Author Archive for Nick Kioski

Page 2 of 3

Since We Saw Them Last: Pistons

The Pistons are riding a 3 game win streak after losing 4 of 5. They have been on the road for a majority of January (10 games away vs. 5 at home) and as a result have posted an 8-6 record for the month. While that represents a cooling off since the beginning of the season, they still sit comfortably in second in the Eastern Conference, 4 games behind Boston and 4 ahead of Orlando.

In their last game against Indiana, Rasheed torched the Pacers on the inside, taking advantage of Jermaine O’Neal’s absence. The Pacers played a solid game and Mike Dunleavy in particular, but the Pistons were able to take care of business in the end. In somewhat of an anomaly, the Pistons bench was effective, with all their players getting at least 10 minutes. However, on the whole, their bench has been less effective than hoped other than Jason Maxiell. Maxiell is a tough undersized power forward who’s battle with Ronny should be a treat.

Another regular battle when the Pistons and Lakers face each other is Tayshaun Prince guarding Kobe. Prince’s numbers are down from last season and there are rumors that his defense is a little less sturdy than in the past, but he has always frustrated Kobe with his length and made him work extra hard for each basket.

Continue reading ‘Since We Saw Them Last: Pistons’

Lakers at Mavericks Post-Game

The Lakers shot over 56% and yet came up short tonight. The offsetting negatives were turnovers and particularly points off turnovers at 20 for the Mavs and offensive rebounds, of which the Mavs got 13. The Mavs also penetrated often in the 3rd quarter, particularly Devin Harris, who got by Jordan and Fisher time and again early in the game, though less so in the 4th quarter.

Those two elements created a third quarter in which the Mavs scored 35 points and outscored the Lakers by 16. Even when the Lakers turned it around with the unit of Kobe, Jordan, Sasha, Ronny and DJ, and particularly the strong play of Jordan, the deficit was too much to overcome in the 4th quarter.

The game also had continuing struggles for Lamar and Luke, who each had 4 points, Otherwise, statistically, the Lakers were relatively strong across the board, leading the Mavs in most categories.

Going forward the team will have to figure out how to address third quarter energy, which was also a key in the San Antonio loss and also getting all their healthy players firing on all cylinders.

Lakers at Mavericks Pre-Game

Last season’s results aren’t entirely indicative f how these teams match-up, as Lamar was not present. As Phil pointed out at yesterday’s practice, Lamar’s mobility is a useful asset matching up against Dirk Nowitzki.

The Mavs have converted from a run and gun team to a team very comfortable grinding it out in half-court sets. They still have players that will push the ball, particularly Devin Harris; nonetheless, the Lakers will prefer to push the ball tonight in search of easy opportunities.

Coming off the loss at San Antonio, the Lakers will be keen to deny penetration, after seeing how effective the Spurs were once they got into the paint. Devin Harris and Jason Terry will both drive to the hoop, as well as Jerry Stackhouse off the bench and Dirk will drive as well, if his 3 point looks get closed out.

Continue reading ‘Lakers at Mavericks Pre-Game’

Post Practice 1/24/08 Lakers in Dallas

The team got an afternoon workout after last night’s (or more correctly this morning’s) arrival into Dallas.

In reflecting on last night’s loss, Phil once again pointed to the shift in energy and motivation as the reason for the difference in play between the first half and second half against San Antonio. Specifically, Phil mentioned Manu Ginobili’s work on the defensive end.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s match-up, Phil said, “This team (Dallas), they can play the game. They run the game in a way that they pound it through you and they make you pay and they watch their turnovers. They do things the way a grind-it-out team in this game does. It makes it very difficult. You have to be very solid defensively and not give them second shots.” In reference to the match-ups, Phil pointed out that Lamar was not present in the games against Dallas and his ability to match-up with Nowitzki, mobility wise.

