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Looking at who fared better guarding Chris Paul

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The debate surrounding how Derek Fisher matches up with elite point guards will never subside and will remain volatile at least to the day his contract with the Lakers expires after the 2012-2013 season.

In unsurprising fashion, he also became the topic of scrutiny throughout this first-round series against New Orleans, where he had the unenviable task of guarding Chris Paul. But just listen to the man himself, who said dropping a triple double and becoming a pest to the Lakers in their six-game series didn't exactly come easy.

"A lot of the credit goes to Derek Fisher," Paul told reporters in New Orleans. "I told him after the game that he played unbelievable defense for the entire series."

But this isn't just the Hornets' elite guard giving lip service. A look through NBA StatsCube shows there's an element of truth to that. Below are the following findings on how the Lakers matched up with Paul, who averaged 22.5 points on 54.5% shooting and 11.5 assists.

*Paul was his least effective when Kobe Bryant was on the floor. Paul averaged 17.3 points on a 50% clip from the field and from three-point range and posted 10.6 assists. Paul scored in the following ways: going five of 11 restricted area, eight of 11 in the paint, eight of 20 on midrange jumpers, zero of two from the corner 3 and six of 10 above the break.

*When Bryant was on the bench, Paul averaged 25.1 points on a 65% mark from the field and a 43% clip from three-point range with 7.7 assists. Paul scored in the following ways: going one for one from restricted area, four of seven in the paint, seven of eight on midrange jumpers, six of seven from the corner 3 and one of four above the break. Overall, Bryant finished with a defensive rating of 102.16.

*Fisher wasn't too far behind. When he was on the court, Paul averaged 18.1 points on 53% shooting and 50% from three-point range with 10.3 assists. His shots went like this: going five of 11 in the restricted area, nine of 12 in the paint, nine of 20 on midrange jumpers, going zero of 2 in corner 3 and six of 10 above the break

*When Fisher was on the bench, Paul averaged 22.3 points on 59% shooting with 8.5 assists. His scoring breakdown went as follows: one of one in the restricted area, three of six in the paint, six of eight in corner 3s and one of four above the break. He finished with an overall defensive rating of 101.18.

*Steve Blake proved to be the least effective from a points standpoint in guarding Paul. But Blake limited Paul from distributing. When Blake was on the court, Paul averaged 23.5 points on 60% shooting and 43% from three-point range with 3.7 assists. His shot breakdown was as follows: 1 of 1 from the restricted area, two of five in the paint, six of seven on midrange jumpers, two of three on corner 3s, and one of 4 above the break.

When Blake was on the bench, Paul averaged 17.9 points on 53% shooting and 50% from three-point range with 10.9 assists. His shot breakdown went as follows: he was five of 11 from restricted area, 10 of 13 in the paint, nine of 21 on midrange jumpers, zero of two on corner 3s and six of 10 above the break. Overall, Blake finished with a 85.91 defensive rating.

So what do these stats mean? Well, no one is going to pick up defensive player of the year honors for guarding Paul. But clearly Bryant's decision to guard Paul in Game 2 proved to be a key point in the series, limiting him to 20 points on five-of-11 shooting with nine assists, a huge dropoff from the 33 points on 11-of-18 shooting and 14 assists he posted in Game 1. It "cut off the head of the snake," as Lakers forward Matt Barnes called it, but Bryant guarding him couldn't be a long-term strategy because of concerns about his energy level and later his sprained left ankle. 

That's where Fisher and Blake came into play. By no means did they stop Paul, but it's not as if he had a field day either. As tough as it is for Fisher to keep pace with quick guards, his determined attitude in fighting through screens made Paul at least work for his points and force him to find the open man. Paul proved more effective in getting others involved when Fisher guarded him, but that at least put more pressure on the Hornets to have a solid supporting cast, which came with mixed results. Meanwhile, Blake allowed Paul to score more points individually but it came at the expense of distributing the ball. 

Of course, the Lakers' evolving approach on guarding Paul also points to the Hornets' reliance on him eventually catching up to them. For example, Bryant noticed Paul was tired in the Lakers' 98-80 Game 6 victory Thursday over New Orleans, where he posted only 10 points on four-of-nine shooting with 11 assists and five turnovers. But for a team that has largely struggled in defending the pick-and-roll, this matchup proved to be a useful learning exercise in ensuring that their main weakness wouldn't result in the team losing the series. 

-- Mark Medina

[email protected]

Photo: Lakers point guard Derek Fisher comes up with a steal against Hornets power forward Carl Landry, left, in Game 6 on Thursday night at New Orleans Arena. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
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"Out on the road late last night
I'd see my pretty Alice in every headlight
Alice, Dallas Alice"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRqHWDys5qE
- my musical contribution in anticipation of the Lakers movin' on to their coming date with the Mavs...
"And if you give me weed, whites and wine
And you show me a sign
And I'll be willin' to be movin'"
RIP - Lowell George...

