Monthly Archive for October, 2013

Lakers-Warriors Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State WarriorsWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 125-94 loss at Golden State:

53.5
Field-goal percentage for the Warriors towards 125 points. Nine players had at least seven points (four in double figures) as the team recorded 34 assists on 46 made field goals. Most of Golden State’s production came from the perimeter off open jumpers, as they only produced 40 paint points.

38
Points from Klay Thompson – a career-high – on 15 of 19 field goals (78.9 percent). From the opening tip, Thompson was on fire, hitting 6 of 7 shots overall and 4 of 4 from distance in the first quarter to give Golden State an early double-digit lead that would balloon to as much as 35. Below is a chart of Thompson’s shots, courtesy of NBA.com/stats.
131030_blogklaythompson

35
Minutes for Xavier Henry off the bench, a career-high. One night after recording a career-high in points, Henry played all but four minutes of the second half and recorded 14 points and four rebounds. He also led the team in free-throw attempts with nine, while converting six.

15
Three-pointers made for Golden State out of 27 attempts, a 55.6 percent clip. Four players drained at least two triples, led by Thompson’s five. Last season, the Warriors averaged eight makes per game from the three-point line, and led the league in three-point field goal percentage at 40.1 percent.

0
Minutes for Lakers point guard Steve Nash as part of pre-planned rest in back-to-back games this season. The Warriors never trailed in the contest, either, as they came out firing on offense in their home opener. The 31-point victory margin was their largest season-opening win in franchise history.

LAL 94, Warriors 125: 10/30 Running Diary

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State WarriorsBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s road contest at Golden State with comments drawn from Mike Trudell’s @LakersReporter Twitter account, to ensure you’re covered from start to finish:

Starters
Lakers: Blake, Meeks, Young, Williams and Gasol
Warriors: Curry, Thompson, Igoudala, Speights and Bogut

FIRST QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors

SECOND QUARTER

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors

THIRD QUARTER

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors


FOURTH QUARTER


Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors

Lakers – Warriors Sideline Notes

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles LakersBelow is a summary of the notes I put together in preparation for Time Warner Cable SportsNet and 710ESPN Radio sideline action for that evening’s Lakers game. L.A. plays the Warriors in Oakland at 7:30 p.m.

PRESEASON VS. GOLDEN STATE
The Lakers don’t need to spend a ton of time on a scouting report for the Warriors, since they saw Golden State three times in the preseason. First came a win in Ontario (104-95), then two losses in China, but in each game in the Far East, L.A.’s starters and initial subs mostly outplayed the Warriors. The Beijing game (95-100) saw Mark Jackson’s starters stay in for much of the fourth quarter against L.A.’s end of bench players, while GSW’s rotation players overwhelmed L.A.’s subs in Shanghai (89-115, though the Lakers led in the third quarter when the starters sat). Of course, preseason results don’t much matter, so the question is whether the Warriors simply weren’t playing very well collectively, or if the Lakers were offering a preview for the unity they showed in the season-opening win over the Clippers. Golden State has its eyes on a deep playoff run thanks to the addition of Andre Iguodala to a team that gave the Spurs some trouble in the playoffs last year. Some GSW notes:

- Stephen Curry oddly struggled with his shot in the preseason, hitting only 38 percent of his field goals … it’s hard to imagine that continuing much into the regular season.
- Harrison Barnes was (and remains) out with a foot injury in the China games.
- Lakers radio analyst Mychal Thompson’s son Klay looked great, averaging 21.3 points on 53.1% FG’s and 45.4 3-pt FG’s.
- David Lee/Andrew Bogut were pretty solid overall up front for the Warriors, Bogut on D and Lee on O.
- Draymond Green was a problem off the bench, canning 4 3′s in Shanghai, and hitting 7 of 13 overall in the preseason after making 14 his entire rookie year.
- Igoudala was second on team in assists during the preseason (4.6), including 14 against LAL in Shanghai.

