O.C. Register: The way to play the Lakers has been unveiled, and it has left the Lakers with largely the same not-so-hot defense that failed them at the end of last season.
Andrew Bynum, injured and conspicuously absent during Boston’s layup line in the NBA Finals, was supposed to be the answer for the Lakers’ defense this season: a 7-foot, 285-pound goalie to protect the paint and deny the rim to all opposing players.
So what happens to the Lakers’ defense if the opposing team forces the Lakers to pull their goalie?
Well, to put it simply: more goals. You’ve seen it in recent Lakers games. Now let’s explain it.
Even before he wound up going to his great-grandmother’s funeral, Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t going to play against the Lakers on Wednesday night. The Suns are only using O’Neal in one game in back-to-back sets, yet they broke from their tradition of playing him against the tougher team when they decided to rest him against the Lakers instead of against Milwaukee.
The Suns got drilled by the Lakers in Phoenix last month playing the usual post-up game, so they wanted to try the only thing that has worked for everyone else against the Lakers: spreading the floor, drawing Bynum and Pau Gasol out and making the paint a nice little driveway.