Blog Entry

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

Posted on: May 20, 2010 5:42 pm
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LOS ANGELES – For three playoff series, Derek Fisher has heard about how he’s the weak link in the Lakers’ title defense. There was no way he could keep up with Russell Westbrook’s quickness, hold up against Deron Williams’ size, or stifle Steve Nash’s creativity.

“They say he’s old and slow,” noted philosopher and defensive guru Ron Artest said. “I just don’t see it.”

Nobody else does, either. And no, your eyes have not deceived you. Here are the Lakers, two wins away from a third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals – and they’ve gotten here not despite Fisher, but in large part because of him.

“I guess I’m smart enough to know that if we win, it doesn’t really matter,” Fisher said. “I guess for some guys it’s harder to not take things personally and try to be who they aren’t when the goal is really to help your team advance. And when you do that, the individual things kind of mean less. I’ve said it before: I’ve never seen anything on the side of any one of my rings that says anything about points per game, percentages per game, who had the most assists, who had the most steals. It’s just a ring. It has your name on it and the team and the organization and that’s it. That’s pretty much all that matters to me.”

No, Fisher, 35, hasn’t done it all by himself against the murderer’s row of point guards the Lakers are toppling on their way to the Finals. After Westbrook sliced through the Lakers’ defense in victories at Oklahoma City in Games 3 and 4 of the first round, Kobe Bryant raised his hand after a video session and said, “I’ll take him.” Bryant slowed Westbrook down, and the Lakers haven’t lost a game since – eight in a row heading into Game 3 of the conference finals Sunday in Phoenix.

But Fisher didn’t need much help against the Williams, arguably the best point guard in the league, as the Lakers swept past the Jazz. Nash, the gold standard for modern-day point guards – or point guards of any era, really – hasn’t been able to find the kind of space and freedom he’s accustomed to with Fisher digging in and using his underrated combination of strength, quick hands and good old fashioned guile.

“He can guard all the point guards,” TNT analyst Hubie Brown told me. “Fisher, in my opinion, is one of the feistiest defensive point guards that we have in the league. He’s very cerebral. He understands the defensive game plan. You can never fall asleep with the basketball because he’s got quick reflexes and quick reactions, plus he gets a lot of deflections. Then off of his man, OK, he’s one of the best point guards that we have in the league in double-teaming and also playing the passing lane on any type of a ball reversal back to his man.”

(Note to reader: At this point in my conversation with Brown the other day, I prayed that the Lakers’ practice court would open up and swallow me. In 30 seconds, Brown had said more intelligent things about basketball than I’ve ever written. And there was more to come.)

“This guy, you don’t hide this guy,” Brown said. “Also, if you break down his game, if he’s running in transition, you never have to worry about a guy getting a clear layup because he’s going to take a charge. And in this league, that’s very difficult for guys to do no matter what size they are – to take the full contact while people are moving. So to me, he’s the total package.”

In the Lakers’ 124-112 victory over the Suns in Game 2 Wednesday night, Fisher’s numbers didn’t measure up to Nash’s – but his impact on the game far exceeded his counterpart’s. Fisher had seven points on 2-for-8 shooting with five assists, two steals and two turnovers. Nash had 11 points and 15 assists, but shot only 4-for-8 from the field with five turnovers. At key sequences in the game – when the Lakers were building an early lead and then pulling away in the fourth quarter after the Suns had tied it at 90-90 – Fisher wound up on the superior end of the action.

Late in the first quarter, Fisher intercepted a post pass from Nash as the Suns were trying to find their offensive rhythm. Late in the second quarter, Fisher hurt the Suns with his offense – finding Andrew Bynum for a dunk, hitting a corner 3-pointer and making a driving layup to give the Lakers a 65-56 halftime lead. Midway through the fourth, Fisher forced Nash into consecutive turnovers, the first leading to a corner 3-pointer by Jordan Farmar on which Nash failed to close out defensively. In 67 seconds, the Lakers stretched a six-point lead to 11 and the rout was on.

