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Dissecting the Lakers' turnovers in 91-75 loss to Oklahoma City


Nothing went right in the Lakers' unimpressive 91-75 loss Friday to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They trailed by as many as 33 points, shot only 39.2% from the field, lacked any positive standout performances and appeared to be an entirely different team that put away the San Antonio Spurs just two days earlier.

The loss does very little to change the Lakers' playoff fortunes. They still hold a Western Conference-leading 53-19 record and have a 5-1/2-game cushion against Denver (48-25), a six-game lead over Dallas (47-25) and a 6-1/2-game advantage over Utah (47-26).

And as The Times' Broderick Turner correctly reminds everyone, the Lakers can't dwell on this loss too much, especially with the team playing Houston tonight at 5:30. The Lakers may not have had this type of performance since their 105-79 loss Nov. 13 to Denver. But the team's 18 turnovers, including nine from Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, is nothing new. The Lakers have committed 14.8 turnovers in the last 10 games, including a season-high 24 March 15 against Golden State. That eclipses their season-average of 13.6 turnovers per game. Bryant, meanwhile, has averaged 4.7 turnovers per game in the past 10 contests, including two performances where he committed nine turnovers. That exceeds Bryant's season-average of 3.2 turnovers per contest. After the jump, I broke down all of the Lakers miscues against Oklahoma City and why they happened.

First quarter, 11:01 - 10:53

Going one-on-one against Thunder guard Kevin Durant, Lakers forward Ron Artest jab-stepped right, switched dribbles and then drove left. Because Durant was temporarily caught out of position, Oklahoma City center Nenad Krstic both denied Pau Gasol the post and cut off Artest's driving lane. Durant recovered and forced Artest to pick up his dribble while Gasol worked on posting up Krstic inside. Artest placed a bounce pass to Gasol inside, then ran a give-and-go by cutting toward the left baseline as Durant followed behind. After Gasol's dump pass, Krstic switched on Artest, planted his feet and drew the offensive charge on Artest.

First quarter, 7:42 - 7:31

Bryant looked to feed an entry pass on the right block, but Lakers forward Lamar Odom couldn't get positioning over Thunder forward Jeff Green. When Gasol flashed up toward the free-throw line, Bryant threw the pass near the direction of Thunder guard Russell Westbrook up top. He tipped the pass to guard Thabo Sefolosha, who ran the break for the easy layin while Gasol and Artest slogged back. That left Bryant and Fisher alone on the 3-and-2 break, leading to the Thunder widening the lead to 13-4.


First quarter, 7:26 - 7:18

After passing to Gasol on the right block, Bryant faked left past Sefolosha and then cut right to go backdoor. Gasol's bounce pass nearly landed in Bryant's hands, but Sefolosha swiped the pass, which bounced off Bryant's fingers before going out of bounds. Though the turnover was given to Bryant, it was Gasol's pass that caused the turnover. The pass was well-directed toward Bryant, but Gasol didn't take into account Sefolosha's quick recovery time and length that allowed him to deny the backdoor.

First quarter, 6:00 - 5:52

On the far corner, Bryant tried going one-on-one against Sefolosha, but he denied him space. So instead, Bryant posted on Sefolosha before soon drawing a double team from Green. Bryant tried weaving through both defenders and did successfully, but he picked up his pivot foot and was called for traveling. That marked the team's third turnover in the previous five possessions.

First quarter 5:29 - 5:22

Bryant brought the ball up the floor, crossed over and drove right to the free-throw line past Sefolosha. Green stepped up to help before Bryant quickly lost his handle. Westbrook stole the ball and converted on a fast-break layup, widening the Thunder's lead to 19-7.

First quarter, 3:59- 3:51

Green tried feeding Sefolosha at the top of the key, but Odom tipped the pass. Bryant grabbed the loose ball, but quickly lost control and Westbrook grabbed possession. Here is a classic case of his fractured right index finger limiting his handle.

Second quarter, 10:53 - 10:49

Lakers guard Jordan Farmar found forward D.J. Mbenga unguarded just below the free-throw line. Mbenga was so excited he drove the lane without dribbling. Sorry, even the NBA has to call that a travel.

Second quarter, 9:05 - 8:53

After Odom fed an entry past on the far post to Artest, he backed his way toward the basket against Green. Oklahoma City guard James Harden dropped down on the double team and swiped the ball away from Artest. He was so consumed inching his way toward the basket that Artest didn't even see the double team coming.

Second quarter, 6:26 - 6:20

With Bryant squared up in triple threat position against Harden, he jabbed right and then drove right before losing his footing and falling down on the ground. Thunder guard Eric Maynor swiped the ball, which went out of bounds after last touching Bryant's hands.