COMPLETE LAKERS SEASON PREVIEW, WITH TWO PARAGRAPHS ON ALL 15 PLAYERS

LAKERS BENCH EXPLODES/BURSTS/GOES CRAZY VS. CLIPPERS
The Lakers’ bench unit of Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill played very well in the final two preseason games together, but their collective performance on opening night against the Clippers was borderline ridiculous. How about 76 collective points, the third most in franchise history, including 41 in a fourth quarter they played the entire way while holding LAC to just 24, turning a four-point deficit heading into the final period into an emphatic 116-103 victory. The Clippers could do little against L.A.’s most athletic group, as Blake Griffin managed not a single point, rebound, assist or even field goal attempt in 8 minutes, notching only 2 turnovers for his final line. All five LAL bench players were excellent in the period, clearly, but it was Farmar driving the ship. He scored nine of his 16 points, plus three assists and a steal, repeatedly getting into the paint to break down LAC’s defense. Sixteen of the team’s 42 points in the paint came in the period. Said Farmar: “It felt good to me to be back home. Back in this building. It felt comfortable to me. Yeah it was really special and I look forward to it all season long.”

- The all-time most bench points came in 1985, when the Lakers’ bench scored 85 of their 144 total points against the Warriors (119). Mike McGee had 29 off the pine, Larry Spriggs 20, Bob McAdoo 14 and Mitch Kupchak eight amongst others.
-The 2nd most was in 1988, again against Golden State with 84 pine points in a 136-100 win, when Tony Campbell led the way with 28, and Mychal Thompson, A.C. Green, Michael Cooper and Milt Wagner combined for 50.

STARTERS GET (VERY) UNUSUAL EXTRA REST
When’s the last time that not one starting player played at least 30 minutes? Anybody? Bueller? One major positive for the Lakers off this usually really tricky/rare back-to-back (going into a team’s season-opener is never easy, especially if you played the night before): not one starter played more than 25 minutes, with Gasol’s 24:29 leading the way. Sub Jordan Farmar was the overall leader, with 27:16 off the pine. Steve Nash, who’s anything but 100% healthy, played only 20:44 and is a game-time decision for the Warriors (he said he’d try to go). Nick Young played 22:03, Steve Blake 22:25 and Shawne Williams just 12:50.

THE X MAN
Xavier Henry announced his presence in the preseason with 29 points in an opening win over Golden State, but doing what he did in a regular season game against the Clippers was a far larger statement. In 26 minutes off the pine, Henry scored 22 points – a career high – on 8 of 13 FG’s, including 3 of 4 three-pointers. And he missed five free throws (3 of 8), keeping his box score a bit less dramatic. Henry scored 12 of his 22 in the final quarter, grabbing half of his six boards plus both of his assists. The Belgian-born two guard/wing was an afterthought when being signed to the training camp roster, but with the preseason explosion became a lock to make the team, and eventually a likely receiver of legitimate rotation minutes. Clearly, that’s not going to change.

The knock on Henry coming into this season was his lack of shooting in his first three years, when he managed to hit only 40 percent from the field and 28 from three in limited minutes in Memphis and New Orleans. But player development coach Larry Lewis and assistant coach Kurt Rambis, amongst other LAL staffers, noticed a slight hitch in Henry’s jumper, the big athlete hanging a bit too long, and he worked it out quickly. The jumper was a spotlight, because his ability to get to the rim’s never been in question. The lefty, with a nice Euro-step move, looks a bit like Manu Ginobili or James Harden – hyperbolic as that might seem – getting to the bucket, and he repeatedly went right at DeAndre Jordan in the fourth quarter in particular. A postgame quote: “I have never changed my mind about what kind of player I am. How hard I work and what I can do on the court. So when I don’t get the opportunities maybe early on, it’s fine, I stayed faithful and stayed into it to where I have gotten hit and gotten opportunities and make the most of it.”

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles LakersLAKERS STRONG ON THE GLASS
Despite playing a small line up for much of the game, L.A. finished plus 12 on the glass, grabbing 52 boards to the Clippers’ 40, including 18 offensive boards. Jordan Hill grabbed seven of those O boards in just 18 minutes, including five in the final quarter. Pau Gasol led all players with 13 rebounds in his 24 minutes, while Chris Kaman added eight in 19 minutes. In related news, LAL had 30 second chance points to LAC’s 19. Said Hill: “I’m going to do what I do. I’m going to hit the boards at all times, but everybody that came off the bench besides me, it was definitely the bench that fired everything up. We just went out there and we competed. We didn’t lie down and we weren’t afraid. We just had the heart to win and we did.”

