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Lakers' defense on Quentin Richardson and turnovers contribute to 114-111 overtime loss to Miami Heat

This was the guy no one wanted. Quentin Richardson spent most of last summer packing his bags, joining a new team, repacking his bags, joining a new team, and then rinsing and repeating. The process happened four times, yes, four times, for Richardson, who had played last season for New York. But then he made quick stops in the locker rooms of Memphis, the Clippers, Minnesota and finally Miami.

For someone who was so unwanted this offseason, the Lakers surely made Richardson look like a highly coveted man Thursday in a 114-111 overtime loss to the Heat. He scored a team-high 25 points on eight-of- 13 shooting, a huge increase from the 8.1 points he's averaged this season.

The Lakers also committed 16 turnovers, which led to Miami scoring 19 points. After replaying the game, it's apparent that these two factors could've been the most controlled. For all the credit Lakers guard Kobe Bryant deservedly got for scoring 39 points on 15-of-28 shooting, he was the main defensive liability in guarding Richardson, whose six of eight made field goals came against Bryant. Meanwhile, the team's turnovers were mostly rooted in poor communication and lapses in decision-making. 

Below is a breakdown of what went wrong (after the jump)

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Richardson's scoring

First quarter, 10:48 - 10:41

With Miami guard Carlos Arroyo manning the point, forward Michael Beasley set a high screen on Lakers guard Derek Fisher. Arroyo flashed right and had space, but Bryant left Richardson wide open at the top of the key while playing his "center field" position at the free-throw line. Richardson's 25-footer gave Miami a 3-2 lead.

First quarter, 4:03 - 3:53

Lakers forward Ron Artest tightly guarded Dwyane Wade as he brought the ball past the timeline, so Miami center Joel Anthony set a backscreen on Artest just above the three-point line at the top of the key. As Wade drove left, Pau Gasol and Fisher approached on help D along the left elbow as Artest quickly caught up. Wade lobbed the ball to forward Dorell Wright, but his timing was off as Wright caught the pass underneath the basket. Wright found Beasley open on the near baseline. With Bryant playing D inside, Richardson was left open on the near side. Artest sprinted from the left block to help, but Richardson's three-pointer rimmed in, giving Miami a 20-18 lead.

Second quarter, 3:18 - 3:01

Bryant continued to sag inside on defense, leaving Richardson open for a near-corner three. When Wade passed the ball to Richardson, Bryant quickly approached Richardson, forced him to drive baseline and then cut off his initial penetration. After Richardson passed the ball back to Wade at the top of the key, Wade drove left off a high-screen set by guard Jermaine O'Neal on Artest. Gasol and Fisher stopped Wade on help, though Wade still looked for his shot. Instead of taking an off-balance jumper, Wade kicked the ball out to the Richardson on the near side. Bryant, again defending inside, flashed out to Richardson, who nevertheless hit a 26-foot three-pointer to cut the Lakers' lead to 40-39.

Third quarter, 11:44 - 11:37

After Richardson fed O'Neal in the post, Richardson cut along the far baseline and Bryant tripped over himself. O'Neal found a wide-open Richardson for the easy layup, cutting the Lakers' lead to 47-46.

Third quarter, 7:55 - 7:48

On this play, Bryant and Artest switched their defensive matchup, with Bryant guarding Wade and Artest guarding Richardson. Bryant played center field along the top of the key, but Wade threw a pass from the timeline to an open Richardson on the near side of the perimeter. Artest hadn't given Richardson the "straitjacket" treatment, Bryant's term for the previous six games that featured Artest holding a marquee opponent under its season scoring average. The open space helped Richardson sink a 23-foot three-pointer, giving Miami a 57-55 lead. 

Third quarter, 4:58 - 4:48

Sound familiar? Wade found Richardson on the near corner again, given too much space by Bryant. Richardson's 24-foot three-pointer gave the Heat a 64-63 edge. 