Second quarter, 2:59 - 2:53

After Gasol deflected Maynor's pass inside, Bryant picked up the loose ball and ran the break. After crossing over to his right hand, he drove past Sefolosha to the lane. Just as Bryant went up for a shot, Oklahoma City forward Sege Ibaka swiped the ball out of Bryant's hands.

Second quarter, :05 -:01

Bryant flashed up toward the top of the key before Odom inbounded Bryant the ball. With Oklahoma City bunched up on the strong side, Bryant tried exploiting the imbalance by driving left, something that Sefolosha allowed him to do. The Thunder quickly recovered with Durant guarding the near post and Westbrook moving to the paint. The help wasn't really much needed, however. Bryant lost his footing at the left block, fell on the ground and lost the ball just before time expired. The Lakers entered the locker room with a 53-34 half-time deficit.

Third quarter, 10:04 - 9:45

Once Artest fed an entry past from the corner to Gasol inside, Artest cut across the baseline and created some leverage on Westbrook. Gasol fed a very soft pass to Artest, which was quickly batted away from Durant. Moments later on the other end, Westbrook and Krstic ran a high screen-and-roll at the the top of the key. Krstic set the pick on Artest just above the circle while Gasol appeared ready for the switch. But Westbrook caught Gasol off balance, drove left and pulled up for a 14-foot jumper. The basket gave the Thunder a 57-36 lead.


Third quarter, 9:31 - 9:23

After Odom passed to Bryant on the far wing, he pump faked over Westbrook, swung the ball around, jab stepped and then threw a pass intended to the near-end of the perimeter where Artest was standing. But the ball landed right in the hands of Green at the right block.

Third quarter, 4:04 3:50

Gasol kept calling for the ball while Odom scanned the court from the near perimeter. But Gasol couldn't get proper positioning on Krstic. Instead Odom passed up top to Bryant, who tried going one-on-one against Harden. Bryant crossed over to his right, while Farmar flashed across to the lane to the far wing. Shortly after Bryant pulled up for a jumper inside, he dished it out to Shannon Brown outside. Gasol was then called for a three-second violation, causing Bryant to scowl at Gasol.

Third quarter, 2:56 - 2:47

Odom fed Gasol as he cut across toward the right block, but Harden swiped the pass. Durant then led the break and drew a foul on Brown. After a Lakers timeout, Durant made both free throws to give the Thunder a 73-47 lead.

Third quarter, 1:05 - 1:00 

After Odom grabbed a rebound off his missed drive to the basket, Maynor swiped the ball from behind. Moments later, Durant dunked off Harden's missed runner, giving Oklahoma City an 80-47 cushion.

Fourth quarter, 6:53 - 6:47

Farmar, on the far end of the perimeter, crossed over twice before driving left past Green. His dribble bounced off the leg of Ibaka and Green picked up the loose ball. No one on the Lakers, including Farmar, made any attempt to grab the ball, which had slowly gone to the far end of the perimeter.

Fourth quarter, 2:37 - 2:31

Once Lakers forward Adam Morrison passed the ball to Lakers forward Josh Powell on the far corner, Morrison cut toward the far baseline. Powell's pass intended for him went to the near side of the court into the hands of Harden.

What this means

The Lakers' high level of turnovers speaks to the team's inconsistent chemistry and offensive communication. It's puzzling because the Lakers have shown glimpses of that throughout the season, but it's troublesome that something as fundamental as handling the ball remains such an issue. There were plenty of bad passes, a few traveling violations and even a three-second violation.

As for Bryant, the problem goes beyond communication issues. He committed two turnovers because of poor ball handling, something that appears to be a problem because of his fractured right index finger that he has played through since injuring it Dec. 12 in a game against Minnesota. Bryant also committed two turnovers after losing his footing. The other five turnovers had a wide variety of causes, including a a travel violation, two poor passes, getting swiped from behind and a bad pass from Gasol that tipped off Bryant's hands. 

Just like all the other miscues the Lakers committed against Oklahoma City, the Lakers can correct the turnover problem. Their urgency and work ethic depends on external events. And Houston (36-35), although pesky against the Lakers, don't have as much to play for as does the Thunder (44-27), which is trying to lock a sixth seed in the West. The Lakers' turnovers are a more serious problem, however, since they've happened with such frequency.  

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant falls and loses control of the ball while driving to the basket during the Lakers' loss to Oklahoma City on Friday. Credit: Larry W. Smith / EPA.

Photo: Oklahoma City guard Thabo Sefolosha, bottom, knocks the ball away from Lakers guard Kobe Bryant during the first half of Friday's game. Credit: Larry W. Smith/EPA.

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, tries to drive past Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant during Friday's game. Credit: Larry W. Smith/EPA.

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Final thought: Vicious people have been labeling our team "Fakers" for years, but now, with the play they're displaying nowadays, our sweet Lakers have finally earned that nickname. Is this disappointment talking? Damn straight!