TRIPLES FALLING:
The Lakers buried 14 triples in 29 attempts (48.3%), led by three apiece from Jodie Meeks (3 for 6) and Henry (3 for 4), with 6 of 8 falling in the fourth. Clearly, there’s going to be an emphasis on 3-point shooting for the Lakers this season, and they have many players capable of hitting the 40 percent bench mark that’s ideal for an NBA player: Nash, Blake and Farmar (who all hit over 40 in their last NBA season*), Meeks (36% last year), Nick Young, Shawne Williams (40% for D’Antoni in New York in 2010-11), Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly (over 40% at Duke, albeit at the college 3 line). Last year, attempted and made the third most triples in the NBA, but ranked just 20th in percentage at 35.2 percent.
*Farmar’s was in 2011-12 for New Jersey, when he dropped 44% from 3.

Furthermore, according to Bloomberg Sports, 13/22 of L.A.’s threes came above the break (i.e. non-corner 3s), which is 59.1% (league average was 35.1% last season).

GIVE D’ANTONI SOME CREDIT?
Nobody got more blame for LAL’s dreadful 2012-13 start amidst injuries, no training camp, his own surgery and the lack of chemistry amongst certain players than Mike D’Antoni, and he got little of the credit for the 28-12 close to the season. But over the summer and in the preseason, D’Antoni facilitated a layer of confidence in several players that clearly leaked into the first game. The offensive spacing was very good, and the effort terrific on defense for most of the game. D’Antoni has been downright giddy throughout the preseason with all the basketball love going around in camp, with everybody full of effort and eagerness to play, and he’s always had somewhat of a touch with relatively unknown NBA players. One can argue that it’s not just a coincidence that the bench in particular played great tonight. Part of it’s coaching.

Said Farmar: “I like Coach D’Antoni a lot. He’s a great coach and he’s a great basketball mind and the way he deals with his players, I can’t say enough about him. I’m just happy. We’re 1-0 and we feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”

Gasol on win and team chemistry: “I think it’s a great indication of where we are at and how much we want to have a great year. So we were able to do tonight it was a really good team. It’s just one game it’s just the beginning but like I said it’s a good indicator. I think it’s a good time, a really good time and shows how together we are. How much we want to have a great season all together. I am proud of the guys. Now tomorrow we have another one.”

THE (UN)ANOINTED ONES
A quote from Doc Rivers could have been a Mike D’Antoni quote from any point of last season for the Lakers: “When you’re anointed, people are going to attack you, and we’re going to have to get used to that type of energy every night. People are going to play you like you’ve won something, even though you haven’t.”

That’s a potentially big deal for the Lakers this season, if the typical target they’ve had on their backs is lessened a bit, and they’re more of the aggressor, the attacker. That can result directly in regular season wins and losses within the grind of a long season.

Lakers-Clippers Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 116-103 win vs. LAC in their home opener:

76
Bench points for the Lakers, including a career-high 22 from Xavier Henry. The second unit played the entire fourth quarter and outscored the Clippers 41-24, converting on 15 of 23 field goals and 6 of 8 three-pointers to key L.A.’s win.

52
Rebounds for the Lakers, who owned a plus-12 in that category. Pau Gasol grabbed 13 boards, while Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill recorded eight each off the bench. Of the team’s 52 rebounds, 18 were on the offensive end. Hill alone grabbed seven total and five in the fourth quarter that allowed L.A. to score 17 second-chance points (30 for the game).

14
Three-pointers made for the Lakers out of 29 attempts, a 48.3 percent clip. Outside Shawne Williams, each starter drained at least one triple, while Jodie Meeks and Henry had three apiece off the bench. In the second half, L.A. converted on 9 of 20 from distance when they outscored the Clippers 61-46.

6
Assists for Jordan Farmar, to go along with 16 points and four rebounds. The UCLA product helped key the bench unit during the Lakers fourth-quarter surge, helping create for himself (nine points) and for his teammates (three assists) in the final 12 minutes.

