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What the Lakers must address after the All-Star break

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The Lakers need to stop addressing their priorities on a sliding scale. Credit the team for not taking the bait on whether it could surpass the Chicago Bulls' 72-win season, set during the '95-'96 campaign. Even when the Lakers began the season with an 8-0 start, they all understood that eight games provides a very small snapshot of what's in store, and that the early-season success would eventually hit a roadblock.

But what has been troubling is that when they started hitting those bumps, their priorities started to shift. After touting the importance of securing home-court advantage in the Western Conference, the Lakers (38-19) now appear like longshots to take that, with San Antonio (46-9) holding a nine-game advantage for the top spot and Dallas (39-16) maintaining a two-game cushion for the second spot. Lakers guard Derek Fisher has rightfully pointed out that the Spurs' record is rare for any team. But the admission that holding home-court advantage is no longer as important isn't just a change in rhetoric, it's a change in attitude that's reflected poorly on the Lakers' hunger level.

For better and for worse, very little of what has happened before the All-Star break will determine the playoff picture. In the end, the Lakers' success mostly hinges on their health, something that wasn't as much an issue as it was last season, though they had to absorb Andrew Bynum's 24-game absence, Matt Barnes' current injury from a lateral meniscus tear nearly six weeks ago and Theo Ratliff's seemingly never-ending rehab process on his surgically repaired left knee. But the shifting attitude on holding the top spot reflects their wrongful tendency to play as if they're protecting their championship as opposed to aggressively pursuing another one. The Lakers are way too consumed with the big picture and are overlooking the little things that help pave the way toward winning another title.

Integrate Barnes into the lineup as soon as possible

There's no question Barnes' return will help jump-start an inconsistent bench. His season-average of 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes off the bench through aggressive and efficient play and his hunger to get back on the court will surely invigorate what has been a largely listless bunch. While there will probably be an adjustment period on his return, as soon as he hits peak form it wouldn't hurt for  Coach Phil Jackson to cut some of Ron Artest's playing time. As much as it's likely that Barnes' taking Artest's starting role would just spiral into more inconsistency, Barnes has frankly been a better player this year. There have been stretches in which Artest has flourished since Jackson has become more deferential to him after the reported confrontation he had with him during a late December practice over the player's frustration with Jackson's public criticisms. But Barnes has adjusted a lot better into finding his niche even when going through a learning curve. Granted, the Lakers need Artest for a lock-down defensive performance, but it just hasn't come consistently enough to make the Lakers comfortable they can bank on it.

The Lakers need to become a consistently better inside-out team

It's obvious that the team's strength rests in its post presence, with 7-footers Bynum and Pau Gasol as well as versatile wingman Lamar Odom. But the Lakers have not consistently utilized their size enough, and Bynum and Gasol haven't consistently made the Lakers inclined to use them. One defensive strategy opponents have routinely used entails leaving the perimeter open. More often than not, the Lakers have taken the bait with poor results. With exception to Kobe Bryant (46%), none of the Lakers' backcourt players are shooting at a high rate, ranging from Shannon Brown (43.8%), Derek Fisher (39%) and Steve Blake (37.2%) as well as Artest (39.7%). The pecking order in shots still falls in appropriate order with Bryant (1,110), Gasol (779) and Odom (619). But this problem points to the Lakers' backcourt presenting various problems with shot selection. Brown and Artest have rarely met a shot they haven't liked. Fisher forces the action in the lane. And Blake has remained hesitant to shoot.

If the backcourt players took two steps in on an open shot, their rhythm would come back quickly while forcing teams to take the Lakers' outside shooting more seriously. In turn, the Lakers' post presence would become a more consistent force and ensure better ball movement. It would also alleviate the Lakers' defensive problems. Ever since the Lakers installed their new defensive scheme that emphasized the post players staying close to the basket, the backcourt closing out on the perimeter and the team forcing drivers to the lane, the team's been relatively consistent in ensuring that through a half-court set. Where the Lakers get beat is on the open floor, with turnovers, rushed shots and poor rebounding contributing to opposing teams cashing in on transition, the Lakers acting confused on rotations and the frustration mounting.

-- Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant splits the defense of Cavaliers guards Anthony Parker (18) and Ramon Sessions in the first half Wednesday night. Credit: Amy Sancetta / Associated Press /

 
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kobe is the foundation of this team, as he goes so do the lakers. if kobe is the true leader of this team, he needs to start distributing the ball more evenly. going 8 for 24 from the field is unacceptable, that's 16 missed field goals that could have been made up by LO, Pau, fish. now he did rip down 12 rebounds in the cavs loss, which doesn't make any sense because LO and bad knees bynum had 10 boards between them. bynum should be ripping down 10 alone against the cavs, are you kidding?! i still don't understand why the lakers traded vujacic, farmar was already lost through free agency. now joe smith is rotting on the bench while the machine is shining in new jersey. sasha brought speed on defense, 3 point shooting, and as evident from last year's game 7, amazing free throw shooting. big mistake by the lakers FO in my opinion getting rid of the machine.

MM,

Good article. This was interesting:

"But the shifting attitude on holding the top spot reflects their wrongful tendency to play as if they're protecting their championship as opposed to aggressively pursuing another one. The Lakers are way too consumed with the big picture and are overlooking the little things that help pave the way toward winning another title."

In any sport, when you play 'not to lose' as opposed to playing to win, trouble finds you.


Wasn't it just a week or so ago that a reporter asked Kobe if he was concerned about the teams play and he scoffed and said to ask him in June.

Another thing is how the players keep saying the same thing, we aren't playing the right way, poor communication, over confident, etc.
How long can they keep saying these things before it occurs to them that maybe they should just play the right way, communicate, and stop with the excuses.

Too many times they talk to/glare at the refs about calls, as if the ref will change the call.
Just focus on the game.

