When I’m scheduled to write one of these post-game reports, I always look for angles for the write-up. Sometimes I see things on defense or offense that I decide I want to highlight. Other times it something to do with the other team. With the Lakers, right now, I realized there was going to be very little to focus on. Like all of Mike D’Antoni’s teams, the Lakers are horrible defensively, so anything the Raptors do on offense probably won’t be of much value to study. And on defense, the Lakers just want to get out and run and shoot, so, apart from slowing them down, there probably aren’t lessons to be learned on that end, either.
So what I came up with was a running diary. I’ve never done it before, but here it goes:
– I really wish the NBA on TV would start using more advanced stats. The fact that the Raptors have held opponents to 88.4 ppg in the last five games tells me very little about a team’s defense. A team can play at a slower pace and keep opponents point down, but it doesn’t mean they’re playing good defense.
The T-Wolves, in their inaugural season, had one of the slowest paces in the game and limited their opponents to 99.4 ppg, which was good for 2nd in the league. That didn’t mean they played great defense. They were a middle of the pack defensive team, but they just slowed the games down. If television basketball analysts started using points per possession, it would mean A LOT more. I realize a lot of fans may not understand what that means, but they’ll learn. They won’t if you never do it, though.
– Kendall Marshall is averaging a double-double as a Laker. If he isn’t definitive proof that D’Antoni’s system makes point guards look better, I don’t what is. I actually liked Marshall and was hoping the Raptors would try to pick up up when Washington waived him (after the Gortat trade), but I don’t think anyone would have predicted what he’s doing now. Well, maybe Jeremy Lin 1.
[aside]1. Speaking of D’Antoni and point guards, I wonder if the fact that Steve Nash has played for Don Nelson and D’Antoni for most of his career will have a negative effect on him if he decides to coach or go into a front office after he retires. He’s never had the advantage of being in a Championship system with a coach who understands how to win with defense. I’m a huge Nash fan, but players are often a product of their environment, and Nash hasn’t had a good environment. Look at all of the successful coaches and GMs and most of them have either played for a great coach and/or played in a great system. Nash has had neither.[/aside]
– The starting five for the Lakers. Marshall, Meeks, Johnson, Kelly and Gasol. I had to look up who Kelly was. That’s two cast-offs, three if you count Meeks, a second round pick rookie, and an All Star well past his prime. These are the types of the games the Raptors used to struggle with. These are also not your older brother’s Lakers.
– Matt Devlin just said, “The Lakers aren’t committed on the defensive end.” That’s like saying that a few people die in Game of Thrones.
– Amir left completely wide open for a 20 footer. Amir isn’t the best shooter, from that range, but his man didn’t even attempt to put a hand up. A good coach would yank Amir’s man. I’m guessing D’Antoni won’t.
– Valanciunas is going to have his hands full with Gasol. He’s looking good out there early. For some reason he always surprises me how big he really is.
– I have no clue who Kendall Jackson is, but from the way they’re talking, apparently I should. It sounds like a football player’s name. They meant Kendall Marshall.
– Valanciunas still holding the ball too long before he makes a post move. That’s becoming a bad habit.
– They just realized John Salmons isn’t playing. I’m not sure it’s a good sign how important Salmons is to the success of the team.
– Amir just hit another wide open jumper. Are they afraid Amir is going to take them off the dribble? Do they have any scouting reports on Amir? Oh, wait. That would be defense .
– I remember when fans would complain when Amir would take the long jumper. Take a look at the shot chart below…
– That is this year. This is his shot chart from two years ago:
– Amir has become a very good shooter from 15-20 feet. That skills has made him more valuable on offense, as he now has the ability to draw his man out, opening things up underneath.
– Looking at Amir’s shot chart for this year you have to really question the Lakers’ decision to give him the open 15-20 footer. He’s excellent from that range.
– Now Patterson just got a wide-open three. Starting to see a pattern, here.
– Patterson another wide open corner three. I wouldn’t stand for this many wide-open threes if I’m playing pickup ball. I’d love to see a shot of Kobe, right now.
– Lowry has become dangerous at those pull-up threes. I was going to question the Lakers’ scouting report on Lowry, again, then I remembered this is the Lakers.
– Now Vasquez gets a wide-open three. Some teams focus on running shooters off the three point line. The Lakers don’t seem to have that strategy. The Raptors shot 5-6 from three in the first quarter. I’m guessing not one Raptor shooter had a defender within five feet of him.
