Los Angeles Lakers Road To Three-Peat: Two Straight Losses
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Three weeks are in the books of the 2010-11 NBA season, and the Lakers are no longer undefeated. In fact, they have two losses now. The past week was one to forget for the Lakers, who barely squeaked out a 99-94 win over a lackluster Timberwolves team. They then went on to lose the next two, dropping one in Denver on Thursday night, and one Sunday night in L.A. against the Suns.
The Lakers have some regrouping to do, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Everything else seems fine, they are first in the NBA in points per game, second in rebounds per game, and third in assists per game. There is one big eyesore, and that is the points allowed per game, where the Lakers are 20th in the league.
Week in Review
vs. Minnesota Timberwolves - W 99-94 Player of the Game: Kobe Bryant - 33 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals
@ Denver Nuggets - L 118-112 Player of the Game: Pau Gasol - 17 points, 20 rebounds, two assists
vs. Pheonix Suns - L 121-116 Player of the Game: Pau Gasol - 28 points, 17 rebounds, two assists
This was another week where we learned some new things, so let's take a look:
1. Offense Continues Domination
Finding three positives this week is much harder than previous weeks, but one thing that hasn't changed all season is offensive success. The Lakers continue to lead the NBA in points per game with 112. Kobe had his two best offensive performances of the year this past week, scoring 33 against the Timberwolves and 34 against the Nuggets.
The Lakers are also getting great ball movement, and are averaging 24 assists per game, which is third in the league. In the last two games, the Lakers scored 228 points, but unfortunately, their opponents in the last two games have scored 239 points. But we'll get to that later on in the negatives section.
The bench also continues its offensive domination, scoring 31 points per game, with Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, and Shannon Brown scoring 25 of those 31 points. Although that number is down from last week's, they too stumbled this week along with the rest of the team.
2. Three Point Shooting
With Andrew Bynum out, this three point shooting display so far has been very helpful in taking pressure off of Odom in the low post. The Lakers are second in the NBA in three-point percentage at 41 percent.
Lamar Odom has been very surprisingly lights out from three-point range, shooting 59 percent from beyond the arc. Derek Fisher doesn't take many threes, but when he does, they seem to fall, as he is shooting 55 percent from downtown. Steve Blake and Shannon Brown have also shown a nice three point shot, with Blake hitting 50 percent of his threes, and Brown hitting 47 percent.
This success from three-point range has really opened up the offense for the Lakers. They seem to be able to string them together very nicely, hitting multiple threes in a row. Look for this to be a big factor down the road.
3. Offensive Rebounding
Second chance points are huge in basketball, especially the NBA. Pau Gasol and the Lakers have shown they can dominate the offensive glass...as long as Kevin Love isn't down there. In their last two games against the Nuggets and Suns, the Lakers out rebounded them offensively 38-21.
It was a whole different story on Tuesday night against the Timberwolves, where Kevin Love dominated and the Timberwolves out rebounded the Lakers offensively 26-14. As you can see, the Lakers are a good rebounding team (second in the NBA), but guys like Kevin Love will dominate them until they get Bynum back.
1. Defending Three-Point Shooting
This was especially exposed in that 22 three-point display by the Suns on Sunday night in L.A. Although the Lakers had only let up 15 three-pointers in their two games before Sunday night, that NBA record-tying 22 three-point showing was enough for me to put it in the negative section.
Watch the highlights to this game and you will see how many times guys were left wide-open and uncontested from three-point land. There were countless times where Jason Richardson was left wide open, and he hit them. In fact, he hit seven of his ten three-point attempts. Hedo Turkoglu was also scorching hot, hitting 5-7 from downtown.
This may have just been a fluke, but you have to at least defend these guys, and the Lakers didn't do that. I expect to see some change this week.
2. Defense Struggles Continue
As I said earlier, the Lakers are 20th in the league in points allowed per game at 103. They also let up 239 points in their last two games, both in regulation. A big factor that may attribute to this is Andrew Bynum being out, but that is still no excuse. Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant are both exceptional defensive players, and right now Kobe hasn't performed defensively as he has in past years. Artest is still doing fine, though, and should continue his success.
As we saw this past week, the lackluster defense finally caught up to their explosive offense. Hopefully this will be addressed this week, or there could be more losses on the way.
For the second straight week, I have complacency in the negative section. They just seemed bored and not enthused against a 1-7 Timberwolves team. They also had a 14 point lead at one point against the Nuggets, but they just simply got complacent on both sides of the ball and blew it. I think that they just need to learn to keep their heads in the game. We'll see if they can overcome this tonight and the rest of the week.
- Kobe Bryant seemed to get a lot more aggressive last week, especially against the Timberwolves and Nuggets as he took 60 shots in those two games—is this for better or worse?
- Ron Artest's shot selection has seemed to improve.
- Lamar Odom is fine injury-wise, and will play tonight against the Bucks
MY LAKERS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kobe Bryant - averaged 30 points per game, six rebounds, and seven assists
This Weeks Schedule
Tuesday, Nov. 16 @ Milwaukee Bucks 8:00pm est.
Wednesday, Nov. 17 @ Detroit Pistons 7:30pm est.
Friday, Nov. 19 @ Minnesota Timberwolves 8:00pm est.
Sunday, Nov. 21 vs. Golden State Warriors 9:30pm est.
Burning Questions This Week
- Can the Lakers defense improve?
- Can the Lakers overcome complacency?
- Will the Lakers bounce back with four straight wins?
- Will the offense continue this domination?
It should be a much better week than last week for the Lakers, with their first match up coming tonight against the 5-5 Bucks. Look for the the bench to get some more minutes with a few favorable match ups coming up this week.
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