After the loss in Houston there has to be a sense of urgency on the Lakers to not let this little losing streak turn into a big one. That urgency can’t turn to panic it has to go into focused determination. Dallas hasn’t been a kind arena to the Lakers recently, but even despite the shortage of personnel, the Lakers have more than a chance to beat the Mavericks on their home court with communication, defense and smart play on both ends.
Now I don’t know if it’s the tight race in the west, the 2 game skid, playing the Mavericks at their arena or just general game time jitters, but I wanted this game badly. A 3 game losing streak (as seen by the Spurs) can be deadly to your positioning in the West. Yes, there’s a ways to go, but with a higher seeding the Lakers can fall into an easier second round match-up if they advance. Anyway, suffice to say, I hoped the Lakers wanted this win as much as us fans did tonight.
The Lakers can ill afford getting down early to teams on this road trip. They’ve got to come into games looking to take the upper hand by dictating pace. The Lakers have for the most part been a victim to pacing the first two games. This game saw the Lakers making the pace. Bringing the ball up quickly on open breaks, but showing good patience in the half court sets.
Getting the ball into the mid-post to Ronny was smart. As Ronny started to take the ball into Dampier without fear, it took Dampier out of the game early and right there the Lakers should know that the inside is compromised and the playing field on the inside evened out. Ronny’s pushes into Dampier, even getting knocked down a couple times in the process, got the Lakers the inside presence that they sorely needed/ignored in Houston. Those knockdowns didn’t deter Ronny at all. In fact, it looked like the early contact fired his game up offensively and defensively. Ronny’s movement off the ball has usually been spot on, and tonight it was no different. Ronny was moving off the pass into pass option spots with crisp steps.
When Dampier did come back in the game Ronny had good shot selection stepping out of the paint and draining the 15 footer he’s adopted into his arsenal.
The Lakers moved to the inside via passing or via driving with smarts tonight. Without a legit center stepping in after Ronny took Dampier out of the game, the Lakers had a wide-open chance to exploit the softer than usual belly of the Mavericks. Kobe did fantastic passing the ball to the cutter and the patient movement around the horn pulled the Mavs out of defensive comfort spots the way the Lakers were doing earlier in the year. There are typically wide gaps in the mavericks mid range defense, but the Lakers forced an even bigger gap in the middle tonight with aggressive and forthright movement to the hoop.
Defensively, how can you complain about Ronny tonight? His blocking has become much better timed and the over-eager swiping has taken a backseat to controlled movement. Without a legit 7 footer in the middle, Ronny has done a more than admirable job holding down the center spot. Ronny (along with Lamar) absolutely owned the paint tonight. There was not one shot that came within the reach of Ronny that wasn’t contested. The guy just played like an 8 footer tonight, not letting anyone get into any kind of rhythm in any post.
Luke did better using the post. He used it to set up the play, instead of setting up a highly contested shot in traffic. He is put in the post to be used as a passing pivot and the more Luke plays the paint to that end, the better the Laker offense moves. Very smart transition defense tonight from Luke. He got back on defense but more importantly he wasn’t losing sight of where the ball was. His defense outside was a bout 2 steps slow, but he did well in getting into rebound position when he did get beat.
Farmar has fallen in love with the long shot recently, and I was screaming my head off last game for him to get back to the probing dribble in the paint and right around the key that he was doing before. In this one, Farmar looked to make amore concerted effort to just that. There were open jumpers here and there, but Jordan did well in taking the ball into mid-range gaps, moving the Mavericks defense with him, instead of moving his game around their defense.
Farmar however has got to make his post passes sharper and not as telegraphed. He’s holding the ball too far out before he makes the pass, letting his defender and the others around him where the ball is going to go.
Sasha officially freaks me out on breaks. I don’t know if its his hair bouncing everywhere that’s making him look out of control or the bullish head down dribbling style into the front court, but either way Sasha has got to start giving the ball up about 2 seconds earlier on breaks.
Kobe was pure genius in the first half of this game. He made Dallas pay for doubling him at every turn. Of course being Kobe, you can’t help but double, so you take that passing look from Kobe and the good movement from the Lakers and there’s no mystery as to why the Lakers played the way they did early on. The key was Kobe’s amazing vision on the court. The confidence in his teammates was there in full effect. Kobe’s hustle to loose balls and everywhere at once defensive mentality was spectacular. There was no ball that was with in 3 feet of Kobe that wasn’t either gathered or gone after.
