LAKERS -at- SPURS - 10/26 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2021 9:46 pm    Post subject: LAKERS -at- SPURS - 10/26 - Thoughts and :-)) Ratings

Finding Westbrook... Those non-LeBron minutes, always a challenge. With LeBron sidelined tonight, we had a whole game worth. With that in mind, this was a time for Russell Westbrook to find his game.

To get there, Russ’s game started with some pace and attention to detail on our screening game. The Spurs like to play with speed, the Lakers, too. That made for a lot of up and down ball from start to finish.

It also allowed the Lakers to get into some lob action (they threw 5 in the first quarter alone). With step-up screens by bigs in early offense or some double drag sequences in the half court, the Lakers were able to get Westbrook downhill to put pressure on the rim with consistency.

We Russ attacking, that helped activate Davis (35 points, 17 boards) on the offensive glass or in those lob situations. He got aggressive and stayed that way all night.

Things started to go south for the Lakers late in the third quarter as they gave up an 18-3 run. With all the injuries, they had some poor defensive combinations out there and the Spurs made a run.

To start the fourth, the Lakers rallied back. They got stops with some frenzied defense (Dwight making a menace of himself). They rallied back from a 12-point deficit and took the lead.

“When they made a run, we stuck together,” Westbrook said.

With Westbrook on his way to a 33-point, 10-board, 8-assist outing that had him finally looking like his usual self for an entire game, the Lakers could apply the pressure to close this one.

They were sidetracked, however, when Westbrook picked up his fifth foul with just under 5 minutes left and had to be pulled. They held tough and when Malik Monk knocked down a 31-foot three in early offense with 58 seconds left, they took a 2-point lead. Westbrook returned to the floor a few seconds later.

The Spurs tied it up and had a chance to win in regulation, but Melo got a good challenge on a jumper and off to overtime we went.

Here it was the AD/Westbrook show. Russ got to the rim for some big scores, including a massive throwdown that had the Laker fans in San Antonio roaring.
The Lakers would win overtime 11-7, with Westbrook and AD scoring all but one of the points.

The Spurs won’t be a great team this year, but the 125-121 Laker win still showed progress for L.A. as they added more refinements offensively. Some details on that below.


Davis -- -- Where to start. Let’s begin with that play where he was holding his knee. At first glance, it looked like he hurt himself on non-contact as he went up for a key defensive rebound on a missed freethrow. Nope. He took contact and he was going up and was instantly in pain and went down. The Spurs would score off that. No foul on a key late-game possession. Scary moment, but like LeBron, it seems we’ve dodged a bullet. It didn’t stop him or really slow him down. He came up big several times down the stretch in regulation and OT. He had a reverse layup barely holding onto a bounce pass from Russ. In OT, he continued beast mode on the offensive glass, putting back in a miss off some Westbrook rim pressure. He crashed the glass to clean up another miss on the break. He followed up a Bazemore missed drive with a score. This is what we were hoping when we got Westbrook is that all the rim pressure would open up opportunities for our bigs. AD scored 35 in 42 minutes. He had two And-1s that they didn’t allow continuation on, so this could have easily been a 40-point game. He even had a dunk that he choked. Just caused a tremendous amount of problems for the Spurs. Defensively, he had 4 blocks. The Spurs were causing some problems with switches late in the game, pulling him out of the paint to set up their big. Love the intensity with LBJ out. The Stats: He scored 35 points on 15-31 shooting (0-4 from three, 5-6 from the line) to go with 17 boards (7 offensive), 4 assists, 4 blocks, 2 turnovers and 2 fouls in 42 minutes. He was a +3.

