Five ways to improve the Lakers' offense
The numbers tell one story.
The Lakers have been held below 100 points in nine consecutive games. They've failed to reach 90 points for three consecutive games. They've averaged 86.9 points a game in their last five contests. The Lakers remain second-to-last in the NBA from three-point range (25.7%). And they've shot 45.1% overall.
The explanations tell another story. At least that's the version Lakers Coach Mike Brown touted after rewatching the team's 92-80 loss Friday to the Orlando Magic during Saturday's practice.
"If we execute the same way with our starters, I know those shots will go down eventually," Brown said. "I'll live with that."
Until that happens, there are other solutions. Sorry, but waiting to learn the offense won't cut it. No matter how many plays Brown is throwing at the players, they can compensate in other ways.
"We can't expect that just because days on the calendar will go by that we'll continue to get better," said Lakers guard Derek Fisher. "We have to continue to do things necessary as a group to improve as a team. We're trying to do those things, but things are coming at us fast right now."
Below the jump are a few other solutions to jump-start the offense.
1. The Lakers must establish themselves as an inside-out team. This has nothing to do with Kobe Bryant not passing the ball enough. In fact, Bryant's 30-point effort on 11-of-22 shooting against Orlando showcased a perfect balance between maintaining his scoring touch and getting others involved. With exception to his six-for-28 effort against Denver on New Year's Day, Bryant hasn't hurt the team with his shot selection. But for the sake of lessening Bryant's burden and recognizing the Lakers' poor outside shooting, their ball movement must focus on setting up Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol early in their possessions.
Part of this responsibility falls on Bynum and Gasol, particularly with the increase of double teams. But the quicker the Lakers set up their big men, the less time defenses will have to anticipate entry passes. That, in turn, will space the floor better and improve the Lakers' outside shooting opportunities since many of the kickouts will come with better rhythm and timing.
2. Kobe Bryant and teammates must avoid the urge to let him carry the offense. Bryant's four-game spurt where he scored at least 40 points dazzled fans and secured victories. It proved to be somewhat of a necessary evil or else the Lakers would have really fallen behind in the standings. Big picture, however, it is not in the Lakers' interest to burn out Bryant. He won't have that energy in the playoffs when taking over games might prove to be a necessity. His teammates need to be part of a balanced offense that helps carry the load when Bryant is not shooting well.
3. Attack the clock early. As ludicrous as it sounds for Brown to encourage the Lakers to shoot open shots, the statistics back that up. The Lakers have the most efficient shooting percentage (54.9%) when they shoot the ball 10 seconds or less into the shot clock, according to 82games.com. Obviously the Lakers must remain deliberate with how they run the offense, or they'll commit turnovers and run out of energy. But the Lakers can't go through the motions on offense.
4. The Lakers need to rebound consistently. In the last four games, the Lakers have been outrebounded on the offensive glass, 48-37. Considering the Lakers' size up front with two seven-footers in Bynum and Gasol, there's no reason why they can't dominate that category. It's also an easy solution to some of the missed jumpers.
5. Convert on defensive stops. No matter how ugly the Lakers look on offense, they've mostly remained in tune with Brown's defense. They rank fifth in points allowed (90.06) and third in opponents' field-goal shooting (41.1%), an area the Lakers must maintain as they continue adapting to Brown's read offense.
The Lakers can point to two victories where that mind-set paid off. In a 92-89 win New Year's Eve over Denver, Fisher secured a loose ball and Steve Blake forced Danilo Gallinari into missing a late-game layup. In a 73-70 win Jan. 16 over Dallas, Fisher made two steals and shut off Lamar Odom's baseline drive before the veteran point guard made a game-winning shot. Such a grinding mentality will need to remain during a tough transition period.
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