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Lakers address plenty of issues after All-Star break

In no mood to spoil his All-Star festivities, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant kept his analysis on the state of the team to a minimum.

Questions about the Lakers' struggles, their three-game losing streak entering the break and their most recent loss to the league's worst team in Cleveland mostly elicited one-word or one-sentence responses.

Consider this exchange between a reporter and Bryant on the Lakers' loss to the Cavaliers: You forgot the last game? What last game? You forgot it then? What game Exactly. That game's been flushed."

Behind the scenes, however, the Lakers (38-19) thought plenty about their current state as they enter Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks (34-21) in third place, trailing both the San Antonio Spurs (46-10) and Dallas Mavericks (40-16) and only holding a 1 1/2 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder (35-19).

Even though many outside of Bryant and Pau Gasol kept their basketball activities to a minimum, there was certainly plenty of dialogue. The Lakers held a team meeting just before the break stressing that individual play has hurt team chemistry. In between media appearances, practices and parties, Bryant and Gasol talked frequently about the team's need to minimize mistakes. And though Lakers Coach Phil Jackson put off film study until Monday's practice, he often touched base with his assistants, Brian Shaw, Jim Cleamons, Frank Hamblen and Chuck Person.

That left the Lakers with plenty of ideas to address during Monday's practice, which lasted 3 1/2 hours, a length of time Lakers forward Pau Gasol acknowledged lasted a "little longer than usual." There were plenty of messages the team emphasized, but Jackson summed up the main one. "Just that we have to put ourselves in a good position," he said, "in going into the playoffs."

With 25 games remaining, the Lakers would have to put a stronger string of performances than what they've shown recently. The main issues no longer reside in failing to beat elite teams, fighting fatigue and worrying about securing home-court advantage in the Western Conference. That's because thee Lakers won two weeks ago in Boston, the Lakers say they're well rested after the ALl-Star break and it's mathematically unlikely the Lakers would surpass the Spurs in the standings considering it would require San Antonio to lose nine of its 26 remaining games. That's discounting the scenario that a string of losses or an occasional slip up won't happen with the Lakers whatsoever.

"We can’t afford to keep on dying in the standings," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said. "We need some wins to try to get better position than where we are because we still want to have home court against everyone else except San Antonio."

The Lakers shared plenty of ideas on how to get to that point. Jackson chopped up film showcasing both the good and the bad on the team's defensive schemes. The main disconnect pointed to the team's help defense, which Bynum pointed to the team's positioning and slow reaction as reasons why the Lakers have ranked 13th in team defense (96.7 points per game), 15th in opponent's field-goal percentage (45.9%) and 17th in opponent's three-point field goal percentage (34.3%) in the past 10 games.

But there's more. The Lakers' last-place standing in three-point shooting (29.6%) and 15th ranking in turnovers (13.8) per game have exposed the Lakers' poor ability to get back on transition for various reasons, namely age, fatigue and overall hustle. Beyond the wins and losses, Bryant's holding limiting mistakes as the main variable he's measuring the gauge the team's development for the rest of the season.

"I'm concerned, but it’s no different than the season before or the season before that," said Bryant, who's averaged four turnovers per game through nine games in February. "There’s always a concern. With San Antonio, I’m sure with them there’s the same level of concern as we do. Just as things are rolling, things can fall apart. There seems to be things in dire straits but you wind up picking it up and having a great end to the season. Everyone is concerned at this point."

This season's proved a tad differently. The Lakers suffered double-digit losses both to sub. 500 teams (Milwaukee, Memphis) and elite teams (Miami Boston). They suffered a four-game losing streak for the first time in Feb. 2007 and suffered two other three-game losings streaks, a feat that happened only once since the Lakers acquired Gasol in Feb. 2008. Jackson and Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said they don't expect the team to make a deal before Thursday's trade deadline, let alone a blockbuster move. And Jackson declined to share any rotation changes he might make.

"I wouldn’t discuss that," he said. "We’ll wait until Matt [Barnes] gets back and that will change our rotation.

