When Jerry West spoke to some Orange County car dealers last week, he said that part of the problem with the Lakers defense was that they were too old. “The reason you can’t play defense is because you can’t,” he said.
Phil Jackson agreed — with qualifiers — with that when speaking to the media Sunday (such as the Los Angeles Times).
“He’s right,” the Lakers’ coach said, still smiling. “We have to do a lot of things right to be able to play defense the way we want to. And most of it is about controlling the tempo of the game…
“There’s some (age issues with the Lakers),” he said. “There’s something about just speed, just outright speed. We’re not the fastest team on the board here in the NBA. But we do it if we control things the right way.”
The Lakers have not been a bad defensive team — they are 10th in the league in defensive efficiency (points given up per possession) — but there have been lapses. Ugly, high-profile lapses. Those lapses tend to happen when they let the other team get transition points or early offense points, before the Lakers can set their defense. Basically, when more athletic teams can run on them.
Since the return of Andrew Bynum to the starting lineup, the Lakers defense is better when it gets set. They have made a point of keeping Bynum home to protect the paint. The wing defenders have done a better job of funneling players looking to drive toward the baseline and toward the long arms of Bynum (and Pau Gasol).
All that bodes well for the playoffs, when the pace of games tends to slow down. To beat the Lakers teams will need some easy transition buckets, because while the Lakers are older — 10 players on the roster are 30 or more — they are still very good if you let them get into their system.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.
Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.
Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.
Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.
The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.
BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.
The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.
In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.
Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.
New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.
That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.
First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.
The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.
Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.
That seemed odd.
In fact, it’s unprecedented.
That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron James‘ cachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.
Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.