Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers: No Game Can Be Taken Lightly

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Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers: No Game Can Be Taken Lightly
After the bailed out game up in Sacramento and the drubbing the Lakers handed down to the Clippers a couple days ago, you would expect revenge-minded play.

What you don’t want to see is the Lakers playing like they’re reading their own press or they can flip the switch whenever they want.

Kobe’s bail out of the Lakers in Sacramento was certainly worthy of praise, but you don’t want to see the Laker team slip back into that big of a dependence on Kobe. That, in a nutshell, is why the Clipper game was so good to see.

It wasn’t an absent-minded performance by the Lakers.

They went out as a team, driven and looking to bury the Clippers. Better yet, they didn’t just look to do that; they executed that game plan to perfection.

That game showed the first glimpses of a Laker team that may hopefully be developing that “killer instinct” that everyone has been clamoring for the Lakers to have.

You have to be aware that no matter how bad the Kings are, these games against the Lakers are their Super Bowls, and they’ll always play accordingly. Beating the Lakers is a top priority for them, so you have to come into every game against them knowing this.

The Lakers have got to ramp up their game when the Kings come to town or they go up to Sacramento.

Now the big question tonight was would that same focused play show up against the Kings or would the Lakers skate through the start of the game looking to wake up on the back end?

The answer—the Lakers decided to play it sleepy—again.

In a terrible defensive game there were some good things, but all in all it was a disappointing game for everyone in uniform tonight.

Radmanovic has been running the curl off the high post really well since coming back. It was real good to see is Vladi changing his game up. He began the game working inside, rather than chucking up shots from the arc right away. The more Vladi sets himself up inside the more open his outside game will become. There was a decent balance in Vladi’s game from inside to spotting up on the arc. That balance threw the Kings defense into crowding the paint or crowding one side of the paint far too much. The inside play of Vladi opened up his outside shot in the second half.

Defensively, he’s getting switched onto Martin almost every turn.

That’s good for the Kings, but the Lakers have got to recognize that mismatch and move to help out as soon as possible. Leaving Vladi on the perimeter against the likes of Martin or Salmons is nothing but bad news.

Pau’s setting up of everyone from the post was patient, methodical, and more often than not, right on the money. Whether it was passing to a curl, resetting the post, or taking a step inside to get his own shot, Pau’s post work was beautiful to watch.

Defensively Pau was closing the drive from the side to perfection. The problem was when the Kings collapsed on Pau in the post, no Laker was moving to open a passing lane.

Pau’s help defense running from the posts to perimeter or vice-versa was decently timed. It gave the Lakers the confidence to play more aggressively on the perimeter, chasing people off of comfort spots or getting the ball out of shooters’ hands.

The shot blocking of Pau is a completely unexpected dividend right now.

It started with the touch on Dirk’s shot in the Dallas game and since then Pau has been looking for the block on the perimeter. It can be a gamble, but tonight it was anything but.

It was real good to watch Gasol come in to crash the boards with Lamar. You could see him tracking shots and getting into early position just outside of Lamar’s low block positions.

Kobe was aggressive from the get-go. Some of the shots he was creating out of bad situations versus three or four Kings were incredible. The acrobatic takes he had in the paint were amazing to watch also, but I’m still concerned about Kobe shooting shots in anticipation of the foul, instead of concentrating on the shot more than the possible whistle.

Yes, he can make any shot in the book and often does, but he has a tendency (especially if he isn’t getting calls early) to force action in the paint.

Lamar was far too tentative on the offensive end in the first half.

The concentration defense and rebounds is appreciated, but the Lakers can ill afford Odom waiting to get into the scoring column until the second half.

The shots were there (due to the size mismatch he had every time down the court), there just wasn’t any assertion to step into the shots like he did versus the Clippers. Defensively, Odom got lost in the first half, but collected himself a little better in the paint in the third quarter.

Unfortunately, by the time Lamar dug in on defense, he let Artest get into a groove that was nearly impossible to push him out of.

