Size Matters: Lakers 106, Kings 99

The Lakers didn't have many blocks in their win over the Kings. In fact, Spencer Hawes alone had as many blocks (five) as the entire L.A. roster. But size does more than block shots.

Size helped L.A.'s starting frontline, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, go 21-28 from the floor. Hawes is tall (see: five blocks), but Bynum clearly outsizes him, and it showed. Bynum owned the paint just about every second he was on the floor. Gasol is tall, too, and more like Hawes in terms of size. But Gasol uses his height so, so well, getting easy shots off over the top of his defenders, and keeping the ball away from the scrum in deep.

Size helped L.A. grab a big share of offensive rebounds (14 in 46 opportunities, 30 percent). Bynum had five of those, but Ron Artest -- one of the most muscular small forwards in the league -- had three, as did Kobe Bryant, one of the strongest guards you'll see. Those offensive rebounds were about muscles, about strength, about power. The Kings have made strides to be more tough and less defined by finesse, sure. But teams like the Lakers can still outmuscle this team.

One King highly unlikely to be outmuscled is Tyreke Evans, who managed 11 rebounds and 14 free throws. The problem Evans had, though, on offense was that because he plays below the rim, he has a bit more trouble finishing than he ought to. Really, several misses at the rim were pretty open -- but a stray defensive hand entering the picture is more effective when the shooter is looking up the basket, as Evans usually is. This is an obviously small quibble -- Evans scored more efficiently than Bryant, and had 9 assists and one turnover to Bryant's 7/3. And this is Kobe Bryant we're comparing him to, while Reke was guarded largely by Artest while Kobe drew Donte Greene and Francisco Garcia. SMALL. QUIBBLE.

The larger quibbles can only really be focused on defensive rebounding and interior defense in general. I found it noteworthy that in his halftime interview assistant coach Mario Elie noted that the guards were responsible for a lot of the interior breakdown -- their man penetrated, drawing help from the bigs and leaving the Lakers bigs open for the pass reception or the offensive rebound. That's fair -- we've noted often how poor the Kings pick-and-roll defense has been from all angles, big and guard alike. But at the same time, there were available rebounds that Hawes and Carl Landry should be able to grab. Hawes's rebound line (three, in 23 minutes) looks worse than it was due to Evans's extreme output. But again, he should have had at least a couple more. But he's not a great defensive rebounder, and them's the breaks.

***

By the way, according to Grant Napear, Tyreke is only 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists away from his second career triple-double.

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