– I’m going to stop mentioning the wide-open threes. I’m starting to repeat myself too much. Maybe it’s the whole Rocky Balboa from Rocky III strategy.
– Oh, my god. Did the Lakers really play enough defense to take the shot clock down? That must have been a mistake.
– I’m not a big Patterson fan, but that was a GREAT defensive play on Gasol. Especially considering Gasol is at least 3 inches taller than Patterson.
– 24-5 run by the Raptors. I might be on to something with this Rocky III strategy. Just wait for the Raptors to start getting tired from hitting so many wide-open shots and start missing them. Then the Lakers will jump.
– They just showed a graphic with Raptor team stats before and after the Rudy Gay trade. It’s pretty astounding. Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry recently wrote and article talking about the Rudy Gay Principle that I recommend reading. Basically he’s saying that there is a threshold where players start playing above their means and start hurting their team. On the Raptors, Gay’s Usage was too high in comparison to his talent level. Every Raptor GM should read that article because that’s been a problem for most of their history 2.
[aside]2. DeMar DeRozan might be the next Raptor in a long line that the franchise has given too much responsibility to and elevated above where they should be due to circumstances. Damon Stoudemire, Jalen Rose, Mike James, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. All those guys had a Usage Percentage far higher than it should have been on a good team, and saw it go down fairly drastically on their next team. DeRozan is a decent to good player being asked to be a great one. And he’s not.[/aside]
– Lakers actually playing some defense, which results in then getting back into game. Funny how that works.
– I get the feeling neither Matt or Jack have a clue what analytics really are. Jack probably just thinks it’s something to do with computers, or something. Kind of like Twitter.
– Trivia Question: Who holds Lakers record for consecutive games played. Is it just me or is this easy? It’s got to be A.C. Green, who has one of the longest runs in the history of the league. I know it’s not Steve Nash.
– Mark Cuban has apparently been fined nearly $2 million since he became owner of the Mavericks. I just don’t know what to say about that. The fact he’s also matched that with donations to charity is nice, I guess.
– They just showed Durant’s career high in scoring game, a game I recorded but haven’t finished watching, yet. I know in the first quarter, Durant had 15, Thompson had 13 and Curry had 11. I figured a big game was coming.
– Kelly Olynyk also had a career high game. They mentioned his fascia injury. As someone who is still recovering from a fascia injury that happened last June, I can completely relate.
– Now they’re talking about Canadian Tyler Ennis, on Syracuse, and how he’s having one of the best freshman seasons. Someone I follow on Twitter recently stated that, if given a choice, they would take Ennis over Wiggins. I like Ennis and think the Raptors should go hard to try and draft him, but that’s just crazy. A funny fact. In a lot of scouting reports, Ennis has been called a “European-style point guard” and it’s actually a compliment. How times have changed.
– Why is Kobe over at the Raptors bench talking to Lowry? That doesn’t seem right to me.
– The Lakers just defended well enough that they caused a 24 second violation. Not a great start to the quarter for the Raptors. Next time up the court, Ross took a quick jumper and missed. This all goes back to their Rocky III strategy. I really think I might be on to something with that.
– Kelly just ran over Lowry and Lowry got called for an offensive foul. Okay. I guess the ref thought Lowry stepped in front of him on purpose?
– Lakers haven’t hit a shot, yet. Still apparently trying to make the Raptors too comfortable. Lull them into a sense of security. Raptors have gone on 10-0 run. It’s all going according to plan for the Lakers…
– I love how Matt Devlin gives these rather arbitrary stats. I remember him talking about how one Raptor player has scored 34 points in the last two games, as if it was supposed to be impressive.
– Amir hit a three and then took another one next time up and missed. The thing is that his form actually looks good. I’m predicting he’ll hit over 30% next year and possibly close to 35%. Right now he’s shooting .244. DeRozan is shooting .297.
– Wow. Nick Young played defense until the end of the shot clock, forcing DeRozan into a airball.
– Next play up, DeRozan gets a wide-open jumper with no one within ten feet and nails it. I guess the whole defense-thing was just an anomaly for Young.
– Amir took another three. Okay, even I think he’s going a little overboard now. He’s taken one less three in this game than he did in all of the 2012 season.