Westbrook -- -- “I’m not used to people cheering for me on the road,” Westbrook said afterward. He had a roar from the large Laker crowd in San Antonio when he hammered a dunk over a defender in with 2:36 left in OT after snaking through the defense. Let’s call that his “Welcome to the Lakers” dunk. It was loud in my house on two plays. That dunk and Monk’s three. So, we finally got the Russ everyone has been waiting for. With LeBron out, the ball is going to largely be in Russ’s hands. So that’s a little different, but we saw that in preseason and Russ still didn’t look like himself. Tonight, 33 points, 10 boards, 8 assists and 3 turnovers. That’s a beastly line. Diving into the details (some good things happening), you certainly saw the benefits of pace in this one. The Spurs play fast. We want to play fast and there was definitely some up and down ball that favor’s Russ’s game. If we can get those step-up screens from our bigs in early offense, that allows him to get downhill and you saw some lobs off that. But in the half court, there were a lot of possessions where he was still able to get downhill. The offense is growing. There were some excellent screens where Russ could turn the corner tonight. The Lakers set up in a double drag screen formation with one big a little higher than a usual horns elbow positioning set. This made for a lower double screen and once Russ got a man in a trail situation, it was a two-on-one with a big rolling for a lob. Make a decision. Sometimes they’d challenge him, sometimes it was the lob. Early in the game, he and AD had a nice two-man sequence where it was just eye contact where AD backdoored his man and Westbrook lobbed. That’s the chemistry that develops with time where you just improvise and read each other. In OT, he had two layups and a dunk. He was applying pressure and that also helped AD get some putbacks. When he settled and barely hit rim on a midrange jumper that’s the kind of play that might drive you a little mad in some games. Heavy lifting from Westbrook tonight, though. Consider that all these were non-LeBron minutes. Something we’ve struggled with. Lots of productive reps tonight. He played all of OT with 5 fouls. The Stats: He scored 33 points on 15-27 shooting (1-4 from three, 2-4 from the line) to go with 10 boards, 8 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers and 5 fouls in 40 minutes. He was a +1.

Bazemore -- -- Some little things here to bring up. Early in the game, he had an attack from the corner that collapsed the D and he set up AD for a dunk. He had a wild drive shortly later in transition but somehow got a falling bank to drop (on replay he was in a little more control than I thought). In OT, he had a few plays that made a difference. He had a drive, getting to the rim that collapsed the D. He missed but AD cleaned it up. There was a sequence in transition where just his hustle to fill a lane took a defender with him. That allowed Westbrook to attack, miss, but AD then got the putback. All that was triggered off Baze just pulling a defender with him to take the wall away from Russ. Finally, he iced the game with some hustle from behind to poke a dribble away from the Spurs to close this one out. The Stats: He scored 5 points on 2-6 shooting (1-3 from three) to go with 3 boards, 1 assiste, 2 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover and 3 fouls in 31 minutes. He was a +6.

Monk -- -- He pulled up from three (from deep!) with 58 seconds left in regulation and buried it in early offense. That’s a confident player. Huge make. He also drew a couple of FTs in OT on a drive, where he changed directions, took contact and hung for FTs. He was the Lakers third scorer tonight with LeBron out, sinking four threes. The +31 in 39 minutes is a bit insane. He certainly didn’t have to endure some of those awful bench combinations. Defensively, there are still issues, of course. He got backdoored badly on one play just not being locked in. He was late on a few rotations. But there were at least stretches where you didn’t notice him sticking out. LeBron and the coaches were in his ear discussing that end of the floor. The team knows how big he can be for this team if we can get him to be an average defender with consistency. The Stats: He scored 17 points on 6-15 shooting (4-10 from three, 1-2 from the line) to go with 1 board, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 foul in 39 minutes. He was a +31.

Jordan -- -- Good stretch defensively to start this one with some blocks and challenges. We had more lobs to start this game than I recall in a long time. He got one of those just by hustling down court after Westbrook stole the ball. Great job changing ends. He was the first guy down court. He had another lob shortly after that with a step-up screen to get Wesbtrook’s man off him, then he rolled for the lob. Screen work by the bigs is getting better. The Stats: He scored 7 points on 3-4 shooting (1-2 from the line) to go with 9 boards (2 offensive), 2 blocks and 2 fouls in 16 minutes. He was a +4.

Howard -- -- I love him defensively in chaos/pressure situations. When the D is scrambling and he’s putting pressure on people. He’s got fast hands, experience, size and just causes problems. When the Lakers had their backs against the wall after a Spurs run to end the third, Dwight was one of the key guys in that fourth quarter that allowed them to go on a run and win those first 5 minutes. Stripping the ball with his fast hands, caused a couple turnovers. He had a layup he rejected to save AD from getting backdoored. The Stats: He scored 6 points on 1-1 shooting (4-4 from the line) to go with 8 boards, 1 steal, 2 blocks and 1 foul in 18 minutes. He was a +12.