@Mark Medina- all fair points, Mark. Though I have to say, it needs to be mentioned, Ron Artest never advocated himself to be a rhythm shooter. Never. So, blame him for taking a lot of shots and missing them. Just remember, the coaching staff and Phil, opened this can of worms. It takes years to be a prosperous outside shooter.

From his playing days at St.Johns, to Chicago, to Indiana, to Sacramento to Houston, the kind of offensive skill set he possesses, has been chained to the fence in L.A. Mark. They've chained Artest up in L.A. the same way Earl Monroe was chained up in New York. The commonality, they both won championships but at the expense of their own games. Now, I don't consider the players to be of equal footing, Earl was just unbelievable, the principles are the same.

Laker front office not looking great right now. Losing Sasha (and depth) in a cost-cutting move. Signing Artest for way too many years. Not to mention Walton (whom I like but is clearly too slow/injured to contribute) to a contract (6 years) way too long.

The only plus is getting Pao. But I think Jerry West (behind the scenes) made that happen, not Kupchak.

Of course, Bynum is big but mediorce and we're just waiting for his next knee injury.

The Cavs had the longest running losing streak in American sports history. That technically makes them the worst sports, not just basketball, team of all time. To see the Lakers lose last night was a stomach punch. I felt like Adrian watching Rocky in Rocky III when he loses to Clubber Lang.

PG: Kobe
SG: Artest
SF: Anthony
PF: Odom
C: Gasol

Could this squad get it done? Just wondering

I'm not sure Kobe would like playing that spot, having to do so much work on offense and defense

"Btw with a name like nuggetscountry maybe that's why you posted those stats after all..jus sayin..lol...

Posted by: VI Lakerfan | February 17, 2011 at 12:31 PM

"

NuggetsCountry is only where I live, not who I would EVER root for! ;-) Lakers fan since 1957 in Minneapolis (where Lakers tag made more sense)!

@Tim-4-Show- as hypotheticals go, that...could work. You'd still have some perimeter issues with Kobe's laziness and Melo's well...Whatever Melo calls D. Inside, you're OK, except Pau and Lamar have brain farts almost simultaneously during games, especially on Defense.

Not bad, idea, though. Artest has played the 2 in Sac-Town and Houston. I like Fish on the bench. I love what he brings on the court, so, they can't fix molasses legs. He's deficiencies on D, are holding things back greatly, you can't ignore this. And when Kobe bails out, it's even worse. Like you using your imagination.

Bynum/Ratliff
Gasol/Odom/Caracter/Joe Smith
Artest/Barnes/Walton/Ebanks
Kobe/Brown
Fisher/Blake


The loss of Matt Barnes coming off the bench playing significant minutes, has made the bench very weak. IT meant increased mintues for Artest, did not work out, it meant playing time for Walton, did not work out, it meant more minutes for Brown did not work out.


Barnes played with energy, defense and by far the best 3 pt shooting among all the Lakers perimeter players and actually reboounded pretty well too. Where is Ariza when you need him?


If you take out Smith, Caracter, Ebanks who Phil doe snot play and take out Ratliff and Barnes who are both injured.


The Lakers only have 9 players. 8 if you take out Walton.


Among the 8, who does not do very much, Artest, Brown and Blake, that is 3 more less.


Lakers are actually left with 5 players contributing on a daily basis.


Bynun/Gasol/Odom/Kobe and Fisher


Lakers are missing Matt Barnes vey much!




I understand the Lakers have a "so what?" attitude and sometimes they don't take to criticism kindly, what? This tells me one of a few things. Either they are confident enough that they know it's a long season and don't want to show their stuff yet, or don't care for better or for worse, the Lakers typically did take well to criticism, every year up until this one they changed and adapted as Bay to LA pointed out, but this year their ego has clouded their judgment as pertains the big picture on the season. They are not taking into consideration seating in the playoffs; they don't have an identity this year since we replaced our bench, we need to integrate and motivate our younger players and replacements. A lot needs to be fixed, when they won games against the Cavs for instance and smoked teams early on in the season by double digits - they had energy and focus and were on top of their game (vs . sub 500 teams), thus so, it has masked their deficiencies chemistry-wise. You got it, they need to find themselves again, and use the 2nd-seed as motivation to do all of these things so we know that the team has a semblance of integrity going into the playoffs. Only time will tell what it was, all along, who's right who got it wrong and what steps need to be taken now since the Cavs loss. Now we as fans are left with more questions than answers as the front office looks to maybe tweaking this seemingly care-free roster going forward.

Trade Shannon Brown for Kyle Korver or Wayne Elliington.


@Staples 24- What up Staples 24? Yeah, missing Barnes, is tough, the bench does miss him. Keep in mind though, Matt Barnes isn't the Defensive answer for 50 points in the paint. Even he's powerless to stop that kind of onslaught.

Phil is so rigid in his beliefs that he never tries anything new. Phil don't think anything is wrong because it is not the playoffs yet. So benching fish is not an option. Or starting lo in place of artest etc. I probably am the only person who think something is wrong with the lakers. I like Mark medina articles cause he throws out the red meat for us. But he can never bring himself to criticise Kobe. But I can with no hesitation.

Here's the deal with last year's two teams that met in the Finals. The Celts were 27-27 in their last 54 games. The WC Lakers were 4-7 in their last 11 games.

Brown and Artest have rarely met a shot they haven't liked.
---------------------------
MM - I must disagree with this. Ron has passed up a lot of shots. He's definitely not shot happy like Shannon.

Trade Shannon Brown for Kyle Korver or Wayne Elliington.


Posted by: Staples 24 | February 17, 2011 at 01:42 PM


Nice idea. You're not getting Korver away from Chicago, as long as DRose has a breath in his body. Korver's the ultimate safety blanket for that offense.