0
Minutes for the starters in the fourth quarter, as coach Mike D’Antoni elected to roll with a lineup of Farmar, Meeks, Henry, Wesley Johnson and Hill. No Lakers starter played more than 24 minutes, as the coaching staff went 11 deep into the rotation.

LAL 116, LAC 103: 10/29 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s home opener against the Clippers with comments drawn from Mike Trudell’s @LakersReporter Twitter account, to ensure you’re covered from start to finish:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Blake, Young, Williams and Gasol
Clippers: Paul, Redick, Dudley, Griffin and Jordan


FIRST QUARTER


SECOND QUARTER


THIRD QUARTER


FOURTH QUARTER

Lakers Prep for Clippers

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles ClippersFor the first time in seven years, the Lakers will likely not see a familiar face in the starting lineup come opening night: Kobe Bryant.

After the team’s final practice in preparation for Tuesday’s home opener against the Clippers, coach Mike D’Antoni stated there remains no clear timetable as Bryant continues to rehab his Achilles.

“He’ll back when he can get back,” D’Antoni said. “I’m sure he’s making progress, but he’ll be back as soon as he can.”

In addition to Bryant’s uncertain return to the court, the Lakers enter the 2013-14 campaign with some uncertainty. Finding the right rotations during the preseason was a point of emphasis from the coaching staff, especially with eight new faces on the roster.

“When the lights come on, we’ll see how guys respond,” D’Antoni said. “You don’t know how the exact combinations will work or not in a battle. That’s all to be seen. We don’t have a great bead on all the combinations because there are so many. We have so many guys that can play and we’ll try to sort it out.”

What remains to be seen is whether D’Antoni chooses to start Shawne Williams as a stretch four alongside Pau Gasol, or use a more traditional lineup with two bigs in Chris Kaman and Gasol. Williams can stretch the floor, while Kaman also has the ability play outside the paint, a key that will allow the 7-foot Spaniard to operate inside as opposed to the last two seasons playing with Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard.

“I’m a lot more comfortable, confident and in a much better rhythm,” Gasol said. “I’m operating in areas where I’m most comfortable and most effective.”

On the defensive side of the floor, increased athleticism on the wings allowed the team to force more turnovers, something that showed in the preseason. Last year, transition defense was also a sore spot, an area the team will likely emphasize against the Clippers, who finished eighth in fast break points per game.

“Chris Paul is the guy you’ll have to deal with,” D’Antoni said, “and it all starts and ends with him.”

Paul has arguably been the main reason for the Clippers resurgence, as they swept the season series last year from the Lakers for the first time since 1974-75 when they were known as the Buffalo Braves. Building upon last season’s success, the Clippers added new pieces to surround their core group and brought in Doc Rivers to lead the team on the sidelines. This year, both teams have different expectations.

“It’s definitely a different situation,” Gasol said. “We don’t look at ourselves as underdogs, but obviously, we’re facing circumstances that put us in that position. We just have to be confident and stay together throughout the season, and continue to work to get better. We have a young group that still needs experience to grow together and stronger as a team, and we’re looking forward to that.”

Sunday Practice Report

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles LakersWith the exception of Kobe Bryant (Achilles), the Lakers expect to have a full roster of players available on Tuesday when the regular season begins.

The only other player not available in Friday’s preseason finale, Chris Kaman, returned to practice on Sunday after missing nearly a week-and-a-half because of gastroenteritis.

“I feel good,” he said. “My first practice in nine days, but I feel good. I was winded today but a couple more days and I’ll be good to go, so I’m not really worried about (my conditioning).”

With Kaman absent from the lineup in the team’s final two preseason games, coach Mike D’Antoni started Shawne Williams at the four alongside Pau Gasol, and used Wesley Johnson off the bench to play the stretch four position. The coach, though, chose to remain mum when asked about the starting lineup for the season opener.

“I’m not ready to make that announcement yet,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see how everybody feels on Tuesday. We can go all kinds of different ways. We have a lot of good players and some have put their nose out further than the others. We could play guys in different combos that in the first month or so we can experiment a bit.”