Anthony -- -- Law of averages caught up with him tonight. He’s been smoking hot from three, so he couldn’t hit any tonight. LeBron certainly sets the table a little different. He missed that. Defensively, we had to play him because the alternatives were either too small or too big/slow. That’s a scary situation to be in. You’d typically have LeBron there. Or maybe someday Ariza. But we had to rely on Melo to get stop. He did get in a good challenge at the end of regulation on a jumper after switching so props to him for somehow working it out. But scary. The Stats: He scored 4 points on 1-7 shooting (0-4 from three, 2-2 from the line) to go with 4 boards, 1 block, 3 turnovers and 3 fouls in 30 minutes. He was a -9.

Rondo -- -- Man, the Rondo, Melo, Westbrook lineups defensively at times… you are not getting any second effort and sometimes not the first effort. It just wasn’t good. On the plus side, we saw a very aggressive Rondo. He was attacking the paint for layups or floaters. We were forcing the D to make tougher decisions tonight. So our execution having improved, put our guards into better scoring opportunities. I’ve got no issues with the offensive game from him. Hopefully, we get Bron back tomorrow because the defensive combos right now with Rondo and all our injuries make for some sketchy stretches. He had the team-low -15. The Stats: He scored 8 points on 4-9 shooting (0-1 from three) to go with 2 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers and 1 foul in 20 minutes. He was a -15.

Reaves -- -- “He’s not scared of the moment,” AD said, praising Reaves’ composure. We played him in crunch time and some OT and he had some big moments. Vogel ran him 30 minutes tonight. It wasn’t always clean (some miscues today in schemes that we haven’t seen a lot of), but late in the game, he made some things happen. He sank a corner three to get the Lakers some much needed points during a dry spell. He popped out for a wing three and knocked it down. He showed some poise after we got the defense scrambling, he let a man fly by, moved in for a wide open jumper in the middle of the floor with all eyes on him and knocked it down with no problem. Defensively, he was able to draw a couple offensive fouls, including a charge in transition D. He was close on multiple plays, either deflecting a pass with a great read and/or just missing a steal in the process. He also had a blocking foul that could have gone the other way. Great job holding position in the post on a switch on one play, we got the pass out, then he boxed the man out and we came up with the stop. A lot of little stuff that adds up over time. His +/- tonight was the result of some really unfortunate combos of players. We just have so many injuries. The Stats: He scored 10 points on 3-5 shooting (2-4 from three, 2-2 from the line) to go with 2 boards, 1 assist, 2 turnovers and 3 fouls in 30 minutes. He was a -13.

Vogel -- -- Key Moment: A lot of them to choose from. How about Russ getting his fifth foul with 4:50 left and surviving that? Vogel sat him. When he wanted to bring him back in, there were no dead balls for a long stretch. Somehow a unit with no LeBron and no Westbrook managed to stretch a lead from 1 to 2. It was AD, Melo, Reaves, Monk, Rondo. Monk made the 31-footer with 58 seconds left. That gave us the lead. A huge shot/moment that gave the Lakers that lead. (Our subs didn’t get in until 42 seconds left. That was a long stretch without Russ. He’d play the remainder of the game and avoid the foul trouble.)

Key Substitution: The Lakers closed quarters horribly tonight, but the end of the third they gave up an 18-3 run to trail by 12 points. It’s easy to say you should just finish the quarter strong, but you’ve also got to look at what’s going on here. In this run we had Rondo, Melo and Westbrook out there defensively. A team that moves the ball is going to cause those guys problems. It’s hard enough getting an initial effort sometimes defensively from them, but the second efforts and rotations needed? That’s not happening with them. That got the Lakers in a hole. To start the fourth we ran Melo for a stretch, then brought in AD to go with Howard, Reaves, Monk and Westbrook. Those guys killed it.

Key Stats: Spurs led the break 17-12 in the first half, while the Lakers had a 36-32 points in the paint advantage. The teams were tied 27-27 in rebounding. The Lakers shot a poor 3-13 from three, Spurs 7-18. Second half and OT, the Lakers shot 5-17 from three, better, but not great. Were out rebounded by 3 (they lost those freethrow rebound a bit too much). Fastbreak, they were outscored 12-4. Points in the paint? They won 36-32, just like the first half. Good to see us winning a battle there in both halves.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2021 9:51 pm    Post subject:

Great stuff, thank you. Edit: “I’m not used to people cheering for me on the road,” Westbrook said afterward.– Last time I was in TX for a Lakers game was the Western Conference Finals 2001 where Kobe went off. Meeting a fellow Lakers fan back then was with secret signs of acknowledgment. Can't believe it's been twenty years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2vRGfaCTds
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Last edited by Mel Rose on Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:12 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2021 9:52 pm    Post subject:

DB,

Great job as always!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:26 pm    Post subject:

Thx, DB!

