1) Matt Barnes playing like a man possessed. . .reminds me of the Barnes that once smashed a teammate with a metal folding chair, WWE-style . like his toughness (even though after all these years, I still think it’s somehow an act, eg the neck tattoo)
barnes then barnes now
2) Metta World Peace displaying the form from his Pacers/Rockets/Kings days. I’m loving that – talk about real heart; this guy is truly a ballplayer right now and the Lakers feed off of him. Interesting that he’s playing a leadership role, however. . .post-Fish, it’s sorely needed, but will the looney Ron-Ron rear his ugly head at the wrong time during Playoffs? Hopefully not. . .
3) Gasol silent & effective. Typical Pau. Just get the job done, act slightly bitchy, really annoy people (even his own fans) but send everybody home happy and a winner. He’s so likeable, but does he really need to be whiney and so. . .Euro all the time? It’s great in the sense of being intelligent & cultured, but not great for the NBA.
4) Bynum. Always comes down to Bynum. Here he is, playing rock-solid on D, playing through illness (?!?) and taking boards like a monster, but his shooting has been woeful and he always seems about one scolding away from just walking off the court and away from the Lakers forever. . .
5) Lakers 4-1 in Kobe’s absence. Interesting times, indeed. He IS the Lakers, but what does this say about the squad, especially winning four in a row against solid teams? Does he actually detract from chemistry/momentum when he comes back? What’s your take, Laker fans?
So despite the Lakers recent six-game winning streak, nobody is happy with the direction of the squad.
In fact, here is Phil Jackson’s assessment after their latest victory.
"It was awful," Jackson said. "It was an awful second half. There was no intensity. We didn’t play right… We just didn’t play with a full functioning group of guys. Kobe [Bryant] took one shot [in the second half]. Made his shot [and] that was it. So we weren’t going to come out there and play with the kind of intensity you have to play with."
Seems that their most consistent performer right now is beat writer Mike Bresnahan, who breaks down the Lakers’ chances at becoming the first repeat NBA title winner since 2002. The story address both his – and fans’ - largest concerns for what augurs to be a contentious playoff run (Blazers in round one? Eesh).
Furthermore, concerns abound amongst their guard play, the spotty Jordan Farmar vs. the non-shooter Shannon Brown vs. the aging Derek Fisher, and the fact that even a six-game winning streak is leaving them unmotivated and eerily reminiscent of last year’s squad that was taken to the wire by Houston.
Much of the concerns have to do with the frontcourt as much as the backcourt, with Gasol constantly irked, whether it be by Kobe’s reluctance to pass or the Spanish paparazzi trailing him throughout the South Bay.
The young and oft-injured Andrew Bynum is down yet again (for the third consecutive season), and who knows his mindset upon return.
In short, the Lakers are still the number one team in the Western Conference and still appear superior to any team in the conference, but the concerns are there; this is evident with their 8-9 record against the top four teams in the League. That said, this is LA-LA land, and since the Dominating days of Shaq, the Lakers have shown to be a team that can truly flip the switch – which is definitely what will need to be done this year.
Think Gasol carried the team tonight in the Lakers Kobe-less 101-89 win over the Spurs?
How about the respective team leaders in these categories for the game:
|Points||M. Ginobili 21||P. Gasol 21|
|Rebounds||T. Duncan 15||P. Gasol 19|
|Assists||T. Parker 8||P. Gasol 8|
|Steals||T. Parker 1||P. Gasol 1|
|Blocks||T. Duncan 4||P. Gasol 5|
Kudos to Ramona Shelbourne on her new gig for EspnLosAngles.com, espousing on the inconsisent, difficult-to-read play of both the USC and UCLA hoops squads.
That said, folks back in the Tri-Valley of Eastern Washington are disappointed reading about the upstart Bruins defeating the Cougars, 74-62. Again, the continued scrappy play of Mustafa Abdul-Hamid provided a constant spark. The Bruins are now one game out of first place – and two games out of last – in the Pac-10 conference standings. The conference Champion will get a bid, but will that champ be the only team from the Pac-10 to make the tourney?
I’m telling you, how can you not harken back to this guy during times such as these:
Oh yeah, that’s right.
I will tell you this, however, Kevin O’Neill is doing a helluva job in obscurity (and sanctionville) after the implosion of last year’s Trojan squad. I’ll bet even this guy is proud:
Bytheway Dodger fans – have you checked out Dylan Hernandez’s Twitter yet?
As far as the Angels are concerned, an unemotional goodbye is in order for strangely estranged Native Son Gary Matthews Jr., traded unceremoniously for Brian Stokes, another California kid. Matthews never really fit under Arte’s regime; always the fourth outfielder, sort of in a Juan Pierre-esque fashion – Matthews definitely is good enough to play centerfield wherever he wants, but his hitting just hasn’t been the same since the suspiciously successful 2006 year he had with the Rangers. The HGH accusations didn’t sit too well at home, nor with the Angels’ brass.
Also I keep saying it – don’t sleep on the Kings this year. NHL pundit Jason Sapir says they still may be too young, but with inspirational wins such as the 3-2 comeback over the Red Wings becoming commonplace, don’t be surprised if they ride young goalie Jonathan Quick to a deep run in the Playoffs. With five Olympians, the squad is immensely talented. And well coached. Even with the rift between negative18er Jack Johnson and stud GM Dean Lombardi, the Kings are playing well, and holding on to the seventh seed in the West.
Lakers are now 101-23 since acquiring Pau Gasol, according to Joel Meyers on the telecast last night.