We pulled up alongside Luke Walton after Monday’s practice to chat about his three-point shooting, when he decides to go to his favorite low post move (the turn-around, fade-away baseline jumper), Pau Gasol’s feel for the game, the play of L.A.’s bench and more:
As noted in our series preview, there are few teams in the NBA against which the Lakers are more familiar than Utah, since Phil Jackson’s Chicago Bulls teams battled Jerry Sloan’s Jazz back in the 1990’s, and Sloan has swapped players but not system, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer sliding into the roles famously occupied by John Stockton and Karl Malone.
To preview L.A.’s Second Round series against Utah, we were joined by assistant coach Frank Hamblen, who discussed the changes to the Jazz lineup sparked by injures to center Mehmet Okur and forward Andrei Kirilenko, how to best contain Deron Williams and what the Lakers want to do against Utah’s aggressive defense.
Heading into Friday night’s potential series’ closing Game 6 at Oklahoma City’s Ford Center, Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons was feeling good about the team’s mindset.
“I think our guys finally got it,” said Cleamons. “I think they saw through the film study what they need to do when we talk about them executing. I think they were also so focused and came with a sense of urgency on Tuesday night that helped.”
Yet Cleamons is well aware of how difficult it will be to beat a back-to-the-wall Thunder team even though the Lakers did conquer hostile close-out crowds in Utah, Denver and Orlando last season.
“I think the (Thunder) players understand the importance of the game, so they’re going to be hyped up and we’re going to have to meet their energy, said Cleamons.
Cleamons, who again joined us on LakersTV (above) provided a few more details off camera:
“They know that we know where the passing opportunities are, so their defense will be on heightened alert and we may not have the same opportunities.
“But if we continue to move the ball and hit the open man, passing the ball moves more quickly than the defense can adjust.”
One thing that the Lakers did better than any other team during their 2009 championship run was make adjustments following losses and then execute during next game, which helped produce wins from Game 4 in Utah in the First Round to Games 4 and 5 in the Finals in Orlando.
After dissecting the film from Game 3′s 101-96 loss to Oklahoma City in the 2010 First Round, the Lakers’ coaching staff inputted their adjustments at Saturday morning’s shootaround, which assistant Jim Cleamons detailed for us on LakersTV.
Among the topics: ball movement and patience leading to better shots; transition defense; continued help on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and more attention paid to James Harden off the bench.
L.A.’s coaching staff knows what it wants to do in Game 3 against Oklahoma City, since the game plan remains pretty similar to that of the first two contests.
Among the primary keys remains limiting the Thunder’s transition opportunities, which L.A. did successfully in Game 2 (OKC had 11 fastbreak points to L.A.’s six) in part by taking care of the basketball.
Futhermore, as assistant coach Jim Cleamons detailed to us on LakersTV after the team’s Thursday morning shootaround at the Ford Center, the Lakers will also look to stick with Kevin Durant around screens, use the crowd’s energy in their own way and focus on continuing to limit the productivity of the Thunder bench.
Over at our Lakers.com Practice Report, you can always view the video(s) of the day, which after Monday afternoon’s practice included a 1-on-1 with Jordan Farmar, plus Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
To check out the rest of the videos and to take a closer look at the impact of Bynum on OKC’s Russell Westbrook, click below.
Assistant coach Jim Cleamons joined us for a seven-plus minute discussion centered on L.A.’s first round opponent, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Cleamons, who scouted the Thunder throughout the season, broke down OKC’s ability in transition, looked at individual matchups, talked about the merits of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green, discussed L.A.’s health and more.
Also notice the inclusion of a bevy of highlights for both teams, assembled and edited by Lakers.com’s Ty Nowell.
If you’re looking for some more Lakers – Thunder talk, you can head over to our Lakers – Thunder Preview page for a detailed breakdown of the individual matchups at each position.
Assistant coach Frank Hamblen helped us break down the Sacramento Kings by detailing how to contend with Rookie of the Year candidate Tyreke Evans on the perimeter and Carl Landry on the block, as well as Beno Udrih in screen-roll situations.
Hamblen also detailed where L.A.’s focus needs to center in their final home regular season contest in which neither Kobe Bryant (finger) nor Andrew Bynum (Achilles) will play.