers still need Fisher on the team. But I don't think they need him to start. I think they'd be a better team if they started either Farmar or Brown and used Fisher about 20 minutes a game. He could still be the veteran presence and leader without playing 30+ minutes a game.

The Lakers have been and will always be about SUPERSTARS
GEORGE MIKAN, ELGIN BAYLOR, JERRY WEST, WILT CHAMBERLAIN, KAREEM ABDUL JABBAR, MAGIC JOHNSON, SHAQUILLE ONEAL, KOBE BRYANT.
Arguably the best of the best. There were a few years when these superstars were not on the Lakers at one time or another and the Lakers were not relevant. I REPEAT, NOT RELEVANT. Heck, the Lakers were almost irrelevant when Kareem was on the team until Magic came along.
My point is this, though it was interesting to watch the team hustle and play defense without Kobe, without KOBE THE SUPERSTAR, the team is not relevant.
Whether you are a lover or hater, Kobe is the headliner. He's an Angel and the Devil. An enigma? He had the world at his feet and gave it away one fateful night.
Without Kobe, who will we talk about? Lamar, Gasol, Bynum?
Without Kobe on the Lakers who could impact our Laker world like he does?
14 years and counting, we have all shared his triumphs and failures. Who hasn't yelled at that TV for him to pass the ball and then turn around celebrate the confidence he has in his game that no other player possesses.

Give me Kobe because the Lakers are about Superstars and without Kobe there is no relevancy.

The Snake - Since Rambis left, Phil Jackson has split up the defensive duties to his assistants, Brian Shaw, Jim Cleamons and Frank Hamblen. So it's by a committee approach depending on which coach is doing the preparation for that particular game.

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/15/sports/sp-lakers-fyi15

MM

Part of the problem is that Kobe doesn't really play defense anymore. So when he returned you have 3 guys playing honest d with Kobe gambling/coasting and Dfish getting burned. No wonder teams score 10 extra points - it's 3 on 5! We all know that Kobe can play great defense but I haven't really seen much of it in the past 2 years. The addition of Artest was supposed to give us the most imposing wing defenders in the league. Instead it has caused Kobe to play less defense than before.

@ LongTimeLakerFan


Great post man, I heartily agree with you. Bynum is more than decent #10, especially when compared to those chosen before. Too often around here an opinion is taken to an almost absurd extreme (fact 1, The Moderator and D.Fish, case in point). But in basketball, as in life, there's always a touch of gray.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmT6udys8Tc

hobbitmage,

" I think Kobe *ACHES* to play with guys who are *DRIVEN* to be their best."

Agreed, but here's the problem with Kobe's desire: NO ONE in the NBA is driven to the same degree as Kobe himself is driven. No one. Thus, he is attached to an illogical desire.

I think if Kobe is to make his teammates their best, he'll have to moderate that desire a bit.

I had a long conversation with a LeBroniac last night who has closely followed LeBron's career as a local kid. He agreed with me that Kobe was more driven than LeBron; however, he noted that LeBron is able to get more out of his teammates because LeBron doesn't take the game so seriously to not have fun with it. He constantly goofs around during practice and such. He argued that Antwan Jamison was having difficulty integrating into the Cavs because he was far more serious about the game, but, in any case, for the rest of the Cavs, they're able to relax when they play the game and are positively motivated as a result.

When it came to whether Kobe's or LeBron's leadership style was better to win a Championship, this LeBroniac conceded that Kobe's approach may be better for the playoffs, while LeBron's is better for the regular season, and I think he's right.

When it comes to the playoffs, it's not about fun and games, Kobe knows that and LeBron may have difficulty digesting that fact.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

* Gasol - Gasoft or GaSmooth?

Gasmooth.

I think he plays a little bit too unselfishly at times. If he takes too few shots in a game, it's not always because they didn't pass the ball to him, but because he tried to pass it off to others too much. When that works, it always looks nice, with Shannon or Artest cutting down the lane or with Bynum getting an oop from him.

But Pau is a very high percentage shooter. If he kicks the ball out to Fish, who jacks up a 3, that's less likely to get the Lakers points than if he just works his post moves and takes the shot himself.

And he's had several games where he's had a lot of turnovers from trying to pass too much. I'd rather see him take more shots when he has the ball, unless there's a blatantly obvious pass. Forget the tricky stuff.

