SUNS -at- LAKERS - 10/22 - Thoughts and :-(( Ratings

 
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2021 10:56 pm    Post subject: SUNS -at- LAKERS - 10/22 - Thoughts and :-(( Ratings

Will We Go Small Now?... There was a lot of talk after Westbrook signed on whether we’d start AD at the 5. The team could spread the floor on one end and switch defensively on the other. Of course, AD didn’t get the start at center and we never saw a switching defensive scheme.

As a result during the preseason, this team looked like they could lose to any team in the league. So facing a Suns team that can simply pick up where they left off in the postseason with all their players returning -- well, this was looking like a sure loss.

And this one was seemingly over early...

Midway through the second quarter, the offense died. LeBron sat and the Lakers went scoreless for the next 4 minutes as they fell back by double digits. Traditional bigs clogging the paint keeps this team very perimeter-oriented.

The Lakers also struggled with foul issues as both LeBron and Russ had 3 each during that second quarter and had to play without picking up a fourth.

They seemingly imploded at the end of the second quarter as AD and Dwight had to be separated on the bench. The energy after that was bad. The Lakers just looked like they wanted to get into the locker room. They trailed by 13 at the half. Still anyone’s game, but they did not have their heads in it.

Come third quarter, they were easy to pick apart on both ends. Pack the paint on one end and abuse our screen defense on the other. Vogel quickly yanked DJ, but it didn’t help. The Lakers fell back by 32 in the third quarter. It looked like an easy blowout win.

Vogel used his remaining time wisely, however.

He started to work the 5-out lineup combinations. He sat the traditional bigs. Instead of Dwight coming in, they slid Melo to center. Their small ball lineups opened up the floor and they started scoring again. Phoenix had to adjust to them. Defensively, they switched more, recovered faster and trimmed down the lead to the point that Phoenix had to stick with their regular rotations.

The hole was too big to climb out of it, but they cut it to just 10 and ended up with a 115-105 loss.

Still, it was valuable time for a time that has been struggling to put together the right combinations of players. Personally, I’m not down with playing a traditional C against the Suns. You have to pull Ayton out of the paint. He’s too much of a problem defensively if you don’t. If you remember last year during the regular season, we did the same thing in a game against the Suns. We brought Gasol back into the rotation going forward again as a result.

Vogel has a frustrated locker room. His team hasn’t won a game and hasn’t looked close to playing winning ball until they went small tonight. Let’s see if the last third of this game changes how we play on both ends going forward.

If we carry the analogy over from the last game, small barrels age your whiskey faster. Want to speed up the process? Let's go small.


LeBron -- -- Down 32 and he had a trackdown challenge in transition to get a stop. It was a lone defensive play that kind of stuck out because we saw so little of that all night. Even LeBron started the second half falling asleep on D in the corner to give up a dunk. You can’t run, if you can’t get stops. If we can’t run, we’re easy to defend right now with our bigmen clogging the paint. Our playbook is about two plays on a cocktail napkin trying to use our big lineups. Go small and everything opens up. He had 11 points on 4-7 shooting in the first half, hitting three threes and a baseline jumper. No finishes at the rim. In the second half, he tried to get to the rim a couple of times, but things didn’t open up till we went small. Then we saw him and Russ start to get downhill with more consistency. He’d hit another five threes tonight. They are looking like freethrows right now. He’s on balance, strong and knocking them down. The Stats: He scored 25 points on 8-18 shooting (5-9 from three, 4-4 from the line) to go with 2 boards, 5 assists, 2 steals, 5 turnovers and 4 fouls in 37 minutes. He was a -6.

