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Los Angeles Lakers | The Sports Report Girl - Part 2

Defending Champs Look Like Chumps … Sort Of.

March 24, 2010 by Mike Cervantes  
Filed under Basketball, NBA Basketball, SRG's Blog

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.

Quite frequently.

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.

Are The Mavs The New Team To Beat Out West?

So they got whipped in New York. Big deal, that loss snapped the Dallas Mavericks’ 13-game winning streak, which tied an NBA high this season.

And if the playoffs started today, they would be the third seed, which means home court advantage in the first round only. But who’s playing the best ball right now? Who got the biggest facelift since the All-Star break?

Dallas.

Up until February the assumption was that the Western Conference was the Los Angeles Lakers’ possession with the Denver Nuggets as the sole threat.

Not any more.

Not when an already strong team adds two starters, one of them actually being a competent center in Brendan Haywood. The other, Caron Butler, can fill it up any night. But he doesn’t have to, not when your team has a seven footer who can glide to the basket or knock down threes with assassin-like precision.

That’s Dirk Nowitzki, a matchup nightmare for any NBA team.

Nowitzki is still a hungry player. He hasn’t tasted victory in the NBA finals. His general, point guard Jason Kidd, didn’t deliver the elusive title Big D has coveted.

Now the Mavericks may have the talent to compete with the big boys. They defeated the two teams that were in the finals last year, the Lakers and Orlando Magic, during the 13-game streak.

The Lakers and Nuggets have more household names on their teams. The Mavericks don’t have a Black Mamba or Mr. Big Shot. No one-name players such as Nenê. Or even a player who you can simply mention their first name. Carmelo. Pau.

Well, maybe not Pau. But Gasol does sell jerseys.

What Dallas has going for them is the calendar. It is the team playing the best ball right now. Stack wins toward the end of the season and sprint to the playoffs, that’s the formula to a championship.

The Mavericks’ loss to the Knicks, denying Dallas a would-be league high of 14 in a row, topping Cleveland, was by 34 points. Sure, it looks bad on paper, but what looks good on paper is that the Mavericks trail the Lakers by only three games in the standings.

There is still a good month left of basketball. Maybe not enough time to catch the world champs, but certainly enough time to keep the Maverick sprint going.

Will the Mavericks’ streak go for naught as the Houston Rockets’ was last year? Houston won 22 games in a row and played the Lakers in a rough, seven-game series only to lose.

That Houston team had Ron Artest and a bunch of gritty players that might not start on most teams. This Dallas team is sniffing the Lakers and should have the confidence to beat them as they split the four games they played this season.

WAnd when late May comes around, it’s no longer a given that the Lakers and Nuggets will match up.

Ron Artest Is Ready To Lose It

February 11, 2010 by Gabe Zaldivar  
Filed under Basketball, NBA Basketball, SRG's Blog

If you’re anything like me you have been waiting patiently for a blow up from Ron Artest. We were almost treated to one late last week. Ron-Ron took offense to being held up by Joey Graham and almost socked his face.

The above clip is particularly delightful for a number of reasons. My favorites are as follows:

Joel Myers reaction of “ooo” when Artest spun and fired the haymaker is priceless. In that instant he was really saying. “No Ron, for the love of god they will suspend you for the entire season!”

But what is magical is the debate between Stu Lantz, the color commentator for the Lakers and Joel Myers on why there was a technical. When Myers fails to illustrate that almost hitting someone with a closed fist isn’t enough, they decide it’s the playful shove of the face that did it in the end.

Either way I am now glued to the TV for every game, as I am sure Artest is one ticky-tack foul away from going mailman on everyone.

The NBA’s Haves and Have Nots

November 25, 2009 by Gabe Zaldivar  
Filed under Basketball, NBA Basketball, SRG's Blog

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.

The Haves

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.

The Have-Nots

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.

Kobe Bryant… Jedi Baller!

November 24, 2009 by SRG  
Filed under Basketball, NBA Basketball, SRG's Blog

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!

Around the Association 11/18/09

November 18, 2009 by Gabe Zaldivar  
Filed under Basketball, NBA Basketball, SRG's Blog

This is officially the week for whiners. Both Stephen Jackson and Allen Iverson got what they wanted. Is this working for any of you out there? Are you getting promoted or moved to better quarters by pissing your boss off? In this economy I’m scared to take a bathroom break. But it works in the NBA… after all, it is the league of Divas.

Stephen Jackson
He hates the Warriors, the team that treated him so bad they made him a millionaire many times over. I guess it was the fact that he wanted to win so badly. It could also be that coach Don Nelson is renowned to do things his own way and demand his players to do so as well. He is the coach, so I guess that makes a little sense. Some players just don’t like accountability. I hope Mr. Jackson enjoys the friendly confines of Charlotte. Going from a 3-6 team to a 3-7 team should do wonders for his morale.

Allen Iverson
Iverson used to be one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA. This was enough to make him an annual All-Star. Sadly his best days are well past him. You need only look to the Denver Nuggets for proof. They went from a very good team to a genuine contender with the simple swap of an aging Iverson for an aging Chauncey Billups. Unhappy with his role as backup, Iverson used the only bargaining chip he had. He made times rough in Memphis. Losing the only value the Grizzlies desired from Iverson, a wise guard that could mold the young Grizzlies backcourt, they decided to let him go. Iverson has to hope he can find his way onto a team that is only interested in selling tickets, not in winning. New York Knicks, please pick up the white courtesy telephone…

Lakers
The Lakers are done. They have no depth. Kobe is hurt and so is Pau Gasol. The sky is falling. Ah, the NBA pundits are in panic mode. The Lakers do rather stink right now but we are ten games into the 2009-2010 season. Many are forgetting that the Los Angeles Lakers are the same exact team as last year with the addition of defensive stopper Ron Artest. They are about to get back Gasol and move potential All-Star Lamar Odom to the bench. A team with three to four All-Stars is deep enough. I have a feeling Phil Jackson will right this ship shortly.

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