There are only 2 or 3 players in the league who make Pau look soft. Shaq is one of them. Tim Duncan is another. Camby actually played him really well this season. But where Pau earned that soft rep was in the 2008 finals vs Kendrick Perkins and KG, and Pau now owns both of those guys. And where I think Pau shook off the soft title was in the 2009 finals, where he contained Dwight Howard admirably.

fact1,

Though art an idiot and a liar.

It's obvious that you enjoy polarizing the blog. It's extraordinarily immature.

You must think of yourself as extremely clever. There's nothing clever out of saying things just to provoke people. That's just downright childish.

Posted by: Jon K

Jonny boy K,
Take a look in the mirror...you are the most childish little baby on this blog !!!!

* Artest - Answer or Mistake?

Answer. Clearly. He is a MUCH better defender than Artest. He is the main reason the Lakers have the second best defense in the league this season.

The big worry people had about Artest is that he'd do something crazy and hurt the team chemistry. NOT. EVEN. CLOSE. Artest has been a great team player and the only crazy stuff he's done is at the level of going out to the team bus in his underwear. Chemistry is perhaps the best it's been on any Lakers team this century, and Artest is part of that.

His shooting hasn't been very consistent, but with as many offensive weapons as the Lakers have, they don't need him to score 20 a night. And his defense has been the Answer.

{Lakers Secret Agent Jon K. Reporting From DEEP Behind Enemy Lines In An Abandonded Steel Making Plant In An Old Rusted Service Elevator Along With Delonte West Who Is Staring At Me Intensely As I Try Not To Blink Out Of Concern That He Might Stab Me The Moment I Blink}

So, anyone notice that upon Delonte West's arrest neither Delonte nor the Cavs made a public statement about the issue?

Well, Delonte's father made a statement that came out that said that Delonte was armed to the teeth because he was "waiting for the demons to attack." He was full-on girded for the Apocalypse.

I guess it has came out that Delonte not only hears voices but experiences visual hallucinations... and that doesn't sound like Bi-Polar Disorder to me. That sounds like good old fashioned Paranoid Schitzophrenia.

Yikes.

So, yeah, if that's the case its pretty hard for me to lump Delonte West in the Gilbert Arenas/Jayson Williams idiot category.

I'm just wondering how the kid can play under the pressure of NBA basketball and all that comes with it if he has Paranoid Schitzophrenia. Is there a possibility that he might have a breakdown or freakout because of the additional stress that comes with being expected to produce a Championship? For his own health (and maybe the health of the team) should he really be playing?

If he's hearing voices saying that the demons are about to attack, should he be resting somewhere instead of playing an endless stream of high-intensity basketball games?

I don't know.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

* Bynum - Beast or Bust? Potential Beast
* Kobe - Savior or Sinner? Savior
* Fisher - Too Damn Old, without a doubt !!!!!!!!!!!!
* Gasol - GaSmooth
* Artest - Mistake
* Farmar - Future or Pretender? Anything is better than Fisher
* Lamar - Starter or 6th Man? Doesn't matter he is playing good ball !!!

LongTimeLakerFan,

"I think the Lakers still need Fisher on the team. But I don't think they need him to start."

Why not start him and simply limit his minutes?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

D Fish has definitely played poor on D. But so has Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown. During his struggles this season, Fisher and Jackson have been asked about it numerous times this season. They recognize it. But basically they're arguing that his on court leadership and presence in the locker room is still invaluable and they pretty much suggest there's not a better alternative.
Posted by Mark Medina

He can do this all from the bench as an assistant coach. He is costing the Lakers way too much with poor defense, bad shooting and way too many mistakes.

Here's what I'm mentally preparing myself for, for the rest of this year.

We'll probably have the 2nd best record in the NBA. Maybe, maybe, maybe Denver catches us for the top spot in the West if we continue our current streak of poor play and/or have a key injury, but odds are we're #1 in the West and #2 overall.

Phil continues to try and squeeze out the last bit of whatever he can get out of DFish for the rest of the year. Think Ron Harper 1999-2001 and Brian Shaw 2000-2002. Phil has a history of starting older, slower guards who he trusts to run the offense.

We continue to struggle from the perimeter and most nights, teams just pack in the paint and dare Fish, Farmar, and Brown to shoot jumpers. And Sasha and Luke rarely (if ever) help in this regard. As a result, our bigs have some tough stretches.