The strength of Artest and him bringing Odom out to the perimeter, leaving the block essentially open was wreaking havoc on the Laker defensive rotations. This game wound up being a schizophrenic affair for Lamar though. When you thought he got taken out of position sometimes, he would dive down into the block securing a board with strength that was absent in the first half.

Without a doubt, Odom’s game was mimicking the ragtag effort by the Laker team.

Good work on the boards for Luke tonight.

He was tenacious on the offensive boards especially and usually in heavy traffic too. Along with everyone else there were plenty of questionable passes in the paint, but at least the hustle was there. His defense was just as scattered as everyone else, its tough to lay any blame on any one player in this one.

Sasha’s expertise for annoying the living hell out of players is still in tact.

He got his shot back a bit tonight and right along with that was the pestering style of defense that he does so well.

The technical foul on Mikki Moore was just the latest in the long list of players Sasha has grown to aggravate to no end.


WTF Of The Game

What did Pau do in another life to not get any calls tonight?

That last shot with Hawes swinging down on Pau’ shoulder was maddening.

Credit Pau with not letting it get him a T, if it was me I would’ve been out in the second quarter.


My Gripes

How many times do the Lakers have to realize that letting teams (good or bad) get into rhythm quickly is beyond a dangerous game to play?

Make a statement early and don’t let teams get running as easily/early as they let the Kings go tonight.

Poor decision making from the point guard core tonight didn’t help much. Not so much from shooting range, but on drive and kicks and breaks, the Laker point guards were not at the top of their game. There were too many passes to count that were thrown from cluttered spots on the offensive end. Both Jordan and Derek know the system too well to be playing as carelessly as they did.

Earlier help when Vladi or Pau get stuck on the perimeter with a slasher moving to the paint from the sides would shore up the soft middle of the key that gets exposed from time to time.

Awful passes on the interior and the break, threading a needle that wasn’t there, passing into a barrage of flat angles, making the ball travel too far and spacing in the lane were big problems early on in this one. The clean spacing on breaks, too, was sloppy at best and the scoreboard showed it in the first half.

The Lakers created some decent turnover numbers, but let a lot of them go to waste. Again, getting the ball into transition off turnovers is fantastic, but it goes to waste when the break is rushed, thoughtless passes get thrown around, or they’re played without regard to spacing.

No defense from the perimeter on end-to-end plays let the Kings get into rhythm early. The same thing happened in Sacramento. There was no reason other than distracted play to allow the Kings so many easy lay-ups from distance.

Too many points were given away (31 points first quarter, forty points second quarter! Are you kidding me?), including four coast-to-coast trips for the Kings—a team that has no business scoring like that on their court, let alone the Lakers home floor!

There were odd defensive sets where the Lakers would immediately pack it into the paint, leaving the perimeter wide open then switching the next set to pushing outside too much. That just speaks of no or little communication and not looking to where your man was on the run back to D.

Unless you’re absolutely assured of getting the steal, stop jumping out of position to gamble on a swipe. With the Lakers defense being a sieve like it was, giving up position without any contest didn’t help whatsoever.

I didn’t think the Lakers needed to be told that when a shooter is hot shooting, close out on them and make them become something else.

Garcia had it flowing from three in the first half.

When you see this happening get out on him, make him out it on the floor or pass it off. Don’t keep sagging off of him or losing him on screens allowing him to do what he was doing best.

Due to that first half Garcia’s confidence from every spot on the floor was rough to slow down.

The Lakers need a big man in the middle again. These easy drives from everywhere wouldn’t be happening with an intimidating size in the paint. The Lakers have got to find a way to shore up the strength in the paint until Bynum can return.

It’s not like this loss was tough to see coming after the first half.

The Lakers got caught playing asleep and without the sharpness that’s gotten them into first place. They can’t expect to play with the lethargy of a team that doesn’t need every win they can get.

The schedule is soft right now and this kind of loss is absolutely unacceptable in such a tight Western Conference.

Luckily, the Spurs lost and the Suns are still a full three games back, so if the Lakers were going to lose, this one probably has the minimal amount of impact.

Use this game as a springboard for the game against the Raptors.

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