Just wanted to get out some initial reactions to tonight’s game.
The big caveat is that this is the first preseason game and it was against a Nuggets without Gallinari or McGee. So don’t want to make too much of this.
First of all, Kobe looked like…Kobe. In other words, he looked pretty damn amazing! I would say that he was even more efficient than the Kobe of old. He only forced a few shots and was looking to facilitate. He also seemed to trust his teammates more than he has in the past. So I really like this Kobe version a lot. Big fan of Kobe’s right now.
The other big standout to me was Ed Davis. He seems to really understand the game. Knows where to be and where to get to on the floor. He was perfect on all those screen-and-rolls, nearly all of which Lin was a partner in. Ed Davis was the only bench unit that seemed to have any chemistry with Lin. More on this in a moment. Overall, Ed Davis has great athleticism, but also has good basketball IQ from what I saw.
Nash surprised me how well he looked.He got off to a pretty slow start, playing very passively but then managed to turn things up a bit later on, without forcing the issue (Nash never forces the issue). Right now, Nash is earning his starting spot.
Overall, with the exception of Boozer, the starting unit looked very solid. Jordan Hill managed a very quiet Double-Double and Wes Johnson surprised me on the offensive end. He did fumble a couple of catches from Kobe that could have led to pretty easy scores, though. But, as expected, he was excellent on the defensive end.
I’ll talk about Lin later, but the one guy that didn’t do much (pretty much non-existent) was Sacre. But this was at least a little better than Boozer, who was worse than non-existent. He was pretty bad.
Ellington had a quiet, but solid performance.
The rookies looked like…rookies. Even though Clarkson ended up being the leading scorer, he did it very inefficiently and was way too trigger-happy. He needs to do a much much much better job of finding his spots. He went 3 of 13. Not what you want from a rookie, but he definitely is not shy at all about doing whatever he can to try to score. He wasn’t a facilitator at all, though, tonight. I think Clarkson’s main goal was to find any way to overshadow Lin and take Lin’s job eventually. That’s the sense I get. You’ve got to hand it to him for being very aggressive, which is not something I can say about Lin, tonight. More on this later.
Randle had a much better debut than Clarkson, which is not what I expected. Throughout training camp, we heard a lot about Clarkson, but not so much about Randle. Reporters even mentioned that Clarkson is more NBA ready than Randle, to their surprise. But, tonight, Randle looked more NBA ready than Clarkson. Although, Randle still looked like a rookie. He did have several very good spurts where he did look like a veteran. So that’s a great sign. But I don’t expect to see much in the way of Lin/Randle highlights as they don’t have any chemistry with each other right now. But, of course, this is just one game. But I felt like Randle looked Lin off the whole night. He only passed to Lin when he really needed to and had no other options. Randle prefers to take it upon himself and drive to the lane himself, rather than pass to Lin. I think he also wants Clarkson to take Lin’s job, because he looked to pass to Clarkson, but not to Lin. I know it sounds like I’m trying to start some controversy, but I’m just reporting what I saw. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Overall, the Lakers team surprised me with how well they all meshed. I was expecting it to look pretty sloppy, but it was actually very smooth overall. There were only a few spurts where things got stagnant or sticky. Most of that was with the second unit towards the latter part of the fourth quarter. I felt like the first unit flowed pretty well. And I didn’t have to suffer through the clueless “offensive sets” that the Rockets “ran”.
For their first preseason game, I was very impressed with the movement–especially the off-ball movement of the players. And on defense, they might have made technical mistakes, but they did give it their full effort for an entire 48 minutes as a unit. The players were also very vocal on the defensive-end, which is what you want. Byron Scott has to be pleased with this debut. But, again, it wasn’t like the Lakers were playing Lebron. So we’ll see how things go on Thursday when they face more of a “real team” in the Warriors.
Now, finally to Lin. Jeremy Lin lead everyone with 10 assists. The next closest to Lin in assists was Ty Lawson with 6 assists. So an excellent stat line for Lin there. However, Lin was 0 of 6 from the field and all of Lin’s shots looked awful. He also missed 2 of 3 free throws. Lin had some good moments, but overall, I thought he had a very mixed debut.
Lin started off very passively. He deferred to Jordan Clarkson. So my fears of Lin picking up the “habit” of deferring was on display tonight. Lin let the rookie dictate the offense for the first half of the second quarter. It wasn’t until Lin connected on two back-to-back screen-and-rolls with Ed Davis that Lin started to assert himself. That didn’t happen until well into the second half of the second quarter. Up until then, Clarkson didn’t pass to Lin once. Lin would just cough up the ball to Clarkson and disappear in the corner like he did in Houston. So Lin still needs to work on asserting himself more. Right now, there are definitely two guys on the team that don’t respect him and that’s Clarkson and Randle. Clarkson, more so because he wants to take Lin’s job. And that maybe Randle’s reason as well (wanting Clarkson to take Lin’s job). But I saw Lin just giving the reigns to Clarkson the moment they checked into the game. That’s not a good sign. Lin also didn’t have any pick-and-rolls until the Ed Davis screen and Rolls. Lin was very good on the defensive end, though, as expected.
Right now, the chemistry with Lin and the second unit is not there. Lin drives into congested lanes and he often finds himself without options when he gets into the lane. Lin is also not looking to score very much. And when he does look to score, it looks really bad. So apart from the 10 assists, Lin didn’t have a very good debut. But the Lakers commentators were very kind to Lin. Lin did have the highlight of the night with his alley-oop to Ed Davis.
Right now, Lin is definitely not making a case for starting. Of course, it’s just the first preseason game. So no need to make too much of any of these observations. Overall, I was impressed with the Lakers but disappointed with Lin’s debut. What do you guys think?
By the way, isn’t it nice to hear a coach break down the game in post game interviews without sounding like a Neanderthal, I mean, like McHale?
My main concern with Lin right now is that he has forgotten how to play the way he used to during Linsanity, due to the brainwashing that he’s received from McHale. In particular, during Linsanity, Lin directed traffic. He called for high screens regularly, which is something that he excels at. But now, I feel like he’s either embarrassed about calling high screens or he doesn’t want to burden his teammates or something. In some ways, I think Lin thinks getting high screens is cheating or something, so he wants to figure out a way to get to the rim without getting high screens. Part of it maybe because he wants to get away from “Linsanity” and calling for high screens reminds him too much of Linsanity. But that’s really getting deep into his psyche. So I totally understand if people look at me like I’m crazy here. But whatever the reason, I don’t see Lin directing traffic and calling for high screens anymore and I don’t think he’ll go back to doing that, probably ever, which is a shame. So I tweeted Lin the following after the game. I just hope he has people around him who are thinking about these things:
I actually don’t really care to meet Lin in person as a fan. In other words, I’m not looking to get his autograph or his picture or anything like that. What I want is a way to communicate to Lin as a quasi coach. I want some sort of direct line of communication to him or to someone close to him so I know at least that he is either thinking about these things or people around him are thinking about these things. For now, the best I can do is to tweet him and his brothers.