Bynum keeps having strong first quarters and rarely sees the ball after that. Think Cartwright and Longley during Phil's time with the Bulls. He always made it a point to get the center the ball in the 1st quarter, but it was MJ's game after that.

Gasol stays pretty much the same. Some good nights, some bad, and most in-between.

In the end, if we make it past an obviously very motivated and confident Denver squad, we face Cleveland in the finals. Think about that for a second. Kobe vs. Shaq in the NBA finals! Can you imagine? Think Shaq will be slightly motivated and amped up to beat Kobe for another title? Wow.

And on that note, since everyone was so adamant that Shaq abused our frontline (specifically Bynum) in the last Cavs game, even though he finished with 13 points....you must REALLY think he kicked D. Howard's butt Sunday when he had 20 points! Man, that Dwight Howard is SOFT!!!!

Why is everyone so afraid to speak the truth about Kobe, with Koke the team sits back a watches the 1 on 5 game. No one expects a pass because Kobe is only worried about his points. How many time in the Dallas game did Kobe get doubled and still tried to put up a shot or throw the ball away as he did in the fourth quarter at least 3 times. Kobe at best is an average ball handler by NBA standards and get caught when he over dribbles. If you could read between the lines when the Team was talking about playing without Kobe, there was a better flow...everyone was involved and the defense was better. When you are engaged in the offensive end you will engage in the defensive end to. Unitl Kobe stops being Kobe the Lakers will not get out of the West.

Kobe isn't the problem. The problem is Bynum. The guy plays two steps slower than everyone else on the team. The whole Bynum/Gasol combo is still an experiment in progress. Bynum, just hasn't found a nitch on the Lakers. He's still conflicted.
What Lakers need from Bynum: Defense, rebounding and scoring AS THE 3RD OPTION
What Bynum wants to do: Score 1st and be the center of attention. His scoring should be the product of put backs, offensive rebounds...etc.

Bynum would easily score 24+ points & grab 12 rebounds per game on another team. But the Lakers don't need that. So we can blame Phil for starting Bynum. We can also blame Phil for continuing to start Fisher. Both decisions will burn us when the playoffs start.

Good morning Mamba24 & the fabulous Laker morning CRUE!!!


GAME DAY BABY - YYYEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!


It's very disappointing to see the blog degenerate into these personal attacks and squabbels. We are all Laker fans (except the trolls of course - and they can't help it cuz they just don't know any better). So - why can't we all just get along? Why can't we - at times - agree to disagree and move on? Politeness and good manners are quickly becoming a lost art.... it's disheartening. Especially on the absolute best blog going. Come on everyone - there is room for every opinion here - just give it with the class that being a Laker fan should bring.


GO LAKERS!!!

Nothing but another title will suffice.

* Bynum - Beast or Bust? He could be a beast...but not for the Lakers. Just doesn't fit in the Lakers starting lineup. Too slow, doesn't run..just wants to score.
* Kobe - Savior or Sinner? Savior
* Fisher - Too Damn Old...clearly. Needs to come off the bench and play critical minutes in the 4th qt.
* Gasol - GaSmooth. Can't complain about this guy.
* Artest - Wasn't brought in to be the answer. Does what he was expected to do. But Lakers would have been better off keeping Ariza.
* Farmar - Future or Pretender? Who knows. Phil won't give the guy a chance.
* Lamar - Starter or 6th Man? Lakers are better with him as a starter. Clearly he deserves more minutes than bynum.

LTLF & Aztronut,

I'm perfectly OK with the bifurcated answers. They're as or more true than the either/or. I still think the team has identity issues that result in uneven performance. Just hope it's all good enough to take us the distance.

* Farmar - Future or Pretender?

Well, let me ask you this: Ricky Rubio - Hall of Famer, just a good player, or bust?

The truth is, you don't know. The reason you don't know is because he hasn't been given a chance yet to perform at a level that would prove him worthy of being a hall of famer or prove him unable to play at a high level when everyone around him are NBA players instead of Euro-ballers.

Similarly, Farmar hasn't been placed in a role of being the starting PG for the Lakers for any significant time. In his second year, he was briefly given the role ahead of Smush Parker, but since Fisher has joined the team, Phil has relegated Jordan to being a 20 minutes a game player. And he's had him on a much shorter leash than Fisher.