Third quarter, 4:35 - 4:26 

After O'Neil quickly stole the ball away from center Andrew Bynum in the paint, Wade stopped at the timeline and passed to Richardson on the far end behind the perimeter. Both Gasol and Fisher went out to contest the shot, but Richardson sank a 25-foot three-pointer to give Miami a 67-63 lead. 

Fourth quarter, :15 - :11

With Artest guarding Wade up top, Wade threw a no-look pass to Richardson, who stood unguarded on the far end of the perimeter. Per usual, Bryant stepped out, but the leverage helped Richardson nail a 24-foot three-pointer with 11 seconds left in regulation, giving Miami a 99-97 lead.

What this means

Bryant said to reporters afterward, "Some of those threes he hit, I was literally in his face. He just knocked them down." A look at the film shows that Bryant isn't exactly lying, but it's incredibly misleading.

To Bryant's credit, he reacted and tried as best he could to contest Richardson's shot anytime he got the ball. But there was never a time Richardson scored when he hadn't already had leverage. Bryant has been known to play what's been called "free safety/center field" defense, in which he gives shooters space on the perimeter, leaving Bryant the ability to cheat on defense and be open to help if needed.

That may have been a legitimate strategy going into the game, especially with Artest being mostly assigned to cover Wade. Obviously the stat line reads that Wade had 27 points and 14 assists, a feat that won't draw the rave reviews like Artest received when he recently limited Denver's Carmelo Anthony. But Artest held Wade to nine-of-21 shooting and forced him to commit six turnovers. Though Wade produced more offensively, it would have been more feasible for the Lakers to limit Richardson. And when it was obvious Richardson was getting the hot hand, Bryant should've locked in on him on the perimeter right from the get-go. 

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Turnovers

First quarter, 11:44 -11:38

Artest had the ball on the near left corner, drove left past Richardson and then met a help defender along the baseline in Beasley. Artest overlooked an open Gasol in the left area of the paint and attempted to hit Bynum on the far side of the paint but Beasley intercepted Artest's pass. 

First quarter, 8:55

On an inbounds pass, Bynum set a screen on Wade but was called for an offensive foul because of a moving pick. Although Wade exaggerated the impact, Bynum definitely moved his shoulder too much into him. On the next play, O'Neal hit a 15-foot jumper, giving Miami a 5-4 lead.  

First quarter, 8:26 - 8:07

Bryant placed a bounce pass to the far post to Gasol, but Beasley intercepted the pass. The root of that breakdown began with Gasol not properly posting up on Beasley and allowing him to penetrate around him. On the next possession, Beasley's jumper gave Miami a 7-4 lead

First quarter, 5:59 - 5:52

From above the left block, Gasol tried setting up Bryant on a high-low, but the lob pass was tipped by Richardson. That led to Wade scoring on a fast-break layup to give the Heat a 13-12 lead. 

First quarter, 5:12 - 5:09

With Artest on the far end of the perimeter, Bryant flashed toward the free-throw line. Artest made a poor pass that made it easy for Richardson to intercept. As indicated by the level of speed Bryant was moving, he was planning to cut above the free-throw line. But when Artest made the pass, Bryant stopped so he could try retrieving it.

First quarter, 2:36 - 2:29

Lakers forward Josh Powell grabbed a rebound from Wade's missed jumper and fired an outlet pass cross court to Artest. But the pass was thrown too far and to the center of the court, right into the hands of Richardson.

Second quarter 10:29 - 10:24

Bynum grabbed the rebound from guard Shannon Brown's missed runner in the lane, but Wright quickly batted the ball away and tipped it to Arroyo.

Second quarter, 7:31 - 7:24

Lakers forward Lamar Odom brought the ball up the floor after cleaning the glass from Mario Chalmers' missed jumper. He threw a very high and hard-to-reach pass to Bynum, who couldn't gain control of the pass, and Chalmers made the steal.

Second quarter, 4:57 - 4:48

Fisher manned the point on the far end of the court and drove past Arroyo along the far baseline. Fisher dumped the ball off to Gasol, but Beasley swiped the ball out of Gasol's hands and Arroyo saved the ball from going out of bounds.