On how you stop the multi-headed threat that Dallas presents, Phil had this formula. “The big key about them is to understand where their shots are going to come from and know that they have a variety of shooters on the floor. You’ve got to be able to play individual defense and the key is penetration so they don’t break your defense down.”

Kobe also spoke about how to beat Dallas. He had this to say, “We need to get out in transition, get some good opportunites. And we need to limit their second chance points, limit their easy looks at the basket.”

Continue reading ‘Post Practice 1/24/08 Lakers in Dallas’

Lakers at Spurs Post-Game

Lakers 91, Spurs 103
The Lakers couldn’t sustain the momentum of the first half, giving it all away and then some in the third quarter (+19 for the Spurs). The shift came first from San Antonio upping their energy and taking away the looks that the Lakers had been getting throughout the first half. Then the team relied on Kobe repeatedly instead of finding other solutions. Kobe missed some easy shots and got some turnovers, but it was his teammates that placed the entire burden on his shoulders. Credit the Spurs for making the necessary changes.

Defensively, the rotations and rebounding that were so effective in the first half weren’t there in the second. The Spurs got consistent penetration, leading to more 3 pointers (actually a problem in both halves), and Tim Duncan had himself a game, punishing the Lakers in the paint and on the boards.

Doubtless the team will be disappointed that they let the game slip away, but hopefully they will learn the lesson of how to keep adapting throughout the game.

Lakers at Spurs Pre-Game

The Lakers and Spurs meet again and for the first time in a long time, it’s the Spurs looking up to the Lakers in the standings. One of the wins that got the Lakers to where they are was over the Spurs, though the Spurs were without Duncan and Parker and Ginobili was injured. Phil was asked if he watched that game video, or if it didn’t matter since their key players were missing. He replied, ”I haven’t looked at that game tape. The only reason I want to look at it was to see why Andrew was thrown out of that ball game. Ginobili grabbed him around the neck and Oberto hit him a couple of times and got in a cheap shot. I just wanted to see if the referees were staying on top of it. The season overwhelms you sometimes, this might be the third or so game that I haven’t watched this year.”

Andrew will miss the entirety of this game with his injury and one of the Lakers solutions was the signing of DJ Mbenga. Phil talked about if Mbenga was ready to play, “We”ll use him. If we have to in the game we certainly will. I anticipate using him. Obviously he won’t know many of the finer points of how to play with his teammates or move in the offense, but he’s got capabilities of doing some things that help out.”

The Lakers have 2 players, Luke and Sasha still working their way back from injuries. Phil commented on Luke’s struggles since he came back. “Well, you just have to watch that he’s not overplayed. I think that too many minutes is really going to hurt him, wear him out and tear him down physically. So guys have to share those minutes. I think that’s the reason that Lamar is going to have to move back from power forward and Kobe is going to have to move down from guard to forward. And we’re going to have to adjust a little bit to that.” Phil commented further on Luke’s struggles, “He’s struggling. Offensively he’s struggling, I think he’s doing a good job defensively for us. He’s capable of running the offense and keeping things going out there with the first unit. That’s helpful, but he needs to have a good game.”

Sasha also has struggled in his first game back, trying to win back his spot as the fourth guard, according to Phil, “For a second until he got into the game and got anxious out there in the second half and ruined some of our offensive timing. Then Jordan came back and played beside Fish and finished that quarter well. Sasha’s ability to do things helps us. He makes the defense extend as a 3 point threat. It helps our spacing.”

With Luke’s struggles and Ariza’s injury, we saw a new version of the backcourt with Fisher and Jordan together in the backcourt.. Their play will be helpful with getting
Kobe on the wing. Phil said, “The guard corps that we have, and it doesn’t have to be just Fish or Jordan, the guard corps can maintain what we’re trying to do. Kobe is very comfortable playing small forward. The only difference is that it changes hwo re rebound and defend that spot. It does make us small.”

