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Lakers may have to attack point-guard deficiencies collectively

Jeremy Lin/Derek Fisher

With one spin move, Knicks guard Jeremy Lin drove to the basket uncontested. With one simple pass, Toronto guard Jose Calderon nailed open shot after open shot. With one baseline jab, Philadelphia reserve Louis Williams matched Kobe Bryant's high-scoring rate. 

It's hardly a secret that opposing teams' point guards can easily exploit the Lakers' poor point-guard rotation.  The Derek Fisher-Steve Blake-Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris combination bodes the second-worst unit in the NBA in overall efficiency. That includes points (12.5), assists (5.8) and field-goal percentage (38.9%). It's one of the reasons the Lakers desperately need to add to their roster, even if it's just signing free-agent guard Gilbert Arenas. 

But aside from that move, it remains unclear whether the Lakers' front office will actually pull off a big deal (Deron Williams) or even a small one (Ramon Sessions). It's very plausible that they'll have to make do with what they have — a scary thought considering Mike Brown's admission that the team rarely can stop opposing teams' point guards. 

"When they're playing pick-and-roll, their point guard — if they have some quickness and craftiness — will be able to score," Brown said.

But there are ways to mitigate that beyond hoping Fisher and Blake suddenly become defensive stoppers. 

1. Stronger frontcourt help. Beyond his tremendous court vision, ball-handling and speed he's demonstrated in the past week, the Knicks' Lin scored a career-high 38 points against the Lakers partly because of the unit's overreaction. At first, Fisher and Blake forced Lin to beat them on outside jumpers. As soon as he started making them, the Lakers immediately went out to guard him, forcing him to switch to pick-and-roll sets. The only problem: Andrew Bynum nor Pau Gasol hardly put a physical body on Lin whenever he drove the lane. It's easy to fault Fisher and Blake for their lack of quickness, but the frontline's lack of aggressiveness is more easily correctable.

2. Cross-match. This only further illustrates how much rides on Kobe Bryant these days. But it might be necessary for him to defend point guards, such as when he volunteered to stop Calderon on Sunday in the game's final possessions. Should Metta World Peace sharpen his focus and Matt Barnes limit his overly aggressive fouls, those two could prove better options too. Of course, Lin blew by everyone, including Fisher, Blake, Bryant and Barnes. But pulling the plug early on the backcourt will at least minimize the damage. 

3. Feature Blake and Goudelock playing together. As much as Brown downplays the necessity for his point guards to produce offense, the Lakers have demonstrated so far that any down game from the Big Three usually spells an instant loss. Of course, most of the offense relies on those three players. But without much of a supporting cast, the Lakers have little margin for error.

It's a horrible idea to suggest that the Laker should feature multiple point-guard tandems. NBA Statscube illustrates most combinations have hardly worked, that is except for one. The bench unit featuring Blake, Goudelock, World Peace, Troy Murphy and Bynum features a 6.1 net-rating, partly because Bynum's size and Murphy's shooting helps space the floor. That will ensure more open shots for Blake and Goudelock. 

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— Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: New York guard Jeremy Lin, second right, handles the ball in front of Lakers guard Derek Fisher during the first half of Friday's game. Credit: Andrew Gombert / EPA / February 10, 2012

 
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