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Lakers continue to improve defensively in 90-79 victory over Minnesota Timberwolves

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Everybody on the Lakers appeared spread out on the court, but they all turned in one direction.

Lakers forward Lamar Odom bodied up Minnesota forward Kevin Love, preventing him from getting solid post position. Lakers guard Steve Blake stepped down to swipe the ball away. Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Lakers forward Luke Walton remained ready to slide over in the paint. And Lakers guard Shannon Brown stood above the free-throw line ready to defend the perimeter in case Love kicked the ball outside.

Instead, Love drove inside and met plenty of resistance, ranging from Blake continually trying to steal the ball, Odom contesting the shot and Bynum putting a body on him to make it difficult for Lobe to maneuver. Timberwolves guard Wesley Johnson recovered the loose ball off Bynum's blocked shot and found Love open in the paint. But once he received the pass, Walton held his ground, while both Odom and Bynum crashed the boards for the possible rebound. Walton's tight defense forced Love into shooting an airball and Bynum's proximity to the basket allowed him to grab the easy board.

That play in the Lakers' 90-79 victory Tuesday over Minnesota perfectly represented the Lakers' continuous effort in locking down defensively. This by no means overlooks the fact the Timberwolves (14-47) remain in last place in the Western Conference, minimizes the Lakers' horrific shooting percentage (37.5%) and Minnesota's equally poor mark from the field (39.7%). But it highlights the Lakers (43-19) improved effort nonetheless in remaining disciplined on defense that ensured their fifth consecutive victory since the NBA All-Star break. 

"Communication, focusing on practice and keep going over and over until it becomes second nature," Odom ticked off to KCAL-9's John Ireland after posting 12 points and 11 rebounds and holding Love to 13 points on two of 10 shooting and 11 boards. "It was just our night defensively."

It sure was and the Lakers surely needed it to win. That's because the Lakers trailed 45-40 at halftime because of atrocious offensive execution, capped by Minnesota's 7-0 run. The Lakers went 14 of 46 from the field, committed nine turnovers and the likes of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol only combined for seven points. An easy solution would've entailed getting Andrew Bynum involved after going four of eight from the field in the first half before picking up three early fouls with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter, but the Lakers' trigger happy tendencies got the best of them.

A stronger defensive effort in the second half helped the Lakers jumpstart their execution. They held Minnesota to 34 second-half points, outrebounded them 53-39 overall and held them to a 39.7% clip the entire game. The defensive discipline proved valuable in many ways. Ron Artest's deflection on Michael Beasley allowed Bryant to connect with Gasol for an easy layup on transition. Gasol's defensive rebound enabled Bryan to drive baseline for an open two-handed dunk to cut the deficit to 58-56 with 3:33 remaining and another Gasol board set up Bryant's open 15-footer that tied the game up at 58-58 with 2:21 left in the third quarter.

Much like the way Lakers held Oklahoma City to 31 second-half points, the stronger intensity on defense then generated better ball movement, ensuring Bryant (24 points, eight of 20) shooting, Bynum (14 points, five of 10 shooting), Gasol (12 points, three of 10 shooting, 17 rebounds) and Odom (12 points, 11 rebounds) cracked double figures. Odom found a cutting Shannon Brown backdoor for an easy layup, widening the gap to 72-63 after capping an 18-5 run with 9:49 remaining. A pick-and-roll between Gasol and Bryant resulted in an open shot for Gasol, whose shot was blocked by Beasley. No matter. Odom followed with a putback for an 80-69 lead with 4:03 remaining. And Bryant finding Odom cutting into the lane resulted in an open layup for an 82-69 cushion with 3:31 left.

"We're focusing on defense," Odom said. "When you play good defense in any sport, it gives you a chance to win."

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

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

Photo: Minnesota's Kevin Love, left, beats the Lakers' Andrew Bynum to a rebound during the first half of the Lakers' 90-79 victory Tuesday. Credit: Jim Mone / Associated Press / March 1, 2011

 
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Comments ...

Fishers defensive liability showed up again.

Lakers would be a much better team if they had an on the ball defender at the pg position.

Lakers didn't get ball to Bynum several times when he had his defender pinned down low.

Good regular season win on to the next.

I'm happy for the win, but this Lakers team is maddening to watch against inferior opponents (nothing new, I suppose). Dammit, boys, get the ball down low against a lilliputian team like the 'Wolves. When Bynum caught the ball on the post and went up strong, there was NO ONE who could stop him -- granted, he needs to continue taking the ball to the hole strong, and forgo those weenie little chip shots.

