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Sizing up how Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff will fit in with the Lakers

Steve Blake

On paper, it appears the Lakers are even better than last season.

Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak took a bold step in ensuring a well-stocked roster after a second consecutive title and while Miami made big moves in assembling the so-called super team. Aside from retaining Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown, the Lakers also picked up Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff and drafted essential steals in Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter. And the Lakers' losses were minimal, with backup guard Jordan Farmar going to New Jersey, Josh Powell signing with Atlanta and Adam Morrison and D.J. Mbenga still looking for a team.

The Lakers not only have the tools to three-peat, they also have enough experience to stave off any threat coming from Miami, Boston, etc. But one of the fascinating things about sports is that how things look on paper doesn't always translate to what happens in the game. One of the biggest questions entering this season is how quickly Blake, Barnes and Ratliff will fit in. I personally think these three players will ultimately bolster their bench and be partly instrumental toward a third title, but I'm not exactly sure how long the transition period will last.

Below the jump is what needs to happen for the Lakers to fully benefit from each free-agent acquisition.


What Steve Blake needs to do to fit in

Be himself. One of the things that struck me regarding Blake's introductory press conference involved Blake's admission that he thought of himself as a pass-first type of  player. There's no better way to make Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum like you right away than to get them the ball.

It's also easier to fit into the triangle that way and somewhat eases the burden since you're not really asked to score. Given Blake's reputation in working with scorers, he should be well suited to the task.

Another element of Blake's press conference that stuck out was his respect for Derek Fisher. He called Fisher a "winner" and mentioned how his clutch shots and leadership qualities had influenced the Lakers' success. That relationship is something that could determine how well he fits in with the team. As professional as Fisher has been over the years, it wouldn't be at all surprising if he felt his toes were being stepped on should Blake wind up commanding more minutes and even a starting role. Yet, Fisher and the team also hope Blake does well so Fish can scale his minutes during the regular season so he's well primed for the playoffs.

It's a somewhat delicate balancing act, with Blake needing to provide depth and energy off the bench without stealing Fisher's thunder. Because of how professional Blake and Fisher seem to be, I think they'll have the proper perspective on this. But to ensure that both Blake and Fisher feel heavily involved, they should mutually defer to each other, with Blake offering the athleticism and play-making abilities and Fisher providing the late-game shots and locker-room presence.


What Matt Barnes needs to do to fit in

Barnes needs to make sure he channels his energy the right way. I said at the time there shouldn't be much to worry about regarding the Barnes incident in which he slapped an assistant coach during a summer league game. But there's no question Barnes channeled his passion and aggression down the wrong path.

The support system is there for Barnes to flourish, with Bryant embracing him and the team hoping he can provide a spark, particularly during the dog days of the NBA regular season. That means hustling on defense and playing physical but making sure that doesn't lead to unnecessary fouls. That means getting in the face of opponents to intimidate them without getting too consumed with an individual matchup. That means embracing being a role player and not being consumed with playing time.

Barnes said the equivalent of all those things during his press conference, but we'll see how it all plays out on the court. It's not a coincidence that Barnes has bounced around to eight different teams, with each stop bringing frustration over the lack of a definitive role beyond being an energy guy. But that's exactly what the Lakers need from him. They already have the talent. They already have players to make key shots They already have enough depth to fill the roster. But with the Lakers sans Bryant possibly feeling ho-hum about playing, Barnes' energy will help infuse excitement and keep the hunger strong.


What Theo Ratliff needs to do to fit in

The Times' Dan Loumena raised an interesting point, asking how much Ratliff had left in his 37-year-old body. Ratliff stressed during his introductory press conference that proper intake of minerals has helped him in his 15-year stint as a defensive stopper in the NBA. But there's no denying that his mileage and the Lakers' loaded front court (Bynum, Gasol and Lamar Odom) mean Ratliff's minutes will be fairly limited.

Laker fans surely don't want this to happen, but it's at least comforting that the Lakers have Ratliff available in case Bynum is limited even after training camp. To say Ratliff could carry Bynum's workload is just plain absurd, but here's where he does come into play. During practice. In the locker room. During film sessions. Though Ratliff may not have the skillset of the rest of the Lakers' frontline, he has at least developed some respect because of his long NBA career and having acquired the wisdom and tricks of the trade that come along with it. With his insights, he could mentor the Lakers' frontline and help add wrinkles to their game. So even if Ratliff isn't exactly significant in the box score, perhaps the rest of the front court will improve thanks to him.

-- Mark Medina

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

Photos, from top: 2010 Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak introduces Steve Blake at the team's practice facility. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times. Steve Blake is familiar with Staples Center, having spent part of last season with the Clippers. Credit: David Zalubowski / Associated Press. Matt Barnes is a former UCLA star. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press. Theo Ratliff elevates to swat a shot by Clippers center Chris Kaman in December 2009. Credit: US Presswire

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i think that barnes and blake will come off the bench with the other key reserves and provide a good spark while ratliff will mostly be an insurance

MARK… Your takes on what Blake, Barnes, and Ratliff need to do to fit in with their new team were right on and show that you are already in regular season form. You nailed the key things each new player needed to do as well as their potential value to the team. I also liked the fact that the article was shorter and more focused than some recent work before you left for vacation. Something I am going to try and do more myself this year is to not lose the message by giving the reader too much. This was a perfect example of some of your best work in my humble opinion. Great job.
The great thing to me for each of these guys joining a championship team is that they know they are each going to be given the opportunity to fill a specific and necessary key role on the team. For Blake and Barnes particularly, I think they will both welcome the structure and consistency of their role in the rotation. One of the aspects of coaching that Phil excels in his building a rotation and roster where every player on the team knows exactly what is expected of him. That is something Blake did not have with the Blazers and Barnes did not have with the Magic. Bottom line, we added two talented veteran starters as reserves, which means with Odom the bench has three starters.
As for Theo, you’re right that his biggest contribution might be in helping Drew, Pau, and Lamar become better shot blockers. But he also gives the Lakers a player who just might be able to fill for solid minutes as a starter if Drew gets injured so we would not suffer the negative domino effect of Pau having to play center and Lamar having to start, which devastates the bench. Because of his shot blocking prowess and the fact that the Lakers may have an large number of blowouts, I do think Ratliff is going to play more than Mbenga and may even get a small but regular spot in the rotation. Until Drew shows he can last a full season, I would like to see the Lakers limit his minutes by using Theo. Just like with Fish, I would like to see a healthy dominant Drew in the playoffs.

Laker Tom - Thanks for the kudos. It's always an ongoing challenge for me with wanting to provide comprehensive and in depth info without making it feel like it's too long a story. So I appreciate your observation on that. I also can't thank you enough for coming back and giving me another shot. I won't let you down.


I have stated it before...I am dying to see how the Steve BLaker trade will work out...This one seems to be a match made in heaven...I also think this player will shake up PJ rotation more than the rest of the new guys...depending how soon of an impact and how fact the acclimation...

Barnes...well jury is still out on the trade itself...not really my first choice, but who am I to question Mitch...

Ratcliff - will do most of his contributions in practice...and yes, it would be great if he can give AB some veteran advice...

justa and phred -

Cat in the Hat Knows Lot About That: Wings...

New release at Redbox today...

Nice article, MM. Here's how I see it:

1) Steve Blake. Perfect signing! Your article described him as a player. He is a taller, thinner, right handed Derek Fisher. He has tasted victory by leading Maryland the a national championship and wants to taste again in the worst way. He's a scrappy defender with a high basketball IQ. By mid-season, he will have picked up the nuances of the triangle as well as the quirks of his teammates who he will be feeding the ball to. He'll do this while splitting playing time with Fish down the middle.