But that's a decision for another day. Barnes participated in non-contact drills Monday for the first time since having surgery six weeks ago on his lateral meniscus tear on his right knee, and he said he needs at least three more practices before returning to the court. Whether that entails reducing Ron Artest's role or removing him from the starting lineup completely remains unclear. What continues to remain clear is that Artest's aloofness is no longer seen as him lightening up the mood, but viewed as his continuous detachment from the team's struggles, including his own.

Consider Artest's non-answers in the video below including his explanation on why he's not providing much explanation these days.

"Coach had a system when he came in 10 years ago I guess," Artest said. "The triangle, he brought it from the Bulls. Just run the same system. You have to ask coach for more detail. He has better answers. They have a better answer. I’ve been here for two years so they can answer more of the triangle and team type questions better than I can."

At least he's honest, but that's not going to cut it with all the issues mounting the Lakers. After all, the Lakers aren't going to be the only team finding it easier to focus after the All-Star break. "You see the finish line," Bryant said, "you tend to pick up the speed a little bit.

The Lakers aren't going to be the only team playing as if every game is more important. "We have to understnd that it's ‘pretty tight," Gasol said. "We want to finish in the best way possible."

And the Lakers aren't going to be the only team feeling like they'll be in good shape. "We’re very comfortable with where were’ at right now," Jackson said. "We’re not happy with it, but we’re comfortable that we’re going to be in the playoffs and we have a position and we want to make it the best we have it."

That's because as the Lakers expect to increase their attention and effort, so will everyone else.

"It’s going to be a fight and every team is looking to dethrone us," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "Nobody wants us to watch us win a third straight championship. It’s going to be a fight and fun and competitive. I’m looking forward to it

"We’ve become accustomed to playing until June. We don’t feel like anything should change. But if you ask the other teams, I’m pretty sure they don’t want to hear that. I’m pretty sure they want to us bump us off. It will be a fight."

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

 
Comments () | Archives (26)

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I watched how Kobe and Gasol played at the all-star games. They were both excellent. Something they do not do at Lakers regular season games.


What regular season?!


Lakers real season begins after 89 games!


Lakers Champions NBA Finals 2011!!!


For now, keep your cool or don't watch the games at all.

I’m rolling strong with the 3peat. Why should Mamba be the only 3peat season!


@MVP- C’mon home. Like Little Feat said, “We ain’t had enough fun yet”


@Staples 24 - I saw your comparison of the Amare Suns with his Knicks team...it was cute, but sorry Corey Brewer is a LONG way from the Matrix!

KOBE never answers questions as to why the Lakers continue to be beaten by losing teams. Everything is fine with him. I guess as long as he is the "turn over" king and shooting air balls then things are fine. I guess when u have a 7 ft center with 6 years NBA experience who plays like a community college player things are alright. When you have a PG like Fisher who is beaten by all the PG's in the league then things are alright. OK, Kobe, things are fine.

I’m rolling strong with the 3peat. Why should Mamba be the only 3peat season!Posted by: LRob | February 22, 2011 at 11:15 AM
*
Stop that!! LOL! Carry On!
*
*
>++
|
=========================
[_|___|__|___|__|__|__|__|__|_\
|___ LAKERS 3PEAT BUS _\__\__\
l_________________________--|
\_(O)-(O)____________(O)-(O)__/

@LEWSTRS
*______________________________________________________*
ONE BLOG, ONE GOAL, THREE PEAT - BANDWAGON
*______________________________________________________*
(01) THE OUTLAW - OWNER - I hope the blog bands together for the common
goal: THREE-PEAT.
(02) BABY OUTLAW - CO/OWNER
(03) LEWSTRS - THE ORIGINAL DESIGNER - please include me on the 3 Peat Bandwgon...
(03) MAMBA24 - DRIVER - WE GOT THIS!!!
(04) D(EREK) J(ETER) - Sure, I'll hop on board today's Bandwagons!
(05)CYBERCOSMIX - The way Kobe took over the ASG, the focus and flashes of old-school Kobe, it was amazing. He's going to have the guys focused for the 2nd half and not let PJ say goodbye with anything less than his 12th ring. I bet all those other players from other teams standing behind him when he was getting that trophy Sunday night, every single one of them probably thought 'oh damn... The Mamba is back' You could just see it in their eyes...Looks like this will be the guys we go to battle with - if so, as CornerJ says: Let's ride!
(06)LROB - DJ - I’m rolling strong with the 3peat. Why should Mamba be the only 3peat season!

