Jan 6, 2013, 9:28 AM EDT
Pau Gasol cannot find his place in the Mike D’Antoni offense. Steve Nash is still clearly not fully used to his new teammates. The Lakers lack shooters. With all the talent the Buss family is paying a pretty penny (well, many pennies) for we all expected an exceptional offense from the Lakers. So it’s been better than a lot of people realize (sixth in the NBA in points per possession) but inconsistent.
However, their offense not why the Lakers are two games below .500 more than 30 games into the season.
Their real problem is the defense. It is 17th in the NBA. They struggle in areas that good teams — like the Clippers on Friday — can exploit.
Don’t think it’s all about the defense? Look at the loss to the Clippers Friday night — Gasol was nonexistent on offense, they missed a lot of shots and the Lakers still put up 102 points. Problem is they gave up 107. Or to put it another way, they scored 107.5 points per 100 possessions in the game (slightly above their season average), but they gave up 113.8 per 100.
There seems to be a “once Dwight Howard gets healthy everything will be just fine” feeling around the Lakers and their fans. And that would certainly help. But it’s not the only issue and who knows what that timeline is anyway. I went back and re-watched every point the Lakers surrendered the last two games (thanks NBA.com) and it’s clear the issues are bigger than any one player.
Los Angeles is surrendering 42 points a game in the paint, seventh most in the NBA. That’s an easy one to say is all about Howard, but it’s really about rotations.
There is a great example in the Clippers game Friday, with just over 2 minutes left in the first quarter. The Clippers are taking the ball out under the Lakers basket, CP3 gets free on the left baseline off a Ronny Turiaf pick that takes Darius Morris out, essentially making this a pick-and-roll situation, so Jordan Hill comes out to help — but nobody helps Hill. Look at the spacing in the photo. Turiaf rolls, takes the bounce pass and dunks. Hill had to help or CP3 would have had a layup. Metta World Peace doesn’t move and the other Laker defenders — Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol — have to stick with their men out on the weak side.
The reason the Lakers give up so many points in the paint is often this — they struggle mightily with the roll man in the pick-and-roll. The Lakers perimeter defenders can’t stay in front of the ball handler, the big man helps and everything breaks down. The roll man shoots 57 percent when he gets the ball back against the Lakers, according to Synergy Sports. That’s 28th in the NBA.
There are other issues. The Lakers are 23rd in the NBA in defending isolation according Synergy. Also the “old and slow” Lakers struggle with teams that can push the ball in transition, something the Clippers did well. If your big men can run the floor well — and the Clippers’ bigs can — you can get easy and spectacular shots.
All of this is not simply solved. Howard getting healthy would certainly be a big step in the right direction. But right now Kobe is gambling and roaming again, and exposing the defense when he does. Gasol can look as lost on the defensive end as he does on the offensive end at times. (Although, to the people telling me on twitter Gasol was THE problem, on the season the Lakers give up 104.5 points per 100 when Gasol is on the floor, 110.7 when he sits. He alone not issue.)
On top of it all, is Mike D’Antoni the coach that can fix it? The Lakers weren’t defending for Mike Brown and he had the reputation of a defensive coach. The Lakers seem to be listening to D’Antoni, but that’s different than executing.
You see it is flashes — six minutes here, 8 minutes there. There are moments the Lakers show they can defend. But because of focus and physical limitations it never lasts.
Until it does, it doesn’t really matter what happens with the Lakers offense, they are not going to get near the level they expected before this season.
