There are times when numbers fail us. Occasions when the usefulness of statistics is overwhelmed by the very event that produced them. Sometimes, events take such a toll on the human spirit that only direct, first-person observation can do justice to the horror, and any attempt to quantify risks trivializing what came to pass.
On a completely unrelated note, how about the ol' purple and gold today!
Look, I dutifully ran the Game Four numbers through my spreadsheets because that's my raison d'etre in these parts, and here at SS&R we bring our lunchpails to work every day. Unlike, ahem, some basketball teams who shall remain nameless. (*cough* Lakers! *cough*) But to be honest, the stats from today's game are less illuminating than was the experience of watching pretty much any two-minute stretch of play from the first three quarters. As my colleagues have elsewhere described in detail, the performance by the Lakers in Game Four amounted to a wholesale organizational failure that merits every disparaging adjective we can think of.
But please, do join me after the jump in appraising the wreckage from angles numerical. I had to churn through this mess, so it's only fair that I drag you down with me....
Before I dive into the usual run of tempo-adjusted numbers, let me blow your mind with this: of the Lakers' 76 field goal attempts today, a mere 12 were launched from within the paint. Only 16%. That would be a horrifically small percentage even if the opposing team had - oh, I don't know - a 7'6" shotblocking menace guarding the rim. Against a diminished Rockets' front line that runs about 6'8" on average, it's downright reprehensible, an abject failure of game-planning and execution.
If you need to step away to kick some furniture right now, I completely understand. Go ahead - I'll wait.
. . . . .
Feel better? Me neither, but on to the usual business anyway. There were 86 possessions per team tonight, the fewest of any game between the Lakers and Rockets this season, no doubt because there wasn't much reason for the losing team to bother fouling intentionally at the end. Those 86 possessions blessed us with the following:
- Turnover rate: Lakers - 13%, Rockets - 13%.
- FTA/FGA: Lakers - 0.24, Rockets - 0.25.
- Free throw shooting: Lakers - 61%, Rockets - 85%.
- Effective field goal percentage: Lakers - 50%, Rockets - 51%.
- True shooting percentage: Lakers - 52%, Rockets - 56%.
- Offensive rebounding rate: Lakers - 20%, Rockets - 30%.
- Defensive rebounding rate: Lakers - 70%, Rockets - 80%.
- Points per possession: Lakers - 1.01, Rockets - 1.15.
Ha! Nice try, numbers, but you're not fooling anyone. We all know this pig got a generous slathering of lipstick in the fourth, by which point the outcome had long been fait accompli. Would that I'd printed out the third-quarter boxscore, which would have better captured the unspeakable fug.
I can tell you that after three quarters, the Lakers were averaging 0.84 points per possession, to the Rockets' 1.30. Had that kept up for the 22 possessions actually played in the fourth, the final score would have been Rockets - 112, Lakers - 72.
Let that extrapolation sink in for a moment. It's really the best way I can attempt to quantify what we saw today.
A couple player-level stat bombs to help round out the misery:
- As we all basically knew it would at some point, Ron Artest's offensive game fell apart today, as he scored only eight points in 44 minutes on 19 shooting possessions. What's amazing - in the sense of inspiring incredulity, as opposed to the Kanye/Young Jeezy sense of the word - is that Houston was nonetheless +16 with Ron in the game. When Ron's in Wildly Inaccurate Gunner mode, the Lakers should be - need to be - destroying this team. That Houston put L.A. 16 points in the rearview mirror with Artest burning possessions left and right is unfathomable to me.
- I know I'm piling on with this one, but the Derek Fisher Problem is growing in magnitude and consequence. He scored two points and dished zero dimes, while displaying the usual defensive inadequacies, in 20 minutes played today, during which the Lakers were -26. It was one thing to tolerate Fish's shortcomings when Jordan Farmar couldn't pull himself together and Shannon Brown was a question mark, but those two are playing some very solid ball right now, to the point where you could make the case that Fish has become our third-best option at PG. In discussing Farmar after Game Three, Phil Jackson made the point that "minutes are not something that are given to you.... they're something that you earn." I wonder whether that standard applies to everyone on the team, or just the young guys.
Finally, here are the composite series numbers to date. There will be at least two more games' worth of data to add to this, starting Tuesday with Game Five. Wheee.
- Average possessions per game: 91.
- Turnover rate: Lakers - 11%, Rockets - 18%.
- FTA/FGA: Lakers - 0.29, Rockets - 0.33.
- Free throw shooting: Lakers - 70%, Rockets - 79%.
- Effective field goal percentage: Lakers - 50%, Rockets - 50%.
- True shooting percentage: Lakers - 53%, Rockets - 55%.
- Offensive rebounding rate: Lakers - 28%, Rockets - 32%.
- Defensive rebounding rate: Lakers - 68%, Rockets - 72%.
- Points per possession: Lakers - 1.09, Rockets - 1.07.