2) Matt Barnes. Like many other people, I like the signing because he's a tough perimeter defender, but I also have my concerns. The wing positions present the most difficulty in terms of learning the triangle. Just ask Ron Artest, who had PLENTY of playing time to learn it and he just kind of, sort of started getting it toward the end of the playoffs. Barnes won't have the luxury of all that playing time, so don't be surprised if the Lakers go away from the triangle frequently when he's on the floor. I hope Luke Walton makes himself available to Barnes and I hope that Barnes' ego isn't too big to learn from a teammate. So yes, my concerns are his IQ. Also, if he's having trouble getting it and PJ decides on a few DNP-CDs early on, I hope this doesn't cause any problems.

3) Theo Ratliff. When Bynum, Pau and Lamar are all healthy, he will only see time when 2 of them are in foul trouble or in blowouts during garbage time. Other than the things articulated in your article, the biggest advantage of having Ratliff will be that PJ can comfortably keep Lamar in his role as the leader of the second unit by starting Theo during times that Drew is out with illness or injury. Of course, I defer to Phil Jackson on matters concerning rotations, but Lamar started 38 games last season and it seemed to affect the fluidity of the second unit. Hell, it affected Lamar. So I think this might be an underrated, under the radar signing.

4) Shannon Brown. Technically Mitch signed him to even though he hasn't been gone. He'll be a year older, a year more experienced and a year more knowledgeable about the Lakers' schemes. Most important, he goes into camp knowing exactly what his role is going to be. I think we will see growth from ShanWow, especially with a veteran running mate like Steve Blake on the floor with him in lieu of Jordan Farmar. I think the chemistry between Blake and Brown, combined with the added energy of Barnes and Odom will make Shannon Brown a better player this season. Hopefully his thumb is healed, too!

-My reaction last summer when we got Artest;


My reaction this summer to us getting all three of these guys;

‘Yeah, ok, I guess. If that’s what Mitch thinks.’

They have a ways to go, if you ask me.

"'Guess I was off the mark.'

Sonny, that is not news.

Posted by: Laker J | September 07, 2010 at 11:49 AM"

A better dis than the poor Maloof victim deserved. I mean ‘Maloof victim’ in the sense that he is a Kings fan, not in the sense that he was an investor in the M Bros business ventures, sorry for the possible confusion.

Do you re-post to keep one continuous thread going or do you simply waste your brilliance with the hope that the members go back and read it?
Please advise.
Posted by: KobeMVP888 | September 07, 2010 at 01:29 PM

If I ever have any brilliance, you have to let me know. I try to repost stuff, and I never mind if something is reposted, but please put ‘REPOST’ at the top so I don’t think I’m losing my memory and reading the same thread again.

Blitz- hey, when did I ever call anybody out in the first place? Oh, and please stop capitalizing the ‘p’ in my name. It looks weird that way.




LEW- rather than respond with a clueless and unhelpful 'huh?' I actually went and googled 'the Cat in the Hat etc....' and so now I can give a much more informed 'huh?'

This seems to be a better product than the magnet on the rubber bracelet thingey, sure, but what is it?

Oh, and I'm still not sure what it is about, but I think anyone who expects strapping a magnet to their wrist to do anything more than attract paper clips is um...well, they are behaving like a...well, hmm, it seems to me to be a somewhat ill informed and

hey! did you guys know that 'moron' is from the Greek word for 'dull' as opposed to 'oxy' which is the Greek word for 'sharp?' So an oxymoron is literally a 'dull sharp?' Weird the stuff you learn nowadays...

or perhaps literally a 'sharp dull.' Not really sure.

I think the Lakers are still thin on PG postion with Blake and Fisher. Although Fisher has been injury free most of his career he is now 36 yrs old, and we have to be a little cautious about his age effect as the season goes on. Hopefully, the Lakers would invite some PGs to the training camp to take a look at and sign another PG as an insurance or trade Sasha for PG.

MM's great analysis has made everyone here think they have prosaic genius. I'm thinking . . . . WOW - you one smart blogmaster.

I think the Lakers are still thin on PG postion with Blake and Fisher. Although Fisher has been injury free most of his career he is now 36 yrs old, and we have to be a little cautious about his age effect as the season goes on. Hopefully, the Lakers would invite some PGs to the training camp to take a look at and sign another PG as an insurance or trade Sasha for PG.

Posted by: LakerPeace | September 07, 2010 at 08:16 PM

Sasha and Shannon Brown know the lead guard position in Phil Jackson's system and provide us with plenty of depth at this, the least important position on a Phil Jackson coached team. It is no coincidence that it's the lowest paid position on the team. A new year, the same worries by Lakers fans. The last two seasons somehow we got through:

Deron Williams
Aaron Brooks
Chauncey Billups
Jameer Nelson
Russell Westbrook
Deron Williams
Steve Nash
Rajon Rondo

Of those players, only Billups, who is more of a LEAD guard than a point guard anyway, and Rondo, who was a role player in 2008, have bling to show for all their hard work. Yes, we have entered a new era in the NBA where point guards have become increasingly more important, but until one of these speedy point guards actually LEADS his team to the NBA championship, I will continue to believe that you don't need a great point guard to win championships, you need great players. Besides, when you get deep in the playoffs, the game slows down and becomes more physical anyway and championships are ultimately won in the paint. Old Derek Fisher, Steve Blake, Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic provide the Lakers with plenty of depth at the lead guard position.

oooh, I looked up prosaic, too. It means 'like or related to prose.'

good one, Otis. I always just thought of it as a synonym for, well, i never really thought about it at all, really. Good one.

hmm. what do you guys think Denver wants for Chauncey Billups?

Excellent summaries MM. Totally agree that Blake was made for the triangle, and he needs to be himself. Also like how you touched on the support Barnes is getting from Kobe, that is kind of like the godfather in a movie bestowing on you his blessing. Ratliff too, he won't be seeing much PT, but he should be able to add to the team outside of his minutes, as you correctly point out.

In my mind, it's easy:

Ratliff > DJ
Barnes > Powell (although Josh did have a pretty consistent jumper at times)
Blake > Farmar

I happen to have especially loved the Blake pickup, whom the Blazers stupidly pushed aside to make room for the overrated/overpaid Andre Miller (who never has fit in alongside Brandon Roy). Blake is EXACTLY the type of guards the Lakers needed, and the guard I wished that the Lakers would pursue. Well, Mitch did a great job in targeting him and bringing him aboard for less than he would have made elsewhere.

Blake is heady/team oriented/pass first/tough/has a jump shot/quick/can slash to the basket for layups or drive and dish. God must have created him with the triangle offense in mind. OK, his defense is not one of his highest assets, but how many PG's are truly good defenders? In this league, it's like a pitcher hitting in baseball, it's a luxury but not really necessary. The Lakers have been susceptible to speedy point guards, but that is nothing new, it has been the case for years, but hopefully Shannon Brown can help out on the defensive end against speedy PG's more this year, ala Ty Lue.

Again, the perfect choice by Mitch, someone I had thought would be a nice pickup for the Lakers for several years.

Barnes now, he's more of an enigma. He will add a defensive toughness, that is for sure. He also has an underrated jumper and has gotten hot at times during his career. But I think it's clear the Lakers brought him in to add more toughness than anything, mostly for his defense.

Ratliff will probably see more court time than DJ, but like MM said, his presence will probably impact the Lakers more in his time spent with the team outside of games. I don't expect though Theo to see much more than 8 or so minutes a night, however knowing that the Lakers have a solid shot blocker waiting in the wings that could come in in case of foul trouble or injury is a nice insurance policy to have.

I happen to have liked DJ, felt if given the chance he would have added some to the Lakers mix, but Theo is a more solid backup.

The fact that all 3 players are hungry for a ring helps too.

All in all, nice pickups that add very well into the mix. The Lakers shored up their backup PG, added a defensive backup swingman and upgraded at center defensively. They also have two nice draftees, both of whom did very well in Las Vegas Summer League play, in Ebanks and Caracter.

I will say that this would rate as a 'great' summer for Mitch, another solid year for him overall.


Blake will be a success if he takes over as starting PG. That means he is shooting well enough to keep defenses honest and he covers more ground on defense than Fisher.

