Skip to content

Real test for Lakers starts Wednesday — keep it up on the road

Jan 28, 2013, 6:21 PM EST

Los Angeles Lakers players huddle after a breakdown in defense playing against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles Reuters

For two games, the Lakers have had success going away from Mike D’Antoni’s system.

They have slowed the pace down (93 possessions against the Thunder, 90 against the Jazz, both below their 97 a game average). Kobe Bryant is running the point, drawing the double team and making the pass (and you can bet when the doubles slow a little he will start shooting again). He’s having a lot of success doing that from the right mid-post, with a screen coming for him. With Kobe at the facilitator the ball doesn’t stick, it moves. When it moves you see Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard cut off the ball to open spaces and the rim. That has led to a high shooting percentage because of the good looks (54.5 percent shooting as a team for two games, with Kobe shooting better than 68 percent).

The bigger change is the Lakers have defended a lot better (they were at their season average against the Thunder, but as that is the best offense in the NBA keeping them in any kind of check is an accomplishment).

The changes, the win over the Thunder has given Lakers fans hope.

But this week the real tests start.

Tuesday night the Lakers get an improving Hornets team. Then they head out on the road for seven games — the Grammy road trip when Taylor Swift and Frank Ocean kick the Lakers (and Clippers) out of the building for a couple weeks.

On paper the road trip isn’t that brutal, only the Nets and Heat are over .500. But road trips are never that simple. The Pistons have been playing much better of late, the Celtics defend and no rivalry game is ever easy, plus other teams will be up for it.

Teams are going to start adjusting to what the Lakers are doing and the Lakers are going to have to go to their counters while on this trip — the Thunder came with hard doubles at Kobe, which had worked in the last meeting but did not this time around. Teams will watch that tape and learn. Teams are going to maybe not double at all, make Kobe the scorer and see if they can beat you with him shooting 30-plus times. The Lakers are going to have to stay true to what is working and not start having Kobe just looking to shoot or Steve Nash deciding to run.

Give Mike D’Antoni credit — a lot of people, myself included, have watched the Lakers up to now and question how much he was really willing to adjust to win with this roster. Finally that change is becoming the kind of radical change the Lakers need.

But two games is not real change. It’s a step, but it’s not real change.

And the Lakers are going to get tested between now and the All-Star Break. By then we’ll know if the change is for real, and if their playoff dreams still are.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Pistons looking into Norris Cole trade

    Jan 27, 2015, 11:33 PM EST

    Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Hornets also reportedly had interest in Heat point guard

  2. It’s official: Zach LaVine, Greek Freak Antetokounmpo headline All-Star Dunk Contest

    Jan 27, 2015, 7:23 PM EST

    Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    The best news may be the return to the classic dunk contest format.

  3. LaMarcus Aldridge says he’s back for rest of season

    Jan 27, 2015, 6:50 PM EST

    LaMarcus Aldridge AP

    Barring any setbacks with hand injury

  4. Paul Pierce on why trash talk is down in league: NBA2K

    Jan 27, 2015, 5:15 PM EST

    NBA 2K15 promo

    My gaming experience suggests you talk a lot of trash to the guy next to you.

  5. Wisconsin Governor plans for $220 million in state bonds to help pay for new Milwaukee arena

    Jan 27, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Scott Walker Getty Images

    It essentially uses increased jock tax revenue to pay off the bonds.

  6. Iman Shumpert mocks his own failed crossover (VIDEO)

    Jan 27, 2015, 2:40 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Shumpert dribbled it off his foot against the Thunder, then tweeted the clip.

  7. Lakers’ players trying to adjust to Byron Scott’s random rotations

    Jan 27, 2015, 1:55 PM EST

    Byron Scott AP

    Players like a routine, a rhythm to games, and the Lakers are chaos theory.

  8. Stan Van Gundy: Pistons won’t sacrifice future assets to chase a playoff spot

    Jan 27, 2015, 1:10 PM EST

    Detroit Pistons Introduce Stan Van Gundy Getty Images

    The East is so bad that the Pistons are still within reach.

  9. Kobe Bryant uses Super Bowl analogy to describe how he feels about season-ending injury

    Jan 27, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    This is the third consecutive year Bryant has had his season prematurely ended due to injury.

  10. Nets coach Lionel Hollins calls idea he doesn’t like advanced stats ‘dumbest thing I’ve ever heard’

    Jan 27, 2015, 11:50 AM EST

    San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three Getty Images

    Hollins was reportedly not brought back in Memphis because of an aversion to the use of advanced statistics.

  11. UPDATE: Knicks, Langston Galloway agree to contract for this season and next

    Jan 27, 2015, 11:10 AM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptzmzwflzdg4ntbmzwflndvmowjizjg2oti2nmy3ztk5-e1422370631910

    New York doesn’t want to offer Galloway any guaranteed money for next season.

  12. Brian Shaw upset with officiating after not getting a call late in loss to Clippers

    Jan 27, 2015, 10:30 AM EST

    Brian Shaw AP

    Matt Barnes intentionally fouled Danilo Gallinari late, and Shaw believes free throws should have been awarded.

Featured video

Stephen Curry leads NBA MVP race mid-season
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (7381)
  2. H. Whiteside (6799)
  3. L. Aldridge (6217)
  4. R. Rubio (6177)
  5. N. Batum (6090)
  1. K. Martin (5909)
  2. J. Noah (5730)
  3. K. Walker (5681)
  4. C. Anthony (5520)
  5. D. Howard (5269)