Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dissecting Pacers vs Lakers And Darren Collison

The Indiana Pacers acquired point guard Darren Collison from the New Orleans Hornets this week.

There have been so many things written this off-season about the Pacers and their need for a point guard that I almost started to believe it.

Then I went back and looked at the game tape.

Since the Los Angeles Lakers have been the best team in the NBA for the past two seasons, and there isn't much video of other teams available, why not start there?

What better way to measure yourself than against the best, right?

The Pacers played the Lakers in Los Angeles on March 2, 2010, and were crushed 122-99. They were also punished at home on January 27, 118-96.

Only the game at Los Angeles will be used, but for those who want to continue dissecting on their own, here is the game at Indiana.

THE FUN BEGINS (:38 on the video player)

UPDATE: 6/10/2011, 12:35 PM

The original video used for this analysis has been removed by the user. You can still see many of the same plays described below but at different times on the video player.

Looking at Dahntay Jones' box score, you would think he had a pretty good game. Looking at the game, you would know otherwise. At :38, the Pacers are ahead 24-20.

Jones allows Kobe Bryant to beat him off the dribble. This forces Troy Murphy to have to come over and help, which leaves Murphy's man Pau Gasol in position to tip in the offensive rebound.

Jones then drives to the basket against Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol and gets his shot blocked. This leads to a transition three-pointer by Jordan Farmar.

After that, while paying too much attention to Bryant being defended by Earl Watson, Jones loses track of his man Farmar, who cuts to the basket and gets a bucket off of a Bryant pass.

Not done yet, Jones then allows Lakers guard Shannon Brown to beat him off the dribble for a runner off the glass. Bryant beating Jones off the dribble could be written off as the best player in the NBA, but how do you explain this?

At 1:12, Jones has the ball taken from him by Shannon Brown. This leads to a fast-break layup by Adam Morrison. The score is now 33-30, Los Angeles.

So the Lakers went on a 13-6 run, and 11 of the 13 points Indiana allowed were directly caused by Dahntay Jones' mistakes. Dahntay Jones does not play point guard.


Indiana coach Jim O'Brien foolishly tries to defend Andrew Bynum with Troy Murphy. The result? A catch-and-finish reverse-layup and a back-down dunk. Don't mean to laugh, but this is really funny, literally a comedy of errors.


Determined to get in on the act, Pacer Brandon Rush gets backed into the paint by Bryant for a left-handed jump-hook. He then commits a turnover which leads to a transition three-pointer by Derek Fisher. At 2:43, Rush again allows Bryant to take him to the basket for two.


Team star Danny Granger actually started his mistakes a while ago. At :20, he gets beaten for a dunk by Ron Artest on a cut to the basket and runs into Earl Watson, who came over to double Pau Gasol, in the process. Again, I don't mean to laugh.

Granger's series of mistakes starts at 2:49. He gets beaten off the dribble by Ron Artest for a layup. At 3:07, Granger holds the ball in front of Artest like Artest hasn't been the best perimeter defender in the NBA for the past decade or more.

As expected, Artest swipes the ball from him. On the play, Kobe Bryant is fouled on a fast-break dunk attempt and makes both free throws. In between the prior two plays, Josh McRoberts proves he can't guard Andrew Bynum either and gets dunked on just like Troy Murphy did.

At 3:28, Dahntay Jones is back again, allowing a turn-around by Ron Artest before Shannon Brown hits a three-pointer on him at 3:46. Danny Granger then again forgets who Ron Artest is and has the ball taken from him and passed to Farmar for an open-court dunk.


To put the icing on the cake, Roy Hibbert allows Didier Ilunga-Mbenga to hit a turn-around jumper on him, not Pau Gasol, not Andrew Bynum, not Lamar Odom, Didier Ilunga-Mbenga.


The Pacers lost this game by 23 points. Let's add up the individual plus/minuses and see what happens.

Dahntay Jones, -16: Gasol offensive rebound (-2); Farmar three-pointer (-3); Farmar cut to basket (-2); Shannon Brown runner (-2); Morrison layup (-2); Artest turn-around (-2); Brown three-pointer (-3).

Troy Murphy, -4; Josh McRoberts, -2; or Jim O'Brien and/or Larry Bird, -6: Bynum reverse-layup (-2); Bynum dunk (-2); Bynum dunk (-2).

It looks like coach O'Brien didn't have a choice but to defend Bynum with Murphy and McRoberts with Hibbert in foul trouble. The Pacers don't have the big men to defend the Lakers, blame who you want.

Brandon Rush, -7: Bryant jump-hook (-2); Fisher three-pointer (-3); Bryant drive (-2).

Danny Granger, -8: Artest dunk (-2); Artest layup (-2); Artest steal leading to Bryant free throws (-2); Artest steal leading to Farmar dunk (-2).

Roy Hibbert, -2: Mbenga turn-around (-2).

As you can plainly see, not one of the errors in this comedy of errors was committed by a point guard, although I am certain they made their fair share of mistakes too.

You have to win with the team you have, so the fact that the Pacers don't have the big men to match up with the Lakers is no excuse. Miami and Charlotte didn't have the big men either, but they went 2-2 against Los Angeles.

Indiana could have won this game by simply eliminating mistakes. Dahntay Jones alone accounts for almost the entire point differential (-16 for him to -23 for the game).

So instead of blaming the point guard or blaming the big men, the Pacers could (1) play better defense, (2) play Jones fewer minutes or cut him, (3) make sure Danny Granger gets and/or pays attention to and/or remembers a good scouting report and (4) take better care of the basketball.

This also is the perfect example of why I support plus/minus based on individual and not five-man-unit performance when evaluating individual players.*

It is not the fault of the other Pacers on the court with Dahntay Jones that he made so many mistakes. Why should they have their ratings dragged down by his play?

And why should anyone other than Danny Granger lose two plus/minus points because he had the ball stolen from him by Ron Artest? Contrary to what the Indiana Pacers bloggers and sportswriters will tell you, it wasn't Earl Watson's fault; he was all the way on the other side of the court.

So all of you Pacers fans and others celebrating the trade for Darren Collison, you better wake up and smell the coffee. When Larry Bird says he's note done, he means it! And he better not be done, not with this team.

I picked Indiana to be one of the most improved teams this year and will stick to it. This was before they got Darren Collison. Collison helps because every good team needs two point guards, but he is no savior.

The Pacers' only hope right now is No. 10 pick Paul George. The Pacers better hope and pray he is as good as advertised, otherwise ... more Shakespearean (writer of The Comedy of Errors) theater.

Note: It is understood that these are Lakers highlights and don't tell the full story of the game. It is also fully understood that scoring games is subjective; one man's base hit is another man's error. But as the old saying goes, I call them like I see them. Finally, I tried to include only the most obvious errors and mistakes; so you may see something which I didn't include.

*Updated 2-16-2012, 8:40 AM to add the words "when evaluating individual players."

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