Laker fan-

Congrats on beating the Mens 6' & under League Representatives!

Your bigs were dominant but I doubt you'll be facing anymore 6'-7" starting "power forwards" in the future.

Id ask for your opinion on how to beat Miami but since they've smoked you both times this year, it probably wouldnt be too informative. (Not that that would stop you from giving it)


for the next series against dallas, we'll definitely have to shoot better! here's L.A.'s 6 game shooting % against nola. kobe .437,'drew .556, pau .418, L.O. .455, ron ron .500, dfish .500, shannon .394, matt .429, blake .400, trey .500. most glaring in pau and shannon. dfish is rounding into playoff mode.....that's what he does! look for L.A. to take dallas a little more seiously in round two.(well, hopefully they will, ha ha) the one guy that's killed the Lakers tis year has been shaun marion. he's the perpetual "garbage man!" he get's put-backs, loose balls, runs the break well, defends. i personally think he's their "x-factor" player. yeah, they've got dirk and terry, they'll get their points too! also, the Lakers need to respect jason kidd from 3-land. he's much improved this year from that distance! Lakers in six! enjoy the rest guys, you deserve it!

MM - Nice statistical breakdown. Can you find anything that's more specific, i.e...when player X was guarding CP3? I would love to see that instead of when player X was on the court.

MVP - The Spurs are done! They won't survive the Grizz. I never bought into their regular season hype. So the question that begs to be answered is....
Did Pop do a great job in getting this squad to win 60+ games in the regular season? Or did Pop do a poor job in not getting this team ready for the playoffs?
I say the latter. He should've played Splitter a lot more in the regular season to get him ready for the "real season" because there's no way they could go far without more size on the court. Having said that he's still a great coach, but didn't do a very good job this season imho. They haven't recovered from giving away Scola!
Posted by: LRob | April 29, 2011 at 08:00 AM
====
Or was he simply in a lose-lose situation? Strong analysis, LRob!
Posted by: KobeMVP888 | April 29, 2011 at 10:42 AM
-----------------------
Good point. The Spurs had little chance of beating the Lakers this year, no matter what Pop did. He just doesn’t have the horses. Having said that…the over reliance on the 3pt strategy was fool’s gold. Splitter looks mediocre at best, but he represented the only other big body that could’ve gotten better with playing time.

Just in case anyone thinks this is revision history, I’ve written here often of being skeptical of SA all year (sorry Bay to LA). BTW MVP…your Zona alum isn’t exactly helping the Spurs cause.


@ART ... “Umm, can we actually wait until Bynum is the Finals MVP before we crown him with the award?” My apologies for the “fools” comment. I humbly retract it. On the other hand, can we actually wait for Dwight Howard’s contract to expire before we put him in purple and gold? :-)
...........................................................
TOM

Fish had a very good series, but the stats that Medina mentioned are meaningless. Fish is always on the floor with Kobe, Gasol and Bynum / Lamar, while Blake is rarely on the floor with Kobe, or with Bynum and Gasol together. When it comes to one on one defense, Kobe and Blake did a better job of bothering Paul, and needed less help defense.

L Rob - I was curious about that too. NBA Statscube doesn't have that specifically, but I thought this at least provided a glimpse of what the Lakers were facing.

"Just in case anyone thinks this is revision history, I’ve written here often of being skeptical of SA all year (sorry Bay to LA). BTW MVP…your Zona alum isn’t exactly helping the Spurs cause.

Posted by: LRob | April 29, 2011 at 12:04 PM "

No worries! I'd love to be wrong on my prediction that the Spurs would advance.

"MM - Nice statistical breakdown. Can you find anything that's more specific, i.e...when player X was guarding CP3? I would love to see that instead of when player X was on the court.

Posted by: LRob | April 29, 2011 at 12:02 PM "

I think the best way would be to ask Chris. All of the stats could be misleading. A lot of team defense was needed to slow Paul down so if the team defense behind a player was weaker, it will make that player's individual defense look weaker.

Laker fan-

Congrats on beating the Mens 6' & under League Representatives!

Your bigs were dominant but I doubt you'll be facing anymore 6'-7" starting "power forwards" in the future.

Id ask for your opinion on how to beat Miami but since they've smoked you both times this year, it probably wouldnt be too informative. (Not that that would stop you from giving it)


Posted by: 131-92 | April 29, 2011 at 11:47 AM

---

Congratulations on sweeping a team that would not have even qualified for the playoffs had they been playing in the Western Conference.

MM, if you torture statistics long enough, it will confess to anything you want...

