The L.A. Lakers, despite sucking, still scare me

Maybe they shouldn't. Maybe I'm living in fantasy land instead of reality. Maybe my pre-season thoughts that they'd be 2nd or 3rd best team in the league just can't be shaken despite the fact they're unlikely to even make the playoffs. Whatever the reason, I still fear the Lakers.

With Luol Deng out with a strained hamstring, Chicago will rely on Jimmy Butler to defend Bryant on the perimeter. Dwight Howard has always given Joakim Noah fits, because Noah's primary strength is help defense not man defense, and Howard attacks his weaknesses while limiting his ability to play to his strengths. Paul Gasol will clearly matchup well against Carlos Boozer, because any skilled big man matches up well against Boozer.

I like Hinrich's ability to contain Nash, but containing Nash is probably the least of Chicago's worries. On paper, the game looks very difficult for Chicago, but on paper, the Lakers are still one of the best teams in the league. In reality, they just lost to the Raptors, so obviously they can be beat. The Bulls have typically won games by the dominance of their front court, but they're not likely to get that against L.A.

It's hard to imagine Boozer sliding into the lane and doing a lot of damage in this game with Howard there to help and a bigger defender like Gasol on him. Noah also seems rather unlikely to do significant damage offensively with Dwight on him. That leaves things up to the perimeter players, but with Luol out, Chicago loses a big chunk of their perimeter offense.

The Bulls will likely need to see big offensive games from Belinelli and Hamilton and a whole lot of hustle from the team overall in order to win the game.

Any fall out from the Noah benching?

Joakim Noah was benched against the Memphis Grizzlies, and while I certainly don't think there would normally be any fall out from a guy not getting back into the game when the bench unit brings the team back after a huge deficit, the fact that Taj fouled out and Thibs went with Mohammed adds the final insult.

This was clearly a message. It clearly wasn't about giving the team the best chance to win. At least not this game. There's no circumstances outside of severely sprained ankle (which Noah would be good to go into the game with even if he could barely walk) where Mohammed's a better choice than Noah.

The question is whether Noah will hold any grudge or ill will over the incident. My guess is no, but Noah has made plenty of comments in jest over Thibs working the guys hard or being a dictator. The question is whether he's really joking or doing the 'haha I'm kidding... sorta' thing where he's masking the genuine feelings in a shroud of humor.

I'll go with the first, and K.C. Johnson points out that Noah responded well to Ben Wallace and Adrian Griffin calling a players meeting and suspending him an extra game for his treatment of Ron Adams.

I expect Noah to play a ton of minutes today with extra focus against Howard.



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  • Everyone should be scared of the Lakers cause as you said Doug, they just lost to the Raptors and the biggest reason is the Bulls absolutely suck at the UC, no home court advantage at all and very deserving for the yuppie homer fans that dwell at the United Center, very uninspiring people that go to Bulls games for a social event.

  • This may be just what Butler needs to break him out of his shell. Not that he hasn't been doing a good job, I just think the kid still has a lot of untapped potential and with Deng out this may be opportunity he needs to really improve and expand his game.

    As for Noah and Thibs I don't think is a big deal at all. Like it or not these guys are stuck with each other for a while and they have plenty of time to pull each other to the side and work out their differences. Personally I thought it was a good call by Thibs. It may or may not have cost us the game but sometimes acts like that is necessary to get a players attention. Regardless of how much these guys are getting paid or big their egos become at the end of the day this is still a basketball team and the player coach relationship is a very important element to any form of success. Which is why the Lakers don't scare me in the least. The chemistry just isn't there and those players and the coaching staff on that team don't see each other as family. That's why their playing so poorly despite all the big names. That's the one advantage the Bulls have had over most teams this year and is the key ingredient to the teams success. So even though they play horrible at home i say the Bulls will win it!

  • In reply to ajaychitown:

    The thing that bothers me about the benching isn't so much that it directly caused a loss, more so that it continues a pattern of preferential treatment on the part of Thibs.

    If you're benching people for lack of effort or playing loosey-goosey, wouldn't R.I.P. and Boozer still be pinned to the bench? Would Keith Bogans have started every single game? Would Hinrich still be the starting PG?

    Why single out Noah? My hope is that it is because Thibs knows that Noah will be here long term, and there is still some ability to be molded. With the people I named, they pretty much are who they are going to be, admittedly.

    However, given the track record he has established/is establishing, I can't help but have the sinking feeling that Thibs is Doug Collins 2.0. Some improvements with defensive strategy, but overall, looking like an A-->B coach.

    The thing that is frustrating with Thibs is his inconsistency. He'll play Deng into the ground in the name of trying to eek out as many regular season wins as possible (which, of course, backfires with an overuse injury like a hammy) but then he'll leave Noah to sit for a quarter, knowing that a). players are getting gassed/abused and b). it will likely result in a loss.

    Which is it? Every win matters, or what is best for the team takes precedence over a single win?

  • I don't have much confidence in the Bulls to beat anyone, especially at home, especially without Deng.

    That stated, this is a team the Bulls should beat. As Barkley says, they're old, slow and unathletic. That's just no way to go through life.

  • In reply to John Lash:

    Minus Rose the Bulls aren't exactly fast and athletic either... Hinrich, Deng, Boozer and Noah are probably all below average in the athleticism department and that is 4/5 of the starters. Noah has speed for his size so you could argue that but overall he is no JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard type athlete.

  • Totally agree with your general sentiments on the Lakers. A big part of it has to be reputation. The second part is name brand talent, the Lakers have it, we don't. On that level alone the bulls would appear to have no shot in this game.

    This is one game where I think that Thibs should pull his usual Noah/Bozo switch on defense. Noah kills himself fighting with Howard, so let bozo fake guard Howard and switch Noah onto Gasol.

    The Lakers problems this year have been of defense, so it will be interesting to see if the Bulls can get easy scores against them for the entire 48 minutes. Though it doesn't seem likely that the Bulls would win a game in the 100's

  • I wouldn't say the Lakers scare me, but with Rose and Deng out, any team has a decent chance against the Bulls. The big advantage the Bulls have over the Lakers is a coach who isn't trying to do something completely unsuited to his players.

    Gasol might be a talented big man on paper, but playing out at the three point line he's pretty much useless. Howard isn't the same defender under D'Antoni and it's not all about his injury, D'Antoni doesn't drill the defense the way Van Gundy did in Orlando. Steve Nash isn't Steve Nash when he has to give the ball over the Kobe rather than use it ... and well, judging by the last couple of games Kobe has given up on the season and is just chucking for his own personal quest to become the all-time leading scorer.

    Hard to call anything at home a should win with this team's home record, and with Deng out it'll be a struggle. But this is still a game the Bulls should be winning, the Lakers road record is terrible and they're a team in disarray. That's supposed to be what organised teams like the one Thibs runs feast on.

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