Thursday, October 30, 2008

Strong defense helps Lakers get off to quick start

Was in LA last night and had a chance to go to the Lakers-Clips game at Staples. The Lakers won by 38 after beating Portland by 20 in Tuesday's opener.

Offensively, the only Clippper offensive advantage was early in the first quarter when Tim Thomas matched up against Gasol. Thomas had 7 points early before picking up two quick fouls.

After that, the Clippers struggled to score vs the Lakers defense. The slower the Clippers' pace, the more time the Laker defense had to get set.

Speaking on defense, the Laker defense was outstanding, holding the Clips to 37% shooting from the field. They did a great job of keeping the lane compact and limiting the dribble-penetration.

The weakside corner (3 balls) was the only area of the floor the Lakers didn't have covered at times as they did a great job scrambling and rotating to open men.

Baron Davis looked uncomfortable in his first game in an LAC system where Coach Dunleavy called the offensive sets througout the game. The Clippers played at a slower pace than had been talked about in preseason.

Davis only played in one preseason game due to injuries. His lack of reps was evident as he shot just 4-14 from the field. The lack of PT in the preseason likely had something to do with his inability to get into a flow.

Guard Eric Gordon, a Clipper lottery pick, saw most of his action in the 4Q. Gordon is a promising young player who will likely see more minutes as the season goes on, but he struggled in this game.

Undrafted Mike Taylor is a surprising young player with good quickness. A former NDBL player, he's frail, but has good upside. I thought he played well late in the game last night.

In the exhibition season, Taylor shot 9-12 in a win over the Lakers. He also had 11 points (4-4 FG) in 11 minutes against Denver.

The center match-up was no contest as Bynum totally out-played Kaman. When Camby gets healthy he'll really help the Clippers' interior defense. Chris Mihm saw some action in the 4Q for the Lakers, scoring 10 points in 9 minutes.

As for the bench, the Laker reserves had a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the entire game. Whoever wasn't in the game showed a lot of support for the guys on the floor, standing and cheering for their teammates.

It was the second night of a back-to-back for the Lakers, but it didn't show as it's a deep team and Coach Jackson does an excellent job of juggling minutes.

Ariza, Farmar, and Odom all had 20-plus minutes off the bench for the Lakers and it was the bench that opened up the game in the 2Q with a 17-0 run. Seven Lakers scored in double figures.

Coach Jackson's decision to bring Lamar Odom off the bench seems to have worked out well.

Coach Dunleavy had a great quote about Odom:

"He's like a queen on the chess board. He's got the ability to move position from position, almost other than center. He can play the point, forward, he handles the ball, he can distribute, he can make plays, he can play the mobile forward."