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Lakers' poor perimeter defense contributes to New Orleans' hot outside shooting

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The Lakers coaching staff will have plenty of film to dissect and plenty of notebooks to fill regarding the team's defensive breakdowns in its 108-100 loss Monday to the New Orleans Hornets. You can concentrate on the team's poor interior D, its poor pick-and-roll defense and its poor tendency to properly mark outside shooters. You can really just take you pick, but where to prioritize?

There was point guard Chris Paul (15 points, 13 assists) already looking at full form in his fourth game since missing 25 because of torn cartilage in his left knee. There was forward David West (20 points) cracking the Lakers' flimsy interior, surprising considering West has been largely ineffective in the previous matchups against the Lakers this season as well as in 2009 and 2008. Yet, the most egregious part of the Lakers' defense entailed allowing the Hornets to shoot 10 of 23 from three-point range, including three treys each from Marcus Thornton (18 points) and James Posey (17 points)

New Orleans ranks seventh in the league in three-point percentage (36.4%) so it's not surprising the Hornets shot so well. What is surprising, however, is how wide open the Lakers left them on the outside, partly because of poor screen-and-roll defense and partly because of poor communication. It also appeared New Orleans' hot hand propelled the Lakers to try to match them at their own gain, not utilizing the post as much as they had at the beginning of the game despite the fact Pau Gasol had 26 points on 11 of 21 shooting. Instead, the Lakers attempted 29 three-points and made only seven of them, including a one of eight clip from forward Ron Artest. Below is a breakdown on how New Orleans took advantage of the Lakers' poor D on the perimeter. 

First quarter, 11:45 - 11:40

The Lakers start the game off like they've normally started off - with a turnover! Lakers forward Lamar Odom tried feeding an entry pass on the far side to Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, but Odom lobbed the pass short. That allowed Hornets guard Morris Peterson to deflect the ball, which soon landed in Thornton's hands. Peterson immediately sprinted down near side of the court, while Lamar Odom, Bryant and Derek Fisher rushed back on D. However, those three players established themselves near centerfield to limit the penetration from Thornton up top. After Thornton passed to Peterson on near side behind the perimeter, Odom rushed to contest the shot. But Peterson sank the shot, giving New Orleans an early 3-0 lead.

First quarter, 4:52 - 4:45

As Paul brought the ball past the timeline, New Orleans center Emeka Okafor set a downscreen on the far side for two purposes. One, the screen allowed West to cut up top toward the far side of the perimeter. Two, the pick helped Thornton flash toward the near side of the perimeter. Bryant effectively switched to West, but Ron Artest got entangled on the pick and then tried to mark West. The Hornets swung the ball around the perimeter with quick passes from West to Paul to Thornton, who knocked down an open three-pointer. New Orleans led 15-14 after the sequence.

First quarter, 1:26 - 1:20

West's high screen on Shannon Brown gave Paul enough time to drive the right lane, as Odom struggled to catch up on the switch. Gasol helped double Paul in the lane to deny baseline penetration, but the Paul's slim quick 6-foot-0, 175-pound frame allowed him to brush past Gasol down the baseline. Lakers guard Jordan Farmar stepped in the paint to stifle Paul, but that left Darren Collison wide open on the corner. Paul kicked the ball out to Collison, whose three-pointer gave New Orleans a 23-21 lead.

Second quarter, 11:53 - 11:38

West set another high screen at the top of the key on Brown, causing Odom to switch on Paul while he manned the point. After Paul passed the ball to forward Sean Marks on the nearside, Marks fed West on the near post. Odom rushed inside to help on Marks and called for someone to mark on Paul. But no one did. West kicked the ball out to Paul at the top of the key, and his three-pointer gave the Hornets a 30-22 lead. The score marked New Orlean's biggest lead of the game and capped off a 13-1 run.

Second quarter, 10:14 - 10:04

Another screen and roll is all that's needed to throw off the Lakers' defense. West's screen on Brown causes Odom to switch again on Paul by the left block, but Brown continues to try marking him as he penetrates on the near side. That creates a trickle effect. Artest fills the gap and guards West at the left block, leaving forward James Posey open on the far perimeter. Paul fires a pass to Posey, and Farmar races from the far corner to mark Posey. But that leaves Collison open. When he gets the ball, Gasol races out to the contest the shot but it still goes in. New Orleans leads 33-22.

