Nov 23, 2012, 11:37 PM EDT
Any spike in energy the Lakers benefited from after the team fired Mike Brown and replaced him with Mike D’Antoni seems to have been short-lived, and after a 106-98 loss in Memphis on Friday, it may now be gone altogether.
No, the mere presence of D’Antoni patrolling the sidelines won’t be enough to fix the many problems the Lakers continue to demonstrate. There are issues on both sides of the ball that need to be ironed out on the fly, and in a hurry for a team that finds itself below .500 once again.
L.A. found itself down 16 points by the time the first quarter was through, and was playing catch-up the rest of the night. With Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard both being miserably ineffective for the second straight game, that didn’t leave the Lakers offense with a whole lot of options.
The two starting bigs combined for 13 points and eight rebounds, on just 5-of-15 shooting. Gasol played all 12 minutes of the first quarter where he missed five of his six shot attempts, several of which were open jumpers that were well within his range. He looked lethargic defensively, and couldn’t find a rhythm the entire night — which is probably why D’Antoni decided to bench him for the entire fourth quarter while the game was (barely) within reach.
When asked what he was thinking afterward regarding Gasol, D’Antoni was fairly straightforward with his response.
“I was thinking I’d like to win this game, that’s what I was thinking,” he said, via Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.
Howard wasn’t much better, finishing with just seven points, four rebounds, and five turnovers in almost 40 minutes of action. His hands weren’t the best on this night, seemingly getting stripped every time he touched the ball, and when he did go to the basket, he was unable to finish.
With Gasol and Howard unable to do much of anything offensively, and with the team playing from behind, the offense was scrapped most possessions for one-on-one attempts to score. Kobe Bryant hit some long threes late, and scored 14 of his 30 points in the final period. But the numbers came on an inefficient 7-of-23 shooting, and again, weren’t anywhere near within the flow of the offense.
The other area that continues to be a problem for the Lakers outside of their post play is the lack of production and defense they’re getting from the point guard position. Darius Morris and Chris Duhon knocked down a few open shots, but were unsuccessful in getting others involved by initiating the offense. And defensively, Mike Conley torched them both, and was able to create for himself and his teammates with ease.
If there is a bright side for the Lakers to look at, they can be happy that the second unit made big runs twice to get the game back to within reach, which is something that hasn’t happened really all season long. Antawn Jamison played a solid game, and finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes, while doing a decent job defensively, as well. And, it’s not like losing to the Grizzlies is anything to be ashamed of at this point, considering they hold the league’s best record at 9-2 and have quality wins over the Thunder, Knicks, and Heat already this season.
But that likely isn’t going to be enough for a Lakers team that was assembled to win a championship this year. L.A. will need to figure out how to get Gasol more touches in the post, and how to get out in transition to at least get some opportunities on the secondary break to avoid stagnating in its half court sets.
Most importantly, the ball needs to move and find the open man, while involving all five players on the offensive end of the floor; having whoever brings the ball up or whoever receives the first pass continually force up a shot is not the way you beat teams that actually understand how to apply defensive concepts.
All of that is easier said than done, of course, but that’s why D’Antoni is here. After going 1-2 in his first three games on the bench, there’s no question he has his work cut out for him.
Jun 2, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
“Truly, from the eye test, he’s the greatest there’s ever been.” —Steve Nash on Stephen Curry
Jun 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Pierce can opt out of the final year of his Wizards contract to become an unrestricted free agent.
Jun 2, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT
Jun 2, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were cleared to return recently under questionable circumstances.
Jun 2, 2015, 12:40 PM EDT
Cleveland has plenty of options, few – maybe none – good
Jun 2, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Evan Fournier makes the list, but LeBron James does not.
Jun 2, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT
Mudiay would like to slide into the top five.
Jun 2, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT
Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green will all see time on James, but will it be enough?
Reporter unsuccessful at baiting LeBron James into discussing possibility of Dwyane Wade leaving Heat in free agency
Jun 2, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
This is why players are guarded with the media, and often times speak in clichés.
Jun 2, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
Few current players are as well-qualified as Wade to play the role of analyst during the Finals.
Jun 2, 2015, 8:40 AM EDT
A certain play against the Celtics in the playoffs somehow missed the cut.
Jun 2, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
The defensive end of the floor is where the Pelicans need the most improvement.
Jun 2, 2015, 1:53 AM EDT
Hope she doesn’t mind moving, he could be traded this summer.
Jun 2, 2015, 12:28 AM EDT
In a lot of ways, the anti-Thibodeau.
Jun 1, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
The Cavs will need him to be just that if they hope to win the title.
Jun 1, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
Curry draws praise from many of the all-time great shooters.
Jun 1, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT
Hoiberg’s deal is similar to other recent coaching contracts.
Jun 1, 2015, 8:33 PM EDT
Kirilenko played 13 years with the Jazz, Timberwolves and Nets.
Jun 1, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
Van Gundy has been outspoken in his support of Thibodeau in the past.
Jun 1, 2015, 7:08 PM EDT
LeBron is just fun to watch.
- LeBron James leads the league in isolation shots during the playoffs. How’s that going? 9
- How do the Cavaliers defend Stephen Curry? 14
- Warriors have options to guard LeBron James, but he’ll make them work 24
- What kind of coach is Chicago getting with Fred Hoiberg? 14
- PBT Extra: Finals preview, how good are new and improved Cavaliers? 9
- Shaq would take Kobe Bryant over LeBron James because of “killer instinct” 82
- PBT Podcast: NBA Finals breakdown, predictions 4
- Cavaliers rate well when adjusting for playoff rotations. Warriors rate better 1