More breakdown below...
Finding problems with what the Lakers did Wednesday night isn't all that hard. Kobe Bryant was 10-30 from the floor, Lamar Odom 3-11. As a team, the Lakers shot all of 38%, a percentage not generally able to paper over mistakes, particularly on the other side of the ball. Tuesday night, the Lakers played in the mud, but won. One night later, they still were stuck offensively, but forgot the other side of unattractive victories. "You can win ugly, but you've got to play D," Odom said. "Can't do (neither) and give yourself a chance. If you're off offensively and defensively. Usually when you play defense you give yourself a chance to win. Tonight we didn't."
Sounds about right. The Lakers were hurt by Baron Davis (25/10), Eric Gordon (18 points), and Chris Kaman (21 points, 14 boards), but equally damaged by poor shot selection and horrible transition defense (advantage LAC, 26-15). Those were just a few of the bad developments Wednesday night for the Lakers. For other examples, I give you the following:
Derek Fisher- Davis flat out went off in the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 25 points. Many folks will look at those figures and point an angry, accusatory finger squarely at Fish, who was on the floor for a large portion of BD's Q3 run. No question, Fisher had trouble in spots sticking with Davis, but at the same time the former Bruin was taking a lot of jump shots in the process, the types of shots you frankly want Davis to get. He's far stronger going to the bucket and running in transition than he is shooting the rock. Most of the time, at least. But just as it was during last season's playoffs when the Lakers struggled with Aaron Brooks and the Rockets, I think those criticisms of Fish can miss the point (defense is so much a team enterprise, after all), or at least overstate it. Where Fisher hurt the Lakers most tonight, as it's been too often this season, is offensively. Wednesday he made one shot, and had more turnovers (four) than points (three).
One first half sequence saw Fish penetrate, then pick up his dribble under the bucket. Stuck, he tried to force a pass back to the top of the key. Instead, the Clippers deflected the pass and it became points the other way. Later he tried to force a long early entry pass to Andrew Bynum in the high post. The ball hung far too long in the air, was poked away by Kaman, and again the Clippers had points the other way.
Pau Gasol on the sidelines means one less guy in the starting lineup who can cleverly create shots both for himself and others. Clearly Fish isn't part of that group. His value comes in setting up the offense, knocking down open shots, and making smart decisions with the ball. Pick any of the three, and Fish didn't provide much against the Clips. Phil Jackson hasn't been shy about cutting his playing time, even sitting him in fourth quarters. Tuesday, he played late, but not all that much overall. Just over 20 minutes of burn, compared to 27:37 for Shannon Brown.
Ron Artest- Before the game, Jackson noted the rust in Artest's performance Tuesday night against the Rockets, thanks to five games on the sidelines after his Christmas concussion. Wednesday seemed no less oxidized. 3-7 from the floor, four boards, and two critical turnovers both leading to fast break points for the red, white, and blue. Artest told me he felt better physically, but is still rounding back into form. He's confident it'll happen, but assuming that's the case, and there's no reason to doubt it he's right, his work Wednesday night was clearly part of the road back, not the finished product.
"He just has to make sound plays in the situation where it requires it," Jackson said of Artest. "(But) he wasn't the only one." Again, I won't argue either point. Bottom line, with the squad down a big gun, the Lakers need Artest to play a role offensively to help fill the void.
Sharing- It can be argued Gasol's value to the Lakers offense is predicated more, or at least as much, on his passing than scoring. He's that good moving the rock and greasing the wheels of the Lakers' scheme. Tonight, the Lakers had only 17 assists on 33 field goals, six below their season average. "I didn't like the way we moved the ball, or moved ourselves tonight. There was just too much individual play," Jackson said. The Lakers were effective early putting Kobe on the post and having him find open players once the traffic came, but as the game went along that tactic became less effective. Credit Mike Dunleavy for throwing the kitchen sink at 24, forcing the ball out of his hands whenever he started to heat up.
He essentially dared other players to make plays and move the ball, and won.