By Craig Kwasniewski
Back to back losses against Western Conference playoff contenders can really, as they say in the futbol world, turn things all pear shaped (I'm still not sure what that means, but it has a nice sound, like I'm some kind of English commentator). So let's get right the the problem... the Lakers offense. Brett BEFORE the Houston loss on Sunday pretty much nailed what's wrong with the Lakers offense, but I'd like to take it to the next level...
Kobe's low post game might be hurting the Lakers offensively. Now understand, things can easily change as soon as Pau Gasol returns from his injured hammy, but right now the old Triangle Offense is looking like something Mike Brown might draw up while losing to Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals... all cluster F-ed.
With Kobe starting down low and clapping for the ball the whole 24 seconds there's nobody left to stretch the defense. The upside to the Radmanovic trade last spring was unearthing the hidden gem in Shannon Brown but they lost their best perimeter shooter in the deal. Before this season, when Kobe attacked from the wing, the help side defense rotated over to the freethrow line extended creating weakside space for players like Odom to slash or post up. But with Kobe down low, defenses are packing it in (Houston did this all Sunday night) and the Lakers are left with non-perimeter shooters like Artest and especially Odom standing around with their hands up and defenses daring them to shoot.
Let's take it one step further, when Jordan moved his game to the low post in the late 90's the Bulls' roster was loaded with quality mid-range shooters to stretch the defense. Guys like Luc Longley, Jud Buechler and Steve Kerr were dropping 8 to 12 points a night simply because they found the right areas to spot up in the Triangle Offense.
The Lakers don't have the players with consistent mid-range games. And please don't mention Sasha Vujacic, he conned the Lakers into an extension by having a career year in... shocker... a contract year. The guy shot 39% from the field last season, which is EXACTLY his career field goal percentage.
Anyway, the Lakers best five (while Gasol is out) is Artest, Odom, Fisher and Bynum... three guys who are low post scorers and Fisher... who's VERY long in the tooth. But nothing to prevent defenses from doubling, tripling or quadrupling Kobe. So while it's VERY impressive to see Kobe transform his game into late 90's Michael Jordan and compensate for all the mileage on his legs, it may not be the best thing for this Lakers roster.
I'm not saying Kobe should completely scrap the low post game, because it really is the best option for a player with his experience, but maybe he should split the post/wing attack to a more 50-50 mix like a run pass attack. Until then expect more defenses to emulate Houston and pack it in down low.
Of course things will change once Gasol, one of the league's smartest offensive players, returns.
BTW - You can't win too many games when you best defensive big man and most versatile player is COMPLETELY mailing it in. Odom got the ball swiped from him from behind while holding the ball above his head waiting for Kobe to get open. Odom just shrugged and pointed his man (who has a clear layup the other way). AWFUL!
BTW 2 - Artest is very good in the post, again more reason why Kobe needs to go 50-50 in post/perimeter attacking on offense.
BTW 3 - Phil Jackson will eventually fix this, but not until late December because he's lost his fastball.
BTW 4 - Derek Fisher is O-L-D.