Sunday, November 1, 2009
The Lakers are back on the hard wood tonight against a talented Atlanta Hawks team. Hopefully the Lakers will bring and employ their defense tonight at the Staples Center. The Lakers took one on the chin and were beaten by the Mavericks on Friday because of poor shooting and not being able to stop a familiar tactic; the pick and roll play.
The loss was their worse at home in two years. Los Angeles needs to shake off the rust and put on a bounce back performance. Being stunned at home by an opponent that you had beaten six times in a row could be the type of wake up call this team needs.
The Lakers have a favorable schedule to start the season that could easily vault them in the Western Conference Standing but they’ll have to play night and day better than what we saw against Dallas.
Los Angeles is still playing without All-Star Power Forward Pau Gasol who has yet to make his 2009-2010 season debut, it is doubtful that it will be tonight. The team doesn’t look the same without him. The ironic thing is that Gasol was the third pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He was traded to the Vancouver Grizzlies on draft day. However it must be said that I have no idea how Kwame Brown & Tyson Chandler were selected ahead of him.
His absence is no excuse for how lethargic the team was defensively. The coaching staff will have watching film of the game as use it as a teaching tool. It is necessary because the Atlanta Hawks are averaging 110 points per game.
All-Star Shooting Guard Joe Johnson is averaging 21 points per game and has shot 50 percent or better against the Lakers in six of his last seven games in Los Angeles. Josh Smith is averaging 19 points per game. Running the offense for the Hawks is veteran Point Guard Mike Bibby who has played well against the Lakers on more than one occasion.
Andrew Bynum has been solid this season, averaging 20 points and 11.5 rebounds but he will need help against Atlanta’s talented young front court of Al Horford, Marvin Williams and Josh Smith. Horford is averaging 17 points 14 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game.
The Lakers have to shot better and play defense without fouling. Los Angeles was outscored 25-9 from the free throw line against Dallas. The Lakers need to get back to using excellent ball movement and excellent player movement to be effective. The front line of Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum will be put to the test but have to step up to the challenge.
The Lakers need to focus on defense limit the Hawks to one shot per possession, stop the dribble penetration, control the boards, rotate out to three point shooters, close down the lane and make it a point to stop the pick an roll play because they’ll have to face it and defend against it all year.
Tip-off: 6:30 PM PST
• Los Angeles: Fox Sports West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
• Atlanta: Fox Sports South (Bob Rathbun & Dominique Wilkins)
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
• Atlanta: 790 AM (Steve Holman)
• Pau Gasol (Hamstring)
Photo Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times