– DeRozan didn’t get a foul call, didn’t get back because he was complaining to the refs and then the Lakers just hit a three. I HATE when guys do that. Just shut up and get back on defense and talk to the refs during a break in the action. Lots of players do it, but the number of times it leads to something bad on the other end is astounding.
– Speaking of things I hate, the @AskMatt questions are always obvious as hell or stupidly leading.
– Game is now tied after another Laker three. Raptors 8-23 from three. Now we just need Matt or Jack to say, “I might believe the strategy now. They’re making the Raptors miss open shots, now”
– Trivia Question Answer: A.C. Green. They didn’t mention he also holds the NBA record for most consecutive days without having sex.
– JULYAN STONE IS IN THE GAME? It’s just his third appearance since December 10th.
– I’d love to see a team comprised of Nick Young, J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford, Carmelo Anthony and DeMarcus Cousins. They’d score 130 points a game, give up a 150 points a game and get into three fights a game with each other because they aren’t getting enough shots.
– Vasquez just had his best minute of the season. He got a big floater to put the Raptors up by one, got a steal from behind as he ran back on defense, and then got a offensive rebound and put-back to put the Raptors up three.
– Interesting fact. Vasquez has the most shots attempts per minute than anyone on the team except for DeRozan. Why does everyone call Vasquez a pass-first point guard? He takes as many shots per minute as Manu Ginobili and Eric Gordon.
– Amir just faked a long jumper, causing Kelly to run at him. If he didn’t travel, it probably would have ended up with 2 points. That’s exactly why you want Amir taking those long jumpers, once in a while.
– After a good defensive set on the other end, Young just hit a three to put the Lakers up by four.
– Just showed a shot of Valanciunas on the bench. He doesn’t look happy. He hasn’t played badly, but foul trouble has hurt him. He’s rebounded well, but can’t get any offense going from the bench.
– DeRozan just took a contested long jumper. With lots of time on the clock.
– Lowry drives to the hoop for a big bucket and then hits a big three. He’s the Raptors’ biggest weapon in crunch time. Unless he starts trying to do too much.
– Amir fouled Kelly taking a three. They’re going to replay. Time to lie down and take a 20 minute nap.
– That was the quickest replay I’ve ever seen. Usually they watch it WAY too many times and drag the game out longer. I wonder if it’s a directive from the league.
– Nick Young has 22 points.
– Lowry hits another big shot on the drive with less than 2 left.
– Nick Young now has 25.
– Raptors down by four after DeRozan goes one for two at the line. Is it just me, or is DeRozan not a good crunch-time player? He seems to force a lot of shots and miss a lot. Maybe trying to do too much. Could be why he’s got a .510 True Shooting percentage. Goes to the Rudy Gay Principle. Yes, he’s scored 23 points, but he did it on 24 shots. The seven assists is definitely nice, but he’s not a guy you want having the ball as much as he does.
– On cue, DeRozan forces a tough shot and misses. Even Matt and Jack criticized him for that one.
– Nick Young forces a bad shot but gets bailed out with a foul. Considering the view we got on the replay, I can’t say whether it was a foul or not, but Matt seemed 100% sure. He’s been taking lessons from Tommy Heinsohn.
– DeRozan just got a technical called when they’re down by six with twenty seconds left. Not smart.
– If Nick Young had a brain in his head, he might be a good player and not a guy who has played on four different teams in seven years.
– Lakers win 112-106. If the Raptors lose their next game against Charlotte, full blown panic will set in among Raptors fans. Bank it.
– Rod Black asked Pau Gasol how the game was won. I really wished he had said, “By scoring more points than the other team.”, because that’s basically what it was.
– Maybe I was really onto something with the Rocky III strategy. The Raptors went 5-6 from three in the first half and shot .737 from the field as a whole, in the first quarter. For the rest of the game they shot 4-23 from three point range and .423 from the field.
A FEW GAME FACTS:
– Valanciunas played just 14 minutes, shot 2-3 and grabbed 7 boards. He picked up 3 fouls, but I would have liked to have seen him play more.
– Vasquez played 21 minutes and took 11 shots. Nick Young played 30 minutes and only took 13.
– Julyan Stone played 13 minutes. I find that shocking not just because it’s Stone, but because I don’t remember him out there beyond few seconds I saw him at the end of the third quarter.
– When Stone is now ahead of you in the rotation, you know you’re toast. I’m talking to you Landry Fields, who probably thought he’d finally see some real minutes with Salmons out.