Lastly, Phil commented on the Sports Illustrated poll of who players would like to play for a vote which Phil led with Mike D’Antoni of the Suns, to which he said, “I think the system of how you play ball is really important. I think Phoenix has a wonderful way of playing basketball. I understand that . I don’t know why anyone would want to play for me, I am too rigid and perhaps too confining with how we do things.

“I have no animosity towards mike. Absolutely none. I met him when he was a rookie coming into the league and my former teammates said that he had a really good basketball mind and would be a good coach and he’s become one.”

Lakers vs. Suns Post-Game

As one might imagine, Phil was not pleased with the night’s result, but “Phoenix had a lot to do with it. They played really well tonight. We played tired and reacted poorly to the ball and to the things we have to do.” Among those things is to make Nash a shooter rather than a distributor, but he tuned the Lakers to 20 assists (to just 18 for the entire Lakers team). Things were pretty dismal until the fourth quarter, when as Phil said, “We just had to find a line up that could shoot the ball and do some things.” But the rally fell short as, “at a couple of critical plays that would have put the game into perspective, where we could of had a one or two possession game didn’t happen for us,” explained Jackson.

In game two of the Andrew Bynum is injured tour, things turned sour for Kwame Brown, playing more minutes in Bynum’s place. He was greeted by a chorus of boos after a series of bad plays in the 3rd quarter. Thereafter he was booed each time he touched the ball. As Phil noted, this hadn’t ever happened, “Not on a team that I’ve coached. I’ve seen it in other buildings and teams, but not in my situation.” When asked why he didn’t pull Kwame out when things started to go downhill, “I wanted to let him work himself out of it and his teammates wanted to help him work out of it. They gave him the ball and gave him opportunities, but it wasn’t going to happen. Not tonight.”

The Lakers now sit a half game behind Phoenix in the Pacific Division at 26-12. While on the bright side, Lamar did assert himself as Phil had hoped against the Suns, tying his personal best in rebounds, the takeaways from this game are largely negative. The bench continued to struggle, the team hasn’t found balance in the 2+ games since Bynum when down and their defense has been even more affected than their offense.

Now it’s on to Denver on Monday as the Lakers continue to feel out their team, depleted by injury and facing stiffer competition.

Lakers vs. Suns Pre-Game

The big questions for tonight center around how the team will fare without Andrew Bynum, who was so instrumental in the Christmas Day win over the Suns. Naturally, that puts the focus on Kwame Brown, himself still on his way back from an ankle injury. “We know what he can do defensively” said Phil, but the question is, “with Kwame in this type of situation, can he run the court with Stoudemire and is he in the kind of shape to play the kind of game that the Suns are going to provide.” The biggest question is whether he can move his feet quick enough on defense, lateral movement being so difficult on a weakened ankle, to handle the high pick and rolls that the Suns are certain to run. Phil added that , “Offensively Kwame has got to get some touches tonight. We have to give him a shot to go individually at Stoudemire.”

There are several other Lakers who have been hit by the injury bug. Sasha will be back tonight, after making it through a practice yesterday. Luke Walton is still feeling the effects of a lingering ankle injury and was pulled from practice, as Phil, “wasn’t pleased with how he was running.” Luke said he felt better today and will play an important role with his match-up against Boris Diaw, who has taken the place of Grant Hill since he went out for an emergency appendectomy. Phil thought that Luke’s injury, “might be something that we have to keep track of during the course of the season.” Vladimir Radmanovic is also out with an ankle injury and he, “still has some issues that are still healing and the foot specialist said a week to 10 days.” Phil hoped to have Vladi for the east coast swing and that he might get some action beginning the end of next week.

Phil was also asked to compare this year’s team with last year’s since it was at this point in the season last year when the Lakers fortune turned for the worst. He felt that they were definitely better, but he still, “wasn’t pleased with the involvement of Lamar, and I think Lamar has to figure a little more in the offense especially with Andrew’s absence” Phil pointed out that, “He’s playing a different role this year and the ball isn’t in his hands as much.”