I believe Stern through his refs will punish the Lakers for messing with the product. This is $billions of dollars that the Lake show is playing around with. Boston didn't perform as well last year due to injuries. Lakers are trying to make a case for the regular season being irrelevant. That means in future years, the tv will pay less for rights if the lakers prevail. So don't be surprise if LA makes it to the finals if big baby (like leon powe in 2008) gets more free throw attempts than the entire lakers team. Stern will punish the lakers for this no doubt.

Jim Buss , should allow Kupchak to trade Bynum. Period!!!

With a team and a coach this experienced why would Mark ever have to make the instructive comments that he has made above. Shouldn’t the Lakers have known this for the entire season and made adjustments accordingly? How long did it take the Heat, a team with many new parts, to make the adjustment? How long did it take Boston? I suspect the answer is not
so simple.

Of course, when the Lakers don't win,
Laker fans will always say the boys didn't give it their all,
or this or that, the list of excuses is ten miles long...you know.
(You can start with Cyber's 9:47 post above to get a real sense
of the abundant and creative excuses coming your way).
Most Laker fans will say anything, except what is actually so.

Go Kings!
Go SF Giants!
Go Forty Niners!

Posted by: Sonnybelfast | February 17, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Cyber learned from the best, Kobemvp888.

Posted by: Magia32 | February 17, 2011 at 12:43 PM

------------------------------------------------------------------

Magia32, taken the time to post something other than the 'Fisher SUCKS' junk you post? Good to see you are quoting ol' Sonny Belfast, a man so bitter about life and his losing team, so traumatized about the repeated failings of his team vs the Lakers over the years, that he comes here to pour his hate. GREAT POST!

I'm not the one here saying, in my best Jar Jar Binks voice, "meesa thinks everything gonna be ayy okayy!"

Here's my 9:47 post, you and the clown known as Sonny Belfast, tell me where I'm making excuses:

"Those that seeming are totally unconcerned by the Laker inconsistencies really must subscribe to the 'practice season' theory a lot more than they let on (shout-out to 888!) even if they can't admit it.

Much like boxing champs that start slacking off after retaining the belt for a couple of years, this is what the Lakers are doing. Because, if you discount the regular season and always think - like the boxing champ - they will show up for the title fight, well we've seen what happens to those boxers that start slacking-off in their training. Loosen up honing their craft. Start to ease up, relax, cut corners. This my friends is what is happening to the Lakers.

They are hoping that they will still be able to summon forth 'the magic' on fight night all the while sliding through practice - that is, regular season.

Anyways, glad Mitch is around, drawing a paycheck and sitting at a desk overlooking the Lakers practice facility. Let's see, he could play solitaire, make lunch plans, hurl pens into the overhead roof panels. Because, seems like most people feel that trading any player is something unnecessary.

Personally, I don't know if this team is trying to coast in too low a gear, or if they are playing games with themselves - flexing their muscle and disposing of the C's but then skating through the rest of the trip.

I remember showtime. I remember Magic & crew. I also remember that team not taking nights off like this team has - repeatedly.

Mitch has got some tough choices to make. That is why they pay him the big bucks. The fire, the passion, the desire might all be there with this team - at least I'm certain about Kobe having it - but now the Lakers are facing playing some decent ball merely to retain a home-court advantage in the first round. They now have the 6th best record in the league, 3 more teams are within a couple games of them.

Mike Tyson was champ for a couple years when he started fooling around, not taking his practice serious. He signed up for a big-dollar fight in Japan to fight a pretty unknown guy at the time, Buster Douglas. We all know how that ended.

Right now, Lakers are doing a pretty good Mike Tyson imitation, floating through chunks of their schedule. Whatever they are doing, I really hope it doesn't end for the Lakers like it did to Tyson in Tokyo years back..."


AS ALWAYS - AND FOREVER - GO LAKERS!!!!!!

MM - I must disagree with this. Ron has passed up a lot of shots. He's definitely not shot happy like Shannon.

Posted by: LRob | February 17, 2011 at 01:46 PM

You're right about Brown. Know what else, I honestly can't remember the last time I seen Brown have an assist in a game.
=================================

Trade Shannon Brown for Kyle Korver or Wayne Elliington.


Posted by: Staples 24 | February 17, 2011 at 01:42 PM

For outside shooting? I don't know if that would work. I said before the season started about Blake, the Lakers uni has a way of making shooters lose their touch.

Mamba24:

Thanks for starting "In Kobe, I Trust" bandwagon. I am for one a true believer in Kobe. He must be really really sick to disappoint every fans like he did in the last two games. His shots were off, he got too many balls stripped off him last night than any game I've seen in the past few years. Knowing Kobe, I know that he felt that he let the team and the fans down and will rectify the course of this team after the ASG.

with respect to the potential trade scenarios, there is always a highsight in every scenarios any fans could come up. I don't think we need a makeover type trade(s) but the one that send the clear message to all the players on the team that the management would make them accountable and they must earn their pay. Other than Kobe, Pau and Lamar, every players are expendable. Some spark plugs off the bench is a good start. If Blake is unable to perform like a veteran PG we thought he is, then ship him out. We could trade for Aaron Brooks that is not doing much in Houston. How about packaging the expiring contract of Joe Smith/Theo for some big bodies that can boslter our weak interior defense left by our finesse players who night after night, failed to communicate with one another defensively leading to easy baskets like those given to Sessions and Hickson last night. We're outhustled in all the three losses!

Bring back our "Black Mamba!" (He's our Kracken!)
Bring back those "Killer's Attitudes."
Bring back our Moxey!
Bring back Show Time!
Bring Back our "ench Mob!"
Bring back our"UPS!"
Bring back our "Thriller!"
Bring back our "Spaniard!"
Bring back our "Beast!"
Send back "131-92", "SBF" and Red's Love Child back to Boston or the Cow town(No offense to them, just wanted to remind them that the Trophy is still ours to take).

