Brian Kamenetzky provides 10 Rapid Reactions concerning the Lakers, and the newly acquired Steve Nash. Including:
4. Acquiring Nash obviously raises the same ”How does Kobe work with an elite point guard?” questions prompted by last season’s vetoed Chris Paul trade. Devastating a shooter as Nash is, he’s someone who needs the ball in his hands a ton to be at his most effective. How exactly it’ll look on the floor is tough to say right now, but just as he does Paul, Kobe has incredible respect for Nash. I don’t anticipate problems with the two of them coexisting, beyond a normal adjustment period. Not only are the Lakers in better shape to help Kobe get his sixth title, his presence could easily add a couple more productive years to Kobe’s career, just because of all the work he won’t have to do generating offense. Conversely, the presence of Bryant and the bigs will take a lot of pressure off Nash, and increase the odds of him staying at this level through the three years. Between Bryant, Nash and Gasol, the Lakers have three of the highest basketball IQs the game has ever seen. If things click, the results should be beautiful.
7. This ends the Ramon Sessions era in Los Angeles, as a source told ESPN LA’s Ramona Shelburne the team is no longer pursuing the free-agent guard.
Brian Kamenetzky on Blake Griffin:
Blake Griffin’s act is counterproductive against the Lakers.
Because he’s such an athletic freak and makes genuinely funny commercials, I’d like to like Blake Griffin. I really would. He doesn’t make it easy, though.
Wednesday night, Griffin earned himself a couple of spectacular highlights, both at the expense of Gasol. First came the soaring putback dunk for the LAC’s first points. Then there was the massive poster job on Gasol in the third. Either could have been an offensive foul, particularly the second play, when Griffin cleared Gasol out with an elbow to the face. That isn’t the issue. What hurts Griffin against L.A. is the posturing and preening accompanying each play. And the shove in the back on Gasol running full speed on the break. And the headlocks, and so on.
The Lakers are like the Incredible Hulk. Don’t make them angry. You wouldn’t like them when they’re angry. Rather than get the Lakers out of their game, that sort of stuff tends to galvanize them. Beyond that, it would help if Griffin contributed more than artwork for the wall. When not dunking, Griffin missed virtually every shot he took, and was a minus-16 for the game.
Blake wins if games are played for Sportscenter highlights, but I’d rather take the ‘W’ that goes in our w/l column.
From Brian Kamenetzky’s Rapid Reaction recap of the game:
3. Derek Fisher was big.
It takes him an extra 15 minutes to get out of the bed every morning because of all the dirt people have tossed on him overnight. Honestly, most of it is deserved. Fisher has, for the most part, been really bad this year. Tonight, however, Fish was nails. 15 points on 6-of-8 from the floor, including two huge fourth quarter buckets, one a 3 from the top of the arc, the other a floater off penetration (yes, it was that kind of night for D-Fish).
Generally speaking, in the fourth quarter Mike Brown has gone with whatever point guard has played best throughout the game. Tonight, Steve Blake didn’t hit a shot (though he did have five assists). Fisher got the call, and delivered.
Click through to read the lowlights/highlights of tonight’s game. Pretty good analysis. As for probably the most glaring lowlight:
1. Kobe Bryant. Worst game of the season? Probably, since I’m having trouble remembering a game in any of the past few years he played this poorly. More turnovers (seven) than field goals (six). Sure, he led the team in scoring with 20 points, but also took 18 shots getting there, 17 of which came in the second half after Kobe took a back seat offensively over the first 24 minutes.
The end of the fourth quarter basically summarized his entire game. With about 4:30 remaining, he got caught in the air off dribble penetration, and misfired on a pass to Ron Artest at the arc for a turnover. With under 2:30 remaining, he took a horrible early-clock triple against Gordon Hayward, missing badly, though fortunately bailed out by a Johnny-on-the-spot Lamar Odom, who corralled the rebound for a score. Even when things started looking up for 24, they didn’t stick. He hit a critical three to bring L.A. within three with 1:17 remaining, then drew an equally important foul on Hayward at the other end.
Kobe came back with a triple, tying the score at 85-85, but on the ensuing Jazz possession lost Hayward through a series of screens, then got his hand on Hayward’s hip as the rook drove the lane. A savvy play he’ll often get away with, but tonight he got caught, and it cost the Lakers a pair of free throws giving Utah the lead. Then, there was the final trip — Kobe isolates on Hayward, tries to step through… and loses the ball out of bounds, walking off the court staring at his hands.
Everyone has off nights, but perhaps the biggest problem with Kobe’s game was how he seemed to get sucked into a competition with Hayward, who was doing great work against him on both ends. Were there a few calls that could have gone Kobe’s way? Sure. But Bryant didn’t pay Hayward nearly enough attention defensively, then tried to show him up offensively. It’s a bad habit of his. If you ever want to find a fantasy sleeper, pick a player who Kobe might guard, assuming Bryant has zero respect for his game.
Kobe wasn’t the only guy who played poorly- in that he had plenty of company- but play poorly he did.
The problem isn’t that the Lakers lose, but how. The aesthetics are often awful. Too many in the mold of Monday’s to Charlotte, too few resembling their one-point loss to the Spurs at Staples, which while disappointing was an honest, respectable effort. Whether the ugly games (which count equally in the standings to prettier losses) make the Lakers seem worse than they actually are or indicate they’re indeed a lesser version than their title-winning incarnations is something nobody will know for sure until the playoffs roll around.