Lakers Trends - Small Bump in the Road

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07: Kevin Seraphin #13 of the Washington Wizards puts up a shot over the defense of Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at the Verizon Center on March 7, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Last week the Lakers went a perfect 3-0 and it appeared the purple and gold wagon was headed in the right direction. This week that wagon hit a small bump in the road. Actually it hit two small bumps, one in Detroit and the other in Washington. The Lakers left Staples Center on cloud nine after beating the red hot Miami Heat. The Lakers then laid a complete egg in Detroit, losing to one of the worst teams in the league. Maybe it was a sort of trap game after a great win against the Heat as letdowns do happen. One would think, at a minimum, it would get the Lakers' attention. But alas, just as these Lakers can produce wins resulting in euphoric highs, they too are capable of producing perplexing losses. Blowing a 21-point lead to the woeful Washington Wizards certainly qualifies as the latter.

Not all was lost though. Perhaps the basketball gods took pity on the Lakers and their road woes and gave them the gift of playing a Timberwolves team without Kevin Love. Love came down with back spasms prior to the game which surely tipped the advantage to the Lakers. Unfortunately the Lakers found themselves down one with 16 seconds to play and the basketball gods intervened yet again by sending Kobe Bryant to the line after a foul by Ricky Rubio. Rubio torn his ACL on the play and wasn't on the floor when the Timberwolves needed a game winning basket on their final possession. That about sums up what it takes for the Lakers to win a road game. They needed a .500 team to play without its only All Star to keep the game close and then an injury to arguably their second best player to finish the game off. In other words, the team left on the floor needed to be worse than Detroit or Washington in order for the Lakers to win.

The Lakers then returned home where they are the most dominant team in the league. They finished the week off by notching another win against their much hated rivals, the Boston Celtics. Perhaps most impressive was that Kobe deferred to Andrew Bynum for the final play, and not because he was triple teamed, but he in fact drew up the play for the young stud. The big fella delivered the bucket and the win. Had the Lakers lost to Minnesota and/or Boston it may have been the point in which the wagon drove off the road. Instead, the losses to Detroit and Washington appear to be just a bump in the road now as the wagon continues on.

Continue below the jump to check out the graphs...

Effective Field Goal %

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The week began with an ugly game in Detroit in which neither team broke 90 points despite the game going into overtime. The Lakers outshot Detroit 44% to 41% eFG. The next two games saw all teams break the 100 point mark (no overtime needed) with both Washington and Minnesota each producing an eFG% just north of 50%.

Offensively the Lakers were poor against Washington (44%) and lost, but great against Minnesota (51%) and won. The Lakers then finished the week at home where they allowed Boston to shoot and eFG of 50%, but connected at a ridiculous 56% themselves, leading to the win.

Turnover %

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We lost the turnover battle in all four games this week. No surprise here. Moving on...

Rebound %

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The Lakers basically played the Pistons to a draw on the glass to start the week, a reasonable result when one realizes the Pistons are one of the best rebounding teams in the league (see the chart above). They were then crushed on the glass by the Wizards (one of the worst teams in the league on the boards). They bounced back and dominated the Love-less Wolves on the glass (as would be expected). Finally, they used their size to overpower the older and smaller Celtics team to finish off the week. Overall not much of a change this week for the purple and gold.

Free Throws to Field Goal Attempts

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The Lakers make up for their lack of easy transition points by winning the battle at the line. This week they attempted more free throws than their opposition in all four games. Defensively they allowed only 12 attempts to Detroit and Boston. The result moved them into the number one spot for defensive free throw rate (i.e. they are the best at not putting their opponent on the line). Offensively they pounded the ball and forced teams to foul. As a result, they have continued to move up on the offensive end with regards to free throw attempts.

Offensive and Defensive Rating

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Overall the Lakers didn't change much this week. The offense continues to come around but the defense took a bit of a step back this week. Other than the Detroit game, the Lakers allowed their opponents to produce at least 105 points per 100 possessions (Phoenix Suns territory). Clearly not what is expected of a Mike Brown team.

The Lakers' offense produced an above average offensive rating in three of the four contests this week. A nice trend when you consider the Lakers have been basically average all season long offensively. They continue to rely on free throws as their biggest asset as they have been rather mediocre in shooting and rebounding, the latter of which is a surprise.

If the Lakers could get the offense to continue at the pace they have displayed recently, while re-establishing the defense we saw at the beginning of the year, they could become a very formidable team. Until then they will continue to run into bumps in the road.

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