Who is with me?

Paging "Black Mamba!"
In Kobe, I Trust!!!

Mamba24:

Thanks for starting "In Kobe, I Trust" bandwagon. I am for one a true believer in Kobe. He must be really really sick to disappoint every fans like he did in the last two games. His shots were off, he got too many balls stripped off him last night than any game I've seen in the past few years. Knowing Kobe, I know that he felt that he let the team and the fans down and will rectify the course of this team after the ASG.

with respect to the potential trade scenarios, there is always a highsight in every scenarios any fans could come up. I don't think we need a makeover type trade(s) but the one that send the clear message to all the players on the team that the management would make them accountable and they must earn their pay. Other than Kobe, Pau and Lamar, every players are expendable. Some spark plugs off the bench is a good start. If Blake is unable to perform like a veteran PG we thought he is, then ship him out. We could trade for Aaron Brooks that is not doing much in Houston. How about packaging the expiring contract of Joe Smith/Theo for some big bodies that can boslter our weak interior defense left by our finesse players who night after night, failed to communicate with one another defensively leading to easy baskets like those given to Sessions and Hickson last night. We're outhustled in all the three losses!

Bring back our "Black Mamba!" (He's our Kracken!)
Bring back those "Killer's Attitudes."
Bring back our Moxey!
Bring back Show Time!
Bring Back our "ench Mob!"
Bring back our"UPS!"
Bring back our "Thriller!"
Bring back our "Spaniard!"
Bring back our "Beast!"
Send back "131-92", "SBF" and Red's Love Child back to Boston or the Cow town(No offense to them, just wanted to remind them that the Trophy is still ours to take).

Who is with me?

Paging "Black Mamba!"
In Kobe, I Trust!!!

Like someone said, to wear a Lakers Jersey is a privilege. Fans expect something out of a Laker, that is to win Championships, play at a high level and dominate. If you are not that player then you should play for different team.

Fans do understand when you have a couple of bad games but its hard from them to digest when you see that trend grow. All those talks about we can fix this and we can play better starts to grow old when you don't show it.

Fans has been patient so far, even on that stretch in Dec when they lost to Memphis, Heat and Spurs badly but losing to a worst team in a NBA with players like Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Lamar, Fisher, Artest is just not acceptable.

Fans still have faith on them that they will pull together after the All-Star break but they will have to give something to Fans too.

Like it's said( again), to wear a Lakers Jersey is not like wearing a Dallas Jersey or Phoenix Jersey or any other team's Jersey (Same goes for Boston's Jersey) for that matter because of the History. Its a privilege and you have to earn it. You are better off playing for other teams if you start to take it for granted.

Example from Joe Smith : He said he had 90 something followers in his twitter before joining Lakers and now he has thousands. Would he have so many followers if he was traded to Phoenix?

This is a LA LA land.Two time defending champs. Play like Champs or move on to different team if you aren't motivated anymore.

\XT

LRob: Magic was MVP in '89, same thing next year. I believe he averaged 2-rebounds short of a averaging a triple-double that season. That was also Kareem's last season, and they were a Ralph Sampson last second shot in game-6 of the previous seasons WCF of probably playing for a five-peat. If ANY TEAM had 'earned' the right to flounder and flip the switch - that team was it! Fact is, they swept through the playoffs and thanks to the hard-driving Pat Riley, they lost both starting guards for the Finals vs the Pistons.

Anyways, the similarities are there, repeated playoffs successes, a veteran team led by a long-time coach who's message might be getting lost on the team, floundering and whatnot, flipping the switch in the playoffs and getting right there - only to be downed by injuries. Now, I don't know if this team is capable of that, but one thing is for sure: That season Magic had in '89 was one of the finest years I've seen ANY player have - ever!


AS ALWAYS - AND FOREVER - GO LAKERS!!!!!!

I'm not surprised Barnes has a lax attitude. He picked that up somewhere in that Locker Room.

Lakers Fans take a deep breath, grab yourself a drink burn somethen & enjoy the allstar festivities. Stop stressn WE ARE GOOG BABY!! RELAX..

MM,

This is one of the few times I actually in total agreement with you. I would like to see Barnes get more playing time may be even in the starting line up, move Artest to the bench since he's not making much difference anyway.

Their interior defense is still bad, I remember Bynum used to have 5 - 7 blockshots games, it's obvious his knees are never going to recover 100%. And Theo's age has finally caught up with him.

I would like Mitch to get a decent back up center if possible, someone with defensive intensity, and just waive Joe Smith or Theo Ratliff. Interior defense has been the biggest weakness of this team all year long. Every game I see those quick guards slicing through their defense with uncontested layups.

And one last thing: oh boy, could they use Sasha's scoring now?

Too much is made out of that win against boston last week. Boston was injury plagued and paul was dehydrated. Yet la won by 6. LA has some real problems that must be corrected.

Staples 24,

As you said here: The loss of Matt Barnes coming off the bench playing significant minutes, has made the bench very weak. IT meant increased mintues for Artest, did not work out, it meant playing time for Walton, did not work out, it meant more minutes for Brown did not work out.

I have been punching this bag for a while now. The benefit of having Barnes taking minutes and the scoring burden off of Artest masked the deficiencies scoring for this team. This is a guy who took 300% less salary to play -to win, in a recession and some say coming hyperinflation in the coming months-years. We need his energy to infuse this team they are past the 50% mark of the season and we still play the "marathon" card. I'm sorry, code Red on this team, they have 1 week to sort this out before it gets worse.

Lakers are missing Matt Barnes vey much!