Monk and Reaves may play THT onto the trade block.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:31 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2021 10:40 pm    Post subject:

Thanks DB! Excellent! Suddenly we're .500. Just like that.

It's really interesting seeing how Vogel is trying out combinations that work defensively and still put pressure on the rim. Kudos to AD, Dwight, Hillbilly Kobe, RWestbrook, and Mr. Monk, Baze as well for that matter. Can't complain about Melo too much, he actually got a key stop in for us late.

Next step is a winning record - go Lakers!!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2021 11:02 pm    Post subject:

Nice job at staying under control for WB. Very impressive outing, win or lose.

I was most impressed at how Monk improved defensively in the 4th quarter compared to the rest of the game. The Spurs were targeting him and at times he looked clueless as his man would go back door on him. He held his own nicely ith the 4th and OT though. I hope he can stick with it and become at least average guarding his man.

Overall though, our defense shows promise (half of the first, the 4th and OT), but there is still much to be improved.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 2:08 am    Post subject:

You are the man DB! I really think DH changed the game for us. He was huge during his last run. It does not show up in the stat line, but he forced the opposition to alter many shots and he played great help D (something that our bigs do not always do).
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 4:17 am    Post subject:

I was only able to watch a few minutes of the first half. What were the conditions that changed for Westbrook? Was he more aggressive at getting to the rim, taking the more efficient shot? Was there better spacing this game?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 5:19 am    Post subject:

What I liked about this game was that it gave us a great preview and practice for the playoffs when Bron sits.

When Bron sits those 10-12 minutes in the playoffs, you need to run those 5 out offense with Westbrook in attack mode. We are seeing more and more of this 5 out offense. If you know what I mean. We're starting with AD up high and or in the corner, and trying to get Westbrook the ball in a situation where he can get into the paint where there are no Lakers near him. An open paint, and then you see some late cutting by Lakers. The Lakers are following Westbrook's drives, not getting in his way anymore. It's so cool to see this development, as in game 1 you clearly saw it was not there. By game 4, already our comfort zone in this is higher. By the 80th game of the season, this should be significantly better. Last 2 years when Bron has sat, most of the time we just couldn't get anything going. If we can now throw Westbrook/AD lineups at teams, when Bron sits, that is a huge weapon.

A lot of stuff we could talk about, but the things I felt that stood out.

AD not relenting and playing an alpha mode. Especially 4th Q.
Westbrook's driving without Lakers hovering in the paint. Some tough finishes.
Monk's nonchalant shooting. But Monk also showed he can be a dual threat, he can spot up but also fake the shot and put the ball on the floor.
Bazemore with some subtle defensive plays, that go unnoticed by most.
Melo's D has become dare I say decent. Vogel is trusting him as a closer.
Austin's 2-way energy is top notch.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 5:24 am    Post subject:

It's way too early to be reading too much into this but the Lakers are 2nd in pace in the league, and 5th in points per game. That's the good. The average is the O and D ratings (16-20). The bad is the points given up (29th). We're still got a long ways to go, but clearly you're seeing a pace we haven't seen in LA in the AD/Bron era. The thing is playing higher pace also means your defense has to defend more possessions. Teams are shooting incredibly high number of FGAs on us.

We're playing a very different style this year. We're also trying a lot more of that 5 out offense. It wouldn't shock me if by quarter way into the season we're elite in offense but still middle of the pack on D. The D is the area I still feel we are slacking in. Not getting the best effort from some of these guys and some of them are just plain bad at reading/reacting. For example when AD was switching up high, we kept making the same mistake again and again. Very slow recognition from Monk, or others to cover for AD and intercept or challenge the passing angle. Our D could improve when we get some more defensive help with Ariza, Nunn, THT, guys that are supposed to be better defenders.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 6:00 am    Post subject:

Why didn't Bradley play? I didn't see him listed on the injury report. Thanks in advance.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 6:03 am    Post subject:

StatCoach wrote:
Why didn't Bradley play? I didn't see him listed on the injury report. Thanks in advance.