@Mark Medina- If Ron Artest were to lose his starting spot, three things would happen.

1) He would become disinterested
2)He would become disengaged
3)He would become disenchanted.

All three, in that order.

Secondly, Matt Barnes, in the long-term, will hinder this team defensively, given Fisher's deficiences and Kobe's lack of conviction.

Matt Barnes would not have the same impact on Kevin Durant as Ron Artest had.

Matt Barnes would not have the same impact on Shawn Marion or Dirk Nowitzki.

Not to mention, all the Spurs wing players, can give Matt Barnes all kinds of trouble for varying reasons.

Hold On!

Why is Bynum concerned about HCA? We were told by a blogger that HCA
didn't count.

I'm soooo confused.

this was written: Secondly, Matt Barnes, in the long-term, will hinder this team defensively, given Fisher's deficiences and Kobe's lack of conviction.

my response: this is also a load of crap. The Lakers have 2.5 defensive
minded SF's. Artest, Barnes & Kobe. Matt Barnes will *NOT* hinder
the team defensively.

*__________________________________________________*
KOBEMVP888 THE 2ND HALF IS STARTING PLEASE COME BACK
AND RETURN TO YOUR SEAT SIR - BANDWAGON
*___________________________________________________*
(01) LEWSTRS - OWNER - And 888 said he would return if 26 people jump
on his bandwagon...and he would be 27...LOL
(02) CYBERCOSMIX - DRIVER
(03) LAKERTOM - RIDING SHOTGUN
(04) DJ LROB - RIDING SHOTGUN2 & DJ
(05) MAMBA24
(06) D(EREK) J(ETER)


Heard that the Nuggets might move Gallinari? Pretty good shooter, not sure how we could get him though?

Hey, I've got it, Sasha (expiring contract) for Gallinari! What, we don't have that option any more? Okay, the, Joe Smith for Gallinari? Oh?

@hobbitmage- I guess you haven't watched Matt Barnes try to guard Paul Pierce or Kevin Durant.

Barnes is half the defender Artest is at guarding Durant, Pierce. The elite SF. Did I say he was terrible or bad. No, I said hinder, hinder, my friend.

. To be or get in the way of.
2. To obstruct or delay the progress of.

Durant would put up 30-35 points a night on Barnes, that's on a bad night. He can easily put up 40.


Hobbitmage, Barnes hasn't the strength or quick hands or field vision that Artest has. Artest is an exceptional instinct defender, Barnes is as grimey as Artest, though he lacks those quick hands and vision.

Believe it or not, Kobe's leaving his man open, I'd say on about 25-40% of possessions on defense and he's paying the price.

If you don't like what I say, fine. Let it be known, just make sure you have counter points, if you want to have a conversation. Blanket statements don't work with me.

Sean - You beat me to the punch and I agree with all three of your points. I was actually going to hold of on bringing that topic up until Barnes actually returned to the lineup. I also wanted to ask Phil, Matt and Ron about it too first. But I agree. The reason why Artest was brought here was because he filled that speciality role. Matt has been good at kind of picking up the scraps everyone leaves behind. Both valuable roles in themselves. The problem is this - Matt has fulfilled his role. Ron hasn't. Is there a way to make Ron accountable for that? PJ has tried fluctuating his playing time, more considerate of him before criticizing him and the team offering positive reinforcement. Ron means well but he's still a work in progress. Very delicate issue to say the least.