Second quarter, 2:54 - 2:47

Gasol looked to feed an entry pass to Bynum, but he quickly drew a double team. After Fisher flashed inside, Gasol looked to him but Wade tipped the pass and the ball led to Richardson. He quickly passed it back to Wade, who led a break that resulted in Arroyo making a layup that gave the Heat a 41-40 lead.

Third quarter, 4:39 - 4:36

Gasol fed Bynum inside, but O'Neal quickly snagged the ball away from him. That led to Wade finding Richardson open for a 25-foot three-pointer on the far end of the court, giving the Heat a 67-63 lead. 

Third quarter, 4:17 - 4:07

After Artest threw an entry pass to Bynum just outside the paint on the nearside, he drew a double team. Bynum raised the ball over his head and moved his pivot foot to look for an open teammate. He wrongly passed to Artest under the basket, though Artest wasn't in position to make the grab. Beasley intercepted, and the ball bounced off Gasol and went out of bounds. 

Fourth quarter, 8:35 - 8:32

Brown's inbounds pass to Bryant was intercepted by Wade, though Brown quickly stole the ball back. There's actually nothing noteworthy here, but I just didn't want to leave any turnover unturned.

Fourth quarter, 6:17 - 6:13

Though Bynum wasn't positioned inside, Odom threw an entry pass in there, only to be denied by Wright.

Overtime, 2:23 - 2:13

Bryant manned the point and was heavily guarded by Richardson. As Bryant drove left, Miami forward Udonis Haslem came up to double Bryant. Meanwhile, Bynum flashed up inside. Bryant fired Bynum a pass, but the ball bounced off his right fingers. Whose fault was it? Both. Bryant's pass was too quick and out of Bynum's reach. But when Bynum cut toward the free-throw line, he was looking directly at Bryant. That means he should've been ready for any pass thrown his way.

Overtime, :21 - :18

From the top of the key, Bryant drove left past Richardson and appeared to be on his way to tie the game up. But he ran into O'Neal, who had his feet planted and drew the charge. It was the right call, and the Lakers trailed 111-109.  

What it means

This is a classic case of the whole team struggling in the turnover department. On one hand, it's good because it establishes that everyone on the Lakers has to own up and recognize nearly every individual was partly responsible for the turnovers. On the other hand, this is a bad sign because it shows that the team is lacking chemistry. 

As I mentioned before, lots of the mistakes were rooted in slight errors in judgment and inconsistent communication. These are really small areas to fix, but when they keep happening with great frequency, the consequences magnify. 

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Miami's Quentin Richardson celebrates an off-balance shot that tied the game late in the fourth quarter. Credit: Robert Duyos / South Florida Sun Sentinel

Photo: Kobe Bryant is fouled by Heat power forward Udonis Haslem, right, as teammate Jamaal Magloire helps defend. Credit: Rhona Wise / EPA

 
Comments () | Archives (25)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Carlo's Arroyo's 17 pts on 6-7 attempts also contributed to the heat win.
D. Fish was consistently outplayed.

Q and Carlos 42pts. Not good defense.

Arroyo smoked Fish during third quarter for a dime that O'neal fumbled but later converted.

Arroyo smoked Fish during 4 qtr crunch time when a 5 foul D. Fish laid off allowing space for Carlos to hit a jumper at the top of the key.

Tonite?

Felton smokes Fish!

It was a pretty tough loss, but I think the Lakers are just going through a bit of a slump. When they all put their mind to it, they can be extremely dominant. As it gets closer to the playoffs, I think the Lakers will start playing with more urgency. I honestly think there's no need to worry. The problems with this game as MM points out are the turnovers and fouls. Clean that up and the Lakers cruise.

Kobe helped blow that game as much as he almost helped win it. QRich is only dangerous as a spot up shooter....he can't create his own shot. Kobe's and the Lakers' double teaming of Wade allowed Dwayne to have a ton of assists and that cost the team the game.