May 23, 2013, 8:39 PM EDT
Most likely, the Cleveland Cavaliers will take Nerlens Noel with the No. 1 overall pick. When you think about their needs, a big man who can run the floor and defend the rim fits that. Of course, Noel is a project, a couple years away from really contributing much at all to an NBA team.…
May 23, 2013, 7:01 PM EDT
Late in the first quarter of the Heat’s overtime Game 1 win over the Pacers, Shane Battier drove into the lane and challenged Roy Hibbert on a layup attempt. Battier’s form was more than a little unorthodox as he went up for the shot, leading with his right knee that caught Hibbert squarely below the…
May 23, 2013, 6:51 PM EDT
Today Kay Adams and I are talking what everyone else is — Heat vs. Pacers. I feel bad for Paul George because the Pacers wouldn’t have been in the game at the end if not for him, but that’s not what anyone will remember. And of course, we talk sitting Roy Hibbert a little —…
May 23, 2013, 6:11 PM EDT
Mike Krzyzewski will return as Team USA’s head basketball coach, but he must replace both his NBA assistants. Not only is Mike D’Antoni moving on, so will Nate McMillan, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. McMillian, via Spears: “It was a great experience with Coach K,” McMillan said. “Jerry Colangelo did a great…
May 23, 2013, 5:16 PM EDT
It’s all about the rings. For Phil Jackson — out promoting his book “Eleven Rings” — it’s always been about the hardware. It’s about building a real team around the stars he was given, about managing the egos, about having a team that didn’t seem fazed by the biggest stages. So when Time Magazine asked…
May 23, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT
If the Philadelphia 76ers had beaten the odds and won the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday it would have made new GM Sam Hinkie’s life a little easier. But he would have heard about it on the phone, he wasn’t in New York. And he wasn’t at home in front of his television with a beer,…
May 23, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
The network suits at TNT have to be happy they have the rights to the Eastern Conference finals — they got the Heat and LeBron James to showcase. Indiana may be a small market to go against them (you know the network was pulling for the Knicks last round) but at least they have crossover…
May 23, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT
As the Dwight Howard free agency news cycle rolls on, the latest report has him expanding the list of teams he’ll consider signing with this summer. It’s been previously reported that Howard is most intrigued by the Houston Rockets, thanks in no small part to a young star already in place there in the form…
May 23, 2013, 1:50 PM EDT
Pablo Prigioni reportedly was considering returning to Spain in part because his wife wanted to go back, but the Knicks guard is making intentions clear now. Marc Berman of the New York Post: “If I can choose, I prefer to play in the United States and stay in the NBA,’’ Prigioni said on Argentine radio.…
May 23, 2013, 1:27 PM EDT
Even before the season tipped off you had a pretty good sense that LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul would be All-NBA First Team — they are dominant players at or entering their peak. But Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan continue to defy father time. The two veterans round out the All NBA Team…
May 23, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
520px;”> Phil Jackson has been virtually everywhere the last couple weeks selling his new book “Eleven Rings” but one of my favorite interviews so far is the one from last night with John Stewart on The Daily Show. And not because as a Knicks fan Stewart wants to know about those two rings. It’s near…
May 23, 2013, 11:39 AM EDT
We’ve all done this: After a really difficult project, no matter how rewarding it was, right afterward we say “no way, I’m never doing that again.” Then six months later we look back on it and think “you know, it wasn’t that bad” and talk ourselves into doing it again. That’s Mike Krzyzewski and coaching…
May 23, 2013, 11:22 AM EDT
There’s a big risk that comes with draft Nerlens Noel. And not just his torn ACL. Noel played only 24 games last season, and although that’s more than twice as many as Kyrie Irving did his lone season at Duke, it’s still a pretty small sample. I think Noel proved enough to justify becoming the…
May 23, 2013, 11:01 AM EDT
The Wizards rightfully believe they would have made the playoffs if they remained healthy this season. Washington went 24-25 with John Wall – a better winning percentage than the eighth-seeded Bucks (38-44). And when Wall, Nene and Bradley Beal all played, the Wizards were 15-7. Washington should be excited to have a team on the…
May 23, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT
Pacers coach Frank Vogel had his reasoning — the Heat with their small lineup had five guys who can shoot from the perimeter so he wanted to match that with a small lineup that could switch everything. Twice in the last 10.8 seconds he pulled the 7’2” rim-defending center and went small with Tyler Hansbrough…
May 23, 2013, 10:03 AM EDT
It’s good to have the best player on the planet on your team. At the end of the day that was the reason the Miami Heat are up 1-0 — as great as Paul George was for Indiana, the Miami Heat have LeBron James. From the very start LeBron was knocking down jumpers from the…
May 23, 2013, 8:43 AM EDT
LeBron James’ detractors are still plentiful and are still vocal — just follow the conversation on twitter during any Heat game. People will tell you how much they loathe LeBron and everything he stands for. But they are buying his shoes. Forbes Magazine broke down the numbers on domestic signature shoe sales (from sportsonesource.com) and…
May 23, 2013, 2:39 AM EDT
For the 145th time since they joined forces in Miami, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh finished as the Heat’s top three scorers. For the first time in the 2013 calendar year, the fourth-leading scorer – Chris Andersen – scored more than 15 points. It’s been much less of a concern that many expected…
May 23, 2013, 2:08 AM EDT
America, meet Paul George. He’s the Pacer that hit the insane, dramatic three pointer that sent Game 1 against the Heat into overtime. He’s the guy that drew the superstar call on Dwyane Wade, then with ice water in his veins hit three free throws to give Indiana the lead with 2.2 seconds left in…
Pacers’ coach Vogel explains decision to bench Hibbert late, says ‘we’ll probably have him in next time’
May 23, 2013, 1:49 AM EDT
The Heat came away with the 103-102 overtime victory over the Pacers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, thanks to a triple-double performance from LeBron James, which included hitting the game-winning layup as time expired. The words “game-winning layup” should never be a relevant phrase this deep into the postseason; teams normally defend…
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