Id ask for your opinion on how to beat Miami but since they've smoked you both times this year, it probably wouldnt be too informative. (Not that that would stop you from giving it)


Posted by: 131-92 | April 29, 2011 at 11:47 AM

---

We could not quite solve Spoelstra's very intricate offensive schemes - Give the ball to Wade or LeBron and everybody else get out of the way...

wow, 131 - 92 and s. perkins. yeah, you swept a team that was REALLY BEAT UP! no chauncey billups and a banged up amare stoudemire! it's not like you blew them out of the water! at home, you squeaked by 87 - 85, 96 - 93. in ny won both games by double digits, but by that time the knicks were so beat up, well, even the hornets would have beat them! ha ha. i would say the celtics were rather UNDERWHELMING in the sweep of ny! even though we'd like to PUNK YOUR ASSES AGAIN IN THE NBA FINALS, i don't see the senior citizens of boston getting by the heat. this is your last chance to win a ring with this team!

I think the best way would be to ask Chris. All of the stats could be misleading. A lot of team defense was needed to slow Paul down so if the team defense behind a player was weaker, it will make that player's individual defense look weaker.

Posted by: Bay to LA | April 29, 2011 at 12:12 PM
-----------------
I agree, but the one game where CP3 was 1-7 with DFish guarding him really stood out to me.


No worries! I'd love to be wrong on my prediction that the Spurs would advance.

Posted by: Bay to LA | April 29, 2011 at 12:10 PM
-------------------------
Glad you're a good sport. I'm just having a little fun. I thought the Lakers would sweep NO with no problem so I was way off. I hope I'm wrong about Miami beating the C's also.

Fish had a very good series, but the stats that Medina mentioned are meaningless. Fish is always on the floor with Kobe, Gasol and Bynum / Lamar, while Blake is rarely on the floor with Kobe, or with Bynum and Gasol together. When it comes to one on one defense, Kobe and Blake did a better job of bothering Paul, and needed less help defense.

Posted by: LAKER TRUTH | April 29, 2011 at 12:08 PM
=====

What games were you watching?

"Glad you're a good sport. I'm just having a little fun. I thought the Lakers would sweep NO with no problem so I was way off. I hope I'm wrong about Miami beating the C's also.


Posted by: LRob | April 29, 2011 at 12:32 PM "

I also thought the Lakers would sweep the Hornets. With all of my predictions, I have no worries about any of them being wrong because I was picking based on what I thought would happen and not based on what I wanted to happen.

Fish and Kobe are on floor with Bynum. Blake isn't. I'm not saying Blake is a better defender, but those stats really only say that the starting unit is better at defense than the bench.

lakeshowinphx-

Lets see if I have this straight ... We were "UNDERWHELMING" in our "sweep" of NY cuz we won by 2 & 3 pts but you guys "PUNK YOUR ASSES" by beating us by 4pts in 7 Games? What a difference 1pt makes ... LOL!!

Punk? Did you just learn that from Phil? Or did you already use that before Phil used it?

And as far as this being our "last chance to win a ring with that team" is this the first time you are saying this or have you been saying the same thing for the last 3 yrs?

Chris Paul tried to get his teammates involved in the game (just like Kobe does to the Lakers when he doesnt shoot) and fortunately never found that moment where he could take over. This guy to me is the best point guard in the league (williams and rondo are close second) and is practically imposible to guard. It was a team effort to stop him and that gives credit to Fisher, Blake and Kobe, because they all gave CP3 a different defensive position. That being said, Dallas is a better team because they have more players who can create their own plays. Furthermore, they also have two 7-footers one of which will be hell for the Lakers (Dirk). However, Fisher will shine more in this match up against Jason Kidd because Kidd is not as quick as CP3, thus easier to handle. I think the key for the Lakers is contain Dirk from having monster nights and the Lakers should be able to make it to the Finals.

P.S. For the 131-92 post... Lakers are STILL the NBA champions, and until some team knocks them out, they are still the Favorites. Orlando Magic also smoked the Lakers in the Regular season in 2009, Finals were over in 6 games...Regular season games dont mean anything. That being said Lakers 3 pete!!!

frmkt - hey bro...please don't think I was doing anything but having a convo with you about the Howard trade...you know me from the blog and the R/C...and I'm not the attacking kind...

Back to Howard...now if this were 2 guys trading baseball cards, and both agree to do a straight up trade, I'll give you Howard, and you give me Bynum, that would work...

But in reality, for us to get Howard and to keep the over already over stretched salary cap, we wouldn't be able to do it without losing other core players...

Is it worth it to upgrade one position, with the sacrifice of losing in other positions? I don't think so...of course their is still the question of if it is an upgrade in the center position...right now, maybe...but my gut tells me Andrew will be just as potent as Howard, if he was the #1 option on another team...

It's no secret what I feel about Andrew, and even with all the injuries, my forecast of his progression and maturation has been on course...he WILL be a star in this league...Book it Dano....

It's like the old arguement with muscle cars of the 60's...