@Mark Medina- Thanks Mark, but, I knew you had the foresight. I just beat you to the punch. Thanks again, Mark. Let's keep the train moving.

@Mark Medina- I'm really interested in Ron's response on that question, Mark. He hasn't fulfilled his role this year, as of yet. His response would be a kind of Rorschach test, so to speak. I actually think Ron would give you a straight answer, Mark.

There were circumstances beyond Ron's control in Houston. So, anybody, who's going to make the argument that Ron could serve a better purpose on the bench than starting would be wrong. We don't a Shane Battier, on our team, that makes the transition easier. Ron and Matt, essentially play the same way, only Ron has quicker hands and his field of vision is incredible for a guy with those kinds of instincts.

It's simply a matter of putting up the volume knob to 11 for Ron to get himself going, I'm waiting for that, we all are.

Sean,

You're parsing my statements wrong. Allow me to clarify.

you originally wrote: Secondly, Matt Barnes, in the long-term, will hinder this team defensively, given Fisher's deficiences and Kobe's lack of conviction.

my response: You are saying that Matt Barnes' defense will be a detriment
to the team given Fisher's deficiencies and Kobe's play. I argue that Matt's
defense has nothing to do with Fisher's deficiencies or Kobe's play. You've
linked two things together that aren't linked.

you also wrote: Barnes is half the defender Artest is at guarding Durant, Pierce. The elite SF. Did I say he was terrible or bad. No, I said hinder, hinder, my friend.

my response: I haven't disagreed with Artest being a better defender.
However, you're also talking about two different styles. You're also looking
at last year vs. this year. They bring different things to the table. Artest is
heavier, stronger & plays closer. Barnes is quicker & longer. i.e. closer to
Ariza's style. It has not been shown that the Lakers can't win with a lean SF
against Boston. I argued years ago that we lost the Boston game because we
had Vlad, at SF, vs. the tired argument of we were w/o Bynum.

I don't think Artest has significantly quicker hands than Barnes does. I do
think he plays better positionally.

you also wrote: Barnes hasn't the strength or quick hands or field vision that Artest has. Artest is an exceptional instinct defender, Barnes is as grimey as Artest, though he lacks those quick hands and vision.

my response: I've already talked about the strength & quick hands. I don't
have any evidence to support or disagree with your statement about court
vision. Why don't you show some evidence to support your statement
about Artest's court vision? I'd be happy to see it.

You also wrote: Believe it or not, Kobe's leaving his man open, I'd say on about 25-40% of possessions on defense and he's paying the price.

my response: This subject has been talked about before. I agree that he's
leaving his man open. I *think* it's because he's compensating for the
soft play of Pau and the slowness of Bynum. I think he's also been conserving.
The knee almost being bone on bone is troubling.

you also wrote: If you don't like what I say, fine. Let it be known, just make sure you have counter points, if you want to have a conversation. Blanket statements don't work with me.

my response: Perhaps you're new ... I tend to support my counter points
with stats/evidence. I try to be clear. I am not always right and I am willing
to change my point of view when it merits change.

Are we clear?

With all due respect to Jemele Hill, I wouldn't think twice about trading Gallinari and Chandler for Melo.

The only untouchable from a team and fan's perspective was Landry Fields. They were never going to trade him, and he's more valuable than the Rooster and Chandler combined.

A snippet from her article:

As special as Anthony is, he isn't James. He doesn't have the kind of game, leadership or charisma that can instantly transform a team. There's a reason Anthony's teams have been eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs six times in seven years, including once by the Clippers.

My retort: Yeah? So? And? What?

He doesn't have the kind of game to transform a team? Ah, what. He changed the landscape in Denver overnight. They may not have won a chip, they were always in the conversation, and he was the main cog.

He doesn't have the kind of leadership to transform a team? That remains to be seen, it didn't happen in Denver, that doesn't mean his leadership skills diminish coming to New York, his town, his team. Don't understand her from this perspective.