Posted by: Staples 24

***

Indeed! Also, as much as I love the Tar Heels, Ellington is not the answer. As Ace Ventura put it many moons ago, "I'm ready to go in, coach, just give me a chance. I know there's a lot of riding on it, but it's all psychological. Just gotta stay in a positive frame of mind.". And there you have it!

DBDH!

Lot of problems for the Lakers:

1. Phil Jackson is a coach, and that mean coaching during the game and not just at practice or in the media.
2. General Manager has done a lousy job in signing players, Luke Walton for 5 years, No One Want Him as a trade, should be in the Minor League... Derek Fisher for two more years, thats crazy, he could not defend five years ago when he left the team, too slow getting a shot off.
3. Ron Artest need to switch medication and play basketball nightly and not be waiting for the playoffs.
4. Pau Gasol needs to have someone smack him up beside his head and maybe he will get aggressive, try blocking some shots and jumping instead of reaching.
5. Kobe's knee is not totally right, lets hope it is better for the payoffs.
6. Steve Blake needs more instructions in shooting, isn't that why we have Check Person.
7. We don't need any trades that bring guys like Korver here that can't play defense, like Walton (too slow)

Phil, the final third of the season is here now lets earn your millions since you have done nothing since the season started. General Manager earn your money and get rid of Fisher and Walton Please, Please...

"... Credit the team for not taking the bait on whether it could surpass the Chicago Bulls' 72-win season, set during the '95-'96 campaign"

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

It was precisely through this kind of attitudes that led to this team's downfall today.

How on earth can you set a low standard and expect exemplary result? By saying that this incredibly talented team with a huge payroll to match does NOT need to be held to lofty expectation one is setting up the stage for EXCUSES, COMPLACENCY, LAZINESS, LACK OF MOTIVATION...

No matter how talented or great this LAL team is, it is obvious that it has fallen into some very seriously bad habbits. BAD habbits that are going to cost them the 3-peat.

Excerpt from Jim Rome http://www.jimrome.com/take/f-for-the-lakers/23112

"And yes, it’s that bad. That was a bad night for L.A. all the way around. Bad effort. Bad attitude. Bad defense. Bad offense. Bad ball handling. Bad decision making. You have to do everything badly to lose to the Cavaliers. They’re a bad team. They had lost 35 of 37 coming in. The Lakers just keep telling you, ‘we’re fine. It’s a marathon. We’re the two time defending champs. We’ve built for the playoffs. We’ve been there before. We know what it takes. We’ll be fine.” And that’s fine. Until it’s not. It’s fine, until you realize, there is no fix, because that’s who you actually are. Look, because they have gone back to back and they have Kobe and Philip and as a group, they do know what it takes, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But not any more. And until they can prove they can get back what they have lost, Boston is the team to beat. They’re deeper, bigger, tougher, have the same experience, and want it much worse than L.A. does at this time. Enjoy the break fellas. You haven’t earned it.
They’ve got issues. And it’s not just boredom and complacency. And while I would never put all the blame on Ron Artest, I will put a chunk of it there. Again, when they need this guy most, he’s taken off tripping on planet Ron Ron again. After getting jacked by Charlotte, he was lighting reporters up with Lamar Odom’s perfume, then after the Lakers worst loss since, I don’t know, moving to L.A., he was on twitter hyping the release of his mix tape. Way to keep it in perspective, my man. And maintain your focus and edge. Don’t sweat it Laker fan. He’s only under contract for three more years. Three years. I’m not sure Kobe Bryant will be able to co-exist with him for even three more months... Again, my man: less perfume, and mix tapes. More table legs driven through cats’ hearts. Because when the Lakers need it most of all, Queensbridge is still definitely not in the house."

Better-late-than-never Dept: CONGRAT TO LAKERS FOR A NEW LOW!

It's hard to imagine that they can ever top themselves with their latest act. Losing to not just the worst team in the league, but also one of the worst team in the history of the NBA... wait make that one of the worst team in professional sport.

But then again on second thought they still have another half season to try -with the same cast and same coach. So maybe nothing is impossible with this team!

We fans can debate and harp on NUMEROUS problems with this team, both on an individual basis and on a team basis but really when it all comes down to it, it still boils down to one thing: WHERE THE BUCK STOPS.

Whether it's a team issue: stupid defensive scheme, perennial ineptitude in defending the pick n roll, motivational issue, fatigue to the core players because of lack of trust in the bench players, etc... to individual players' issues: Gasol being soft, Bynum being stupid, Kobe playing and shooting too much while being less than 100%, Fish being slow, Artest being lost, etc...

One and only one man holds the power to DO SOMETHING about all the Lakers problems: Phil Jackson.

Either Phil is UNABLE or he is UNWILLING, it doesn't matter anymore. The team with the #1 biggest payroll in the league and the BEST collection of talent is free-falling and disintegrating.

For those who prefers to bury their heads in the sand and kept trotting out last season's success they either are too ignorant or too dumb to realize one truth:

The Lakers were LUCKY, that is incredibly miraculously LUCKY to win last year's championship.

If Kendrick Perkins didn't suffer the injury that kept him from game 7 AND,

if Ron Artest did not have THE-GAME-OF-HIS-LIFE by miracle, the Celts would have been the champs instead.

PS: I hope NOBODY is stoopid enough to buy Phil Jackson's indignation act over the last three losses. It's all theatric. It's all put-on. It's all just to mollify the media and the fans. If Phil had really cared, he would have done something about the above problems LONG before the last three losses.

Too much is made out of that win against boston last week. Boston was injury plagued and paul was dehydrated. Yet la won by 6. LA has some real problems that must be corrected.

Posted by: island priest24 | February 17, 2011 at 02:09 PM

People need to stop using the green jerseys (last year) as a point of reference for this as well. There's no connection. They were injury plagued and a lack of bodies did them in, most nights.