All in all, a good road win against a Rambis-coached team.

Looking forward to home uniforms on Friday, and I'm hoping to keep the streak alive. This is our chance to creep up in the WC standings, with SA injured.

Go Lake Show!

I wrote earlier this year that even though the Grizzlies were ranked 25th at the beginning of the year that they would be ranked top 8 by the end of the year. I wrote that the reason was that they had drafted a guy named Greivis Vasquez who would be the oil to run the machine. I knew he wouldn't have huge numbers but that he would make the WHOLE (WHICH HAD POTENTIAL BUT NOT THE DRIVE!!!) a lot lot lot better than even they thought. Even though he's not playing much during actual games I'm very certain that he's making everyone a lot better by PUSHING their silly butts during practice (as he's got a similar chrono-reading and DRIVE as that of Kobe IMO) and that these pushes would translate during actual NBA games. I think that the Lakers made a big mistake by not getting the kid when they could have as the Grizzlies are playing beyond their frigging minds right now. Take away the kid and you have the same old Grizzlies. Lakers should have gotten the kid. I'm not wrong by the way... There are no stats to prove my point, just a pure gut feeling and the knowledge of his game from his Maryland days. Mistake by the Lakers. I hope that they at least tried to get him in some sort of trade.

A part of me wonders if Kobe has some inferiority complex when it comes to bringing the ball down low. I say this, because when he was younger it was ALL about giving the ball to Shaq, which as we know didn't turn out well. I wonder if he's hesitant to give the ball to bynum for similar reasons?

Diandra: I doubt it. He gives the ball up to Pau down low. I think it's more of a confidence level thing with Bynum. At this point I'm not sure how much confidence Kobe has in Bynum's game.

A win is always fantastic - but seriously, the Wolves shoot in the 30's and we beat them by only 11. The Wolves. We should have smoked this team by 20+. Frustrating ... but again, a win is a win.

I'm glad for the above recap, got home late, didn't have the game on TV because I'm in Austin now and it wasn't on the national broadcast. Tried going for the radio feed and rolling boxscores but my laptop's been running slower than a snail through salt. Still, I caught enough to get the idea of it and am now catching up through the various threads. Earlier, managed to toss off an ode to Craig Sager - yes, I'm odd but those who've been on the LAT long enough already know that, haha. For those that have nothing better to do at this time of night, http://tinyurl.com/6krupeq

The great "Mr. Intangibles" Derek Fisher was on the court for 30 minutes and did not get even 1 assist ? That is why he is called Mr. Intangibles !!! He also was smoking on the floor and shot 2 of 9 which is actually a good night for this perennial All- Star !!!

S Perkins: You know what I think you should do? I think you should turn your attention to Luke Walton. You're too good to waste your time on Fisher. No, take your talents to Waltonville, and just enjoy the ride.

Go Lake Show!

I missed the 1st half...so I guess I saw the best part. Decent defense. Minny could've built a few condos with all the bricks they shot in the 2nd half. It wasn't pretty but I'll take a W anyday. Nice to build a little momentum before the big 4 game roadtrip vs. SA, Atlanta, Miami, and Dallas.

A few quotes from the game...

Rambis - "Their length is a matchup problem for virtually every team in the league," You can't account for that length."

Kobe - "That's why we've been able to win back-to-back championships because we have a great team. "Pieces complement each other extremely well. That's the trick, that's the key. Management has done a great job."

Drew - "I think we just played down to the competition,"

GDUB,

Always good to hear the legendary Donald Byrd. Good stuff....and of course it don't hurt that he's a homey :-)

It's gotta be embarrassing for Wolve fans...
it was even embarrassing for me.
The only feed of the game I could get over here
was called by Timberwolve announcers...

Those dudes are more at home in the Saints strap
than the Laker homies,
who at least try to hide their man-crushes.
Pathetic game calling to say the least.

Hey...
the World Champs sure showed Minnesota how the game is played,
didn't they?
Until the 4th quarter,
I thought the Timberlings had a legitimate shot at picking up
their 15th win of the season. You set that record straight!

I was looking ahead at your schedule...on the ESPN site,
and discovered that the easiest and quickest way to find your games
is just to skip every other (and sometimes every third and fourth) day...
insomuch as you have so few back-to-back games.