Barnes will be a success if he helps the second unit score. The second unit became a mess as the season wore on and could not score or defend. Barnes needs to help at both ends.

Ratliff will be a success if he gains Jackson's trust enough to play in the 4th quarter of close games. The Lakers need someone to bang underneath when Bynum is not available.

oh man, steve blake is a passer and three point shooter. that is very for lakers. he and shannon brown should be good. alley hoop to shannon brown will make it looks very good.

Steve, Theo, and Matt definitely are upgrades from our previous bench. Given the talent they have, it will be enough to give the Lakers a much needed edge.
They just make a great team better.
Besides, being on a Championship team imo will be a highly motivating factor to perform even better. Can't wait for the season to start.


I think Mitch is holding on to Sasha's $5 milli just in case Bynum goes down again, they can use that $$$ as trade bait. I probably said too much...our team is owned by a poker player who never tips his hand.'s just a theory. :)

This is the last entry on the Kareem-Wilt series. It's the 72-73 season. Their 3rd and final (full) season competing against each other.

Kareem's Bucks' were champs in 71 and defeated the Lakers in the playoffs. Wilt's Lakers' were champs in 72 and defeated Milwaukee in the playoffs. Both teams had championship asperations in 73.
1972-73 regular season
gm 1 November 14, 1972

West Has Great Fourth Quarter...
West-Led Lakers Nip Bucks 95-92

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jerry West and the Los Angeles
Lakers have served notice they won't surrender their National
Basketball Association title without more argument than the
Milwaukee Bucks could offer Tuesday night. The Lakers
dethroned the Bucks in the Western Conference playoffs last
spring despite poor shooting by West.

But the brilliant veteran was at his characteristic best in the
teams' first match of the new season, pouring in 15 of his 26
points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers won 95-92.

West, who entered the game shooting 51 per cent from the
floor, sank three successive jump shots to overcome a 71-70
Milwaukee lead with 8:48 to play.

The Bucks rallied from six points down to tie at 86-86 with
2:52 left, but Happy Hairston' put the Lakers ahead to stay
with a 25 footer. Gail Goodrich stole the ball from Milwaukee's
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain rammed in a stuff
shot at the two-minute mark to give the Lakers a 90-86 lead.

"For some reason we just don't score in this place, although
a lot of it probably is their defense," said the 34-year-old West,
in the first year of a two year $600,000 contract.

"Early in the game I had some real good shots—probably the best shots
I've had against this team—but I missed," he said. "When you miss the
good shots you become more hesitant about shooting, more selective.
But then I made a couple of shots in the third quarter and started looking
for more."

Abdul-Jabbar totaled 37 points and 16 rebounds, but Curtis Perry with 12
points - all in the first half - and Jon McGlocklin with 11 points were the only
other Bucks in double figures.

Hairston, Goodrich and Chamberlain backed West with
16 points apiece. Chamberlain added 15 rebounds and Hairston
11 as the Lakers enjoyed a 58-45 spread on the boards.

Milwaukee's Oscar Robertson, who had missed three previous games with
a toe injury, finished with seven points and was scoreless until six and one-half minutes remained. McGlocklin and Wali Jones also played with injuries, while Abdul-Jabbar played his best game since coming down with flu more
than three weeks ago.

"I don't think we've had everybody practicing at the same time since training
camp because of injuries," Bucks Coach Larry Costello said. "I'm not making
excuses, but it's tough," Costello said. "We played some great defense tonight
and I thought we defended them well in the playoffs. But the reason our offense isn't sharp is we haven't had everybody together."

Coach Bill Sharman noted his Lakers, with 25 turnovers to Milwaukee's 24,
hadn't been sharp on offense, either. "Both teams played tenacious
defense, more defense than offense," he said. "I think it's that we play
each other so keyed up we don't execute very well."

But West said the Lakers hadn't been keyed up before the game, nor had
Sharman given any kind of pep talk. "You'd be amazed at the kind of attitude
this team has in a dressing room before a game," West said. "We don't have a
cocky team, but we have real confidence. We have people on the bench now
who could start for a lot of teams."

1972-73 regular season
Gm 2 December 5, 1972

LA Changes Defenses
Lakers Change Plans, Maul Bucks

Los Angeles (AP)
Sharman worked hard at devising a game plan for his National
Basketball Association champion Los Angeles Lakers. At the first
break in the game, the coach changed his mind and the Lakers won.

"I changed the game plan after the first time out," Sharman revealed
Tuesday night, "because Jabbar was eating us alive inside. He scored three
quick buckets off Wilt and I had to do something."

Shaman's Lakers won the game 116-94 against Milwaukee's Bucks and
defense was the key, both coaches agreed. "Our offense played right
into their defensive hands," losing coach Larry Costello said. "The next time
we play them, we should have this situation worked out. But I'm not
going to tell anyone how we're going to do it."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the smooth, agile giant of the Bucks, scored 29 points
He averaged 40.2 against the Lakers a year ago. The difference after that first
time out, Sharman said, was that Wilt Chamberlain was assigned a slightly
different task on defense.

Neither coach would go into specifics but Sharman did say "We changed our
defense to keep Jabbar outside." Chamberlain wound up with just nine points,
preferring to concentrate on defense rather than score. He took only four shots and made them all.

Jabbar hit only four close-in shots, three in the first moments and then only one more, an incredible slam-dunk shot that brought cheers from the normally icy crowd. Most of Jabbar's other shots were from the outside.

Although the former Lew Alcindor outscored the Lakers' Wilt Chamberlain 29-9 and outrebounded him 17-15, Chamberlain's teammates thought he got a draw. Abdul-Jabbar took 30 shots and made 11 while Chamberlain was 4 for 4.

"We feel we got a standoff in the middle," said West. "If we get a standoff there, we feel we have a good chance against Milwaukee. "Especially if we outrebound them. The key to your fastbreak is rebounding and it's a big plus when you can outrebound the other club by 18."

The Lakers are 2-0 against the Bucks this season. En route to their all-time
record of 69-13, the Lakers beat the Bucks in four of the clubs' five regular
season meetings in 1971-72. Los Angeles, eliminated Milwaukee 4-2 in the
playoff before beating New York in the NBA finals.

"We took Jabbar outside after the first six minutes and he didn't hurt us as
much out there," Los Angeles coach Bill Sharman said. Abdul-Jabbar had
nine of his points in the first quarter.

Larry Costello, the Milwaukee coach who guided the Bucks to the NBA title
two years ago, said: "They took us out of our offensive pattern early. That's
the second time in a row they've done that. There's no excuse for it either.
We know what they're going to do defensively but our offense played right
into their hands. "We're going to look at films of the two games with them this
season plus all the playoff films last year. Maybe that'll help."

Gail Goodrich led the Lakers with 24 points. Happy Hairston led all rebounders with 18 and the Lakers got strong games from their top two subs, Keith Erickson and Bill Bridges. Erickson had 17 points, all in the second half, and Bridges picked off a dozen rebounds.

For the Bucks, Bob Dandridge scored 20 points and Oscar Robertson 14.
My thoughts....
I've gained a greater appreciation on the impact coach Sharman had after reading up on those early 70's Lakers more. He was always a step ahead of Bucks coach Costello. It really makes you appreciate having Phil Jax and his staff on our side.

What if Portland had Jackson in 2000 or Sacramento had him in 2002. Would the Lakers still have won those years?

1972-73 regular season
Game 3 January 7, 1973

Kareem & Co. hand Lakers third loss in row

Lucius Allen unexpectedly found himself in the pressure role of playmaker
Sunday. But he knew exactly what to do: Give the ball to Kareem Abdul-

Abdul-Jabbar poured in 13 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter as the
Milwaukee Bucks, with clutch help from Allen and Bob Dandridge, pulled
away in the closing minutes for a 99-92 nationally-televised NBA victory
over the Lakers. Jabbar also collected 12 rebounds.

