Well of course Pau Gasol couldn’t play tonight! How silly it would be for anyone to think that the Lakers could capitalize on the silver linings they continue to fight for in this awful, injury-riddled season. Last night’s win against the Timberwolves, where the Lakers played defense and figured out a way to run their offense despite being down four guards and basically a point forward, was just too positive for the basketball gods not to rain on their parade.
The day after he was two assists away from a triple-double, Gasol suddenly develops a respiratory infection and can’t play? And in tonight’s game, the Lakers forced the Golden State into 18 turnovers, but could only get two points from it? And despite the Warriors shooting under 40%, the Lakers could only muster up 33% from the field themselves?
At what point were the Lakers going to catch a break tonight when, regardless of their defensive efforts, their offense suffered so mightily because they didn’t have a single player who could run the floor? And because of that, they’re back below .500 in a 102-83 loss.
Defensive Efforts – The Lakers held the Warriors to 34% shooting in the first half. David Lee had 13 points, but Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were only a combined12 points on 4-17 from the field. They were doing SOMETHING right. Unfortunately, defense doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t score on the other end, which is exactly how things transpired for the Lakers tonight.
Jordan Hill – 14 points on 6-11 from the field, and 10 rebounds. It’s a solid line for Hill, if only those points didn’t just come in the first half. In just under six minutes of playing time in the last two quarters, Hill contributed five rebounds and one foul…and that’s it.
Wesley Johnson – In his last five games, Wes Johnson is just 12-40 from the field. He went 0-7 tonight and if not for two free throws, would’ve had nothing but a donut in the points column. He’s 3-19 from three in those same five games.
No Playmaker – It’s not just about the bodies they’re able to suit up. It’s about the role those bodies play on this team and the domino effect that has occurred in their absence. Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar are the Lakers’ floor generals. When they went down, the next best thing was Kobe Bryant, a player who’s adept at having the ball in his hands and knowing what to do besides score with it. After Kobe is sidelined, the Lakers call on Xavier Henry to run the point but really, the player who ran the game last night was Pau Gasol, one of the best passing big men in the league. He had more assists in last night’s win than his fellow Spaniard and Minnesota Timberwolf point guard Ricky Rubio. Tonight, Gasol can’t play. Who is left on this team, other than new Laker, Kendall Marshall, who played just under six minutes tonight and could only muster three points and four turnovers. Without a primary ball handler, the Lakers painted themselves into a corner on a lot of their possessions. There was a lot of passing, but little intent behind those passes. And when there was intent, the player meant to receive the pass wasn’t ready and it resulted in turnovers. 11 assists to 24 Laker turnovers, from which the Warriors took 28 points. Unfortunately, the Lakers couldn’t do the same off of 18 Warriors turnovers (seven points is nothing). Another effect of having no playmaker – no ball movement. Last night the Lakers had 27 assists. Tonight they had 11 – nine assists in the first half and two (TWO!) in the entire second half.
Add this to the list of Laker games to forget. They hit a season low, scoring just 83 points. Next up are the Suns in Phoenix.