Davis -- -- He and Dwight got into a shoving much on the bench in the second quarter after arguing a defensive scheme on a pick and roll coverage. I’m sure a lot will be made about it. It will probably be played again and again as a go-to video whenever the Lakers drop games. But the two of them patched it up right there. “It says we want to be 2-0 and we’re not,” Vogel said. They’ve been through the war before so it’s not anything that’s going to be a problem. But guys with their hot takes will read everything into it. AD had 4 points on 1-5 shooting in that half. Combine that with the officiating that had the Lakers frustrated and there was a short fuse, for sure. Perhaps the lack of Rondo on the floor in that first half played into some of his issues, scoring wise. But we’ve seen him play without aggression before and this felt more like that to some extent. Still, I mentioned it last game if the perimeter shot isn’t falling for AD how we might have issues. And we had issues. Late in the game, he started to get more aggressive and picked up a double tech with Ayton as the two of them got into it. AD needs to bottle that anger/frustration and release it at the upcoming opponents and rim. The Stats: He scored 22 on 6-18 shooting (0-1 from three, 10-11 from the line) to go with 14 boards (5 offensive), 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers and 3 foul sin 38 minutes. He was a -6.

Westbrook -- -- He put pressure on Booker early and picked up Booker’s second foul with 7:27 left in the first quarter on an And-1 post turnaround in early offense. (First foul on Booker was when Russ attacked him on iso.) Ideally, we see Russ doing that a lot more. Get opposing guards on their heels and forced to defend. Russ ran later in the first quarter with Bradley out there instead of Rondo. This put the ball in his hands more. He finished the first quarter with 8 points on 3-6 shooting and 3 assists. Some day in the near future he will be doing that all four quarters. I’ve been asking for some Melo/Russ combos while out there. We finally saw that with some intention today on an ATO. Melo curled around a big, coming up top to set a screen with McGee following. Russ used that to get downhill for a lefty layup after the big got pulled out of the paint. Our playbook needs to be stuffed with actions that lift the big outside. The simplest is having a 5 that can shoot from three. We saw Russ looking more like himself as we went to that centerless unit later. The Stats: He scored 15 points on 6-15 shooting (0-3 from three, 3-8 from the line) to go with 11 boards, 9 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 4 turnovers and 5 foul sin 35 minutes. He was a +4.

Bazemore -- -- If you take away the And-1 that Booker traveled on, he’d have about 19 points on 18 or so shots. I’ll take that. I don’t think it’s easy to guard Booker in general, but when you’ve got screens with not as much help as you need, it’s not easy. He had a great challenge on Booker on one drive that forced an airball in the first quarter. Baze himself hit a corner three on an LBJ kickout early on, but went scoreless after. We even had him trying to bail out the offense on some late clock shot attempts. Our stars need to be the tough shot makers. The Stats: He scored 4 points on 1-5 shooting (1-3 from three, 1-2 from the line) to go with 2 boards, 1 assist and 3 fouls in 23 minutes. He was a -17.

Jordan -- -- There is just no room for guys to get downhill offensively with him on the floor right now. It’s probably asking too much for this team when their playbook right now is so thin in those situations. When we’re also pulling the ball out of the net with frequency, that stagnates the offense further. Defensively, early on, he was getting caught in no man’s land as Crowder was attacking and gave up several floater scores to him. We’ve got a lot of talent on the floor around him, but we make the game very hard for ourselves on both ends with DJ/Dwight right now. Hit one score was a tip in. We need a few more of those from our bigs, but without dribble penetration to draw defenders, it’s not easy. The Stats: He scored 2 points on 1-1 shooting to go with 4 boards, 1 assist and 1 foul in 10 minutes. He was a +4.

Howard -- -- “We squashed it right there,” Dwight said, mentioning there are no issues. “That’s my brother. That’s my teammate.” There’s nothing to see here other than that they Lakers were frustrated after dropping 8 straight games. Just wait until someone takes a hard foul on AD some game in the future. Dwight will have his back. In the second half, we went small instead of using Dwight. The team made their comeback. The Stats: He didn’t score on 0-1 shooting to go with 3 boards, 1 assist, 2 steals and 2 fouls in 9 minutes. He was a -11.