I love reading through the comments after a Lakers loss. It totally cracks me up.

You know, a lot of you are right. Kobe is horrible and the worst teammate to ever play the game, Pau is a big marshmallow who doesn't care, Bynum is a total bust, Odom is a space cadet, Artest is slow and undersized, Fish should be put out to pasture, Farmar and Brown couldn't play on a ju-co team, and PJ gets paid to sit there and stare at the cheerleaders.

Come to think of it, I have no idea how this team has the 2nd best record in the NBA. How they even get into the playoffs is beyond me.

If I were you guys, I'd find a different team to follow. Seriously, move on.

I'll lay off Pau Gasol as soon as he pubically apologizes to Kobe for requesting more touches, he announces that he is not worthy of being considered the Laker number 2 player, that he's played horribly all year, that he's a fraud and fools gold, that he takes full responsibility for not helping his former Memphis team get passed the 1st round of the playoffs, and that he is mentally soft and that he'll seek therapy. And it wouldn't hurt for him to show that he's a REAL man by showing up one of the many fine looking Spanish actresses, either.

Posted by: troy | March 05, 2010 at 06:39 AM

troy -

Really? Honestly? So showing up a woman is a sufficient condition for being a man? Yeah right. Try something original next time that's not as chauvinistic. Besides, what does showing up a woman (whether her country of citizenship is Spain or not) have to do with playing basketball? Nothing.

Also, everyone has a bad game once in a while. So we lost one - no big deal. I'd like to see us play with better defensive intensity, but it happens. No team is going to win all 82 games in a season.

Pau hasn't played horribly all year (he especially played well in the stretch that Kobe was injured and not playing). Please get your facts straight.

He didn't get past the 1st round in Memphis because they kept running into a buzz-saw team (the San Antonio Spurs); besides, one person can't beat 5 people in the NBA.

Honestly, all this soft stuff should stop. He played terrific defense on Dwight Howard in the Finals, and helped immensely with winning the championship last year (lest you forget).

Last night was a lack of focus and energy by the team throughout the whole game. It happens - this is the "dog days" of the NBA season. I'm pretty sure that the Cavs lost 3 in a row recently, and I'd bet lots of money on their fans not flipping out on their team.

We're 1st in the west! The road to the finals ONLY consists of western conference teams once the playoffs starts. I'd be more worried about Denver and Portland, since they seem to always play us tough.

Balance.

It's obvious, as Magic Johnson always said, when a guy has to go for 40, the team's in trouble. It's not any one play, when Kobe goes off, holes aren't plugged, guys legs go numb as they watch the action. It's hard for a guy that can do everything, to actually do everything all the time. Finding the balance, especially on the road, is the hard part.

He's the superstar, and superstars get calls on the road... 'cept in the crunch evidently, with another network game scheduled behind it . So, a bit more Kobe on the road is understandable. Last night, was a bit too much on one end, not enough on the other.

The ship will bounce back into balance tonight.

'It was the right call, and the Lakers trailed 111-109. '

Look the Heat suck and the game should not have come down to a call deciding the game, which it didn't. Actually 2 calls helped decid the game. The missed(ignored) Dwayne Wade foul Kobe's Bryant's 18 foot attempt with under :40 seconds to go and the shifty footed Jermain O'neal drawing a charge. We did watch the same game right? O'neal initially had his feet set but shifted them as Bryant attempted to go around. As I stated, the game should not have come down to these blown calls though when it does as often as it seems to, it does very little in dissolving the immense distrust many of us have with the NBA and its officiating.

VMan -

Thank you for the sanity that you've interjected in to all this brouhaha. I want you to know that I appreciate it.

I'm looking forward to them finding some semblance of balance tonight as well.

Caliphilosopher......you said

"Honestly, all this soft stuff should stop. He played terrific defense on Dwight Howard in the Finals, and helped immensely with winning the championship last year (lest you forget)."