Posted by: Andy L

This one is for you Jonny boy K !!!!

MICHAEL H… “I think we both agree on one thing. This year is different than last, our major competition has upgraded and we will need both Andrew and Pau to win. There is a nice breakdown on Yahoo with Kenny Smith and Mark Spears and they both say we can win the west without Andrew but we can't win it all. I agree with that.”
Aloha, Michael. Thanks for your comments. There is no doubt that my Andrew bias was in full force last night and I probably did focus more on Pau than any other player. And yes, I agree completely that we need both Pau and Drew in order to repeat, which is why Pau’s weak play and refusal to admit it causes me so much distress. My apologies for coming on so strong to your post. That was not my showing you the respect you deserved. b
HOBBITMAGE… “I never indicated that you were blaming Pau for last night's loss at the expense of anybody else. You clearly commented on Pau's play. You commentary on Pau's play was exactly what my words were on Pau's play. Yet, when I gave my words you did not regard them in a favorable light.” My apologies because I did not mean to imply that you said that I blamed Pau for last night’s loss. I was really addressing those comments in anticipation of other bloggers taking my negative comments about Pau out of context. So my bad. As you could see, I was really frustrated after watching the game and let my emotions get the better of me.
As we often find after we get past the passion of prior conflicts, we both are in agreement about Pau’s recent play. The only thing I do not agree with you is giving Kobe a free pass. As our leader and best player and future GOAT, we usually live or die on how he plays. Last night was a terrible aberration that I doubt we will see the likes of again this year. We will only go as far as KB24 takes us. We need Kobe to play like the MVP he is. And leading the team with an assists total of 3 is not MFP level play, as Kobe would confirm. He had a bad night.


I don't think any of us want to re-live, much less dissect, such an ugly loss :) Let's move on to Houston, shall we?

1. How's Kevin Martin fitting in with the team? They have an interesting backcourt with Brooks and Martin. Both are super quick, slashing guards who can also shoot well from the perimeter.

2. Do they miss Carl Landry? Houston's frontcourt depth cannot be the same without this guy. (I hope Landry becomes a Laker someday).

3. If or when Yao returns next season, does Houston become a serious championship contender? That darn stats geek of a GM they have over there seems to be always making the right moves.

Sure would be nice if the refs would call all that hacking that opponents are doing to Kobe's hands. You can see other players going directly after the injury time and time again, even when he doesn't have the ball they're grabbing his hands and chopping down on them with every opportunity. I guess if you can't beat him the regular way, playing dirty is the only way to go.

EJK - I see your point, but the turnovers isn't something just isolated to the Oklahoma City game. The Lakers have problems turning the ball over all month and I thought it'd be good to detail the snapshot the Lakers provided in their latest loss.

Later in the afternoon, I'll have a post about Houston. Don't worry.


ZAIRA… “So, I wish I could panick along way too many of you but I guess I am vaccinated against drama.”
LOL. Ironically, one of the reasons that I don’t like the Live Blog format is that it tends to bring out the Drama Queen in all of us, which is one of the criticisms that Mrs. LakerTom always parades out whenever we have a fight or argument. Unfortunately, her criticisms are always spot on, especially when it comes to me. That’s why I always refuse Justanothermambafan’s efforts to lure me into the spider web you guys weave in the Live Blog.
My comments regarding Pau were also not really limited to last night’s game but to what I perceive as a serious overall problem brewing with his play that is now being exacerbated by Andrew’s inability to stay healthy. I still believe we have the best team and will repeat and all will be fine but I do think we need the Pau Gasol who was so great in last year’s playoffs and I am concerned that last year was the aberration and not last night when it comes to Pau’s ability to shed the soft label and play tough and physical. That’s the key issue to repeating.


Do we really have to dissect it? Can't we just dispose of the body and move on?

Mark G - I dissected the turnovers because it's been a month-long problem. So clearly the Lakers haven't moved on from that, so why should I?


MM, why do you have to cloud the issue with facts?

Mark G - LOL sorry those facts got in the way. As writers often complain, I won't let the facts get in the way of a good story.


IMO what doomed LAL last night can be blamed mostly on one thing: COMPLACENCY.

Complacency from having beaten OKC what, 12 straight times? because OKC is a young team with young players without much street cred? because they thought OKC will play just like SA: old, slow, stodgy, methodical...?

Apparently the Lakers didn't take the Thunder's youth, energy and athleticism seriously and that's why they were lackadaisical in passing and dribbling which led to so many TOs. That is, when they weren't lackadaisical in rebounding and defending as well.

As for Gasol, let us get over it already. Pau is NEVER EVER going to be Shaq-tough OK? He's never going to be even Dwight Howard-tough either. He has toughened somewhat since he came to LA but let's face it, he's is always going to be a finesse player. The best we can expect of him is Kareem-like and Kareem was never that much a physical player either. Look how it turned out for him -not too shabby, no?