Monk -- -- Offensively, he hit a wing three on a kickout (bug gave it right back up on the other end). His other bucket was a pull-up from midrange working off a Dwight screen around the elbow. His lone turnover, he was picked in transition to give a three up the other way -- a 5-point switch. He had a 3:50 second stint in the third quarter where the Suns went on a 17-2 run. That coincided right when he came in the game and left the game. The other big Suns run (14-2) he was also in on during that second quarter. The Stats: He scored 7 points on 2-5 shooting (1-4 from three, 2-2 from the line) to go with 1 board, 1 assist and 1 turnover in 17 minutes. He was a -19.

Anthony -- -- He had a +20 second half in this one. We went small and got our act together. The Suns had a big lead, of course, and attention can fade, but Melo was out there banging on the glass and in the middle of things. We’ve got one small ball option with AD. With Melo/LeBron, it’s really going small. Probably too small to be a consistent thing. But you could see our guys get downhill again and flow returned to the game. We need to go 5-out with this team. But there is no way we can consistently do it with Melo like this defensively. I’m not buying that part of the equation. Great shooting night, hitting 4-6 from three. That will help make up for defensive issues, for sure. The Stats: He scored 16 points on 5-11 shooting (4-6 from three, 2-2 from the line) to go with 5 boards (3 offensive), 1 assist, 1 turnover and 3 fouls in 25 minutes. He was a +8.

Rondo -- -- We brought him in late in the second quarter to restore some order as the team was floundering badly and in their heads. He’d sink a couple of threes, the first ended the nearly 5-minute stretch of scoreless Laker ball. The other three he hit when Crowder sagged off to pinch in on the lane when LeBron had the ball. The Stats: He scored 6 points on 2-5 shooting (2-3 from three) to go with 4 boards, 3 assists, 3 turnovers and 2 fouls in 14 minutes. He was a +1

Bradley -- -- The Lakers brought him in instead of Rondo to close the first quarter with three minutes left. They held ground despite having the Monk/Melo duo out there in this first shift. Things fell apart in that second and third quarter. The team as a whole was getting frustrated with the officiating and went sideways. His -25 was reflective of that. He didn’t score on three attempts (a couple of threes and a pull up off the strong handoff play). The Stats: He didn’t score on 0-3 shooting (0-2 from three) to go with 2 fouls in 21 minutes. He was a -25.

Reaves -- -- Your team high +17 in 12 minutes. Caruso-esque. I’d say it was more about scheme change on both ends that made the difference, but he had a strong outing. He came in to start the fourth and did not disappoint. He attacked from the corner and hit a short fade in the lane over the big for his first official NBA bucket. He popped out at the wing and sank a catch-and-shoot three. He swished another three in transition. Defensively, this is a damn tough team for a rookie guard to defend. Booker and CP3? He kind of held it together. He even helped force CP3 into a couple of bricks with good challenges. The Suns really wanted to pick on him, Booker especially, but we’d send some extra help and they worked it out. I feel like the team is much better when they are the aggressor on D versus sitting back in drop coverage. They could switch or send help and recover, but were scrambling and getting challenges in. I think he missed one coverage in transition, but for the most part he was seeing the floor. The Stats: He scored 8 points on 3-4 shooting (2-3 from three) to go with 1 foul in 12 minutes. He was a +17.

Vogel -- -- Key Moment: Maybe when Frank Vogel turned into Vrank Fogel and picked up a tech. Like Ted Lasso’s alternate personality, Led Tasso, Vrank lost his mind on the refs after another inconsistent call/no call in this game. It was what looked like a shoving foul in transition that sent a Laker defender flying and Vrank jumped out on the court to get in the refs face as he headed down court. He was ticked. The team as a whole struggled to focus on the task at hand. He was still a bit irked even after the game. But the frustration up and down the roster really got to the team in this one.