Austin has been solid, and been getting the minutes.
That said, I do think Vogel needs to give Avery some run as a backup PG. He is the best ball stopper and defensive PG on the team, and could be used to cool off some players. We're instead running a lot of those Rondo/Melo lineups, and I'm not a fan of that slower lackadaisical approach on D.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 6:17 am    Post subject:

Thanks DB!

Was impressed by the D in spurts. At times effort level was good and at times not so much. Offense is definitely improving. Lots of lobs and kick outs when RW penetrates.

Still concerned about rebounds (we are allowing the 3rd highest opponent rebounds per game in the league). Spurs were getting way too many second chances due to the Lakers not securing the rebounds (16 offensive rebounds for the Spurs).

Still giving up more points in the paints than we are scoring. A lot of that is perimeter defense allowing too much penetration.

What is Vogel going to do when Ariza, THT, Ellington come back? Do Monk and Reeves go to the end of the bench? It would hurt our offense and improve our defense. I am not sure what Frank will decide.

Lakers did win the turnover battle which was good to see.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 6:26 am    Post subject:

wolfpaclaker wrote:
StatCoach wrote:
Why didn't Bradley play? I didn't see him listed on the injury report. Thanks in advance.

Austin has been solid, and been getting the minutes.
That said, I do think Vogel needs to give Avery some run as a backup PG. He is the best ball stopper and defensive PG on the team, and could be used to cool off some players. We're instead running a lot of those Rondo/Melo lineups, and I'm not a fan of that slower lackadaisical approach on D.


Thanks! Agreed regarding Reeves, but those Westbrook/Rondo combo lineups are where I thought we'd see Bradley.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 6:39 am    Post subject:

Thanks, DB!

Not a perfect game, but lot of good things to carry forward.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 7:03 am    Post subject:

StatCoach wrote:
Why didn't Bradley play? I didn't see him listed on the injury report. Thanks in advance.



Could be that he put up 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals in 21 minutes vs. Phoenix.

Gotta have production.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 7:25 am    Post subject:

Pretty simple.

Monk +31
Rondo -15.

What else needs to be said/shown?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 7:32 am    Post subject:

When Vogel learns to not play his bad combinations the Lakers will
start going.
Melo, Rondo, Monk, and Westbrook are a bad combination together.
DB nailed the problem.
But effective when there is defensive balance.

The return of Nunn will help a lot.
Lebron, Westbrook, and Rondo all need the ball to be effective and
Rondo and Westbrook should not play together.
Lebron should be able to play with anyone.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 7:57 am    Post subject:

LakerLanny wrote:
StatCoach wrote:
Why didn't Bradley play? I didn't see him listed on the injury report. Thanks in advance.



Could be that he put up 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals in 21 minutes vs. Phoenix.

Gotta have production.


That could be it. LOL. He played well vs GSW though. Frank doesn't usually have that quick of a hook. The Westbrook/Rondo combo was a -18 in 6 min last night. Thought Bradley could be used to mitigate that combo.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 9:03 am    Post subject:

Woot!

Thanks DB
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 9:14 am    Post subject:

As always, you're amazing DB! Thank you for your awesome and detailed analysis.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 9:33 am    Post subject:

Good stuff DB!
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:55 am    Post subject:

Mel Rose wrote:
Great stuff, thank you. Edit: “I’m not used to people cheering for me on the road,” Westbrook said afterward.– Last time I was in TX for a Lakers game was the Western Conference Finals 2001 where Kobe went off. Meeting a fellow Lakers fan back then was with secret signs of acknowledgment. Can't believe it's been twenty years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2vRGfaCTds


Nice one.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:00 pm    Post subject:

As always, a great write up DB.

Couple things I wanted to comment on:

1. Dwight in the 4th. You hit the nail on the head re Dwight. I really felt last year we missed what he brings when the team needs a boost and a run, as 2 years ago it seemed like every time the team was down by a decent or greater lead in the 4th, Dwight and Caruso would lead the charge. We got to see some of that (minus Caruso) in this game. The defense went from being just fugly (97 points in 3 quarters!)...to suddenly something we could recognize from the past couple seasons.

2. 5th foul on Russ - I was paying attention to that and it seemed to me that with timeout situations for the teams, Pops was trying to play without a break to avoid allowing Russ back in. Almost worked.
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