Skip to content

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

Jan 28, 2013, 6:21 PM EDT

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. 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

  14. Report: Sale of Milwaukee Bucks for record $550 million agreed upon, team to stay in Milwaukee

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

    Image (1) Bucks_logo-thumb-250x346-20140.gif for post 4121

    New York based hedge fund billionaires Marc Lasry and Wes Edens are buying the team but keeping it in Wisconsin, they just need to get a new arena built.

  15. Tyson Chandler: ‘I’m not into wasting seasons’

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT

    Jimmy Butler, Tyson Chandler Jimmy Butler, Tyson Chandler

    Knicks center knows, though, he might have no choice

  16. Shaq smashes Brent Barry’s guitar ala Animal House (VIDEO)

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:46 AM EDT

    Shaquille O'Neal AP

    You can’t do enough Animal House references to make me happy.

Featured video

Woodson, D'Antoni's coaching futures
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Williams (4156)
  2. K. Love (4153)
  3. D. Wade (4031)
  4. L. James (3747)
  5. G. Dragic (3675)
  1. S. Curry (3640)
  2. R. Rondo (3361)
  3. C. Anthony (3341)
  4. D. Howard (3197)
  5. R. Westbrook (3090)