Continue reading ‘Lakers vs. Suns Pre-Game’

Lakers vs. Suns Post-Game

The Lakers took down the Suns 122-115. The stars of the night were Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum with an honorable mention to Trevor Ariza. Derek Fisher had a slow 1st Quarter, starting 1-5, but led the way in the 2nd, scoring 7 straight points towards the end of quarter. He carried the team into a tie at half-time. Kobe dominated the 3rd, getting 14 of his 38 points. The 4th quarter ended up belonging to Andrew Bynum, who capped off a career night with some key defensive stops and more dunks. Bynum finished with 28 points, a career high, on 11-13 shooting and 12 rebounds. He also forced Phoenix to change their line-up to keep Brian Skinner on the floor, as Amare Stoudemire was in foul trouble for much of the second half.

The Suns’ night mirrors their 3 point shooting. They started 2-10, then hit 8 of their next 10, but finished 0 for 4. That final stretch helped the Lakers to build their lead in the 4th quarter that they held to the end. Phoenix was able to get balanced scoring with nearly all 8 of their players (who saw minutes) getting double figures, only Boris Diaw fell short with 8.

Trevor Ariza gets an honorable mention thanks to his stellar performance in place of Luke Walton in the starting line-up. His task was to stop Grant Hill, which started poorly as Grant went 5-7 in the first half, but Hill finished with just 2 points in the second half. Ariza also repeatedly brought the crowd to its feet with an array of dunks, including the finest over Hill in memory, and a key block. His 14 and 7 rebounds were a key reason the Lakers now sit just one game behind Phoenix in the Pacific Division at 18-10.

Lakers vs. Suns Pre-Game

There are a few obvious topics that frame this Christmas tilt between the Suns and the Lakers. First is the Suns as a measuring stick. The Lakers at 17-10 have crept up the Western Conference standings, but there is still a gap between them and the top teams. A win today would pull the Lakers to within one in the Pacific division and they would even be getting close to San Antonio at the top of the conference. Additionally, the Lakers torched the Suns early in the season in Phoenix and a similar victory tonight would remove any thought that the Lakers caught the Suns before they got going. On an individual basis, this will also be another big game for Andrew Bynum. Andrew will have a tough match-up against Amare Stoudemire, but he has the opportunity to dominate physically. If he can do that, then he can cause the Suns to play more Brian Skinner or make then go ever deeper than they normally prefer into their bench. Both Amare and Bynum face foul potential that could affect their minutes and likely the outcome.

Second, the last game ended quite heated, featuring a few verbal blasts from Suns coach Mike D’Antoni. The recent history of these teams will continue to create extra friction as familiarity has certainly bred contempt. Lakers fans will doubtless take the opportunity to boo Raja Bell if his back spasms subside enough for him to play.

Third, as ever, is the respective injury reports for the teams. Kwame will not be playing. He’s getting closer, but Phil said, “I wouldn’t put Kwame out in this game, he isn’t ready.” Phil went on to talk about what Kwame could do, given the quality of the team’s play in Kwame’s absence. Phil said, “Kwame has the ability to play people one-on-one in the post. Boozer, that’s a guy he would play. The last time we played Utah he wasn’t there so it didn’t matter, but maybe he can play the other kid that killed us, Millsap. That’s the kind of effort he can give us.” On the subject of Lakers big men, Phil cautioned not to read to much into Mihm’s aggressive dunk against the Knicks. Luke hopes to return tonight, but it will be a game time decision. Were he to return, guarding Marion would certainly be a test of the ankle. On the Phoenix side, their only real injury at this time is Raja Bell, as mentioned above.

The recall of Coby Karl changes the Lakers bench composition somewhat, but expect him to be inactive for tonight’s game and likely to be used as one of the Lakers inactives once Kwame returns.

UPDATE: Luke and Kwame are inactive for tonight’s game, so Coby Karl is on the bench.

For more discussion on the tactics for the game, check out our Scouting Report