Key Substitution: Not playing Howard in the fourth quarter. Vogel had gone to a smaller “5-out” lineup with AD in the third. I put that in quotes because when AD isn’t hitting (which has been pretty frequent in the past year), it’s a pseudo 5-out situation. But in the fourth we went with Melo at the C (he was the guy covering McGee) and LeBron at the PF. This sparked the offense back to life. It also allowed the Lakers to start switching everything defensively. “We call it a centerless lineup,” Vogel said. I don’t think it’s viable too often with Melo/LeBron. I’d rather get an actual stretch C, but we need to play smaller than we have been with some of these lineups to get Russ/LeBron attacking the paint and maybe they can figure it out. Russ is an ideal guard for switching schemes with bigs, as well. He’s strong enough to make that work. We just haven’t been doing it enough defensively because our traditional bigs will get in trouble versus AD or some of our smaller/quicker defenders.

Key Stats: The Lakers were outscored 30-6 on points in the paint in the first half and 22-20 in the second half. Note the Laker paint scoring going up as we went small. The smaller lineups won the fourth quarter 38-21.

Coach’s Challenge: LeBron picked up his third foul on a Crowder three, when Crowder came down on LeBron’s foot. Vogel decided to review to see if he could prevent that third foul with still 10 minutes left in the second quarter. They reviewed and LeBron got a flagrant in addition to the personal. Vogel picked up a tech a couple minutes later himself. For the Suns, up 20 in the fourth AD couldn’t finish a layup and got a whistle. The Suns challenged. Foul was on CP3 and upheld.
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twisted
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2021 10:59 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB, first
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 1:04 am    Post subject:

Great to see these Lakers are passionate about winning

As shared, if players are not mad about things not working - that is a bigger problem

With the Warriors beating the Clips and the Suns being a top caliber team, our Lakers were playing teams that had relative little changes to their rosters, hence a consistency and experience on dealing with various issues or the ability to take advantage of opposing teams' weak spots - as oppose to the Lakers

It will be fascinating to see how effective Jordan/Dwight will be when playing against Steven Adams in their next game (https://bealestreetbears.com/2021/10/22/memphis-grizzlies-somehow-steven-adams-looks-better-jonas-valanciunas/). This game will be more revealing than the Suns' game

It will be fascinating to monitor this team's Pace Factor (https://www.nbastuffer.com/analytics101/pace/) and how it correlates to the success of this team.

How will Vogel get his defensive schemems down and excuted to trigger thier offense (given that, individual, this roster doesn't[t have many deensive stalwarts - t will be the schemes that Vogel will design to elevate this roster's Team D)
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 2:16 am    Post subject:

Westbrook points per possession on a team with bad spacing: 0.59

Sure miss Gasol
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:21 am    Post subject:

These were two tough games. Both playoff teams, with at least 1 elite player maybe 2 all-stars each, and both teams have played together already having chemistry.

We could have used some easier games to get some margin of error. The margin of error on the Warriors and Suns was very low. They brought a great effort and look like a team. We look like a bunch of individuals.

I am not sure how long this will take, but there are concerns. The Dwight/AD thing is just further example that things are not going well BTS. Sure they will downplay it. But why didn't that stuff happen say last year, or two years ago in the rough patches? There's something going on, and I think the players are very frustrated. It's clear. Lebron is the only one keeping a cool head as a leader, as is likely Rondo. But the Westbrook, Howard, Anthony mix into our Lakers culture. Man, that's a lot of characters. This is a job for Phil Jackson, Vogel is in for a tough one this year.

Not sure even what Fiz's purpose is. He took Kidd's spot. And our offense is now geared towards more running. Only, we don't get that many fastbreaks or paint points. Both games, seems we're losing those battles. That's very concerning. We added one of the most athletic PGs in the NBA history, and we still can't really get up the floor easily and get easy looks.

DB said we looked better going small. Maybe we did. But who wants to start Melo longterm? Like no way. That D is just gross. AD will slide to the 5, I'm sure if it is what the team needs. It may just need to get to that point, to stop the bleeding. It may take starting Melo or Monk (1 bad defender) to get some wins. Or maybe we can run 3 guard lineups when Ellington comes back. Size wise, Melo is probably a better match up for bigger wings, but his D on switches is gross.