Allen, who ran the Bucks' offense after Oscar Robertson left in the first
quarter with a hamstring injury, contributed 20 points and Dandridge 21 as
the Bucks defeated the world champions for only the fourth time in the series'
last 14 games.

It marked the third loss in a row for the Lakers, the first time that's happened
since Bill Sharman became coach. Since Happy Hairston was injured four weeks ago their record is 6-6. While Happy manned the front line, the mark was 24-4.

"It's a difficult role when you don't have time to prepare, but that's why they
pay us," Allen said. "I made some mistakes — a couple of shots I should
have made and a couple of bad| passes, but fortunately we got the breaks at the end to win it."

Abdul-Jabbar scored 10 successive points while the Lakers went scoreless for
5:10 late in the third quarter and early in the fourth as Milwaukee assumed a
77-69 lead with 9:34 to go.

"I thought I played him fairly well until late in the third quarter," said Laker
center Wilt Chamberlain, who guarded the 7-foot-2 Abdul-Jabbar. "He was
taking shots, but then he made some really tough shots near the end of the third period and that gave them the momentum," Chamberlain said.

Abdul-Jabbar hit 12 of 17 shots in the second half, often bewildering
Chamberlain by taking routes to the basket he has seldom used before.

Bucks' Coach Larry Costello said Abdul-Jabbar, who prefers to pivot to his
left to launch his sky hooks, had surprised Chamberlain. "He was going to his
right instead of his left toward the basket and laid it in there on him two or three times," Costello said.

Jerry West, who shared Laker scoring honors with Jim McMillian with 26
points, finally broke the visitors' drought with a basket with nine minutes left.
West and McMillian sparked a comeback that brought the Lakers to 81-79
with 6:14 to play as Milwaukee, with Dandridge on the bench with five fouls,
had to use rookies Micky Davis and Chuck Terry on the front line.

Dandridge returned with 6:05 to play and was credited with a basket on a
disputed goaltending call against Chamberlain to give Milwaukee an 88-85
lead 3:10 to play.

It was the goal-tending call that caused Chamberlain his final frustration.
"I never did touch it,"Chamberlain, who had 9 points and 18 rebounds,
said of Dandridge's shot. "It was one of those things they (officials)
just happened to miss, but it sure didn't help." Dandridge said: "I just shot
it up there and his (Chamberlain's) body covered the play. I didn't even see it."

Two free throws by Jon McGlocklin and a baseline shot
by Dandridge boosted the Bucks' lead to 92-85 with two minutes left.
West retaliated with a jump shot and Chamberlain with a tip-in cut the
deficit to three, but Allen fed Abdul-Jabbar for a layup and sank a driving
jump shot with 49 seconds left to make it 97-89 .

Abdul-Jabbar said he figured he was due to break loose. "In the first half,
I took a very bad selection of shots and my hook was a little ugly," he said.

Bill Bridges, who has been playing in Hairston's spot, came through with
12 points and 12 rebounds as the Lakers lad a 46-38 spread on the
boards. But several Bucks were quick to note Los Angeles is not the same
team without Hairston.

"All their rebounding pressure was on Wilt," Abdul-Jabbar said. "Bridges didn't work the boards that hard, so I only dad to battle Wilt. Without Hairston in there, it turns them off balance."

Robertson said he believes Bridges "gets the ball off the board as well as Hairston. But I definitely think Hairston moves down court better than Bridges. I'm sure it hurts their running game."

"They've had to make a big adjustment to Bridges and to Keith Erickson coming back from an injury," Allen said. "They'll be a lot different next time because they'll have had time to adjust."

"I couldn’t be more proud of the team," said Costello, using words rarely heard
in the big-money world of professional basketball, "The job they did without
Oscar and Curtis was something. They played with courage."

Coach Larry Costello in effect admitted that the players perform best in a big
game, especially one on national television. "Playing on national TV seems to
make a difference for my team," Costello said. "And certainly playing a leading team like the Lakers makes a difference.
My notes....
Unfortunately Happy Hairston missed the rest of the regular season and only played 26 minutes in the essense he missed the rest of the season.
That severly damaged any hopes the Lakers had of repeating.

Here's hoping for a healthy Lakers team in 2011...and good health for all those ttaking on the champs.

1972-73 regular season
Gm 4 February 9, 1973

West Out, Bucks Rip Lakers

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks thought they were in deep
trouble with one regular out and two others hurting Friday night, but it was
the Los Angeles Lakers who couldn't compensate for injury.

The Lakers' brilliant guard, Jerry West, pulled a hamstring with four minutes
gone and sat down the rest of the night. He scored only two points, 21.5
below his average, but the defending National Basketball Association
champions missed his defense and leadership even more as they absorbed
a 109-88 licking.

"From past experience, I imagine I might be out at least a week, but that's hard to say." West said. "I was going up for a jump shot and it (the injury) just happened. The leg had been a little sore for some time, but not really a problem until this."

Though the Lakers managed a 44-43 halftime lead, their offense became
disjointed without West's direction and the majority of their second half baskets came from outside.

Jim McMillian, whose 28 points led Los Angeles, hit five baskets in a row early in the second half, but the game turned around after he picked up his fourth foul with 6:12 left in the period. McMillian had to ease his defensive pressure on Bob Dandridge, who quickly dropped in a pair o[ free throws and two baskets. Moments later Milwaukee outscored Los Angeles 20-6. transforming a 62-60 lead to 82-66.

The Bucks widened the spread to 19 points with 5:10 to go and Laker Coach Bill Sharman cleared his bench a minute later.

The Bucks played without Curtis Perry, their second leading rebounder who has an ankle injury- But Dandridge who had a groin injury, came through with 22 points. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led Milwaukee with 29 points and 24 rebounds as the Bucks owned the boards by a 57-47 spread. Oscar Robertson, usually guarded by West, shook loose for 19 points and Lucius Allen, who had been given only a 50-50 chance to play because of a bruised thigh, contributed 16 points in 28 minutes.

McMillian said West's absence hurt the Lakers most on defense. "He's a tremendous defensive player, and he and I have learned to complement one another." McMillian said. "He can do certain things and I can do certain things without having to communicate with each other."

"Jerry is our leader," he said. "We could probably adjust to being without him
after a game or two, but when it happens right during a game it's a little rough

Bucks' Coach Larry Costello called Abdul-Jabbar's play "exceptional." "He was setting picks, hitting the boards and we were getting people out," Costello said. "It was one of our well played games because we got big plays from a lot of people."

"When they (Los Angeles) take (Bill) Bridges out, they don't have too many big people in there and we could match up well up front," Costello said.

Bridges pulled down 12 rebounds but teammate Wilt Chamberlain, with 14
rebounds and only eight points, was soundly outplayed by Abdul-Jabbar.
West's backcourt teammate, Gail Goodrich, scored 18 points to support
McMillian, but reserve Keith Erickson with 10 points was the only other Laker
to score in double figures. That, to Costello, was much of the story.

"I always felt we played good defense against this team, but even when
we take them out of their patterns Goodrich, West and McMillian beat us one
on one," Costello said. "Without West, we have one less one on one player to
worry about."

1972-73 Regular season

Gm 5 February 25, 1973

Wilt turns on, Kareems Bucks.

"When he plays like that, he's the best center in the league."
This time it was coach Bill Sharman praising Wilt Chamberlain
as the aging superstar once again — at a time when there was
speculation that he might be slipping over the hill — came through
with an unforgettable performance, against Milwaukee's Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar Sunday.

His timing, as always, was most propitious. The Lakers had lost
four in a row for their longest drought in the Sharman regime and
Milwaukee was closing in on a shot at the Lakers' claim for best
record in the Western Conference and a homecourt edge in the

A hamstring muscle pull kept Jerry West on the sidelines and a
capacity crowd of and a national television audience was set to
watch the Lakers fall deeper into trouble at the Forum. But
Chamberlain, as he has done so many times in his 13-year NBA
career, decided it was the right situation to assert himself.