Charisma? Seriously, charisma. Peyton Manning has less charisma than Melo and he won a chip. Did the Broadstreet Bullies from Philly have charisma, they ran through everybody. Wiley Wiggins from the Giants has no charisma, didn't stop him from helping San Fran win a title. Charisma is dubious in the arena of sport.

Than again, this is the same woman who compared John Calipari to Charles Manson.


@MAMBA24... Thanks for the 888 Bandwagon. I hope we have a resounding number of bloggers who sign up so that we get our entire crew together. Now is not the time for a divided house. Let’s show everybody we care about all our team. Time to step and take a stand for inclusiveness. 888 has made some great contributions to the blog. The Lakers Blog needs to make a statement.
...................................
TOM

COME ON EVERYONE, HOP ON MAMBA/LEW'S COME BACK 888 BANDWAGON!

MM: Great insights in the article. I'd say that Ron Ron's answer is at best troubling.

- - -

I am starting to think back to Jon K's post from a few days ago, illustrating the difference between psychiatrist and psychologist, especially as it applies to dispensing of drugs...

- - -
Justa (with capital J): Oh perish the thought. "Chandler is a big (good) Felton is a pg(good) but both Artest and Barnes are sf (bad). That means we have Luke as starting sf (very bad) and Ebanks who PJ has not given him time to develop (bad move now but good for future). So we would be overloaded at PG but getting rid of Ratliff and Smith and adding Chandler would be upgrade. "
-
I think you misread Laker J's trade proposal, it was for Ron Ron & Blake, not Barnes.


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

@Hobbitmage- Thanks, I'm relatively new, I'm glad I can count on a constructive debate, if it ever comes up.

I'm not going to disagree with your reasoning about Kobe's lax d. You make a convincing argument about why he's doing it, makes sense on the level, you and I both know, he's an arrogant defender, that's biting him as well.

Barnes hasn't nearly the quick hands as Artest does. Especially on SF's like Melo, Pierce, Durant, and James. He doesn't, he also lacks Ron's field of vision, Ron has a peripheral insight on the court, that makes him the most difficult cover in Basketball, when he's on. I can't make it clearer without practical demonstration.

I think we can agree that both defenders have strengths and weaknesses. if you took a poll of the Lakers, I bet 80-99% would say Artest is the better of the two, including Barnes himself. One of the reasons Barnes said he came over to the Lakers, was to watch Ron from the bench. He admitted, he's not in Ron's class as a Defender.

You're not wrong Hobbitmage, you're just trying to make Barnes out to be a better defender than common knowledge or history suggests.

DBDH,

You got the battle of Tar Heels pg’s in Denver. Coach Karl just announced that Ty Lawson would probably start. What’s your thoughts?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbBQ2WYg9J4

@Hobbitmage- Watch his eyes, different than most D men in the NBA.

@Hobbitmage- Quick hands mean nothing if you don't pay attention the ball. That's what makes Ron different, steals, deflections, jump balls, he's always watching his man and the ball, it's an uncanny talent most ball players can't develop.

He's one of the few players in the game, that has defensive moves. You think it's all about positioning? There's more to it than that, it's an attitude. Ron's attitude in those situations set him apart. Shane Battier, gave Ron props for the exact same thing. Ron's big, muscular, his attitude creates envy, in a lot of his contemporaries, they haven't the physical gifts with the attitude to match.

I'm starting to feel the problem is 4 players...ron, fish, blake, and sometimes shannon are not providing anything besides passing the ball to kobe. You can't have 2 to 3 players offering no scoring. No NBA defense besides the hacking- endorsed celtics can thrive in that type of game

Yada-yada-yada.............more of the same from the Lakers. I am exhausted listening to their 'Don't Worry, be Happy' garbage all season. Play and be honest with yourselves - you haven't brought it this season more than a few games!

However, I am going to delay the TIVO experiment one more time...........I feel like Charlie Brown kicking the football with the Lakers (not Lucy) holding that ball, but.........I will try again tonight to watch live.

kobe is the best

i think the lakers should of traded for carmelo & chauncey billups 4 $ & draft picks


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