March 4, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) controls the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Lakers small forward Metta World Peace (15) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
The last two weeks the Lakers began with a couple of solid wins, only to fall flat in the last game of the week. Not this week though. This time the Lakers put an exclamation point on what was a pretty dominant week for our purple and gold. The week began with a 19 point beat down of the Love-less Timberwolves. It was followed by an 8 point victory against Sacramento in which a meaningless three in the final seconds by Francisco Garcia cut the final deficit to single digits. Then the cherry on top was Sunday's double digit win against the Miami Heat. Sure the Heat were missing Chris Bosh, but what the Lakers did to Miami was still very impressive. So what does essentially three double digits wins do to our trends?
Continue below the jump to find out...
Effective Field Goal %
It only takes a second to look at the chart and see the Lakers had begun to settle into thier position, barely moving over quite a few weeks. This week though is different. The Lakers offense is really starting to turn around. Sure the Timberwolves and Kings are not great defensive teams, but the Lakers had an eFG% of 52% and 57% respectively in those two games, both well above what those teams typically allow. As for the Heat, they are a great defensive team yet the Lakers connected to the tune of 53% eFG. Very impressive indeed. This week moved the offensive shooting percentage enough to move three spots in the league ranking.
Defensively the Lakers did much the same and played very tough defense for the most part. They held the Timberwolves and heat to roughly 42% eFG, well below their normal efficiencies. They did have a bit of a let-up on ings though, allowing 48% eFG in what turned into an offensive game.
Turnovers continue to be an issues as the Lakers lost the turnover battle in all three games this week. This weakness will not be going away this season. The best the Lakers can do is hope they can minimize the damage.
The Lakers actually had an unimpressive, if not disappointing, week on the glass. They were out-rebounded by a Timberwolves team that was without Kevin Love. They were out-rebounded by the Kings who essentially have Demarcus Cousins and that's about it. But when it came time to focus, they brought it against Miami. The Lakers dominated the offensive glass, grabbing over 40% of their misses. It would have been more impressive had they shut Miami down on their own glass but never the less they won that battle. In the end they still drop a few spots because of the poor performances in the first two games but overall they remain elite on the boards.
Free Throws to Field Goal Attempts
The Lakers used home-court advantage to its fullest this week, winning the free throw battle all three games. The extra trips to the line really help to offset the easy points they lose with turnovers. It will be crucial for the Lakers to continue to get easy points at the stripe in order to contend. This will be no small feat come playoff time and they eventually will have to do it against a good team on the road.
Offensive and Defensive Rating
Now that is what I am talking about! We like to red arrows pointing up here. Taking all the various pieces together and the results were an improvement on both ends of the floor. Sure the defensive improvement was minor (0.1 pts), but that hasn't been the side of the ball that has given the Lakers problems. Offensively the Lakers improved 0.8 points per 100 possessions. That is no small movement this far into the season. The Lakers posted offensive efficiency ratings of 109 (Minnesota), 113 (Miami), and 120 (Sacramento). All well above their season average. They were three performances representative of an elite offensive team.
This week showed that perhaps this dog still has enough fight left in him for another title as constructed. The slate of relatively easy games coming up should help the Lakers and keep these trends moving in the right direction.