The fact is that Phil sees him play and practice a lot more than I do, so maybe he has a reason to limit him to only 20 minutes a game even though Fish is floundering this season.

But here's the conundrum. The Lakers don't have a lot of money to spend, and there aren't any All-Star level PG's who will work for what Fish is paid, let alone what Farmar makes.

So what do you do if your hunt for the PG of the future comes down to these choices:

a. Farmar - a flawed but somewhat effective player who's already familiar with the system, and whose potential hasn't been fully explored yet.

b. Fisher - a steady but never great player who's age is showing and who's shooting is becoming less effective

c. Brown - a good defender, but a 32% 3-point shooter and not a true point.

d. A pricey but effective PG who you're willing to give up another core player to get (who would you be willing to give up? Bynum? Odom? Artest? They're not giving up Kobe or Pau, I can tell you that)

or

e. A PG who's willing to accept the MLE or less. This means that he's not All-Star level, and probably has never started in the NBA before, or even achieved a lot as a backup.

To me, that's what it looks like the choices are for the future, and there isn't a clear-cut obvious choice. I mean, I'd love it if there was a great free agent point guard this summer who was willing to take the MLE to join the Lakers, but it just ain't likely.

So in that light, Farmar isn't necessarily a bad choice. He's not a guarantee, but neither is any other choice the Lakers have at this point.

Just to add some light to the conversation, here are the top free agent point guards this summer:

TJ Ford - but only if he waives his player option to make 8.5 million from Indiana next season

SebastianTelfair - if he waives his player option for 2.5 million from Cleveland

Kyle Lowry - a restricted free agent for Houston

Jordan Farmar

Sergio Rodriguez - Knicks have his bird rights

Ray Felton - a true PG and a true free agent, but a bad shooter

Nate Robinson - Celtics own his bird rights

Luke Ridnour - Maybe the best possibility for an improvement over Farmar

Steve Blake - Another possible improvement over Farmar

Derek Fisher - they'll probably re-sign him, but how much does he have left? (or will Kobe push Fish out of town to show that he can win a title without Fisher?)

Earl Watson - good defender, good passer, terrible shooter.

Eddie House - good shooter, terrible defender, this year even his shooting wasn't good

Chris Duhon - bad in Chicago, worse in New York. Good defender, though.

Mike James - ew

Javaris Crittendon - Ex-Laker, but couldn't get minutes with the stinky Wizards. What does that tell you?

And that's about it. Those are the best PGs potentially available this summer. About the only two I'm pretty confident would be better than Farmar would be Ridnour and Blake. And neither of them is particularly known for their sparkling defense, either.

But I do know one thing. If Farmar leaves the Lakers this summer, he'll leave them with two championship rings on his fingers.

LongTimeLakerFan,

"Artest has been a great team player and the only crazy stuff he's done is at the level of going out to the team bus in his underwear."

I agree.

As I've heard, Thriller has a similar intensity to Kobe in practice = Good

Of the court, his restrained zaniness is a pleasant foil to Kobe's intensity = Good

When the playoffs roll around, I'm expecting the Lakers to really ramp up their game, and Thriller's going to be a big part of that.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

The Snake - Since Rambis left, Phil Jackson has split up the defensive duties to his assistants, Brian Shaw, Jim Cleamons and Frank Hamblen. So it's by a committee approach depending on which coach is doing the preparation for that particular game.

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/15/sports/sp-lakers-fyi15

MM

Posted by: Mark Medina | February 26, 2010 at 10:20 AM
---

Aaah, there's the rub. It (a dedicated defensive coordinator) seemed to work well last year, why not continue it? BOS has Tom Thibodeaux and the Cavs have Mike Malone, but the Lakers have a committee???
--
The problem with a committee approach is there is no accountability. And as the saying goes, a zebra is a horse designed by a committee.

* Lamar - Starter or 6th Man?

I'd start him. Seriously, I think the chemistry between him and Pau is much better than the chemistry between Bynum and either one of them. The problem is, Bynum has a tendency to fade if things don't go his way and if he's demoted from the starting lineup, he may fade away to complete ineffectiveness.

Guys a new post is up. To clarify Snake, there is accountability because each assistant coach is assigned certain games. So that defensive preparation falls under that.

MM

VMan,

>>>he second ring in the Shakobe era was a layup by the time we hit the
>>>playoffs. The team got better, more dominant than the year before. This one
>>>isn't goin' that way... yet.

