The Lakers hit rock bottom – or close – in their game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. How would they respond against one of the hottest teams in the league who were unbeaten at home? Sluggishly. They’d end up losing 116-107 in a game that could’ve been a lot uglier…
If the game ended after the first quarter, I would’ve probably left this section blank. In the opening 12 minutes, the Lakers gave up 41 points. They scored 27 of their own, which would be fine if Carmelo Anthony didn’t come out hitting absolutely everything. They were too lethargic coming out of the gate – especially when guarding a guy who they know is hot right now.
Oh wait, this is meant to be The Good…
I guess I have to give the Lakers credit for getting back into the game – they actually won the last three quarters 80-75 – but some of that was just down to some bad plays by the Knicks, plus Melo getting hurt and not returning took away a big scoring option.
The Lakers did have some good defensive and offensive possessions at times, even pulling within 7 during the fourth quarter, but in the end, the Knicks were just too much for them.
Kobe put up 31 points and grabbed 10 boards. He also dished out 6 assists but had 5 turnovers, too. He played 44 minutes and was experiencing back spasms. A commendable performance by Kobe to fight through the pain and still lead the team in three categories – well, four including the turnovers, but I’ve had enough of speaking about those over the past few months…
Metta World Peace scored 23 points on 15 shots. He also had 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Getting him the ball in the post seemed to work late in the game, so maybe they’ll go to that more.
Finally, Devin Ebanks had his best game of the season so far, racking up 15 points and 5 rebounds in 34 minutes. He also did a good job of guarding Melo when he was out there; a big reason Ebanks got the start to the second half.
The Lakers continue to be a step-too-slow on defense. Instead of moving their feet, they’re just putting out an arm and fouling the guy, which usually turns into a three-point play. That’s if they even do that.
Some of it may just be down to the fact that there’s old, tired legs on this team. That can be said for guys like Antawn Jamison, for example.
But, this team still badly needs to work on their pick-and-roll defense. Help the helper. How many times do we have to see the other team get a wide-open look at the rim before they realise this?
Tonight, it wasn’t even really the turnovers (13) or free throw shooting (25-of-29) that hurt them. It was their defense and lack of cohesiveness on offense.
Dwight Howard said after the game on TWC SportsNet that the ball needs to move more. It’s hard to move the ball when the rest of the team isn’t moving.
Guys have to get open, run sets, set a screen – ANYTHING! The offense is just way too stagnant, and that’s a word that is never meant to be associated with a Mike D’Antoni team.
But, again, the key to D’Antoni’s offense is Steve Nash. He may be 38, but he’s still going to be able to run the pick-and-rolls with Dwight that D’Antoni so badly longs for. He’ll be able to probe the defense until he finds a lane to the rim or an opening to slip a pass to the open man on the perimeter.
Will Nash solve the defensive problems? Not as an individual. But, at this point, we have to hope that an energised offensive team who are scoring with ease will help inspire them on the other side of the ball, too.
The Lakers play again tomorrow night in the nation’s capital, when they take on the lowly Washington Wizards. The Lakers need a win badly. If they can’t get a W in Barack’s town, there’s going to be some angry and worried Laker fans.
The game starts at 4:00pm PST on TWC SportsNet.