Second quarter, 2:25 - 2:15

Thornton ran toward the near baseline and flashed up top to the key, but Artest continued to mark him after receiving a pass from Paul. West set a high screen on Bryant by the near side, and Posey cut from the nearside corner to above the perimeter. Odom and Bryant stuck on West by the left block, but Bryant immediately swarmed Posey as soon as he received a pass from Thornton. Artest, however, sagged off Thornton after he made the pass and New Orleans made Artest pay. Posey passed the ball back up to top to Thornton, who drilled a 25-foot three-pointer to give the Hornets a 46-36 lead.

Third quarter, 6:09 - 5:58

Hey, at least the Lakers didn't get beat on a screen-and-roll. This time, Thornton's near-corner three-pointer happened because of the Lakers' poor transition D. Bryant appeared to have a good look at the basket, but Okafor blocked the shot. West picked up the ball, and pushed it to Paul, who raced past the timeline. The Hornets had a three-on-one break with Peterson on the far end and Thornton on the near wing. Paul dished the ball to Peterson, but Lakers guard Derek Fisher denied the pass. Although Paul grabbed the loose ball, the stop gave enough time for Artest and Gasol to get back on defense. But the Lakers' D all jumbled in the paint, leaving the Peterson and Thornton wide open on the wings. Paul soon passed to Thornton, who nailed a three-pointer for the 61-56 lead.

Fourth quarter, 11:34 - 11:18

With Paul manning the point on the far end of the court, West set a screen on Brown. D.J. Mbenga switched on Brown, but Brown didn't stay with West and instead pursued Paul as he dribbled near the far corner. Meanwhile, Farmar had marked Collison, who cut across the baseline to settle behind the near corner. With Paul operating the offense from the far corner, Farmar stayed inside in case he'd be needed for help. Paul threw the ball to Collison, and Farmar reacted in time to mark him. But Collison's pump fake threw Farmar off. Bryant, who manned the centerfield position, contested what appeared to be Collison's shot. But Collison fired a pass mid-air to Posey at the top of the key. He was left wide open, and the successful trey gave New Orleans a

Fourth quarter, 2:25 - 2:18

All it took was a little screen and roll action to disrupt the Lakers. What a surprise. Posey set a pick on Fisher at the top, and it appeared pretty clear that the spacing made it conducive for Fisher to stay with Paul. Artest left Posey wide open at the top of the key. And his three-pointer gave New Orleans a 96-86 lead.

What this means

Though the Lakers rank seventh in total team defense (allowing 96.85 points per game), that statistic points more to the team's length and their rebounding abilities, a mark the team leads the NBA in with an average clip of 44.45 boards per game. The Lakers, however, have largely been ineffective at defending the pick-and-roll this season and they've been largely inconsistent with communicating to ensure proper rotations and reads. Surprisingly, some of those defensive lapses Monday fell down to Artest, something that doesn't usually happen given his relentless and disciplined nature in not losing his man.

Many of the plays described above, however, reveal that one small lapse throws the entire team off and leads to one huge chain reaction. All of the Lakers in those plays actually did a good job in trying to make up for those mistakes, but they always came within a second or two after the fact. That's something that could happen faster if there's more outward communication on the floor, rather than basing a teammate's play just on assumptions. With only eight games remaining in the regular season, I don't think this is something the Lakers will magically sharpen by the time the playoffs begin. But the team can better be aware of each other's potential mistakes and be ready to cover for them.

--Mark Medina

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

Photo: Hornets point guard Chris Paul drives between Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and center Pau Gasol in the second half Monday night. Credit: Derick E. Hingle/US Presswire.

 
Comments () | Archives (22)

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Can anyone name for me, teams that are good or great at P&R defense? Not disagreeing with the point, just want to see if I can catch some examples, as well as note where these teams are giving up by their emphasis on defending the pick and roll.