Mixing various lineup units is something the coaching staff tested during the preseason, as the Lakers put out four different starting lineups in eight games. Even so, D’Antoni was pleased with how the team was able to pick up on what they want to run on offense and defense.

“The players have done everything we’ve asked as a coaching staff and more,” he said. “The ball movement, spacing and how we want to play generally, they’ve done a good job. Each week it goes by, I think they’ll (run) it smoother and get a little bit better at it, not think as much and not react to things.”

D’Antoni remains optimistic that this current crop of players can be good, based on chemistry and an understanding of each other.

“Everybody knows what their role needs to be, and they’re comfortable with that role,” he said. “That’s the makings of a good team.”

With the season opener just two days away, and a slate of three games in four nights to begin the 2013-14 campaign, Gasol maintains the team is up to the task.

“We have a tough start – pretty demanding in a short period of time to start off,” he said. “It’ll be a good test to see how we can deliver. It’s going to be a challenge and we have to take it one game at a time, starting with the Clippers and trying to defend our home court.”

Lakers-Jazz Postgame Numbers

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 111-106 win vs. Utah in their final preseason game:

37
Third-quarter points for the Lakers on 13 of 19 field goals, a 68.4 percent clip. Coach Mike D’Antoni elected to play the starting unit for the first 12 minutes out of halftime, as they erased a two-point deficit and outscored the Jazz 37-20 to take a 15-point lead into the fourth. Steve Blake scored 13 of his 19 points in the quarter on a perfect 5 of 5 from the floor, including three triples.

29
Minutes for Steve Nash, including 12 in the second half. Nash, despite battling an ankle problem throughout the preseason, finished with seven points and four assists. Prior to this game, Nash had sat out the second half of the last three.

13
Three-pointers made for the Lakers out of 29 attempts. Prior to this contest, L.A. had struggled with the long ball, converting on less than 30 percent. But in the preseason finale, four Laker players drained at least two triples, including Blake’s five.

7
Players who finished in double figures, led by Blake’s 19 (7 of 7 field goals, 5 of 5 on three-pointers). L.A.’s bench combined for 42 points, with Xavier Henry (13), Jordan Farmar (11) and Jordan Hill (10) leading the way. During eight preseason contests, five Laker players averaged in double figures.

3
Plus-rating for Wesley Johnson off the bench. Johnson grabbed seven rebounds (nine overall for the game) in 10 minutes in the first half, keying a big second-quarter run that put L.A. up by as much as 11.

LAL 111, Jazz 106: 10/25 Preseason Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s contest against Utah with comments drawn from Mike Trudell’s @LakersReporter Twitter account, to ensure you’re covered from start to finish:

Starters
Lakers: Nash, Blake, Young, Williams and Gasol
Jazz: Lucas III, Hayward, Jefferson, Favors and Kanter


FIRST QUARTER


SECOND QUARTER


THIRD QUARTER


FOURTH QUARTER

Lakers-Jazz Postgame Numbers

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles LakersWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 108-94 win vs. Utah in their seventh preseason game:

74
Bench points for the Lakers, led by Jordan Farmar’s 20. L.A.’s second unit erased a 12-point Utah lead in large part because of their defense. Utah shot 6 for 21 in the second quarter and turned the ball over seven times that led to 11 Laker points.

22
Plus-rating for Farmar, a team-high in 23 minutes. He scored all of his 20 points in the second half – 15 in the fourth quarter – as he helped L.A.’s second unit hold off a late Jazz rally.

21
Jazz turnovers that led to 25 Lakers points. Last year, L.A. ranked 29th in the league in forced turnovers, but in four of seven preseason games, their opponents have committed more than 20.

14
Points for Wesley Johnson, to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Johnson received the bulk of the backup minutes at power forward, with coach Mike D’Antoni electing to go small. The Syracuse product helped key a 15-3 Lakers run early in the second quarter that turned a 26-18 deficit into a 36-29 lead.

4
Assists for Nick Young, a team-high. Young did not shoot the ball particularly well (4 of 12 field goals), but set up Shawne Williams (twice) and Jodie Meeks for three-point shots, and Pau Gasol for another long jumper.