Ka-Pau! Lakers Go 12 - 1
The Nets were on a roll and the Lakers are hot – so it promised to be a better game than the Kings one.
But, the same defensive troubles that popped up against the Kings did here too, except this time they were corrected.
The biggest of them all had to be the play inside. It was a first half of way too much Lopez for the Lakers to handle. If it weren’t for Pau being the only efficient offensive player, the Lakers might have gotten buried pretty early.
The bigs (in the first half) were asleep on help inside again. Neither Pau nor Bynum was rotating over to seal off (this time) some baseline cuts that got the inside way too confused for how talented this team is.
The quick guard ploy had its way with the Lakers perimeter defense as well, as both Carter and Harris had plenty of free open run to about the middle of the paint before they saw any resistance.
But that was the 1st half.
Better yet that was before Trevor and Lamar came into the game. For now the 7th game in a row Odom gave the Lakers some tenacity they were sorely lacking on the inside. Upon him and Trevor coming into the game suddenly it was more than just Pau going for defensive boards; it was finally a team effort. Whereas Pau had to basically carry the Laker offensively, thus losing some energy on the defensive end, Lamar and Trevor picked it up and allowed Pau some more time to keep attacking the Nets underbelly.
Back to The Minutemen - from Ariza’s first boards in the 1st quarter (one sweeping in on a Nets’ miss and the other after Pau getting blocked) to the monster put-back in the 2nd to the diving for loose balls to the constant motion all over the place, he was seriously in the game.
It’s readily apparent that Odom is in a big time groove right now being the guy off the bench. He is running from end to end with the energy he had in his Miami days. As in the Kings game, there were at least 2 instances where Lamar made a stop on the defensive end, then got down quick enough to not only be involved in an inside play , but nab the board and get points out of it as well.
There were other bright spots too amongst the questionable first half play.
Namely Andrew is showing signs of that aggression he promised he’d come with this year. He had quicker moves into the paint and did better holding position once there. The forced shots were at a big time minimum. If he did have 2 guys on him he got back to the power throw down that he showed last year. He drew fouls off of just being the aggressor alone. Once he got into his motion, there was nothing any Net could do.
That was gratifying.
Otherwise, Radmanovic played very aware tonight with the turnover / steal to start the game, then the wherewithal to see the shot clock and get a shot up before the clock expired in the 1st. Little things like that though they seem insignificant are steps forward for the Lakers’ favorite space cadet (who still has his moments).
What he did well again tonight is getting to his spots quickly and crisply. He got himself more opportunities than were created for him by using the offense.
What Kobe was ignoring for a lot of the game was getting his game going by getting easy ones. He showed early on with the giant dunk in the 1st that the Nets will back off of any quick move to the paint. Surprisingly though Kobe backed off of driving for a long while in favor of shooting outside jumpers. The best way to get in rhythm as a shooter when things aren’t going well is to get yourself easy looks.
It wasn’t his sharpest game. It looked like he was trying to hard to get himself going, instead of running through the flow of the offense like Pau was tonight.
Even though his box score may look decent, Jordan wasn’t as good as he can be. In his first stint on the floor he wasn’t using his speed burst capability to break down the defense enough. Farmar is at his best when he probing and getting his man or the defense back on their heels then making his play. Since he’s developed his shot more, he’s beginning to settle for the outside jumper too much.
You saw in the 3rd and 4th quarters that when Jordan gets into the paint, just how easy it is for him and the rest of the offense to play the relaxed triangle speed game. As the game wore on, he had a couple good Farmar-esque moments, but overall there was too much looking to hit the 3 instead of get it the old-fashioned way.
At times Jordan’s odd play can put the whole bench unit out of sorts. In the first 6 or 7 games the bench was running and using a varied attack. In this game (and against Sacramento) they settled into some bad habits – shooting too early in the clock and not using their inherent speed to its advantage.
With a team like Jersey in town there far too many light overhead passes. This is a team with a load of leapers and there’s no reason to be throwing very soft passes in an area a lot of guys on the Nets can easily get to.
One guy inside (Pau) on the offensive boards for a big chunk of the game was fighting for boards. There was rarely anyone else diving inside or setting up inside to grab an offensive rebound.
Speaking of Pau, the guy was remarkable. Tonight, like most nights, you could watch his varied weapons on offense slowly wear down his defender. The Lakers did play good team D on the Nets in the 2nd half, but a big portion of it came from Pau breaking the Nets inside game down. The more he made them work on defense, the less they had to get back to the well run inside game they had in the 1st half.
The lightning quick dunk he had on Yi after Yi got the best of him on the previous play just about wore out the Tivo. The endurance of Pau, along with his expanding skill set is another element to this game that turned it from questionable to laughable.
In the end it was the inspired 2nd half defense (thanks to what had to have been a heck of halftime rant) that capped this thing off.
Also noticeable was the absence of a glut of one or no pass sets for the Lakers. The assist umbers were back up, which means the offense was run as it should be (for the most part).
The Nets scored 54 points in the 1st half and only wound up with 93 to finish the game. (15 of which came in a prolonged 6+ minutes of garbage time)
Now, next time, the Lakers charge is to come into the game with defensive focus they’re finishing with. The Lakers are playing a dangerous game lying in the weeds waiting to attack. The killer instinct has developed, but it has to be at the forefront of the game – not as only a finishing move.
Alright, so we all get a couple days off to revel in this 12-1 thing, stuff our faces and fight off crashing out at 5:00.
Happy Thanksgiving - - - - - - and Happy Birthday Chick!!!