Wilt Chamberlain, showing again how he can dominate a game,
scored 24 points and had 20 rebounds. Abdul-Jabbar, nursing a
sprained back, scored 21 points and had 21 rebounds but hit on
only 10 of 27 shots from the floor and went only one for seven in
the last quarter when the Lakers rallied from behind for a surprising
91-82 win.

Terry Driscoll added 17 for the Bucks. Bobby Dandridge 12 points,
followed by Robertson and Allen 10 points each.

It was Los Angeles' third win in five games this season against
Milwaukee. For the first time in 16 meetings Chamberlain outscored
Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Chamberlain last outscored the Buck center
in the NBA playoffs in April of 1971.

"At 36, he can't play hard every game," explained Sharman, "but
when he wants to turn it on, he's unbelievable." Wilt, who averaged only
six shots in four previous games against Jabbar and had been out-scored
this season by his 25-year old adversary to the tune of 32.3 to 10.5 an
outing, turned the tables.

But some people expect me to turn on the offense any time I want.
I've got news for them — it's not that easy", said Chamberlain.

Chamberlain said that "The only thing you can do against Jabbar is try
to keep pressure on him. It’s always good to beat Milwaukee,
especially when some of your big guys aren’t playing."

Buck coach Larry Costello, who has been quoted extensively as to
Jabbar always out-playing Wilt, had to back off and agree that this one
belonged to the Laker captain. "Wilt had a fantastic game." said Costello.
"He made Kareem work for his shots and then forced him to take bad
percentage shots."

"No, I can't say I'm surprised at what Wilt was doing," said Jabbar. "After
all, he has scored in the past hasn't he?" "I've had success against him in
the past," admitted Jabbar, "but not today."

Aside from Wilt's defensive work on Jabbar, the Lakers as ,a unit were
outstanding at harassing the Milwaukee shooters. The 82 points represents
the second lowest total in the Bucks' five-year history.

Trailing 71-67, the Lakers tore off an 18-7 string to open the final
period and establish an 85-78 lead with 5:46 to play. When both
teams went three minutes and 12 seconds without a point, the game
was in the bag for the Lakers as Jim McMillian's layup gave them
a nine-point bulge, 89-80, with 1:52 remaining.

However, the game's tempo was decided at 8:05 of the first period
when Jabbar was whistled for an offensive foul.

Wilt began clapping his hands and prodding his teammates, a seldom
seen side of the Laker big man during regular season play. It meant he
had come to play.
My thoughts...
Gotta love Kareem's sarcasm saying..."Wilt has scored in the past hasn't he".
At that time Wilt was the all-time leading scorer with over 31,000 points...well ahead of Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.

Nice post, MM. Very readable and rereadable.

FCM - Nice look at these guys. I'm really hoping that Blake can take the load of Fish. Heck, if Blake fits as well as we hope, I'm thinkin' that having them share starting duties as the situation fits will be a good thing for both of them.

While I'm at it here and since there is only two weeks before camp starts, I'm going to make the last shameless plug of the off season for my video series. There is a new video on the cyclesurgeon channel on youtube. It's good for a laugh or if you're not careful you could learn to be handy. This will be the last mention until the end of next June.

Now that that's done, a question: When you have a 32 year old Kobe on your team, when do you start looking for your next guy to start trying on his old shoes?


1) Blake will be a back up guard but unlike Farmar is a stronger possibility to secure more minutes in the regular season for Fisher to be more ready for the playoffs. That being said the pre-season will be important for Blake to learn the offense. The PG of the offense is the second hardest of the triangle offense to learn after the Wing with the center position being the easiest due to less amount of moves from high to low post low to high post etc. We know Blake can be a good play maker and a good pure shooter and probably better defender than Fisher atm (charges are another thing though) but can he handle running the offense will be the question. In other words there are more to his position than simply spot up shooting!

2) Theo will take the spot by Powell/Mbenga. As long Bynum-Gasol-Odom are healthy he won't get as much minutes. Ratliff will see a back up role when either of them get injured (they will at one point just depends how long but hopefully neither will even though that's wishful thinking). Don't expect too much and from the Phil haters there will be times they will bash Phil for not using Ratliff as much as they think they want him to: In advance for the Phil haters Ratliff is a 37 year old man dude!

3) Barnes will be the more interesting considering he has defense and energy but will have the hardest job of the newcomers: Learning the Wing not to mention in learning it under a year because of Phil's last year as a coach. Plus Barnes is an okay spot up shooter not a great one and already a veteran he will have to get rid of his veteran tendencies in order to get to learn the wing. He will struggle but how much is the topic of debate let's just hope he isn't a space cadet on offense (defense will be better than the original space cadet).

5) Toughest thing for Shannon will be minutes. Unlike last year when the Lakers had their back up SF's either injured a ton (Walton) or not even good to play (Morrison) the Lakers have a legit back up in Barnes and Walton if he's healthy. That means less time for Kobe at the SF slot and more time for him at SG. Which means less production consistently from Shannon Brown and means most likely the end of the Machine Era in LA unless Sasha can shoot 40% in less than 8 minutes which usually is not the case and even then is still VERY limited minutes.

I still stand by my guarantee: Sasha will not gain significant minutes (he will get on the court at times) over Kobe and Shannon Brown!

That being to help the off-season go I'll educate everyone to things that are taken for granted: The Art of Passing and Assists then after The Wing(s) of the Triangle Offense for dummies.

Hey guys, Thanks for the nice feedback on this post. I'm glad you enjoyed. In the next few weeks before training camp, I plan to do a series titled "Pre-season question of the Day."

Hopefully it helps spark discussion and get everyone geared up for the 2010-2011 season


1972-73 Regular season
Gm 6 March 27, 1973 - Final game between Kareem and Wilt

Jabbar's Shot Gives Bucks 85-84 Victory over Lakers

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was in doubt. Suddenly he heard a voice. "Go
ahead and shoot it." "So I did," Abdul-Jabbar declared. His unusual push
shot from the foul line put the Milwaukee Bucks ahead 85-84 with 1:12
to go. Neither team scored thereafter; so the Bucks carted away a vital
victory over the world champion Los Angeles Lakers before a frantic
sellout throng of 17,505 Tuesday night at the Forum.

Who told Abdul-Jabbar to shoot? "Oscar Robertson," said the 7-2 giant
center of the Bucks. "And I usually do what he says."

Robertson's advice proved to be almost as important as his all-round
performance in this game. Now 34, Big 0 has been fighting a pulled
hamstring all season. Nevertheless he has rallied the Bucks to 14
consecutive victories down the stretch, and they closed out their
campaign at 60-22.

The Lakers had their chances at the end but couldn’t convert.
With 41 seconds remaining Laker center Wilt Chamberlain was
called for a three second violation. With 10 seconds left Gail
Goodrich and Bill Bridges both missed shots that would have
given Los Angeles the victory.

Robertson led the Bucks with 25 points and nine assists. Jabbar had
24 points plus 18 rebounds.

Wilt Chamberlain, the Laker giant toiled 46 minutes and didn't
attempt a shot or score a point. He also collected only two rebounds
in the second half. He finished with zero points and 14 rebounds which
surprised Jabbar. "I thought Wilt would put the ball up," he said. "He's
practically unstoppable when he turns in on you. It all depends on what
he wants to do."

The Lakers fell to 59-22 with one game remaining at Golden State
tonight. If the Lakers win, the two teams will meet Friday night in
Milwaukee to determine the NBA Western Conference champion
and the home court edge in case they collide in the playoffs.

The Bucks and Lakers ended their season series tied 3-3.

Back to Robertson. "Yes, I'm tired," he said after running the deliberate
Milwaukee offense for 44 minutes. "I feel fine, the leg doesn't pain me at all."

Abdul-Jabbar, said it was a low scoring game because neither team will
let the other fast break. "Wilt and I neutralize each other on the boards, and
it's difficult to get anything going."

