Friday, October 24, 2008

Lakers defense active as preseason winds down

Watched the Bobcats-Lakers game last night on TNT.

The Lakers are really defending. LA played a terrific first half defensively, limiting CHA to 30 points in the first half on 27 percent FG shooting.

The key was LA's activity, which caused CHA turnovers (there were 34 combined TOs in the first half). Thanks to the length of the Lakers -- something Coach Phil Jackson looks for in his players -- they were able to effectively switch defensively.

On screening situations, LA did a great job chasing and closing out hard.

Because of Bynum's ability to block shots, LA doesn't have to double-team the guy Bynum is defending.

Keep in mind that LA's defense has been a problem in the past. Granted, it was only an exhibition game, and the Bobcats are struggling, but the Lakers' defensive intensity was excellent -- and this was without Kobe, an All-D pick, and Sasha Vucavic, one of LA's best on-ball defenders.

Plus, LA should have the NBA's tallest starting front line with Bynum, Gasol and Odom (if Odom starts at the 3).

Off the bench, having seen the Lakers in training camp, Trevor Ariza does a great job defending individually and anticipating in the passing lanes (Ariza started for K. Bryant in this game).

One area of concern for LA is putting opponents on the foul line.

LA had some trouble generating points in the game, but that's understandable when Kobe's out of the lineup. Points won't be a problem when the regular season tips.

Odom is handling the ball a lot and he struggled with turnovers. Further, he wasn't very aggressive with his shot, taking only a single FG through nearly three quarters.

Again, Kobe's out, but LA must take better care of the ball than they did in the first half.

The Lakers' second unit will change the pace of games this season as they'll look to push and score more in transition than the starting unit.

[Side note: According to the new issue of SI, Laker center Andrew Bynum spent the off-season shooting 500-1500 jumpers a day with former NBA player Gerald Wilkins.]

As for Charlotte, the Bobcats came into the game 0- 6. For CHA, the travel from North Carolina to So Cal for an exhibition game is tough.

CHA's best offense will be after time outs with Larry Brown diagramming and getting guys good looks.

Charlotte went small at the start of the fourth quarter, playing two point guards with Raymond Felton and DJ Augustine on the floor at the same time. Both players have really struggled shooting ball this preseason.

Adam Morrison led Charlotte in scoring but struggled defensively and got out-reacted to loose balls.

Looking forward to the Clips-Lakers game next Wednesday at Staples.