You will have your Mustang faction...and you will have your Camero faction...

List me on the Bynum faction...for he is the Kwisatz Haderach...

After the ankle/foot injury heard round the world, I knew game 4 was going to be a Fish moment. It had all the makings of his playoffs moments that we know and love. "The dunk" may have changed momentum but Fish was in the trenches with his brethern and that's when he was needed most.

FISH IS THE MAN!!

Cheers all - PLG

RIP - Lowell George...

Posted by: jefe101 | April 29, 2011 at 11:18 AM
====

The brilliance of his music lives on.

131 - 92, it doesn't matter if you win by 39 or lose by 4 points. A LOSS IS A LOSS! you just happened to win by a landslide and the Lakers won a close one! both teams still came away with an nba title. i do know that no one has ever beaten doc's starting 5 for their 2008-2009 title, well, no one has beaten L.A.'s starting five for the last two years! trust me, there's no other team the Lakers or their fans would love to play in the nba finals, than the boston celtics. BUT, i guess you won't get there because you're missing kendrick perkins, right? that'll be your excuse this year. last years excuse was you were missing perkins, and of course the refs!

131 (clearly living in the past)

>>>Congrats on beating the Mens 6' & under League Representatives!

Wait, is the guy whose team just knocked off a team that wouldn't have made the playoffs in the West trying to comment on the Lakers' opponent?

Weak.

Did you have fun facing that Mike D'Antoni matador defense in the first round?

In the second round YOUR team will get the team of midgets.

Unfortunately for you, the ECF team has your old defensive coach, so you'll finally get a challenge there... but I think you'll pull through it.

See you in the finals. I'm sure Bynum will have fun owning fourteen feet of Jerquille O'Neal.

>>> Orlando Magic also smoked the Lakers in the Regular season in 2009,
>>>Finals were over in 6 games...

Wrong. The finals were over in FIVE games.

Lakeshowinphx-

"it doesnt matter if you win by 39 or lose by 4" ... LMAO!!

You win ... I cant argue with that logic.

But for the record ... I rather win by 39!!

LTILF-

Our 2nd round opponents maybe be midgets but they are very talented midgets! As opposed to the midgets you just played. Except for Paul of course and a couple of others that are ok but just too small in size and/or talent level.

D'Antoni's matador defense? Wasnt he your biggest threat in the West the last 5 years or so? At least we faced him in the first round ... you guys faced him in the CF!!

Mark, kudos to you, brother!

This was the kind of threat that we've sorely needed: A little good old fashioned hard statistical sanity.

One thing that I like about you're writing is that you're no-bullcrap.

You tell it like it is (except when shaming Kobe for using taboo words). Too many sportswriters and personalities exist solely to create controversy, while you still remain a journalist.

Much respect.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

d'antonio teams in phoenix played horrible defense for the most part, BUT, they were a BITCH to defend. they just could outscore YOU! last years suns with gentry at the helm, same thing, great offense, but no defense. again, the suns were tough to defend because nobody does the pick and roll better than nash and stoudemire. last years suns against this years celtics, that would be a 7 game game affair!

131 - 92, it doesn't matter if you win by 39 or lose by 4 points. A LOSS IS A LOSS! you just happened to win by a landslide and the Lakers won a close one! both teams still came away with an nba title. i do know that no one has ever beaten doc's starting 5 for their 2008-2009 title, well, no one has beaten L.A.'s starting five for the last two years! trust me, there's no other team the Lakers or their fans would love to play in the nba finals, than the boston celtics. BUT, i guess you won't get there because you're missing kendrick perkins, right? that'll be your excuse this year. last years excuse was you were missing perkins, and of course the refs!

Posted by: Lakeshowinphx | April 29, 2011 at 01:46 PM

Actually no one beat our starting 5 the year before because we were missing 2 starters in the finals - Bynum and Ariza. So by Doc Rivers own logic he hasn't really won a championship yet!

Lakeshowinphx-

They may have been a BITCH to defend and they could outscore YOU but what did they win? And why isnt he still there? You dont outscore teams in the playoffs, you out DEFEND teams. You may not understand this since you seem to think that "it doesnt matter if you win by 39 or lose by 4" but there is a difference.

"nobody does the pick and roll better than nash and stoudemire" but against the Lakers a lot of teams come close!!

Hmm, 131-92. Is that the formula to get to your intelligence quotient?

I appreciate Mark trying to add some facts and stats to what we all saw, but someone needs to come up with better stats.

Of course Paul had fewer assists when Blake was in because that's when the Hornets mostly had Trevor, Landry and that Italian dude OFF the floor.

If you think the Hornets first unit (ex-Paul) was full of subs, think about their second unit - players that would get crushed by ours, since we have LO and the erratic but good Killer B's, plus two starters, one of whom is Pau or Drew.


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