Gee...wonder how that happened?

Just kidding...Dumb question.

It makes me so proud...

NOT to be a Laker fan.

Go Kings!
Go SF Giants!
Go SF Niners!
Go CSUC Baseball!

Sonnybelfast



Sonny the Stalker,

I'm glad you're so proud to be a, um, Kings fan. You and your team deserve each other. You're perfect together. You're made for one another. Do your Kings know you're cheating?

Go Lake Show!

Are you really an Outlaw?

I know how 8th grade can be...they really start expecting you to behave like an adult...

but,
that doesn't mean you should be staying up after midnight,
when you should be giving that growing body some rest.
Be a good little Laker boy...

Good night.

Go Kings!

Sonnybelfast

Lakers: 43-19 3rd in the conference

Twolves: 14-47 last place and 2nd worse team in the league

Lakers shot 37.5% from the field and Twolves shot a bit better with 39.7%

Of course, the Lakers shot better than 45% in the 2nd half, coupled with rebounding and defense led to another much needed victory. That's what championship teams do: finding ways to win the ugly ones.

I still say they have to sweep the remainder of this schedule right through 14 March which ends in Orlando. In between, they are going to have to play at a higher level against S.A. - even though Parker is out - Dallas, Boston and a few other “real contenders" to accurately gauge their effectiveness after the break. But let’s face it: it's about winning a championship so as long as this team can get into the playoffs healthy and focused, then I see this team going all the way!

Lets Keep The Streak Alive!

"Everything about the Lakers is geared toward winning playoff games. It's what they do." J.A. Adande

"Even when we didn’t make the playoffs, I thought we'd win the championship." Dr. Buss

Go Lakers & In Buss We Trust!!

Just you watch.

Fisher will make his presence known during the playoffs.

He is invaluable on defense during the playoffs.

He makes big shots during the playoffs.

You easily forget how Fisher single-handedly willed the Lakers from behind to win a game during the championship series with Boston.

You easily forget how Fisher hounded Boston's guards on defense.

Fisher and Kobe have been a guard tandem that wins during the playoffs - dating back to their first championship to their fifth championship.

The Lakers have NO ONE to replace Fisher. No one is as bright as Fisher nor as determined. Shannon Brown is NOT as bright as Fisher by far. Shannon does not play as good a defense as Fisher. Shannon is far more inconsistent than Fisher. Nor can Blake replace Fisher. Blake can't play defense unfortunately, as well as Fisher can.

Fisher is also a leader on the Lakers. He keeps the other egos in check - particularly Kobe's. No one on the Lakers can LEAD like Fisher can lead. He is the vocal leader on the team. Kobe is not.

Look at who is available in the league. There is NO ONE that can replace Fisher. No one else is as savvy or smart nor has leadership qualities nor has defensive skills nor hits as big a shot. Think about it. Anyone who is better than Fisher already has a long-term contract as a point guard. Anyone that is as good a guard as Fisher gets drafted way above where the Lakers draft.

Face the facts. There is no one in the League available to the Lakers who can replace Fisher.

Diandra: I doubt it. He gives the ball up to Pau down low. I think it's more of a confidence level thing with Bynum. At this point I'm not sure how much confidence Kobe has in Bynum's game.

Really? I think that had Bynum not been so injury prone he would have been just as great as Shaq. Anyway, Bynum imo can be a much better post player than Gasol which is why it strikes me as odd that people don't pass to him, and it's not just Kobe.

James Katt - Fantastic post! I think you and I will get along just fine. (I am a huge Fisher supporter, even have his jersey!) Although I hate that ladies jerseys only come in yellow for him. I look like ketchup and mustard when I wear it because I have flaming red hair.

Such is life.

Sometimes, it just seems that Bynum is taken for granted and relegated to cleaning up the bricks tossed at the basket. All we can do is speculate as to the reason why but sometimes I just think the team is taking it easy on him so he can conserve his knees for the playoffs. I think we'll see a lot more of that inside-out game in the playoffs.

I mean tonight, he missed some "inside game" and a few times, I felt he passed out too soon and even gave up a couple of shots in the process. He's still not 100% but I do believe he'll get stronger. I believe he can actually wind up being the Finals MVP if he's completely healthy. That's a big kid - 7'1" 285Lbder with a tremendous wing span. I say he's going to be their "not so secret weapon!"

