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Lakers striving to improve ball movement

December 27, 2010 |  7:13 pm

The problem and the solution are one and the same.

"Move the ball," Lakers forward Lamar Odom summed up when asked what needs to happen to ensure more ball movement.

But if it were that simple,ball movement wouldn't have been an issue in the Lakers' 96-80 loss Christmas Day to the Miami Heat, a game that featured the team shooting 40.5% from the field, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol combining for a zero of 11 clip and the entire bench finishing with a seven of 23 mark from field-goal range.

"The ball has to move well for guys to have open shots. Some of it is about confidence and having a semblance of responsibility with the ball," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "A lot of the guys are trying to take it on themselves. The ball doesn't move often enough from one side of the court to the other."

The result: Plenty of statistics by Synergy Sports that illustrated the Lakers' poor offense. Out of the Lakers' 97 offensive plays, 24 of them came on post-ups (seven of 21), 16 of them came on spot-up shots (six of 16) and 14 of them came on isolation (three of 11). The only high percentage plays entailed their plays on cuts (eight of 13) and offensive rebounds (four of seven). The Lakers ran the high screen and roll, a basic play that helps ensure ball movement, only eight times, going three of three from the field when a post play caught a pass after rolling to the basket, going zero of one when a ball handler found an open shot and meeting a stingy Miami defense that effectively neutralized the screen and roll four times.

Usually when the Lakers lack ball movement, it's a code word for the Lakers' post players not getting enough touches. But with Gasol going eight of 17 from the field, including a zero of seven first-quarter clips, Jackson put the blame squarely on El Spaniard. "He has not been responding well as of late with the offensive opportunities," Jackson said of Gasol.

The Lakers' poor ball movement also left them exposed on defense, resulting in Miami's Big 3 in LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade combining for 59 points.

"Just to get it moving and not to hold it," Odom offered as a solution to ensure better ball movement. "Usually when we do that, our defense plays a lot better and a little more intense. Everyone seems to get involved in the game offensively. It helps our balance on defense."

The way Odom describes it, it appears many of the Lakers' problems would be solved. The solution sounds so simple, but the Lakers are making it increasingly difficult.

--Mark Medina

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