The Lakers got very little production from their starters tonight in a blow-out loss to the Mavericks.
Pau Gasol, Shawne Williams, Xavier Henry, Steve Blake and Steve Nash scored a total of 32 points on 34 shots, while the Mavericks’ Monta Ellis alone scored 30 points on just 14 shots against an AWOL Lakers’ interior and perimeter defense.
The final box score shows that the Lakers shot the ball decently, but the two biggest problems were that they allowed the Mavericks to out-rebound them 50-35, and at the same time allowed the Mavericks to shoot 52% from the field, including 48% from beyond the arc.
It’s one thing to give up rebounds if your opponent is struggling to score – it’s quite another thing to give them up when your opponent is scoring almost at will.
A third problem for the Lakers tonight was that they committed just 12 fouls in the game. This, in combination with the rebounding totals, is a clear indication that they were not playing physically, and not playing with heart.
Steve Nash continued to struggle with his shot, scoring just five points (2-8 FG) and adding four assists in 20 minutes of play. Pau Gasol, whose 10 points were more than any other starter, ended up with a glaring plus-minus of -32 in his 31 minutes of play.
While coach Mike D’Antoni started Shawne Williams at power forward once again, he only played him for five minutes in total, which suggests that experiment may be coming to an end. D’Antoni tried playing Chris Kaman with Gasol tonight, and even tried playing Jordan Hill alongside Gasol, but neither of those pairings worked especially well tonight.
It’s worth mentioning that Ryan Kelly made his NBA debut tonight, playing four minutes of garbage time and hitting his only shot. That one shot was a three-pointer, though, thus making Kelly a candidate for starting power forward on Thursday.
I’m kidding, mostly.
There were some bright spots for the Lakers tonight – all from the bench. Nick Young led all Lakers with 21 points on 8-12 shooting, Chris Kaman scored an efficient 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 17 minutes, and Jordan Farmar scored 11 points and dished out seven dimes.
It’s also worth noting that 13 Lakers played tonight, and all scored at least one point – that’s the sort of fun fact that’s only possible in a blow-out, however, and unfortunately for the Lakers tonight, they were on the wrong end of that blow-out.
More seriously, it would be fair for Lakers fans to conclude that Nash and Williams are still starting instead of Farmar and Kaman (or even Johnson) because they are D’Antoni’s guys, and the coach doesn’t want to show that he has lost confidence in them. It’s worth noting, though, that although D’Antoni continues to start them, he is playing them less and less, as Nash played only 20 minutes tonight, and Williams just five.
D’Antoni will of course replace Williams in the starting line-up before he replaces Nash, in deference to the future hall-of-famer’s career accomplishments, but he will continue to give Nash less and less playing time in favor of Farmar – and eventually replace him with Farmar – if Nash doesn’t soon find his shooting stroke.
Despite their poor games, the both Gasol and Nash reached milestones tonight:
- With eight rebounds on the night, Gasol moved past the great Oscar Robertson into 66th place in career rebounds, with 7,808.
- With five points on the night, Nash moved past former teammate Michael Finley into 75th place in career points, with 17,311.
Before wrapping up, I also want to mention that it was painful to have to listen to the Mavericks’ announcers, who were homers with trite insights and a boorish manner. It served as a reminder that Lakers fans are lucky to have Stu Lantz and Bill Macdonald calling Lakers games, as they do a solid job of providing objective commentary and keen basketball insight.
For the Lakers, the schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they will now face Dwight Howard and the Rockets in Houston on Thursday evening.
Here’s hoping that much-hyped game will provide the Lakers with the motivation they were clearly lacking tonight.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
For the second game in a row, Nick Young was the Lakers’ player of the game. In 27 minutes off the bench, Young scored an efficient 21 points (8-12 FG, 1-2 3PT, 4-7 FT), and recorded three steals, a rebound, and an assist.
Thursday, November 7, at 6:30 p.m. PST at the Houston Rockets
This is an article by Craig Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter: @stevenashchroni