Laker coach Bill Sharman felt his players were standing around against the
Bucks and their intimidating center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. "We've got to
get more movement," Sharman said. "They're too tough for us defensively
for us to just stand around. It's a shame we had to lose like this."

"Lack of concentration," said Laker forward Jim McMillian, who drilled
home 32 points to lead all scorers. "We had a good first half, (twice leading
by 11 points at 42-31 and 46-35), but we let it get away."

Bridges and Jerry West had 14 points each for Los Angeles.
Milwaukee ended the season with 14 straight victories to set
a new NBA record for most wins to close out a season.

Buck coach Larry Costello made a defensive switch after McMillian hit
20 first half points, largely at the expense of Jon McGlocklin. He used
Chuck Terry, a Jerry Tarkanian product of Cal State Long Beach, the
entire second half on McMillian.

"Terry did a tremendous job," said Big 0, who tried his hand on McMillian
for a spell too. "That was one of the keys to the victory."

The Bucks turned the game around in the third quarter when they outscored
the Lakers 24-18 and twice took the lead at 55-54 and 57-56. It appeared
they were using a zone defense for at least five Laker offensive series.

Snapped all-pro Jerry West: "You can’t dribble the ball against the zone."

Laker Coach Bill Sharman kept the locker room door shut after the
game while the Milwaukee dressing room was exuberant with cheers
being led by Lucius Allen. "We didn't move out there, sustain any
offense or make any cuts to the basket," Sharman said. "If we continue
to play like this and just stand around, we won't win any playoffs."
My thoughts......
LA and Milwaukee finished the season tied for the best record (60-22) and the season series was tied 3-3. Therefore, the next tie-breaker was a one game playoff to determine who would have home court advantage in WC. However, the Players Association said that their contracts stated they would play 82 regular season games and fought against it. The league determined to decide the winner by a coin toss. The Bucks won the coin toss and went into the playoffs as the #1 seed.

The much anticipated matchup between LA and Milwaukee didn't happen because Golden State (Rick Barry, Nate Thurmond, Cazzie Russell) upset the Bucks in the first rd 4-2. Kareem had one of his worst playoff series in the 70's avg only 23pts/16 reb and shooting just 43% against Nate Thurmond and a swarming Warrior defense.

The Lakers went on to lose to NY 4-1 in the NBA finals. Happy Hairston made a galiant attempt to comeback...but was only able to play limited minutes and was ineffective.

After the playoffs Wilt retired after 14 brilliant seasons. He avg 10pts/23 reb/4asst in the playoffs that year.

Wilt - Kareem recap:

Regular season - 17 games (Lakers won 9-8)
Kareem 32/16
Wilt 16/18

Playoffs - 11 games (Bucks won 6-5)
Kareem 31/17
Wilt 16/20

28 total games (Lakers 14-Bucks 14)

Here's how I would rate the signing of the three new vets:

Blake (10). Perfect fit for the Lakers and the triangle. Smart player, can hit the 3, distribute efficiently and defend adequately. He'll help organize second unit and get Bynum touches when they're on the court together.

Barnes (8). His feistiness is his greatest strength and greatest weakness. Lakers can use his attitude and willingness to get under the opponents skin. Enjoys playing defense and is a decent spot up 3pt shooter....can get a little shot happy at times. (Just remind him this ain't Nellie's or SVG's fire away 3pt system). Biggest concern is turning the refs against the Lakers with his antics. We know Kobe is going to be one of the league leaders in techs and his complaining will cost the Lakers some calls occasionally. The Lakers are cool with that because Kobe is Kobe. What LA can't have is Barnes also getting a lot of techs or flagrant fouls. He has been one of the top (if not the leader) in flagrant fouls over the last 3-4 years.

Theo (6) Not much left in the tank. He will be a good teammate and can help by teaching AB some of his defensive principles. Phil will trust him more than DJ so he should be able to help Pau/Bynum/Lamar....especially Pau get a little more rest and be fresher for the playoffs.

one thing about Wilt, he had no problem bragging, but he had no problem being humble either. "But some people expect me to turn on the offense any time I want. I've got news for them — it's not that easy"

no secrets with Blake, Barnes or Ratliff's(sounds like a law firm), role. we'll soon see how well they get it, themselves.

Oh yeah can't forget about my SpartanDawg...Shannon. It was great to re-sign him for one reason...Excitement. LA is the entertainment capital of the world right? Thus, the Lakers ALWAYS should have at least one high-flying, showtime, high energy type player. And hopefully Shannon's all around floor game will improve this season.

LRob - busy trying to do a rewrite on a script, so no time, but as always I'm thoroughly enjoying your recaps. It was the end of the line for Wilt and Jerry was coming to a close as well, but boy could they all play basketball.

Kareem versus Wilt was like Godzilla versus King Kong.

Someone save me. My wife is watching Real Housewives of New Jersey and I can't escape it in our 700 square foot apartment. Why does she like this show? WHY?!!? Can one of our resident female Laker bloggers explain why women love this crap!?

If it weren't for USA Basketball, I might have poisoned my own food by now. October 26th cannot arrive soon enough!

Kareem versus Wilt was like Godzilla versus King Kong.

Posted by: 63 Footer | September 07, 2010 at 11:06 PM

63 Footer - You're right about the Godzilla versus King Kong. I miss those mano-mano matchups between great players.

Best wishes on your re-write.

one thing about Wilt, he had no problem bragging, but he had no problem being humble either. "But some people expect me to turn on the offense any time I want. I've got news for them — it's not that easy"

Posted by: mud | September 07, 2010 at 10:57 PM

Mud...someone should tell that to Shaq. It's okay to give your opponent credit or admit you're not invincible.

Oh yeah can't forget about my SpartanDawg...Shannon. It was great to re-sign him for one reason...Excitement. LA is the entertainment capital of the world right? Thus, the Lakers ALWAYS should have at least one high-flying, showtime, high energy type player. And hopefully Shannon's all around floor game will improve this season.

Posted by: LRob | September 07, 2010 at 11:04 PM
My kid (5) plays in a little league and one day I asked them what was their favorite Laker. 1 or 2 said Kobe, the other 6 kids said it was Shannon.

You said it right LRob, it's about the excitement.

Good night all!

Magic Phil - Looks like your kid is the smartest of the bunch...He said Kobe, right...

puddle - I HATE that show...what garbage...yep, my wife's favorite too...can't argue with her...she always brings up me watching the game, highlights, newscasts, replays, and the I lose the argument every time, and have to stroll into the office...

No matter what...the Bench Mob has been upgraded...will it all of the many subplots this season...why it can't come soon enough...

puddle -

Marriage is give and take...true...
but it is harsh...
to give Desperate Housewives of New Jersey...
to take the Lakershow...


Don't the lakers 3 bigs all have increadible mileage put on them in the last 3 seasons? (all finals appearances)? I hope Phil is smart enough to let Theo play 10-12 minutes per game.

Bynum although young needs to be monitored, Odom always seems to get banged up and get overplayed by Phil (when Bynum gets quick fouls), and Pau has been the workhorse of the front line for too long, holding down 2 positions. We especially need to keep Pau fresh for the long haul. No big should play 42 -43 minutes per game regularly as he did last year (out of necessity).

So for this title run we need the 3 additions a lot more than we let on. We were SO banged up last year, lookit Kobe's minutes at the 3 backing up Artest. Barnes can fit in there, and take the load off. Let's not be surprised if Phil really uses the 3 additions (and finally says goodbye to Sasha if Blake works out). Let's also not be surprised if Phil keeps overplaying the starters as he always does to keep winning

I believe Barnes, and Blake can really help elevate the Lakers to a three-peat! Imagine being a an NBA wing and having to face Kobe, Artest, and then Barnes with Blake mixed in there as well. Theo adds to this already ridiculous defense. I just hope that everyone buys in and we come out the gates holding even strong opponents to under 85 points a game .

