Skip to content

Gasol returns, Lakers barely slip by Bobcats. But you can start to see the plan.

Dec 19, 2012, 2:25 AM EDT

Charlotte Bobcats v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

There are a couple ways Lakers fans will look their team barely escaping the Charlotte Bobcats with a 101-100 win Tuesday night.

Some will say “a win is a win and right now the Lakers need wins.” Plus they got Gasol back — he had 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks but look rusty like you’d expect after missing eight games with knee tendonitis. His return improved the team in some areas, particularly interior defense (although he was clearly rusty).

Some will say “they barely beat the Bobcats and they suck.” And they are right too — the Lakers had to come from 18 back because their flaws of inconsistent offense and lazy transition were exposed by a team that came in losers of 11 straight. If this had been virtually any other NBA team, the Lakers would have lost.

But what you really started to see was Mike D’Antoni’s plans for this team taking shape — they went small for extended periods with Metta World Peace at the four and Kobe Bryant at the three, and D’Antoni said you will see a lot more of that. You saw a lot of Jodie Meeks (39 minutes) and pretty soon you could see him start at the two. You saw a lot of Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol but limited time with both of them. You even saw flashes of good defense. Just flashes but they were there.

Will all that come together and work? The Magic 8 Ball says “cannot predict now” and “ask again later.” And by later I mean about a month from now.

But it is becoming clear direction D’Antoni is taking the Lakers.

“I want (World Peace) at the four and we have to be able to change our team…” D’Antoni said after the game. “But for us to have a different team, a different look, Metta has to play the four.”

Or D’Antoni on Meeks, who had 17 points off the bench, hitting 5-of-12 from three.

“We are a different look when he is on the floor. He spreads the floor and he is always a three point shot ready to happen.”

The rotations are getting set and the Lakers are going smaller. Meeks says the team is good with that and adjusting (although of course he says that, he’s the guy getting more run).

“I thought it looked good,” Meeks said of the Lakers going small. “I think myself, Kobe, Darius Morris, Metta, we brought a lot of intensity when we got out there and it looked good.”

They did, and it saved the Lakers bacon in a game they really didn’t deserve to win.

Charlotte can really only do one thing well on offense — run in transition and go straight to the rim. They have athletes and a couple solid guards (Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions). But stopping them isn’t complex.

However, the Lakers couldn’t do it for two and a half quarters — the Lakers transition defense was atrocious. Charlotte shot 57 percent in the second quarter and led 58-53 at the half. The Lakers went cold shooting in the 10 minutes of the second quarter, and that let the Bobcats run. That lead climbed up to 18 the third quarter as the Bobcats started to gain confidence, got to loose balls, kept knocking down shots, and even Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hit a jumper. The Lakers are not a good perimeter defensive team right now, not consistently, and Steve Nash is not going to fix that.

Credit the Bobcats for doing what coach Mike Dunlap had in the game plan — he said before the game he wanted to test the Lakers defense in transition and early in the shot clock, before Dwight Howard was planted in the paint. It worked. They executed it.

But when the Lakers went small and cranked up the intensity on defense — World Peace and Morris in particular started to play some perimeter defense — the Bobcats had no answer. They don’t have the talent to hang in. Los Angeles went on a 30-4 run and took the lead. Down the stretch it was a ballgame again.

Kobe Bryant bailed them out — he had the final four points (a driving layup and an elbow jumper coming off a Howard screen) and that was enough to hang on. Kobe scored 30 to lead everyone in this game.

The final play was a wild scramble where the Bobcats could have won – Kemba Walker drove but Howard blocked it, the ball went to Gerald Henderson whose putback layup rattled rolled around the rim and went out, then Byron Mullens missed a rushed shot in the paint to win it.

For Charlotte, it’s a moral victory. Which feels pretty hollow. But it’s a process for them to improve.

It wasn’t pretty for the Lakers, but it’s a win. And you can start to see what will be coming from them.

What we will find out is if that is enough.

Latest Posts
  1. Wednesday NBA grades: Kevin Durant ends season exactly like you think he would

    Apr 17, 2014, 2:10 AM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    On the season Kevin Durant averaged 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists a game. Not too shabby.

  2. Kevin Durant’s game-winning dunk clinches two seed for Thunder (VIDEO)

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:31 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Kevin Durant was simply unstoppable with the game on the line against the Pistons.

  3. Finally the NBA playoff match ups are set

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Miami Heat Victory Parade And Rally Getty Images

    The West is loaded with great series: Thunder vs. Grizzlies, Clippers vs. Warriors, Rockets vs. Blazers.

  4. Wagers on season win totals still undecided for four teams heading into final night of NBA season

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:31 PM EDT

    Vegas nailed the lines for season win totals for four NBA teams almost exactly.

  5. NBA announces preliminary schedule for Game 1 of the playoffs

    Apr 16, 2014, 9:14 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two

    The matchups aren’t all set, but this gives us an idea of who plays when as the playoffs open this weekend.

  6. Knicks announce signing of Lamar Odom for remainder of the season

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:48 PM EDT

    odom phil Getty Images

    Knicks make it official and announce they’ve signed Lamar Odom for the remainder of the season.

  7. PBT Extra: Giving out MVP, end of season awards

    Apr 16, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder vs Miami Heat Getty Images

    Durant and LeBron at the top of the MVP ballot is easy, it’s filling out spots 3-5 that is the challenge.

  8. New Bucks owners say all the right things, that they are committed to Milwaukee

    Apr 16, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    Herb Kohl Herb Kohl

    Kohl is going to pitch in $100 million to get a new arena built in Milwaukee.

  9. Arizona State’s Jahii Carson officially declares for NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Arizona St v Texas Getty Images

    Teams will like his speed, but he’s destined for a second round pick.

  10. Report: Kobe Bryant already vacationing in France as Lakers end ugly season

    Apr 16, 2014, 4:29 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant

    While the Lakers end their dreary season Kobe Bryant is already on vacation.

  11. Blake Griffin would vote yes on NBA allowing medical marijuana use

    Apr 16, 2014, 3:46 PM EDT

    Blake Griffin AP

    Clippers forward: ‘It doesn’t really affect me, but so many guys would probably benefit’

  12. Mavericks, Grizzlies both motivated to win Wednesday, avoid Spurs in first round

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v San Antonio Spurs - Game One Getty Images

    The Spurs have crushed the Grizzlies and Mavericks this season, so those teams are motivated to avoid a trip to the Riverwalk to start the postseason.

  13. 2014 PBT Awards: All-Rookie team

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

    Tim Hardaway, Mason Plumlee Tim Hardaway, Mason Plumlee

    First team nearly a clean sweep, but one top teamer didn’t even make other two ballots

Featured video

Woodson, D'Antoni's coaching futures
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Williams (4206)
  2. K. Love (4198)
  3. D. Wade (4134)
  4. L. James (3812)
  5. G. Dragic (3700)
  1. S. Curry (3692)
  2. R. Rondo (3398)
  3. C. Anthony (3389)
  4. D. Howard (3237)
  5. R. Westbrook (3165)