“Steve can hurt you without scoring, whereas some of the other guys at the point guard position need to score for their team to win,” Fisher said. “Overall it’s exactly the same. You want to limit penetration. You want to keep the guy in front of you. You want to make him shoot the ball over the top instead of letting him get to the rim and make plays for himself or other people. You want to make him work as hard as possible. You’re not going to stop him, but you can’t allow him to do whatever he wants to do out there. And sometimes that means sacrificing yourself, your game, your body and that means picking up some fouls to do it. Just do what it takes.”

Next up, presumably, will be the Celtics' Rajon Rondo, who has been the single most influential point guard in the postseason -- better than Williams, Nash, Jason Kidd, all of them. Once again, it will seem to be an impossible task for Fisher to hold up against Rondo's length, speed, quickness and guile. And once again, Fisher will have to find a way.

That’s what he does: whatever it takes, and more than everybody expects.


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Comments

Since: Jan 22, 2008
Posted on: May 21, 2010 11:18 pm
 

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

NetzOn: So...Deron never "got in rhythm" with his jumper?   And you don't think Derek's defense had anything to do with that...??  Hee, hee, you sure are stupid.No, i don't think Derek's defense had anything to do with that. Deron had open looks all series and couldn't hit. The only way Fisher is tied into the sequence is that Williams had to be taken out in just about every game for foul trouble. You know, those fouls, where Derek throws up a 3... realizes it's not going in - then flails his arms and legs like a starfish. So no - not defense - this is once again attributed to his conspicuous craftiness.

In turn, if Fisher goes out in game 3 and shoot 2-10 with 8 pts... are you gonna say, "Man, Nash played really good D tonight." Or is it more likely that, "Wow, Derek sucked." Latter.



XSGame
Since: Mar 29, 2009
Posted on: May 21, 2010 10:05 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: May 21, 2010 7:19 pm
 

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

WeaponX21: I take you point about writing off the Suns too soon, but the problem they have is stopping the LA offense.  Their PHX offense has done well, averaging 110 in Games 1 & 2, which is their season avg, too.  And you could argue that the regular season avg should be higher than their playoff avg, what with a lot of lottery teams on the schedule.  Their issue is that they've allowed the Lakers to score 126 ppg, which is a disaster.  Yes, LA has shot about 57%, but that's not because of great shooting as much as the ridiculous number of layups, dunks, and point blank bank shots allowed by PHX.  Unless Amare develops some defensive heart fast, I don't see what the Suns can do about that.  With respect, I can't see the Suns even winning one game unless the Lakers just collapse on offense.



Since: May 21, 2010
Posted on: May 21, 2010 6:57 pm
 

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

Uh, by the way, Westbrook finally had to have Kobe guard him because Fisher sucked and D-Will blew by him at will. That is not good defense. Fisher sucks and he's a flopper. CHEATING FLOPPER. Fisher is a CHEATER. Stay on your feet Fisher and quit flopping all over the place. What a terribly biased article from a dude that hasn't played a game of pick up or organized ball in his life. Fisher is the dude at the gym who calls charges on a fast break, what a p_$$y!



Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: May 21, 2010 6:54 pm
 

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

Ty Ellington: Your comment shows you know absolutely NOTHING about basketball.  Defense is basically a TEAM thing, not really an individual thing.  Fisher is a master at taking awat the outside driving lane and funneling the guys into the Laker bigs in the paint.  This is by design, not a fluke that casts doubt on Fisher's defensive ability.  He's executing the game plan to perfection when Nash or whoever gets into the middle of the lane like that.  Learn a little something about the game before spouting nonsense again!



Since: May 21, 2010
Posted on: May 21, 2010 6:52 pm
 

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

Good Defender??????? What games have you been watching? He's a FLOPPER!!!! That is not good defense, that's acting, CHEATING, taking advantage of the refs, you name it. Derek Fisher is a CHEATER. I hated him when he was on my Warriors and I hate him to this day. HE FLOPS all day long. That is not defense. He fools the refs into a bunch of bad calls. I can't believe this guy is the Player's rep, what a terrible representative. So he doesn't have a criminal history and he can formulate a sentence somewhat eloquently, sounds like there is no minimum requirement anymore to be league rep. If I were a player in the league, I would consider this guy a cheater and would go to lengths to make sure he didn't represent me. I hope the Lakers win it all, but that Rajon or Jameer exploit him enough so no one in the league signs him next year. Surely the Lakers can find better.



Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: May 21, 2010 6:48 pm
 

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

NetzOn: So...Deron never "got in rhythm" with his jumper?   And you don't think Derek's defense had anything to do with that...??  Hee, hee, you sure are stupid.



Since: Feb 4, 2008
Posted on: May 21, 2010 6:13 pm
 

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

   You know I was thinking about how many times people get blown by on defense these days. I keep hearing these comments that Fisher gets blown by a lot. But then again, with the speed of today's atheletes, people blow by each other quite routinely regardless of age ( especially in man-on-man situations ). Notice the key points in this article was that Fisher plays defense with his wisdom and hands qucikness more than his raw speed. He runs the floor well and still makes quick steals in the passing lanes. Those are true points. I have noticed Fisher playing extremely well within the Lakers' defensive schemes for the past two playoff rounds. Westbrook is too fast for most people, even the youngest and brightest defenders...so you can't blame Fisher for that. But Deron Williams and Steve Nash have been noticeably unable to play their games the same way with Fisher being the first defensive point of contact for them. Fisher is the second most clutch player on both ends of the floor behind Kobe....nobody can argue that successfully. The guy is always constantly stealing the ball, stripping the ball. And those flops he gets accused of are bullsh**. In transition...when you set your feet and stand there, then proceeding to get your ass run over...that's not flopping...that's called smart...TEXTBOOK defensive basketball. HE ain't no Vlade Divac.



Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: May 21, 2010 5:42 pm
 

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

Yes, I love how everyone is writing off the Suns already after only 2 games!  Yes, the Lakers won and were VERY impressive, in mine and everyone else's eyes.  But, in the end, they have 2 blowouts, and the Suns are clearly in trouble, but it is still only 2-0, and they're going to Phoenix.  I know it looks bad for my Suns, but I'm going to hold off on any Celtics/Magic - Lakers finals talk until they win at least one more game.  It's a new series if the Suns get the home crowd behind them, get their energy up (and Channing Frye to show up!), and rebound and figure out how to win the next 2 games. 

That said, Fisher may not be the best PG in the league, but he's DEFINITELY the best option for the Lakers.  He's tough, gritty, and doesn't get rattled at all.  Yes, he does have the bigs behind him to help him out when he does get handled by better PG's, but he's also smart enough to know to use them instead of letting his pride get in the way and trying to do it himself.  The article is right, the numbers are overrated.  He doesn't score a lot, but on a team with Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Ron Artest, does he really need to?  He doesn't have the most assist, but the Triangle offense doesn't call for that.  Multiple positions bring the ball up the court and make plays, from the PG (Fisher) to the 2 (Bryant) to the 3/4 (Odom).  The guy has 4 rings, and has been to 6 finals (4-2).  All of the talk was Kobe couldn't do it without Shaquille Oneal.  Well, he has been twice, and won once without the Big Fella (and Shaq has won once as well).  Tell me:  How many rings does Kobe have without Fisher?  That's what I thought.  And during that time, he has played with PG's who were either better, potential HOF PG's (Gary Payton), or at least more athletic (Smush Parker, Chucky Atkins).  I can even argue that he hasn't even gotten to the Finals without Fisher (Yes, in '04 Payton was the starting PG when they got smashed by Detroit, but without that ridiculously crazy *lucky??* shot by Fish with .4 left on the clock in San Antonio, they don't even make it).

I'm a Suns fan, and while this series is NOT over by a long shot, I will definitely give Fisher his props!



Since: May 18, 2009
Posted on: May 21, 2010 5:40 pm
 

Old and slow? Maybe, but Fisher can still defend

You all can say what you want..

but if the best coach in the league and the best player in the NBA says that fisher is a starter for the Champion team...then so be it


If he's good enough for them he's good enough...


dont even matter what you couch potato coaches say


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