These problems need not be exacerbated. They do exist, this isn't a complacency issue. If it was, they wouldn't be walking the tunnel with their heads down, they wouldn't have a problem acting like buffons on the court. Instead, they've gone into hiding from the media. The underlying issue is right in front of our faces and we don't see it. What is it? I don't know. From a gut standpoint, it's a chemistry issue, for me.

This year's team and last year's teams are very similar in personnel. The major parts are intact. I'm not one to be negative, I try and see the positive in everything. I see this team with a bunch of guys, who show up to play when they think they need to turn it on, I see a bunch of guys who whine and complain. I see a group that thinks they're entitled.

Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.
-Victor Hugo




The competition has improved, and the scouting report is out on the Lakers. Pack in the paint and dare Artest and Fish to shoot or make plays. Against elite teams, if this team continues to struggle to hit WIDE OPEN outside shots, they have very little chance to threepeat, even with the big three of Kobe, Pau, and Lamar playing well.
And don't get me started on the matador defense, which is an even bigger concern.

Posted by: LAKER TRUTH | February 17, 2011 at 11:52 AM
------------------------
Truth – The scouting report on beating the Lakers hasn’t changed. It was the same last year. But I do agree that the competition is a lot tougher this year.

WAR frmkt.


And finally, the Triple U of the day: The Lakers.

Unfunny, Uninspired, Unbearable. (slight variation from the Jungle original)

DBDH!


Medina,


This team is led by Phil Jackson...............right? How can you talk about changes but NEVER mention strategy or concepts or plans which emanate from Phil Jackson and or the coaching staff?

That would be Tantamount to the media assessing a nation's war status by going directly to the soldiers...........................but never questioning the President and his Joint Chiefs of Staff!! They are the ones that advise and SET POLICY.............How could an intelligent media completely ignore the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their performance and expect to find a solution to any problem concerning the war??

Does that make any sense?? That would be the tail wagging the dog or in other words................insanity!

Let's tackle some of the Laker's issues shall we..............and let's start at the top since the media just simply point to Kobe's shot attempts..............and of course headline their column with another anguished picture of Kobe..............


OFFENSIVELY:


What you consistantly hear about these Lakers on offense is words like "Frustration"............."we got away from ball movement"..................."we didn't get the ball in to our bigs enough"........................."there is too much one on one play"..................When the facts are reviewed about the Lakers coming into this season the consensus among the media was...........this is a very talented group..............agreed? If that is true...............why is this group underperforming? That question should at least be examined especially when you can directly chase San Antonio's spurt this season to coach Popovich and his ability to change, adapt and innovate his offensive Philosophy from last year's group that painfully "underachieved"..............is that right?

1) One of the things I always urge those of whom I work with is not so much "what" is occurring..................but "why" is it occurring...............Stats give you the "what"....................but problem solvers examine the "why"

If I can understand the "why"..............I can better assess the "what" and be in a better position to moniter it's change...........or predict the future if the "why" is never addressed

Last night Kobe took 24 shots and made 8 of them............that's the "what"...........but the real question should be.................Why are all of Kobe's shots contested? It seem like the only time Kobe has any space to take a shot is when he creates it on his own..................the offense is not producing shots or creating space for anyone to consistanly get clean looks................WHY IS THAT? Especially down the stretch............when the Lakers have been historically bailed out by Kobe going one on one to close games.


Last year Popovich did an assessment of his philosopy...........AND ADJUSTED IT TO FIT HIS PERSONEL AND TALENT...............So far the Spurs have benefitted.

Is it time for Phil Jackson to reassess his philosophy? Is that a legitimate question that should be asked of him? If so..............why haven't you heard ANYBODY...............question Phil's offensive gameplan?


Jerry West was once quoted as saying..........."The Lakers don't really run an offense..............they just throw the ball to Kobe.............and sometimes they do it a little too much"

I for one would love to see a lot more double down screens for Kobe to read and free himself for shots or more importantly for ball movement...............OFF THE BALL.

Jeff Van Gundy was quoted during the Christmas day game that "if the Lakers would run more pick n roll with Kobe............the Lakers could get a good shot for someone...........every trip" Is Van Gundy correct?

Mark Jackson said.........."If I'm the opposing coach I want Kobe to try and get others involved..........because I can deal with them............but there is no answer for Bryant's talent"

I agree with both these coaches...........because once the offense purpose becomes trying to create space for Kobe...........it would open up everything for everyone else..................Basketball 101 says.........if you want to get open.............go set a pick for somebody. This puts pressure on the defense and forces them to make a decision............something the current "triangle" doesn't do.

DEFENSIVELY:


What is the Laker's defensive philosophy? Are they channeling opponents to the middle for the shot blockers? Are they jumping the pick n roll and forcing the other team to move the ball and then depend on their rotations..............what are they doing?

Last night a player for Cleveland went by the baseline on Kobe and dunked right over the late rotating Gasol..........in the media you heard a lot of ..........."the guy blew by Kobe"................but what Phil's defensive philosophy on a play like that? You would have to know that to even assess the play properly. I saw Kobe run the guy off the 3 pt line and shade him toward the baseline for help.............if that's the defensive philosophy then all the blame should go toward Gasol who didn't rotate...................Are the Laker's practicing playing that guy straight up and forcing him to the middle...............then it's Kobe's fault...............but without knowledge of what the Lakers are trying to do you are left to blame based on emotion.............and not facts.

And when Phil isn't challenged or even questioned on what and more importantly "why" we're left with the above President and Joint Chiefs of Staff analogy......................Pure insanity


Wake up media..............do your job

pfunk,

the Lakers defensive philosophy is to shade towards the baseline so our
bigs don't have to rotate as quick. per Coach Pearson. ~ same time that
Bynum came back. Which led to much postage about what Bynum does
for our defense.

