Monday, May 24, 2010

Whistleblowers... Lost outside of LA

Whistleblowers… Lost outside of LA!

By Vensin Gray

I’m not a Stats man. Matter of fact, I hate John Hollinger. Just incase you don’t know who John Hollinger is, he’s the genius ESPN Stat Analysis who developed PER (Player Efficiency Rating) for the NBA amongst other statistical guidelines when evaluating players. If had a chance I would hack into Hollinger’s computer and corrupt all of his formulas, I hope his coffee is too hot and it burns his taste buds, and his toast is so hard it breaks his molar. But today I’m taking a Hollinger Approach. Sometimes when you are looking at games similarities, some numbers, outliers just jump out at you. Today I’m going to evaluating the Lakers three losses in this post-season.

I understand that I’m a Lakers fan, but I’m not a homer, home is Cleveland, Ohio for me. So technically I’m supposed to be ‘The King’s’ fan right? Wrong. I’ve been a Laker fan since 2000 and I’m not one to blame officials for the reason the Lakers lose. Be it lack of effort, the other team just played with more fire, wasn’t making their shots, the bench looked like a Junior Varsity team. All of these can be said about the Lakers three losses this post season, all away games, two to the Thunder, and one to the Suns, and yes, here’s a stat for you, all three games the Lakers have been on the short hand of the stick in Free Throw Attempts. And not by a little, they have lost by an astounding 21 less free throw attempts per game this post-season. (I say astounding because I’m sure statistical geeks say it and it sounds cool.)

Let’s dive into the metrics of these games. This post-season, the Lakers are 10-3. During these 13 games the Lakers average 24 Personal Fouls (PF) a game, 28 PF per lost game, and 25 PF per away game, and 23 PFs per home game. With those fouls produced 31 Free Throw Attempts (FTA) by opponents per game, 27 FTA per opponent in Los Angeles, and 36 FTA at home, a +9 difference. Just so you know, the Lakers don’t get that huge of an advantage at home, of their 13 playoffs games, the Lakers have only attempted more free throws than their opponent five times. And the largest difference was +9 in a close out game in Utah.

Basically all that mumbo jumbo is saying is that the Lakers really don’t change between home and away games. The Lakers only average 2 more PF a game when they leave Los Angeles. But they average 5 more PF in each game they have lost. 5 more fouls a game is good for at most 15 more foul shots (If they happened to foul on 5 failed three point attempts) and at least 5 points (5 And-ones).

Let’s take a look at their first loss. To the Thunder, game 3 of round 1 in the Western Conference. The Thunder averaged 32 FTA a game, The Lakers averaged 23 FTA a game, a +9 difference. In this particular game, the Lakers shot 12 Free Throws (FT) and the Thunder shot 34, a +22 difference, and they won by 5, no surprise there. It’s hard to win Away Games in the playoffs. It’s equally hard when you shoot almost 50% less free throw attempts than your average, and the other team gets a few more attempts, when the Lakers only had 26 PF, 2 more than their Playoff average. But to only lose by 5 points when the other team was practically spotted 22 more chances for points isn’t bad.

The second game The Lakers lost was Game 4 of the same round in the West Conference against the Thunder. You already know the averages (from above paragraph). The refs were a bit nicer to the Lakers, thy had 28 FTA. I was satisfied with that, but the Thunder had an amazing 48 trips to the line. Don’t adjust your screen, that’s a lot of free throws and a very long game. The Lakers were whistled for 30 PF that game, 6 more than their Playoff average. The Lakers lost this game by 21 points. Now this game could go to lack of effort, bad starters, bad bench, bad coach, bad city, something, but I call it bad officiating. I know that place was loud, but come on, 48 free throws? Unexplainable.

Their most recent game upset me so much that I’m trying my best to sound as smart as John Hollinger. My picture isn’t up because he’s way better looking (To be an old guy) I’m only 23 years old, and for Hollinger, I’m 23 years, three months and 24 days old today. But that’s enough of that. When the Lakers played Phoenix, yes The Suns were a bit more aggressive, but the foul calls were very one sided. I’m not one to complain about officiating (hypocritical statement there folks), but all The Suns had to do was walk to the basket and throw something up and a whistle blew. I’m watching the game with my Step-father, and he commented “All they have to do is run to the basket and the whistle is going to blow.” And he’s old school, he doesn’t complain about refs often.

Let’s analyze this game. For The Suns, this post season, their opponents average 26 PF a game at The Suns house. The Suns average 30 FTA per game at home. This game in particular, the Suns shot 42 FT to the Lakers 20, the Lakers were called for 28 PF. Look at that one last time, this entire post season, the Suns opponents at home, have had an average of 26 PF called against them, giving the Suns 30 FTA a game. This particular game, only 2 more PF called against their opponent, giving them 12 more FTA. Disparity? Explain that Referees. I would LOVE to hear this explanation.

In all three games The Lakers have lost this season, their opponent has a 124-60 free throw attempt advantage over them. They shoot 48% less free throws and lost each game by a combined 35 points. You would think someone who shot that many more free throws than another team would lose by a lot more. Are the Los Angeles Lakers just a super bad team on the road? Are officials swayed by the home crowd so much that they have to blow the whistle like that? The Stats are here, and stats do not lie, people do. I’m not saying the Lakers would be an undefeated team had there been a marginal difference in FTA instead the colossal difference in the three lost games. I’m just saying the officiating does come into question when you see games like that. As Andrew Bynum said earlier this season, which he was fined for, but I can’t be fined, “It’s hard to play 8 on 5.”

1 comment:

  1. The Lakers shot 32 three point shots, and basically did not penetrate at all. You have to be aggressive to get to the line. Avoiding the zone and settling for jumpers isn't going to get you to the line. I would switch your questioning more to the fact that maybe the Lakers experience more favoritism at home, and their road performances are closer to how they play as a whole. Just my two cents as a fan of neither team.