I really don't know the solution to this, however what I know is that we're playing like a bunch of individuals. There's no team chemistry. We need some leadership, some sort of cohesion. If it means AD has to play 5, Melo starts for a little while, so be it. Whatever it takes. We can't keep playing in a way where you have the most athletic PG in NBA history, and stars like Bron/AD, and you still struggle to get up and down and score easy baskets.

At least we got some easy looks 2nd half. Maybe the recipe moving forward.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 5:01 am    Post subject:

PenG_ wrote:
Westbrook points per possession on a team with bad spacing: 0.59

Sure miss Gasol


Yes, Phoenix is a team where a decent stretch-5 beyond AD would really help since Ayton so effectively clogs the paint.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 5:33 am    Post subject:

A couple of things.

1. Despite the horrible officiating, free throws were pretty evenly dispersed. 28 attempts for the Lakers, 29 attempts for the Suns. Lakers made 22 and Suns made 21.

2. Points in the paints was horrible, 52 for the Suns, 26 for for the Lakers.

3. Rebounds were pretty even though, 47 for the Suns and 46 for the Lakers.

I don't have a count but the Lakers missed a lot of point blank layups. Especially AD, WB and LBJ. Gotta make the bunnies.

All in all, some improvements (free throws and rebounds) but defensively no where near where we need to be. Allowed the Suns to shoot almost 50% from the floor. That is not going to get it done.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 5:39 am    Post subject:

Thanks, DB.

This ain't preseason anymore. I'm not that worried but we have to figure this stuff out.

Nice to see some passion, though. If you care about winning you got to be angry.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 7:47 am    Post subject:

The drama the lakers, nets, philly, are going through is funny and if healthy one probably wins ring.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 8:30 am    Post subject:

Lebron's lowest and highest % of FG attempts inside 3 ft.
2004-05: 31%
2015-16: 46%
Through the first two games: 9.8%

Seems like this is going to get worse before it gets better.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 8:46 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB. Excellent write up. This really was a tale of 2 games, the second one came just a little too late. I was starting to get pissed that Booker/Ayton/Crowder were still in the game in the closing minutes, then I realized how rapidly the Lakers were closing in on them. They actually bordered on putting the outcome in question after being down 32 friggin points, before factoring in the refs rescuing the Suns with a non-call on Reaves as he gets knocked to the floor shooting a 3 that would have actually put the game in reach with a couple possessions left on the clock.

My take is that there was no winning this game when the refs let one team get away with shoving players all game, yet handcuff the other. The free throws were almost even, but this was a game of Phoenix shoving players with a liberal dose of non-calls, and the Lakers playing to avoid fouling out all game. On the 3 attempt, that was a close call, very subjective. You close in, you have to be able to stop. That means putting one foot in front of your body. Did they expect LeBron to hop out there like a penguin? Vogel challenges, they troll him with an upgrade to flagrant 1. Same play the other way? Non-call. I mean come on. That's unbalanced reffing with an attitude and it degrades the experience of watching a game badly.

But the flip side is that frustration turned in to some execution in the second half. I saw some pissed off Lakers out there, and that's a good thing. I'm surprised how pissed Melo was. AD too. Pleasantly surprised. Not surprised how pissed Westbrook was. Nor Howard. While idiots behind a microphone are going to try to make names for themselves by spitting out a hotter hot take than the next guy about that brief but intense AD/Howard spat, we have players not willing to accept losing as an option. Shut up Magic, this is a good thing.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 8:56 am    Post subject:

PenG_ wrote:
Lebron's lowest and highest % of FG attempts inside 3 ft.
2004-05: 31%
2015-16: 46%
Through the first two games: 9.8%

Seems like this is going to get worse before it gets better.