With the way the triangle offence works - he doesn't need to produce big assists. He essentially just needs to get the offence set up and be available to shoot, or to re set it at any time. He makes good passes a lot, but the players don't always make the shots... lol. If you notice, hardly anyone on the lakers have big assist numbers. It's because of the way the O is set up.

Also, things to note: offence runs better wish Fish on floor as opposed to Blake. Although I think overall Blake can be a better hands on defender because he's great at randomly appearing to ball strip at the post.

Quick! Somebody get Sonnybelfast a Laker dictionary. It is spelled QUEENS.

The Refs kept Love's double/double streak alive. We did our part. He managed 2 baskets on 10 attempts.

The Lakers showed why they are going to threepeat - Defense. Even on a horrible shooting night, they showed up defensively and out-rebounded the best rebounding team in the league. The first half was hard to watch and it was starting to look like another embarrassing loss against a below .500 team. The second half was gritty and awesome. Kobe got his shot back and there was no Love in this game - except for Kurt of course. Our guards not named Kobe had 1 assist among the three of them. Kobe had three. Of course, it is hard to get an assist when nobody is hitting. Still, 12 assists and 18 turnovers is not a recipe for success. These are the kind of games where the starters should be sitting in the fourth and the rookies get a chance to play. We came out completely flat instead of putting a foot to their throat and ending it quickly and mercifully. It makes for a longer season. We need to save it for the real season.

Everyone had an off shooting night, but Odom was a great spark off the bench and won the +/- at +15. #2 was Luke with +11. Ron was the low guy with a 0.

I still think Blake is a bust. He managed one basket in 18 minutes and his defense is not great. This is a reoccurring theme. Bibby is not great defensively either but he can shoot and he is clutch. I have mentioned him several times on this blog, but nobody has responded. Why don’t we want (or not want) Bibby? He hasn’t signed anything yet. It seems that Mitch is going to just stick with what we got. Maybe he thinks that if he traded someone or signed someone it would look like he is second guessing himself. We have guys on the bench that are not contributing and we need a shooter. Isn’t Kobe friends with Bibby?

The Spurs lost! Without Parker, they could lose a bunch of them. He is “the guy” on that team. He runs the offense. Without him, their offense is offensive.

I am a Lakerholic.

@ Diandra...you make a good point about the triangle. The way the offens goes, each guy scores mostly by exploiting matchups and isolating weaknesses. One guy is not responsible for distribution, ala nash, parker, or williams. The problem with the Lakers is making shots. Also from what I see, attention to offensive rebounds is lacking. How many time have you seen Gasol or Bynum take a shot, but nobody gets the rebound. When Kobe shoots, its expected to crash the boards. Although the triangle calls for spacing, there's no attention to rebounding. That's why the bulls were so dominant....Rodman wasn't a threat offensively, so he was ALWAYS on the boards. Everybody on the team is part of the offense...We need a player on the floor, either PF or PG (like rondo) who concentrates on the intangibles like rebounding and loose balls. It's hard for someone waiting for an open shot to be of that mindset.

I was hoping for a rebounder/banger who could play defense, scrap, rebound, and get garbage buckets like Rambis did. Every top team, except miami will insert a player just to defend and/or rebound in their starting lineup even though they can't score. raja bell, bruce bowen, perkins, or the hacker from the thunder whose name I can't spell (Sefa...whatever). Even as far back as earlier champions like ivaroni (76ers), Rambis (lakers), rodman (bulls). Their contribution to the overall team was much more important to winning than just scoring. These guys got garbage points, rebounded, and were there to hold down the other team's best offensive player. Barnes is that type of player, but he's not able to get major minutes because of Artest and Odom.

" Gasol's defensive rebound enabled Bryan to drive baseline for an open two-handed dunk for a 58-56 lead with 3:33 remaining and another Gasol board set up Bryant's open 15-footer that tied the game up at 59-59 with 2:21 left in the third quarter."

58 + 2 = 60

Fallacy of Fans:
"Fisher will make his presence known during the playoffs."
Hope so, but this remains to be seen.

"He is invaluable on defense during the playoffs."
No, he's not. He's a total liability on defense both in the regular season AND the playoffs.

"He makes big shots during the playoffs."
He definitely has made some big shots in the playoffs during his career. Heroics aren't as necessary if the team was more dominant during the other 47 minutes of the game.

