Lakers Roundup

So busy has the young season been, and so busy will it continue to be (try four games in the next five nights for a team that's already played the league's busiest schedule), content items can fall through the cracks.

But that's what this round up of Lakers information is for, as we try and get caught up on all things Purple and Gold:

PAU GASOL … THE DEFENDER
If you ask most coaches and scouts around the league whom the NBA's most skilled big man is, you're often going to hear "Pau Gasol." And while he's been contributing aptly on offense, scoring 16.7 points per game on 58 percent field goals and 76 percent free throws despite taking only 11.8 shots per game, he's managed to stand out to his own coaching staff on the defensive end.

Aside from holding players like Amare Stoudemire (4-for-17) and Al Jefferson (2-for-16) far below their averages with a combination of length and smarts, Gasol's been terrific on the weak side, ranking 12th in the NBA in blocked shots (1.8) even while spending more time than usual defending the perimeter.

"I'm trying to do whatever the coaches are asking to help the team win. It's just will, activity, good positioning, understanding communication. It's understanding that's what the team needs, more than anything right now.

"I know it's not very recognized, but it's definitely the dirty work that's necessary to help the team."

Part of that dirty work: aggressively showing out on pick and rolls, the primary scheme change from last season's defense, in which pick and rolls were "downed" to the middle of the floor.

"Both of our bigs have been good," said Brown of Gasol and his front court partner, Andrew Bynum. "(They're) doing a whale of a job of putting their chests on the ball, attacking it in the show and getting back. It's good to have that in our package, because it can help slow some teams that play the pick and roll team a lot.

"Because both Pau and Andrew have picked that up, they've given us the opportunity to show multiple looks in our defense."

The two seven footers have been the key to getting postgame quotes like this from Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay:

“We definitely settled for jump shots a lot more than we usually do," he said. "You know it’s hard to win like that. We adjusted to their (length). Everyone knows they’re not only tall, but they’re the longest team in the league. It’s tough playing against this team. They frustrate a lot of people. They scare a lot of people from the paint.”

27 TURNOVERS? SO WHAT…
In Sunday's 90-82 win over Memphis, L.A. amassed 27 turnovers, literally the most they've thrown away since March 27, 2005, in a loss to Philadelphia. In fact, the last time the Lakers coughed up the ball that many times and actually won a regular season game happened the year before Kobe Bryant came to Los Angeles, in 1995, when L.A. pulled out a 98-96 win at the Great Western Forum against Denver. In an almost-as-bizarre stat, L.A. is now 5-2 when turning the ball over more than its opponents. So they key to a solid record is … turnovers? Of course not, and coach Mike Brown expects his team to be just fine as they get more used to his system.

FISHER: STAYING IN SHAPE
Entering Tuesday's contest, Derek Fisher has played in 505 consecutive regular season games, easily the longest active streak in the NBA, dating back to April 15, 2005. He moved into that slot when Denver's Andre Miller (playing for Portland at the time) missed a game on Dec. 12, 2010, due to suspension. Fish has started 381 straight regular season games, also tops amongst active players, though he's got a long way to go to reach A.C. Green's almost ridiculous 1,192 straight games across a 15-year period (Nov. 19, 1986 to April 18, 2001).

Fisher had one of the more mentally strenuous offseasons in recent memory while serving as the player's union president during lockout negotiations, but don't believe for a second that his duties as the league's voice kept him from staying in shape. We asked him to clarify what he did to stay in shape from May to December just before the season started:

"It was a different offseason, trying to juggle and balance the negotiations versus preparing for the season if there were going to be a season. It was up and down a lot, but we have to also keep in mind that there were a few extra months to work with as well. Although the frequency or consistency that I would have had in a normal offseason from July to September I couldn't do, unfortunately because of an early exit in May I had until December to get my work in. I'm as ready as I would normally be going into a season. The biggest thing in terms of coach Brown and my thinking is that although I'm always in great shape and always ready to play, I also have to protect myself from myself. I am 37 years old. I do take more time to recover than a guy that's 22 from practices and from games. When there are situations where I can get some additional rest or down time, it's important that I take it, and that's a big step for me. A lot of times I overtrain, and that impacts my performances. I'm trying to really be conscious of not doing too much when I don't have to so that I have the energy when I need it."quote>

Fisher also told us on the team plane that he pays extremely close attention to his diet, almost always passing on the plethora of unhealthy options a team flight has to offer, from ice cream to candy bars to chips. If he's going to break his code every once in a while, however, he may grab a hot cookie … just not very often.

LONG RANGE STRUGGLES

Before the season started, the Lakers looked to have put together a very strong group of long-range shooters, perhaps for the first time in four years since acquiring Pau Gasol. But through 10 games, the three-point shooting has been surprisingly poor.

In fact, the Lakers have connected on only 24.1 percent of their long-range attempts, second lowest to Memphis (20.0 percent), including an 0-for-11 shooting night at Portland last Thursday night. New acquisitions Jason Kapono (among the league's best ever 3-point bombers) and Troy Murphy have been shooting the ball fine, if somewhat below their standards, at 36.4 and 30.0 percent, respectively, while Steve Blake's 34.1 percent and Matt Barnes' 33.3 percent are serviceable for the small sample size.

What's really hurt L.A.'s percentage is the failure to connect from Kobe Bryant (9-for-45, 20 percent), Derek Fisher (1-for-12, 8.3 percent) and Metta World Peace (2-for-21, 9.5 percent). Three-point shooting is something that generally improves as the season goes on and players get into a better rhythm, however, and, like turnovers, is another area that Mike Brown isn't particularly concerned with just yet. But clearly, he'll tell you it needs to improve.

BLAKE FEELING COMFORTABLE

Early in the season, Steve Blake expressed why he was feeling more comfortable, and it had to do with more than simply being in a traditional one-guard front compared with the two-guard system of the triangle.

"Everything is a factor," he said. "Being comfortable with your teammates, different type of offense, just being more confident in myself. I don't want to get ahead of myself -- it's a long season -- but I'm going to go out there and just be confident and shoot the ball."

That he has. In nearly 25 minutes per game, including crunch time in most contests, Blake is shooting 40.3 percent from the field to average 8.1 points (fifth on the team) with 2.6 assists, 2.1 boards and 1.1 turnovers per contest. It's the points and shooting numbers in particular that have seen a big jump from last season, when he averaged only 4.0 points per game on 35.9 percent shooting despite playing 20 minutes per game.

"The triangle is a great offense, but it's not really a point guard's play-making type offense," he explained. "Especially if you think about the second unit having most guards press up, but in the triangle if you get pressed you just give it to the other guard in a two-guard front. You're really not even touching the ball most of the time, or creating things. Now, I'll get the ball to start the possession, and then get guys where you want spacing wise and go from there – it's more what point guards are used to."

After a slow shooting start, Blake has picked things up since the New Year, hitting 48.6 percent of his shots in the last five games, scoring in double figures in 3-of-5 contests, including eight made three pointers. The offensive aggression off the bench is what Mike Brown likes to see, and expects to continue moving forward.

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