Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lakers lost to the Magic, 103-106

The Los Angeles Lakers suffered its first 2-game losing streak of the season. After losing to the Miami Heat the night before, the Lakers lost to the surging Orlando Magic 103-106--both losses on the road. Sasha Vujacic, who was 0-5 in the field and scored just 1 point, had a chance to win the game but his 3-point shot attempt bounced out of the basket leaving the Lakers behind 104-103, with three seconds left. Dwight Howard got the rebound and was fouled. He made both free throws for the final margin. Kobe Bryant missed a three-pointer as the clock wound down, sending the Lakers to their second consecutive defeat on this four-game trip.

Bryant had a spectacular night scoring 41 points with 8 rebounds and just 1 turnover in the losing effort. Derek Fisher added 27 points. Pau Gasol, who attempted only 9 field goals, contributed just 11 points. For two nights straight, Andrew Bynum played limited minutes and scored just 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 turnovers, and 5 personal fouls.

Jameer Nelson topscored for the Magic with 27 points. Rashard Lewis scored 22 points. Dwight Howard added 18 points with 12 rebounds.

It should be obvious by now that the Twin Tower Experiment of Phil Jackson is not working. It worked in November because their opponents haven't figured out yet how to score with two 7-footers patrolling the paint. But after their first loss against Detroit, their weakness have been exposed and teams are exploiting that--just move your Bigs outside and have your best slasher drive to the basket. Phil should really consider having Bynum come off the bench and move back Odom to the starting lineup. You may want to read my previous post for what I thought would be the "keys to this game."

Bynum doesn't have the versatility of Odom. Not yet, anyway. Sure he's able to provide some defense against big body post players like Howard but their opposing guards are killing them--in this case, Rashard Lewis--by his inability to provide help defense without committing fouls.

Moreover, Gasol's scoring opportunities are being limited by Bynum's presence. The night after taking only 10 shots in their loss in Miami, Pau attempted one fewer shots today. Was he worried about his shooting percentage or he's just not getting enough touches? Bynum-Gasol teamup is not like the old Twin Tower of the Spurs, Robinson-Duncan. Bynum passing ability is still a work in progress. How many assists he had this game? Let me Oh, how I miss Shaq!

And how about Odom? He seems to be very confused on offense although he's still decent on defense. He made only 1 field goal in 7 attempts with 2 free throws for 4 points. Well, at least he matched Bryant's 8 rebounds and had 3 steals in 36 minutes on the floor. I think his inability to be a factor on offense is not because of his waning talent. He was an All-Star material just last year and he's on his contract year so he should be very serious about being a very effective contributor on his team.

Watching the team play, it's pretty obvious that they are not running a lot of Odom-Gasol sets that was so effective last year. I could still remember how unstoppable they were during the first half of Game 4 Finals against the Celtics. Of course, they lost that game when the "unstoppable Pau and Lamar" disappeared in the second half of the game. That game cost them the Finals, right? But at least they run unbelievable highlight plays for one quarter.

And look at how effective Lamar was in their game against the Knicks--the only time he started the game in place of Gasol who was sick. He elevated his game because he knew he had to. He didn't have Pau Gasol to defer to. He's like a Manu Ginobilli on the Spurs team with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. He's perfect when he's the third best player in his team--one of the three options. You make him the 4th option and he'd be the worst performer on the Lakers team.

So, what should the Lakers do? I hate to keep on repeating myself but I'll do it anyway. Put Odom back to the starting lineup!



Christopher Blake December 20, 2008 at 7:10 PM  

Well, did that piss you off as much as it did me?
I blame Phil...he just can't seem to make in-game adjustments...

The IT Manager December 20, 2008 at 7:32 PM  

Yeah! For 2 straight nights, Phils favorite Big Bear Bynum was causing the team to lose games! 2 fouls in his first 2 minutes. Wow!

Gasol wasn't taking more shots and be more aggressive. Odom seems to be confused because he'd come to the game only when Bynum is in foul trouble.

Despite Kobe's spectacular game, they still lost. A few more games like this and expect KB24 to start talking again...

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