Traditional big + Russ. They have to really thread the needle with some excellent offensive execution to make it work. Guys can’t just riff and get downhill in those units. The plays they’ve set up are really smart and are threading the needle, we just barely run them right now. While we are getting used to each other it would just be so much more productive if we went small so they can improvise more, get to the rim more, while we are still learning how to thread the needle with our non shooters.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 9:18 am    Post subject:

I feel like we should take Monk out of the rotation. He’s a great shooter, but his defense is killing us. We’d be much better off with Reaves in his place. Better size, defense, decision making/passing, and his shot is pretty good as well.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 9:19 am    Post subject:

One thing I've noticed when playing the Suns. What they did last night I recall them doing in the playoff series, e.g. if Lakers are getting out on them Suns will slow it down with flops and "dirty plays" (or "smart" plays to fool the refs, depending on your PoV). More times than not, they start getting calls. Lakers start getting frustrated, and then the Suns start more aggressively defending the perimeter, while also keeping at the ready to paint pack. When that combo hits (frustrating calls + pressure D from Suns) Lakers really begin to fade.

That "formula" has allowed them to jump out to big leads vs our fellas in probably 3 of the last meetings going back to last year's playoff series. Suns are really good at finding ways to get the refs to give them calls. Lakers let that get to them too much, imo, more than once.

Mind you, there is alot more than the above the Lakers need to work on, I just think this may be a trend vs the Suns of late.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2021 11:11 am    Post subject:

Start.. Reaves..
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 2:08 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB for an excellent write up as always!

JUST-MING wrote:
Start.. Reaves..

Or at least give him more time on the floor. At the very least he is hustling and learning.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:02 am    Post subject:

Lakers were up 20-15 with the starters. I don't know if moving AD to the 5 fixes everything like some suggest. I think it would help the O, but it would also make some issues with size and matching up with wings and the boards.

The bleeding is the defense, not the offense. Everyone is talking about O, and moving AD to the 5. But when we defend decently, it is with that starting 5 in both games we have done well enough. The games have been lost when we bleed on D.

In game 1 vs the Warriors it was that Monk/Melo/Westbrook/Rondo lineup. None of those guys really defend well. Rondo has moments but you can't run a lineup like that. In game 2 we didn't run Rondo/Westbrook together, but we still ran a lot of Melo.

In game 2, bleeding began with the Melo/Monk/Westbrook lineup again, with Bradley in there with them.

I think a lot is said about needing AD at the 5, but even if we ran AD at the 5, he will sit for 12-14 min a game and we will need to play someone like Dwight or DeAndre.

Last year, Westbrook played with a traditional 5 in Alex Len. It's not unheard of that he plays with a 5 that doesn't shoot 3s. This narrative began in the Houston era of his career. Pretty sure Perkins was his 5 for a large part of his career as well, and then Steven Adams.

What we have to do is shore up the defense and Vogel needs to figure out lineups that defend. You can't play Vogel basketball without defense. This team's defense right now is pretty bad. Westbrook's D has been awful for such an athletic player. Once the Lakers shore up their D, you will see a completely different team, IMO.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 4:39 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB! Appreciate your recaps of some ugly games so far. The PHX game went from miserable to a little light at the end of this tunnel we are in. Good to see the emotions showing that they give a hoot. Especially Vogel on that one call. Was happy to see that too.

Going small, I hope AD strengthening up this year can lead to more endurance banging down low. Shove some of the opposing centers around as well as ours.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:17 pm    Post subject:

First Season Stats
Magic (1979) / Westbrook (2 games)
PTS: 18 / 11.5
FG%: 53.2 / 35.7%
3PTS%: 22.8 / 0
RB: 7.7 / 8
AST: 11.2 / 6.4
STL: 1.9 / 1
BLK: .4 / .5

1979-1980 Laker Roster (https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/LAL/1980.html)

Did teams dare Magic to shoot - yes

Do teams dare The Greek Freak to shoot outside shots - yes
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