MM, I read somewhere that DJ was going to sign with the Nuggets...can you confirm? da man. Awesome read. And i would say you hit the nail on the head. Definitely interested to see my man Ron Ron get into some scraps with Barnes in practices. Also can't wait for Ron Ron and Barnes to go toe to toe with Wade and LeBron with those two knowing full well if they F with Kobe they might both get knocked out by our two thugs. Not condoning that type of action but good to see a multitude of enforcers...not to mention Steve Blake is a huge MMA guy and honestly up here in Portland they know him as pound for pound probably the toughest guy in the league. Keep up the awesome work...Go Lake Show!


Assists are an intriguing thing in sports particularly in Basketball and Hockey. Basically it means you pass the ball to a teammate and should that teammate make the shot you get a point for helping that person score. Assists usually are a sign of unselfishness and great passing ability and more often it gets either undervalued or overvalued. This post is for to show that it is very difficult to make an assist just as much as it is to score consistently in today's NBA. For example many bloggers here, particularly those who watched a man named Earvin Johnson Jr. or Magic Johnson run the court and just keep giving the ball up to an teammate and score nearly as much assists as he did his own scoring, somehow dreams of having another Magic Johnson. Others point out that certain things such as what the offense should be like limits the opportunity. In whichever case, the way to get an assist should not be overlooked as easy. By far it is probably HARDER to score an assist than it is to score on a bucket.

Here is why: There is a new dimension when it comes to assists. It is a whole new world that is just as an art as scoring or rebounding is. For example you have the ball and you want to be unselfish and give the ball up. The question first is WHO to give the ball to. Do you give it to the nearest person so the risk of losing it isn't as low, do you try to give it to your big man because he is closer to the post, or maybe the wide open shooter who while has a lower chance of making it, is more open than the other players and can earn the opportunity for an extra point or even pass it to a player who isn't normally offensively gifted to increase his or her confidence and try to get that person active. And that is just one PART. The next is WHICH type of pass should it be? Should it be a bounce pass, one that is direct, maybe a chest pass for more force or a behind the back pass to help shield the ball from picky hands and to make the play look more spectacular. Third off, the question of the type of pass is the person you are looking for doing? Is the person cutting to the basket, going for a spot up shooting or doing a pick and pop for a mid range shot and what is the best pass to best get the stroke going for a bucket. And last but not least is HOW the defense reacting to a possible pass by you? Are they sinking in because they do not respect your passing ability or rather the scoring of the player or is rather they are more scared of your scoring/passing that they want to put pressure so you give it to a person who is neither as talented playmaking wise or perhaps too ball dominant for your liking?

Decisions, decisions. Those are the type of decisions you must face if you would rather get an assist. Sometimes it's better that you shoot the ball instead of trying to be Mr. Unselfish all the time. But then again it's still YOU are using that possession. Those 4 other guys unless they know what you want them to do don't know what you are going give it too. They will probably make their cuts but still if the defense reacts to this or that who will give it to? Plus the defense knows you are going to pass so they are going to try their best to make it miserable to try to pass it. Assists are usually counted as a sign to see if a person is a ball hog or not but it can also mean ball dominant can it not? If you are the one who is playmaking for everyone and still get the one who hoists the most shots isn't that what ball hogging is? That you choose shoot the ball more than anyone yet is the one who is feeding them instead of everyone feeding each other in accordance to the offense? Being the one who hoists the most shots and still be the one dependent on doing playmaking is no different than a person to shoot 30+ with no assists, simply because you are using more possessions to either score or playmak and not trust your teammate to help do the job themselves.

The big thing about assist is that: To make the best successful assist the person on the receiving end must have space to make the shot. To get that person to have to space to even receive the ball and not let the defense have the opportunity to intercept the ball space must be created either by a person's one dribble or by passing as a team as a whole. The latter may or may not give you an assist and the former requires great skill and/or athleticism. Being skilled such as great dribble penetration moves and/or a smooth jump shot will help you get some space initially. Because that person would be good it is so much easier to get space open to the point is hey if they have space to be created why not take the shot which most player do. So know you are getting more attention and probably less space for you but possibly more space for others and that's when usually you play make. Remember though that there is more attention towards you so there could be less space for you to make that pass so its either again use the offense to help create that or create on your own if your mind is to pass. So that means more moves/athleticism is required and well that can either make it to a nice ooh ahh play or a what the heck is he or she doing?? remark. People who does the ability to create space by themselves usually score because of the ability to score at will and the fact most of the crossover moves were meant to create space of off your defender not necessarily the person on your teammates. The Jordan's, the Bryant's, the Drexler's, the Miller's, and even the Wade's were/are great scorers and their moves/athleticism to create space did help them playmake but again most of it was for an open shot for them and that's why it's more easier to score than it would be to play make: Creating space for is one thing but to create for you AND for the next person? That's more work. Of course if your reputation to be unstoppable on scoring makes more double teams sent your way, it's more easier to playmake since that already creates some space for you to throw the pass and for the receiver to receive the pass.

Magic Johnson was amongst the rarest talents to grace the NBA. His ability to playmake (though the up tempo speed in an already higher tempo of the NBA of that time did help bump up his assists) helped him become known to "make his teammates" better and his 6'9 frame did wonders. Of course it is not always necessary to have athleticism to become a great passer since some who are skilled in the art of playmaking such as Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, John Stockton were all players who weren't going to win any athleticism contests but were very skilled enough offensively to play make for their teammates and when they were available to score points. Deron Williams uses his mind boggling crossover moves while CP3 uses his athleticism to get into the lane and help find teammates. Lebron so far has proved to be the best passer outside of PG's but also in Cleveland try to score the ball a ton as well so he ended taking a ton more of the Cavaliers possessions though that will drop during his time in Miami. Magic most times never opted to shoot more than 12 times and the most he shot was 16 times. Being 6'9 helped a ton to make those plays. That being said the ability to emulate him is even more harder than it is to emulate Michael Jordan? Why because well being a playmaker at 6'9 isn't something you find the NBA usually and one who preferred to pass the ball more rather than the ones who could score.

Magic Johnson told Larry Bird that there will never be another Larry Bird. Well Bird should have told Earvin there will be another Magic and a big reason is because no can emulate the 6'9 passing ability he had. Closest one is Stockton but John was never the clutch nor could score if needed ability that Earvin had nor was he 6'9. Deron and Chris emulate his ppg and apg perhaps and could be better overall defenders than Earvin but they used more their skill/athleticism to do it. Many of us Laker fans desperate to see another Magic try to see it in Kobe Bryant not realizing that 1) Kobe is not the playmaker that Magic is and that he is a born scorer as he stated and 2) As he stated to Phil that he is not Magic and that their games are different.

For big men it is an undervalued ability. Many big men of today are sloppy passers from Howard to Bynum to Yao to Randolph. Neither of those 4 had the abillity to be playmakers at the big men of either O'Neal, Duncan, Olajuwon, Robinson, or even a Gasol (Pau). Don't get me wrong all 4 of those are talented players and is a force but either the system, such as in Howard's case make up the weakness of passing, or having other super talented teammates as in Bynum's case, prevents the need at the time being for that though when the system and/or teammates isn't suited anymore one has to wonder how they will be able to create their own offense. Wilt and Kareem were very well known for their scoring as Wilt has the highest ppg ever while Kareem scored the most points in NBA history but they were very underrated in the playmaking game as Kareem averaged 4apg in his prime while Wilt also led the league one time at assists! (8.6) and both could play high and low since it gave them more ability and space to find open teammates to pass to. Posting up isn't just the only arsenal of a big man and people who think that big men should only post up either forget that other big men can go high/low just as well and also only remember O'Neal whose own size nobody could match so it was only natural that he go and post up. No one since Wilt Chamberlain rivalled the size and power of O'Neal so O'Neal shouldn't be looked upon as the standard in how big men should be....there will be never another O'Neal. Howard's power pales in comparison even though both of their games are very similar.

