Observations from last night’s game:
* In the first six games the Lakers have been blown out of the building twice — both times in the second game of a back-to-back. (Yes, you could argue that the San Antonio game was not as close as the final score and it was a blowout too, but I think that loss had more to do with talent level and team familiarity.)
After the game last night Rudy T. questioned the mental toughness of his team in interviews, saying that playing well in the back end game is as much mental as physical. He’s got a point — so far when this team gets down it appears they lay down. But we’ve only played six games, it’s a little early to call this team soft. Mental toughness is certainly one thing we expect from Kobe and I think he’ll demand that of his teammates as his leadership solidifies. But right now, we’re not seeing much of that mental strength from the team.
Lets see how the strategy of calling the team out right before another back-to-back works.
* Of course, Rudy T. can in part blame himself for last night’s blowout.
In the decisive second quarter the Laker legs looked tired, they didn’t rotate well on defense and gave Memphis plenty of open looks at 3-pointers (Memphis shot 44% from behind the arch for the game). The reason was they were tired. The night before, even with a 30-point lead in the third, the starters logged the bulk of the minutes. The next night, they weren’t fresh.
*I know Rudy T. wants Slava to get some practice time in before throwing him into game situations, but the front line needs help now. Especially with Yao Ming waiting on Saturday.
* One off game does not have me worrying about Kobe’s sore foot. Check back in a couple of weeks and ask again.
* My favorite thing from last night’s game got play in the LA Times story today:
Hopefully, Memphis fans went home with an appetite: Everyone in attendance won a burger, taco, breakfast burrito and breadsticks at various fast-food joints because of the Grizzlies’ dominance in numerous statistical categories.
* Orlando is up next, the front end of another back to back. The past couple of years Orlando was a gimme. Not this year. They beat Dallas the other night at home and Grant Hill is playing well. For now at least. The Lakers catch a bit of a break with Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato not 100% and likely not playing.
* Interesting piece on the other good basketball program in Southern California — UCLA — on ESPN.com. Food for thought there.