In today's post we will look at some of the tactics the New Orleans Hornets used to beat the Lakers in game one and the adjustments that need to be made for the Lakers to move on to the second round.
In their first game of the 2011 playoffs, the Lakers showed an unusual amount of sloppiness and lack of execution.
Here the Hornets show some full court pressure. The Lakers run a center opposite to counter. Usually, the center stays opposite to set a rub screen for the weakside wing. In this case the center, Andrew Bynum, has to be mindful that his weakside wing is new teammate Trey Johnson and it would be better for Bynum to go over instead of Johnson. As Bynum's teammates start yelling at him to go Kobe's impatience gets the better of him and he launches a three. Luckily the Lakers get an offensive rebound and end the possession with a score.
This clip shows the Lakers being indecisive in every phase of the offense. Derek Fisher, instead of simply entering the ball into Kobe in the right side wing, decides to over dribble over to the other wing and setup. Once he's at the wing, both Kobe and Bynum are hesitant to fill the post. Bynum finally does and the two pass to the post is made. Instead of fanning away, Ron Artest cuts towards the free throw line area. Instead of a speed cut, Fisher steps back towards Bynum for a hand off, then decides to set a screen for Kobe that Kobe isn't ready to use. Fisher is left open and Bynum passes him the ball but Fisher isn't ready to make his move. He over fakes giving the defense time to setup. Instead of using a single fake to get a clean dribble jumper off, Fisher is forced to toss up garbage while trying to draw a foul resulting in a turnover.
Among the general mental miscues, the Lakers showed a disturbing susceptibility to the different looks the Hornets threw at the Lakers:
-2-3 Matchup zone: Once in a while, the Hornets went zone against the Lakers. Early in the game the Lakers were caught off guard.
Later in the game the Lakers made the proper adjustments
Here we see the ball naturally exchange sides of the floor after two center opposites and a two pass to the top.
- Full court pressure:
Here we actually see two tactics by the Hornets. First is the light full court pressure they occasionally threw at the Lakers. Second: throughout the game Trevor Ariza was constantly putting pressure on Kobe whether he was the ball handler or off the ball. In this clip, Kobe happens to be the ball handler and the Hornets are showing full court pressure. Because of Ariza's pressure, Kobe arrives at the moment of truth all the way in the backcourt. Instead of coming back to the ball, the Lakers are content to stay all the way on the other side of the court and force Kobe to work to get the ball across the timeline. Even with this soft pressure, 10 seconds pass until the Lakers finally form a triangle. Kobe cuts off Bynum, further delaying a two pass. Finally, with only 11 seconds left on the shot clock, a two pass to the top is made. Ariza does a good job of denying Kobe position and forces Kobe all the way out to the perimeter to receive the ball. Even with a quick move, only 5 seconds remain when Kobe releases his shot.
Again we see full court pressure (and Ariza is still playing Kobe tightly). As soon as Fisher hits the moment of truth, Gasol is ready to flash to the high post and a wing reverse is executed. Odom receives the ball on the move going left and the Lakers are able to get a quick shot off against the Hornets pressure.
Despite this being a playoff game, the Lakers demonstrated uncharacteristic impatience and lack of discipline. The Lakers are a veteran laden team that shouldn't be thrown off by zones and full court pressure. They should be able to punish these types of gimmicks and get easy looks. Hopefully the Lakers wakeup from their self imposed slumber and get back to the championship caliber level of play they are capable of.