#4 - It's fair to say that there are many teams that don't defend it well, not just the Lakers, but still it's a problem they've been having all season. If I find an article or find a way to track how teams perform against the screen and roll, I'll post it here.

MM

#4

Feels like the season is such a grind no team can be consistent in any defensive category every night.

Cleveland's got the best record with a guy named Shaquille, which is creole for "sucks at pick and roll D".


-MM, thank you. I'm genuinely interested. I too believe that no team really defends the actual P&R well...but some are better than the others at defending what happens as a result of the P&R.

-Vman, I laughed out loud at that. to your point, I distinctly remember a lumbering and well-aged Kareem and Magic that had a terrible time with P&Rs....that's what we get for carrying dominant big men.

As I alluded to, its not containment of the ballhandler that they've got wrong, its the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th option that they've got wrong. The backside wasn't covered, and CP3/Collison popped or passed with ease to the baseline cutter or a 3 point outlet.

Part of that is our size....big men or bigger men, don't like to move from the paint. They get driven by if they rush a player with his dribble. The other part is the unified philosophy on D. They are trying to teach themselves what Rambis preached last year. Its like taking a class for 2 semesters and then trying to teach it to each other. You'll have the basics, but not all students will be as good as the others.

As I sat in the balcony of last night’s game at the Hive wearing my purple and gold, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Lakers continued such a lackluster effort against opponents. It was my first game since watching the Lakers last season at Staples and things looked dramatically different this time. The Lakers were sloppy. They were slow getting back on defense. They left the Hornets wide open. They missed their own open shots.

By the fourth quarter the Hornets’ fans were screaming tirades at a family replete with cute little girls wearing Kobe jerseys. It almost felt like I was watching the same thing on the court, a microcosm of what’s been going on all season: the teams are getting more confident against the Lakers. It seemed like the Lakers came into the game expecting to win and did not respond to the hard effort of the Hornets. It made me wonder again, what is so different about this Lakers team than the one last season?

Obviously, Trevor Ariza is gone, but I honestly don’t think that has had much impact on this team, except for the fact that Artest brings some intense defense when he really wants to. I think more importantly is the lack of a reliable three-point shooter to spread the floor. Fisher simply cannot make a shot these days, Artest was 1 for 8 last night, and don’t get me started on the Machine. Then, when they realize the shots aren’t going in from behind the arc, they try to shoot out of it, which only makes matters worse. Missed threes lead to easy fast-break points for the opposite teams. The Lakers need to run the triangle offense more effectively and work from the inside out.

On defense, they were running around wildly following the ball, but leaving others open. There was no plan, no discipline, no execution. It was, as Rick Friedman said, chaos. They need to reassess their plans and continue to go back to what worked for them last year, a strong sense of defensive intensity and clear execution. None of this really matters since the playoffs are a different type of beast, but it would be nice for the Lakers to find their swagger again before the march to the championship truly beings.

wow the title could have been lakers poor perimeter offense dang..1-3, 1-9,0-2,2-5,and2-4(not @ bad since it's from 3 point land)1-7 wow.. i won't bother putting names to stats like so many say stats are pointless ...guys like fish and others are priceless to this team ...well all of us will see in a few months.......

Mamba,
So, I have noticed that you have Troy listed on your roll calls. I would imagine it is for the "other" Troy as I have only been here a little over a week. Where it's a little confusing is that I have been using Troy instead of Troy B on the game chats since that is my myspace name (maybe I should just use an entirely new name, hmmm assasin? I'll think about it). Anyways I would like to be added to future rollcalls/welcome please, I am a lakerholic and I'm here to stay. Also add me to the get well Justa bandwagon, this blog's not the same without you brother.

as the losses rack uo..so do the excuses..well they can't win them all but this is sure getting pathetic..what pisses me off most is 1)no trades were made so we will never know if they could have been better 2)bynum is always injured and still doesn't look like the next great c 3)pau and fishers rants when they themvelves have been abysmal at times 4) the bench 5) phil jackson ...there dissect how you want ..those who aren't touching the good stuff like odom use to(i hope) will see whats what... here's to hoping this team is a reincarnate of the 00-01 lakers or else there the butt jokes of Three Nuckleheads Together crew..............