WE need our bench to rile our starters Theo's presence on the bench is welcome but he is having setbacks right now. Barnes has been at pushing guys and cheering them on etc, where-as the rest haven't either psychologically or on the court or not it has an impact. -- Also, we are not playing Derrick Caracter who we should be playing in these situations, when Odom has been playing a ton of minutes and Bynum has been largely unproductive, to decrease the odds of injuries and relief for our starters, specially on losing-efforts 20 points or more, such as the Bobcats. As far as the Carmelo situation, while he is only good on team-defense situations, his benefits far outweigh the negative. Never forget scoring runs own this league. Defense-minded teams are great, but you need post game in the playoffs the Cavs proved this (Unbeat-a-Bulls Championship era didn't require bigs). You can always tweak the roles and rotations in this league. As far as a PG is concerned we need to turn Steve Blake into a scorer mid-season, sometimes when pass-first is engraved into your head (Lamar Odom) it hurts more times than helps a team.. Lamar Odom becoming a rebounding menace and smart player, e.g. knowing when to shoot, passing when you know to pass, driving when you need to drive, have made him infinitely times more effective to this team. That being said I think Aaron Brooks would be a good get, anything at this point I say we should try out, the Steve Blake experiment isn't panning out as we thought it would have, so move on I say. Ron Artest is who we thought he was. Pau - playing better as of now, but lax attitude is contagious and you see it when he doesn't jump to block shots -at least Kobe's block of some kid driving baseline in a breakaway gave us a chance to get back, but obviously Shannon Brown's foul in-bound pass took everything away, even if he helped us, hurt us. Luke Walton - surprising but did he even play yesterday? Phil - Earn your money. Mitch - Do what's right. Team - get the title.

@Nuggets – thanks for sharing the Simmons article on Big Men. Interesting!


@Cyber - Yep Magic had a great year in 89. But despite his stellar play and leadership...the team definitely had some regular season struggles. That's my only point. I read different people say that the Showtime Lakers had too much pride, never did this...yada, yada, yada... and I just wanted to point out they struggled also.


@frmkt - Ron Ron put the defensive clamps on Capt Jack in the Charlotte game. Jackson was 3-10 with 3 turnovers. If Ron's teammates had done their jobs like he did they would've beat the Bobcats. But I know that doesn't sound quite as funny on the radio...so I understand why Rome didn't mention that.

Jeff Van Gundy was quoted during the Christmas day game that "if the Lakers would run more pick n roll with Kobe............the Lakers could get a good shot for someone...........every trip" Is Van Gundy correct?

Posted by: pfunk36 | February 17, 2011 at 02:30 PM

Is Van Gundy correct? In his mind, he definitely is. And in his system, that statement would be correct, in word and action. Now, as far as the Triangle, P 'n' Rolls would be the equivalent of the wildcat offense in football. It works as a away from the norm type of execution.

Over a course of a game, a team's defense would double Kobe or collapse the paint, and he would have to defer to a teammate. I'm confident, he's teammates would get open looks, I'm not confident they would make them consistently. And you run into the same problems over and over again. The same problem you have now. These problems we have, aren't quick fixes, they will take weeks to hash out, if succesfully applied.

pfunk36 - couldn't agree more with your post!

I have been saying this for years now but unfortunately many simpletons simply got blinded by the (nine) blings to not realize one simple fact: Phil Jackson just isn't that good a coach. The Bulls and Lakers won championships IN SPITE of him due to their ridiculous talents and not BECAUSE of him.

Except for perhaps some mumbo-jumbo psycho-babble mind games there has never been a shred of evidence of what EXACTLY is Phil Jackson good for. His Triangle is borrowed from somebody else. His philosophy of "let-the-players-figure-it-out" absolved him from having to actually teach and coach. His basketball philosophy of being more mental than physical only led to soft team and complacent lazy players. Is he a good strategy coach? Hm not really. He's never known for being good at real-time adjustment DURING a game. For that matter he's not known for preparing a team well BEFORE a game either. His team even though comprised of talented veterans, often looked undisciplined, unfocused and lacking of the fundamentals...

Then there's the perennial problem of adequately defending the pick n roll -since his tenure started years ago...On and on and on...

Imagine if Phil Jackson's five Lakers championship teams have been coached by Pat Riley or Gregg Popovich or even Jeff van Gundy. They would have won just as many rings except while laying waste to the league every single year everywhere they went. There wouldn't have been anywhere near the struggles.

Over a course of a game, a team's defense would double Kobe or collapse the paint, and he would have to defer to a teammate. I'm confident, he's teammates would get open looks, I'm not confident they would make them consistently. And you run into the same problems over and over again. The same problem you have now. These problems we have, aren't quick fixes, they will take weeks to hash out, if succesfully applied.

Posted by: sean | February 17, 2011 at 02:49 PM

Sean, Farmar was great at that, I remember saying we should have kept him (although he wanted to start) for that purpose specifically when we would need to go on fast breaks etc. Unfortunately this is what we have missing when this is a PG-driven league with the -no hand check policy.

@PointForward- good point. I was on the fence about Jordy. Wonderful Basketball IQ, his D worried me, still does. That hustle play in Game 6, was a solid effort play, he gets props for that.

I'm not the biggest Phil Jackson fan, much respect for 11 titles. I think a combination of things, both himself and outside have made his tenure rocky, and the problems now are almost bringing him to a boiling point.

I felt he pushed Jordy out, for professional reasons. For a guy being quote 'Zen', he's burned a lot of bridges along the way, personally and professionally.

@PointForward- good point. I was on the fence about Jordy. Wonderful Basketball IQ, his D worried me, still does. That hustle play in Game 6, was a solid effort play, he gets props for that.

I'm not the biggest Phil Jackson fan, much respect for 11 titles. I think a combination of things, both himself and outside have made his tenure rocky, and the problems now are almost bringing him to a boiling point.