So as everyone can see it is by far harder to score an assist since in the end even if you get the ball to the teammate the person has to score and they can't do too much extra moves on their own or otherwise it won't count. Plus unless you are a great scorer yourself it is very hard to create space for you and teammate and most times to create the space either is for you to score that makes it less likely for you to pass and should it not be successful creating space just for you will be even harder to pass it to another person unless their defender shifted to defend you or you run the offense like the triangle which discourages one on one play as much as possible and instead gets the best shots with the best of passes. And that is just space nevermind how the delivery of the ball is to the person and how that person best receives it.

Bottom line: Assists are harder to get and people should really stop shoving it down everyone's throat (particularly Kobe's or even dreaming he'll become Magic Johnson one day) that Kobe or Fisher or whoever needs to get assists. It can go both ways as attempting to be a playmaker can instead ruin your own offense and slow down your overall team offense. The ability to being a playmaker is greatly valued, especially amongst big men where the trait is getting less and less. However one should not immediately look at assists numbers and assume that he/she is unselfish. If you are making assists and shooting 22+ times per game and have talented teammates...that's more ballhogging there just as much as shooting 27 times with 3 assists. It's not the easiest thing in the world and it's arguably MUCH much harder. It's not as easy as giving the ball up, if you think that's the only thing required to be a successful really don't know basketball.

Next will be a day or so concerning the Hardest position of the Triangle Offense: The Wing and the Initiator.

LRob - Great post on the Wilt - Kareem matchup.

I think this matchup makes more sense than the Bill Russell - Wilt Chamberlain.

Because Wilt & Kareem could both dominate on offense and defense.

Good Morning Laker Nation -

It's time to Rise and Represent. Have a great day!

It's kind of a shame that DJ Mbenga never developed enough of an offensive game to fill the role that Theo will play. Mbenga could have been the long-term backup if he had. We all loved DJ and his backstory, but I never understood how it was that he never really developed or displayed a post game when he was so big and strong. It was just mind boggling to watch him take, and miss, mid-range jumpers. Theo should certainly be an upgrade in this regard. He will know his role and will be able to play to his strengths in the little time he gets.

Thanks MM for the info on the new guys. We have the right personnel now it is a matter of jelling the right chemistry and camaraderie. It takes 82 games to learn from one another and another 20 games to go for 3 peat. Whatever the plans will be, the most important thing is that all players are on the same page.

Good Morning Everyone!

LRob and KB, loved the in-depth articles. I'm greatly looking forward to reading your thoughts on your next topic.

I need to get some breakfast before I start to participate, but just wanted you both to know that your efforts are appreciated.

Talk to everyone in a bit!


Welcome back. I think you hit the nail on the head on Blake - he has to be very big contributor without stepping on Fish's toes.

This is not a knock on Fish, I like him as a player and a man. He is tough and a real team player. But he does very clearly have an ego, even if he tries to hold it in check. Listening to him, it is clear he has an attitude that he and Kobe have won five titles together and are after 3 more. I'm sure he knows Kobe's role was larger, but he has a lot of pride in his role (as he should).

Fish is not ready, mentally, to become the #2 PG. So Blake has to come in and play great, but leave for Fish to feel like The Man. Fish is a class act, and it will all work out I am sure, but there may be bumps on teh road.


Good morning everyone. Good info and insight MM. Thanks. As I have thought about the make-up of that second unit, I see a return to the pace-setting change that the "Bench Mob" of a couple seasons ago provided.

IF Phil eases up on the minutes of Kobe/Pau/Fisher/Artest as it appears he can, we are looking at a second unit of Odom/Barnes/Blake/Brown in tandem with either Bynum or Pau from late first quarter to middle of the second quarter, and then another 6-8 minutes in the second half.

With Blake pushing the ball with his speed (like Farmar) and pass-first skills (unlike Farmar), Barnes and Brown filling the lanes (or spot up for 3-pointer), Odom trailing (or coast-to-coast off the rebound), this second unit has the makings of a fast-paced team. The added asset of Sasha as filler adds more speed/shooting/defensive pressure.

IF Bynum/Pau (even a little Ratliffe) and Odom rebound and protect the lane, Barnes/Blake/Brown have the potential to be better than average as a trio of perimeter defenders (versus the opposition's second unit). Pressure "D" and paint presence by the Bigs to go with good rebounding is the perfect recipe for feeding a fast-break, fast-paced offense.

The change of pace should be an added element of warfare that does not show up "on paper."


What if Portland had Jackson in 2000 or Sacramento had him in 2002. Would the Lakers still have won those years?

Posted by: LRob | September 07, 2010 at 09:39 PM

Nope. Nope.


I think Barnes and Blake will fit in and transition rather well into the triangle + offense.
I too think Ratcliff was brought in to be insurance and mentor for AB.
I think this shows the dedication the front office has in developing AB. First to be mentored by KAB for offense and footwork and now Theo for mentoring AB health and learning how to take care of his health. This really shows how much front office is investing in AB.
Drew take notes.

Dear Uncle Tom,

(I, Sonnybelfast wrote ‘Dear Uncle Tom’, I! Got that Arthur?)

‘I also can't thank you enough for coming back and giving me another shot.
I won't let you down.’


Posted by: Mark Medina | September 07, 2010 at 07:06 PM

Shish Mark! Almost made me throw up in my mouth. Yes, even I appreciate much of LT’s commentary for its organizational flow and Disney-esque sales attributes, but please, give everyone a break.

Wait a minute.

I think I just figured it out.

In fact, you are Ron’s Ron’s psychiatrist aren’t you?
A dedicated practitioner going that extra mile for your patient,
working as the blog commentator for his basketball team,
filtering any untoward comments that might send him back in the stands,
or compel him to abuse animals again.

A Brilliant Stroke!

And it doesn’t hurt to appease the board’s CEO of ‘pretend-as-if’, whose example so many of the little girls seem blindly eager, or even obliged to follow. I get it, and he adores Testes.

Brilliant indeed! . .

Actually, Mr. Medina, I am glad you are back to help guide the movement
of the class. Hey, ‘sticks-and-stones’, throwing people under the bus, racism,
and adultery can be tolerated, but this biting has got to stop! (Are you feeling me Justa?)

By the way, as if you didn’t know, Lieutenant Dan did a fine job in your absence. He might even have saved a job or two at the LaTimes.

Can hardly wait for the season to start.

Go Kings!
Go Niners!
Go Giants! (Can't those L.A. wimps beat the Padres even once?)
Go Team USA!
Go Manny, go!


mmmm.. blake, barnes, ratliff, caracter, and ebanks.

i CANT WAIT for the season to start.

Looking at how Wilt went out. It seems that he was always pretty athletic even towards the end. He just had to pick his spots more. If he had taken up Martial Arts and Yoga the way Kareem did, I have no doubt he could have extended his career and put the scoring mark way out of reach.

But, I remember reading Kareem's autobiography and he mentioned how Wilt didn't exactly take care of his body away from the court. But, his life outside the game seemed pretty fun...

I guess it just shows where each man's priorities were.

But, it seems, overall, the battle between Wilt and Kareem...was a draw!



Can I give you an Emmy for the Kareem-Wilt series? You know my brother got an Emmy (well, the paper one that goes to all the people behind the scenes when someone famous wins) so this gives me the right to assign spiritual Emmys to whomever I deem fit, and you my friend have been deemed.



lewstrs (Las Vegas)

Will Barnes fit in, or will he be a distraction, especially if PJ gives him DNP-CD...

Brian Kamenetzky (2:00 PM)

Hey lewstrs-That's a question both Andy and I were concerned about when he signed, but his attitude thus far is encouraging. Apparently, he didn't even broach the subject of PT with Mitch Kupchak during negotiations. He's certainly aware of who is in LA's rotation, and came anyway. Plus, I don't think there will be too many DNPs, though the minutes could be leaner than he's used to. But PJ is a master of handling stuff like this. I'm not worried.



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