....gone fishing

Do you know:
- To win the championship is difficult but to repeat is more difficult than to win.
- Laker used to play the game with their weakness.
- Laker is bad shooting team but they want to beat their opponent by outside shoot.
- In Laker team only Ron A is used and play exactly with his tallent.

#4

You don't need to wait on Mark to reference someone else......you can watch with your own eyes.

Cleveland defends the pick n roll well. They defend it well because first they have a defensive gameplan that they practice and that everyone understands their role in it.

Historically San Antonio has defended the pick n roll well......mainly because from personal knowledge Popovich stresses it in practice and you don't play unless you adhere to his defensive principals. They are a little long in the tooth now but the Spurs acquire players with that defensive principal in mind


Boston (when healthy) plays the pick n roll exceptionally well. They also tend to have very specific assignments and a gameplan that they emphasize. They too are growing long in the tooth but their gameplanning is sound

In other words these teams don't "figure it out for themselves" as the game goes along as the Lakers do.

The Pistons under Larry Brown defended the pick n roll very well.


The Lakers have been a poor defensive team especially against pick n roll for Phil Jackson's entire tenure.................we say the same things every year but nothing is done about it. That's a Phil Jackson problem! The personnel of the Lakers is not picked with defense in mind save Ron Artest this year.

Phil Jackson picks players based on whether or not they can play in the triangle........"whatever that is"..........If the Lakers chose players with a defensive mindset there'd be no place for Luke Walton on this team............there'd be no place for Adam Morrison on this team..............there'd be no place for Sasha on this team............there'd be no place for Derek Fisher on this team especially at the point guard position.

Neither Pau Gasol nor Andrew Bynum are defensive-minded players. When our first line of defense breaks down (usually Derek Fisher) our middle is soft and weak defensively............only Mbenga challenges and contest shots ALL THE TIME when he is in the game at the center position


This team is soft because Phil Jackson is soft! This team doesn't play defense because Phil Jackson hasn't stressed defense. That attitude trickles down to everyone else.

Phil Jackson doesn't except responsibility and neither does anyone else.........it starts at the top....especially since this has been going on for years

This team hasn't been built properly skill wise and it is really easy to build this team when Kobe is the focal point. Pau Gasol had 10 shots at the end of the first quarter last night and we were still down 10 points.............If this trend had continued Pau would have had 40 shots and we would have lost by 40..................so getting Gasol the ball more as Medina suggested would not have helped the team.............if we can't check anybody or we can't play the pick n roll!!


Kobe presence alone creates open shots for perimeter players.........but why do we have no players on this team that shoots above 40% from 3? Cleveland has 4..........think about that.

The game is really simple but when it starts getting too complicated you usually have a lot of ego involved We have at least 4 players on this team that if they weren't on the Lakers within a year they would be out of the league.

Sasha, Morrison, Fisher, and Luke Walton...........especially Luke Walton!!

Remember there were local bloggers and media that wanted Chris Mihm to stay.............where is that guy now? Why is he not playing for anyone?

Can you say that about any other elite team?

The Lakers are very susceptible right now and could easily exit in the first round if we play the Thunder or even Portand...............that's the bad news............the good news is at least if that happened we'd get a new coaching regime

SUP PEEPS...

And confusion reigns.... here AND on the court apparently.


I have no words except to remind everyone that this team will be judged by how they finish up in the playoffs. Until then, it's a lot of moaning and groaning for nothing if you ask me.


troy B - you're right - the troy issue was a little confusing. But know I know who's who LOL! Thanks for the well wishes.

EVERYONE - again I must thank you for hopping on board my get well bandwagon. Tomorrow's the day (wed). I check in at 3:30 pm - GO FIGURE - so I'll prolly miss the chat, the game, the post-game, the late night replays and who knows what else. :( BUT - I'll be able to hop on during the day so you can all listen to me whine about how nervous I am! Still, I'm optimistic. I'll try to hop on as soon as I can afterwards to let you know I'm still kicking - albeit with one leg.....! I'm nervous. Did I mention that?

