Cru’s Corner: Careless Play Bites The Lakers for 2nd Loss

Clublakers.comAnalyst IDecember 3, 2008

Careless Play Bites The Lakers for Loss 2nd Loss

It’s the first road trip with a larger time zone difference for the Lakers. The question on everyone’s brain was: Will the Lakers continue to play with the focus they’ve developed at home? We all know they can play well, but it’s that determination to win as many games as possible, while focusing on defense, that still remains the big question for this team.

Not only did the Lakers take Indiana lightly, apparently they ignored the scouting report. The facts are that this Pacer team had already beaten the Celtics and the Rockets.

The Lakers allowed the Pacers to do whatever they wanted, (much like they did with the Raptors). When the Pacers missed, it was more from their own fault rather than the defense.

The Lakers chose to play matador defense. Meaning they played too close to their man, and didn’t let the big men protect the deep paint that well. The big men were forced to rotate out to the elbows or to the high post, leaving the inside painfully open any Pacers’ lay-up-a-thon in the first 24 minutes.

The perimeter defenders have got to cut down on gambling in favor of playing some more defense. That spacing is still an issue on defense whereby it wasn’t to start the year. They can’t lose that.

Defensive rebounding—(along with the defense in general) basically lost the game. It was absolutely nowhere near to what it should be.

When the Lakers finally began waking up in the second half (thanks to Trevor Ariza), you saw the immediate turnaround in the score as they ran it to an 11-point lead. But after taking the Pacers lightly and running zero solid plays early in the 4th, the game went right back to the slop of the first half.

If you want a quick, overall defensive assessment (outside of the loss itself)—19 offensive rebounds, 61 points on 53% shooting in the first half and 118 points total for the Pacers. The Pacers—yikes!

Offensively, it was uncomfortably similar to the Raptors game. When the Lakers had the lead or the chance to close the game out, they started playing sloppy offensively. They stopped looking for plays and getting into this freewheeling game that had nothing to do what they were supposed to run.

The bench unit, although no lineup in particular excelled at this tonight, was again the main culprit behind this. Although they are allowed to play a looser triangle offense, it’s still a triangle. It’s not a panicked scramble, spotted with forced shots.

They, the bench mainly again, did not exploit the inside strength they inherently have against a team that has such few shot blockers.

Free throws were yet another aspect of this game that was just unacceptable.

Individually speaking…

Andrew Bynum’s mobility was good this game. The move along the baseline for the quick dunk from outside the post was something new to see. It was good to see him mixing up his game like that.

Additionally, the quick paint position Bynum got throughout the game was also good. It got him a lot of easy shots, including a beautiful pass from Lamar Odom for a reverse alley-oop.

Ariza played with his usual hustle. He jumped the lanes on the Pacers perimeter passing with incredible sharpness. In the 3rd quarter alone he nabbed three steals. The block he had on Granger in the 4th was also pure work from Ariza. He is a great lesson in what activity, even in a stagnant stand-around defensive game like this, can do for a team.

For as many potential spark plugs as the Lakers have on the squad, Ariza is all-out electric when getting his team fired up. The best part is that he does it the fundamental way—through his defense.

When Kobe Bryant is in the game, Jordan Farmar has to go inside, and that’s what he did. It made his game and the Laker offense a lot smoother and more spaced for the whole team. The thing is that Farmar looks like he’s trying too hard at a lot of points. He’s pushing offense through himself instead of using his probing and penetration to open up passing lanes for his teammates. Once he establishes this, then his game will open up when the defense fades off of him in expectation of pass. Right now they’re collapsing on him knowing that most of the time he’ll take it up himself.

Bryant’s pass to himself off the board for the score in the 2nd was amazing. But even more amazing was his return to relentlessly pushing the ball inside Pacers’ teeth.

That pass off the board was only part of Kobe’s first half display. He, and sometimes Odom, looked to be the only ones that were really attacking the middle with some kind of destination in mind. Bryant may have been gunning for that 22,000-point plateau (congratulations to him by the way), but he was also doing fantastic by putting Indiana on their heels. Every time he got inside the whole team either collapsed on him or they parted the seas, giving him a lane to get an easy bucket with.

Bryant’s decision making was also spot-on. The passes he made to others off the dribble or in transition were perfect. Unfortunately both his good play and the milestone he reached tonight were spoiled.

In the end, this is why the Lakers earn their loss.

1.    Atrocious defensive rebounding
2.    Slow to non-existent rotation to the inside on drives
3.    Letting the Pacers play to their strength
4.    Blowing a lead due to lazy/non-communicative play on both ends
5.    Getting bitten from letting a team shoot a high percentage. They were expecting them to crumble instead of making them do so.

If they continue playing games like this (which they wont, right?) against veteran teams with any kind of inside presence, the losses will start coming in droves.