Shell of Self

It seems playing too close to hollywood and having all those actors sitting courtside has rubbed off on the Lakers.   Acting like they play defense, acting like they’re desperate, acting like they have it under control.  Joining the Celtics down 0-2 in the best of seven, the future in L.A. looks bleak.  What happened to the Lakers?  The same core group that won 57 regular season games and won the last two NBA championships isn’t getting it done.  How?  This Lakers team seems like a shell of its former self, with the common ground with years past being the uniforms.  Every Laker, top-to-bottom, is underperforming.  It starts with Kobe still not snapping out of his over-assertive gameplan.  Kobe has unique tools around him to build, but insists on trying to do it by hand.  There was a couple of years there when Kobe didn’t have those pieces around him and it made sense to try and bear the burden on his shoulders alone…MEMO: THOSE DAYS ARE OVER.  He’s hurting his team, and his chances of a 3-peat.  In game 1 Kobe took more shots than Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum combined.  We’re not talking about Chris Mihm, Sasha Vujachic and Smush Parker anymore.  I’m talking about the 6th man of the year (Odom), one of the best young centers in the game (Bynum), and an All-Star power forward (Gasol).  And for as many folks who agree with this stance, there’s an equal amount pointing the finger at those guys blaming their lack of initiative and confident play as well as lame duck defense.  And I guess they’re right too.  Gasol, who my brother has now nicknamed ‘Gasoft’, has seemed distant on offense.  And I literally mean ‘distant’ as in he’s 7 feet tall and isn’t scoring in the paint.  Pau is looking at 13 points per game to go with 7.8 boards so far in these playoffs.  Compare that to the sample size of 82 regular season games where Gasol was averaging just under 20 points and 11 rebounds.  That’s nearly a 30% drop in both categories!?!  What happened?  He’s not attacking and doesn’t look as active as he was.  He needs to get back to the basics, playing with power, exploiting  his advantages, and taking more than 1 shot in the fourth quarter (Game 2).  Gasol’s frontcourt ‘brother’ Andrew Bynum needs to be more aggressive as well.  Of course he needs the ball first.  On 78 offensive possessions Wednesday night, Bynum touched the ball 15 times.  Inexcusable.  Their inability to take advantage of their greatest strength (size, length and athleticism at the 4 and 5 positions) has Dallas on the verge of stunning the world champions.

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