I agree that Pau was terrific in last year's playoffs. But, he seems to have regressed. The rest of the league has focused on his so-called softness and he is having trouble holding his ground. Pau's lack of commitment to weight training shows. Players with a lesser skill level than Pau have only one choice and that is to try to push him around. That strategy is not going to change. Pau has to stand up to that.

I try never to bash our players per se. But, I will speak up about areas where I feel that a player can improve in. I don't think Pau is "soft". But I do think he is not in the best of shape, perhaps because of his early season injuries. I also think he doesn't look as strong as he did during last year's playoffs.

I hate it when teams step up their game to play the Lakers. It's a disrespect to their fans because they obviously can play better. Maybe if they brought that intensity, they wouldn't be a .500 or below .500 team.

? - I agree the officiating was suspect. But the Lakers need to follow a simple philosophy in sports. Part of the reasons why you want to play well and dominate is so you're not in a late-game situation and your fate may be in the hands of whistles. I criticized the free throws, defense, and turnovers more than anything else because a. the Lakers can control those areas and b. those mistake had a more statistical impact on the game.

MM

It's about time someone pointed out the painfully obvious. Kobe doesn't play defense. Actually let me clarify, he doesn't play defense vs. opponents he deems are not worth his time. He scored 39 but gave up 25 to a guy who averaged 9 points going into the game. At this point of Kobe's career, he only plays what I call "selfish" defense. He goes for steals, makes a few spectacular blocks and really tries hard against superstars players but he rarely plays the type of defense that requires hard work and attention to detail. In direct contrast, when Kobe sat out 5 games, the Lakers played better team defense, because they defended all 5 players rather than 4 players playing defense and 1 guy playing center field. I'm not saying the Lakers are better without Kobe. But until Kobe stops playing selfish defense, the Lakers will continue to lose to teams that they shouldn't lose to.

Hey guys a new post is up. I'll accept any wants for reposting to different threads. Feel free to continue any conversation you had on a previous thread too.

MM

ART… “Wow, what a lot of Pau, Bynum bashers, and Laker bashers in general. This game was simply lost on free throw misses.” LOL. I guess you had a better seat live than all of those “other” fans who were crying out that the sky was falling. Or they might have been watching another game than the one we were watching. Excellent summary of the game, Art. I was looking for you when TNT was scanning the Lakers fans in the crowd. Did you have a sign?
- - - - - - - -
MM… Wow, so many trolls, including hordes of newbies. I think this is all your fault, Mark. You are doing such a great job that the hits, visitors, and posts must all be setting new records. And with the huge number of new visitors comes a horde of new trolls who have not yet been put in their place. It will probably take us another few months to rid the place of the pests. Of course, this is assuming that you don’t double our total audience again by then, bringing in a new horde of trolls. It’s like 20 threads and 10 new trolls per game!
- - - - - - - -
Tom

I agree with Vman, they will bounce back against Charlotte and Magic are lackadaisical team, they need Coach who would hammer them again and again on their deficiencies, if possible bench those who regressing.

We always try to compare games in this blog when Kobe was out as if something had happened when he came back. It is not his fault if he tries to make those shots in order to catch up at the end of the quarter. His teammates are not making their own moves, no transitional defense, inadequate rebounding effort coupled by atrocious F/T %. There is also lack of communication out there and from time to time, they go into this alley hoop pass and sometimes just a big gamble even when there two or three Heat on the shaded lane. It is just a bone head decision of a player in deliberate haste to make a pass or a shot.

Lakers and Celtics are in the same mode at this time, playing lazy basketball and wishing to fast forward to playoffs.

Please no more looking on what was not traded. We can't go back to what was not done, hopefully the front office will do something on the inherent problems. What we lost is our passion for the team? JB loses his investments and paying luxury taxes on players who are not helping the team.

Laker Tom - hah thanks for the love, but it's probably more to do that the playoffs are approaching and more fans are coming than me setting record marks in posts and all that. I sure hope so though!

Thanks again for the compliments.