It's funny how people have select and often incorrect memories.

The 2000-2001 Lakers championship run was a layup IN the playoffs and right before the playoffs. The first 90% of the season? Not so good.

The Lakers are currently 43-15. After 58 games in the 2000-01 season, they were 39-19. It wasn't until the last couple weeks of the season that the team buckled down and started dominating (they won their last 8 games heading into the playoffs). But for the first 74 games of the season, that team didn't look nearly as focused or effective as the previous year's champs.

Right before the playoffs, they raised the level of their game and became a total lawn mower in the playoffs. Those Lakers were 2-2 vs Portland in the regular season, but swept them in the playoffs. They were 2-2 vs the Spurs, but swept them in the playoffs. They got blown out by the Sixers the last time they faced them, but managed to blow by them 4-1 in the finals.

That season, the Lakers were tied for second best regular season record in the league. They beat the Spurs, who had the best record in the league, and the Sixers who had the same record as the Lakers, and beat them soundly in the playoffs.

So here's the deal... The key thing to take from VMan's semi-accurate account of the second ring of the last 3-peat is this "...yet".

I am afraid that our team would not be able to make a repeat this season. I say this because of the way they play. The symptoms are very evident, the vital signs are not good. The problem with our team is their drive to win another a championship. Their hearts and minds are not into it. They lack passion, the killing instinct and the aura which we saw last year. They might pump their chest with fist and shout at the top of their lungs to inspire themselves but it seems it does not translate in actual games. It is very seldom that we witness they come to play with urgency. Playing good defense and offense is a character built in the heart and mind of a team. It is not just a matter of winning or losing games but how you win or lose. If there is a team besides the Lakers that I want to watch is the Rockets nit just because of Ariza but the way they play, they do not have players like our team but boy they play with heart and passion....what if the lakers play like that??? We are unbeatable...sad to say this hunger for championship once I saw with our team now I see with the Cavs, Nuggets and Mavs....I have no doubt these teams cannot win in a 7 game series with our team of we play with hunger, passion, determination...with heart!!!!!!

Jason F

>>>Think about that for a second. Kobe vs. Shaq in the NBA finals!

You're kinda off base there. Shaq is just riding coattails this season.

It would be Kobe vs LeBron in the NBA finals, and that is a VERY exciting prospect. It could be on a par with the Magic-Bird rivalry if both players could make the finals 3 or 4 of the next 5 years.

As a mom of athletes,I have become quite clinical when it comes to assessing teams and I am usually right. KB seems to be a very lonely person who loves the only attention and love he gets from the game. Every athlete I came in contact with that had these problems, played exactly like KB. He is self-centered and a great individual player. Should he become a team player, the lakers will kill it. Artest plays like a visitor to the lakers, he has not adjust his game as an actual Laker. When he does, it will be a great thing. Drew plays with his heart and not his head. This is sometimes a good thing but also could be a very bad thing. Fisher is an interlectual player if there is such a thing. He is all about the team but he is too old. Gosal plays like a player without a soul and this could be very bad for any team. Brown is a little KB in the making and Farmer will be great at street ball. LO is a leader that has been placed in the role as a follower and he stinks as a follower. You will get the best from LO when he starts because he actually is one of very few Lakers that play team ball.

@icelaker

EXACTLY! I hate his cheating off his man except when he takes over the occassional superstar-mano-a-mano matchup and the rest of the team is forced to cringe through the game. He is (was) a great 1 on 1 defender if he sticks to his man, but he rarely does and the opponents cheat off him and they find his man or one he sometimes switches off for open shots...making it seem it was someone else's man who scored.

Offense:

Defense should be played if you can score or not. That's what makes the offense so good not the other way around. Defense creates easy shot's save your leg's because not all five players have to run on the break. So the theory that I need touches is saying that I am selfish because if I do not score I am not playing. defense. What we have are to many ego's, they say we have to many good player but really we have to many players who want to score and score only. And when they do not they cry like little babies who needed to be feed.

Excellent Post Beast or Bust:


Surprising Bynum compared to his draft postion is the best big man in that draft. But in order for the Lakers to build around him in the future he must improve hi play. To up and down play's the first quarter well but the fourth when he can really wear a team down he is on the bench. So improvement is needed for him to be the man.


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