More Yuck In Lakers Loss To Kings
Posted by hiphopmama on December 9, 2008
LA Lakers 101, Sacramento 113
(17-3) <—the fruity purple is in honor of the Kings victory, since they share our illustrious color
That picture sums up the night pretty well – John Salmons, player of the game, slamming it home completely unguarded while three Lakers players look on, seemingly disinterested in the result. In our last game against the Kings a couple weeks ago, I noted that we seemed averse to playing any kind of defense. We repeated that mistake again tonight, but this time we were forced to pay the price, as we probably should have last time. The score is actually overly flattering to us, because the Kings had such a secure lead in the end that they let up a bit and Kobe made a few down the stretch to draw us a little closer. In a game that started off with lots of cheers for the away team, it finished sounding like the Arco Arena of old, minus the cowbells. It was easily the Lakers’ worst performance of the year.
I had most of this post already written while watching the game, but once the outcome became clear I deleted it all and started fresh, because the perspective I had in the first half was completely inappropriate to the tenor of the game once it finished. Quite simply, we did nothing well tonight. The usual scenario for us is that we play good defense in stretches but screw it up in the fourth quarter and only manage to hold on because of outstanding offense. Tonight even the offense was bad. We barely shot 40% and looked out of sync all game. Aside from Pau Gasol, who was predictably solid (9-of-15 for 25 points, 12 boards, 3 assists, and 3 blocks), literally no one played well. Bynum was 4-of-7 and scored 8 points in his 21 minutes, but early foul trouble and Phil’s likely desire to prove a point about his rotation policy kept him from staying out there longer. Fisher also had 8 points going 3-for-8, but he continues to play with an aggrieved disposition that perplexes me (is every foul called on you really so out of line?). Hell, Trevor Ariza was 2-for-10. The percentage isn’t what surprises me – it’s the sheer number of shots he took. There is no way in hell Ariza should be shooting that much, especially when the majority of them were from distance.
What hurt us the most, though, was Kobe’s poor play. It wasn’t just that he had an off night – he somehow got to 28 points on 9-for-25 shooting. The real problem was his attitude for much of the game. After a tough start, he began pressing noticeably, forcing up shots that were ridiculous even by his standards and playing for the first time this season as if he was the only Laker on the floor. This was especially true to start the third, when he got riled up over the lack of fouls called on the Kings’ tight defense on him and started going about his game like it was a personal grudge match. It didn’t last too long, fortunately, but it was disheartening nonetheless, especially since I thought he had moved past all that. Hopefully it was just a one time slip-up, but it still didn’t sit well. When he makes those kinds of shots he is applauded for his “competitive spirit,” but when they’re not falling, as they weren’t tonight, he just looks selfish. Maybe it will be a reminder to him of why he adopted his new team ethic in the first place. And kudos to John Salmons for his defense tonight. He played him straight up and clearly had him rattled, keeping him off the free throw line and throwing off his rhythm. The team defense behind him contributed as well.
The dynamic between Phil and his players is interesting to say the least. The proof is in the pudding and he certainly has the record to back up his moves, but I hate the little mind games he plays with people, both his players and the media. At one point in the second quarter, after Kobe had taken a quick shot on the wing, Phil called a timeout and yanked him, apparently as punishment since it was not a normal time for Kobe to be on the bench and Phil loves his standard rotation. Upon coming back in the game, Kobe, punk that he is, defiantly pulled up from exactly the same spot on the floor that he had just prior to being taken out, as if to say, a la Cartman, “Whatever, I do what I want.” And this was all before his little outburst in the third quarter.
Bynum also saw himself the victim of Phil’s wrangling tonight. Granted, he picked up two early fouls and had to sit because of that, but Jackson played him only sparingly after that and he finished the game with just three personals. Andrew has been vocal recently in his complaints about playing time, only half jokingly declaring that the fat lady “sings a lot for me.” A lot of people have brushed it off, but this and other comments have struck a bad chord with me. Really? Andrew Bynum is whining about minutes? Please. You’re very good and have tremendous potential, but you’re nobody yet. Come talk to me when you win something, otherwise shut your mouth and listen to some people who have. Then again, when you have a coach who likes to make his points through the media, you have to expect something in return and turnabout is fair play. I just hope Phil can teach him the lesson he clearly needs without acting the media bitch, as he has a propensity to do. Both of them would do well to keep it in-house.
And, because it was such a bad night, I have one final rant. Can somebody please run a box-out drill with our guys? They seem to have forgotten that such a move exists or what it might be for. At least that’s what I infer from the shoddy job they’ve done of cleaning up straightforward rebounds. The Lakers are talented enough to win a lot of games with no sense of direction whatsoever, but that will only take them so far. It reminds me of the story tennis coach Brad Gilbert told about working with Andre Agassi. When he first started coaching him, he was amazed to hear that Agassi went into matches with no game plan whatsoever. It was then that Gilbert realized what a tremendous talent he had on his hands, since Agassi had been playing incredibly well even without any foresight to his play. It’s ironic that I should feel compelled to draw that comparison when the Lakers have a sure-fire Hall of Famer on the bench, arguably the best coach of his generation, but it still rings true. For as much as the team talked up its renewed dedication to defense in training camp, they are still remarkably weak at a number of important fundamentals, rebounding included. They patrol the passing lanes well, but they could do to improve their defensive rotations, rebounding prowess, and transition D, especially if they hope to compete with the Celtics at season’s end.
That’s all I can stomach for tonight. God hasn’t been in my sporting corner today, preventing my DVR from recording an important Champions League match and sending the Lakers tot heir third defeat. All I want to know is, who didn’t pray hard enough on the sidelines tonight?
Highlights (if you can call them that):
No recap available as of yet, but that’s probably for the best. It’s a pretty dismal storyline.
Our next chance for redemption comes tomorrow night at home against Phoenix at 10:30 ET/7:30 PT. At least I’ll get to have Stu talk me through it. That always makes the wins sweeter and the losses easier to take. All hail the great Stu Lantz.