MM

I agree that Pau was terrific in last year's playoffs. But, he seems to have regressed. The rest of the league has focused on his so-called softness and he is having trouble holding his ground. Pau's lack of commitment to weight training shows. Players with a lesser skill level than Pau have only one choice and that is to try to push him around. That strategy is not going to change. Pau has to stand up to that.

I try never to bash our players per se. But, I will speak up about areas where I feel that a player can improve in. I don't think Pau is "soft". But I do think he is not in the best of shape, perhaps because of his early season injuries. I also think he doesn't look as strong as he did during last year's playoffs.

Posted by: bronxlakerfan | March 05, 2010 at 10:09 AM

Bronxlakerfan -

That is the type of reasoned worry that fans should be displaying. Not just insults, but areas of concern in a less fanatical tone.

I think you are correct about everything that you said; I would add that his playing year-round (with the Lakers and the Spanish National Team) has helped to make him a bit more slow this year.

I hope he gets a week of rest or something real soon.

RSal: You couldn't be any more right.

MM: A very courageous statement to point out I Eat First's feeble attempt to cover up for his defensive failures by claiming that Q hit some of those shots with the Eater in his face.

This game perfectly illustrates what I mean when I say that, in subtle ways, I Eat First actually makes his teammates worse, not better.

Was he playing "centerfield defense" at PJ's request? Surely not. Rather, it shows that PJ has no control over his Over Eating superstar.

By not playing defense on his man, I Eat First causes the entire Lakers defense to break down, since others need to compensate for his defensive lapses.

On the offensive end, by dominating the ball and getting into his own rhythm, I Eat First ensures that the other Lakers will get OUT of their rhythm. This is what happened in the OT. Makes his first three shots, then commits two TOs and a missed shot while still playing no defense. The Heat distribute the ball, everyone contributes, they make their shots, and Game Over.

Kobe, you are such a jerk. Please opt out this summer.

I'm impressed MM, the media rarely calls Kobe out on his defensive lapses. I wouldn't put the loss all on Kobe, but certainly his letting Richardson get off to a great start hurt the Lakers. Missed FTs, and the Lakers trouble with the Heat's zone we're also contributing factors to the loss. Having said that, I still think they win the remaining games of the road trip.

Mark G - Thanks for the feedback. But please keep in mind that this post isn't squarely putting the blame on Kobe. Yes, mostly his defense on Richardson. But I also document the turnovers and in the post-game wrap, I mentioned how the team maintained the same unhealthy attitude that Kobe could bail them out in the end. I credited Kobe in the wrap about his improved shooting, but I didn't want to leave any stone unturned.

MM

Sorry MM, I didn't mean to put imply that about your post, though I can certainly see how someone would infer that. That's just bad/sloppy writing on my part Mark. I should have been more clear. See this is why you get the big bucks. As an amateur I can be a hack and get away with it, or at least I thought I could. Sorry about the mix up. keep up the good work.

MM: Are you sure that the "Lakers" are waiting for Kobe to bail them out in the end? Or is he giving them no choice?

In OT, for example, the first three possessions, he didn't let anyone else touch the ball.

Is he bailing them out? Or holding them hostage?

Yet another career or season high from some opponent! It is hard to root for Kobe as All-NBA Defensive Team when these opponents seem to occur many times a season with his free-safety style of defense of non-superstar Defensive assignment matchups. And when are the Lakers going to play straight up and not steer opponents to mandatory help shifts! Back in the day you played your man straight up or slightly to his strong hand and never off to his side like the Lakers do, inviting straight line layups or an easy pass when help comes to that man's cover!!!! WTF!!!!

AND PRACTICE MAKING FREE THROWS LAKERS!!!!!! We have lost many a game this year with poor free throw shooting! Just hitting a normal % would have won this game for us.

STOP BAGGING ON KOBE YOU IDIOTS. BAG ON THE PLAYERS WHO ARE IN LA LA LAND.

actually, don't bag on ANYONE because its freakin MARCH. MARCH.


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