Alright, Derek’s offense has got to be more varied than strictly spotting up on the arc. The driving game he had earlier this year has disappeared and because of that defenses are not being forced to move from the outside. With Derek standing only on the line not moving his feet, he’s keeping the offense from moving, as it should. Derek’s smarter than this and this addiction to the long distance jumper has to stop - now.
Radmanovic has now strung together two quality defensive games. His job on McGrady set the pace for the team and tonight he was locked in on the perimeter. He gambled a bit too much on post passes or players swinging the ball from down to up, but all in all, Vladi has played really good defense on whoever has been thrown his way. Offensively there’s no streakier shooter on the Lakers other than Vladi. I’ve said it a lot, if there’s one wild card that can swing a game in the Lakers favor, its Vladi. If that shot gets going and he moves to the option spots he should be in (as he was in the 4th) the guy can truly swing a game.
Real good takes by Odom into Dampier and Nowitzki in the 1st quarter. Plays like that are something that has risen to the surface since Gasol’s arrival. The best part of that game is that right now the same aggression is still there even with Gasol out injured. The diving effort off of the bad shot from Lamar in the 4th goes to show just how much hustle has worked its way into Lamar’s game.
The help defense Lamar played in this one was much better than in Houston. Odom set the pace by keeping a hold of the baseline, avoiding the 3-second call but always watching when to slide over to cut the drive off. His timing on the slide and on help was on the money. The strength Lamar held the ground in the paint also helped his growing rebound numbers. He had complete control of the area directly under the boards and about 1 to feet around it. The Mavericks were throwing 2 to 3 guys into the paint on shots and often holding one right outside the block to swoop in, but Lamar held ground superbly.
By the way, missed free throws make me crazy. I don’t expect 100% but the Lakers are shooting without following through most of the time and are letting too many points escape them from the line.
The Lakers have a bad habit/awful/terrible/horrible/deplorable of playing prevent defense. Whether Kobe is in or not, or there is a viable offensive option in the game, the Lakers seem to settle back on their heels offensively when they get a big lead. They can’t do this. They still have to learn that when you have a lead, it’s never big enough. There can be no sluggish play or getting away from running successful plays simply because you have a lead.
You simply cannot let a team (home or away) get a look at the game when you have a lead the size of what the Lakers had (25). The killer instinct that everyone begs for is still escaping the Lakers. There’s no tired excuse, there’s no back-to-back excuse, in fact, there’s no excuse to let the good game you played in the first 3 half.
How in the world do the Lakers continuously give up threes in crunch time, especially against the team you recently went to overtime against from the same thing? I will forever not understand how every single Laker doesn’t understand how to push the out soothe ball has to be either passed away from a shooter, turn a shooter into a passer or have the ball put on the floor. There’s just no reason, aside from lazy play this should happen as much as it does.
I’ve harped on it before too – tonight saw another end of the period 3 that swung the momentum Dallas’ way going into the 4th. Along with the prevent defense mentality they show, the Lakers have got to keep alive until the buzzer sounds. There is no relaxing simply because a quarter is winding down. I rip on fans leaving games early, and this is right along the same lines. You have to play sharp until the game is over.
The ball movement in the 1st quarter was real good. What facilitated that movement were the Lakers getting to the spots of the offense before the ball fell dead in a post or in an iso set. Its real good to see the Lakers realizing that movement off the ball, rotating with the play gets the ball better passing angles. The ball’s been falling dead quite often on this road trip due to 3 or 4 Lakers watching a play develop rather than making the play develop.
The whole Kobe and company coming to the arena fresh off a flight after a loss to practice shooting is something that is simply beautiful to hear happening. That kind of dedication is contagious, beyond helpful and shows a drive the Lakers haven’t had in a long, long time.
WTF of The Game: The mics on the nets in Dallas are hilarious. It makes every basket sound like a punch in an Indiana Jones movie.
Despite the wacky play in the second half, the Lakers won – in essence that’s what matters. They showed good composure in holding on when the pressure was really clamping down on them. I can point out other things, but I’m going to take this win and run away to the Utah game looking for our guy to come home 2-2 and hopefully getting healthy.