I felt he pushed Jordy out, for professional reasons. For a guy being quote 'Zen', he's burned a lot of bridges along the way, personally and professionally.

How come no one mentions this: trade Gasoft.
I would ship him without hesitation to Denver, along with Fisher and Brown, for Anthony and Billups.
Gasol is what he is — a big guy with a lot of skill who can be pushed out of the paint for 47:30 by roughing him up in the first 30 seconds. He's laughable on defense too.
I'd take a younger, tougher Bynum over this skirt any day.
Fisher is the worst point guard in the league. Might be the worst player in the league getting substantial minutes. Completely washed up ... just ask Ramon Sessions how easy it was to blow past him. Ask any pg in the league for that matter.
They're done, and Kupchak is too stupid to realize it or change it. He'll deal Bynum and get fleeced worse than he did when he gave away Shaq.

Can someone please tell Gasol that he really could move his feet under the net to block most of those easy layups for Clev....

Psycorp:
Agree wholeheartedly about you on Jackson. Most overrated figure in the history of sports.
Triangle works when you have Jordan or KB to bail you out ... not so much when Kobe can't break down an entire defense on his own. If triangle is so great, oher teams would run it.
And Lakers have the worst defensive concepts imaginable. Double down on stiffs like Kendric Perkins so Ray Allen gets wide open looks (plug in any stiff post player/great shooter into this equation, by the way). And what makes Gaskirt think he can switch on a screen and defend the opposing point guard?
Laughable Lakers this year ... Kobe too old to carry them again in postseason.
Hope I'm wrong ....

Matt Barnes is the answer? I think not; reality has set in.

Last years games won by Kobe at the buzzer ain't happening take those 6 game winners away from last year and we would have been a 5 seed playing on the road in the first round.
If you stop for a moment to think about the playoffs of the past two seasons you would recognize that each years playoff run set up with the most fortunate paths to the finals where we twice fell into home court without having the best record. No HCA= No Titles.

Sorry guys and gals but the lucky run has run it's course; this is reality and it sucks.

If the Lakers can play better, but choses not to do so, then they do a disservice to the fans who subsidize their generous salaries. If they can’t do better, then the fans should stop wishfully ruminating about the flicking of a switch during the playoffs and prepare themselves for a short post season.

If the Lakers can play better, but choses not to do so, then they do a disservice to the fans who subsidize their generous salaries. If they can’t do better, then the fans should stop wishfully ruminating about the flicking of a switch during the playoffs and prepare themselves for a short post season.

I don't think any teams would trade away their best player or even descent player to the Lakers. We have been winning for so long that I don't think any other GM's want to help out the Lakers. So hopefully, PJ knows what he's doing and the players will suck it up by the playoffs.

Lakers FO need to seriously look for defensive and energy guys who can lock in on the pick and roll and transition game. Guys like Gerald Wallace and Tayshaun Prince should fit in with the team concept.

trade shannon for JR Smith or JJ Reddick...

Apart from Kobe, the only other Laker hungry for a ring is Steve Blake, but he doesn't get a lot of minutes and he's often unwilling to shoot the ball. The first part of the 3-peat was because Pau and Lamar were hungry for a win, along with Kobe.

Last year, Artest was determined to win, and he shot his way into a title. This year, the interest is just not there. The current version of the Lakers will be eliminated in the first round by the Thunder!

Agree with mr. Medina. The main problem nowadays with the lakes game is not in the inside, its in the perimeter shooters, who are doing a bad job in attak and also in defense, that means problems for inside players, who get all the defenses focused on them and who never get help.
I think there is a second big problem in this team , and some of u will agree and some other wont... but Koby Bryant is always talking about how lakers should play, about black and white swans , about playing like this or like that, about how many shoots he is taking... but THATS PHIL JACKSONS JOB, wtf is going on with this guy? he is not the coach. And till lakers dont understand this, they will never play as a team, cause koby will be like the "king" and that will never take the team to team work.

@TrueLaker, Apart from Kobe, the only other Laker hungry for a ring is Steve Blake, but he doesn't get a lot of minutes and he's often unwilling to shoot the ball


Not true he has been getting enough minutes, specially lately. Kobe even is getting around 5 less minutes per game, Phil is resting his players. Remember Jordan Farmar used to be vilified by a lot of you for being too offensive minded and he easily left the pick and roll? We got a guy that's 180 degrees the opposite direction and how has he fares. The problem is not his lack of minutes rather his unwillingness to shoot the ball, therefore causing him to not find an offensive rhythm. He doesn't want to p-off Kobe by shooting the ball, and Kobe should let him feel comfortable to shoot the ball. Jordan and Kobe were good friends because they were the same player, ironically Blake who defers to Kobe is having a hard time. Perception is reality, Steve Blake doesn't want to shoot it because he doesn't feel comfortable shooting it. He's a stand up guy but as he said, learning the triangle is harder than he thought, it's why even guys who defer have problems adjusting to the offense. Even when he finds spacing and he is supposed to shoot, because he is so unselfish he doesn't want to shoot the ball its the old "you shoot it" type of deal.

Yes exactly, Artest shot his way to win it, he was hungry, he was better more focused, he still has Game 7 hangover, trust me, I didn't play but I still have it, and it's very hard to shake off. Even still he picked the triangle faster than Steve Blake. If Steve started in the team I think he would benefit from feeling more responsible and adaptable. Matt Barnes his backup has no problem shooting the rock. At the start of the season I was often ridiculed for saying this team would lack offense, and while the Lakers can turn it on, I am confident they have a lot of work to do, specially getting the bench mob involved. Remember that Farmar, Sasha, DJ, and a few others were in the team an average of 2 years. So it will take some time for them to understand fully and execute the triangle to perfection but we will only know that for sure when the stakes are higher heading into the post-season.


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