The Two Faces Of The Lakers Chop Down The Mavs
Another sluggish start for the whole team though. Everyone looked like they were running through mud for most of the 1st quarter. The slow start gave way to a Maverick hot start on the offensive end. Though the Lakers can, did and are capable of rebounding from these kinds of starts, they have got to get it under control before it becomes an even worse habit.
You saw tonight that sometimes you give that rhythm away and suddenly you’re dealing with a whole team being hot and confident rather than just one player.
If the Lakers are so hell-bent on drawing the charge, they have got to start knowing where the arc is under the basket. It’s a good intention and all, but giving away easy points on the line from not paying attention to where you are defensively isn’t acceptable.
There was a lot to be happy and shaky about in this one.
The Lakers did better tonight looking to Andrew as soon as the game started. It had the usually weak-minded interior defense of the mavericks even weaker. It got Wright into foul trouble and got Dampier working real hard to spend more energy on defense than offense.
Pau also did well in making Dirk play inside defense, no doubt his softest part of his game. His relentless boarding in the 2bnd half, not giving up an inch of ground in the paint no matter how many crowded around him did wonders for the Lakers second chance shots. Mostly a flat game for Pau, but he did small damage around Andrew’s bigger dents.
First play for Andrew was a monster block and then he proceeded to truly be a fighter on the inside any time a shot went up. He wasn’t running away from the boards, the was in the mix every single time, getting a body in or getting a hand on the ball before it got close to the ground.
Hustle and early position on the inside garnered him a lot of points (and chances at points) that were there other games but not cashed in on like they were tonight. Prime example of his game hustle was that beautiful block on Devean George’s 3-point attempt in the beginning of the 4th.
Amidst the good play though, Andrew was still keeping the ball far too low on his swing through move. He has got to follow Pau’s lead and keep that ball up high (especially since his hands aren’t the strongest in the world). Its killing me watching him almost instantly lower the ball to guard level making it easy to slap the thing away.
You have to hand it to Andrew for sucking up the pain in his foot and playing arguably the best of this season.
The hustle department would be incomplete without mention of the Lakers very own battery pack – Trevor Ariza. Put-back dunks, drives, rebounds, defensive hops, basically Trevor’s entire box score and more were all because of off ball movement – constant off ball movement.
I mean – wow – the guy is an unusual privilege to have wander into a game off the bench.
This Kobe guy might be a keeper too. Having your superstar diving on the floor for loose balls the way he did is inspiring. He did well in keeping at his shooting though it was off again early in the game. Ya know sometimes you need your superstar to carry you and that’s what Kobe did tonight. There’s nothing wrong with that every once in a while. Tonight the Lakers needed Kobe and he delivered yet again.
There was real strong shot selection from Derek in this one. Outside, inside, mid-range his choices were right on the money (sans the transition 3 in the 3rd quarter). He took Barea’s schooling of him and Jordan in the 1st half personally and it seemed to rile up his tenacity on the perimeter defense and aggressiveness on offense.
For the umpteenth time a small guard, this time Barea, tore up the Lakers. All the Lakers have to do with guards like this is take a couple steps back and test them on their shot. They kept playing into Barea’s strength by pushing up on him and giving him all sorts of room around everyone. Back off a touch, make him shoot from the outside and if he burns you from there so be it. If they’re getting torn up on easy percentage shots, push them in to low percentage shots.
At least that’s an attempt at a solution rather than what the Lakers still can’t do – matching up speed for speed.
The 4th quarter was chock full of poor defensive and offensive decisions though. The prevent style of offense the Lakers settle into during the 4th lately is yet another flirting with disaster kind of ploy. They’ve got to stay on the game plan, no matter where in the game a lead seems or feels insurmountable. Anything can happen - these guys know that. Don’t let any team come up and bit you in the butt because of lazy play.
Also, the Laker held an opponent’s go-to-guy fairly quiet. Dirk wound up with 19 points when he’s been averaging in the high 20’s for their former 5 game win streak.
The bench struck with fire again, scoring 0 in the 1st half and 25 in 2nd, breaking the Mavericks down on all levels as they yanked the Lakers to the lead.
What the Lakers have done so perfectly this year so far is forcing other teams to score at such a high percentage its impossible for teams to keep up. If you notice, most of teams (like the Nets last game) have to shoot in the high 50% range just to keep pace or a small lead. For all that good percentage the Lakers really never looked out of the game.
Tonight’s game is a prime example:
At the second timeout of the 1st - Mavericks 55% + Lakers 37% = Lakers up by 4.
At halftime – Mavericks 62% + Lakers 37% = Lakers down by 6
End of the 3rd – Mavericks 52% + Lakers 48% = Lakers up by 2
At the buzzer stats – Mavericks 51% + Lakers 49% = Lakers win by 7
There is no team in the NBA or the world that can maintain that high of a shooting percentage throughout 4 quarters. At some point they’ll break. That’s when the Lakers have so unbelievably great at swooping in and stealing the game away.
But as the game goes to the win column, it was the Lakers finally waking up in the 3rd quarter defensively and putting the screws to the Mavericks. They made them play out of their comfort zone, forcing the ball out of Kidd’s (or Barea’s) hands and into non-distributors, took away the easy drive by stepping away, got back to trap and recovery like they can and spaced themselves out on the floor like they were in the first 7 games.
There were plenty of reasons to cheer and get excited this game, along with plenty of reasons to be nervous. However, yet again, the Lakers are falling behind or getting beaten at times in a game far more because of what they do, rather than being truly outplayed.
That (and 13-1) is a good thing.