Of course when I say "hopping" - it won't be....


Then again.....


I'm REALLY nervous.

REPOST

Lackluster. The Lakers are playing without passion. The chip on their shoulder that propelled them to excellence last season has been replaced by the belly of contentment. A budha, if you will. I have a hard time seeing this team repeat. Too many 'E' intangibles are left unaccounted for: effort, execution, energy.

The bench seems like it has taken the regular season off. After a torid start Shannon Brown is a non-factor. He plays his 15-20 mpg without the same fervor since just before the All Star break. Not sure if his lack of an impact on the Dunk competition has somehow creeped into his mind (why I cannot fathom), but he's not playing instinctively. He hasn't made a decissive pass in over a month. He's gun shy about throwing it into the post when Gasol and Odom have sealed their men (heck, even when Kobe or Artest gets good post position). Outside of a game here or there, UPS just hasn't been showing me what Brown can do for me.

Farmar seems like he is resigned to moving on in the regular season, knows a big contract isn't out there (what with the NBA exploding in 2011) and is content to sort of lollygag it out. Porous defence, hardly any assists and a propensity to look for his own before he passes to a big has become so predictable it could be turned into a drinking game. I am done with Farmar. I say bench him for the rest of the season. Sasha can't be any worse.

Sasha has been yo-yoed in and out of any meaningful minutes all season long. Granted, his shoulder injury prevented what had seemed to be a confidence building run a month or so ago, but since then he's gotten meager minutes and gone toe to toe with Brian Shaw. His defense is consistently better than Farmar's and his shooting is just as eratic as Brown's has become. He's a better rebounder and defender than either one is showing me at this stage of the season.

The fact that the staff is as excited about the prospect of getting Luke back on the floor as I am bodes horribly for most Laker fans (ie Luke Haters) but I am looking forward to a bench player (now that Lamar is back in the starting 5) that actually tries to run the offense, work inside out and can pass with aplomb. Hopefully the return of Luke will cascade into an overall increase in team play.

I would actually like to comed DJ Mbenga for his D. He's been playing with the passion we seem to lack, but he's a scrub, he'll never crack the Big Minute ceiling on this team (nor should he) and he can be a foul magnet and won't be looked upon to carry us offensivly in the Playoffs (nor should he).

Josh Powell has struggled all year with his shot and is also a spot contributor, unlike Brown and Farmar.

If it seems like I'm singling out our bench it's because I am. They stink right now. I see a short rotation getting shorter if this becomes the status quo.

In the words of Van Halen, "Where have all the good times gone?"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NiE1p0h7HM

Poor perimeter defense? What's new?

Problem is Fisher can't check a coat and Kobe doesn't consistently defend throughout the shot clock. Kobe cheats, sags, helps or whatever leaving his man open for great looks. That is why Quinton Richardson and others 2 guards have torched the Lakers.

We have debated this issue repeatedly. Fisher is the weak link and Phil hasn't made change. Phil is now not playing Sasha, which makes Sasha game suffer too.

Phil should not play Fisher at all.
He should go with Farmar, Brown and Sasha.

The noise about Fisher being a veteran presence is garbage.

As longs a Fisher starts, finishes and gets major minutes these problems will continue.

Hey guys we got a new post up that hopefully lightens the mood

MM

Kobe presence alone creates open shots for perimeter players.........but why do we have no players on this team that shoots above 40% from 3? Cleveland has 4..........think about that.

posted by pfunk36

Has anyone heard of Mitch Kupchak ? One of the worst GM's in basketball.
Luckily Stern and the owner of Memphis giftwrapped Gasol for Kupchak or he would probably be out of a job !!

Frustrat-o-rama!

This roadtrip would give us the answers and it certainly has. We suck! I was the only one calling an exit in the 2nd round in the poll recently but I'm beginning to doubt we'll get that far. After our loss to the Cavs I really wanted to see them in the finals - bad! But now... IF we'd get that far I couldn't bare the humiliation we'd be put through by that prancing team. They'd kick the living feces out of us. Oh boy, it's such a shame, when we actually are THE BEST team in the league. It's the same kind of waste as when Kobe and The Big Parasite bickered away a dynasty.

