Los Angeles Lakers fans are spoiled. Look at what they have to put up with: inconsistent play, lazy defense, a so-so road record and only the second best record in the league.
The Lakers are the defending NBA champions, but they have seemed disinterested in many games this season. In their last game against Washington, one of the NBA bottom feeders, the Lakers had a 28-point lead in the third quarter. What should have been a laugher turned into a narrow seven-point victory.
That’s some serious inconsistent play.
During the last East coast three-game road trip, the Lakers surrendered 114 points to the Miami Heat. The Heat, although headed for the playoffs, are a mediocre team. Yet the Miami offense was high octane with Quentin Richardson scoring 25 points after bombing several three pointers, many of them uncontested.
These Lakers, although successful, suffer the same defensive lapses on pick-and-roll plays as Andrew Bynum, much like his predecessor, Shaquille O’Neal, doesn’t jump out at guards with the ball. So these little guys knock down open jumpers.
That’s lazy defense.
Currently, Los Angeles has a 20-13 road record. That’s actually one of the five best in the league. But it’s not the best as last season’s Lakers were road warriors with the No. 1 away record. They clinched the Western conference finals and the NBA finals on the road.
There has been a lot of talk about the Lakers’ home-heavy early season schedule. That luxury is over now, and besides, that doesn’t matter too much in the long run since every team plays 41 at home at 41 on the road.
That’s so-so for them.
This week, Kobe Bryant’s squad hits the road for a difficult five-game trip. Four of the five games are against playoff teams. The Lakers may trail the Cleveland Cavaliers by three games for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, but they have a comfortable six-game lead in the Western conference.
That’s the burden of the team with the second best record, home court advantage through three rounds. Barring a total collapse, that should stand.
Despite all of their faults, the Lakers still have the most talent in the league. They should win about 60 games and will be heavy favorites to at least get to the NBA finals.
Perhaps this team is copying the blueprint of the dominant Lakers teams led by Shaq and Kobe: cruise through the regular season and turn on the switch in the playoffs. This team doesn’t have a force like Shaq in his prime, but it is built for success.
Until someone beats them they are the defending champs. Someone has to knock them out four times in seven games. With or without home court advantage, that will be a difficult task for any team to accomplish.
Kobe is playing with stomach aches and broken fingers. Referees are missing blatant calls and calling ones that don’t exist. It must be another week in the NBA.
Kobe had 42 points against the Bulls Tuesday night – not very impressive for a man with his skill set. What is astonishing is that he did it with a fractured finger on his shooting hand. What is even more remarkable is that he was having er, um, digestive problems all day. I remember I ate a bad calzone once. I immediately lost five pounds, shook uncontrollably, and slept for a week. Kobe Bryant decided to drop 40 points on the Bulls while his stomach had the taco gurgles. Oh the next day he hit the game winner against the Bucks. I am definitely underachieving in life.
Hall-of-Fame Jerry Colangelo, Naismith’s newly elected chairman of the board is toying with the notion of allowing the fans and media to have a say in who makes it into the Basketball Hall-of-Fame. He said the fans would be “involved,” which many are hoping means the results would be made public much like the NBA and MLB do. What makes me cringe is having the fans actually have even a modicum of say in who makes it into the Hall. These are the people that are voting Tracy McGrady into 2nd place in All-Star voting this year. This just in, T-Mac has not played at all this season.
Kevin Durant unveiled his new line of Basketball shoes in a game against Dallas Wednesday night. They look as if Nike went to Nerf and said gives us the first thing that comes to mind. I tried to watch the game but between Durant bricking shots and the whole team wearing these atrocities my eyes stopped working for two hours. I didn’t go blind necessarily. My eyes just refused to capture the images on the screen. It was actually the only pleasant part of the game.
We are enough games into the 2009-2010 season to have some semblance of the pedigree of each team. While many in the middle will fight and claw for the last remaining playoff spots, these few teams will not have to worry. They will either be locked in as one or two seeds or so far out of the picture they are talking lottery.
Lakers – Kobe is playing horse during games and Adam Morrison is getting playing time. That latter happens when Phil Jackson is goofing around.
Nuggets – The old adage was that you needed two or more superstars to contend for an NBA title. Denver is doing it with only one legitimate All-Star. The Nuggets will make the Lakers earn another bid to the Finals. Chris Anderson may be the best big man defender in the league and his hair is not the least bit annoying.
Suns – By now you probably heard that the Suns are good again. Some may not buy the longevity of their success but no one can deny that this team can score at an unbelievable clip. Channing Frye has been a nice surprise. He may not be what they need as a rebounder but he can run, shoot, and pass. That’s about all Phoenix ever does anyway.
Hawks – I had almost forgotten that Atlanta had an NBA team. Last year the Hawks demanded people take notice when they bounced Miami in the first round. They seem to be building on that momentum this season. It will take some doing but I will try to get used to the hawks being near the top of their conference.
Magic – Superman isn’t exactly playing up to his potential to start the season. I’m confident he will be closer to the 20 and 14 he was producing last year in the next few weeks. In the meantime Vince Carter seems competent enough to do a little more scoring.
Timberwolves – We knew they were going to suck. Rambis knew they were going to suck. It can be safe to assume now that Ricky Rubio had an inkling that they would suck. Good thing they drafted 18 point guards.
Nets- The only good news is that they were once rumored to be in the running to net LeBron next year. I guess that’s something.
Knicks – It’s teams like New York that make me thank god the NBA does not mandate every teams have an All-Star as is done in MLB. It’s a scary thought but I believe the Knicks want to be the worst team in NBA history. What other explanation could there be for Nate Robinson scoring on his own basket. Really I think they will revisit the whole Iverson thing in about 10-12 losses.
Clippers – On Paper they look great. When healthy this team could play with anyone. I included the Clippers here because I firmly believe that god has it in for sinners, dinosaurs, and the Clippers.
Down But Bot Out
Spurs and Celtics– Here is a drinking game. Take a shot every time the word healthy is used alongside these teams. Your liver will can vacation after the season.
The Sports Report Girl, marveling at the shot Kobe Bryant made against James Hardin of the Thunder, wonders if Kobe is studying The Force! But is he a Jedi or a Sith?
Feel the power of the Dark Side, Kobe!