"You easily forget how Fisher single-handedly willed the Lakers from behind to win a game during the championship series with Boston"
Yes, he had that one great game. Did this mean it was right for him to hog the starter spot all season (both last season and by default, this season) and not give anyone else the opportunity to develop? How many playoff games did the Lakers play and he had that one truly solid game - the guy's batting average there isn't quite as good you think... but I will admit that he stepped up in last season's playoffs from where he was at during the season.

Let's just hope he does the same this year.

Five. Five game. Five game winnnnning streeeeeak!

Five. Five game. Five game winnnnning streeeeeak!

(sung to the tune of Subway's infectious footlong jingle)

DBDH!

"I still think Blake is a bust."

I think this is a little bit harsh. Sure, you'd hope that he could replace the production of Farmar, but you also have to account that he's new around here. I felt then as I feel now that this swap was AT BEST a tie/push, but that the upside was in sticking with the younger player (that also had more experience on this team)... but hey.

The guy is capable of being a very solid backup PG. I just hope his shooting woes turn around. After all, the guy he replaced led the team in 3pt % last season.

Five. Five game. Five game winnnnning streeeeeak! Five. Five game. Five game winnnnning streeeeeak!(sung to the tune of Subway's infectious footlong jingle) DBDH! Posted by: Don't Blame Del Harris! | March 02, 2011 at 07:19 AM
*
DAMN!! That's catchy as hell!!! Jam on DBDH!!! Lol!

Even as far back as earlier champions like ivaroni (76ers), Rambis (lakers), rodman (bulls). Their contribution to the overall team was much more important to winning than just scoring. These guys got garbage points, rebounded, and were there to hold down the other team's best offensive player. Barnes is that type of player, but he's not able to get major minutes because of Artest and Odom. Posted by: DOC4daLakeShow | March 02, 2011 at 06:44 AM
*
Quiet as it’s kept Noah of the Bulls is also that type of player. Although he averages about 10 points a game…all gargage pointa!

Hey all - thanks to the RC for keeping me up to date with the game happenings since I had to exit for a little bit.

I see a glimmer of playoff defensive lockdown starting to take shape. It's just starting but I feel it's going to peak at just the right moment.

DIANDRA - you are so funny. We have so much in common. I LOVE FISH! His is the only jersey I own as well. And I bought the men's because the yellow is horrible with MY red hair and coloring. So funny. My FISH sister!!

Cheers - PLG

Why I think we need a shooter - Many times, we have three guys on the floor that draw double teams. This leaves other guys without anyone guarding them. What does Blake do with this? Last night, it was 2 attempts. Brown has been inconsistent. There are guys who can park themselves out at the three point line and hit a high percentage with nobody in their face. We brought in Glenn Rice for this reason and it worked. We won our first post Kobe championship the next season. Sasha, when he was healthy, used to do this all night long. It turned the game around. We became unbeatable. He was a master it hitting open threes as was Wilkes, Scott, Horry, Shaw... the list goes on. We have always had high caliber players who draw multiple guys and shooters who take advantage of this - this year, not so much. If we had a shooter, they would eventually have to send someone out to guard him and leave Kobe, Pau, Lamar or Drew a chance to score easily. It would help if this shooter could play great D, but it isn't required. If he was a good facilitator, this would make up for any defensive lacking. We are already a very good defensive team (sorry logo).

Bibby?

I'll bet he would prefer to come back to CA.

KAPONO. Any word on him getting that buyout yet?


DBDH!

Lakerholic -

I would argue that person is BARNES. Let's let him come back before thinking Bibby or someone else on waivers might be that guy. I think BARNES is going to show us all the reason why he signned with the Lakers. He has the chip on the shoulder and he really wants this. He has so much better energy than Bibbby.

Cheers - PLG

Yo Sonny...

How does it feel that LA is the big bully and we are thinking about taking your lunch money away from you?

(Kings to OC FTW!)

Why is it every time a team blows easy shots over and over the Lakers get kudos for tough defense, and every time their opposition can't miss every bomb they throw up the Lakers are criticized for porous D?

Answer, lazy reporting following a cliche book directing us to think in terms of fantasy vs the reality that teams get hot and teams get cold whether they're well-defended or not. The players laugh at reporters' conclusions when they bother to listen or read them.

I don't think it's lazy. I make it clear Minnesota shoot the ball well. But I detail a few plays, particularly the one at the beginning of the article that shows how disciplined and focused the Lakers defense was.


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