Spring Chickens?

So I’m watching the Lakers and Celtics on Sunday afternoon and what I saw is what I have been suspecting for a little while.  Firstly, I’ll admit that I am a Lakers sympathizer.  L.A. has been my team since the late 1990’s when I first started really getting into sports as a pre-teen.  In the cases where I can get away with it, I’ll find myself sticking up for Kobe and the rest of the Lakers cast.  But this Sunday afternoon (And numerous other times this year) during the 109-96 loss to Boston, I couldn’t ignore what was right in front of me.  The Lakers looked like they’ve lost an edge.  I’m not really sure if I can pin down a specific reason why, but I just don’t feel the same about this team that I have in the past.  Granted, regular season ‘winter wins’ only mean so much in the lifespan of a full season, including playoffs, but the loss to Boston serves as a microcosm of the overall state of the Lakers this year.  Kobe needs more self-awareness on offense.  Although he shot a good percentage from the floor, the other Lakers need to be engaged.  Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum shouldn’t feel awkward or out-of-place taking initiative trying to score the ball on offense.  Odom, Gasol and Bynum are the Lakers 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best players on that team, and somehow Kobe’s shot total surpassed all three of those players combined. At the same time, Kobe put O’s in the assists, steals and block category.  Bryant should be taking the most shots, but not to Sunday’s extreme.  The numbers clearly support the claim.  The Lakers are 3-7 when Kobe takes 40% of the shots on offense.  Inversely, L.A. is 23-5 when he shoots 35% or less of the shots.  This season the Black Mamba has scored 34 or more 5 times, and the Lakers are just 1-4 in those games. When Phil Jackson was asked after the game about Kobe taking too many shots, he said that the Lakers supporting cast wasn’t fully engaged or ready to score.  I respectfully have to disagree, due to the fact that I’ve seen Gasol and Odom kill offensively.  Shoot, both guys are All-Stars!  So what’s different about yesterday?  I may be off on this psychological breakdown, but the other Lakers seem to almost walk on eggshells around Kobe.  They don’t want to upset him or let him down when he’s ‘going off’.  When Kobe is extra aggressive on offense, these guys tend to play the position of ‘Kobe watcher’ and 60% of every possession involves #24.  This is the same old song and dance though.  Yesterday’s Laker offense looked similar to the 2006/07  season, when Kobe dominated the ball, the scoring column and the loss column.  Meanwhile, the Celtics seemed to play more fluid.  Paul Pierce had 32 points while only shooting the ball 18 times.  Ray Ray and Garnett each had 12 shot attempts.  Boston had six players in double figures, with four players having 13 or more.  Boston is gearing up for another championship run, and if I had to pick a mid-season favorite, the Celtics would be it.  Toughness was always a strong suit of Boston, and they seem to be tougher than ever, especially with the return of Perkins.  Check the frontcourt depth of (Assuming they’re healthy come playoffs) Perkins, KG, Jermain O’Neal, “Big Baby” Glen Davis and Shaq.  That’s 30 fouls worth.  Playoffs are still a while away. Boston looks strong, but can the veteran squad stay that effective for months at a time?  L.A. surely has the tools to win a third straight championship, but they need to find that chip that used to sit on their shoulder.  Get  back to thinking of Kobe as a commodity, not a crutch.  Get back the toughness inside that helped hang two straight banners.   If the ‘Lake Show’ thinks they can advance in the playoffs without making the proper changes, they’ll never earn the chance to play in June.

Kevin Durant called Chris Bosh a ‘fake tough guy’ after the Thunder lost to the Heat Sunday, 108-103.  Apparently Durant was speaking to his teamate when Bosh came in and said something to him.  Whatever was said had to piss ‘Durantula’ off enough to talk about it after the game to the press. “He’s on a good team now, so he thinks he can talk a bit. There’s a lot of fake tough guys in this league and he’s one of them.”  You never really see Durant show those kind of colors, which leads me to believe that Bosh was actually being a punk.  I’m not sure why Bosh thinks he could run smack to arguably the best player in the league.  It wasn’t too long ago Bosh was in Toronto, by himself, on a losing team and still wasn’t coming close to the numbers Durant is posting.  Oh and by the way, the Thunder had the game won with under a minute to go.  If Eddie House doesn’t drain that 3, we’d be talking about how LeBron passed up yet another game winner.  House hadn’t scored all game and this man LeBron passed up a wide open game-winner to give him the ball. Hmmmm.  Interesting.  LeBron owes Eddie House a Bentley or something.  I still want to see Durant and Bosh in a cage.

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One Response to Spring Chickens?

  1. James says:

    Same as always: the Lakers big men are too soft for the C’s big men. In the finals last year Pau seemed to figure it out and toughen up, but in this most recent game Pau, Bynum and, at times, Ron Ron played soft. They got dominated on the boards, shut-down on offense, and seemed disinterested (at best) in hustling back in transition and playing tough D. By the end of the game Kobe was definitely chuckin but i didnt think he took many shots out of the flow of the offense until there were about 8 minutes left and even then there didnt seem to be many alternatives. As for Kobe’s teammates walking on eggshells around him: most of these guys have played with Kobe for years now, I don’t think theyre any more (or less) intimidated by him then they were last year or the year before or the year before so I find it hard to believe this constant was responsible for any of the Lakers problems. In summary, I think the Lakers will be fine, but their success, particularly against the Celtics will depend on their big men toughening up and their swing men giving them something/anything offensively (Ron ron or barnes).

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