Damn these knucklheads! How hard can it be? Even if we stink up the joint shooting wise we can still give an effort on defense. Take care of and move the ball. The big question is: Are these players willing to do whatever it takes to win a championship? The obvious answer would be no.

Even though I'm a natural born pessimist I still believe Fisher has one good playoff round and a couple of big shots left in him but it sure is frustrating watching him clanking it up. I guess we'll have to repeatedly pound it inside in the playoffs as there's no way we'll have consistant outside shooting. Too bad opposing teams will pack the lane...

What the hell happened to this team???

Pfunk36, are you my alter-ego posting when I'm asleep? cause you're saying exactly 100% what I have always been thinking.

Really, I couldn't have put it better. BRAVO!

Surely you'd agree with me that bottom line is Phil Jackson is probably one of the most over-rated coach in the history of the NBA. The Triangle is pretty much a marketing gimmick that really just boils down to: keep the supporting cast players properly spaced away so the Superstars (Jordan, Shaq, Kobe) can simply overwhelm their defenders 1-on-1.

Had Jackson not stumbled onto the Triangle by accident he would not achieve nearly as much hype as he did. Everybody would have realized right away that his success was pretty much 90% based on riding the coat tails of the Superstars.

Your point of Phil picking players based on their potential to run the Triangle to his liking over athleticism, quickness, skill and talent is right on. Ironically if Phil had been the head coach at the time I seriously doubt that he would have picked Kobe Bryant, a young high-schooler with tons of potentials but obviously immature and head-strong.

Your other point of Lakers have been pitiful against the Pick n Roll throughout Jackson's tenure is also on the mark. Think about it people, the Lakers under Jackson were never, ever confused with the description of a well-disciplined team that is steeped in the fundamentals of basketball. Far from it. Here are a few examples of such a team: Spurs, Pistons, Jazz... Phil has always been able to hide his planning and tactical basketball shortcomings under the guise of "let the players figure it out for themselves because they will learn better that way". The simple truth is that Phil just has no real good answers. That is also why he is so reluctant to call time-out because he and his staff just is not very good at real-time adjustment and the Xs and Os tactical responses on the court.

It appears that there are only two ways to get rid of PJ and his Triangle. The first would hurt the team and Kobe may also leave -if LA fails to repeat and in the process exit the PO disastrously. I would much rather do it the second way: here's hoping that Jerry Buss, due to economic factor really makes good on his threat and ask Phil for a substantial pay cut. And hopefully Phil will be so insulted that he refuses the offer and leave.

"... It's fair to say that there are many teams that don't defend it well, not just the Lakers" -MM.

Well that's true if we're talking about the perennial bad teams of the league: Warriors, Clips, Nets, Knicks etc...

OTH most elite teams that have well-known and well-respected coaches do defend the Pick n Roll well enough most of the time. This is especially true for the elite teams that made their marks based on their defense such as Spurs or Pistons (in their heydays).

It really is a good measurement of the capability of the coaching staff and their basketball savvy.

REPOST from way earlier thread.

Trolls out in force. All predicting doom and even saying I told you so. But wait the season is not over and playoffs have not started. So we just give up as the trolls would have it and not play out the season because they said I told you so? Heck no. We win the chmpionship and then we Laker fans say to you...We told you so!

Posted by: JustaLakerFan | March 30, 2010 at 12:38 PM

I THINK THAT IF SASHA IS GIVEN SOME TIME TO PLAY, HE'LL PRODUCE. HE DOESN"T SHOOT AS MUCH ANYMORE UNLIKE BROWN AND FARMAR WHO LOOKS TO SHOOT FIRST. HE IS A BETTER SHOOTER THAT BROWN AND FARMAR AND A FEISTY DEFENDER. PEOPLE SHOULD STOP BLAMING THE BENCH FOR NOT PRODUCING....HOW CAN YOU WHEN YOU DON'T GET TO PLAY MUCH


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