Instead, we should look to the other Laker bigs for muscle: first and foremost Andrew Bynum then Artest, Odom etc... Too bad Powell barely looks the part and fragile Walton can't be counted on. That is one reason I thought the Artest-for-Ariza change made perfect sense. LAL needed muscles badly and Artest just barely addressed the issue. Now only if LAL can get rid of both Powell and Walton and get a Carl Landry-tough type of player in return.

I agree with MM that the TOs is only a symptom of a bigger and more serious malaise: COMPLACENCY. To be more exact, the lack of focus and motivation as well as lack of respect to take the opposition seriously no matter who they are.

The answer to the complacency problem lies with the coaching staff. They are paid big money to fix precisely this kind of attitude problem.

Laker Tom,

>>> Ironically, one of the reasons that I don’t like the Live Blog format is that it tends to bring out the Drama Queen in all of us

I can't give you a free pass on that one. It's just not true. It's really "Cheers" as a sports bar, but with a much better cast of characters. Instead of Sam, Diane, Norm, Carla, et al, we have Mark Medina as the proprietor, with Justa, Zaira, Phred, Faith, Nemaia, Wes, and the rest of us Lakerholics making smart-ass remarks, and comments ranging from snide to insightful.

We enjoy Pfunk36 and Chuck23 for their predictable and contrarian points of view. We'll miss one of our regulars, The Rafi, who is en route to India for his wedding.

Go ahead and be properly attentive to Mrs. Laker Tom. That's as it should be. Give her our regards. But the idea that the live game chat is a mecca for drama queens doesn't hold water.

Rick - Thanks for the nice feedback on the live chat. I tend to agree. The live chat brings a whole different element for me as well when I'm watching the game. Though I'm busy taking notes of plays and noting trends throughout the game, it is a great way to have instant interaction with everyone in just a casual setting. And I think you get a true sense of what Laker fans are thinking about the play and what they're doing well and what they're doing poorly. It definitely helps my reporting for one because it gives me another layer of context besides my own, other media reports and then of course players and coaches.


Mark G - I dissected the turnovers because it's been a month-long problem. So clearly the Lakers haven't moved on from that, so why should I?


Posted by: Mark Medina | March 27, 2010 at 01:24 PM

Average LAL TO since Feb 26 is 15 per game; season average is 13.6. Wow, I guess we have a really serious 'month-long problem' that requires such detailed analysis.

C'mon, like another blogger said, just bury the dead body and stop with dissection already and move on to Houston.

Mark G., your interest is different from Mark M. so he has to belabor the facts and dissect the obvious. lol!

I'd have to agree with MM & Rick F., on the live chat. Very low Drama Queen factor, but very high Snark Factor. It's actually a lot more fun than the regular blog. Of course sometimes the liveliness of the live chat makes it harder to actually watch the game, but, you can't have everything.

Dang, this Butler K. State game has been pretty good. Anyone else been watching?

i do agree with some bloggers that is not time to panic but it may be officially time to address this issue as starting to become a very serious problem.

its pretty plain and simple.. if gasol does not *TOUGHEN UP* before the playoffs then we are in for a very rude awakening and you can kiss that ring goodbye

it seems like more and more teams are now trying this lets OUTPHYSICAL pau strategy so he wilts under pressure... it used to be just the denvers and bostons that did this but now more teams are trying this intentional ROUGH HIM UP strategy to get in his head... pau is paul and he'll always be about finesse BUT he must hold his ground and keep his cool when this happens.. he doesnt have to respond in kind but he cannot show weakness and keep getting rattled inside.

when pau is rattled then nothing is more noticeable on the court because his whole game falls apart.. he starts whining incessantly to the refs, he loses his touch around the rim and his 10-15 foot jumper is completely off.

i hope we are not witnessing the return of gasoft from the nba 2008 finals... after that debacle he devoted his entire summer lifting weights (for the first time in his life!!) and it paid huge dividends when he responded well to physical teams like utah, denver and orlando in the playoffs... then last summer he participates in the stupid eurogames instead of hitting the gym again and its obvious this is playing a huge impact.

i am not abandoning gasol by any means and trust he will fight through this mentally when it matters most... we are desperately gonna need his inside presence and 20 pts a game consistently in the playoffs..

but bottom line is this: kobe will show up but if pau does not step up his game LIKE A MAN then we will be S**T UP THE CREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE.

Guys a new post is up. And don't worry, it's not about the Oklahoma City game


what a weird team this year's Lakers are.

i'm still confident, but they stress me out.

they play and coach the games. we don't. nothing we can do but marvel or look away in disgust.

Go Lakers anyways!

didnt oklahama dissect the lakers already? i thought i saw body parts all over the court.



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