Energetic, Gritty Second Half Helps Lakers Save Dignity in Comeback Win Rematch Against the Jazz in Preseason

Glad I watched the second half of this game. I didn’t turn the game on until late in the first half, when things weren’t looking so good. Then everything changed in the second half and this Lakers team looked more like what I was hoping they’d be like under Byron Scott: a gritty team that is going to give 100% effort on most possessions. If the Lakers can play as aggressively on both ends of the floor as they did in the second half, they’re going to surprise a lot of people. This is the type of team I was expecting the Lakers to be with the type of coaching I’ve seen from Byron Scott. We’ll see if they can build on this and form an identity around what they did in the second half of tonight’s game.

I don’t have much time to write, but just wanted to touch on some key highlights for me. Carlos Boozer was the big surprise for me tonight. It was his best game of the preseason and probably the best game he’s had in a long while. He was aggressive on the offensive end, not settling for 18-foot jumpers. Boozer is a player who doesn’t quite make sense to me. He’s built like a damn linebacker, but plays like Steve Novak from 18 feet. With all that muscle you figure he could muscle his way deep into the paint pretty much anytime he wants. And you figure he could box guys out for rebounds. But he pretty much just shoots jumpers. What is that about? Anyway, tonight, Boozer played more like how he’s built. He also varied up his game, keeping his man guessing all night. Boozer needs to do this more if he hopes to have any sort of comeback. He also had 6 steals, which has to be a career high for him, right?

Ronnie Price wasn’t a surprise, because that is the type of stuff that Ronnie Price should bring to this team. That being said, Price did perform at a very high level tonight defensively. He also threw in 10 assists to boot (he may have gotten more assists, but I’m not gonna bother looking up the box score). Ronnie Price is the perfect energy guy off the bench. If he can bring this most nights, the Lakers have a great presence when Lin is off the court. Price and Boozer really lifted the energy level in the second half. It was quite a comeback to take the lead in the third quarter, being down over 20 late in the first half. And it was led by Price’s tenacious defense.

The other great thing to see was Randle playing with a lot of patience. He looked like a veteran out there tonight. He listened to Kobe and trusted his jumper, which helped open up his game. And he also had some nice passes. Randle could be a very good Point Forward. He’s got great handles for a big man. The key for him is to be selective about implementing his Point Forward skills. Not go overboard with showcasing it. But it’s a nice advantage to have a big man who can handle the ball like that–especially of that big man can rebound the ball. That way, he can bring the ball up on rebounds and hopefully catch the defense off guard. It’s not a big thing, but is a “nice-to-have” advantage.

Of course, Ed Davis continues to give the most consistent effort of any Lakers so far this preseason. I don’t know what else Ed Davis needs to do to prove that he belongs in the starting lineup. Every time Ed Davis is on the court he goes after it on both ends of the floor. The only thing Ed Davis needs to prove to me is if he can give the same amount of effort when playing 30+ minutes consistently. That’s what I want to see from him. But, unfortunately, I’m not going to see this, because I’d be shocked if the Lakers start Ed Davis over Jordan Hill, even though that’s the absolutely right decision.

The only hope I have for Ed Davis starting over Hill is that this is one of the few games in which Kobe played with Ed Davis and I saw that Kobe consistently looked for Ed Davis down low. So I am hoping that Kobe talks to Scott and tells Scott to start Ed Davis. I hope that happens, because Ed Davis starting is a difference maker.

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  • MrPingPong

    Thanks for your quick game analysis, Philosopher.

    I missed the first quarter but was able to watch the rest of the game. I was guilty of giving up hope by half time. But I’m sure the most delusional of Lakers fans would feel the same way as well. Anyway, I am glad I hung in and watched the whole game. The second half was pure grit by the Lakers. It was fun.

    Kobe played 31+ minutes. I think this is about the limit that he and coach Scott have agreed to. It is very encouraging to see Kobe dishing out 5 assists. Can’t wait to see how Lin will mesh with Kobe. Hopefully Lin will have recovered fully from his ankle injuries (he tweaked both ankles) and will be able to practice with Kobe and play the last three preseason games.

    It’s still preseason, folks! Let’s be patient and have some fun watching the Lakers gel!

    • You’re welcome, MrPingPong.

      Kobe will definitely be more of a distributor this year, so Lin can play aggressively. It is good to hear Lin saying that he wants to be more aggressive. We’ll see if he can be aggressive in games and not feel the need to defer to others so much. It looks like Lin won’t have a chance to scrimmage, so not sure what that means for Tuesday. He has said that he wants to get in a scrimmage before playing. So we’ll see.

      Yeah, fans are gonna have to be really patient with this team, since they still have so many key players out. It’s good to hear Kobe expressing the need for Lin to be back. Interesting that Kobe talked about getting Lin back, but didn’t mention Nash.

      • Steppen

        Another very good article, Andy!
        I was really anticipating Lin to take the court (Like his 2nd breakout game in NY against the Jazz) =) The stuff about Boozer is hilarious! I’ve exactly the same thought. Why the heck is he keep shooting jumpers like Chris Bosh? You can’t make all of them, man…really… and it’s just too predictable. Mixed it up and have a higher % shot and get your opponents in foul trouble. Makes me think that he cannot dunk or something =)
        Anyway, give kudos to Kobe too. He played hard on both ends or at least he really tried on D. Some mistakes here and there but it’s all in the learning process. The game is won by Kobe. The teammates believed in him and he’s truly a difference maker. It’s all about trusting each others But they need a strong leader on the floor. The next one in line for the Lakers to trust as a co-captain is Lin. But all begins with the coaching staff. The sooner Coach Scott believes in Jeremy’s ability and makes him the co-captain of the team the sooner this Lakers team start rolling.
        But this Lakers team is more than Lin’s success. Every players have to put in their best efforts in order to take this team to another level and compete with the tough of the West. But I have faith in coach Scott, Kobe, Lin, Young, Henry, Boozer ( and Magic and Kareem behind them).
        Keep up the good work.

        • Thanks, Steppen! Appreciate it.

          Yeah, I hope Boozer bangs down low a little more this season. He is trying to make a comeback and that would be the best way. So We’ll see.

          Kobe is the other player who’s been giving consistent effort throughout the preseason. Been very happy with what Kobe has done so far. I think he’ll be even more efficient this year than he has in his career, because he’s relying on his teammates now. We haven’t seen that in the past few games, because so many guys are out. But when the team is healthy again, I think we’re gonna see a Kobe who plays efficiently within himself, which will be a big difference to how Kobe used to play. And in this case, it’ll be a positive difference.

          Don’t forget James Worthy. He’s been giving lessons on footwork to the big men on the team. Really great to see that. Some valuable lessons there–especially for Randle.

  • MrPingPong

    You wouldn’t believe this, but Lin’s day time job is selling Adidas gears.


    And here is what Kobe has to say about Lin:


    • I saw this. Lin did a great job of disguising his voice.
      Looks like Lin will be playing tonight, according to the man himself. Gonna be a tough assignment for LIn defending three point guards at the same time. He sure picked a tough game to come back, but Lin never shies from a challenge.