After scoring a season high 48 points in a 106-73 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday, the Lakers’ bench finally showed some signs of life and hope. Led by rookie Andrew Goudelock and Troy Murphy (12 points apiece), the bench showed that they can score and be effective. A good amount of the points came in garbage time, but the reserves definitely had a positive effect on the game, and helped hold the Bobcats off so Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol could get some rest in the 4th quarter and log under 30 minutes.
Here’s how they did it, and how they should try to continue to play for the remainder of the season:
The reserves made good on 10 three-pointers out of 14 attempts (a whopping 71 percent!) and had 15 assists. Andrew Goudelock continued his prolific play off the bench, and Troy Murphy connected on all four of his three-point attempts.
Logging big minutes were Murphy with 27, Goudelock with 25, Matt Barnes with 22, and Jason Kapono with almost 20. These four won’t always get this many minutes, but they can definitely all earn valuable minutes with this team if they continue to play well.
So, what exactly went right for the Lakers’ bench?
They swung the ball around the perimeter, and jacked up three pointers with one of the Lakers’ talented big men in the middle.
Okay, so now that we saw what went right, how can the Lakers’ bench continue to be successful?
Play like the Orlando Magic.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Lakers’ bench needs to play the way the Orlando Magic has played ever since they drafted Dwight Howard.
No, the Magic haven’t won a championship with Howard, but they did make it to the NBA Finals in 2009. Dwight Howard has been the “Defensive Player of the Year” three times in a row, but Orlando has never been considered a very good defensive team. However, Orlando has been successful in the past (this season excluded) by placing four shooters around their dominant big man.
Why can this work for the Lakers?
This can work for the Lakers because we are not asking the Lakers to change their identity, nor their bread and butter. The Lakers starters should still rely on getting the ball inside to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, as well as let Kobe Bryant create shots for himself and others. This offensive scheme has seemingly picked up over the last couple of weeks as the team is adapting to head coach Mike Brown’s new system. The Lakers are not a three-point shooting team by any means, and should definitely not try to be.
However, the bench can be successful with this style of play. While averaging a league low 19.4 points per game this season, the bench has nothing to lose by playing a “live by the three, die by the three” style of game.
The starters are already logging heavy minutes because the bench has failed to produce a lot of offense this season, and the Lakers are in desperate need of offensive production. Tuesday proved that the reserves can be successful with this style of play. It won’t work for them every single night, as it never does for three-point shooting teams, but perhaps it will help more than it will hurt. There honestly isn’t much to lose.
So, exactly what should they do?
Next Page: How to Make this Work